Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Last Call For Supreme Disenfranchisement

The era of free and fair elections in America ended today, probably permanently, as Martin Longman discusses. Wisconsin's absentee ballot extension deadline due to COVID-19 was annulled by the US Supreme Court yesterday, and today's Wisconsin primary turnout will be in the single digits, all but guaranteeing a Republican sweep of local and state races.

It seems inevitable that Milwaukee will have an immensely reduced turnout, which is tantamount to handing the Republicans victory in every statewide contested election on the ballot. But it gets worse.

Once the Democrats understood that the election would go forward, they went to court to try to make sure that absentee ballots could serve as an alternative, and they convinced an Obama-appointed federal judge to extend the deadline for submitting an absentee ballot from 8pm April 7 to 4pm on April 13. The judge reasoned that this was reasonable because the state had received 1.2 million ballot requests and was struggling to get them mailed out in time for voters to receive them.

But the Republicans appealed this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. On Monday, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 along completely partisan lines to rescind the lower court’s decision and uphold the 8pm April 7 deadline for receiving an absentee ballot. 
Predictably, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg was incensed:

As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg notes in her dissent, “the presidential primaries, a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, three seats on the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, over 100 other judgeships, over 500 school board seats, and several thousand other positions” are at stake in the Wisconsin election…

…Again, many voters are not expected to receive their ballots until after this April 7 deadline. As Justice Ginsburg notes, “as of Sunday morning, 12,000 ballots reportedly had not yet been mailed out…”

Now, the most egregious thing here is that the Republicans are defying their governor and putting people’s lives at risk. But it’s almost equally offensive that they’re using this crisis to guarantee themselves a slew of easy victories in what are actually competitive elections. And this is all possible because Republican-controlled legislatures and courts are willing to go to any length to help their party electorally, even if it destroys the bench’s reputation for impartiality, and even if it annihilates any respect for the outcome of elections. How can anyone argue that you can have a fair election when Milwaukee can only produce five polling locations rather than the 180 that are needed? How can they say they’re not disenfranchising people when folks have to choose between possible death if they go out in public to vote or not voting at all because they didn’t receive an absentee ballot in time to mail it in by Tuesday night’s deadline?

Expect this nightmare to be repeated in every state that doesn't have universal mail-in ballots.

Imagine in November with COVID-19 still raging across the country that 75% of polling locations are closed on Election Day, that turnout is in the low teens or high single digits, and Republicans easily win every remotely competitive House and Senate race, as well as giving Trump a huge electoral college win.

Imagine what Republicans would do with a 5-4 SCOTUS majority, the House, and 60+ Senate seats, and Trump leading the way, still using "emergency powers" because of the pandemic.

It would be a catastrophe.

We're headed there right now.

Trump Goes Viral, Con't

Dear Leader no longer needs a proxy for his daily mandatory session of lying to the planet, so his press secretary is gone without ever holding a briefing.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham is leaving the job without ever having briefed the press. CNN has learned she is returning to the East Wing as first lady Melania Trump's chief of staff as President Donald Trump's new chief of staff Mark Meadows shakes up the communications team in the West Wing. 
Meadows is currently considering several candidates for the press secretary job, including Trump campaign spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany. The new chief of staff is also considering hiring Alyssa Farah, the current spokeswoman for the Defense Department, for a communications role, among others, two sources with knowledge of the situation told CNN. 
Farah has held several roles in the Trump administration. After leaving her job as the spokeswoman for the House Freedom Caucus to become Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary, she moved to the Pentagon last August. But this would be her first position in the West Wing. Farah has remained close with Meadows since her days at the Freedom Caucus. 
Grisham, who still speaks with first lady Melania Trump on a daily basis, is returning to where she has spent the majority of her time in the administration, the East Wing. 
Grisham did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment.

Grisham is being replaced by campaign press flack Kayleigh McEnany, as new Chief of Staff Mark Meadows retools the White House press office as the campaign propaganda department.

Again, Trump loves this.  He gets to be on TV in prime time every day, seven days a week if he wants, and everyone has to pay attention to him.  He believes he is the star of the Coronavirus Hour and that he'll easily win in November with daily briefings ahead for months. 

Nobody is paying attention to what Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, or Chuck Schumer are saying, but Trump gets on TV live from the White House daily.   The broken media will cover him every day, no matter how much they protest, and the Dems' irrelevancy will continue through November.  2020 is Trump vs. COVID-19, if we even have an election in November, which is now seriously in doubt.

Unless Dems change the message with a major legislative push from Pelosi and Schumer, Trump will use the deaths and destruction to make himself leader for life. Every day is now The Trump Show for a captive, shut-in American audience of hundreds of millions.

And he gets to spread his lies daily. Example #6829 that the Trump regime was warned about how bad a pandemic would be and that Trump wasted weeks and weeks anyway came from all people, Trump's own trade guru, Peter Navarro, at the end of January.

A top White House adviser starkly warned Trump administration officials in late January that the coronavirus crisis could cost the United States trillions of dollars and put millions of Americans at risk of illness or death. 
The warning, written in a memo by Peter Navarro, President Trump’s trade adviser, is the highest-level alert known to have circulated inside the West Wing as the administration was taking its first substantive steps to confront a crisis that had already consumed China’s leaders and would go on to upend life in Europe and the United States. 
“The lack of immune protection or an existing cure or vaccine would leave Americans defenseless in the case of a full-blown coronavirus outbreak on U.S. soil,” Mr. Navarro’s memo said. “This lack of protection elevates the risk of the coronavirus evolving into a full-blown pandemic, imperiling the lives of millions of Americans.”

Dated Jan. 29, it came during a period when Mr. Trump was playing down the risks to the United States, and he would later go on to say that no one could have predicted such a devastating outcome.

I guess this is Navarro openly covering his ass here, as he's not going to take the fall for "Nobody could have known".  That particular lie was repeated this week by Trump regime economics adviser Larry "Always Wrong" Kudlow, and I guess Navarro's smart enough to see that Trump's going to blame somebody for the failure of the federal government's COVID-19 response and he doesn't want it to be him.

It's not like Trump has any plausible deniability on this anyway.  Multiple sources warned of a pandemic, intelligence, diplomatic, military, public health, the previous administration, and now his own advisers warned him.  Surely Navarro knows his only job is to protect Donald Trump politically though, right?

He must believe his position is pretty solid if this leaked out.

But Trump is getting rid of anyone who is supposed to hold him accountable, as his war on Inspectors General continues.  Hence his real move today, firing the watchdog over the CARES package slush fund after just two weeks.

President Donald Trump has upended the panel of federal watchdogs overseeing implementation of the $2 trillion coronavirus law, tapping a replacement for the Pentagon official who was supposed to lead the effort.

A panel of inspectors general had named Glenn Fine — the acting Pentagon watchdog — to lead the group charged with monitoring the coronavirus relief effort. But Trump on Monday removed Fine from his post, instead naming the EPA inspector general to serve as the temporary Pentagon watchdog in addition to his other responsibilities.

That decision, which began circulating on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning, effectively removed Fine from his role overseeing the coronavirus relief effort, since the new law permits only current inspectors general to fill the position.

“Mr. Fine is no longer on the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee," Dwrena Allen, a spokeswoman for the Pentagon inspector general’s office, confirmed.
Fine’s removal is Trump’s latest incursion into the community of independent federal watchdogs — punctuated most dramatically by his late Friday ouster of the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson, whose handling of a whistleblower report ultimately led to Trump’s impeachment.

Trump has also begun sharply attacking Health and Human Services Inspector General Christi Grimm, following a report from her office that described widespread testing delays and supply issues at the nation’s hospitals.

“Another Fake Dossier!” Trump tweeted, mentioning Grimm’s tenure as inspector general during the Obama administration. He didn’t mention, though, that Grimm has been serving as a federal watchdog since 1999, spanning administrations of both parties.

Trump’s targeting of Atkinson drew an unusual rebuke from Michael Horowitz, the inspector general of the Justice Department who also oversees a council of inspectors general. Horowitz said Atkison handled the whistleblower matter appropriately and defended the broader IG community.

At this point Trump is openly doing whatever he wants, and leaving us to deal with a pandemic killing thousands daily.  Removing him from power has never been more necessary and more impossible.

Cruel And Usual Punishment

Alabama's department of corrections is preparing for widespread COVID-19 casualties and mass riots inside jails and prisons that may take calling in the National Guard to put down.

Alabama’s prisons are underprepared to prevent and manage the spread of COVID-19, prompting a worst-case scenario plan that could call on the National Guard to work in the prisons should the virus take hold in the system
, according to an internal Department of Corrections document obtained by AL.com.

The 263-page planning document states that the physical design of Alabama's prisons, severe overcrowding and understaffing combine to make it impossible to follow recommended protocols for keeping prisoners and employees from contracting the coronavirus.

In the worst-case scenario outlined in the plan, system-wide shortfalls could result in widespread infection, the need for military intervention and nearly 200 inmate deaths. And the plan shows that the department anticipates that it may need to spend more than $2 million on supplies to respond to the pandemic, including personal protective equipment, medication and body bags.

AL.com obtained a copy of the document, dubbed 2020 Pandemic Continuity of Operations Plan, on Thursday, the same day some officials first received it via email. The document was dated April 1 and signed on that date by Ruth Naglich, the department’s associate commissioner for health services.

Inmates and their families, correctional officers, attorneys, journalists and other stakeholders have been asking the department about the impact of coronavirus on the state prison system and its nearly 22,000 inmates for weeks. Epidemiologists, professors and other experts have been ringing alarm bells about the need for Alabama and other states with overcrowded prisons to take swift, decisive action to keep coronavirus from spreading behind bars and killing large numbers of prisoners.

In a telephone call Friday night, DOC Commissioner Jefferson Dunn said he and the department he runs are doing everything in their power to avoid such a result in Alabama.

"The number one thing in my mind is safety, is trying our best to prevent the virus from getting into the facilities, and then mitigating the impact," he said.

But the DOC has provided little in the way of information about how it is managing the crisis, beyond three written statements since March 19 that failed to address many concerns about its coronavirus response. The DOC planning document was dated nearly two weeks after Gov. Kay Ivey declared a state of emergency in response to coronavirus on March 13, the same day her office released a statement about Alabama’s first confirmed COVID-19 case.

The department says that none of its prisoners have been diagnosed with COVID-19. It recently posted a chart on its website detailing the amount of testing for the virus that has been undertaken in its facilities. The chart showed that only 17 state prisoners had been tested for the virus as of Tuesday. Twelve of those tests came back negative and the results of the other five were still pending, according to the chart.

The department, which operates more than two dozen correctional facilities across the state, reported on Wednesday that two of its employees had tested positive for coronavirus as of that date.

The planning document characterizes prisoners as being at “Very High” risk of being exposed to the disease and says it is “unrealistic to assume cases of COVID-19 will not be found within one or more ADOC facilities.”

This worst-case scenario is already beginning to materialize inside NYC's infamous Rikers Island prison.

A Rikers Island inmate became the first prisoner based in New York to die from COVID-19 Sunday.
The 53-year-old convict passed away at Bellevue Hospital after he was transferred from the infamous Big Apple facility, said the New York Post, citing a statement from Department of Corrections spokesperson Peter Thorne.

Thorne extended the Department's condolences to the inmate's family, adding that their number priority is still the “safety and well-being of those in custody.”

The New York Times pointed that an anonymous official said the inmate had been sentenced on Rikers Island since February 28 before he was transferred to the said hospital on March 26.

As of Sunday, at least 273 inmates, 321 correction employees and 52 healthcare workers have tested positive for COVID-19. Four corrections employees have died since, according to the outlet.

New York City officials have released at least 200 inmates in order to slow down the spread of the virus among detainees, most of which are crammed inside prison blocks.

America's prison system is going to be absolute hell soon, and wouldn't you know it, more black people are going to die from systemic racism in the US, too.


Related Posts with Thumbnails