A little history for young people, and a bit of consolation in a worst case scenario (attempt to outright steal the election)

To anyone who came of political age during the last four years, kids in High School, young adults — it was not always like this in our country. There were once two political parties, flawed and unresponsive to the needs of millions of citizens, that were forced to work together and compromise to solve major problems. Today there is only sickening partisan warfare between the parties. This ugly situation has a long and winding history, it is not of Mr. Trump’s making, though he exploits it every day and is the present provocative face of it.

In a post-Trump America, there will be a lot of work to be done, and millions of us will have to be willing to do it, but the division in our nation was not this grim or menacing (not since the eve of the Civil War) and it will be better going forward. It has to. The pendulum of history swings, with agonizing slowness sometimes, but it does swing, based on what millions organize to no longer tolerate.

At the risk of sounding like the didactic old bastard I am, a few examples, a little perspective for those too young to remember anything other than what you see on your phone every day.

Then at least one concrete reason to be optimistic, even in a worst case scenario (for concerned citizens of all ages).

A little history:

In the past there would be no controversy, spread by the president himself, and amplified by loyal spokespeople, about proven safety precautions during a deadly pandemic or the need to marshal the federal government to provide guidance and protective equipment.

Only a party that had shut down the government three times in less than four years would refuse to pass a law to help millions of citizens from falling into poverty after jobs disappear, to prevent an epidemic of homelessness during a raging pandemic that has already killed almost a quarter of a million Americans. At one time a government shutdown was only employed by reckless political bomb-throwers. Now it is a regular annual tactic of the ruling minority-supported party, used to twist arms during budget talks by making the populace suffer.

In a more reasonable age there would be no controversy about the driving force behind the sharp annual increase in killer storms, the looming (and visible) climate catastrophe that only fanatics and fools can ignore. The president and his administration would not normally withdraw from a worldwide agreement to slow the warming of the earth while it denounced the other leaders and the world’s top climate scientists as bunch of job-killing, freedom-hating liberal stooges (and worse). No previous president would mock young climate activists as “terrorists” and crybabies.

Americans never woke up every day to see the headline “the president attacked (insert name here).” American presidents, even the most divisive ones, rarely attacked anyone. No American president would ever call the government infectious disease specialist who’d been heading his pandemic task force “a disaster” for not backing him in his absurd claims that nobody could have done a better job controlling the outbreak than the leader of the nation with the worst infection and death numbers in the world.

Few elected officials would fail to condemn racism or remain coy about an influential “theory” that holds that Democrats and Hollywood elites are satanist, child-raping, blood-drinking cannibals. “I know they feel very strongly against pedophilia,” is something no past president would ever have said by way of his complete response to a question about an insane and widespread conspiracy theory.

You would not see a case in the Supreme Court to abolish a health insurance program that protects tens of millions of Americans from death due to inability to pay for medical care, particularly not during a pandemic. A program the right continually tried to repeal (and missed by one Senate vote when John McCain gave the president a famous thumbs down) since it became law almost a decade ago. The president is currently in court trying to end his predecessor’s government supervised insurance expansion program that he and his party have no plan to replace. During a deadly pandemic. They simply, and sincerely, don’t give a rat’s ass about average Americans dying.

A Supreme Court nominee, being rushed through on a 51-49 party-line vote, literally the week before the election, would not refuse to answer a simple question of law like “is voter intimidation illegal?” She would not gracefully but forcefully demur on the question of whether she’d recuse herself from deciding a 2020 presidential election case, based on an outright hoax (massive voter fraud). The appearance of impropriety — the standard for recusal– is certainly strong, as she’d be a likely vote to in favor of the demagogue who is rushing through her confirmation so she can rule on that exact question and keep him in office, (regardless of the will of the electorate).

None of this shit is normal, boys and girls, though it is the NEW NORMAL, for the moment. Part of how we got here is that an extremely wealthy minority, employing some brilliant and unprincipled operatives, organized, and funded with a shit ton of money, a vast network of often secret influence machines, to achieve policy goals the majority of Americans oppose. The extreme right has fought a highly successful fight against what they see as Majoritarian Tyranny in which government itself is the enemy. Bill Moyers interviews investigative journalist Anne Nelson who lays a good deal of this operation out in discussing her book Shadow Network [1].

Here is a great discussion on the far right’s long, winning battle for control of the federal judiciary and the Supreme Court. Here’s a bit of the background about how ideologically committed Supreme Court nominees have learned to refuse to commit to any judicial, legal or philosophical position whatsoever.

You may have heard of a federal judge named Robert Bork, a haughtily opinionated, very conservative man, nominated by Ronald Reagan, who got “borked” and was not confirmed for a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court. “Borking” is making a potential lifetime appointee to the unappealable Supreme Court unequivocably answer specific questions about his or her judicial record and political philosophy. After hearing those answers from a contentious nominee (think of Antonin Scalia, but openly ill-tempered and without the wit or personality of the original “Originalist”), most Democrats and six Republicans voted against his confirmation. The rejection of Bork, his “borking”, was bipartisan. Reagan’s next nominee, a much less objectionable candidate named Anthony Kennedy, was confirmed unanimously. Those plain facts were not allowed to stand in the way of the handy radical right-wing foundational grievance myth that Bork was unfairly “borked” by Democratic partisans who viciously challenged him left and right.

Here’s a snapshot of our nation today in two titles from the Op Ed section.

Here are three winning “Democratic” ideas (I can’t read David Brooks, so I picked just three obvious ones).

In democracy, every eligible voter must be allowed to vote. The candidate who gets more votes wins.

The federal government must protect all citizens in case of disaster.

When there is demonstrated foreign interference in an American election, electoral vulnerabilities must be quickly and aggressively fixed.

In democracy, rule by the People, the will of the citizens is expressed by voting for representatives who act on our behalf. An open debate on policy ideas followed by widespread voting are hallmarks of a healthy democracy. Democrats support this idea, the president’s party rejects it, sponsoring laws that make voting more difficult in every state they control, bringing court cases to restrict voting in “swing states” they do not outright control, challenging every rule that allows freer access to voting. The conservative Supreme Court, 5-4, recently cut the heart out of the Voting Rights Act– and most Red states immediately enacted legislation to make it harder for certain classes of citizens to vote.

The federal government represents all of the people of the nation, it goes without saying. The federal government is the guarantor of all of the rights of citizenship enumerated in the Constitution. When a natural disaster strikes, the federal government moves in quickly to help. It does not dispense aid according to which party the majority of an area voted for. It doesn’t force zero-sum competition between the states for urgently needed supplies. It doesn’t punish jurisdictions run by one party or the other. It doesn’t have an idiot spokesman, like the manifestly unqualified Jared Kushner, nonsensically piping up that the federal stockpiles of supplies needed to halt the spread of a pandemic are “ours” and not for the states.

One last big Democratic idea, then a word about Ayn Rand.

The Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee released a five volume report that confirmed what Robert Mueller’s investigation, and a House investigation, found, and what every intelligence agency concluded — Russia sweepingly and systematically interfered in the 2016 election to get Donald Trump elected.

Idea: pass legislation and implement policies to prevent a repeat in 2020. Biden missed a great opportunity at the last debate to mention that Mitch McConnell has blocked even debate on all such measures. McConnell did this as nonchalantly as he vowed to work with Trump’s defense team during the impeachment, to allow neither a witness nor evidence to be presented at the “trial”.

From McConnell’s power-first point of view, why should he? Russia interfered to help his candidate, his party. He’s got a 51-49 majority, why would he do anything to interfere with what promises to be much more sophisticated Russian interference on behalf of his president’s reelection? That would just be stupid.

Ayn Rand was a politically radical novelist, an emigre from the Soviet Union. Her novels were written in service to her feverishly anti-Communist worldview. The individual, she believed, was far more important than any notion of the collective — and the protagonists of her massive novels were living examples (so to speak) of this essential concept. Socialism, she preached in her passionate, metaphorical works of fiction, was the enemy of personal greatness. She fled from a totalitarian state, so her point of view is understandable. But not as a coherent political philosophy.

In the real world Ayn Rand’s “philosophy” is Social Darwinism, the perverse notion that it is the absolute natural right of someone with the might to take from the weak whatever they want. Reading Ayn Rand’s gigantic books qualified former Republican House leader Paul Ryan as a Republican intellectual. Her novels were treated by the right as expressions of inviolable universal truth, in the same way religious people venerate their holy books. Put into practice, you get a very ugly society where the weak can go fuck off and die.

A reason for hope, in one of the worst case scenarios for a contested election:

Even if Trump loses the election by a wide margin, and manages to get his many legal challenges, based on widespread election fraud he cannot prove (since evidence of such fraud has never been produced) up to the Supreme Court, and the 6-3 ruling ties up the Electoral College vote and throws the matter into the House of Representatives to decide on a one vote per state basis (a scenario he brought up the other day) — check this out.

Trump correctly stated that, under the current composition of the majority Democratic House of Representative, rendered one vote per state (as the twelfth amendment of the Constitution requires for resolving unresolved presidential elections) Republicans have a 26- 22 majority and so he’d still be president. Robert Reich points out in a neat little video that the House that would vote on this issue would not be the current House but the one in session after the 2020 election. Members of the new Congress would be sworn in on January 3, 2021 and would vote to decide the presidential election on January 6.

There was a big Democratic swing in 2018 when that party recaptured the House and that was before Mr. Trump’s botched pandemic response and an erratic campaign that will not win him many undecided voters. His attempt to stay in power after he loses the popular vote, and ties up the Electoral College with a 6-3 Supreme Court decision, with a favorable narrow House majority will hinge on Alaska and Montana (one representative, one vote each) remaining in his column, along with currently tied Pennsylvania (no vote) and virtually tied Florida (where three Republicans are retiring), and Michigan (Republican by one seat). If those states change column, majority rule in the USA will live to fight another day.

And fight we must, boys and girls.

[1] from the intro to the Moyers podcast:

What is the shadow network behind the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court? Who selected and groomed her for this moment? Who’s financing the campaign to get her confirmed? Who’s counting on her to side with President Trump if he’s losing the election and wants the Supreme Court to declare him the winner? For the answers, Bill Moyers talks to journalist and investigator Anne Nelson about her book: SHADOW NETWORK: MEDIA, MONEY, AND THE SECRET HUB OF THE RADICAL RIGHT.

Moyers

In Defense of the Electoral College

I began watching a very well-made documentary called Safeguard, advertised as a non-partisan look at the Electoral College. The film makes a unified case for the genius of the Electoral College as a safeguard of democracy in our republic. All the experts cited seem to agree that without this visionary safeguard, which ensures a presidential candidate has achieved broad national consensus, state by state — beyond just the number of popular votes he or she gets — say a vast popular majority in only our largest cities — you could have the masses voting in unprincipled, non-consensus minded populist demagogue presidents who could do great damage to democracy.

The summary description of the documentary touts a nonpartisan view of why the Electoral College remains a brilliant and indispensable device for moving our experiment in democracy forward. As you hear a very reasonable-sounding historical discussion, you begin to notice something about the speakers’ credentials, they are always from schools and other institutions you’ve never heard of. I guess that could be a kind of tip off that they’ve gone a bit off the mainstream grid for experts on democracy.

Then, you see this guy, misleadingly identified as a nonpartisan former high government official:

Hans von Spakovsky. Defender of democracy and enemy of divisive partisan demagogues everywhere. Architect of the one ballot drop box per county voter suppression scheme for the 2020 election. The filmmakers identify him as the former Commissioner of the Federal Election Committee (years before Trump left the FEC without a quorum to do investigations), although he is currently a Charles Koch/Heritage Foundation employee and secret national Republican strategist for the re-election of the unpopular unifier Donald J. Trump.

Trump, we recall, won the presidency in the Electoral College by 78,000 surgically placed votes in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania [1]. He won these states Electoral College electors, legally and indisputably making him president, by less than one percent in each state, a total margin of 1.6% of the vote in those three states, combined.

Mr. Trump is, of course, the very man the Framers envisioned when they imagined future presidents of the United States of America. Who but von Spakovsky better to speak about the genius of the safeguard of democracy that is our Electoral College?

As the filmmakers tease in their trailer, without the Electoral College there would have been no Emancipation Proclamation — Lincoln became president because of the Electoral College! (Did he really? [2])

[1]

According to the final tallies, Trump won Pennsylvania by 0.7 percentage points (44,292 votes), Wisconsin by 0.7 points (22,748 votes), Michigan by 0.2 points (10,704 votes). If Clinton had won all three states, she would have won the Electoral College 278 to 260.     source

[2] the fruits of forty seconds of dogged research:

Despite minimal support in the South (Lincoln’s name was not on the ballot in 10 Southern states), he won a plurality of the popular vote (40%) and a majority of the electoral vote.
1860 United States presidential election – Wikipedia

Four candidates vied for the office of president of the United States during the 1860 election. When the voting concluded on November 6, 1860, Abraham Lincoln had received more popular votes in the United States than any of the other candidates and had won a majority of the electoral votes.
1860 Presidential Election – Education from LVA

Retribution is Trump’s mantra for his enemies

Full disclosure: I believe Donald Trump is corrupt, a compulsively lying deadbeat with open contempt for the law, rules and norms, and the most dangerous president in American history. I won’t be voting for him. Mr. Trump’s supporters, I suspect, love the fact that their president only respects the law and order that helps him. They love that he protects his risk-taking friends and humiliates his enemies, when he gets the chance actually killing them. Here is a recent example of a hit squad doing the vindictive president’s business, plucked from a news story updating the narrative of what seems to be the execution of a suspect by federal officers.

An armed right-wing counter-protester in Portland was killed during an altercation by someone identified with Antifa. Soon afterwards, on September 3, 2020, the suspect was rolled up on by federal marshals, who jumped out of their cars and opened fire, killing him on the spot.

Attorney General William P. Barr trumpeted the operation as a “significant accomplishment” that removed a “violent agitator.” The officers had opened fire, he said, when Mr. Reinoehl “attempted to escape arrest” and “produced a firearm” during the encounter.

source

It turns out that the “violent agitator” had not attempted to escape, unless you consider his staggering several steps after being shot, seconds before the fatal fusillade killed him, an escape attempt. Turns out that he had not produced a firearm, an unfired gun was found in his pocket after he was killed.

It now appears, from evidence presented in today’s New York Times (too discreet to say the words that follow) that he was executed by a rapidly moving firing squad of federal marshals sent to get the job done.

The U.S. Marshals Service declined to comment for this article, citing the pending investigation. The agency previously said that it had attempted to “peacefully arrest” Mr. Reinoehl and that he had threatened the lives of law enforcement officers.

source

The peaceful arrest apparently could not be effected in the few seconds between when the marshals sped up in their cars and when the marshals leaped out and began shooting the suspect. Extrajudicial killing in America. What the hell? Who needs a trial when the guy is guilty, a man who clearly hates America?

That this particular dead guy identified himself as antifa, (even if he attended the protests to protect peaceful protesters from intimidation by armed counter-protesters), plays beautifully into the Barr-Trump narrative: the country is in extreme danger from dangerous, violent left-wing radical criminals claiming America is a systemically racist society and trying to destroy it.

As the president framed it, with characteristic simplicity:

“This guy was a violent criminal, and the U.S. Marshals killed him,” the president told Fox News. “And I will tell you something, that’s the way it has to be. There has to be retribution when you have crime like this.”

source

Just to underscore how fair and impartial the administration of justice is in Donald J. Trump’s America, compare the summary execution of this antifa suspect with the Trump administration’s treatment of killer Kyle Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse is the teenager who shot two protesters to death with an illegally possessed long gun, after his mother drove him across state lines to take up arms against those protesting racial injustice.

Meanwhile, at the Department of Homeland Security, federal law-enforcement officials were instructed last month to express sympathy for Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old Illinois resident who traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin, with an (illegally possessed) AR-15 to defend law and order in that city — and ended up shooting two people dead. Specifically, in internal documents obtained by NBC News, DHS officials were advised to respond to any questions about Rittenhouse’s case by noting that Rittenhouse “took his rifle to the scene of the rioting to help defend small business owners” (curiously, the document simultaneously advises the officials to say that they could not comment on an ongoing investigation, before offering comments sympathetic to the subject of an ongoing investigation).

Officials were further counseled to describe Rittenhouse’s alleged actions as an object lesson in the importance of suppressing urban chaos. “This is also why we need to stop the violence in our cities,” the talking points read. “Chaotic and violent situations lead to chaotic, violent and tragic outcomes. Everyone needs law and order.”

To this point, DHS officials have largely ignored these messaging cues. But the department may provide Trump’s campaign with a more brutal form of aid later this month. As the Washington Post reported Tuesday:

The Trump administration is preparing an immigration enforcement blitz next month that would target arrests in U.S. cities and jurisdictions that have adopted “sanctuary” policies, according to three U.S. officials who described a plan with public messaging that echoes the president’s law-and-order campaign rhetoric.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement operation, known informally as the “sanctuary op,” could begin in California as soon as later this week. It would then expand to cities including Denver and Philadelphia, according to two of the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive government law enforcement plans … Two officials with knowledge of plans for the sanctuary op described it as more of a political messaging campaign than a major ICE operation, noting that the agency already concentrates on immigration violators with criminal records and routinely arrests them without much fanfare.

source

Fair is fair. To recap: money is speech, as the 5-4 Supreme Court recently declared. If you have more money, you deserve more freedom of speech, obviously. If you do something that looks bad but no specific law prevents the exact thing you’re doing, how is that wrong? If you have the votes not to be put on trial for misdeeds, who would not use them? If you can fire enemies and protect friends, why not? Losers who are angry about any of this — well, they get what they deserve if they ever become too angry. Fair is fair, unfair or not. That’s the way the rigged game is played, by winners!

Check out the AD!

Ladies and gentlemen, your monetized internet at work!

The all-powerful algorithms, delivering a Trump-themed ad, from one of the very outfits Sheldon Whitehouse is describing in his presentation. Want to know why this ad? Click the link, I didn’t, but you can when it plays.

The main thing is: Sign the petition! Pay no attention to this partisan hater ranting against fake “bad guys,” supposedly obsessed with power, not letting the good, Christian judge get a word in edgewise. The problem is not an ideologically committed, dark money-funded, politically biased 6-3 Supreme Court, or the brazen effort to cram another unappealable lifetime justice down the throat of American democracy in the days before a presidential election (something never in our history done after July) it is that caravan of rapists coming from South of the Border! The highly successful wall ain’t stoppin’ ’em, they’re coming to rape us all!!! Keep your eye on the ball!!

Whitehouse’s presentation is worth taking in. Won’t change any votes, or help stop what McConnell and his 51-49 Senate majority is going to do, but important information well presented and very much worth knowing.

Court-packing

Brett “Boof” Kavanaugh, Mr. Trump’s previous extremist pick, to fill the Supreme Court seat Anthony Kennedy gave up after negotiating the terms of his retirement with Trump’s lawyers, snorted indignantly and literally cried to the Senate Judiciary Committee about “millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups” [1] deployed by rabid partisans to unfairly sink his nomination and viciously destroy his life.

In fact, millions of dollars have been spent by outside right-wing groups to make sure committed Federalist Society ideologues like Mr. Kavanaugh, like today’s nominee Amy Coney Barrett, get confirmed for lifetime judicial positions. That these lifetime judicial nominees may sometimes be deemed too inexperienced, or outright unqualified, or show themselves to lack judicial temperament (see Kavanaugh’s snorting “rebuttal” to charges that while drunk in high school he did things to a younger girl against her will) — no matter, the American Bar Association is a well-known Communist front group and liberals blindly hate good, honest, God-fearing conservatives. And besides, 51-49 wins every time.

Extreme right-wing billionaire Charles Koch, never shy about spending to promote his belief in libertarianism — a dream world where government leaves the rich and their property alone and harshly polices everyone else — is on the verge of victory with a long dreamed of 6-3 ideologically pure corporatist majority on the Supreme Court. He and his Kochtopus network of wealthy right-wing fellow travelers have spent untold, untraceable millions on this project in the last four or five decades. Nice op ed in the NY Times today on the subject. Here’s a taste:

Judge Barrett’s nomination is the latest battleground in his decades-long war to reshape American society in a way that ensures that corporations can operate with untrammeled freedom. It may be a pivotal one.

Since the early 1970s, Mr. Koch has sought to dismantle most federal regulatory institutions, and the federal courts have been central to that battle. In 1974, Mr. Koch gave a blistering speech to a libertarian think tank, called the Institute for Humane Studies, in which he outlined his vision of the American regulatory state, and the strategy he would employ over the ensuing decades to realize that vision. On the list of government interventions he condemned were “confiscatory taxation, wage and price controls, commodity allocations programs, trade barriers, restrictions on foreign investments, so-called equal opportunity requirements, safety and health regulations, land use controls, licensing laws, outright government ownership of businesses and industries.” As if that list were not exhaustive enough, he added, “… and many more interventions.” In short, Charles Koch believes that an unregulated free market is the only sustainable structure for human society.

By the way, speaking of “humane studies,” every time I listen to a podcast on my phone app, I have to first close an ad from Charles Koch’s favorite “think tank”, the mischievously named Institute for Humane Studies. I see their ad for paid graduate school fellowships, featuring two young black scholars, a male and a female, not 90% of the time, mind you, it is there every single time I open the app to listen to Democracy Now! Somewhere indomitable octogenarian Charles Koch is cackling.

Keep in mind, Koch has an army of paid activists, marshaled by Americans for Prosperity and like groups, tirelessly promoting libertarian dogma among the American citizenry. They were active in the sustained effort to get Kavanaugh confirmed, an effort that cost “seven figures”. They are very active in this final Trump appointment in progress. It is do or die– they have only weeks to do what generally takes months to accomplish. Of course, in the end, it’s 51-49 suck it.

Today, historian Heather Cox Richardson wrote a thorough short history of the largely successful conservative project to create a permanent one-party conservative government, through court packing with ideological true believers they have been grooming in law schools since 1982. As she points out, they’ve bizarrely managed to put Biden on the media spot about his charged “court packing” when the side Mr. Trump currently leads has appointed 15 of the last 19 Supreme Court judges, McConnell has packed the federal bench with young true believers and is making history by forcing through a nomination days before an election. Plus, of course, adding justices to the court is legal and may be proper at this point,the Constitution is silent on the number of judges who shall sit on the court anyway.

This is from her important piece, which I highly recommend you read in its entirety (it’s not very long):

… And yet, today the chair of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel, told Margaret Brennan on CBS’s “Face The Nation” that she would not talk about Trump’s financial scandals because “You have a Democrat running on the biggest power grab – the absolute biggest power grab in the history of our country and reshaping the United States of America and not answering the question. That’s all we should be talking about.” The media seems to be taking this distracting bait.

What makes this so especially bizarre is that it is Republicans, not Democrats, who have made the courts the centerpiece of their agenda and have packed them with judges who adhere to an extremist ideology. Since the Nixon administration began in 1969, Democrats have appointed just 4 Supreme Court justices, while Republicans have appointed 15.

The drive to push the court to the right has led Republicans under Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to take the unprecedented step of refusing to hold a hearing for Barack Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, the moderate Merrick Garland, on the grounds that it was wrong to appoint a Supreme Court justice during an election year. There have been 14 justices confirmed during election years in the past, but none has ever been confirmed after July before an election.

Obama nominated Garland in March 2016, but now, in October, McConnell is ramming through Trump’s nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

Americans are worried that the increasingly conservative cast to the court does not represent the country. Four, and now possibly five, of the current justices were appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote, and have been confirmed by senators who represent a minority of the American people: Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate support represented just 44% of the country.

So there is talk of increasing the size of the Supreme Court. This is legal. The Constitution does not specify the size of the court, and it has changed throughout our history. But the current number of justices—9— has been around for a long time. It was established in 1869. Nonetheless, in 2016, when it looked like Hillary Clinton was going to win the presidency, Republicans announced that they would not fill any Supreme Court seats during her term, and if that meant they had to reduce the size of the Supreme Court, they were willing.

Instead, with Trump in the White House, the Republican Senate has pushed through judges at all levels as quickly as it possibly can.

This is no accident. Since Nixon, Republicans have made control of the nation’s courts central to their agenda. But while most voters tend to get distracted by the hot-button issues of abortion or gay rights, what Republican Supreme Courts have done is to consolidate the power of corporations.

And here is the single best question to ask this impartial jurist who seeks to cement the permanent right-wing majority on the Court for many of our lifetimes. Posed by a comedian, it is a seriously perfect question to put to the highly moralistic Trump-appointed federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett:

Looky here (you learn something every day):

Comedian (and lawyer) J-L Cauvin asks the question Senate Democrats must ask of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett

[1]

the heart of Kavanuagh’s tearfully delivered demonstration that he lacks the judicial character and nonpartisan fairness to be on the Supreme Court. He dismissed the un-investigated accusations of a woman who credibly testified (in the face of death threats) that Kavanaugh traumatized her decades earlier as part of:

the typo is mine: it should read “pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election”

Res Ipsa Loquitur

“The thing speaks for itself”

“Here’s how they got it wrong,” opines the know-it-all New York Times. Of course they’d attack a conspiracy they’re part of!

Another opinion: Look at Mark Zuckerberg, lifetime CEO of Facebook. Who looks and acts more like the personification of the monsters Q is exposing and fighting than that creepy, greedy bastard? Who has more motivation to crush the horrific truth, in all its forms, than Zuck?

I hope you know I am being arch here. QAnon is a recycling of the old antisemitic myth about Jews who control the world and live forever by drinking the blood of Christian children. The fuckers richly deserve to be prevented from spreading this horse shit in every public forum.

On the other hand, hard to disagree about Zuckerberg, I think.

825% Campaign Donation Match to fight Lying, Treasonous, Cannibal Satanist Child SEX Traffickers!

Mr. Trump calls for Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to be locked up. LOCK THEM UP! LOCK THEM UP!! He’s not happy with his Attorney General, very disappointing fixer! Just bring the charges already… there’s more than enough proof. Of course, it goes without saying that Kamala Harris is a “monster,” a “communist” and a “smelly pirate hooker.” It’s not like 1,000 women have accused Trump of gross sexual assault, like that animal Bill Cosby, this latest liar is only the 26th to accuse the unfairly attacked president. Women love Trump!

Of course, the lying, despicable, desperately corrupt New York Times gleefully piles on, on top of the disappointing Barr and the weak Mike Pompeo, and ran this headline:

Trump Lashes Out at His Cabinet With Calls to Indict Political Rival

… The president castigated his own team, declaring that Attorney General William P. Barr would go down in history “as a very sad, sad situation” if he did not indict Democrats like Mr. Biden and former President Barack Obama. He complained that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had not released Hillary Clinton’s emails, saying, “I’m not happy about him for that reason.” And he targeted Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director. “He’s been disappointing,” Mr. Trump said.

“Unless Bill Barr indicts these people for crimes, the greatest political crime in the history of our country, then we’re going to get little satisfaction unless I win and we’ll just have to go, because I won’t forget it,” Mr. Trump said, referring to the investigation into his 2016 campaign ties with Russia. “But these people should be indicted. This was the greatest political crime in the history of our country, and that includes Obama and it includes Biden.”

Mr. Trump has often argued that his political antagonists should be prosecuted, but in this case, he went further by indicating that he had directly pressured Mr. Barr to indict without waiting for more evidence. “He’s got all the information he needs,” the president said. “They want to get more, more, more, they keep getting more. I said, ‘You don’t need any more.’”

and

During his hourlong morning call with Maria Bartiromo [at FOX-ed.], he seemed to suggest he may have been infected by the Gold Star parents of soldiers killed in battle at an event honoring them last month at the White House, although a spokeswoman later denied he meant that.

The president’s phone interviews were his first time answering questions since he was infected with the virus and flown to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he stayed for three nights. He said he was no longer taking the experimental drugs used to treat the virus, but he added that he was still taking a steroid that doctors say can produce bursts of energy, euphoria and even a sense of invulnerability.

“I felt pretty lousy,” Mr. Trump said. But, he added, “I’m back because I’m a perfect physical specimen and I’m extremely young.” He once again played down the severity of the disease. “Now what happens is you get better,” he said. “That’s what happens, you get better.”

(emphasis mine)

source

For the Trump haters who smirk to read that the president suggested he’d been infected by Gold Star parents of suckers, er, soldiers, killed in the line of duty, and the White House spokeswoman denying he meant what he said– how about a moment of honesty, of personal humility? Everyone knows by now that the president doesn’t mean what he says or say what he means, unless he means to say something that is the opposite of what he said, if what he said causes a publicity headache, which happens. It happens to everybody!

Anyone can say “I don’t see why he would” when talking about a geopolitical adversary accused of meddling in your election when what you actually meant to say was “I don’t see why he WOULDN’T”. Two tiny letters, and one of those marks that look like a misplaced comma– Jesus, any of us could make the same little mistake, sound like we just said the opposite of what we actually said. Fucking libtards, man, brutal bunch.

On the other hand, it’s hard to disagree with the president’s assessment of the ethically challenged William P. Barr. His tenure as America’s top law enforcement official will go down in history “as a very sad, sad situation.” SAD!

Trump 2020

The message of these ads is pretty clear, I suppose. Biden coddles criminals and hates the police, and so you will live in violent chaos if he’s elected — cops won’t do their jobs under a president who hates them, because they have a higher loyalty than enforcing the law.

Martin Luther King is either with us or, more likely, a precise illustration of the existential threat posed by such men, and the reason we need to keep fighting against lying, Jesus-quoting troublemakers who claim we’re a materialistic, violent, racist nation, placing greed for money and lust for war above human life.

And, while we’re on the subject of never surrendering, the glorious Confederacy, which only fought against American tranny, after all, and only when provoked beyond human endurance, and who fought not for slavery but for “states rights” and “home rule” (whatever those articles of secession might have supposedly stated) never lost the Civil War. The proof of this commitment to the “Lost Cause” is the Republican party we have today, the party of Trump and the most extreme of our billionaires — and millions of loyal citizens who will not take the evidence of their own eyes for an answer, not without a fight.

Stay strong, Karen Pence (only person at the Vice Presidential debate yesterday, outside of debaters and the moderator, not wearing a mask.)

“Courts cannot hold private citizens’ decisions to stay home for their own safety against the State.”

The quote above (reported HERE) was a cornerstone of the Republican argument in the U.S. Supreme Court, defending enforcement of a South Carolina law that requires a legally prescribed witness statement to be included with every mail in ballot — in order for the vote to be valid. South Carolina enacted this law because of the claimed danger of runaway voter fraud, incidence of which has been documented (by well-paid voting fraud conspiracists like Hans von Spakovsky) at less than ten thousandths of one percent: 0.00004%

It begs the obvious question in a democracy: how is the State different than the will of the voters who elect their representatives? How is the safety of citizens different than the safety of the State?

Here is how CNN reported on the Republican effort to limit mail-in ballots in a state where Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is running neck and neck with his Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison.

Republicans argued to the Supreme Court that more than 150,000 absentee ballots “have been mailed out already, and each passing day increases the risk that ballots will be returned, that, in mistaken reliance on the district court’s injunction, do not comply with the witness requirement.”

They said, “Although COVID-19 might make in-person voting less desirable, courts cannot hold private citizens’ decisions to stay home for their own safety against the State.”

Justice Brett Kavanaugh explained why he had voted in favor of the Republicans. He said a state legislature’s decision either to “keep or to make changes to election rules to address COVID-19 ordinarily should not be subject to second-guessing by an unelected federal judiciary” and that the court has repeatedly emphasized that federal courts should not alter state election rules too close to an election.

source

“Although COVID-19 might make in-person voting less desirable,”

Presumably the possibility of catching a serious and sometimes deadly disease is less desirable than staying out of an infectious indoor space where you are likeliest to be exposed to this dangerous pathogen. This phrasing is an example of why lawyers are so hated.

courts cannot hold private citizens’ decisions to stay home for their own safety”

Courts can’t elevate the selfish desire of private citizens to protect themselves against the inconvenience of some flu-like disease above the right of the…

“against the State.”

As for Justice Boof Kavanaugh’s explanation: it makes perfect sense — in a nation with no history of persistent and widespread voter suppression and intimidation — or in a nation that was not forced to make a number of laws to stop these anti-democratic practices and to enforce those laws in the courts (until the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013)or in any nation in the middle of a deadly pandemic that rages most uncontrollably in indoor, crowded spaces, like polling places, particularly the few open in “underserved” areas.

But — come on, now. Crimes against the State, y’all.

How Would We Know?

Someone close to me is close to someone who routinely lies to her. It is very uncomfortable for me to see her in this position, since if you can’t trust somebody you rely on, how can you trust them — or rely on them? The lies have not been small or infrequent, they are regular, big and sometimes about things of great importance.

Once, trying to be supportive, a few years back, I asked how this person (who I can’t stand) was doing.

“How would I know?” she said, wearily.

Point taken. I no longer ask her how the untruthful fellow is doing.

I’ve been watching the often excellent legal analyses of former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner on youTube. I began to notice his insightful take on law and justice during Mr. Trump’s attorney, General Barr’s, attempt to finally do what fired FBI Director James Comey would not do — make the “Flynn thing” go away.

Mr. Trump’s former National Security Advisor General Mike Flynn, we recall, was fired by Mr. Trump after it came out that Flynn had lied about illegal contacts with the Russian ambassador, lies that VP Mike Pence then repeated as true on television. Flynn then lied to the FBI about lying, eventually pleading guilty as part of a plea deal that involved admitting other lies (involving payments from Turkey and Saudi Arabia).

Trump was outraged at the persecution of this good, loyal man (Flynn had led the “Lock Her UP!” chant at the RNC) and made his outrage known, in speeches and via twitter. Eventually, AG Barr decided that the crimes Flynn had pleaded guilty to were not actually crimes after all — and that he’d been trapped into lying by liars and likely criminals — and Barr now seeks to dismiss the DOJ’s case against Flynn outright.

Kirschner has been fiercely following every detail of Judge Emmet Sullivan’s principled stand to get a coherent explanation for this seemingly politically motivated DOJ reversal — the highly unusual dismissal of a prosecution after a guilty plea. Naturally, Judge Sullivan is vilified on FOX as an “abjectly biased” politically corrupt judge persecuting the wrongfully prosecuted, innocent General Flynn out of political animus, something Ronald Reagan surely never suspected of Sullivan when he appointed him to the federal bench in 1984 [1].

Anyway, good people, on all sides, one supposes. Back to Glenn Kirschner — he has been questioning whether the president even has the coronavirus at all or whether it is merely a stunt to refocus and change a political narrative that is going very badly for the president lately in the weeks that will decide if he is re-elected or becomes a criminal defendant at more than one trial.

Kirschner keeps insisting that he won’t believe Trump is sick unless he hears it from a reputable source, like Anthony Fauci. He has been pointing out the many contradictions and abrupt changes in the official reports of how sick the president actually is. Many of these constantly shifting comments from the president’s spokespeople have been ridiculous, even in the age of Trump.

What we know is limited: Mr. Trump took no test Tuesday night before his debate with Joe Biden, his close associate Hope Hicks, who he’d been campaigning with, had symptoms and tested positive Wednesday, he then met with big money donors on Thursday, shortly before (or possibly after) his positive covid test result came back. When was his last negative test? When did his symptoms start?

I didn’t really get why Kirschner was so exercised on this point — or what the upside of Trump pretending to be very sick could be– until yesterday. I kept wondering what Trump has to gain by claiming to have been felled by the coronavirus he has been downplaying for months.

Kirschner explained yesterday, after Trump checked himself out of the hospital, pulled off his mask and stood on the White House balcony in his bare-chested Putin on horseback moment. Trump smiled his infectious smile, or a game attempt at his infectious smile, no less infectious for being less than 100% convincing. He looked tired in that short appearance for the cameras; haggard, his eyes smaller than usual and red.

The first part of Kirshner’s point about Trump’s actual medical condition was the obvious “how would we know?” There is nobody of any credibility remaining around the president, outside of Dr. Fauci.

The second part, which I just got, is the strongman propaganda value of an indomitable president refusing to be dominated by a deadly disease. If Trump is hospitalized with serious enough COVID symptoms to need steroids, oxygen, experimental monoclonal antibody treatment, then — in only three days– has a miraculous recovery, shouldn’t we all believe in miracles just a little more than we already do? The miracle is much easier to pull off if the recovery was after a non-illness, it stands to reason.

Just because somebody has lied many times, by long habit, by reflex, and insists that people lie constantly on his behalf, that doesn’t mean that they can’t be telling the truth now.

Call it a miracle if you want. Some people will call “bullshit!” — others will see the will of God, working in divinely mysterious ways, through this most imperfect of imperfect vessels.

[1]

They discuss the politically corrupt Flynn case on FOX