Democrats, don’t let RBG’s seat—or the Supreme Court—be further soiled by Trump

Honestly, there isn't much that Senate Democrats can do to fully prevent a Republican majority, slim though it may be, from seating another Supreme Court nominee from Donald Trump, illegitimate as that nomination might be. What they can do, however, is delay it until after the election. And after the election, the chances of blocking it are probably better. There could very well be some defeated Republicans who won't have anything to lose anymore and might just decide not to seal their legacies with something so ignoble as this. Additionally, if they can delay throughout November, Democrats will likely have a new member—Arizona's Mark Kelly, who could be seated as early as Nov. 30 by Arizona law.

To that end, congressional procedural experts have drawn up a memo that's reportedly circulating on Capitol Hill that details the myriad options available to Democrats—both in the House and Senate—to eat up Senate time and prevent Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham from rushing the nomination through before Nov. 3. There's no silver bullet here for Democrats to stop the confirmation, but there are tons of BBs.

We talked about a lot of what the Senate can do in this post, but didn't explore the House's options. Like sending over articles of impeachment. (I nominate Attorney General Barr for that one, personally.) The House could act on Senate bills pending in the House, amend them, and send them back as privileged—the Senate could be forced to act on them.

In a perfect world, Sen. Chuck Schumer and team would deploy all of them. As of now, they are not. As of now, with no official appointment, they don't have to. McConnell is going to have to deal with the continuing resolution the House just passed to fund government through Dec. 11 early next week, because the deadline is midnight Wednesday.

Republicans are not devoid of ways of trying to keep Democrats from doing this—they can keep putting up things for unanimous consent, like this resolution expressing support for the Pledge of Allegiance. Now, what Democrats could do is use every tactic from Republicans to engage the Republicans in hours of debate on them. That's something they need to be doing anyway: standing on the floor punching holes in Republican arguments and making them answer for their blind loyalty to Trump.

Democrats can start doing these things now to show McConnell their resolve to stand together in making his life hell, dissuading him from trying to push through the nomination before the election. They can use a wide variety of procedural tactics to force Republicans who need to be spending all their time on their reelection at home to stay in Washington, D.C., having to be subject to a call to come to the chamber at any given time. Sowing as much unrest as possible among those Republicans is always helpful.

It's about meeting McConnell's fire with fire; it's about not being steamrolled, and not letting him and Trump further foul the Supreme Court of the United States.

Trump investigating idea of ‘loyal electors’ who will vote for him, regardless of election results

There’s little doubt that Donald Trump is willing to do anything at all to hold onto power. He’s already proven that with the actions that ended with his impeachment, and expanded on that proof to a horrific degree when he purposely discarded a national testing plan for COVID-19 out of hopes that more people would die in Democratic states. When someone is ready to discard hundreds of thousands of people just on the chance it will bolster their odds, it’s hard to think there’s any lines that can’t be crossed in trying to keep his stubby hands on the reins.

To that end, Trump has already spent the first part of this year:

  • Tearing apart the Postal Service
  • Spreading lies about vote by mail
  • Testing the use of force to block protests
  • Fomenting violence in democratically led cities

To prepare against the day when the numbers show voters want him to leave their house.

But there’s one more step Trump is taking that’s designed to ensure he can’t lose. Like … really can’t lose. That step goes back to one of the least favorite parts of the system created by eighteenth century people unable to imagine a world in which electronic communication could tie the nation together in an instant: the Electoral College.

Like the Senate filibuster, the Electoral College is an institution that ensures a handful of people can control the fate of vast issues. Everyone recognizes that it’s undemocratic. Only those who absolutely depend on it—like Republicans who have lost the popular vote in six of the last seven elections—have anything nice to say about it. It was an overly complicated idea in 1788. It’s a ridiculous relic today.

Barton Gellman's latest article in The Atlantic is notable for the forthright discussion of how Trump is unlikely to be pried from the White House without, at the very least, a legal fight. One of the biggest reasons that the Republicans are hurrying to get a fresh Trump appointment into the Supreme Court—even if that means making the selection while Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is still lying in state at the Capitol—is precisely so that there will be a heavily Trump-friendly majority on the court when the lawsuits inevitably arrive on its doorsteps. After all, Republicans don’t want to take the chance John Roberts has a twinge of conscience. 

But in addition to laying the public groundwork by disparaging mailed-in votes and planting false stories of foreign nations seeding America with fake ballots, there’s another big step that the Trump campaign is making more quietly in the effort to prepare for a loss at the polls. After all, Trump doesn’t have to win at the polls to secure his spot in the White House—he already proved that in 2016.

However, 2016 swung on a very small number of votes in a few swing states. Right now, Trump is further behind in the polls than he ever was in that cycle, and he’s well behind in several states that he won last time around. But that may not be an issue.

The meeting of the Electoral College in December, and the count of those votes in January, immediately after Congress is seated, are supposed to be formalities. Sure, the college itself is a democracy-warping relic that gives way too much power to small numbers of people in specific states while disenfranchising tens of millions. But at least the process of executing the vote is more or less ceremonial. Except when it’s not. 

In 2000, with the vote in the Electoral College looming and many people urging him to fight on, Al Gore went before the nation to say “Tonight, for the sake of our unity as a people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession.” It is impossible to even imagine Trump making such a speech. If Trump refuses to concede, no matter what the outcome in the popular vote or the Electoral College, there is no real procedure in place for making him go. 

And there’s another threat: the electors themselves.

We are accustomed to choosing electors by popular vote, but nothing in the Constitution says it has to be that way. Article II provides that each state shall appoint electors “in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.” Since the late 19th century, every state has ceded the decision to its voters. Even so, the Supreme Court affirmed in Bush v. Gore that a state “can take back the power to appoint electors.” How and when a state might do so has not been tested for well over a century.

Republican sources report that the Trump team is already conducting a low-level campaign to test their ability to seat electors who are “loyal” not in the sense that they vote according to the outcome of the election, but in the sense that they vote for Trump, no matter what.

Six of the most critical states—Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—have both chambers of the state legislature controlled by Republicans. What happens if the voters of Florida or Pennsylvania give Biden a solid victory, but the legislatures of those states seat electors who all promise to vote for Trump? It would go to court, of course, but how would a newly appointed Trump justice rule on a case about “in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct?” The Supreme Court, the with Ruth Bader Ginsburg Court, recently ruled that states could pass laws prohibiting faithless electors. But it’s unclear if those laws would stand up to deliberate meddling by Trump-favoring legislatures. Some state officials are currently denying this effort, which means about as much as a denial from Trump.

As with every other contingency, the possibility of Trump exercising these anti-democracy measures drops with every percentage point of his defeat. Trump doesn’t just need to lose, he needs to lose so badly that everyone, top to bottom, gets the message. So badly, that everyone sees that opposing the will of the voters would not mean a protest, but a revolution. So badly that everyone will be buying new ten foot poles just to keep him at a distance.

Trump will try to cheat. If there is any possible means in which he can claim victory, even it means doing to the Constitution what Mitch McConnell has done to the Senate rules, he will go there. His rejection must be visceral and decisive, because anything else he will read as weakness.

Trump refusing to leave office is not a fantasy, because he’s doing everything to make it real

Our old friend the Fascism Watch hit midnight eight months ago as Senate Republicans affirmed that there was no crime for which they were willing to hold Donald Trump responsible. Despite Trump’s using his high office to extort a foreign nation into providing lies against a political opponent in exchange for desperately needed military aid, the Senate dismissed the idea of calling even a single witness. The disdain they demonstrated then is being repeated now as multiple senators not only reverse their previous “principled stand,” but declare that they will support Trump’s Supreme Court nominee before they even know the identity of that nominee.

In 2016, the idea that Trump might refuse to respect the outcome of the election was treated as a fringe position. In 2020, the idea that Trump might hold onto power no matter what the results at the polls is still being treated as something that isn’t worth consideration. But it demands to be taken seriously, not as a wild idea, but a possible—even probable—outcome.

The question now is not: “Would Donald Trump cheat to hold onto power?” Because that question has been asked and answered almost every day of the last four years. The question now is: “Why would Trump not cheat to maintain his grip on the nation?” And there may be no good answer.

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Four years ago, the Republican Party made a pretense of being against the racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and authoritarianism of Donald Trump. Then one by one, they bent the knee. They have made it clear that their loyalty lies not with principle or party, and certainly not with nation. They’ve laid their personal fealty with Trump and Trump alone. For them, there is no going back.

The same Republicans who gave Trump a pass on impeachment, the same Republicans who declared their willingness to trample their own statements in support of Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, the same Republicans whose control of the Senate is also on the cusp … have exactly zero interest in “doing the right thing.” Even before Trump, Sen. Mitch McConnell discovered that the Constitution was subject to a complete end-around run by anyone willing to put their morality and concern for the nation on a shelf. Not only do they have no incentive to prevent Trump from stealing the election, they have every incentive to help.

With the Senate in his pocket, Trump has been preparing his followers for the rejection of the poll results for months. As Mother Jones points out, destroying faith in voting-by-mail has been an essential part of laying the foundation on which Trump can create claims of an invalid election. 

It’s not difficult to imagine an Election Day scenario in which Trump prematurely declares victory based on his lead among in-person votes, which are quicker to tally than mail-in votes in many states and are expected to lean more Republican. Trump then seeks to invalidate the mail-in ballots that favor Democrats before they’re counted.

This leads to an all-too-possible scenario in which Republican state legislatures either vote to reject mail-in ballots outright, or rule that the vote on the election night is the only “real” vote. Attempts to appeal these decisions in court then roll inexorably upward to a Supreme Court where Trump’s latest appointee joins with Alito, Thomas, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh to install Trump for a second term—without even necessitating a “swing vote” from John Roberts. Trump continues a string of victory rallies as he prepares to hold up his hand again on Jan. 20.

Should there be protests (and there would be), Trump has also been preparing his followers for that moment. In Portland, Oregon, and in the streets of Washington, D.C., Trump has demonstrated an ability to deploy forces that are more than willing to use chemical weapons and deadly force against even peaceful protesters. He has spent months telling his followers that “Democrat-run” cities are hopeless cesspits that deserve to burn. Fox News has done everything possible to expand on that image of anarchy that needs a hard kick.

Even if the Army and National Guard decided to sit on their hands when Trump calls—and he would call—Trump and Attorney General William Barr have already demonstrated an ability to scoop up thousands of paramilitary forces from executive agencies that are more than willing to literally bust heads for Trump. That’s not even counting the Trump supporters who are willing to bring their own guns in to Rittenhouse the unarmed, a position that Fox News is now busy buffing up to superhero status.

Trump is a guy who always wants things to be “rougher.” Always wants the police to be “tougher.” Who hasn’t hesitated to call his political opponents “traitors” or to call for the death of people who have not faced trial. No matter what the outcome, why would he not use force to hold onto power?

As The Atlantic points out, this threat is much greater than most people are allowing. 

A lot of people, including Joe Biden, the Democratic Party nominee, have mis­conceived the nature of the threat. They frame it as a concern, unthinkable for presidents past, that Trump might refuse to vacate the Oval Office if he loses. They generally conclude, as Biden has, that in that event the proper authorities “will escort him from the White House with great dispatch.”

But that scenario suggests that a defeated Trump pouts in his office and waits for his exit escort to arrive. Trump could just as easily—and perhaps, more likely—simply declare the election invalid. Fox News would certainly back him. Republicans in the House and Senate might take a minute to check the wind direction before joining in. Maybe two hours. Then they would be all in. Trump could put up a front of appealing the outcome in court while Republicans launched “investigations of massive voting fraud” in the Senate. But it would all be for show.

This isn’t a nightmare scenario … or rather, it is a nightmare. It’s just one that Trump’s teams are working to make real. They are already putting in place the legal groundwork and public perception to appeal any outcome unfavorable to Trump. As Mother Jones notes: “The question won’t be whether American democracy can survive Trump. We’ll already know that it hasn’t.”

All that remains to find out is whether democracy can be renewed. For that to happen, everyone needs to go into this election with their eyes open, knowing that the more decisive Trump’s loss, the less likely he is to be successful in his all but certain attempts to deny that defeat. Everyone is going to need to work like hell to get as many people to the polls as possible on Election Day, to see that mail-in ballots are counted, and to hold responsible every official, at every level, who gets in the way of allowing people’s votes to be counted.

You can’t push back a threat if you won’t admit it’s real, and you better not go into a fight without a plan. Donald Trump will absolutely cheat to hold onto power. He’s demonstrated that again and again. He’s been impeached for it. He will not stop now. And everyone, including Joe Biden, better have a plan for what to do when it happens.

Bolton claims he wanted to release information during impeachment, was blocked by White House

John Bolton wrote a book. That seems kind of hard to remember now, but you may recall it as the one that came out just before the one from Donald Trump’s niece that confirms Trump as “the dumbest student” his school had ever seen, and before the book by Bob Woodward that explains how Trump knew about the deadliness of COVID-19, but decided to ignore it because he thought it would be a political “win.” But it was definitely after the 40-something other books (not kidding) about Trump. Somewhere in there.

Once upon a time—with that time being, unbelievably enough, the first month of this interminable year—what Bolton had to say might have mattered. With multiple witnesses at Trump’s impeachment having parts of the story about the effort to extort lies from the government of Ukraine, Bolton was uniquely positioned to fill in critical gaps. His testimony might have carried weight and had historical significance. Senate Republicans eventually voted that they didn’t want to hear from Bolton, or from anyone else, but well before that the former national security adviser made it clear that he wasn’t interested in talking anyway. He was saving it all for his book, where it wouldn’t do a damn thing for the nation but could earn him a tidy profit. Bolton, through his personal decisions, made himself into a minor footnote. 

Even so, it seems that the effort to suppress his book went deeper than has been known, and included interfering with a routine investigation. Because thanks to men like Bolton, there are no rules.

Bolton’s book was originally slated to appear in March. That was then pushed back to May, and eventually slid into June. The biggest reason for the slide was that even though the manuscript had been sitting with the White House for months, the publisher could not get a signal that the book did not contain classified information. Such investigations are routine, and usually result in either a thumbs-up or a list of information that needs to be removed or edited before publication.

That didn’t happen in this case. As the book rolled on toward its final publication date, Trump accused Bolton of knowingly including classified information. The William Barr Justice Department trotted off to do what they always do: act as Trump’s personal attorneys in court. That attempt to block release of the book eventually failed—not least of all because Barr moved at a point where the book was literally on the shelves of bookstores nationwide. However, the judge did have harsh words for Bolton, suggesting that he could forfeit that much-desired profit and possibly face additional penalties for the release of confidential information.

But now it seems that it wasn’t just Barr who was responsible for putting the book on hold. Because other members of Trump’s team interfered with the routine security clearance review of the book, purposely holding the book up to diminish its impact. Meaning that even as they were taking Bolton to court for moving ahead without getting clearance, they were also making sure that he never got clearance.

Bolton’s attorneys made this claim in a letter to the court on Tuesday. As The New York Times reports, Bolton now claims that he wanted to release one portion of his book—a portion relevant to the impeachment trial—at that time. But White House aides blocked the security review even though Bolton didn’t believe that there was any classified material in the section.

At the heart of this appears to be a lawyer named Michael Ellis who was a former assistant to (of course) Rep. Devin Nunes. Despite no background or training in security reviews, Ellis directed the official in charge of the security review to put a freeze on Bolton’s manuscript while he conducted “his own review of the book.” It was Ellis who then claimed that the book was “replete” with classified information. Ellis’ review then became the basis of the Department of Justice claims against Bolton.

No one is crying for John Bolton. Or his mustache. And at this point, the idea that he might have released some information at the time of the impeachment except for some maneuver by the White House dodges the fact that Bolton could have stepped in front of every news camera in the country and told everyone what he knew. However, the attempt to stifle Bolton is just another example of the lengths that the Trump White House has gone to to silence dissent, and the willingness of every Republican involved to throw “normal process” in the waste bin. 

Pelosi doesn’t rule out new impeachment inquiries to block Trump’s Supreme Court nominee

Appearing on ABC’s This Week on Sunday morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi honored the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg by aptly describing her as a “brilliant brain” on the Supreme Court, reminded people that it’s absolutely imperative to get out and vote this November, and the ongoing importance of battling the novel coronavirus pandemic. On the subject of the vacant Supreme Court seat, the Democrat from California didn’t rule out launching an impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump (for the second time) or Attorney General Bill Barr, which would delay the Senate’s ability to confirm a Supreme Court nominee of Trump’s, either. 

When host George Stephanopoulos hypothesized a major concern of progressives—that even if former vice president Joe Biden wins the election, Republicans and the White House might try to push through a nominee anyway in a lame-duck session—Pelosi replied: "We have our options.” The speaker continued, “We have arrows in our quiver that I'm not about to discuss right now but the fact is we have a big challenge in our country. This president has threatened to not even accept the results of the election.”

She stressed that the “main goal” is ultimately to “protect the integrity of the election as we protect the people from the coronavirus." The speaker noted that she believed the late Ginsburg would want that same goal. Pelosi also clarified that “None of us has any interest in shutting down the government,” saying it would be too harmful to so many people in the nation.

“When people say, what can I do? You can vote,” the speaker stressed. “You can get out the vote, and you can do so as soon as possible.” She added that the same day we lost Ginsburg, ten states started early voting.

Stephanopoulos circled back to a potential impeachment inquiry and asked if the House would “rule anything out.” Pelosi drove home the basic tenant of public service: responsibility to the people. 

"We have a responsibility,” she stated. “We take an oath to protect and defend the constitution of the United States." (If only Trump saw it that way.) Pelosi continued: “We have a responsibility to meet the needs of the American people. When we weigh the equities of protecting our democracy, requires us to use every arrow in our quiver.”

Here is that clip.

“We have our options. We have arrows in our quiver that I’m not about to discuss right now,” Speaker Pelosi tells @GStephanopoulos when pressed on what Democrats would do if Pres. Trump and Republicans push a SCOTUS nomination ahead of the Nov. 3 election. https://t.co/JhU93KY3iQ pic.twitter.com/HOmI8AxREN

— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) September 20, 2020

Lastly, Stephanopoulos asked about another big topic among progressives: expanding the court. To that, Pelosi said, “Well, let's just win the election,” adding that she hopes the president will “see the light.” The speaker then used her final talking time to home in on the importance of the Affordable Care Act, and how much the average American has at stake in this election cycle. 

David Frum: Don’t assume McConnell has the votes to confirm

Last night and this morning, I felt like crawling into a hole for the next 40 days or so. And not a deep hole. I didn’t have the energy or joie de vivre for a deep hole. It would have been a shallow hole. Barely a hole at all. Really, I would have just lay down in the dirt until my DNA fused to the worms’ and slugs’ and grasses’ much more upbeat genetic material.

But I’m a more resilient guy ever since I got into therapy and on antidepressants (I recommend both if you’re struggling). And this morning a friend sent me this Atlantic story from former George W. Bush speechwriter and confirmed NeverTrumper David Frum.

He makes some excellent points (one of them being, don't swallow your tongue in abject, pants-shitting fear just yet):

What McConnell did in 2016 was an assertion of brute power, and what he proposes in 2020 is another assertion of brute power. And so the question arises: Does McConnell in fact have the power he asserts?

The answer may be no, for four reasons.

Do tell, David Frum:

The polls do not favor Susan Collins, Cory Gardner, or Thom Tillis—senators from Maine, Colorado, and North Carolina up for reelection this cycle. Yet these competitors may not be ready to attend their own funerals. They may regard voting against McConnell's Court grab as a heaven-sent chance to prove their independence from an unpopular president—and to thereby save their own seats.

Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has also made skeptical noises, and even Lindsey Graham of South Carolina may flinch. He faces an unexpectedly tough race this year, and he is extra-emphatically on the record vowing not to support a Supreme Court confirmation vote in the later part of a presidential year.

Frum also asks if Trump can find a woman nominee (Trump almost needs to nominate a woman to replace the legendary RBG, lest his female support erode even further) at the 11th hour who will be viewed as moderate enough by the senators who could be thinking of defecting.

Any last-minute Trump nominee will face a gantlet of opposition in the Senate, a firestorm of opposition in the country, and probably a lifetime of suspicion from the majority of the country.

Can McConnell and Trump find an appointee willing to risk all that for the chance—but not the guarantee—of a Supreme Court seat? Specifically, can they find a woman willing to do it? The optics of replacing Ginsburg with a man may be too ugly even for the Trump administration. And if they can find a woman, can they find a woman sufficiently moderate-seeming to provide cover to anxious senators? The task may prove harder than immediately assumed.

In addition, Yertle the Asshole’s hypocrisy on this issue is so egregiously off the charts it might create a mutually assured destruction scenario in which Democrats (assuming Biden wins and Dems retake the Senate) feel justified in packing the court by, say, adding two more justices.

But a last-minute overreach by McConnell could seem so illegitimate to Democrats as to justify radical countermoves should they win in November: increasing the number of appellate judges and Supreme Court justices; conceivably even opening impeachment hearings against Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

McConnell may want the win badly enough to dismiss those risks. But many conservative-leaning lawyers in the country may be more cautious. And their voices will get a hearing in a contentious nomination fight—not only by the national media, but by some of the less Trump-y Republican senators. This could be enough to slow down a process that has no time to spare.

I think Frum makes some great points, and anything that will keep me from reaching for the shovel is welcome news right now.

So let’s breathe, and keep fighting on.

A Democratic Senate has never been more important. Make it so.

“This guy is a natural. Sometimes I laugh so hard I cry." — Bette Midler on Aldous J. Pennyfarthing, via TwitterFind out what made dear Bette break up. Dear F*cking Lunatic: 101 Obscenely Rude Letters to Donald Trump and its boffo sequels Dear Pr*sident A**clown: 101 More Rude Letters to Donald Trump and Dear F*cking Moron: 101 More Letters to Donald Trump by Aldous J. Pennyfarthing are now available for a song! Click those links, yo!

It’s time to get in Good Trouble to preserve the legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Of course we’re crying. A woman who held us all up for so, so long has finally laid down her burden after the literal fight of a lifetime. We’re hurting. We’re afraid. We miss her already

But Republicans are already celebrating the death of pioneering Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as an opportunity. Donald Trump is calling on Republicans to act quickly to confirm whatever nominee he puts forward. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is contemplating whether a no-witnesses impeachment can be topped with a no-hearings confirmation. Ted Cruz is thinking about nothing except what he won’t be wearing under that black robe. Tom Cotton is speeding through his collection of KKK-approved all-white handkerchiefs mopping up all of the drool. And Josh Hawley is … probably shooting something.

There is absolutely no doubt that the GOP will now engage in the Hypocrisy Olympics, working hard to master the art of the 180-degree turn and racing to put Trump’s nominee across the line in record time. But a mere willingness start a hell-in-a-handbasket assembly line may not be enough to put another butt in Ginsburg’s seat on the Court before it even has a chance to cool. Democrats are not about to roll over. This is a fight worth having.

2020 may have robbed us of both Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Rep. John Lewis, but it’s time to get in Good Trouble. And there are multiple ways to fight.

“From where I sit, Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dying wish was not that McConnell would do the right thing. She knew he wouldn't. It was that we would FIGHT LIKE HELL to preserve her legacy.” — Elie Mystal, The Nation

Hillary Clinton has offered a three-part plan for fighting against the rapid replacement of Justice Ginsburg: 

1) Win over GOP Senators on principle.

There are dozens of Republicans who barely finished articulating why there could not be a nomination for a Justice during an election year. Not only did many of them voice this in 2016, some of them have continued to do so over the last four years in the most adamant terms; terms that having included things like “even if this was a Republican president.” It’s included telling America to “use my words against me” if they didn’t hold true to this claim. It may seem that there are no Republicans left willing to stand up for any principle, especially one they created out of convenience in the last election cycle, but that feeds right into the next point.

2) Pressure GOP Senators in tight re-election bids.

There are definitely Republicans in red states who will feel like falling in line behind Trump and McConnell is the only option. But there are also those—like Susan Collins—who are already finding that standing too close to Trump is leaving them with radiation burns. Push them. Make this an issue. There’s absolutely no doubt that, no matter who Trump nominates, it will be some Federalist Society-approved ultraconservative, ready to tear down everything Justice Ginsburg accomplished and paint the nation in a shade of industrial repression gray. Make it clear that anyone voting for Trump’s nominee—anyone who even supports a vote on Trump’s nominee—is supporting the reversal of every gain made under Ginsburg. 

3) Use procedural obstacles in the Senate.

There are not nearly as many obstacles here as there used to be, because the idea that the Senate runs on rules has been simply discarded by McConnell—who regularly discards the idea of regular order to simply do as he pleases. Still, there are some shreds remaining. To start with, Democrats must refuse  a continuing resolution so long as there is any threat of McConnell forwarding a nominee. Unless there is a binding agreement—an agreement that goes way beyond McConnell’s word—shut it all the #$%@ down. In addition, Democrats must deny the Senate unanimous consent. Not just unanimous consent on the nomination, but on everything. The Senate has less than two weeks of scheduled sessions in the remainder of the year. Democrats need to deploy every possible roadblock to scheduling hearings, holding hearings, bringing a nominee forward, scheduling a vote … these are delaying tactics, and there’s little doubt that McConnell will run over them all. Only, if the polls start to show that Americans aren’t happy about the nominee or the process, McConnell might start to lose some of these procedural votes.

And Americans are already not happy.

In Times/Siena polls of Maine, North Carolina and Arizona released Friday, voters preferred Mr. Biden to select the next Supreme Court justice by 12 percentage points, 53 percent to 41 percent. In each of the three states, Mr. Biden led by just a slightly wider margin on choosing the next justice than he did over all.

According to that poll, the desire to see Biden pick the nominee is actually higher than the base support for Biden. This could very well mean that the importance of this issue gets driven home to Republicans up for reelection in a very visible way.

But if any of the above is going to happen, it’s also going to have to happen in the streets, on the phones, and in every forum where Democrats—and everyone else—can make it clear that the legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg must be preserved at all cost. She carried us this far. Now we have to carry her dream.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s body isn’t even cold and Mitch McConnell is dancing on her grave. This is war. Dems have powerful weapons. Now is the time to use them.

— Rob Reiner (@robreiner) September 19, 2020

House Democrats ponder throwing in the towel on Trump oversight, letting voters bail out the nation

House Democrats are not exactly presenting profiles in courage these days, generally putting the impetus for stopping Donald Trump on voters. Well, gang, we're all exhausted. But you can't just count on voters to bail you out. There's real impetus against Trump right now, yes, but motivating people to vote for something is just as important.

It's important because it sets up the momentum for a Joe Biden/Kamala Harris administration to jump in full throttle in January. It's also important because they're letting Team Trump get away with murder, literally and figuratively. Some investigations into the cozy deals Clown Prince Jared has been making using taxpayers’ dollars to fight the coronavirus would be one place to start. Attorney General William Barr's systematic dismantling of the rule of law is a pretty important one, too. So is enforcing the House's own subpoena power over Trump officials who aren't even legally officials! But House Democrats are projecting an entirely bad attitude.

Daily Beast reporter Sam Brodey says a question posed to Rep. Tom Malinowski, a New Jersey Democrat, about Trump administration efforts to paper over Russian interference in the election lead to a "disbelieving chuckle. Which then morphed into a full-on fake sob, played up for effect." And then this statement: “Impeachment is the tool the Constitution gives us to deal with serious abuse of power in between elections. […] When you're two months from an election […] the American people are going to have their say very, very soon.” So you don't raise holy hell about Russian interference in an election that's very, very soon because that election is so soon? Bullshit, not to put too fine a point on it.

At the suggestion that the House has reached the limits of its oversight powers, Michigan Democratic Rep. Dale Kildee said that “It feels that way sometimes,” then gave this contradictory explanation: “but I obviously think we still have to pursue every avenue, turn over every rock […] I mean, right now, it's pretty much in the hands of the American people.” Which is it? Turning over the rocks and exposing what we all need to see, or handing it over to voters? The House is the only institution we've got right now that can put Trump's malfeasance on display every single day until the election and prove to voters that 1) he's got to go; and 2) we need a Democratic Senate as well as House to tackle the enormous destruction he's wrought.

An unnamed Democratic aide was less careful about expressing the attitude in the caucus. They told The Daily Beast that Democrats are "finally confident" Trump will be voted out, and thus are mostly trying to "avoid Trump shit." Apart from trying to get further COVID-19 relief passed, doing much else is not on their radar, "even among members of the key committees that have led oversight for the past two years. 'The election is a month out. […] Most members are focused on putting their heads down and getting reelected.'"

The exhaustion is certainly understandable, but the certainty that Trump will be voted out is taking a little too much for granted and maybe, just maybe, the Democratic base needs to see Democrats keeping up the fight. For one thing, exposing Trump's corruption and keeping it in the spotlight could act as a deterrent for Trump to fight the election results, one thing that House Democrats are increasingly alarmed about. Maryland's Jamie Raskin is one of them. “In the age of Donald Trump, if we have learned nothing else it is that we must be prepared for the worst,” said Raskin. “We have to just go out and fight. We need to create a landslide election that cannot be stolen, and then we need to counter all of the propaganda and disinformation, and then we need to put all of our best lawyers in a position to block the efforts to obstruct the election.”

Both of those things are necessary. Preparing for that is necessary. Putting all of Trump's wrongdoing out in front of the public before, during, and after Nov. 3 is a key way of doing it. It's also giving a head start on what has to happen next year: prosecutions of Trump officials who have misused public funds and betrayed the public trust.

There's also the part about how the people's branch of government has to become that again, reassert its coequal power, and start fighting an out-of-control executive branch. It failed to do that with the Bush/Cheney regime and look where we ended up. There is going to have to be a reckoning and there's no time like the present to start preparing for it.

Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into John Bolton over his anti-Trump book

Donald Trump is good for literature. Actually … that’s overstating it. A lot. But Trump is certainly good for publishers, and for dramatic titles. In one-word titles alone, it’s possible to build a pretty decent description of Trump using Rage, Unhinged, Disloyal, Fear, Hoax. You certainly don’t have to go to Insane Clown President, but … that’s also not a bad description.

The last few weeks have seen Trump’s leveraging his family to fight—and fail—to stop the publication of a book by his niece Mary Trump, and books by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen and former journalist Bob Woodward. The trio of tomes are all hot off the presses and still in the headlines. But it requires rewinding to June 20 (also known as March the 121st , in pandemic dating) to find the focus of Trump’s current disloyal, unhinged, rage hoax. That was the date that a federal judge dismissed attempts by the White House to block publication of John Bolton’s book detailing his time as Trump’s national security adviser. 

During that court case, the judge pointed out multiple times that Trump was attempting to block a book that had already been printed, distributed to warehouses, was on the shelves at thousands of stores, and had already been read by hundreds of critics and journalists. Open barn door? Meet horse. But the judge did not address claims from the Department of Justice that Bolton may have violated national security, though he noted if it was true, Bolton could lose all the profits from the book deal that kept him conveniently mum during Trump’s impeachment. And now the Justice Department has announced an investigation into Bolton because … sure, why not?

The book has been on the stands for four months and is no longer hanging onto a slot in even an extended list of best sellers. There’s nothing to be gained by going after Bolton other than the demonstration that people like Roger Stone, convicted of multiple crimes, get to walk away for being Trump’s pals, while people like Bolton get the weight of the DOJ tossed their way for the crime of insufficient toadying.

But it’s hard to feel like there’s a good guy on either side of this case. After all, Bolton failed to come forward when his testimony mattered, what he ultimately revealed was confirmation of things that had already been stated, and … he’s John Bolton. The best possible ending for this story is that both Trump and Bolton come out with their sub-mud reputations sullied by whatever it is that’s worse than mud.

According to The New York Times, a team within the DOJ has convened a grand jury to hear evidence about Bolton’s use of classified information in his book, aka I couldn’t think of a title so I just stole a line from Hamilton. Bolton has denied that he published classified information. Trump has argued back that Bolton is “a dope” and “incompetent” and “a washed up creepster who … should be in jail” for “trying to make me look bad.” It’s unclear if the grand jury will reward these rubber-meets-glue arguments with an indictment, but it would probably be pretty interesting—and kind of hilarious—to hear the presentation. 

And yes, to be honest it’s clear that the White House purposely refused to provide Bolton with responses on the classification of his submitted manuscript simply in an effort to delay publication and provide Trump with leverage to do exactly what he’s doing right now: conduct a political persecution of a perceived enemy. Bolton shouldn’t face charges for purely political reasons, if for no other reason than on a “first they came for John Bolton, and ...” basis. Still, every DOJ official tied up with going after John Bolton could be busy persecuting a human being instead, so let’s hope this takes some time. And please, if someone is going to leak classified information, how about the transcripts for the presentation to the grand jury?

More Republicans look to join the House ‘What coronavirus threat?’ caucus

Donald Trump isn’t the only Republican downplaying the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic. He’s joined in that disregard for human life by many Republican lawmakers—and by many of the Republican candidates who hope to reclaim some ground in the House in 2020. That’s both because this is Trump’s party and because Republicans have long put their version of the economy (the economy of the rich and corporations) above the health and lives of working people.

Missouri’s Rep. Ann Wagner, for instance, went out on March 7 and, insisting on her knowledge of the situation—“We have had multiple, multiple briefings at the federal level for some time”—went on to assure the public, “As I said, this is, it's clear that the risk to our US public is low.” 

Let's turn it all blue. The whole government, at every level. Can you give $1 to each and every one of these Daily Kos-endorsed candidates? If you can't, how many can you help?

Former Democrat Jeff Van Drew, who became a Republican over the impeachment of Donald Trump, also downplayed the threat, insisting that “This is not mass destruction. This is not 9-11. This is a terrible situation that has happened. But at the same time, we know that we deal with the flu every year.” That was on March 11. Van Drew is from New Jersey, which has now lost more than 16,000 people to COVID-19—more than five times the death toll of 9/11 as a whole.

Other congressional Republicans have postured against public health restrictions, like Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, who encouraged a church to hold services despite a police order not to do so. “Hold the services anyway, using common sense spacing, separation, etc. ... encourage elderly to stay home. But this kind of authoritarian nonsense must be challenged. #SicSemperTyrannis,” Roy tweeted. The church was in Virginia, far from Roy’s home state.

Wagner, Van Drew, and Roy are not alone in downplaying the threat or opposing public health restrictions—and if the Republican Party has its way, they’ll get a whole lot more company after November’s elections.

Company like Michelle Steel, challenging Rep. Harley Rouda in California’s 22nd Congressional District, who sounded a lot like Trump on March 22 when she said “hopefully the weather gets better this will all disappear.” At the end of April, she complained that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order to close crowded beaches was “a clear example of unnecessary government overreach,” unnecessary because “Orange County has been successful in flattening the curve.” At the time, Orange County had reported 2,400 COVID-19 cases. That number has risen to more than 50,000.

In South Carolina, Nancy Mace is challenging Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham. On June 8, she said “Our health has not been adversely affected in the way we were told it was going to be. We should have opened up sooner.” COVID-19 cases had already started rising in South Carolina at that point, and would be over 1,000 new cases a day for most of the following two months.

In Texas, Sheriff Troy Nehls, who is competing against Democrat Sri Preston Kulkarni for an open seat, has squawked loudly about mask rules, insisting “this government MANDATE from Harris County is unnecessary, unconstitutional, and unAmerican. It’s an unprecedented overreach which looks more like a communist dictatorship than a free Republic.” That was April 22. Texas, of course, went on to have a major spike.

Right now it’s impossible to pick apart how much Republicans downplay coronavirus and rail against restrictions aimed at slowing its spread because that’s what Donald Trump does, and how much it’s because they themselves, independently, think if they clap loud enough it will just go away. Either way, though, Republicans join Trump in owning the United States’ pandemic failures. And they must not get the power to make things even worse.