Dereck Chauvin put his knee on the neck of George Floyd, stared into the camera and dared us to do anything about it.
Donald Trump did exactly what Chauvin did – he put his knee on the neck of democracy, decency, legality. He stared into the camera and dared us to do anything about it.
Putin has done exactly what Chauvin did – he has put his knee on the neck of Navalny, stared into the camera and dared us to do anything about it.
These are lessons, authoritarian lessons. They are demonstrating to us that that they can do whatever they want. They can even murder one of us right in front of our very eyes and we can’t do a damn thing about it.
We have won tonight, in the Chauvin case. We have won because of the mobilization of millions of people putting pressure on the system to live up to its ideals. We have won because of the courage and discipline of a group of witnesses. We have won and we can win again.
We must stand together and stand up to the boot of authoritarian rule on our necks. We stopped them with the Chauvin verdict. That’s why the legal system avoids jury trials if at all possible, especially for powerful defendants. We can, and we must stop them again. We must demand that the participants in the corrupt crime spree that was the Trump administration are held to account. We must demand that dangerous men like Putin and the oligarchs that surround him are held to account.
If we do not see, truly see that these actions are preparations for authoritarianism, they will come back for us. They are obviously not phased in the least by the electoral defeat in 2020. The tidal wave of voter suppression being orchestrated by the Republicans is just another way to take power because they cannot win it legitimately. It is their way back in power. We must take them seriously or we will find ourselves in 2022 and 2024 with another authoritarian take-over of the governmental process. If we flirt with that possibility, we may never recover.
That look you saw on Chavin’s face when he was kneeling there, crushing the life out of a man, is the same look you would see on the face of Bill Barr, Donald Trump, Jared Kushner, Roger Stone, Steve Bannon, Pompeo, Pence, Steven Miller, Manafort and many others while they crushed the life out of anyone who opposed them if they thought for one minute they could get away with it. If we let them get away with it, they will crush the life out of democracy and our lives will be unalterably changed. If we don’t take them seriously, if we don’t fight them we will find ourselves living under that knee being given the same compassion and respect Dereck Chavin gave George Floyd.
The Republicans are turning a massive failure of infrastructure and privatization in Texas into a condemnation of renewable energy. Even the Governor of the State is on national television spewing lies and disinformation.
Gov. Greg Abbott, on Fox News, said that the problem was caused by renewable energy systems.
Officials were told in 2011 that they needed to winterize the Texas system. But, the State of Texas didn’t make that winterization and other changes obligatory. Because the grid is operated by private companies, allowed to make as much profit as they can, the State failed to winterize and now we are watching people lose their lives.
Message #1: Don’t elect people to run government that don’t believe in government.
147 Republican members of Congress voted against seating Joe Biden’s electors. They moved against accepting the votes of the people in this country based on no evidence that there was a significant problem with the voting system.
These 147 Republican members of Congress did not win, but they tried to. There are not 147 Trumps. These people are Republicans. They are Republicans who do not support democracy. But, as of today, they are all still in Congress.
Just like all the other outrages of the Trump administration, the fact that 147 members of Congress tried to throw out the results of an election, is being normalized. Corporate news anchors are repeatedly asking representatives of the Biden administration how they can claim to seek “unity” when they are proposing legislation that differs from (what purports to be) the Republican agenda.
The past four years has been difficult, nerve wracking, infuriating, but since the nomination of Biden, it has been even more infuriating. It is perhaps a bit less stressful since I don’t wake up every morning dreading to find out what the president has done while I was asleep, but the Democrats and the corporate media seen to have learned nothing, NOTHING from the last four years.
The Democrats have not learned how to run against the Republicans, and the corporate media (in the face of an insurrection) is still indulging in mindless bothsidesism.
When Trump was in office, it seemed like a frontal assault, every day. Now, I have the feeling that the corporate media is playing music while people are relentlessly creeping up behind me.
Unlike many of the people I know, I feel no relief with the election of Biden. The Democrats are still talking about “unity” and “bipartisanship” with people who have demonstrated that they want to destroy democracy to maintain their power. It’s like watching a government negotiate, trying to win over the Naxi party. It is enraging and it is terrifying.
While the Democrats waltz around congratulating each other for representational appointments, the Republicans are seizing 2022.
In Georgia, Warnock is up for reelection in 2022. We don’t have six years with Warnock, we have less than two. We have to do this again. We have to drag out a win in what is essentially a red state, and we have to do it in a circumstance where the state government is already actively working to eliminate as many potential voters as possible.
In Georgia, Republicans have proposed steps to make it harder to vote by mail and easier to throw out legally cast ballots. The same Republicans who the corporate media celebrated – Kemp, Raffensperger, Sterling – are beavering away to purge voters from the rolls and make it more difficult for people to vote.
What people need to remember is that Kemp, Raffensperger and Sterling went along with every Trump inspired move to suppress voting except put themselves in criminal jeopardy by changing votes. They are like the gang members who were perfectly willing to drive the get away car, but not willing to go into the liquor store with the gun.
They will be even more willing to drive the car now because they are trying to get back into the good graces, and the donations, of right-wing supporters.
Across the Country
Emily Singer (1/22/21) is reporting in the Independent that efforts to make it harder to vote are going on in most of the GOP-controlled state legislatures. They are introducing legislation to make voter registration and voting by mail more difficult.
These voter suppression moves have been practiced by the Republicans for decades, but picked up steam especially after Biden’s win in 2020. Republicans are daily pointing out the dangers of what they see as “voter fraud” and legitimating moves to keep people from voting in the name of eliminating “voter fraud.”
In Montana, the state House began hearings on a bill which would eliminate same-day voter registration. This is what the SOS refers to as “election integrity.” These measures are expected and intended to affect the voting of Native Americans and students. Both groups vote Democratic by a wide margin.
In New Hampshire, the GOP-controlled House started hearings on a bill that would repeal same-day registration and putt barriers to students who want to vote. Students must, if the bill is passed, prove that they qualify for in-state tuition before registering to vote. Republicans passed a similar law ahead of the 2020 election which required students to become permanent residents to vote. This law was struck down by a judge.
In Arizona, a GOP-run legislature is weighing getting rid of the state’s Permanent Early Vote List, which allows residents to register to receive mail-in ballots automatically. They are also working to impose restrictions on recounts and add other burdens to discourage people from voting.
In Pennsylvania, a Republican state senator introduced a bill that would eliminate no-excuse absentee voting.
In Mississippi, a Republican state senator proposed a bill which would lock Mississippi from releasing vote totals in presidential elections until after all states had cast their votes in the Electoral College.
Democrats in the House are working to pass H.R.1, which would require states to implement automatic voter registration and limit their ability to purge voters from the rolls. An identical bill passed the House in 2019, but McConnell blocked it from getting a vote.
So, Democrats are trying to make it easier for people to vote. Republicans, who realize they cannot win if there is a popular vote, are working furiously to purge voting lists and make it more difficult for people to vote.
One Party is advocating and working for democracy. The other party is fighting against it. You choose.
If you are new to the Reality Winner story, this is an excellent place to begin. There are a number of things I disagree with in this podcast, especially the assumptions and analysis of Chris Hayes at certain points, but it is well worth listen to.
This is by far the best podcast out there. I know the corporate media is seductive, but your time would be better spent giving this a listen. Sam Seder puts together some of the most interesting and pertinent interviews available.
“Sam hosts writer and political analyst Jared Yates Sexton to discuss his new book, American Rule: How a Nation Conquered the World But Failed Its People, and why the foundational myths of American Exceptionalism have such a hold on the populace.
Sam and Jared explore the stories Americans told themselves throughout the country’s history, from how the process behind writing the Constitution to how the “Mound Builders” stories helped justify indigenous Americans’ slaughter. The two consider how these stories have shaped the populace’s thinking and why it’s essential to reject politics as a spectacle.
I despise the celebrity culture that has taken over this country. The Democratic National Convention was nothing other than a cheap, vacuous, celebrity infomercial devoid of policy and full of “cult of personality” programming. It was an embarrassment.
Somehow, we were supposed to believe that because Joe Biden is a nice guy and has lost family members, he should be president of the United States. Somehow, we were supposed to pat ourselves on the back and glory in the fact that we had nominated an African American, Asian woman to be vice president. Never mind the policies of these two people. Never mind their histories. It is supposed to be enough that these two are telegenic, just as nice as they can be, and fit certain categories of human beings.
That is evidently where we are.
After the convention we were treated to more infomercials. In one of them, Kamala Harris had a charming, laughing, conversation with Barak Obama about Biden liking ice cream and wearing a certain kind of sunglasses. This was seriously intended to get us to vote for the Democrats – the fact that the party elite could chat on television and laugh about the personal foibles of the candidate. This is what they think of us. This is nothing but insulting.
In the true fashion of this celebrity worship culture we have going on, the corporate media is this weekend, endlessly talking about the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. We are in the middle of a war for a democratic society, and we are engaging in celebrity worship.
As Elie Mystal pointed out writing in the Nation, we don’t have time for this, and Ginsburg would be the first person to see that we don’t have time for this.
Ginsburg occupied a pivotal position on the U.S. Supreme Court and her death has created a crisis that just illustrates the dysfunction of the government and the society. The death of a judge, one judge, shouldn’t throw the country into a crisis. The appointment of one judge shouldn’t mean the difference between democracy and authoritarianism. But, it does. It hands to the Republicans the opportunity to conclusively warp this society into an authoritarian kleptocratic state devoid of rights for regular ordinary human beings.
This is where we are. We have to fight this authoritarian take-over with everything in our beings. But, tonight, on CNN they are hosting Scalia’s son to discuss (out of all the other things about Ginsburg’s life) the beautiful relationship between Ginsburg and one of the arch enemies of law and therefore democracy, Antonin Scalia.
I’m sorry but I just can’t stomach this. I suppose there is somewhere, something laudatory about being able to be friends with people who are sitting at the peak of privilege and wealth and power and working to destroy democracy and the rule of law for the rest of us, but I just don’t see it.
If we have to sit through this eulogizing of Ginsburg, the last thing we need is to have right-wing Federalist Society zealots to talk about her. The last thing we need is to try to convince people that what we need is more bipartisan cooperation. No, we need less, and we need to fight for democratic law and democratic institutions.
The corporate Democrats who have much more reason to talk about Ginsburg, are bad enough. Last night, Nina Totenberg was on Rachael Maddow talking about her friendship with Ginsberg. She said wistfully that Ginsburg had planned to retire in 2016 and have her successor named by the first woman president. Isn’t that special? I might plan to have thoroughbred horses fly out of my ass, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.
This story was presented as if it demonstrated something positive about Ginsburg, and it has been retweeted today by people who obviously think the same thing.
To me, it just demonstrates what was wrong with the Democratic Party elite in 2016 and what is still wrong with the Democratic Party elite today.
Barak Obama declined to tell the American people the truth about something crucially important to them. He refused to tell them that Russian operatives had intervened in the 2016 election to the extent of penetrating the voting systems in 50 states.
Obama made this decision, as far as I can tell, because first, he was afraid of the reaction of Republicans if he came out and told the American people without bipartisan support. He was so afraid of appearing partisan he lied by omission, lied about something vital to the functioning of democracy. Mitch McConnell refused to join Obama and make a public, bipartisan statement and Obama didn’t have the guts to do it alone.
Second, Barak Obama was afraid of tarnishing his cherished legacy by appearing to be “partisan” in the 2016 election. He was more concerned with his legacy (to people who despise him) than his country.
Third, Barak Obama was so sure Hillary Clinton was going to win, he decided he wouldn’t have to tell the truth to the American people. Clinton could solve the problem after she was elected.
All three of these excuses stink to high heaven and again illustrate something characteristic about the Democratic corporate elite.
This professional class of Democrats think they know better than the American people how to run the country. They think that their judgement is better than everybody else’s.
They can handle, among themselves, an unprecedented intrusion into the election process. Why tell the unwashed masses?
Obama reportedly thought that telling the truth would shake the confidence of the American people in the election process. He’s not the only member of the Democratic elite to think this. There are an astounding number of people out there who will react like vicious dogs if the integrity of the election process is even questioned.
The logic of this position just amazes me. It goes something like this. The election process has been corrupted but we mustn’t tell the American people because it might shake their confidence in an election process that because of corruption can be no longer relied on. So, it’s better to have the American people believe a lie, continue to trust an election system that can’t be trusted. It’s better because we (the Democratic elite) can deal with it ourselves, behind closed doors. That worked out really well.
This same kind of hubris evidently led Ruth Bader Ginsburg to think she could continue (in ill health and advanced age) to sit on the Supreme Court and have Clinton name her replacement. Having the first woman president name her replacement made a good story, a fitting end to her career. And, like Obama, she was convinced (so convinced she was willing to risk our future) that Clinton was going to win. Even with a compromised election process (which they all knew about), Clinton’s baggage and low approval ratings and an e-mail scandal, Clinton was going to win. Why? Because they wanted her to.
I’ve got news for these people. They don’t get to determine what’s going to happen. They don’t control events. What kind of delusional hubris leads one to stay in a position at the Supreme Court, a crucial position, a history changing pivotal position, counting on the fact that they are going to waltz out with the first woman president because that’s what they want to happen?
I’m sorry. Ginsburg appears to have been a wonderful person, lawyer, activist, but someone genuinely concerned with and committed to the struggle, with the future of the country for ordinary people, would have resigned during Obama’s administration to make sure that the ideals she believed in and fought so hard for, had a chance of continuing.
And, I fault not only Ginsburg but Obama and his administration for not pushing her resignation. I ask you: What is wrong with these people?
I keep going back to a film quote. As Yankees are overrunning Atlanta, Aunt Pittypat is concerned about Scarlet having a chaperone. Dr. Meade, in utter and complete frustration yells: “Good God, woman, this is a war, not a garden party.”
But, this Democratic elite – the politicians, the “strategists,” the pollsters, the pundits – all of them are so filled with pride and smug assuredness that they can’t see what is happening around them.
Even now, after all the mistakes of 2016, the Democratic corporate elite seems to be waltzing off an electoral cliff supported by their own delusions.
Ginsburg wasn’t a healthy 50-year-old. They knew she was ill, had known for years. If they couldn’t convince her to resign when Obama could nominate a successor, they should have had a strategy for what they were going to do if she suddenly died during Trump’s administration. They should have hit the ground running on Friday night, not sat stunned, grief stricken, and still counting on the Republicans to “do the right thing.”
I mean, Jesus F…ing Christ. Anybody who is now, four years into this administration, relying in any way on the Republicans to do the right thing, is just brain dead (I include Cory Booker in that category).
For the first time on Friday night, I heard Chris Hayes interview somebody (Rebecca Traister) who sounded like I and a lot of other people have felt for four years. Traister was and said she was terrified and furious. She sounded like somebody who was terrified and furious, not like the stable of “calmers”, the “institutions are holding” gang on MSNBC who have been interviewed today. Cory Booker, Klobuchar, the presidential historians, Hirono (as much as I love her), Capehart, Jarrett.
I swear I think that part of the deal to convince all the corporate democrats to drop out of the race and endorse Biden was an agreement by MSNBC to interview them every fifteen minutes.
Last week, Cory Booker was on Ari Melber’s (also disgustingly celebrity laden) show claiming that what we needed was a “return to civic grace.” That’s Booker’s answer to an authoritarian take-over, a return to “civic grace.” I’m sure Mitch McConnell will take that “return to civic grace” and stuff it up Booker’s nose.
Trump in a news conference (or whatever that things is he does when he comes out and lies for an extended period of time) is preparing the population for a “disaster” on election day. He keeps repeating the scenario and thereby painting the picture for his supporters of total confusion. Today he said that the Republicans are appealing to the courts who he hopes will “see this clearly and stop it.” He called the sending out of ballots to citizens as “the scam of all time.”
The reporter for CNN falls for the head fake and says: Mail in voting is safe. There is no fraud and there are no missing ballots as Trump accused.
So, once again, just as in 2016, the Republicans scream rigging, the Democrats and the media yell, no rigging. The Republicans rig and the Democrats and the media are left stunned.
Election Security: Stealing the Election
Jennifer Cohn is tweeting that the DeVos family company Amway partnered with Russia’s Alfa Bank in 2014. It was Alfa Bank that was pinging both Trump Tower and Spectrum Health thousands of times in the summer of 2016. This has never been explained.
Run, don’t walk to get a copy of Jonathan Simon’s “Code Red” 2020 edition.
Trump is tweeting that the Governor of Virginia (where early voting starts today) “wants to take away your guns,” and “is in favor of executing babies after birth.”
According to Jennifer Cohn, (relying on Woodward), Russians installed malware in the voter registration systems of “at least two” Florida counties. The malware was designed to erase voters. (Twitter)
Precinct ballot scanners in Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida include wireless modems that connect scanners and county central tabulators to the internet. (Twitter, Jennifer Cohn)
Texas, Tennessee, Indiana, Minnesota, Illinois, and Rhode Island also have modems that need to be removed before the election. (Cohn, Twitter)
Information on voting of Interest:
Zetter, Kim (8/8/19) “Critical U.S. ElectionSystems…” Vice
Other Information of Interest
Podcast on 9/11 Blindspot.
102 of 140 inmates at a women’s prison in South Dakota have tested positive for Coronavirus. (AP)
Even though the corporate media seems drawn to the notion of Trump refusing to leave the White House after a massive win by Biden, there is another much more likely scenario. As Nichols writes: “…what could turn out to be the most concerted effort to overturn the will of the people is taking place before most ballots are cast.”
In a thousand different ways, the Republicans are deploying strategies to steal the election before it even beings. Nichols details “legal challenges, lawsuits, court orders, decisions and rulings in so many states.” It is, he says, a “strategic assault on voting rights.”
In May of 2020, the NYT was reporting millions of dollars allocated by the GOP to fund legal actions. This was part of a $20 million plan to challenge “voters deemed suspicious.”
In locality after locality, the Republicans and their teams of lawyers and jurists are placing barriers to high-turnout election. In some states, like Florida and Georgia, this includes taxpayer funded efforts being carried out by Republican minions such as Ron DeSantis and Brian Kemp.
In Florida, in addition to roadblocks to voting by mail, lawyers working for the Republican governor have secured a decision from the US Court of Appeals for the 11rh Circuit to require former felons to pay off any outstanding court fees before they can vote. This is after the voters in Florida voted to allow former felons to vote. But, the new poll tax approved by the court, means that some 774,000 former felons are now charged for the right to vote. It is instructive to remember that Clinton lost Florida by less than 115,000 votes.
In Iowa, a successful legal challenge meant that absentee ballot requests already sent out were voided because the requests contained identifying voter information already filled in. Republicans succeeded in having 64,000 requests voided in two counties.
In Pennsylvania, Republican lawyers are seeking to prevent voters from using drop boxes to deliver absentee ballots. The drop boxes were intended to help compensate for the post office slow downs that will delay the ballots if mailed.
Pennsylvania legislators have tried to ban drop boxes entirely and put new restrictions on deadlines for requesting mail in ballots. Trump won Pennsylvania by less than 45,000 votes.
In some states, the courts have not allowed the Republican party to get away with this pre-election voter suppression. In Ohio, for example, a judge ruled that the Republican Secretary of State, Frank LaRose’s, move to limit the use of drop boxes was “arbitrary and unreasonable.”
In Wisconsin, the State Supreme Court voted to let 1 million requested absentee ballots be sent to voters after the distribution of the ballots had been delayed. There was a dispute over whether the Green Party had qualified for the ballot.
But, in Texas last week, a panel of the US Court of Appeals for the fifth circuit ruled that Texas did not have to offer vote by mail to all eligible voters. They embraced a Republican argument that the state should be allowed to mandate a 65-and-over age limit for voting absentee.
These lawsuits and many others form an attack on voting rights, the use of the courts to restrict voting in districts where Biden is thought to be ahead.
“Nothing should be more self-evident than the simple statement that for an election to have legitimacy, the counting process must be observable” Code Red by Jonathan Simon.
In many states, however, Republican party officials have worked to make sure that the counting process is not observable. They have spent millions of taxpayer dollars to fool us into believing that we have a fair, observable system when we do not.
In the state of Georgia, to give but one example, the government of Brian Kemp (who himself benefited from vote manipulation that edged him into the governorship) is using tax payer money to make sure that the voting process is secret.
Georgia had used a paperless, touchscreen voting machine system since 2002. When we voted, our votes disappeared into a cyber world that could not be checked, verified, or audited.
The state then ignored warnings from independent researchers that the system had been easily penetrated through the internet. Because state officials refused to admit the problems with the system, it became necessary to file a lawsuit in 2017. The problems were found by the court to be so egregious, that in 2019, a federal court order had to be issued to require Georgia to stop using the all‑electronic voting system by year’s end because of the system’s proven vulnerability to cyberattack (Curling v. Raffensperger).
The response from Republican government officials was not to return to hand-marked paper ballots, but to spend over $100 million dollars on a new voting machine system that was designed not to secure the vote, but to convince voters (and the court) that votes were “secured.”
In addition to the amount of money paid for the voting system, an untold amount of state money was used in a PR campaign to dupe the people of Georgia into believing that this new system was an improvement over the last one. It was not.
What the new, outrageously expensive system did was to introduce a piece of paper into the process, what they called a “paper ballot,” that was printed by a machine. Officials then crowed that the vote was verifiable. And, they went around the state recruiting organizations and groups to pose with the new state “I Secured my Vote” propaganda. But, the paper, the “ballot” was nothing more than a prop in the theatre production that was to look like an “election.”
The process works like this:
The voter’s identification is checked in on an electronic polling book (computer) that has records of registered voters. If registered the voter is given a card.
This card is inserted into another machine, a Ballot Marking Device (BMD).
The voter then touches a screen to record his/her votes.
When finished, the BMD issues a “ballot.”
So, the BMD records the vote and marks a “ballot” for the voter. It then prints out that ballot with words that are said to reflect the voting preferences.
The voter is asked (encouraged) to take that ballot to a different station and check the words to make sure that they accurately reflect the voting preferences, i.e., how you voted.
Then, the voter takes the ballot and feeds it into a scanner which records the vote. The ballots collect inside the scanner which looks (ironically enough) like an enormous trash can.
Now, first of all, every polling place is mandated to stock readers, glasses that magnify the words on the ballot because the print is so small. This obviously in and of itself discourages voters from checking the ballots.
But, more importantly, what they don’t tell the voter is that the words on the ballot are not what is counted when s/he puts the ballot into the scanner. The words, the ones telling the voter who s/he voted for are meaningless gibberish. They are decoration, props. The words printed on the “ballot” have no relation to the vote counted by the scanner.
What the scanner counts is a bar code printed at the bottom of the ballot. You cannot read the barcode. In most cases, not even computer experts can read the barcode in these electronic voting systems. You have no idea what the scanner records, and you cannot check it with readers or without them.
So, just imagine this. You vote on a machine, it prints out words on a piece of paper that reflect who you voted for. You check these words to make sure that they reflect who you voted for. You put this paper in the scanner and this machine records not what you checked, but something you cannot check, a barcode at the bottom of the page. You have been duped.
But, you might say, these ballots are still paper, physical, they can be recounted if there is a problem. This is better than the completely paperless system before. Perhaps, but this actually makes no difference if the recount does not examine the words printed on the ballot.
The state of Georgia has made clear that any recount (and recounts are not easy to get) will only involve running the ballots through the scanner again, a second time. They have explicitly stated that there will be no examination of the match between the printed words and the barcodes.
So, the new voting system is designed not to provide a “transparent, fair, accurate, and verifiable election processes…” (as U.S. District Judge Totenberg mandated in 2019) but exactly the opposite. The new voting system is engineered to make people believe that it is transparent and verifiable, and to give them pieces of paper they can hold and “check” in order to fool them.
Judge Totenberg held a hearing this week to consider a preliminary injunction brought on behalf of the people of Georgia, to force the state to use hand-marked paper ballots in the November election for people who are voting in person.
But, after spending the outrageous $100 million for the new voting system/propaganda system, the lawyers for the state of Georgia maintain that this would be too expensive and too cumbersome.
We must start asking and demanding answers to questions about why the state of Georgia spent this enormous amount of money on a voting system that doesn’t ensure transparency and now is spending more money fighting measures to try to ensure transparency.
A discussion of politics, law, justice, and crime.