Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Last Call For Trump Literally Goes Viral, Con't

Donald Trump, facing a barrage of devastating polls with 4 weeks to go until the election, has now decided to burn it all down around him and take the GOP with him (and tens of millions of Americans as well) by completely changing his mind on COVID-19 relief legislation talks and now decreeing that nothing will happen on COVID-19 bills until after the election.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday called an abrupt end to negotiations with Democrats over additional COVID-19 relief, delaying action until after the election despite ominous warnings from his own Federal Reserve chairman about the deteriorating conditions in the economy.

Trump tweeted that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was “not negotiating in good faith” and said he’s asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to direct all his focus before the election into confirming his U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett.

“I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business,” Trump tweeted.

The unexpected turn could be a blow to Trump’s reelection prospects and comes as his administration and campaign are in turmoil. Trump is quarantining in the White House with a case of COVID, and the latest batch of opinion polls shows him significantly behind former Vice President Joe Biden with the election four weeks away.

The collapse means that Trump and down-ballot Republicans will face reelection without delivering aid to voters — such as a pre-election batch of $1,200 direct payments, or “Trump checks,” to most individuals — even as the national jobless rate is about 8% with millions facing the threat of eviction. One endangered Republican, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, said “waiting until after the election to reach an agreement on the next Covid-19 relief package is a huge mistake.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden slammed Trump’s move.

“Make no mistake: if you are out of work, if your business is closed, if your child’s school is shut down, if you are seeing layoffs in your community, Donald Trump decided today that none of that — none of it — matters to him,” Biden said in a statement released by his campaign.

Trump’s move came immediately after he spoke with the top GOP leaders in Congress, who had been warily watching talks between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Pelosi. Many Senate Republicans had signaled they would not be willing to go along with any stimulus legislation that topped $1 trillion, and GOP aides had been privately dismissive of the prospects for a deal.

Just on Saturday, tweeting from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Trump said, “OUR GREAT USA WANTS & NEEDS STIMULUS. WORK TOGETHER AND GET IT DONE.” But any Pelosi-sponsored agreement of close to $2 trillion raised the potential of a GOP revolt if it came to a vote.

Last week, the White House said it was backing a $400 per week pandemic jobless benefit and dangled the possibility of a COVID-19 relief bill of $1.6 trillion. But that offer was rejected by Pelosi, who continued to take a hard line in the talks, including insisting on repeal of a $254 billion GOP business tax break passed in the March package as a way to finance additional relief.

Pelosi had spoken with Mnuchin earlier Tuesday. After Trump’s tweets spiking the negotiations, Pelosi said Trump was “unwilling to crush the virus” and “refuses to give real help to poor children, the unemployed, and America’s hard working families.”
The threat from Trump could not be more clear: America surrenders and we re-elect Dear Leader or we suffer into 2021, and four months from now is going to be too late for millions of us.

It's possible that Trump gets talked out of this, but I doubt it. It seems to me that Senate Republicans came to Trump and said they needed this package to stay in power in the Senate and the White House, and Trump saw them as weak cowards who are trying to betray him.

So he just butchered them out of spite.

Again, if you think Trump's leaving without a literal fight, well, history says that the lame duck period is more than enough time to make sure he inflicts maximum damage before January 20, and really all he has to do is nothing for three months and he gets to hand Joe Biden a collapsed economy.

All bets are off now.

Orange Meltdown, Con't

The latest CNN/SSRS poll has Trump getting wiped out 57%-41%, down a whopping sixteen points to Joe Biden after last week's disastrous debate and COVID-19 cover-up.
Likely voters broadly prefer Biden over Trump on a number of issues that voters consider critically important in the race, including the coronavirus outbreak (59% prefer Biden, 38% Trump), health care (59% to 39%), racial inequality in America (62% to 36%), nominations to the Supreme Court (57% to 41%) and crime and safety (55% to 43%). The two are about even over who would better handle the economy (50% say Biden, 48% Trump), similar to where they have been among registered voters in recent polling.
Biden's favorability ratings have also improved, with 52% of Americans now saying they have a positive impression of the former vice president, compared with 39% who have a positive view of Trump. 
Likely voters are more apt to consider Biden the candidate who would unite the country (61% Biden to 33% Trump), who is honest and trustworthy (58% Biden to 33% Trump), who cares about people like you (58% Biden to 38% Trump), who has a clear plan to solve the nation's problems (55% to 39%) and who would keep Americans safe from harm (55% to 43%). 
Although this is the first national CNN survey to report results among likely voters, a comparison of results among registered voters now to those from a survey about a month ago reveals Biden has made substantial gains in support among several key voting blocs. 
Biden has expanded his edge over Trump among women, from 57% to 37% in September to 66% to 32% now. That shift includes substantial gains for Biden among white women with college degrees and women of color. Among people of color generally, Biden's advantage has increased from 59% to 31% in September to 69% to 27% now. The former vice president has also made gains among younger voters, moderates and independents over the last month. 
It is important to note that these increases in support for Biden have not come alongside substantial decreases in backing for Trump. The President's core supporters remain as supportive of him as they have been, if not more. Among white men without college degrees, for example, Trump's support has increased from 61% in September to 67% now. But Trump does not appear to have made any gains among the groups his campaign needs to attract in order to dent Biden's longstanding lead. 
Compared with the last national CNN poll, the partisan composition of this poll is only slightly more Democratic (33% of all adults say they are Democrats now, compared with 30% in early September) and no less Republican (28% GOP now vs. 27% in early September). Among registered voters in the poll, 35% consider themselves Democrats, 30% Republican, those figures were 33% and 30% respectively in the previous CNN poll. When independents who lean toward one party or the other are added in, the results also show little movement, 53% of registered voters now are Democrats or lean that way, 43% are Republicans or lean that way. In last month's poll, those figures were 52% Democratic to 42% Republican. 
The shifts in this poll are similar to those seen in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Sunday, which was conducted after the presidential debate but before the President's diagnosis of coronavirus was revealed. 
The crosstabs are lethal for Trump.  It basically shows a huge shift towards Biden in two groups: Hispanic voters, and Seniors over 65. CNN doesn't break down their polls to show both Black and Hispanic voters generally, so it's an assumption, but for Biden to go from 59% of non-white voters to 69% in one poll means he picked up a *huge* swing in Hispanic (and Asian) voters. Clinton got 74% of non-white voters in 2016.

And Clinton still lost, because of Trump's sizeable lead among white voters. He does not have that big lead this time. Trump won 2016 on the strength of voters over 50, where he got 52% of the vote among 46% of total electorate, and white men, 62% of them, making up 34% of the electorate. Overall in 2016, Trump had a 20-point lead with white voters, 57%-37%.
This CNN poll has that lead now gone.  Voters over 50 now prefer Biden 55%-44%, and white voters side with Biden 51%-47%. In particular, Seniors have abandoned Trump. Seniors over 65voted for Trump 52-45% in 2016. In this poll Biden is winning Seniors by twenty-one points, 60-39%.

And the big one, Trump won men 52-41% in 2016, and Clinton won women 54-41%.

In this poll?

Trump's lead among men is 49-47% but Biden's lead among women is 66-32%.
If this is even close to being true, Trump is dust and memory.

I'll believe it when the votes are counted.

But dear God, he's collapsing.  Let's finish him off.


A Supreme New Term

The first Monday in October means a new Supreme Court term, and this one started off with a doozy.
As battles rage over the independence of the judiciary and whether one political party has claimed partisan control of the third branch of government, the state of Delaware says it has a better idea.

For more than a century, the state has required its major courts be roughly balanced, so that no more than a bare majority of a court is made up of members of one political party. And then it required the minority be made up of the other political party.

The result, Stanford law professor Michael W. McConnell told the U.S. Supreme Court Monday, is that “Delaware’s courts are widely regarded as the least partisan and most professional in the nation.”

The problem, countered Wilmington, Del., lawyer David L. Finger, is that it is unconstitutional. The plan denies the chance for his client, lawyer James Adams, to serve on the courts because he is neither a Democrat nor Republican but a political independent, Finger said, and that violates his First Amendment rights of political association.

It seemed a fitting beginning for the Supreme Court’s new term, as the Senate is torn along partisan lines about whether to confirm just before the election President Trump’s nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Sept. 18.

Ginsburg’s death left the court with five conservative justices, all named by Republican presidents, and three liberals named by Democrats. Barrett’s confirmation would install a 6-to-3 majority for conservatives.

That reality was unspoken, as the justices again gathered by teleconference to begin their traditional first-Monday-in-October arguments. As a concession to their scattered whereabouts, the marshal omitted the command in the familiar “oyez, oyez” cry that listeners should “draw near” to hear the business of the court.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. began the session by noting that the door and Ginsburg’s spot in the empty courtroom are hung with black crepe.

“Justice Ginsburg’s contributions, as advocate, jurist and citizen, are immeasurable,” Roberts said before the session began. “We at the court will remember her as a dear friend and treasured colleague.”
The reality is that Justice Ginsburg is gone, and she will be replaced by Amy Coney Barrett, and the ripple effects of that will resonate for decades. The first case heard could decide whether or not judges can even be partisan candidates, or if they must be appointed by state legislatures, allowing gerrymandered Republican strongholds like Ohio, Florida, NC and Michigan to simply remake the courts, and on voting issues, state courts would rule.

For everything else voting-wise, Republicans have a plan for that too. Cases from Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wisconsin are already expected to get hearings from SCOTUS in a matter of weeks, and they could decide both states.

The Purcell principle, named for a dispute over an Arizona voter identification law taken to the court on an emergency basis in 2006, dictates that federal judges should generally refrain from causing confusion by changing voting rules in the lead-up to an election.

While the notion sounds simple enough, its application in practice can often be baffling. And just how to apply the idea of keeping election procedures stable in the midst of an extraordinary national health emergency like the coronavirus pandemic is far from clear.

“It’s being brought up in just about every case right now as we are getting closer to the election,” said University of California at Irvine law professor Rick Hasen, who coined the term “Purcell principle” in a 2016 law review article. “But it’s not a hard-and-fast-rule, and it’s not well developed.”

The jockeying over the principle is evident in the fight the justices are wrestling with right now — a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling last month that made some changes to the state’s usual voting procedures, including allowing absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day or lacking a postmark to be counted even if they don’t arrive until three days later.

Republicans have fought the changes by arguing that the state court usurped a role that the U.S. Constitution says can be played only by the state Legislature and that the Constitution also forbids allowing the receipt of ballots after Election Day. But GOP leaders of the Pennsylvania Senate have also cited the Purcell principle as a reason to reject the changes the state’s highest court ordered last month.

“Changing the rules in the middle of the game by informing voters that they now have until November 6 for their ballot to be received risks confusion and the potential for fraud,” Republican election lawyer Jason Torchinsky wrote in a brief filed last week for the state lawmakers.

Lawyers for Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat, seem to embrace the Purcell principle even more aggressively. In a brief filed Monday afternoon, they devoted four pages to arguing that the notion is as much about federalism as it is about timing. The idea behind the concept, they say, is fundamentally that federal courts shouldn’t be monkeying at the last minute with state-run elections, not that states lack the power to manage that process.

“Applicants’ request for this court’s intervention now is precisely the eleventh-hour federal meddling that the Purcell principle counsels against,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro wrote. “The senators appear to argue that this court should issue an order preventing those state courts from addressing Covid-19 related emergencies in their respective states. This is directly contrary to the Purcell principle.”

Legal experts say the Supreme Court could broaden the Purcell idea to cover last-minute state court orders, but it’s still unclear whether it would apply to changes sought or agreed to by the election authorities themselves. Also uncertain is whether a state court ruling issued six weeks before Election Day qualifies as the kind of disruptive, late-breaking order the judges in the Purcell case worried about.

“What is the cutoff time? How flexible is it? I think we don’t know what,” Hasen said
The answer will be whatever SCOTUS and Justice Barrett decide. 

Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justice Samuel Alito, lashed out on Monday at the religious liberty implications of the Supreme Court's 2015 decision that cleared the way for same-sex marriage nationwide. 
Thomas wrote that the decision, Obergefell v. Hodges, "enables courts and governments to brand religious adherents who believe that marriage is between one man and one woman as bigots, making their religious liberty concerns that much easier to dismiss." 
Thomas' strong opinion came down on the first day of the court's new term, and reflects the fact that critics of the landmark opinion from five years ago that was penned by now retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, are still infuriated by its reasoning. They believe the court should have left the decision to the political arena and have long said that it will infringe upon the rights of those who have religious objections to same-sex marriage. 
Supporters of LGBTQ rights are fearful that the court is poised to continue a trend from last term, ruling in favor of religious conservatives in key cases. 
The case that prompted Thomas' statement concerned Kim Davis, a former county clerk in Kentucky who gained national attention in 2015 and was jailed after declining to issue marriage licenses out of an objection to same sex marriages. The high court on Monday declined to hear an appeal in her case. 
Thomas called Davis "one of the first victims" of the court's "cavalier treatment of religion" in the Obergefell v. Hodges decision but warned "she will not be the last." He said that her case was not properly presented before the court, but he urged his colleagues to revisit the religious liberty implications of the landmark opinion down the road.
Thomas and Alito are begging for a case to overturn Obergefell and eliminate same-sex marriage, almost as eagerly as they are awaiting a chance to overturn Roe, and a host of other decisions could be history in the next several years.

You should be scared. If we don't win here, win now, and win overwhelmingly with a mandate to expand the court to eleven justices, we go back to 1950.

And a lot of us won't survive the trip.



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