Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Last Call For Supreme Protection

As expected, the US Supreme Court has tossed the Democratic party's anti-corruption lawsuit against Donald Trump, proclaiming absolute executive immunity to the courts eliminates any standing that Democrats may have had, and that impeachment, removal under the 25th Amendment, or being voted out of office are the only options for a corrupt president like Trump.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday put an end to a lawsuit brought by congressional Democrats that accused President Donald Trump of violating anti-corruption provisions in the U.S. Constitution with his business dealings.

The justices refused to hear an appeal by 215 Senate and House of Representatives Democrats of a lower court ruling that found that the lawmakers lacked the necessary legal standing to bring the case that focused on the Republican president’s ownership of the Trump International Hotel in Washington.

The lawmakers accused Trump of violating the Constitution’s rarely tested “emoluments” clauses that bar presidents from taking gifts or payments from foreign and state governments without congressional approval. The lead plaintiff in the case is U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.
The appeals court said the country is bound by a SCOTUS precedent established in a 1997 ruling, Raines v. Byrd.

Facts of the case

Several individual members of the 104th Congress, who voted against the passage of the Line Item Veto Act (Act) giving the President authority to veto individual tax and spending measures after having signed them into law, sued to challenge the Act's constitutionality. After granting them standing, the District Court ruled in the congressmen's favor as it found the Act unconstitutional. Direct appeal was granted to the Supreme Court.


Did the congressmen have Article III standing to challenge the Line Item Veto Act as a violation of the Presentment Clause in Article I?

No. In a 7-to-2 decision, which avoided the question of the Act's constitutionality, the Court held that the individual congressmen lacked proper Article III standing to maintain their suit. The Court explained that the congressmen failed to show how the allegedly unconstitutional Act resulted in their personal injury, since it applied to the entire institution of Congress
. Moreover, the congressmen based their claim on a loss of political power rather than a demonstration of how the Act violated one of their particularized legally protected interests. The Court concluded that, having failed to meet both of these standing requirements, the congressmen did not present the Court with a case-or-controversy over which it had jurisdiction.
And SCOTUS refusing to hear the case means it's done, not that anyone really expected this to go anywhere.

But state cases remain...

Election Injection Correction Detection

Microsoft has taken down a major malware botnet that could have infected thousands of voting machines across the country with ransomware, and the company says it remains on watch for more attacks.
Microsoft has disrupted a massive hacking operation that it said could have indirectly affected election infrastructure if allowed to continue. 
The company said Monday it took down the servers behind Trickbot, an enormous malware network that criminals were using to launch other cyberattacks, including a strain of highly potent ransomware
Microsoft said it obtained a federal court order to disable the IP addresses associated with Trickbot's servers, and worked with telecom providers around the world to stamp out the network. The action coincides with an offensive by US Cyber Command to disrupt the cybercriminals, at least temporarily, according to The Washington Post
Microsoft (MSFT) acknowledged that the attackers are likely to adapt and seek to revive their operations eventually. But, Microsoft said, the company's efforts reflect a "new legal approach" that may help authorities fight the network going forward. 
Trickbot allowed hackers to sell what Microsoft said was a service to other hackers — offering them the capability to inject vulnerable computers, routers and other devices with other malware. 
That includes ransomware, which Microsoft and US officials have warned could pose a risk to websites that display election information or to third-party software vendors that provide services to election officials. 
"Adversaries can use ransomware to infect a computer system used to maintain voter rolls or report on election-night results, seizing those systems at a prescribed hour optimized to sow chaos and distrust," Microsoft VP of security Tom Burt wrote in a blog post
Ransomware seizes control of target computers and freezes them until victims pay up — though experts urge those affected by ransomware not to encourage hackers by complying with their demands. The Treasury Department has warned that paying ransoms could violate US sanctions policy. 
He added: "We have now cut off key infrastructure so those operating Trickbot will no longer be able to initiate new infections or activate ransomware already dropped into computer systems."
This is definitely a victory for the good guys, and keep in mind that Republicans have spent four years doing everything they can to cripple US Cyber Command and our election defenses and to block reporting on just how vulnerable we remain.

It's now up to corporate entities like Microsoft to do the job the US government should be doing...and Republicans are attacking them too.

Biden, His Time, Con't

I've been harping on fighting like we're ten points down all year because Trump did everything he needed to in order to win four years ago and turn a 70% chance at a Clinton win into a Trump victory, but with three weeks to go, Amy Walter at Cook Political Report reminds us that there are some fundamental differences between Hillary Clinton's 12-point lead in October 2016 and Joe Biden's 12-point lead in October 2020.

Long before COVID-19 or the economic collapse that followed in its wake, President Trump gambled his re-election prospects on the assumption that his base would be enough to ensure his re-election. Since the first days of his presidency, Trump rewarded those who already liked or voted for him and ignored — or just outright alienated — everyone else.

And this past week, with polls showing him trailing former Vice President Joe Biden by double-digits and with only three weeks left until Election Day, Trump is once again spending all of his time in his comfort zone; calling into friendly cable TV and talk radio hosts.

To be successful, this ‘thread the needle’ re-election strategy required four main elements:
  1. A united, enthusiastic and engaged GOP base
  2. A deeply flawed opponent
  3. Decent support among independent voters (Even as Trump ran up the score among his base in 2016, he also carried independent voters by 2-points.)
  4. Third-party candidates siphoning off enough votes to allow Trump to win key states with a plurality as he did in 2016

Oh, and of course, it would also help to have a good economy, and not have a majority of Americans think that you have mismanaged a major health crisis.

Right now, only #1 is there for him. Even that rock-solid support from his base is looking shaky in the wake of his disastrous debate performance and COVID diagnosis.

Here’s where he is on the other three key elements:

2) Joe Biden has never been popular, but he’s also never been as unpopular as Hillary Clinton.

For example, the early October NBC/Wall Street Journal poll finds Biden’s favorable ratings at 43 percent — not all that much better than Hillary Clinton’s 39 percent at this point in 2016. But, when you look at their unfavorable ratings, Biden’s are 10 points lower than Clinton’s (41 percent to 51 percent). As important, the intensity of dislike for Biden (28 percent strongly disapprove) is also, well, not as intense as it was for Clinton, who, at this point in 2016, was deeply unfavorable to 40 percent of voters.

3) Trump is trailing Biden among independents in the most recent national polling by Fox News, CNN and Pew by 14 to 18 points.

Polling done this week in key swing states by Siena/New York Times finds Trump trailing independent voters by 11 points in Pennsylvania and 25-points in Arizona. Even if you turn out your base at high levels, you can’t win an election if you lose independents by double digits.

4) At this point in the 2016 election, 14 percent of registered voters in a Pew poll said they planned to vote for a third-party candidate.

In the end, the non-Clinton/Trump vote was six percent. The most recent Pew poll (Sept. 30-Oct. 5) finds just five percent of voters choosing a third-party candidate. As such, we should expect that third-party candidates will comprise a much smaller percentage of the electorate this year — probably around 3 percent. The lower the third party vote, the harder it will be to carry a state with less than 50 percent. In 2016, Trump won Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Florida with less than 49 percent of the vote.

As important, however, is the fact that those 2016 third- party voters and voters who didn’t vote in 2016, lean heavily to Biden now. According to the most recent Pew survey, Biden leads among 2016 third party voters 49 percent to 26 percent (23 points). Biden leads among those who didn’t vote in 2016, 54 percent to 38 percent.

In other words, Trump has not converted many of those ‘up for grabs’ voters to his column. That means he is more dependent than ever on pumping up and turning out those who have always been with him. But, there’s no evidence that he has been able to drive up his margins among those who are his biggest supporters.
In other words, everything that needed Trump to go right in 2016 happened. In 2020, that's not the case.

Some Trump allies say their best bet is to hope that the results look close election night, before some of the mail-in ballots are counted, allowing Trump to declare victory and have the results thrown to the courts.
Three weeks is an eternity in a campaign.
The fight like your ten points down thing still stands. Get your ballot in this week, get your early voting done this week, because after that the odds of getting your vote counted drop like a rock.

Especially if you live in a Democratic stronghold in a red state.


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