Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Last Call For The Race To Replace, Con't

With both Mitt Romney and Thom Tillis committing to confirm Trump's pick to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- and I remind you Trump has not made his decision yet and they are still pledging to vote for Trump's nominee unseen -- Trump has the votes to confirm during the election, an unprecedented assault on our country.

So what the hell do Democrats plan to do about it? Former Harry Reid staffer Adam Jentleson offeres some ideas.


There is no silver bullet available to Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate minority leader, to block the nominee. Distraught Democrats should understand that senators’ options are limited, but Democratic senators should understand the depth of voters’ desire to see their senators do everything possible to stop Mr. Trump from replacing R.B.G. This is an illegitimate process, and that is how Democrats should approach it. A core function of the Senate is to “advise and consent” on federal court nominees. Jamming a Supreme Court nominee through in direct contradiction of Republican senators’ pledges not to do so, with votes already being cast in the election, will be a clear abdication of any reasonable claim to the institution’s constitutional responsibility.

There are a range of tools available to Democrats to apply constant pressure. The Senate operates on what are called “unanimous consent” agreements, or U.C.s — pacts that set the daily schedule and the terms of conduct for all business. As the name suggests, every senator has to agree to a U.C. If a single senator objects, the U.C. is blocked. Democrats can bring the business of the Senate to a halt by systematically denying U.C. agreements. This simply requires stationing one senator on the floor at all times — senators can rotate every few hours, they just need to be physically present on the floor to say, “I object,” anytime Republicans try to pass a U.C.

Denying U.C.s will gum up the works in countless ways, one of which will be to deny committees the ability to meet more than two hours after the Senate convenes. This applies to the Judiciary Committee, where any confirmation hearings would be held. Republicans will still be able to schedule them, but it will make the process arduous and abnormal.

Absent U.C.s, the Senate needs a quorum of 51 senators to be present to conduct business. Senate Democrats should force Republicans to produce quorums on their own. Republicans control 53 seats, but bringing 51 senators to the floor every time they need to conduct business is a major challenge. Notably, Republicans have more incumbent senators up for re-election than Democrats do, and every day they have to spend in Washington is a lost day of campaigning. It takes only one senator to do this: By noting the absence of a quorum, a Democratic senator can put the Senate into a state of suspended animation called a “quorum call” until 51 senators arrive on the floor.

Democrats can also boycott the confirmation hearings. The hearings are unlikely to influence the outcome. If the hearings for Brett Kavanaugh did not change any votes, neither will these hearings. Attending confers legitimacy, and refusing to attend will send a powerful statement that they deem the process and the nominee illegitimate.

Together, these tactics will hang an asterisk around President Trump’s nominee. Democratic senators should keep in mind that if they participate in the process, even aggressively, history will record it as a “contentious” confirmation process, a common occurrence. Boycotting the process and disrupting Senate business, on the other hand, will brand it as fundamentally different from anything that has come before.


This is the same weak sauce offered before with Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation, ultimately it went nowhere.  But there's more this time.


This brings us to the most important step: Democrats should commit to the structural reforms necessary to undo the damage Republicans have wrought. Republicans were able to block Judge Merrick Garland and install a conservative majority on the Supreme Court despite representing less than half of the population. The Senate overrepresents white conservatives, while minority voters are more underrepresented than at any time since 1870. A white conservative minority imposing its will on a diverse majority — in part through federal judges serving lifetime appointments — is a fundamentally unhealthy dynamic for our democracy.

If Democrats win the White House and the Senate in November, they can pass reforms to rebalance our democracy through simple majority votes. The only thing standing in the way will be the filibuster — a procedural mutation that was not a part of the original Senate and that has been manipulated in recent decades to transform the Senate from the framers’ vision of a majority-rule institution into one where most business requires 60 votes (or a “supermajority”) to pass. There are many good reasons to get rid of the filibuster, but Republicans jamming through a nominee should motivate any hesitant Democrats to commit to eliminating it if they take back power.

Without the filibuster, reforms can be passed by simple majority votes, as the framers intended. Democrats should commit to reforming the Supreme Court: They can add seats to the court; apply age or term limits; or pass any of a range of credible proposals. Congress has the prerogative to change the court, including its size, which it has done six times since the founding.

Democrats should also reform the Senate so it better represents the nation. They can start by inviting territories bound by federal law but lacking voting representation in Congress to become states. The District of Columbia has roughly a similar or greater population as Wyoming or North Dakota, while Puerto Rico has more people than 20 states. Both deserve to become states if they so choose.

Committing to these changes now will enable Democrats to move quickly if they take back power.


It's a bold move, and Democrats will have to absolutely and fully committ and follow through for this to happen, but it's the only shot we have.

The alternative is 1952 America, Jim Crow, and white supremacy as the law of the land, based on Christian conservative bigotry being used to justify discrimination of everyone who isn't white, male, and straight. 

But there are issues right now, today. With Justice Ginsberg's body not even cold yet, the GOP is already asking the Supreme Court to block voting by mail in Pennsylvania this week.


In a sign of how critical Pennsylvania is to the Republican Party’s election litigation strategy, the state GOP wants the U.S. Supreme Court to review a state case that opened up absentee voting, while the Trump campaign is seeking to revive a federal lawsuit targeting Pennsylvania’s plans for pandemic voting.

The indication Tuesday that the U.S. Supreme Court will be asked to get involved in the state court case marks the first time the high court’s intervention will be sought since the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Democrats and Republicans have been engaged in a multi-front court battle over several aspects of Pennsylvania’s absentee voting process.

Last week, in a lawsuit brought by Democrats, the state Supreme Court okayed Pennsylvania’s plans to set up ballot drop boxes and it upheld the state’s requirement that poll watchers reside in the county they are assigned to. It also ruled that election officials should count ballots that arrive in the three days after the election.

The Pennsylvania GOP as well as the Republican leaders of its legislature indicated on Tuesday that it would appeal that decision — and particularly its extension for the receipt deadline for absentee ballots — to the U.S. Supreme Court. The notice came in requests to the state Supreme Court that it put its opinion on hold while U.S. Supreme Court review is sought.


All indications now are that the PA GOP will get a ruling in their favor, one that will be repeated nationally in order to disenfranchise millions of mail ballots.

And we're just getting started on the massive voter suppression now available to the GOP in the next six weeks.

Be ready.

Biden, His Time

According to the Des Moines Register, Iowa is now in play for Biden on top of the rest of the battleground states as he is tied there with Trump at 47% a piece.


It's a dead heat in Iowa as a new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll shows President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden locked in a tie just six weeks to Election Day.

Forty-seven percent of likely voters say they would support Trump for president, and 47% say they would support Biden. Another 4% would vote for someone else and 3% are unsure.

A stark gender divide appears to be driving the race as men of nearly every demographic cast their support for Trump, a Republican, and women do the same for Biden, a Democrat.

“I don’t know that there’s any race in the history of presidential polling in Iowa that shows this kind of division,” said J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co., the firm that conducted the poll.

Trump leads by 21 percentage points with men, 57% to 36% over Biden. And Biden leads by 20 percentage points with women, 57% to 37% over Trump.

Data from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office show similar voter turnout rates for men and women over recent elections, though more women typically cast ballots.

The race — despite ongoing uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic, continued protests over racial justice and raging wildfires in the west — is largely holding steady from June, when Trump led Biden 44% to 43%.

“We've had two polls in a row putting it very, very close,” Selzer said. “I think all eyes will be on Iowa.”


If Trump is now in danger of losing Iowa, his firewall has completely cracked. By my count, that means Iowa can be added to NC, Florida, Ohio, and Georgia as all "must-win" states for Trump that are now tossups, and even then Biden leading in PA, WI, AZ and MI gives him the win regardless of how the toss-ups turn out.

We're on the verge of a Biden blowout scenario with six weeks to go.

Again, as 2016 showed, a lot can happen in the last six week, hell, the last two weeks of an election, that turn a strong Democratic lead into a Trump electoral college victory.

Take nothing for granted.

Vote early if you haven't voted already.

Retribution Execution, Con't

The Trump Regime is apparently following through on its threat to deem Democratic cities as "anarchist jurisdictions" in order to justify stripping all federal funds from going to Seattle, Portland, or New York City.


The Justice Department announced Monday that New York City, Seattle and Portland, Ore., would be designated as jurisdictions "permitting violence and destruction of property" under President Trump's early-September order requiring federal agencies to submit potential funding cuts for cities "permitting anarchy."

In a statement, the agency hit leaders of the three cities for rejecting federal law enforcement assistance in quelling protests while pointing to ongoing demonstrations that have continued for weeks over the treatment of Black Americans by law enforcement.

“When state and local leaders impede their own law enforcement officers and agencies from doing their jobs, it endangers innocent citizens who deserve to be protected, including those who are trying to peacefully assemble and protest,” said Attorney General William Barr. “We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted when the safety of the citizenry hangs in the balance. It is my hope that the cities identified by the Department of Justice today will reverse course and become serious about performing the basic function of government and start protecting their own citizens.”

The news release also highlighted New York and Portland's efforts to cut police funding in the wake of demonstrations, which began in late May following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

In Seattle, the news release pointed to the area formerly known as the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP), a zone of downtown Seattle occupied by protesters for days after they forced police to withdraw from the area. The CHOP was finally closed down by police, who returned to the area following several late-night shootings.

"For nearly a month, starting in June, the City of Seattle permitted anarchists and activists to seize six square blocks of the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood," the Justice Department charged.

The news release added that other cities could be added to the list of so-called anarchist jurisdictions if necessary: "The Department of Justice is continuing to work to identify jurisdictions that meet the criteria set out in the President’s Memorandum and will periodically update the list of selected jurisdictions as required therein."


This is all fantastic horsecrap, with the usual caveat that the answer to "Can Trump actually do this?" is always "If we let him, sure."  This will be fought in court of course, to which all I can say is "Well, the Supreme Court certainly is important and maybe Democrats should vote as such."

Because the next step is clearly going to be "sending in federal troops to liberate these jurisdictions as a matter of national security".


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