Monday, August 03, 2020

Strange tales

Would Biden win a non-election? This Politico story offers a mind-blowing analysis of what would happen if Trump actually found a way to postpone the election. I'll summarize:

The Constitution insures that neither Trump nor Pence would be able to remain in office past January 20, 2021. The next in the line of succession would be the Speaker of the House. But: Representatives run every two years, so no election means no House of Representatives -- and no Speaker.

The next in line, sayeth the Constitution, is the President pro tempore of the Senate. You're thinking Mitch, right? Nope. He's the Senate majority leader. The pro tempore gig goes to the senior senator in the majority party. Right now, that's Republican Chuck Grassley.

So...President Grassley? Nope.

Thirty-five Senate seats are up for election this year -- and if no election exists, those seats go vacant. Sixty-five senators would remain -- and for all intents and purposes, they would be the U.S. government, at least for a very brief time.

The majority of those 65 senators are Democrats. By tradition, the pro-tempore job would fall to Vermont Senator Pat Leahy. He would become President of the United States.

Politico author Richard Primus argues that the Democratic majority could chuck tradition and choose...well, anyone. Even a non-senator. (Nothing in the Constitution says that the President pro tempore has to be a senator.) In other words: The Democratic majority could make Joe Biden president pro tempore, and thus President of the U.S.

I thought of a way to give the gig to Biden without bucking tradition: Leahy becomes President of the United States briefly -- just long enough to name Biden as his Vice President. Then Leahy resigns. Potential problem: The 25th Amendment says that an appointed VP must be approved by both Houses of Congress.

A Politico reader brought up the Electoral College, which could theoretically pick a president without any votes being cast by actual voters. And at this point, even my "very, very large ah-brain" starts to ache.

Mail call. Here's a much more likely scenario. It has become clear to everyone that this administration will use the pandemic to insure that all mail runs hideously late. Result: Absentee ballots will not arrive on time. (Absentee ballots, while problematic, are more trustworthy than voting machines, because mailed-in ballots provide a paper trail.)

Now that the scheme has become clear, some states are trying to insure that we get something resembling a fair election. Example:
State lawmakers passed a bill Sunday that would add Nevada to a growing list of states that will mail all active voters ballots ahead of the November election amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The bill now heads to Gov. Steve Sisolak. If he signs it as expected, Nevada will join seven states that plan on automatically sending voters mail ballots, including California and Vermont, which moved earlier this summer to adopt automatic mail ballot policies.
Not good enough. What about completed ballots sent from the voters? A "vote early" movement has been taking shape, but if foul fiends are running the postal system, there can be no such thing as early enough.

Here's a good idea: Voters can drop off their ballots physically, insuring that the USPS is bypassed.

It’s faster than mailing your ballot. It’s safer than in-person voting. It’s convenient. It’s easy. It’s free.

And, depending on the rules in your state, your vote may possibly be tabulated ahead of Election Day, so there won’t be a days- or weeks-long wait to determine a winner in each race.
Not every state allows this, but most do.

I'm not the only cynic. Emerson polling is highly rated by 538. They give Joe Biden an unnervingly close four point lead.  Moreover:
A majority of voters, 53%, still think Trump will be re-elected in November.
So there are a whole lotta Biden supporters out there who think, as I think, that Trump will find a way to screw us. The polls also indicate that Trump voters plan to vote in person while Dems plan to vote by mail -- hence, the administration's rather obvious mail-tampering scheme.

A Twitter mystery. I don't really do Twitter, although I follow about a dozen people. Since that world is not my world, I'm a tad confused by a few of the things Seth Abramson says in this thread. But I understand enough to realize that something nasty is a-brewin'.  I'll try to summarize.

A while back, there was an anti-Trump Twitter feed written by an anonymous personage who claimed to be a lawyer. He called himself "Uncle Blazer," and he had a decent following. He even did a segment on the "Mueller, She Wrote" podcast.

For whatever reason, Uncle Blazer went away. But the Blazer persona was taken up by a complex, interconnected series of Twitter feeds all run by anonymous parties claiming to be part of the anti-Trump resistance. Let's call it the Blazerverse.

The nature of the messages changed. Goodbye, legal analysis: The tweets were now almost entirely devoted to critiques and smears directed at all the better-known anti-Trump writers -- Abramson, Sarah Kendzior, the "Mueller She Wrote" crew, the whole lot.

The Blazerverse also claims to be very spooked up.   
More creepily, the account began to—like QAnon—claim that it had inside knowledge of the U.S. intelligence community. Suddenly it seemed to be intimating it *knew* what the FBI, CIA and other intelligence assets were up to with respect to various Trump-related investigations.

Whereas the original "Uncle Blazer" entity had played the role of a "lawyer" offering "analysis," *this* version of the entity *knew* who was a traitor to the United States from *knowing* what the U.S. intelligence community was up to. And all the traitors were Trump critics.
The Blazerverse claims to be the real resistance: Everyone else is no good.

The Blazerverse wants us to focus all of our attention on Volume 5 of the Senate intel committee's report on the Trump-Russia affair. Volume 5, sayeth Blazer, is going to change everything. It will lead to Trump being frog-marched out of the White House.

Nobody else expects Volume 5 to have much impact. Republican Senator Richard Burr -- whom I have never trusted -- was trying hard to get the thing declassified. Then he stepped aside...
One day before the committee made its classification announcement of the final volume, Burr announced that he was temporarily stepping aside as chairman of the Senate panel amid a federal investigation into stock trades that he made at the start of the coronavirus outbreak.

Burr said in a statement that the panel's work is “too important to risk hindering it in any way.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is serving as acting chairman of the panel.
Obviously, I don't trust Rubio either.

Marvelous Marcy addressed Volume 5 here:
During the 2018 election, Burr had — at a time when the committee assuredly did not have the ability to rule it out — twice said there was no evidence of “collusion.” Burr has made no such claims recently.

Even just the Roger Stone disclosures from his trial make it clear “collusion” happened, and that’s ignoring the ongoing Foreign Agent investigation involving Stone. And the Intelligence Committees have been briefed on the existence of — and possibly some details about — either that or other ongoing investigations.

If Richard Burr is prepping to reverse his prior public comments about “collusion,” it might explain why the Bill Barr DOJ, which has stopped hiding that it is an instrument used to enforce political loyalty to Trump, would more aggressively investigate Burr than others.
In other words, Marcy seems to think that we might learn something from this soon-to-hit release. My take: If a massive disinfo operation (and that's what the Blazerverse is, obviously) tells us to pin all our hopes on Volume 5, then I expect nothing good from that document.

Don't trust an anonymous voice on Twitter who tells you "Kendzior bad; Rubio good." That ain't the resistance. The Blazer is Q for liberals.

And now for an important message from Congressman James Clyburn:


Anonymous said...

Clyburn’s concerns are well placed.

Trump’s intentions, and probably terms of his employment by Putin, are to do as much damage as possible to our society and government. It has been interesting to see former supporters of the right wing plan diverge from Trump as those aims have become more clearly visible.

Trump is the perfect wrecking bar (Barr, heh) to throw into the vast machinery. He’s stupid, uneducated, mean. And he understands and feels in his gut the new fascist religion, which is that the Billionaires are always right.

And right now, the Billionaires have demonstrated that they care nothing about anything other than maximizing income gains. And the younger ones want to fund a space program, pretty obviously to get themselves off the planet before the full scale destruction engulfs them too.

Call me a cynic.

fred said...

The Transition Integrity Project has done a detailed analysis of the many ways in which Trump can defeat the election outcome. See also here.

There is also the possibility of sending federal troops to polling stations to intimidate voters.