Another Stalwart Republican Breaks Ranks

Law professor Steven Calibresi is a leading Republican. He is a co-founder of the right-wing Federalist Society. He voted for this president and opposed his impeachment. However, the maniac’s latest pronouncement was too much even for Calibresi:

. . . I am frankly appalled by the president’s recent tweet seeking to postpone the November election. Until recently, I had taken as political hyperbole the Democrats’ assertion that President Txxxx is a fascist. But this latest tweet is fascistic and is itself grounds for the president’s immediate impeachment again by the House of Representatives and his removal from office by the Senate.

Here is what President Txxxx tweeted:

With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???

The nation has faced grave challenges before, just as it does today with the spread of the coronavirus. But it has never canceled or delayed a presidential election. Not in 1864, when President Abraham Lincoln was expected to lose and the South looked as if it might defeat the North. Not in 1932 in the depths of the Great Depression. Not in 1944 during World War II.

So we certainly should not even consider canceling this fall’s election because of the president’s concern about mail-in voting, which is likely to increase because of fears about Covid-19. It is up to each of the 50 states whether to allow universal mail-in voting and Article II of the Constitution explicitly gives the states total power over the selection of presidential electors.

Election Day was fixed by a federal law passed in 1845, and the Constitution itself in the 20th Amendment specifies that the newly elected Congress meet at noon on Jan. 3, 2021, and that the terms of the president and vice president end at noon on Jan. 20, 2021. If no newly elected president is available, the speaker of the House of Representatives becomes acting president.

President Txxxx needs to be told by every Republican in Congress that he cannot postpone the federal election. Doing so would be illegal, unconstitutional and without precedent in American history. Anyone who says otherwise should never be elected to Congress again.

Unquote.

It was announced this morning that the country’s Gross Domestic Product went down by 9.5% in the second quarter, the largest drop ever recorded. We’re on track to easily pass 200,000 coronavirus deaths by November.

No wonder the president is nervous. Today he tried to make the idea of a delayed election sound plausible:

You’re sending out hundreds of millions of universal mail-in ballots. Hundreds of millions,” Mr. Txxxx said. “Where are they going? Who are they being sent to?”

Given current circumstances, Txxxx probably feels like hundreds of millions of angry voters are bearing down on him. But America only has around 150 million registered voters. They’re the only people who might possibly receive a mail-in ballot. They’re the only people whose mail-in ballot would be accepted by election officials. So at most there are only 150 million or so angry voters bearing down on him. 

Hey, Mr. President, not to worry!

Note: The Republican leaders of the Senate and House agreed today that the election will be held in November. Someone orange isn’t going to be happy.

A Republican Confesses

The Republican Party has been rotten since the days of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Some of the less crazy Republicans are now acknowledging the party’s downward trajectory. This apology was written by a political consultant, Stuart Stevens, for The New York Times (I’ve removed some historical and self-serving parts):

I spent decades working to elect Republicans, including Mr. Romney and four other presidential candidates, and I am here to bear reluctant witness that Mr. Txxxx didn’t hijack the Republican Party. He is the logical conclusion of what the party became over the past 50 or so years, a natural product of the seeds of race-baiting, self-deception and anger that now dominate it. Hold Dxxxx Txxxx up to a mirror and that bulging, scowling orange face is today’s Republican Party.

I saw the warning signs but ignored them and chose to believe what I wanted to believe: The party wasn’t just a white grievance party; there was still a big tent; the others guys were worse. Many of us in the party saw this dark side and told ourselves it was a recessive gene. We were wrong. It turned out to be the dominant gene.

What is most telling is that the Republican Party actively embraced, supported, defended and now enthusiastically identifies with a man who eagerly exploits the nation’s racial tensions. In our system, political parties should serve a circuit breaker function. The Republican Party never pulled the switch. . . .

There is a collective blame to be shared by those of us who have created the modern Republican Party that has so egregiously betrayed the principles it claimed to represent. My j’accuse is against us all, not a few individuals who were the most egregious.

How did this happen? How do you abandon deeply held beliefs about character, personal responsibility, foreign policy and the national debt in a matter of months? You don’t. The obvious answer is those beliefs weren’t deeply held. What others and I thought were bedrock values turned out to be mere marketing slogans easily replaced. I feel like the guy working for Bernie Madoff who thought they were actually beating the market.

Mr. Txxxx has served a useful purpose by exposing the deep flaws of a major American political party. Like a heavy truck driven over a bridge on the edge of failure, he has made it impossible to ignore the long-developing fault lines of the Republican Party. A party rooted in decency and values does not embrace the anger that Mr. Txxxx peddles as patriotism.

This collapse of a major political party as a moral governing force is unlike anything we have seen in modern American politics. The closest parallel is the demise of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union, when the dissonance between what the party said it stood for and what citizens actually experienced was so great that it was unsustainable.

This election should signal a day of reckoning for the party and all who claim it as a political identity. Will it? I’ve given up hope that there are any lines of decency or normalcy that once crossed would move Republican leaders to act as if they took their oath of office more seriously than their allegiance to party. Only fear will motivate the party to change — the cold fear only defeat can bring.

That defeat is looming. Will it bring desperately needed change to the Republican Party? I’d like to say I’m hopeful. But that would be a lie and there have been too many lies for too long.

Staring Down the Barrel of Martial Law

Yesterday, from The Guardian:

The former acting director of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which works under the Department of Homeland Security, has condemned the Trump administration’s handling of protests in Portland by deploying federal agents into the city.

John Sandweg, the former acting director of Ice, who also served as general counsel for the DHS, said Dxxxx Txxxx was using the agency as his own “goon squad”. . . .

From today’s Guardian:

America is “staring down the barrel of martial law” as it approaches the presidential election, a US senator from Oregon has warned as Dxxxx Txxxx cracks down on protests in Portland, the state’s biggest city.

In interviews with The Guardian, Democrat Ron Wyden said the federal government’s authoritarian tactics in Portland and other cities posed an “enormous” threat to democracy, while his fellow senator Jeff Merkley described it as “an all-out assault in military-style fashion”.

In the early hours of Saturday, thousands of protesters gathered again outside the federal courthouse in the city, shooting fireworks at the building as teargas, dispensed by US agents, lingered above. . . . At around 2.30 am, agents marched down the street, clearing protesters with gas at close range. They also extinguished a fire outside the courthouse.

The independent watchdogs for the US justice and homeland security departments said on Thursday they were launching investigations into the use of force by federal agents, including instances of unidentified officers in camouflage gear snatching demonstrators off the streets and spiriting them away in unmarked vehicles.

But Txxxx this week announced a “surge” of federal law enforcement to Chicago and Albuquerque, in addition to a contingent already in Kansas City. The move fueled critics’ suspicions that the president was stressing a “law and order” campaign theme at the expense of civil liberties.

Wyden said in a statement: “The violent tactics deployed by Dxxxx Txxxx and his paramilitary forces against peaceful protesters are those of a fascist regime, not a democratic nation.”

Speaking by phone, he said: “Unless America draws a line in the sand right now, I think we could be staring down the barrel of martial law in the middle of a presidential election.”

Military control of government was last imposed in the US in 1941, after the attack on Pearl Harbor. In current circumstances it would entail “trashing the constitution and trashing people’s individual rights”, Wyden warned.

The senator recalled a conversation with a legal adviser for the head of national intelligence.

“I asked him again and again what was the constitutional justification for what the Txxxx administration is doing in my home town and he completely ducked the questions and several times said, ‘Well, I just want to extend my best wishes to your constituents.’
“After I heard him say it several times, I said my constituents don’t want your best wishes. They want to know when you’re going to stop trashing their constitutional rights.”

Txxxx has falsely accused his election rival, Joe Biden, of pledging to “defund the police” so violent crime will flourish. Democrats condemn Txxxx for a made-for-TV attempt to distract both from Black Lives Matter protests and his mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, now killing more than 1,000 Americans a day.

“I wish the president would fight the coronavirus half as hard as he attacks my home town,” Wyden said. “I think he’s setting up an us-against-them kind of strategy. He’s trying to create his narrative that my constituents, who are peaceful protesters, are basically anarchists, sympathisers of anarchists and, as he does so often, just fabricate it.
“Txxxx knows that his [coronavirus] strategy has been an unmitigated disaster. The coronavirus is spiking in various places and he’s trying to play to right wing media and play to his base and see if he can kind of create a narrative that gives him some traction.”

The Portland deployment, Operation Diligent Valor, involves 114 officers from homeland security and the US Marshals Service, according to court documents. Local officials say their heavy-handed approach, including teargas and flash grenades, has merely enflamed demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice. The justice department-led Operation Legend involves more than 200 agents each in Kansas City and Chicago as well as 35 in Albuquerque. [Its stated purpose is to target] violent crime.

Lori Lightfoot, the mayor of Chicago, has vowed to resist the federal intervention.
“We’re not going to allow the unconstitutional, state-sanctioned lawlessness we saw brought to Portland here in Chicago,” she said on Thursday.

Merkley offered words of advice.

“I would say that you probably don’t believe that these federal forces will attack protesters if the protesters are peaceful and you will be wrong because that’s exactly what they’re doing in Portland,” he told The Guardian.

“This is an all-out assault in military-style fashion on a peaceful-style protest. The way to handle graffiti is put up a fence or come out and ask people to stop doing it, not to attack a peaceful protest but that’s exactly what happened. It’s very clear what the president is trying to do is incite violence and then display that violence in campaign ads. And I say this because that’s exactly what he’s doing right now. This is not some theory.”

Unquote.

VOTE.

How To Vote

Dana Milbank of The Washington Post says we should “stop fretting about Txxxx and do something about it — right now”. Here’s what he says minus the most obvious reasons:

Go to Vote.org, or, if you are reading this in the dead-tree edition, type vote.org/am-i-registered-to-vote into your browser, spend 30 seconds entering your name, address and date of birth, and you’ll find out instantly if your voter registration is current. If not, follow the instructions to register.

Next, click this link or type vote.org/absentee-ballot into your browser, and sign yourself up to receive an absentee ballot for the November election. That takes about two minutes.

Finally, make sure your friends and family do the same. If they’re technology-challenged, help them through it or give them the phone numbers for their states’ elections offices, available here at the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, eac.gov/voters/election-day-contact-information. . . .

[Because more people than usual will be voting by mail,] now is the time to request ballots, before the systems are overwhelmed. . . .  76 percent of American voters can cast ballots by mail in the fall.

Only nine states, an electoral Hall of Shame, make you choose between your health and your right to vote, because they don’t count the pandemic as a valid reason to request an absentee ballot. The nine: Connecticut, New York, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia.

Conversely, if you’re lucky enough to live in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, Utah, California, Vermont or the District of Columbia, all you have to do is make sure you’re registered and your address is correct and you’ll automatically receive a ballot in the mail.

If you live in one of the other 34 states, request your ballot at Vote.org. Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Ohio say they will automatically send absentee-ballot applications to all registered voters. But in the rest — including battlegrounds Arizona, Florida, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire — it’s all up to you to take action and request your ballot. (Some states let you bring the completed absentee ballot to a polling place or collection spot instead of mailing.)

Vote.org’s chief executive, Andrea Hailey, tells me that for those in the 13 states requiring a “wet” (non-digital) signature to get an absentee ballot (Ohio and Georgia among them), the nonpartisan, nonprofit group will send stamped envelopes. Those who prefer not to use Vote.org can of course go directly to their states’ election offices; other groups doing good work in this area include Rock the VoteHeadCountTurboVote and the Voter Participation Center.

Unquote and enough said.