Saturday, September 26, 2020

Last Call For Retribution Execution, Con't

Steve M. has this all sorted out. Like the egomaniacal Bond villain he is, Trump has happily given away his evil plan ahead for the next two months because he believes that nobody can possibly stop him.
We're assuming that the likely outcome is a Biden win that's obvious to all objective observers. But in a Trump/Fox/QAnon world, objective reality has no meaning to roughly 40% of the population. It's also likely that Biden will win (if he does win) by less than the current 7-point margin the polls are showing for him, because of Republican vote suppression, incorrectly submitted mail ballots, and the usual problem Democrats have persuading many people who don't like Republicans that they need to vote Democratic to keep Republicans out of office.

So I'm expecting a Biden win by about 4 points nationwide, with the states that put him over the top being very close. And that's where Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Kevin McCarthy, and the rest of the GOP "establishment" come in. They've accepted -- or openly endorsed -- nearly everything Trump has done to degrade our country. "Establishment" Republicans were yelling "Voter fraud!" long before Trump was, back in the Bush years. Why should we assume that they'll abandon Trump when he's making the same claim after the election?

After the election, Trump won't be saying he lost but won't leave -- he'll be saying he won, and in all likelihood McConnell, Graham, and others will be saying the same thing. Fox News and the New York Post and The Federalist and The Washington Post's Marc Thiessen and Hugh Hewitt will be saying the same thing. Trump will find lawyers who will file court briefs saying the same thing. And some judges will agree -- maybe even Supreme Court justices.

In other words, Trump won't try to reject the election outcome. He'll attempt to change it. And we'll have to fight more than just Trump if we don't want this effort to succeed.
Nancy LeTourneau also lays out Trump's plan for November.  There's a distinct reason why Trump wants to appoint a justice now.
All of these efforts have one thing in common: they are designed to cast doubt in the public’s mind about the legitimacy of the election. It is yet another example of how Trump and his enablers have become “merchants of doubt.” When using that descriptor to explain how Republicans were attempting to spread lies about Biden’s’ involvement in Ukraine, this is how journalist Paul Waldman described the origins of that strategy (emphasis mine):

In 1969, a memo written at the Brown & Williamson tobacco company explained how they and their colleagues in the industry could push back against the growing public perception that their products were giving people cancer. It wasn’t necessary to disprove the scientific consensus, the author wrote, only to inject a sufficient amount of doubt into public debate so it would be seen as an unresolved controversy with two sides.

There is no unresolved controversy about the validity of mail-in ballots. But by injecting doubt into the public discourse, the merchants of doubt are attempting to create a level of chaos, unlike anything we’ve ever seen in a presidential election. That is precisely what Trump is counting on.
Trump wants there to be enough chaos doubt that he can say "Well the only fair thing to do is to throw the election to a 6-3 conservative Supreme Court."  He will be assisted by Republicans at the national level and in the states that are going to be disputed.

He will also be assisted by the media covering Trump rallies in these states. He will encourage massive demonstrations by his armed supporters, assisted by local law enforcement and by state Republicans, to "liberate" these states from "Democrat voting fraud". We've seen this same play 20 years ago, and it worked then.

There's a very good chance it will work again. Only this time, it'll be the last free election we'll have.

Orange Meltdown, Con't

A federal judge in Montana has ordered the removal of acting Bureau of Land Management head William Pendley and is forcing him to step down, as he has been in the position for over a year without any Senate confirmation.


Chief District Judge Brian Morris of the US District Court of Montana ruled that Pendley has served unlawfully for 424 days, in response to a lawsuit brought by Democratic Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. 
Morris additionally ruled Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt cannot pick another person to run the Bureau of Land Management as its acting head because that person must be appointed by the President and Senate-confirmed. 
The judge gave both sides of the case 10 days to file briefs about which of Pendley's orders must be vacated. 
"Pendley has served and continues to serve unlawfully as the Acting BLM Director," Morris wrote in his opinion. "His ascent to Acting BLM Director did not follow any of the permissible paths set forth by the U.S. Constitution or the (Federal Vacancies Reform Act). Pendley has not been nominated by the President and has not been confirmed by the Senate to serve as BLM Director." 
He added, "Secretary Bernhardt lacked the authority to appoint Pendley as an Acting BLM Director under the FVRA. Pendley unlawfully took the temporary position beyond the 210-day maximum allowed by the FVRA. Pendley unlawfully served as Acting BLM Director after the President submitted his permanent appointment to the Senate for confirmation -- another violation of the FVRA. And Pendley unlawfully serves as Acting BLM Director today, under color of the Succession Memo." 
Pendley was nominated to be the permanent director of the agency in July but the Trump administration withdrew his nomination in September after a series of controversial statements -- including saying that climate change is not real and falsely saying that there was no credible evidence of a hole in the ozone layer -- were made public by CNN's KFile.
Good for Bullock to stick it to this climate denier asshole. 

Having said that, the Trump regime plans an immediate appeal that will take months if not years, and Pendley will remain at the post because the law in America means whatever five Supreme Court justices says it means. Either Pendley gets the boot in a Biden administration, or he'll continue to serve well into Trump's second term.

Of course if the latter happens, there won't be much federal land to manage, will there?

Florida Goes Viral, Con't

Florida led the nation this week in COVID-19 deaths, but Gov. Ron DeSantis has now completely reopened restaurants, bars, and all other businesses, saying that local governments would have to justify any further measures as the pandemic is apparently "over" just in time for early voting to start.
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed an executive order lifting all remaining statewide coronavirus-related restrictions on businesses in Florida, including bars and restaurants.

The executive order rolls back nearly every measure in Florida put in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus and puts the state into the last phase of its reopening plan.

The order immediately allows all businesses that had been shut down due to the pandemic to reopen, and it guarantees restaurants can operate at a minimum of 50 percent capacity.

Under the order, announced Friday in a news conference in downtown St. Petersburg, municipalities must justify any local restrictions of restaurant capacity between 50 and 100 percent. It does not force municipalities to increase capacity in bars beyond 50 percent, DeSantis said, though cities and counties are free to do so.

“(Restaurants) have worked as hard as anybody to create safe environments," said DeSantis, who spoke to reporters Friday afternoon from an empty ballroom inside the Birchwood restaurant on Beach Drive NE. "The idea that government dictating this is better than them making decisions so that their customers have confidence, I think is misplaced.”

DeSantis said the order allows local governments to have some “reasonable regulations” but said it’s time for businesses to be reopening.

“You can’t say ‘no’ after six months and just have people twisting in the wind,” he said.

DeSantis made the announcement surrounded by local business owners and other public officials, who cheered the news.

“Florida’s hospitality industry has been decimated by COVID-19,” Carol Dover, president and chief executive officer of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, said later in a statement. “We look forward to welcoming back our wonderful guests and to reopening the Sunshine State.”

But some other restaurant owners are circumspect about the idea of adding more tables following the order.

“The most important thing for us is for our staff and our guests to continue to feel safe," said restaurateur Richard Gonzmart, whose Columbia Restaurant Group owns The Columbia, Ulele and Goody Goody. "We are evaluating each of our restaurants and will add some tables and seats, but not anything close to 100 percent capacity at this time.”

Tom DeGeorge, owner of Ybor City’s Crowbar, also said he’d reopen at his own pace.

“I certainly am not going to sit there and open my doors 1,000 percent,” DeGeorge said. “I’m probably going to do exactly what I was going to do when I felt comfortable doing it and not worry about the government and what they told me.”

Jeff Gigante, co-founder of Forbici Modern Italian in Hyde Park Village, said the restaurant plans to maintain its protocols, meaning 50 percent capacity inside and full capacity outside. But his restaurant has a large interior space, so he understands why other establishments might want to increase their capacity.

“Smaller places that choose to bump it up to 75 or 100 percent will get no judgment from us,” he said. “I understand how hard this has been even to break even and not lose money."
So as flu season gets underway just in time for the election, expect a massive jump in Florida's cases and deaths as we head into October and November. Gotta die for Trump and the economy, right, Florida retirees?

7,000,000 cases and counting.

The Race To Replace, Con't

With Justice Ginsburg lying in state at the Capitol on Friday, and a week since her death, Trump is wasting no time nominating another terrible right-wing lunatic for her seat, a 6-3 conservative majority that could end civil rights, women's right's, abortion, and LGBTQ+ equality in a matter of months, and end the Affordable Care Act in a matter of weeks.
President Donald Trump intends to choose Amy Coney Barrett to be the new Supreme Court justice, according to multiple senior Republican sources with knowledge of the process. 
In conversations with some senior Republican allies on the Hill, the White House is indicating that Barrett, a federal appellate judge and Notre Dame law professor, is the intended nominee, multiple sources said. 
All sources cautioned that until it is announced by the President, there is always the possibility that Trump makes a last-minute change but the expectation is Barrett is the choice. He is scheduled to make the announcement on Saturday afternoon. 
A former law clerk to the late right-wing beacon Justice Antonin Scalia, Barrett would tilt the balance of power on the court further to the right, possibly ahead of a consequential case on health care to be argued the week after Election Day. If her Senate confirmation is successful before the November election, the appointment would mark Trump's third Supreme Court pick in one presidential term, cementing a conservative stronghold in the court for a generation. 
She has been the leading choice throughout the week, since Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. She is the only potential nominee known to have met with the President in person, according to two of the sources. One source said Trump was familiar with Barrett already and he met with her since she was a top contender the last time there was a Supreme Court vacancy, when the President chose Justice Brett Kavanaugh instead. 
Barrett was seen at her South Bend, Indiana, home on Friday. It was not clear if Barrett had been told she is the choice. Often that is done as late as possible to maintain secrecy around the announcement. 
"The machinery is in motion," one of the sources said.

Barrett’s elevation to this position has been a long time coming. Her nomination has been made with one issue in mind: abortion. The conservative men who have been attacking a woman’s right to choose for a generation have long pined for a woman to do the final work of denying women their right to their own bodies. They’ve said so: Ramesh Ponnuru, longtime editor at National Review and fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, has written: “The main reason I favor Barrett, though, is the obvious one: She’s a woman…. If Roe v. Wade is ever overturned—as I certainly hope it will be, as it is an unjust decision with no plausible basis in the Constitution—it would be better if it were not done by only male justices, with every female justice in dissent.”

Barrett will not disappoint conservatives when it comes to abortion. While other jurists hoping to sit on the Supreme Court have at least attempted to be coy with their opposition to Roe v. Wade, Barrett has not. She has said that abortion is “always immoral.” She has said that Roe creates a framework of “abortion on demand” (a patently false claim given that Roe explicitly created a fetal viability standard after which the state was allowed to limit women’s fundamental rights). Barrett has put herself on the record against abortion rights generally, and Roe specifically, more than any person I can think of nominated for the Supreme Court after that 1973 decision.

Over the next few weeks, Barrett and her moderate Republican defenders will likely try to tell people that she’s been lying all this time. They’ll try to tell us that she hasn’t already made up her mind about abortion, that she respects 50 years of Supreme Court precedent, that she’s not being elevated to the Supreme Court just because she’s a woman who happens to hate a woman’s right to choose.

But no matter how hard Barrett tries to obfuscate her position in the coming days, hard-right conservatives know that her elevation to the court is a reliable vote against women’s rights. Why are they so sure about her legal views? Because Barrett herself has argued that she cannot and, more important, should not enforce secular laws that go against her religious beliefs.

If you read one thing about how Amy Coney Barrett’s religion would affect her ability to serve as a Supreme Court justice, read her own words. She addressed that matter in an article for the Marquette Law Review titled: “Catholic Judges in Capital Cases.” There, Barrett argued that Catholic judges should recuse themselves from cases that involve the death penalty. She argued that the Catholic Church’s moral stance against the death penalty might make it impossible for Catholic judges to dispense the impartial justice citizens are entitled to. Here’s part of the abstract for the whole long article:

Although the legal system has a solution for this dilemma by allowing the recusal of judges whose convictions keep them from doing their job, Catholic judges will want to sit whenever possible without acting immorally. However, litigants and the general public are entitled to impartial justice, which may be something a judge who is heedful of ecclesiastical pronouncements cannot dispense. Therefore, the authors argue, we need to know whether judges are legally disqualified from hearing cases that their consciences would let them decide. While mere identification of a judge as Catholic is not sufficient reason for recusal under federal law, the authors suggest that the moral impossibility of enforcing capital punishment in such cases as sentencing, enforcing jury recommendations, and affirming are in fact reasons for not participating.

This article is, frankly, a refreshing dose of truth of the sort most aspiring Supreme Court justices assiduously avoid. Barrett is straight-up explaining that her own religious biases may prevent her, or a judge like her, from upholding secular law. It is rare to find a would-be justice who is willing to admit that their personal convictions shape how they see the law, because they get trashed by the opposition party for such admissions, even though we all know that a judge’s personal beliefs and lived experiences must impact how they apply the law.

President Donald Trump’s Saturday announcement of his Supreme Court pick will spark a lightning-quick confirmation attempt by Senate Republicans that now seems almost certain to occur before the election. After Trump’s reveal, Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is expected to quickly lay out a hearing schedule for October, and the nominee will begin meeting with individual senators next week, according to senators and aides.

Provided no surprising information is unearthed that upends the nomination, Republicans and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are set to make history: Never has a Supreme Court justice been confirmed so close to a presidential election. Other than two dissenting GOP senators, no one thus far in the 53-member conference is arguing to wait for a lame duck session — let alone the next Congress — to hold a confirmation vote. McConnell only needs a simple majority.

“There’s not much of a margin for error. But we don’t have much error,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.). “We have our [party] meetings and no one has ever gotten up and made the case for why we should do this after the election.”

“There’s going to be plenty of time, plenty of time for both the nominee and the committee for questions, plenty of time to vote. I’m not worried about the timing,” added Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), who serves on the Judiciary Committee. “I’m obviously not Mitch McConnell, but I think we’ll have a vote before the election."
So, unless Chuck Schumer is willing to go full scorched earth, Barrett will be confirmed before the Senate adjourns for the election campaign on October 9.
The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments on the Affordable Care Act on November 10.

The battle begins.

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