The way forward on Trump nominees…

So this Nov 18 article in the Washington Post* [Can Democrats stop Jeff Sessions – or any Trump nominee? It would be almost unprecedented.] might be demoralizing- but it points us toward how to be strategic in our fight. Blocking a Trump nomination would require at least 3 Republican senators to break from their party.  The Washington Post also put together a list of 6 Republican senators who have voiced opposition to Trump in the past who could possibly be part of our crucial 3: 1. Rand Paul (KY), 2. Lindsey Graham (SC), 3. John McCain (AZ), 4. Susan Collins (ME), 5. Ben Sasse (NE), 6. Jeff Flake (AZ). [6 Senate Republicans who could make life very difficult for Donald Trump] The New York Times adds Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Lamar Alexander (TN). [Trump’s Next Battle: Keeping These Republican Senators Happy]

For the most part (Sasse I know the least of, plus he tweeted that paid riots thing), I believe their opposition is principled, not coming from a place of political maneuvering, and find them admirable- McCain, Flake, and Graham in particular are notable for working across the aisle on immigration reform as part of the Gang of Eight. I’m inclined to just let them do their thing… although I will circle back to talking about the senators from AZ… What I’m more interested in knowing is who are the vulnerable GOP senators up for reelection in 2018?

In “Looking Ahead – Preliminary Projections for 2018 Senate Elections” Daily Kos put together an early projection back in February- from their view the only possible vulnerable GOP senators are Jeff Flake (AZ – mentioned above) and Dean Heller (NV). BUT..also up for re-election in 2018 are Orrin Hatch (UT) and Ted Cruz (TX). In Utah, Evan McMullin garnered a good amount of notice in his run for president as an independent and has been tweeting up a storm in opposition to Trump. As for Texas, I keep holding on to the point that comes out around the 25 minute mark in Section 3 of the Reveal radio show on Voting rights – and wrongs that Texas would be Blue by a margin of “somewhere between 81,000-500,000 votes” if there were 100% turnout . Granted, Texas is very likely to be totally unconstrained in their voter suppression under a Trump presidency- but still, this analysis was on the basis of people who have already registered, not just are eligible to vote, plus we don’t need to win Texas by 81,000… and I think we could splinter off some number of GOP votes. (On a related note, Marco Rubio was re-elected to Senate this Nov…. who knows whether he’ll oppose Trump there or toe the party line.)

The thing is I don’t know anything about how politics works. I don’t know what indicators incumbents look at to decide whether they need to be nervous enough about their upcoming election to break from their party. I don’t know even know whether being nervous about re-election could be a factor in deciding to break from your party. Maybe being nervous makes you more dependent on party funds for campaigning? And then, what’s the best way for someone who doesn’t live in any of these states to influence these senators? Would funding an exploratory committee for McMullin for Senate affect Orrin Hatch at all?

But to circle back to the senators from AZ, Hillary Clinton wasn’t delusional for making a campaign stop in Arizona on Nov 2, and I’m pretty sure Jeff Flake knows it. But my real hope and prayer is that John McCain, 80 years old and secure until 2022, has decided to go shackles off and will fight Trump tooth and nail.

Last thought, going back to the Daily Kos article, pressure goes both ways, and we also need to worry about Democratic senators vulnerable in 2018. Most concerning is Joe Manchin of West Virginia who is already on the record saying that he will back Trump nominations. [Joe Manchin says he’ll back Trump picks for administration – Charleston Gazette-Mail] Cross-referencing the Feb 2016 Daily Kos analysis with Politico’s post-election analysis, there are 4 other vulnerable Democratic senators (Jon Tester (MT), Claire McCaskill (MO), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), and Joe Donnelly (IN), but Tammy Baldwin (WI) and Sherrod Brown (OH) could probably be added to the list). [Reeling Democrats confront brutal 2018 Senate map – Politico] But again, what’s the best way for someone who doesn’t live in any of these states to show support for these senators? 

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*I have a subscription to the Washington Post because I’ve found their Trump coverage pretty satisfying in its depth and breadth, and they don’t seem to be as hamstrung by  hand-wringing over their tone as the New York Times. However, I know not everyone has a subscription and might burn through 10 free articles a month pretty quickly. I sent the following tweet to Jeff Bezos, owner of the Washington Post and founder, chairman, CEO of Amazon.com:

To be clear, the Washington Post is held in a separate holding company, so it is not affiliated with Amazon. But, you can’t deny the two companies are linked through Bezos. It’s worth a shot, no?

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On #AuditTheVote

The 11/22/16 re:act newsletter included an item about #AuditTheVote and linked to the following USA Today article: Still time for an election audit by 2 professors who were members of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. This is my impression of the situation:

  1. The chances of changing the result is extremely, extremely low
  • Voting machines are not connected to the internet.¹ [Stop worrying about hackers stealing the election – Business Insider]
  • Marc Elias, general counsel for the 2016 Clinton campaign, in a Medium post, indicates that the Clinton campaign has been “combing over the results” and hasn’t found any “actionable” anomalies. [Listening and Responding To Calls for an Audit and Recount]
  • In the same post, Elias, writes, “The number of votes separating Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the closest of these states — Michigan — well exceeds the largest margin ever overcome in a recount.” (emphasis mine)
  • Wisconsin, Michigan, AND Pennsylvania would ALL have to recount and ALL THREE would have to result in Clinton winning that state in order for an audit/recount changing the outcome of the election.²
  • It is very likely that, if recounts are successfully initiated in MI and PA, the results would not be completed in time for the electoral college- in which case Congress?/ the courts? would have to decide the election. Given the bullet points above, they’d likely decide for Trump.
  1. There doesn’t seem to be any point in signing a petition
  • I don’t know about the recount laws in MI and PA, but so far my understanding (based on my readings about the 2000 election recount in FL and what the process for WI seems to be like from the reporting on Jill Stein) is that a recount needs to initiated by a candidate and may have to be initiated at the county level. The Clinton campaign has pretty much stated that they will not make the first move to initiate a recount, no matter how loudly we cry out; however, they will participate in a recount, if one is already going on.

If you really feel strongly about auditing the vote, the best thing to do would be to contribute to Jill Stein’s recount efforts- it’s a significant effort and expense to get lawyers to research and file the correct paperwork in all the various jurisdictions.

As for me, I’m not made of money. I have a limited budget to donate for advocacy, so I’d like to concentrate it in the places where I think it can make the most difference. It might be more productive to redirect energy from #AuditTheVote to the slightly less longshot (but only slightly less) of faithless electors (aka #HamiltonElectors). The case could be made that Donald Trump’s behavior thus far (continuing to meet with business associates while working on his transition; his children, who are supposed to be his firewall for avoiding conflicts-of-interest, sitting in on meetings related to his administration; etc.) and his refusal to set up a true #BlindTrust, which would require him to #divest his assets, reveal him to be showing bad faith -showing him to be unfit to be endowed with the powers of President and to serve as a defender of the Constitution.

The presidential oath of office is “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Remember, the president is either exempted or omitted from various ethics laws, and there is little recourse for violations to the few laws that do apply because the founding fathers/lawmakers figured that it wasn’t worth the trouble/potential Constitutional crisis since they assumed that a president that couldn’t be trusted to do the right thing would never be elected. [Trump’s claim that ‘the president can’t have a conflict of interest’ and The ethics rules that apply- and don’t apply- to Trump’s children, both from the Washington Post]

When lawmakers would need to pass a flurry of laws (H.R. 6340 The Presidential Accountability Act was just introduced 11/17)  in order to protect the spirit of the Constitution from an unethical, opportunistic president-elect, I think that makes a sufficient case that Donald Trump is incapable of upholding the oath of office and consequently unfit to be president.

 

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¹Along with the professors that wrote the USA Today article, J. Alex Halderman, another notable voting security expert detailed in a Medium post how it would be possible to hack the vote even if voting machines aren’t online [Want to Know if the Election was Hacked? Look at the Ballots]. But, just because something is possible doesn’t mean that it is likely. Such a hack would require boots on the ground and seems like it would also require a pretty intimate knowledge of what type of voting machines are used in each targeted county, where the machines are stored, etc. However, even though it would only take a few counties to swing a state- we are now talking about three different states which would require many boots and lots of details to know and that would have to go just right to yield the present outcome. But, I am concerned that, even after the mess of the 2000 election, 30% of voters live in jurisdictions that don’t have an auditable, paper record of every vote, that Michigan does not routinely audits its vote as Wisconsin and Pennsylvania do (as mentioned in Elias’ post), and that it is very possible to rig a local election.

On the other hand, voter registration databases- which can be accessed via the internet- have been hacked [U.S. official: Hackers targeted voter registration systems of 20 states – Chicago Tribune]. If those states have a policy that allows individuals to complete a provisional ballot if they cannot be found in the voter rolls, then we should be more focused on provisional ballots rather than a full recount. Elias indicates in his Medium article that the Clinton campaign is also monitoring this aspect in his fifth point.

²See http://www.270towin.com/maps/2016-actual-electoral-map

Week of Nov 21

Congress is out of session this week for the Thanksgiving holiday. In the meantime, we can continue to apply pressure via social media* on Donald Trump to rescind his announced picks and to set up a true #BlindTrust.

Also, you can still support the ACA on Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s phone survey. You may have to call back if you get a message saying the voice mailbox is full.

 

#BlackFriday and #CyberMonday: While you’re out shopping, #GrabYourWallet and boycott business that carry Trump products: click here for a link to an up-to-date listing.

*I’m not sure if he is still able to read tweets directly (We know that he used to since he went and retweeted someone commenting on how Tim Kaine looked like a Batman villan during the VP debate). But I’m sure he is still allowed to watch cable news, which loves reading off tweets and/or talking about “social media outcry.” A Washington Post reporter visibly nosing around on social media was able to get Trump to make good on a $1 million pledge to veterans’ causes. [Four months after fundraiser, Trump says he gave $1 million to veterans group – Washington Post] There have also been pieces written about how Trump likes to “market test” positions, so to speak. This whole public parade of candidates, might come partially from Donald’s love of pageants, is more likely a way to put out trial balloons to gauge reaction to various candidates. (It may also be Trump being cheap- he might be relying upon reporters and opposition groups to do the vetting for him.)