Category Archives: Press and Democracy

Stealing the Election: Behind our Backs and in front of our faces

It is tempting to think that authoritarian governments come to power through sudden and dramatic coups, but often they do not.  Instead, they come to power through a creeping co-opting of authority.  This is the preferred method, the most successful method of taking control. 

A sudden, dramatic take-over of a society provokes resistance.  Sliding the society into authoritarianism accomplishes the same thing, but doesn’t so dramatically jar everybody’s sensibilities.

The Trump Administration could try to cancel the 2020 elections and stay in power.  But, that would draw a backlash, and hopefully a powerful resistance.  The Republicans would prefer to to stay in power through a manipulated election, and that is what they are seeking.  Republicans want the show and appearance of an election without the actuality of an election, i.e., they want a pre-determined outcome.  In other words, they want exactly what Putin has. 

It is clear that the Republicans want to remain in power by manipulating the 2020 election process.  They do not want to bring troops into polling places and seize ballots, but they are not above doing that if they must.  They are clearly planning strategies for both eventualities.    

One of the techniques authoritarian governments use to bring about illegal and unconstitutional change that ensures the maintenance of their power is to test out their intentions ahead of time.  Test, measure reaction, pull back if necessary, test again or go forward.  The history of the Trump/Republican administration is one of using this strategy.

On first consideration, this might seem counter intuitive.  Why would they signal in advance their intention to subvert the law?  Why alert the opposition so they can prepare? 

One very good reason is to inoculate citizens and the media, slowly injecting the idea of electoral intervention a little at the time so that if it becomes necessary, the idea will not be totally new.

First, this means that Republican supporters will be brought along carefully, introducing them to the idea, signaling what may come.  Second, the introduction of the idea allows time to lay the foundation of the argument of why this may become “necessary.”  Third, the advanced announcement, or threat, causes the opposition to go on alert.  As time passes though, and other threats are issued, the heightened sensitivity can’t be maintained, and the opposition relaxes. 

The Republicans have turned this threat/reaction circle into a joke, a way of ginning up outrage among their opposition which they then ridicule.  The legitimate outrage at the idea of the subversion of democracy becomes an object of mockery.  So, Republican supporters know exactly how to react to this moral outrage if and when it actually happens.  They jeer, mock and dismiss.

Fourth, the announcement alerts the opposition, but through repeated threats, the opposition wears down and the heightened sensitivity cannot be maintained.  The press loses interest in even covering the threats because they aren’t new.  The press and the citizenry become desensitized. 

The Republicans have used this tactic repeatedly through various surrogates and through Trump.  At the moment, they are testing the waters of electoral interference through people like Roger Stone.  There are a number of reasons why Roger Stone is not in prison.  First, he was paid off so he would not do a deal with prosecutors and tell them about the Republicans’ various corrupt activities.  Second, Stone functions as an effective mouthpiece.  He publicly says that the Republicans should do this or that.  Then, Republicans wait for the reaction.  That reaction informs them of just how far they can go. 

Roger Stone, stated over the weekend on Alex Jones’s Infowars that Trump and the Republicans should seize total power over the society and jail opponents including Bill and Hillary Clinton should he lose to Biden.  Stone argued that Trump should consider invoking the Insurrection act.  He also recommended arresting Harry Reid. 

Stone said: “The ballots in Nevada on election night should be seized by federal marshals and taken from the state. They are completely corrupted. No votes should be counted from the state of Nevada if that turns out to be the provable case. Send federal marshals to the Clark county board of elections, Mr. President!”

Later, attacking the Democratic governor of Nevada, Steve Sisolak, Trump said: “This is the guy we are entrusting with millions of ballots, unsolicited ballots, and we’re supposed to win these states. Who the hell is going to trust him? The only way the Democrats can win the election is if they rig it.”

On Sunday, on ABC’s This Week, senior Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller also attacked mail-in ballots in Nevada. He also called Sisolak a “clubhouse governor … who, by the way, if you go against him politically … politically speaking, you’ll find yourself buried in the desert.”

So, the Republicans are signaling that they may intervene in the election if it becomes necessary, telling their supporters what to expect and providing a rationale for the clearly illegal and unconstitutional action.

Stone, in the interview, advocated “forming an election day operation using the FBI, federal marshals and Republican state officials across the country to be prepared to file legal objections [to results] and if necessary to physically stand in the way of criminal activity.”

In an interview broadcast on Saturday night, Trump told Fox News he would happily “put down” any leftwing protests about the results of the election.  “We’ll put them down very quickly if they do that,” he told Jeannine Pirro.

As well as signaling his supporters and threatening his opponents, this move is also a head-fake.  In other words, Republicans are shouting from the media mountain tops that they may well physically intervene in the election, seizing ballots, sending in troops.  The corporate media spends hours and hours talking about this and pointing out the obvious fact that it is illegal and unconstitutional.  But, what the Republicans are hoping for, banking on, is that they can accomplish the same take-over of the election process through more covert means, voter purges, voting machine processes that are impenetrable and therefore subject to manipulation, refusing to count mail-in ballots that come in “late,” closing polling places, etc.

The Republicans are stealing the 2020 election.  They are doing so behind our backs and in front of our faces. 

See, the Guardian

https://news.yahoo.com/roger-stone-donald-trump-bring-021241564.html

Georgia Justice: Voting Machines and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Stenographic Reporting

mark niesse

This is a short article, a small point, but ideology and attitudes are made up of countless small points, repeatedly pounded home that go into constructing people’s opinions.

This is an article that appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution today.

Article: https://www.ajc.com/news/state–regional-govt–politics/amid-budget-cuts-georgia-pays-keep-old-voting-machines-storage/lPTO8DwteQouaFssNpImeN/?utm_source=Iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=campaign_1220886

Niesse, Mark (5/15/20) “Amid budget cuts, Georgia pays to keep old voting machines in storage.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

First, there is the headline.  The headline opposes the budget cuts from the state of Georgia and the money being spent to house voting machines used in the 2016 (and I think 2018) elections.  The obvious message is that we are wasting tax payer money to house unneeded voting machines when we are in the middle of deep budget cuts.

Here is the first sentence of the article:

“As Georgia is preparing for deep budget cuts, the state government is paying $432,000 a year to store 30,000 voting machines that will never be used again.”

First, as a reader pointed out, why should it cost almost half a million dollars to store some voting machines for a year?

Second,  the reporter is asserting something he has no knowledge of, that is whether the machines will be “used” again.  The voting machines will certainly be used again if they are evidence in a lawsuit to see whether there were election improprieties.  And, that impropriety will certainly not be uncovered if the voting machines are destroyed.

So, the argument that the reporter is just reporting the facts is clearly absurd.  It is not a fact that these machines will “never be used again.”  This is an assumption on the part of the reporter, clearly the assumption that the state of Georgia wants people to believe.

So, why does the reporter take on as fact an assumption that supports the state’s side in this dispute over the voting machines?

An attorney for the secretary of state’s office, Bryan Tyson, in a letter on May 9, asserts:

“Continuing to preserve the DREs (the voting machines) at a significant cost to Georgia taxpayers in times of national crisis for state budgets across the country is wasteful and unnecessary.”  This was a letter directed toward the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, the citizens of Georgia who want to know whether or not these voting machines were compromised in some way.

The citizens involved want to preserve the machines, to find out whether “viruses or malware” which might have infected the machines might have spread to the state’s replacement voting system.

There has been a proposal to destroy two-thirds of the machines but no agreement on which machines to dispose of.  This makes perfect sense.  If the machines were infected, why destroy any of the evidence that might demonstrate that fact?

“We’ve tried to work with them,” said David Cross, an attorney for a group of plaintiffs suing the state. “If we could at least do an analysis of a reliable statistical sample, we could see if the old system was compromised.”

This seems to be a reasonable position.  But, the reporter after noting that statement, then repeats the scare statistics of budget cuts as if this had anything to do with the voting machines.

“All state agencies, including the secretary of state’s office, are planning for 14% budget cuts in the upcoming fiscal year — more than $3.5 billion.  The secretary of state’s office is preparing to slice $3.2 million from its $24 million budget through a hiring freeze, licensing board changes and leaving some positions unfilled, Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said.”

“There are so many ways we could spend money outside storage costs,” Fuchs said. “We could use that for fighting real security threats rather than activist’s lawsuits.”

That’s how the reporter chooses to end the article, with a statement by the Deputy Secretary of State calling the people on the other side of the lawsuit “activists” (which I presume is in his mind a negative thing) and maintaining that this fight is not about “real security threats.”

The AJC reporter should be ashamed of this stenographic reporting.

I am a resident of Georgia.  I am tired of the graft, corruption, hubris and collusion that goes into making the state government part of the Republican for-profit free-for-all con game.

 

 

 

The Brunswick News and the Arbery Killing

videoVideo of protest about the killing of Ahmaud Arbery.

This is a letter to the editor that appeared in the Brunswick News (5/14/20).  It needs to be pointed out, however, that the Brunswick News is consistently filled with right-wing material and right-wing political commentary from syndicated columnists.  The editorial page regularly includes an article by the now deceased Billy Graham.  The newspaper also frequently publishes what are essentially campaign ads for the current Representative, (Not your) Buddy Carter.

Letter to the Editor, Brunswick News.  5/14/20.

I never thought that I would be a protester. My mom and dad raised me to respect the law and to submit to authority.

Then a young man was murdered.

I initially called for peace and trust. I worked with law enforcement officials during my career in child protection. In my day, we all dedicated our lives to being moral and ethical servants of our community.

Somehow, Jackie Johnson was elected to work with us, as our chief law enforcement officer. Things changed.

A police officer stalked his wife and subsequently killed her. He was shielded by the DAs office.

A former employee, armed and angry, kills a young man. We now know that she instructed that her former employee not be arrested before recusing herself and hand-picking her successor, who likewise refused to make an arrest. We then learn that he was also conflicted and indebted to DA Johnson through his son’s employment.

The governor needs to suspend DA Johnson until such time as she can be investigated. We need to be able to have faith that “equal protection under the law” are not hollow words.

DA Johnson, step down. We have no faith in you.

Mark Newman

GEORGIA KILLING: Aubrey

video

This is a video of the cars parked along HWY 17 in Brunswick , Georgia.  These brave people gathered to protest the government inaction in the case of the killing of Ahmaud Aubrey.  These people gathered in front of the house of Gregory McMichael who along with his son armed himself and pursued Aubrey through their neighborhood, finally shooting and killing him.

When a team from CNN was later filming at the same location, automatic weapon fire was heard in the background.

The two men were finally arrested after two months of inaction and shifting the responsibility for the case around rural Georgia.

 

 

 

“Why do you care?” Trump and the Wonder Drugs.

kelly

Trump says: “What do we have to lose? I feel very good about it.”

 

This is just one of several statements Trump has made over the past few days, trying to convince the American people that he has some wonder drug that is going to combat the virus.

 

In one instance, he’s talking about using two drugs together to combat the corona virus, not approved by the FDA, that (when used together) have been linked with sudden death.

In another instance, he touted using two drugs that have been used for decades to treat malaria.  There is no scientific testing (as stated by Fauci) that supports their use with the Coronavirus.  And, these drugs are also used by people with lupus and chronic arthritis.  Because of Trump’s idiotic ranting about these drugs and implications that they are a wonder drug, there are already shortages for people who need these drugs for their own medical problems.

 

What do we have to lose?

 

But, when a reporter (Kelly O’Donnell) on Saturday during a PRESS CONFERENCE, pressed Trump and tried to get some answers from him, some facts, besides this “I feel good about it” crap, Trump responded by telling O’Donnell that she was “an adult” and to stop asking questions.

 

When O’Donnell explained to Trump that it was the job of the media to try to establish if what the Trump administration was telling people was true, she was criticized as being “hostile.”

 

Well, I want reporters who are “hostile,” who do their jobs and ask the tough questions to prevent unnecessary deaths sparked by a moron who doesn’t know anything about medicine.

 

After explaining my concerns to one woman who posted on Facebook, she responded: “Why do you care?”

 

Why do I care?  Why do I care?

 

Well, let’s see, because people could die because the moron in the White House is disseminating misinformation?  Is that maybe enough reason to care?

 

I guess not because according to the thinking of some people the truth isn’t important, reporters are “making themselves the story.”  We must listen to and believe every word of the King, bow down, and for God’s sake women can’t be “hostile,” by asking pointed questions.

 

This kind of thinking is one reason why we are in the situation we are in.

 

This is a cult and they are evidently willing to follow it to the death.  This is dangerous.

 

And, yes, I care.