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Has U.S. Democracy Been Trumped? Bernie Sanders wants to know who owns America?

#17141 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-December-03, 06:15

Linda Greenhouse at NYT said:

Justice Amy Coney Barrett had a choice.

She could provide the fifth vote on the Supreme Court that Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh needed — and would not have received from the Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — to place a temporary block, in the name of religious freedom, on New York’s pandemic-driven limitations on church and synagogue attendance.

Or she could give that precious fifth vote to Chief Justice John Roberts in the name not only of public health but also of judicial modesty, since the most severe restrictions the Catholic and Jewish organizations were complaining about were no longer in effect and the whole case might well disappear into thin air if the Supreme Court simply stayed its hand.

History will record the choice Justice Barrett made in the court’s Nov. 25 decision as the first moment of fruition for the hopes and fears engendered by her abrupt election-eve ascension to the Supreme Court following Justice Ginsburg’s death in September. Until then, Chief Justice Roberts had held the line in favor of public health in similar cases from California and Nevada, each by 5 to 4 votes. Now he was left in dissent, joined by the remaining members of his former majority, Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Justice Barrett, who did not express her opinion in writing, was a silent member of the new majority.

I’d like to think this was a tough choice for her, but in the end, this case may simply disappear. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, along with an Orthodox Jewish organization, was appealing the decision of a Federal District Court judge not to enjoin the state from enforcing attendance limits at worship services. That’s when the Supreme Court stepped in, at the request of the diocese, and issued the injunction itself, pending the appeal to a federal appeals court in New York, which will hear the case in two weeks. Maybe then the case will end up back at the Supreme Court on the merits, but most likely, it won’t, because the governor eased the restrictions while the case was pending in the court.

The real significance of the decision lay in the which-side-are-you-on test it posed for the newest justice. I don’t mean the conservative side versus the liberal side. Obviously, she’s a conservative. What matters is that a month into her tenure, she chose to align herself with what I call grievance conservatism: conservatism with a chip on its shoulder, fueled by a belief that even when it’s winning, it’s losing, and losing unfairly.

The embodiment of grievance conservatism is Justice Alito, who in a speech last month to his fellow members of the Federalist Society said that “it pains me to say this, but in certain quarters, religious liberty is fast becoming a disfavored right.”

Justice Alito is a member of a Supreme Court majority that during his nearly 15-year tenure has been more deferential to the demands of religious believers than any Supreme Court in modern history. Just this past summer, the court ruled that a state that offers a subsidy for private-school tuition must include parochial schools in the program; that religious organizations may exclude a substantial category of employees from the protections of federal civil rights laws under a “ministerial exception” that goes well beyond members of the ministry; and that employers with religious or even vague “moral” objections to contraception can opt out of the federal requirement to include birth control in their employee health plans.

Justice Alito was in the majority in these decisions and so, notably, was Chief Justice Roberts. And both were in dissent five years ago when the court declared a constitutional right to same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges. But while the chief justice seems to have made his peace with that decision (he was in the majority in the decision in June that interpreted federal civil rights protections as applying to gay and transgender individuals, while Justice Alito called the ruling a “brazen abuse” in a 54-page dissent accompanied by a 52-page appendix). The implications of Obergefell for people with religious objections to same-sex marriage still gnaw at Justice Alito.

Along with Justice Thomas, he wrote sympathetically in early October about Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who refused for religious reasons to issue marriage licenses to same- sex couples. While agreeing with the other members of the court that the clerk’s appeal wasn’t suitable for Supreme Court review, the two justices wrote that “nevertheless, this petition provides a stark reminder of the consequences of Obergefell.” They continued, “By choosing to privilege a novel constitutional right over the religious liberty interests explicitly protected in the First Amendment, and by doing to undemocratically, the court has created a problem that only it can fix.”

Since the two justices were neither voting to grant the appeal nor dissenting from its denial, their opinion was entirely gratuitous. They simply used the case as a platform to reiterate warnings about the threat to religion from official recognition of same-sex marriage.

Justice Barrett was not yet confirmed when Justices Thomas and Alito issued this statement. I wonder whether she would have signed it. It was pure grievance conservatism, with no effect other than to invite new cases seeking to overturn Obergefell, and to strike fear in some parts of the L.G.B.T.Q. community that it could happen. It won’t. But I’m certain that the pressure on the court will only grow.

There’s no neutral ground: The Supreme Court has become a prize in a war over how far the country will go to privilege religious rights over other rights, including the right not to be discriminated against. A case the court heard last month, Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, raises the question whether a Catholic social services agency under contract with the city to place children in foster homes can refuse to consider same-sex couples as foster parents despite the city’s nondiscrimination law.

For religious adherents pressing such claims, equal treatment is no longer sufficient. Special treatment is the demand. That’s clear in another Covid-related case that reached the Supreme Court this week. In mid-November, Gov. Andrew Beshear of Kentucky issued a temporary order barring in-person instruction in all public and private schools. A religious school, Danville Christian Academy, promptly won an injunction from a federal district judge.

A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit stayed the injunction this past weekend. The court observed that because the order applied to religious and secular schools alike, it was “neutral and of general applicability,” key words that under a 1990 Supreme Court decision, Employment Division v. Smith, to foreclose a claim under the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause for a special religious exemption.

Claiming that “it is called by God to provide in-person instruction to its students,” the school has gone to Justice Kavanaugh, who has supervisory jurisdiction over the Sixth Circuit, asking him to vacate the stay of the injunction. The 35-page brief skips almost entirely over the fact that public schools are under the same strictures, asking instead, “Why can a 12-year-old go to the movies along with two dozen other people, but she can’t watch ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’ with a smaller group in Bible class?” Justice Kavanaugh has told Governor Beshear to respond by Friday afternoon.

The Sixth Circuit panel’s unanimous ruling against the school was somewhat unusual because it was issued by one Democratic-appointed judge, Karen Nelson Moore, and two judges appointed by President George W. Bush, John Rogers and Helene White. Statistics compiled recently by Zalman Rothschild, a fellow at the Stanford Constitutional Law Center, show a startling partisan divide in how federal judges have approached cases involving religious objections to government-imposed limitations related to Covid-19.

In a group of 89 such cases, Democratic-appointed judges voted to uphold all the government orders, while Republican-appointed judges did so only 36 percent of the time. The difference is even more stark with judges appointed by President Trump. They voted to uphold the orders in only 6 percent of cases, voting 94 percent of the time in support of the religious plaintiffs.

Numbers like this pose an obvious question: Are Trump-appointed judges supporting religious claims as a matter of personal faith, or has voting to uphold religious claims become a kind of judicial MAGA cap, a mark of political identity?

At this moment’s legal and political inflection point, the answer may not matter. If Justice Barrett wants company, she clearly has plenty. And the rest of us have plenty to worry about.

If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#17142 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2020-December-03, 08:45

At some point someone is going to have to stand up and say that the SCOTUS has become so explicitly political that it can no longer be trusted to uphold the constitution and law on certain (mostly religious-influenced) cases. Some would probably say, quietly, that that point was reached many years back but the appointment of ACB makes it more important than ever that this comes out into the open. Roberts himself seems only too well aware of the issue and has apparently done what he could to avoid the worst. But now his ability to control just how political the SCOTUS rulings become is diminished, maybe it will take an impulse from outside of the judicial branch for the courts to get back to doing what they are supposed to do.
(-: Zel :-)

Happy New Year everyone!
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#17143 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2020-December-03, 10:14

I guess everyone has seen the Melissa Carone testimony by now. If you haven't, I highly recommend it - it's better than the average SNL sketch.
(-: Zel :-)

Happy New Year everyone!
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#17144 User is online   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-December-03, 11:01

View PostZelandakh, on 2020-December-03, 08:45, said:

At some point someone is going to have to stand up and say that the SCOTUS has become so explicitly political that it can no longer be trusted to uphold the constitution and law on certain (mostly religious-influenced) cases. Some would probably say, quietly, that that point was reached many years back but the appointment of ACB makes it more important than ever that this comes out into the open. Roberts himself seems only too well aware of the issue and has apparently done what he could to avoid the worst. But now his ability to control just how political the SCOTUS rulings become is diminished, maybe it will take an impulse from outside of the judicial branch for the courts to get back to doing what they are supposed to do.


My concern is that those in positions to sound the alarm do not realize or take seriously the persistence, impact, and enormity of the movement to establish a de facto Christian theocracy.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#17145 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-December-03, 22:32

Ricardo Salvador and Mark Bittman at NYT Opinion said:

With just one cabinet appointment, President-elect Joe Biden could tackle economic inequality, the rural/urban divide, climate change, the growing mistrust of science, systemic racism and even the coronavirus.

That appointment is Secretary of Agriculture.

Some view the U.S. Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.) as a backwater that matters only to the nation’s two million farmers. But this perception is at odds with both the department’s actual budgetary allocation and its history: Two thirds of the U.S.D.A.’s $146 billion annual outlay goes to programs addressing nutrition and food insecurity, not to agriculture (or forestry, also in the department’s domain).

And the U.S.D.A. invests hundreds of millions each year in financial and technical assistance for rural communities to improve infrastructure that most urban residents take for granted — electrification, broadband access, water and waste disposal, housing, health care and public safety. Yet broad sections of the rural population feel — indeed have been — left behind.

Even with this aid, the U.S.D.A. supports a system that, overall, prioritizes trade and profit at the expense of most farmers, the environment and everyday Americans — instead of encouraging a food system that provides a thriving livelihood for farmers and farmworkers, environmental protection and healthy food for all. At best, 7 percent of farmers are able to make a living from farming; food chain workers earn poverty wages; large-scale agriculture poisons land, water and air and contributes mightily to climate change; and good food is available only to the relatively wealthy.

In normal times, 10.5 percent of U.S. households are food insecure, a number that has nearly doubled during the pandemic. And our junk-food diet has made nearly three quarters of us overweight or obese, which in turn causes our notoriously high rates of diabetes, hypertension and cardiac disease, shortening life spans and predisposing many to complications from COVID-19.

Enlightened leadership at the U.S.D.A. could begin to change all of this. Rather than seeing its paramount mission as supporting agribusiness, the new secretary could steer the department toward becoming what President Lincoln envisioned when he established it — “the people’s department,” with responsibility to everyone in the nation.

When the U.S.D.A. was founded more than 158 years ago, about half of all Americans lived on farms; today just 0.6 percent of the population are farmers, and we devote only 20 percent of agricultural land to produce food we eat.

But while the demographics of agriculture have changed, everyone is affected by a farm system that degrades the environment, drives climate change and churns out a junk food diet. That same system has displaced people and extracted wealth from rural communities, driving monopolistic concentration and record profits for Big Food, while almost all farmers must supplement their income with off-farm jobs.

These dysfunctions began long before the decline of the family farm. The U.S.D.A. has long been accused of discrimination in dispensing its services and resources, and of intentionally driving the commercial success and wealth building of white farmers while causing the failure, bankruptcy and land loss of Black, Hispanic, Native American and women farmers and ranchers. A series of legal actions from the late 1990s, including the Pigford v. Glickman and Keepseagle v. Vilsack lawsuits, resulted in settlement agreements that paid millions to eligible class members to compensate them for their discrimination claims against the department.

The U.S.D.A. still reflects the culture of 1862, the year of its creation and of the passage of the Homestead Act, which gave more than 270 million acres of Native American land to white settlers. At the same time, the Morrill Act “distributed” an additional 11 million acres of appropriated Native land to establish a network of state colleges of agriculture and mechanic arts, a network that to this day serves whites preferentially. (A series of underfunded land-grant universities was established in 1890 and 1994 in a feeble attempt to paper over this federally sanctioned racism.) The result of this social engineering is aggregate assets of around $2.7 trillion, held disproportionately among today’s farmers, 96 percent of whom are white.

There’s another sense in which the U.S.D.A. is bound to the past. Large-scale plantation agriculture, a major reason the South seceded from the Union, was a mercantilist economic system. The production of cotton, sugar, tobacco, rice and other commodities drove a web of global trade that enriched profiteers, corporations and nations at a distance from the enslaved people who labored under brutal conditions to generate that wealth. That same model of agriculture — cash crops grown primarily for processing or trade rather than for eating, a brutally exploited work force — has become the norm, and has been consistently promoted by recent secretaries of agriculture, most stridently by the incumbent, an agribusiness veteran.

That template still benefits mainly the global conglomerates that sell to and buy from farmers, to the great economic detriment of the majority of farmers and their rural communities, and especially to that of the largely immigrant work force that replicates the work of the formerly enslaved, with largely imperceptible improvement in their treatment.

Yet the American model of agribusiness profiting from low value commodities combined with through-the-roof production volume works so badly for farmers that the system is propped up by federal subsidies — until recently $15 billion per year — that are funneled into the bottom lines of mega-corporations. Since 2018, however, an additional $60 billion of taxpayer money has been splurged on this sector, making it one of the most socialized sectors of the economy.

Expanding the department’s vision of the food system beyond the interests of agribusiness would allow the U.S.D.A. to promote health and well-being for all. For President-elect Biden to “build back better,” he will need a secretary of agriculture who cares not only about how food and industrial products are produced, but also for whom, and to what general public good.

The secretary of agriculture should lead the fight against corporations that have created a toxic food environment and support groups building healthful alternatives. The secretary should champion unity among farmers, rural people and urban advocates for racial and economic justice against the common enemy of consolidation and concentration of wealth. And the secretary should use the department’s vaunted research and extension capacity to support a food system that can rebuild rural economies, regenerate ecological capital, mitigate climate change and provide nourishing food for all.

While we’re at it, we might as well change the department’s name from its archaic, misleading misnomer to something that reflects the country’s needs: a Department of Food and Well Being.

Ricardo Salvador is the director of the food and environment program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Mark Bittman is on the faculty of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia and a former Times columnist whose book “Animal, Vegetable, Junk” is to be published in February.
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#17146 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2020-December-04, 05:10

View Posty66, on 2020-December-03, 22:32, said:

Ricardo Salvador is the director of the food and environment program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Mark Bittman is on the faculty of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia and a former Times columnist whose book “Animal, Vegetable, Junk” is to be published in February.

Why do we need a new Secretary of Agriculture when we have Sonny Perdue, a recognized expert on insider trading and violating the Hatch Act???
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#17147 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2020-December-04, 05:10

'An attempt to sabotage': Trump's potential purge of career employees casts pall across federal government
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#17148 User is online   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-December-04, 09:35

Behind the myths of politics and social networks: The WaPo:



Quote



AFTON, Va. — There was a time in Denver Riggleman's life when he sat on the banks of a creek that reeked of dead fish and peered through night-vision goggles into the thick of the Olympic National Forest.



He was looking for Bigfoot.


Or at least, others in his group were. Riggleman, a nonbeliever who was then a National Security Agency defense contractor, had come along for the ride, paying thousands of dollars in 2004 to indulge a lifelong fascination: Why do people — what kind of people — believe in Bigfoot?


Now in one of his last acts as a Republican congressman from Virginia, Riggleman is asking the same questions of supporters of QAnon and deniers of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.



Months after his ouster by Rep.-elect Bob Good ® in a contentious GOP convention, Riggleman has become one of the loudest voices in Congress warning of the infiltration of conspiracy theories into political discourse.

And he is surely the only voice to have made the point after self-publishing a book about Bigfoot beliefs.


To Riggleman, the book, “Bigfoot . . . It’s Complicated,” mirrors the way pockets of the country are falling into conspiracy wormholes — everything from extremist fringe groups such as QAnon and the “boogaloo” movement to President Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud.


Like the Bigfoot hunters in the Olympic National Forest, they see what they want to see.



“I always say the [Bigfoot] expedition leader and Rudy Giuliani are very similar people,” Riggleman said of Trump’s conspiracy-theory-spinning lawyer, during a recent interview at his distillery in Afton, Va.

Bigfoot believers have plenty in common with political extremists on both the far right and the far left, Riggleman said, lambasting a political ecosystem where, oftentimes, “facts don’t matter.”

“They’re all bat---- crazy. Right?” he said, not really joking. “All of them ascribe to a team mythology that might or might not be true. And they stay on that team regardless. And that is what’s so dangerous about politics today. That’s what I’ve been trying to say.”

I think a strong reason so many of the religious turn to the right politically - the hierarchy of Christianity compares nicely to the concepts of authoritarian voter theory and, if my memory serves, there is also an evolutionary component to humans gathering in groups. There is nothing particularly wrong about a rightward political bent, nor a leftward bent; however, when those ideations are expressed in fabricated myths that are assimilated by the group, that is a problem. Unfortunately, there is no quick or simple solution to overturn crowdthink - only by individuals, one-by-one, deciding that they have been duped does the madness stop. Common, agreed upon facts are the lifeblood not only of democracies but of civilizations. Social media is challenging those facts, and in so doing is challenging civilizations across the globe.


"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#17149 User is online   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-December-04, 09:40

View Postjohnu, on 2020-December-04, 05:10, said:



Although it took him a long time to figure it out, it appears now that Trump is trying to position himself to be re-elected in 2024 and structuring the executive branch to make it much easier to staff with clones. Now that he is down, it is imperative to stomp on any remaining shard of probability that he could run again.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#17150 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-December-04, 20:28

Bloomberg Editorial Board said:

The prospects for a new coronavirus relief plan are finally improving. To be sure, the months of delay up to this point, and the fact that talks in Washington might even now fail to break the stalemate, are little short of scandalous. But compromise is in the air. Better late than never, leaders of both parties need to seize the opportunity.

A bipartisan group of senators opened a crack in the wall earlier this week, proposing a new relief plan of a little over $900 billion — less than the $2.4 trillion that Democratic Party leaders had previously insisted on, and more than the roughly $500 billion favored by the GOP leadership. Senator Mitt Romney said, “We’re getting more and more support from Republicans and Democrats.” The Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of moderates in the House, has backed the measure. President Donald Trump has also suggested he’d support it.

The respective leaderships in Congress have expressed interest and willingness to talk further. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the plan a basis for negotiation. But as yet neither side has committed to getting it done. That isn’t good enough.

Democrats should follow President-elect Joe Biden’s lead. He got it exactly right, saying the compromise proposal wasn’t enough but but he saw it as a down payment that would deliver prompt relief. When Biden takes office in January, the issue can be revisited and further support arranged. With the existing relief measures expiring, those in need of financial help can’t wait.

Make no mistake, the Democrats have been right all along to argue that a bigger proposal would be better. With Covid restrictions tightening again, a measure of between $1 trillion and $2 trillion is needed — enough to provide renewed unemployment assistance, help for struggling businesses, and adequate support for financially stretched states and cities.

Even so, the country would see settling for the compromise as the best that could be done under the circumstances, not as a Democratic defeat. And if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and others still refused to budge from their woefully inadequate proposal, the blame for the impasse and its consequences would lie squarely where it belongs, with Republicans in Congress.

This saga has dragged on far too long already. Come to terms immediately and get this measure passed.

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#17151 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-December-05, 09:04

Good take on the work black women have been doing for years to turn out voters in Georgia by Astead Herndon at NYT.

Quote

Nse Ufot, who leads the New Georgia Project, said the same national leaders now praising voter registration efforts in Georgia should reflect on how long it had taken them and groups like the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to invest in the Black women leading the push.

“National campaign committees and presidential campaigns, like the D.N.C. and the D.C.C.C., would have their favorite pastor or their favorite community activists just run programs,” she said. “No accountability. No data.”

Ms. Ufot added: “It was just their favorite pastor dude saying, ‘Turn your people out.’ When people like Helen Butler could actually run a proper program.”

“Foundations were not supporting social justice and community building work here,” she said. “No one was looking at what’s happening in our rural areas, and no one’s looking at the small ways that people were being cheated out of their own democracy by having these voter suppression laws. People weren’t even paying attention, because they thought that’s just the way it was here.”

For years, national Democratic campaigns have wrestled with whether Georgia and other Southern states were worthy investments, including during former President Barack Obama’s race in 2012 and Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016. However, in the zero-sum environment of presidential politics, Democrats prioritized other states, including in the Upper Midwest and traditional battlegrounds like Ohio and Florida.

Asked about the criticism from Ms. Ufot and others, representatives for the D.N.C. and the D.C.C.C. declined to respond directly. A spokeswoman for the D.C.C.C. praised the organizing in Georgia and said that in recent years, the party had invested in local groups and campaign organizers with success.

“Georgia doesn’t turn blue without the determined organizing of activists and leaders in communities of color, particularly the Black community,” said Robyn Patterson, the national press secretary for the D.C.C.C. “House Democrats flipped two Trump-lean districts by investing early, hiring talented organizers with deep ties to their communities, and engaging the people of color who have spent years working to move Georgia forward.”

The arc of Georgia’s transformation has become a road map for other states that are experiencing rapid demographic change and a catalyst for a new strategy in liberal politics. Versions of the New Georgia Project have popped up in Virginia, Texas and North Carolina as organizers try to create new, consistent voting blocs.

Investing in well organized networks is more effective that investing in pastor dudes? Dems could be onto something.
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#17152 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-December-06, 20:54

Two Retiring Senators, Lamar Alexander and Tom Udall, and Two Divergent Views on How to Save the Senate

Quote

Perhaps the best measure of how far the Senate has fallen is the dearth of amendments considered on the floor, which is devoted mainly to judicial confirmation votes. Senators used to fight it out over their bills. Now, with senators unwilling to take politically risky votes, even the few pieces of legislation that are produced are typically prepackaged in leadership suites and put on the floor with little opportunity for senators to propose or debate changes.

Ever the Tennessean, Mr. Alexander compared it to “joining the Grand Ole Opry and not being allowed to sing.” But he said the problem was not with the rules; it is with senators who reflexively block their colleagues from bringing up amendments, effectively shutting down the Senate. What is needed, he said, was a change in behavior by senators, who must learn to show the “restraint” necessary to allow debate and the political courage to vote no when they oppose something — rather than stifle it outright.

But Mr. Udall was having none of the idea that a behavioral adjustment was all that was necessary.

“I don’t buy the statement that the rules are fine, that we just need to change the people or we need the people to change themselves or we just need to get better leaders when the institution hasn’t worked for decades,” Mr. Udall said. “This system is broken, and I don’t think there is any doubt of that.”

He has pushed a sweeping top-to-bottom overhaul of a political system he considers corrupted by huge, undisclosed donors and has persuaded all of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate to sign on to it — no easy task. Though it had no chance of advancing in a Republican-controlled Senate, the provisions on tightening campaign finance laws, ending gerrymandering, imposing lobbying restrictions and simplifying voter registration are the types of changes a Democratic-controlled Senate might pursue. Mr. Udall said he believed that bold changes were needed to shake Congress out of stasis and allow lawmakers to attack the challenges facing the country.

“We can right this ship and make it so Republicans and Democrats can work together and do the things we need done for the planet and country,” Mr. Udall said.

The title implied there were two views on how to save the Senate. I only saw one.
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#17153 User is online   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-December-07, 16:06

I'm tired of hearing the media report that "there is no evidence of election fraud". To the crazoid, that just means evidence is there but has yet to be found. Just say no, there wasn't any fraud. Period.
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#17154 User is online   kenberg 

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Posted 2020-December-07, 17:16

View PostWinstonm, on 2020-December-07, 16:06, said:

I'm tired of hearing the media report that "there is no evidence of election fraud". To the crazoid, that just means evidence is there but has yet to be found. Just say no, there wasn't any fraud. Period.


I agree. They could also say that there is no evidence that I have held up a bank or shot someone. Technically that is true but phrasing it as "there is no evidence that..." is misleading despite being technically true.

I did see an article recently referring to "baseless claims" That's better. "Total crap" would be a good way of putting it.

Ken
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#17155 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2020-December-07, 18:31

View PostWinstonm, on 2020-December-07, 16:06, said:

I'm tired of hearing the media report that "there is no evidence of election fraud". To the crazoid, that just means evidence is there but has yet to be found. Just say no, there wasn't any fraud. Period.

It is worse than that. Several of the CNN anchors prefer the phrasing that there is no proof, which tends to imply, falsely, that there is evidence. I have a much bigger problem with that than the "no evidence" phrasing. Increasingly the media are just ignoring it though as it is not really news any more; that seems to be as good an approach as any. The right-wing extremists will continue saying what they like - that is ok and their 1st Amendment right. As long as the authorities are tracking the various groups and willing to charge anyone instigating violence.
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#17156 User is online   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-December-07, 20:08

View PostZelandakh, on 2020-December-07, 18:31, said:

It is worse than that. Several of the CNN anchors prefer the phrasing that there is no proof, which tends to imply, falsely, that there is evidence. I have a much bigger problem with that than the "no evidence" phrasing. Increasingly the media are just ignoring it though as it is not really news any more; that seems to be as good an approach as any. The right-wing extremists will continue saying what they like - that is ok and their 1st Amendment right. As long as the authorities are tracking the various groups and willing to charge anyone instigating violence.


Basically, what it amounts to is that the media outlets are pussyfooting and trying not to offend anyone. What they should be concerned about is simply adhering to the unvarnished truth. If that loses some viewers, too bad.
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#17157 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-December-08, 06:12

Alan Feuer at NYT said:

Arguing that “a license to practice law is not a license to lie,” nearly 1,500 lawyers issued a letter on Monday calling on bar associations across the country to investigate and, if needed, penalize the members of President Trump’s legal team, including the architect of his post-election strategy, Rudolph W. Giuliani.

“It is indefensible for lawyers to falsely proclaim widespread voting fraud, submit a pattern of frivolous court claims and actively seek to undermine citizens’ faith in our election’s integrity,” said the letter, which was signed by several former judges, former federal prosecutors and law professors. “We condemn this conduct without reservation.”

The letter comes as Mr. Trump and his Republican allies have lost or withdrawn from nearly 50 legal challenges to this year’s election, including five in five different states within about three hours on Friday evening alone. Even so, Mr. Trump’s lawyers and those representing his Republican allies have continued filing lawsuits, igniting criticism that they are acting frivolously, even irresponsibly.

In their letter on Monday, the signers noted that Mr. Giuliani — who recently tested positive for Covid-19, according to President Trump — has made baseless arguments in public about “massive fraud” in the election, but has tempered his claims under questioning in court, saying he was not alleging fraud.

“Mr. Giuliani’s aim is obvious,” the letter said. “To fuel Mr. Trump’s campaign to delegitimize the outcome of the election.”

Among the signers were Philip Lacovera, a former deputy solictor general who worked on the case that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon; Stephen Gillers, a professor of legal ethics at New York University; and Thomas Vanaskie, a former judge with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in Philadelphia.

The letter also took aim at another lawyer for Mr. Trump, Joseph DiGenova, who late last month publicly threatened Christopher Krebs, the former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, who was fired by Mr. Trump after he declared that the 2020 elections were “the most secure in American history.”

During an interview on the conservative TV outlet Newsmax, Mr. DiGenova said that because of Mr. Krebs’s remarks he should be “taken out at dawn and shot.”

For the moment, only a handful of challenges to the election are still moving through the courts, including an emergency petition by Mike Kelly, a Republican congressman from Pennsylvania, requesting that the Supreme Court hear his appeal of a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the state’s election results.

There are also state cases still alive in Georgia and Arizona and a federal case filed by the Trump campaign in Wisconsin. Sidney Powell, a former lawyer for Mr. Trump whom the campaign has disavowed, has filed four more federal cases of her own — in Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Arizona. On Monday, a federal judge dismissed Ms. Powell’s Georgia case after a hearing in Atlanta, and another judge in Michigan denied her emergency request to overturn the state’s election.

All of the remaining efforts are running out of time to succeed. On Tuesday, the nation will reach the so-called safe harbor deadline, the date by which all state-level election challenges are supposed to be completed.

Then on Dec. 14, the Electoral College will cast its votes, making any attempt to overturn the results of the election nearly impossible.

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#17158 User is online   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-December-08, 08:48

The American Taliban and their Amen Coalition at work: The WaPo:



Quote

President Trump’s naked attempt to overturn a fair election — with key elements of Joe Biden’s victory vouchsafed by Republican state officials, Republican-appointed judges and even the Justice Department — has driven some Trump evangelicals to the edge of blasphemous lunacy.

“I’d be happy to die in this fight,” radio talk-show host Eric Metaxas assured Trump during a recent interview. “This is a fight for everything. God is with us. Jesus is with us in this fight for liberty.”

Elsewhere Metaxas predicted, “Trump will be inaugurated. For the high crimes of trying to throw a U.S. presidential election, many will go to jail. The swamp will be drained. And Lincoln’s prophetic words of ‘a new birth of freedom’ will be fulfilled. Pray.”

Just to be clear, Metaxas has publicly committed his life to Donald Trump, claimed that at least two members of the Trinity favor a coup against the constitutional order, endorsed the widespread jailing of Trump’s political enemies for imaginary crimes, claimed Abraham Lincoln’s blessing for the advance of authoritarianism and urged Christians to pray to God for the effective death of American democracy. This is seditious and sacrilegious in equal measure.




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#17159 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-December-08, 09:01

Zeynep Tufceki at The Atlantic said:

https://www.theatlan...attempt/617309/

On the evening of September 11, 1980, my mom was approached by a neighbor who held rank in the Turkish military. He told her to stock up on bread and rice. “Oh, another coup,” she immediately groaned. The neighbor was aghast—he wasn’t supposed to tell anyone what was coming. But my mom, of course, had immediately understood what his advice must have meant. Turkey is the land of coups; this was neither the first nor the last coup it would face.

Over three decades later, I walked up to a counter in Antalya Airport to tell a disbelieving airline employee that our flight would shortly be canceled because the tanks being reported in the streets of Istanbul meant that a coup attempt was under way.* It must be a military exercise, she shrugged. Some routine transport of troops, perhaps? If so, I asked her, where is the prime minister? Why isn’t he on TV to tell us that? Another woman approached the counter. “This must be your first,” she said to the young woman behind the counter, who was still shaking her head. “It’s my fourth.”

[Zeynep Tufekci: America’s next authoritarian will be much more competent]

I told the airline employee that we were not getting on that plane, destined for the Istanbul airport, which I knew would be a primary target. The other woman and I nodded at each other, becoming an immediate coup pod. I went out to secure transportation for us—this airport was not going to be safe either—while she and my 7-year-old son went to retrieve our luggage. “His first too,” I said to her.

In political science, the term coup refers to the illegitimate overthrow of a sitting government—usually through violence or the threat of violence. The technical term for attempting to stay in power illegitimately—such as after losing an election—is self-coup or autocoup, sometimes autogolpe.

Much debate has ensued about what exactly to call whatever Trump is attempting right now, and about how worried we should be. It’s true, the whole thing seems ludicrous—the incoherent lawsuits, the late-night champagne given to official election canvassers in Trump hotels, the tweets riddled with grammatical errors and weird capitalization. Trump has been broadly acknowledged as “norm shattering” and some have argued that this is just more of his usual bluster, while others have pointed out terminological issues with calling his endeavors a coup. Coup may not quite capture what we’re witnessing in the United States right now, but there’s also a danger here: Punditry can tend to focus too much on decorum and terminology, like the overachieving students so many of us once were, conflating the ridiculous with the unserious. The incoherence and incompetence of the attempt do not change its nature, however, nor do those traits allow us to dismiss it or ignore it until it finally fails on account of that incompetence.

Part of the problem is that we haven’t developed linguistic precision to put a name to it all—not just to what’s been happening since November, but to the processes within which it’s embedded. That’s dangerous, because language is a tool of survival. The Inuit have many words for snow—because their experience demands that kind of exactness. (The claim had been disputed, but the latest research affirms it.) “These people need to know whether ice is fit to walk on or whether you will sink through it. It’s a matter of life or death,” the linguist Willem DeReuse told New Scientist.

In Turkish, we do have many different words for different types of coups, because our experience similarly demands it. For example, coups that are attempted through threatening letters from the military are called memorandum coups. A 2007 attempt is commonly referred to as the “e-coup” because the threatening letter from the military was first posted on the internet. (The one before that, in 1997, is often referred to as a “postmodern” or “soft” coup.) We know the difference between military coups that start from the top and follow the military chain of command and those that do not. The term autogolpe comes from the Spanish partly because there have been so many such attempts in Latin America.

The U.S. president is trying to steal the election, and, crucially, his party either tacitly approves or is pretending not to see it. This is a particularly dangerous combination, and makes it much more than just typical Trumpian bluster or norm shattering.

Maybe in other languages, from places with more experience with this particular type of power grab, we’d be better able to discuss the subtleties of this effort, to distinguish the postelection intervention from the Election Day injustices, to separate the legal but frivolous from the outright lawless, and to understand why his party’s reaction—lack of reaction—is not just about wanting to conclude an embarrassing presidency with minimal fanfare. But in English, only one widely understood word captures what Donald Trump is trying to do, even though his acts do not meet its technical definition. Trump is attempting to stage some kind of coup, one that is embedded in a broader and ongoing power grab.

And if that’s hard to recognize, this might be your first.

Quote

What starts as farce may end as tragedy, a lesson that pundits should already have learned from their sneering dismissal of Trump when he first announced his presidential candidacy. Yes, the Trump campaign’s lawsuits are pinnacles of incompetence, too incoherent and embarrassing to go anywhere legally. The legislators who have been openly pressured by Trump don’t seem willing to abide the crassness of his attempt. States are certifying their election results one by one, and the General Services Administration―the agency that oversees presidential transitions—has started the process of handing the government over to President-elect Joe Biden. If things proceed in their ordinary course, the Electoral College will soon vote, and then Biden will take office.

But ignoring a near catastrophe that was averted by the buffoonish, half-hearted efforts of its would-be perpetrator invites a real catastrophe brought on by someone more competent and ambitious. President Trump had already established a playbook for contesting elections in 2016 by casting doubt on the election process before he won, and insisting that he only lost the popular vote due to fraud. Now he’s establishing a playbook for stealing elections by mobilizing executive, judicial, and legislative power to support the attempt. And worse, much worse, the playbook is being implicitly endorsed by the silence of some leading Republicans, and vocally endorsed by others, even as minority rule becomes increasingly entrenched in the American electoral system.

It’s not enough to count on our institutions to resist such onslaughts. Our institutions do not operate via magic. They do not gain their power from names, buildings, desks, or even rules. Institutions rely on people collectively agreeing to act in a certain way. Human laws do not simply exert their power like the inexorable pull of gravity. Once people decide that the rules are different, the rules are different. The rules for electoral legitimacy have been under sustained assault, and they’re changing right before our eyes.

We’re being tested, and we’re failing. The next attempt to steal an election may involve a closer election and smarter lawsuits. Imagine the same playbook executed with better decorum, a president exerting pressure that is less crass and issuing tweets that are more polite. If most Republican officials are failing to police this ham-handed attempt at a power grab, how many would resist a smoother, less grossly embarrassing effort?

Adding to the crisis is that many of the 74 million people who voted for Trump now believe that the election was outright stolen. They believe that they were robbed of the right to vote. How many of these supporters will be tempted to carry Trump’s claims about being cheated out of an election victory to their logical conclusion? Meanwhile, millions of people around the country are repeatedly experiencing that being a majority is not enough to win elections, or even if one does win, not always enough to be able to govern.

When Biden takes the presidential oath in January, many will write articles scolding those who expressed concern about a coup as worrywarts, or as people misusing terminology. But ignoring near misses is how people and societies get in real trouble the next time, and although the academic objections to the terminology aren’t incorrect, the problem is about much more than getting the exact term right.

Alarmism is problematic when it’s sensationalist. Alarmism is essential when conditions make it appropriate.

Kenneth Owen: Minority rule cannot last in America

The boy who cried wolf is a familiar parable. But what of the boy who saw an approaching wolf scared off by a thunderstorm and decided that he didn’t need to worry about wolves, instead of readying himself for its return? Fortune favors the prepared; catastrophe awaits those who confuse luck with strength.

In Turkey, the leader of the 1980 coup, the one that my mom had been warned about, was Kenan Evren. He was a military-academy classmate of many who had taken part in a particularly incompetent coup attempt in the early ’60s that failed spectacularly—its missteps included tanks being accidentally sent to a neighborhood in Ankara at the wrong time. But the coup Evren led many years later was anything but farcical: Hundreds of thousands were detained, and more than 100 were tortured to death. A new, restrictive constitution was enacted, under repressive conditions. The failure of multiple attempted coups in the ’60s was not a reason to dismiss the risk of a subsequent coup—but a warning that such an effort might well succeed in more competent hands. Indeed, there was a “memorandum coup” in 1971, which resulted in a change of government after the military issued threats, and the full military takeover in 1980.

So, yes, the word coup may not technically capture what we’re seeing, but as Pablo Picasso said: “Art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand.” People are using the term because it captures the sense and the spirit of the moment—its zeitgeist, its underlying truth.

Our focus should not be a debate about the proper terminology. Instead, we should react to the frightening substance of what we’re facing, even if we also believe that the crassness and the incompetence of this attempt may well doom it this time. If the Republican Party, itself entrenching minority rule on many levels, won’t stand up to Trump’s attempt to steal an election through lying and intimidation with the fury the situation demands; if the Democratic Party’s leadership remains solely focused on preparing for the presidency of Joe Biden rather than talking openly about what’s happening; and if ordinary citizens feel bewildered and disempowered, we may settle the terminological debate in the worst possible way: by accruing enough experience with illegitimate power grabs to evolve a more fine-grained vocabulary.

Act like this is your first coup, if you want to be sure that it’s also your last.

If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#17160 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-December-08, 09:52

Majiec Coglewski said:

https://zeynep.subst...ihMiur9uc72j4gc[/url]

Calling anything a “coup” in these circumstances—even if you search for just the right Inuit word to capture its nuance—seems a little extravagant.

This disconnect between what’s happening out in the country and the thunder and smoke on social media is part of a pattern we’ve been stuck in since 2016, when Trump became the presumptive nominee. Through the entire trajectory of Trump’s presidency—his assumption of power, his cabinet appointments, the Russia investigation, the Mueller report, impeachment, the census, the midterm elections, and now his peaceful departure from office—we have been warning each other that we might as well start ironing our brown shirts, because American democracy was just about done for.

But for a patient who has spent four years on life support, American democracy has been looking remarkably spry. All of the elections held during Trump’s tenure in office have been utterly ordinary. When Democrats won the House in 2018, the President’s party relinquished control without a fuss. Now we’ve had a similarly smooth election in 2020. In a month’s time we’ll see the 44th peaceful transfer of power to a democratically elected head of state.

And yet we kvetch. I don’t have any moral high ground to stand on here—I’ve been just as bad as the rest of you, prophesying doom for the last four years. But there comes a point after you’ve been pulling the fire alarm for a while when you have to pause and wonder where the flames are.

It’s important that we admit that norm-breaking behavior by Trump in 2020, even his flagrant attempt to overturn the election, is not the same thing as his norm breaking when he first got into office. We’ve had four years to get the measure of the man. We know how the movie goes. He’ll rage for a while and it will be over.

The Republicans accepted this fact of life earlier than we did, and concentrated on achieving whatever political goals they could pull out of the chaos of his administration. And so they got their tax cut, their Federal justices, and Supreme Court appointments. When it became clear Biden had won the election, they made the correct, if not very noble, political calculation that they should just wait and let Trump sulk for a while. Like a lot of political calculations the Republicans have made in the past four years, this one was both enraging and accurate.

Zeynep argues that to dismiss the post-election theatrics because they are farcical misses the point—that Trump’s flailing, comical attempt at stealing the election sets the stage for a more competent politician to run the same playbook in the future, attacking and undermining a legitimate election. She argues that if we don’t hold politicians to basic norms of conduct now, we’re not going to have those norms when we need them most.

But the lesson I take from the 2020 election is a much darker one —that we are worrying far too much about how Republicans might steal future elections, and not enough about how they can win those elections outright.

Consider that we came within a whisker of losing this election! Only the pandemic, which gave Trump a canvas broad enough to express the full scope of his incompetence, saved our hide. Not only did we fail to win a Senate majority (absent a double miracle in Georgia), but we came close to losing our majority in the House, which no one even expected could be in danger.

And the lower down the ballot you go, the more unpleasant the results. State house majorities that seemed ours for the taking in Iowa, North Carolina, Arizona, Florida, Texas, and Pennsylvania instead got redder. We couldn’t even flip two seats in the Minnesota senate, where Democrats control both the state house and the governor’s mansion, and Walter Mondale roams the earth.

We didn’t lose these state races because of gerrymandering, or lack of money, or any kind of Republican tampering with the electoral process. Our failure was political, and all the more inexcusable because it took place in a year when the opposing party had failed at governing so badly that it had racked up a body count. And still we couldn’t make the case.

As Zeynep points out in her essay, these newly-elected Republican legislatures will now have the opportunity to redraw Congressional districts based on the 2020 census. Even with no change in the vote, this redistricting process would net the Republican party a House majority in 2022. And we know from history that the midterm vote is likely to favor them. So not only can Republicans expect to win a House majority in 2022, but they have a fair shot at winning it with a plurality of the national vote.

So my response to worries that a future, more competent Trump might try to steal an election is that we should be so lucky! The more likely, and frightening, outcome is that Republicans are about to win majorities, bigly, that will make this whole debate about entrenched minority rule academic. You don’t have to steal elections when you win.

Dems have a ton of work to do. They are doing some of this work in Virginia where we helped flip the House in 2018 and took back the Virginia General Assembly in 2019. Demographic changes are helping. As in other states, Trumpism is rampant in rural areas. So, still a ton of work to do here.
If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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