Category Archives: Rule of Law

the “elite industrial complex” at work

What Elie Mystal calls the “elite industrial complex” has already started, before the election(which the Democrats are convinced they are going to win) to make the case for allowing Trump and the Republican crime family escape accountability for all the crimes they have committed not least of which is an attempt to subvert democracy and turn this into an authoritarian kleptocratic state.

We wouldn’t even have a crime network running the government, had we a functioning criminal justice system for white collar, corporate and political criminals.  Just take your pick from the various scandals and crimes the Trump family has been accused of (  sexual assault against women, including marital rape; defrauding the U.S. government through racial discrimination in housing; tax fraud; consumer fraud through Trump University; tenant intimidation; bankruptcy fraud; use of undocumented workers, including models; casino fraud; antitrust violations; money laundering; refusing to pay workers and contractors; charitable foundation fraud through the Trump Foundation; various frauds and scams related to ties with organized crime).  As Jeff Wise has written in the New Yorker:  “His entire life, after all, is one long testament to the power of getting away with things, a master class in criminality without consequences..”

But the elite industrial complex has already started working over time to pave the way for minimizing, normalizing and burying Trump’s crimes.  

On October 16, the Washington Post published an astounding article by Jill Lepore who claimed to be responding to a suggestion by Chris Hayes that “if we survive this” (meaning the Trump administration,) we should establish a truth and reconciliation commission.  She noted that NPR did a piece about a truth and reconciliation commission the same week.

“This is a terrible idea.” She wrote. 

Lepore then reminded the reader that this country has a tradition of a “peaceful transfer of power” and of conceding an election “without violence.”  What she didn’t point out was that there is nothing, nothing about a truth and reconciliation commission that implies a non-peaceful transfer of power or a resort to violence.  Lepore is, therefore, objecting to something that has never been proposed, setting up a straw man to knock it down.  This is how she starts.

Lepore then goes on to quote Thomas Jefferson.  “If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated, where reason is left free to combat it.” 

Lepore is arguing that the crime spree that has taken place in the past four years, calls for violence, threats not to allow an election, reminders by the likes of Mike Lee of Utah that the goal is not democracy, are just errors of opinion.  No.  These are not errors of opinion.  Shaping foreign policy to fulfill your own personal agenda and financial interests instead of that of the country is not an “error of opinion.”  Soliciting a bribe from the leader of another country, proposing to release public money in exchange for dirt on a political opponent is not an “error of opinion.”  I could go on for pages if not books in this vein, but you get the point.  Only an imbecile or a propagandist would call these errors of opinion.

The quote itself ends with a phrase that contradicts Lepore’s premise.  Jefferson says to let these folks stand undisturbed “where reason is left free to combat” their wishes to dissolve the union or change its republican form.  But, reason is not free to combat this effort at replacing a democratic system with an autocracy.  We have Fox News churning out propaganda 24 hours a day.  We have social media promoting the worst, most base fear mongering propaganda 24 hours a day.  No.  Reason is not “left free to combat” the threat.  So the quote Lepore’s using contradicts the argument she is advancing.

Lepore then quotes Justice Robert Jackson, chief counsel for the U.S. at the Nuremberg trials.  “The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant and so devastating that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated.”

Once again, Leopre’s own quote belies her entire argument.  The crimes and attacks on democracy and justice by the Republicans have indeed been “calculated,” “malignant” and “so devastating that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored.”  And, democracy “cannot survive their being repeated.” 

I am not at all convinced that Joe Biden will even win the election.  The Republicans have been working for decades to install a system of voter suppression, stuffing the courts with right-wing religious zealots, voting system manipulation, data mining through social media (Cambridge Analytica) and legislation that erodes voting rights.  They have too much to lose to allow a Biden win and I do not think they will do so.  And withe Supreme Court packed with right-wing ideologues who have no respect for the law, I doubt we will get another chance to hold a fair election.

Lepore goes on to assert that Trump was elected in a “fair election.”  But, there is evidence that this is not the case.  A former president of the United States, Jimmy Carter, an expert in election security, has said as much.   We have indictments of Russian nationals who hacked computer systems.  We have a Mueller report that details the handing over of computer voting information to the Russians by Paul Manafort.  And, this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Lepore self-righteously asserts that truth and reconciliation commissions don’t take place after democratic elections.  Well, that may well not have been a democratic election.

And, then, idiotically enough, Lepore just asserts, without question, that we can trust “investigative journalism, a functioning judiciary, legislative deliberation and action and dissent” to solve any problems caused by the crime spree of the last four years.

Well, investigative journalism is the first thing to go in newsrooms taken over by conglomerates and has been gutted.  We certainly don’t have investigative journalism from television networks that are owned by corporations.  The Republicans have worked for decades to stock the courts with ideologues who have no respect for law, but for dogma and some of whom have even been deemed incompetent by their own Bar Association.  Mitch McConnell bragged recently on Fox News that he totally blocked any legislative agenda the Obama administration had in the last six years Obama was in office.  And, we just had an impeachment process where Republicans in the Senate voted not to even hear evidence against the President, let alone convict him.  Dissent has been met with violence and illegal surveillance of the protestors, and Lepore is suggesting we rely on people protesting during a pandemic.

In short, this essay is idiocy and the fact that the Washington Post published it is a travesty.  But, as Elie Mystal notes, it’s the “elite industrial complex at work.”  Rick Stengel was on MSNBC waxing poetic about the “lovely” way in which the Biden campaign refused to engage in recriminations.  And, Joe Biden is part of this complex.  As Lepore points out, Biden has already said that pursuing charges against Trump officials is “probably not very…good for democracy.” 

“We are facing too many crises, we have too much work to do, we have too bright a future to have it shipwrecked on the shoals of anger and hate and division.”  This was Biden at Gettysburg, delivering a speech that had been carefully crafted to make the case for unilateral surrender. 

So, Biden and the “elite industrial complex” like Lepore will work to convince us we just have to engage in “self-reflection.”  Sen. Cory Booker thinks what we need is a “return to civic grace.”

Leopore ends with the statement: “Lock him up” cannot be the answer to “lock her up.”  What she fails to see, however, is that one of them is guilty and the other is not.

In my neck of the intellectual woods, we call it justice

October 20, 2020

Not long ago a friend of mine was complaining about MSNBC.  “I don’t watch MSNBC anymore,” he said.  “I’m tired of the blame game.”

I didn’t question the statement since I figured I’d already pushed the conversation to its limit.  That means, I had already opened my mouth at least once.  In this day and age, for me, that’s always one too many times.

I spent almost ten years living outside the country, missed the entire 80s, while this country was going through what another friend referred to as the “moving right show.”  When I returned to the country, I usually refrained from talking about politics since my perspective was radically different from almost anybody I socialized with on a regular basis.  And, I was a writer.  You don’t need to talk to people about politics and law if you write about them.  In fact, most of the time, it’s the last thing you want to talk about.

The past four years, however, have not only pushed me further to the left than I already was (which was pretty far to the left), but made me believe that it was possible to talk to other people about politics since the Trump/Republican crime family was openly dismantling everything decent there ever was about the society.

But, what I quickly found was that even though people wanted to grouse, when you got right down to it, they didn’t want to do much more.  What most people wanted was to 1) vent and to 2) “get back to normal.”  They didn’t much appreciate it when I pointed out that “normal” was what got us Trump.

In the past four years I have been infuriated, disgusted, and repelled by Trump and the Republican party.  But, my real rage has been provoked by Democrats.  I suppose you expect the worst from your enemies, but when you see it coming from your friends, it is both disheartening and alienating.

Early on in 2016, after Trump was elected and people (even in Georgia) started to mobilize, I had an exchange with one of the group of women I call the “southern ladies” that summed up my dilemma.

We were at a street demonstration peopled largely by the elderly and women.  (I am both.)  An acquaintance said: Now, we have to be careful that we’re respectful.  I looked at her and blinked.  “Why?”  I asked.  She looked back at me and blinked herself.  Neither of us could understand what on earth the other was talking about.

I have spent the past four years trying to understand what she was talking about, what the Democratic Party was talking about.  I have been dumfounded, utterly dumbfounded by people who act like the worst thing in the world would be to be perceived by other people as “disrespectful.”

Now, I grew up in the South where being rude was a cardinal sin.  But we are watching the destruction of democracy, the transformation of a country into an authoritarian kleptocratic state and people, grown people, are worried about whether or not they will be perceived by the people dismantling democracy as disrespectful.  I don’t get it.

And, it’s not only regular people.  I sit and watch hearing after hearing where Democrats are in a position to expose the utter corruption and rot that is characteristic of the Republican party and Senator after Senator, Representative after Representative virtually gets down on their hands and knees and apologizes for asking questions.  It disgusts me and enrages me.

And, as if things weren’t bad enough, the week after Diane Feinstein went out of her way to grovel at the feet of Lindsay Graham and possibly cost the Democrats a crucial Senate seat, Democrats have already started promising Republicans not to hold them accountable for the crimes that brought us to this point.  Democrats, like my friend, might call this “the blame game” but in my neck of the intellectual woods we call it justice.  And I am a believer in justice.

We would not even be here, on this precarious knife edge, if there was justice in this country for white collar, corporate and political criminals.  Donald Trump, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and many others would not even be in a position to hold office if we had a criminal justice system that prosecuted the crimes of the wealthy.  They would be in jail.  Instead, they control the government.

And, already, even before the Democrats have won the election *, they are already trying to bow down and promise they will not hold accountable the people who have done everything in their power to steal and degrade democracy.  On Nicolle Wallace’s show on Monday, Rick Stengel found it necessary to point out one of the things that he thought was “lovely about the Biden campaign.”  Lovely? This thing was that the Biden campaign talks about “bringing the country together [in a way that] is not about recrimination, not about punishing people who may have made a mistake.”  We need, says Stengel to be “moving ahead.”

I have been saying for months that people who think that a Biden administration will do anything to hold the Trump/Republican crime family to account are delusional.  Biden will do exactly what Obama did in the face of people who had recklessly and greedily brought down an economy.  He will say that we need to “move on.”  People like Rick Stengel are just paving the way. 

George Bush used the Justice Department to create a fictional legal foundation for the use of torture, but Obama said we should move forward not backward.

Every time leadership evades responsibility for holding criminals accountable for their crimes, it paves the way for more crime.  Barak Obama and Eric Holder paved the way for Trump as surely as if they had nominated him as the candidate of the Republican party.

*I do not believe that the Democrats will win the “election.” I believe the Republicans will steal it.

stealing the vote: state developments

STEALING THE VOTE:

•       The Supreme Court has sided with South Carolina Republicans attempting to suppress the vote by reinstating a law requiring witness signature for mail-in ballots.  This decreases the vote by making it more difficult for people to vote, requiring them to risk COVID by having someone else witness the ballot, and provides yet another point top invalidate votes (the verifying and matching of the witness signature). 

•       In Florida, the voter registration website crashed and stayed down for several hours on Monday, the deadline to register.  Again, every obstacle decreases the vote which is what the Republicans are counting on.

•       In Iowa, Republicans blocked sending out ballots that had pre-filled voter information on them. Tens of thousands of ballots were invalidated.  This means confusion, the likelihood that people will send in the wrong ballot, and the necessity of the state to send out replacement ballots a month before the election.

These are three incidents in three states, being replicated all over the country.    

 In Georgia, software on all the states voting machines is being replaced A MONTH BEFORE THE ELECTION.  This software change is being done by the voting machine company, unverified, unexamined, and uncertified. 

The Republicans are pulling out all the stops.  They have too much at stake to lose this election.  They are going to lie, cheat and finally steal this election and the Democrats and the media are going to be caught off guard.  VOTING IS NOT GOING TO BE ENOUGH.

And: Pennsylvania’s online system for registering to vote and applying for and tracking mail ballots crashed over the weekend, triggering an outage that stretched for more than 24 hours and prompted frustration from voters weeks before critical election deadlines.

Essential podcast: the majority report

If you only have time to listen to one podcast, I would suggest The Majority Report. Sam Seder consistently chooses material that is challenging and different from anything you will hear on the corporate media.

Sam hosts USC Law Professor Jody Armour (@niggatheory) to discuss his new book N*gga Theory: Race, Language, Unequal Justice, and the Law and the importance of eradicating anti-black bias in America. The class distinction masquerading as a moral distinction in black respectability politics. The destructive impact of these ideas on the fight for racial justice, particularly with regard to police and prisons. How Obama represents the limits of respectability politics. The need for our criminal justice system to move away from retribution and towards restoration and rehabilitation, even in cases of interpersonal violence.

https://majorityreportradio.com/2020/09/21/9-21-ngga-theory-race-language-unequal-justice-and-the-law-w-jody-armour

Ginsburg, celebrity culture and “civil grace.”

Saturday 19 September 2020

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.

elie mystal, writing in the nation @elienyc

Elie Mystal, today, writing in the Nation:

I would like to mourn her. But even Ginsburg herself realized there would be no time for that.

McConnell has already removed the filibuster rule for Supreme Court appointments, which means he needs only 50 votes to confirm a new justice (since the vice president breaks any ties), and he has 53 Republicans.

It’s not hard to see how McConnell will control his caucus. Remember, while some Republicans will occasionally furrow their brows in performative outrage at the latest Trump tweets, almost all of these people are in favor of the hardcore conservative legal policies Ginsburg spent her life opposing.

Republican senators might not like Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, but they love taking health care away from millions of people; they love the deregulation that leads to environmental destruction; and they consider it a moral imperative to reduce a pregnant woman to the legal status of a medical incubator…

Obama either didn’t anticipate McConnell’s unprecedented maneuver to block his nominee or thought that Garland’s moderate stances would cause other Republicans to resist McConnell’s gambit to block him.

These are people who support “…the right to bear shoulder-launched grenades…”

It would now seem like the list of potential Supreme Court nominees Trump produced last week was released with some kind of inside information about Ginsburg’s failing health

McConnell has proven that the composition of the Supreme Court is a function of raw political power.

We must do everything we can to stop McConnell from filling Ginsburg’s seat and, however that turns out, we must retake political power and reform a Supreme Court that has been irrevocably broken by McConnell’s ongoing hypocrisy.

Stealing the election one lawsuit at the time

“…the Trump campaign, the Republican Party and their judicial allies are not worrying about the Constitution. They are in full burn-it-down, win-at-any-cost mode.”  The Nation, John Nichols

https://www.thenation.com/article/politics/wisconsin-court-voter-suppression/

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. 

georgia: stealing the election

“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.

Stealing the 2020 election. I hope I’m wrong.

Saturday 12 September 2020

It has become obvious to me that the Republican Party is stealing the 2020 election. 

They are stealing it behind our backs and they are stealing it in front of our faces.  All you have to do to come to this conclusion is spend some time researching targeted voter sabotage as practiced by the Republicans since at least 2000. 

But, instead of looking at the evidence and making a plan for what to do when the Republicans pull off yet another theft of a major election, the Democratic Party, the corporate media and regular citizens are busily waltzing off a cliff in a haze of self-congratulatory delusion.  If, they tell us, we just go out and vote, Trump will be defeated, and all will be well.

I do not believe this to be true.  I do not believe it to be true because I cannot look at the evidence that is available and come to that conclusion.

One of the first things you learn as a researcher is to question most what you want to believe.  People in this country WANT to believe that the voting process is fair, that all they have to do is vote.  There is an almost pig-headed refusal to look at the evidence that the voting system is not fair, has been rigged in the past, is being rigged now, and that rigging will likely determine the outcome of the 2020 election.

The Democratic Party leadership and party strategists desperately want to believe that all they have to do is put out ads, analyze polls, make campaign appearances (sometimes) and get out the vote.  This is all they know – conventional campaign tactics.  And, they simply refuse to accept the fact that we have entered a world in which conventional campaign strategies are meaningless.  I don’t care how many polls you analyze, or how well you analyze them, if the vote count is manipulated, your effort will be irrelevant. 

But, on the corporate news programs I listen to hour after hour of discussion of the polls and demographics, and likely voter turn-out.  Corporate news pundits giddily and endlessly talk to other corporate news pundits, none of them willing to acknowledge the fact that if the Republicans do in this election what they have been doing in other elections for two decades, none of the polls and none of the analysis, is relevant.  This means, of course, that the pollsters and strategists themselves are not relevant, and that is one thing they will never admit.  So, they lie to themselves and they lie to us.

With this lie, they make us believe that a corrupted voting system is fair because THEY WANT TO BELIEVE THAT IT IS FAIR.  If it is not fair, if all the traditional campaign strategies are useless, they might have to DO SOMETHING.  They might have to stop rabbiting on endlessly on cable news, stop comparing each other’s living rooms, stop telling jokes and selling a “return to civic grace” as the answer to all our problems.  They might have to do something.  And, that’s the problem.

The demographics of the voting population, the polls, getting out the vote, promoting mail-in ballots, won’t make a damn bit of difference if the Republicans at the state and county level manipulate the vote count to win as they have done in the past.

There is absolutely no reason to believe that they will not manipulate the vote count and a great deal of evidence that they will.  But, by ignoring this fact, the DNC, the strategists and the pollsters and the corporate news pundits keep themselves at the center of a rat wheel of influence, money, talk and activity.

The result, I fear, is that once again on November 4, we will be sitting in our homes looking at stunned corporate media pundits, strategists and pollsters disoriented and wondering how Donald Trump managed to win the electoral college yet again.  They will babble about how amazing it is that the exit polls (if we even have them) could be so wrong.  They will make the excuse that Trump voters don’t show up in the polling because they are ashamed to say they are voting for Trump.  But, they will never, never question the integrity of the voting process itself.

When Trump has apparently secured enough electoral college votes to win, there will be nothing the Democrats and the corporate media and the strategists and the pollsters will be prepared to do.  They will wring their hands and lament.  They will talk about writing strongly worded letters.  But, they will not question the validity of the results of the election and they will not fight to ensure that there is a fair election vote count.  They have never effectively done so in the past and they will not do so in 2020.

Between now and November 3, (in order to try not to go bat-shit crazy) I intend to examine and share the information that is available to demonstrate what is almost certain to happen on November 3. 

I am painfully aware that this is a process that makes people feel uncomfortable.  People do not want to examine or talk about the corruption of the voting system.  It’s inconvenient, it’s frightening, it’s paradigm changing and it means that they might have to DO SOMETHING. 

People struggle to hold on to what makes them feel safe, and if this election is stolen like others before it, it will mean that we will be living in a different world.  People are understandably afraid of that.  But, putting our heads in the sand will not save us.  On the contrary, I believe putting our heads in the sand will leave us disoriented, disorganized, demoralized and even more vulnerable to the onslaught of authoritarianism that will follow if Trump manages to remain in power.

The rights we think we have, the rights that we rely on to conduct daily life, will no longer exist for us, and that is a frightening prospect.  But, no matter how much we want to believe that all we have to do is get out and vote, that desire doesn’t make it a reality.

Even among the community of people who study election sabotage and who have been warning about hackable modems in voting machines, voting systems that cannot be audited, the purging of voter lists, outrageously biased voting rules and a hundred other things that can and will be used to alter the vote count, there is still the tendency to want to argue that “overwhelming turnout” can overcome any voter system sabotage that may occur. 

I simply cannot understand how this makes logical sense. 

If Republicans sabotage the vote count, turnout, “overwhelming” or otherwise will not make that vote count accurate.  If you can change vote tallies you can change thousands of votes or hundreds of votes.  I have asked this question over and over to various experts in the field.  The best answer I get is a rather weak statement about how “overwhelming voter turnout” will make it harder to alter the vote.

But, I don’t even understand the logic of this.  Why will it make it harder?  And how? 

I can cast a vote for one candidate, but I cannot in any way determine how other people in my country cast their votes.  If the county says that I was the only person voting for Biden in the entire county, how am I supposed to contest that?  I have no access to the actual votes.  I have no idea how other people voted.  And, evidently in Georgia, there is not even an auditable vote count. So even if people in authority demanded a “recount,” it wouldn’t make vote sabotage any clearer.

In the state of Georgia, a recount of the votes involves nothing more than putting computer generated ballots through the same scanners a second time.  A human being cannot determine by looking at these ballots who the voter voted for.  The actual vote is recorded in a bar code that is unreadable by a human.  So, a recount is just recounting the same ballots (which might be manipulated) all over again.  That is useless.

I don’t know what to do but try to put together for myself the evidence leading to the conclusion that the Republican Party will successfully steal this election.  It’s there now.  There’s no need to wait until the election to see the outlines of the methods Republicans are using to manipulate the vote.  They are doing it before our eyes.

If you have information, please let me know.  If you have information refuting the supposition, please let me know also.  If you find an argument weak, suggest another one.  I’m open to all reputable information and welcome all critique.  But, I cannot stand silent behaving as if I believe that voting is going to oust Trump and the Republicans.  They have too much to lose to allow this vote to go against them.  And, delusion is dangerous.  In this case will only leave us totally unprepared for dealing with the outcome of another stolen election.

I hope I’m wrong about this.  I truly hope I am wrong, but I do not think I am. 

STEALING ELECTIONS: THE HISTORY

code red

If you have not started following Jennifer Cohn on Twitter, you should.  She is essential if you want to understand what is likely to happen in the 2020 election with election security.

Among the things you should note for today are:

  • Even when the GOP allows Hand Marked Paper Ballots, they are careful to ensure that no one gets to look at them in a meaningful way. In 2000 and also in 2016, the GOP blocked hand recounts despite irregularities with electronic totals.
  • 6,000 votes disappeared in the dead of election night in Don Siegelman’s run for governor in Alabama in 2002. Alabama’s Attorney General (Republican Bill Pryor), a client of Karl Rove, seized the paper ballots in question before Siegelman could have them recounted.  Pryor then illegally certified the results.
  • Siegelman’s experience is just one example of blatant, before our eyes, vote cheating. The Republicans cheated, stole an election, and none of them were ever prosecuted.  Don Siegelman was the one who wound up in prison.

Notes:

People you can follow onTwitter: @jennifercohn1, @DonSiegelman, @JonathanSimon14,

Don Siegelman’s book: Stealing our Democracy.  https://www.amazon.com/Stealing-Our-Democracy-Political-Assassination/dp/1588384292/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=don+siegelman&qid=1598819261&sr=8-1

Jonathan Simon’s Book: Code Red  https://www.amazon.com/CODE-RED-Computerized-Elections-Democracy-ebook/dp/B087L8PWZP/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=code+red%2C+jonathan&qid=1598829001&sr=8-1