What’s a Blue State Girl to Do?

I confess, I’m a frustrated Blue State voter. I feel frustrated as I watch a  Republican majority in the House and Senate refuse to keep Trump accountable, vet his cabinet picks, and use the election of Trump to ram an ACA repeal down America’s neck. But all of them literally are #NotMyRepresentative.

There is no convincing the Trump-eteer voters, but what about independents and the apolitical? And how do we reach them? I have this crazy idea… let’s hijack sports hashtags, especially when teams from key states are playing. Get ready for Sunday- arm yourself with quotes, vote-a-rama votes, memes. This coming Sunday Jan 22 the Packers (Sen. Barrasso R-WI, Sen. Enzi R-WI) play the Falcons (Sen. Isakson R-GA, Sen. Perdue R-GA), and the Steelers (Sen. Toomey R-PA) play the Patriots.  So, #GoPackGo & #VoteOut Paul Ryan (R-WI1)! Get ready to live tweet Sunday #GBvsATL / #NFC and #PITvsNE / #AFC.

…I’m pretty sure that someone did a map of the geography of team alliances so that we could include other appropriate members of the House…but I don’t have the time right now to find it & cross reference it to congressional districts.

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The way forward on Trump nominees…pt 2, a modest proposal

So… in the month since my last post, Trump has gone on to announce a whole string of alarming nominees. Trump manages to make even boring roles like OMB cause for panic (see my Nominees page for my reasons for panic).

Based on Marie Claire’s great article on the likely outcomes of the cabinet appointment process,* the best case scenario seems to be Trump’s nominees withdrawing themselves from consideration. Having the nominees withdraw themselves is preferable to dragging out the confirmation process (btw the GOP had no problems doing this to Obama), since Trump has the authority to designate an acting head while waiting for the completion of the confirmation process. Normally, acting heads are non-political career civil servants from within the department, but we know that norms mean nothing to Trump, and his strategists are not above playing dirty. Trump could use a long confirmation process to have a lower-level appointee who does not need Senate confirmation take office. The only thing stopping an acting head from pushing forward Trump and the GOP’s disastrous agenda? Norms. Trump is unlikely to withdraw a nomination, and the Senate votes and history are all on Trump’s side for his nominees to get confirmed. So, in the end, a looong confirmation fight has little chance at stopping Trump while making Democrats look like obstructionist partisans. On the other hand, if nominees withdraw themselves, it could help damage Trump’s self-professed reputation for being able to hire “the best people.

I’m not advocating Dems just take a knee during the confirmation hearings- hopefully they can make the hearings Must-See-TV so that the American public can be made properly alarmed of the potential for, among other things, kleptocracy and the repeal of popular protections and policies. Maybe some amusing floor charts could help? By all means, call your senators to let them know what questions you want them to be asking during the hearings.

My modest proposal is to make not worth it to be nominee. It’s been well-reported that his nominees are really, really rich. These people are presumably living great lives, like Treasury Secretary nominee Steve Mnuchin and his hot wife. We have to make it so that they can’t just add having the incredible power of the federal government at their finger tips to their already wonderful lives. There has to be a price. A portion of that price should come in the form of sacrificing wealth. Cabinet members are subject to conflict-of-interest laws, so we should force them to sacrifice wealth (as Obama did by keeping his wealth in relatively low yield investments that allowed transparency, meaning that he didn’t need to have a blind trust).  The other portion of that price should be a loss of privacy. Taking a position in a democratic government means that you are now accountable to the citizens of that government. Nominees need to be made aware that they will be subject to Freedom of Information Laws. We will be requesting their correspondence and their daily schedules.

Besides their official business, we also should be interested in their personal lives. We should be creating a market for paparazzi to shift their focus from starlets to current and potential members of the Trump administration- and not just when they’re entering Trump Tower. I want paparazzi camped outside the restaurants they eat at when they’re not with Trump to see if they’re meeting with individuals with sketchy Russian ties. I want to know if they’re partying with an actual child trafficker or someone who helped Goldman Sachs profit from an international money laundering scheme.  I want to know how they talk about minorities off the record. If we can look at pictures of Mandy Moore at Whole Foods and shots of Chelsea Handler on the beach in Mexico and if John Podesta’s CVS runs qualify as newsworthy, then I want to know where Trump’s nominees vacation, who they spend their time with, how they live. The thing is, we can do this- tabloids follow eyeballs. If posts on Trump nominees get hits, tabloids will devote more resources to following them. Hollywood Life and TMZ have made a decent start, but more on the nominees please! Come on, these nominees are rich- even if there’s no juicy dirt (Wolf of Wall-esque debauchery or Eyes Wide Shut style orgies), there’s sure to be plenty of enjoyable voyeurism along the lines of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous/Rich Kids of Instagram.

A March 2012 Bloomberg profile of Steve Mnuchin (Trump’s nominee for Treasury Secretary) illustrates the power of literally hitting people where they live:

..one night last October, he found himself trying to explain to his three children why approximately 100 protestors waving “Make Banks Pay” signs had set up camp outside the family’s 21,000-square-foot, $26 million Bel Air mansion. The demonstration was led by a foreclosed homeowner, Rose Gudiel, whose mortgage was serviced by OneWest, the bank Mnuchin and a group of fellow investors built from the ruins of IndyMac. A police helicopter arrived on the scene and cops pushed the protestors to the curb. No arrests were made. Yet five months later the episode rankles. Sitting for a February interview in his corner office in OneWest Bank’s Pasadena headquarters, amid signed photos of Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher and a six-volume bound set of Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. regulations, Mnuchin stresses one unusual request: that we not publish his home address.

Edit: Just wanted to add that there are groups that you can give money to that are actively working on opposition research about Trump nominees- this Buzzfeed article mentions American Bridge and the Center for American Progress Action Fund.


*I just want to say how much I love that women’s publications are really taking a lead when it comes to reporting on Trump- it completely makes sense, though.  A Trump administration could cause women to lose many rights and protections (like access to reproductive health, protections from discriminatory health insurance pricing, enforcement of protections from wage discrimination, etc.) and wind back many of the gains we have made against the structural and cultural forces that make sexual assault against women endemic. (See the House Freedom Caucus’ First 100 Days proposal which, in reference to Title IX guidance documentation on sexual assault and campus rapes, includes pointed references to date rape, “the incidence of which may be overestimated,” and the “often-innocent accused.”)

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