2020 Presidential Debates: The Battle of Nashville [UPDATE-3]

[NB: Updates will appear at the bottom of this post. /~Rayne]

Here’s a post for emptywheel community members’ discussion purposes dedicated to what was supposed to be the third and final presidential debates.

The debate is scheduled to begin at 8:00–9:30 p.m. ET — this is earlier than the second debate was scheduled before it was canceled. Tonight’s debate will be conducted at the Curb Event Center at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Tonight’s moderator is Kristen Welker of NBC, the only woman of the three moderators chosen for the presidential debates. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this is an issue during the course of the debate, especially since it’s been a bone of contention that incumbent Senator Mitch McConnell has been reluctant to have a woman moderator for a debate against opponent Amy McGrath.

Good luck to Welker; I hope she’s got nerves of steel. She’s already had to deal with sideswipes by Trump on Twitter:

Only surprised Trump and his mini-me loser son didn’t make it about Welker’s mixed race heritage (Native American and Black).

Speaking of which, racism may also factor in tonight’s debate considering the location — Nashville was built upon a slave economy and was the first Confederate state capital to fall to the Union during the Battle of Nashville in 1864.

The COVID-19 epidemic may likewise figure largely. Nashville was the site of another pandemic which took the life of a former American president. James Polk died of cholera in 1849 only three months after returning to Nashville upon leaving office.

Could lightning strike twice, one might wonder, given how deep we are into another pandemic, this one encouraged by Trump’s malign governance.

One factor which might make tonight’s debate more challenging for Trump: the decision by the Commission on Presidential Debates to implement a two-minute microphone mute to allow each candidate to answer a question uninterrupted.

The muting will work like this: At the start of each of the six segments of the debate, each candidate will be given two minutes to answer an initial question. During that portion, the opposing candidate’s microphone will be muted.

“Under the agreed upon debate rules, each candidate is to have two minutes of uninterrupted time to make remarks at the beginning of each 15 minute segment of the debate. These remarks are to be followed by a period of open discussion,” the commission said in a statement. “Both campaigns this week again reaffirmed their agreement to the two-minute, uninterrupted rule.”

Team Trump whined this was unfair, of course. Yes, it’s really unfair that we’re allowed to hear each candidate answer a question without Trump sowing chaos with unending yelling-at-clouds throughout the debate like he did during the first debate three weeks ago. Expect it, though — his behavior during his interview with Leslie Stahl was a combination of toddler, bully, and mobster:

Hard to believe Trump thought releasing this interview material ahead of the edited 60 Minutes program this weekend would be a benefit to his campaign. Being an asshole to Stahl isn’t going to help him with women voters who haven’t already voted. He’s just so ugly and tiresome, like an overgrown irritable baby in need of a nap.

My god, has it really been three weeks since the first debate? It feels like it’s been a bloody decade. I’ll be so damned glad when tonight’s over and the Union has once again taken Nashville.

~ ~ ~

Election Day is twelve days away. Are you registered? Have you double checked the status of your registration? Have you requested an absentee or mail-in ballot? Have you mailed or dropped off your ballot? Have you checked the status of your ballot if mailed/dropped off?

And have you talked with all your friends and family members to ensure they have done the same? Make plan — register, vote, and help others, but make a plan. And then execute it to win.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 9:15 P.M. ET —

He didn’t let us down. Trump the malignant narcissist, who believes and acts as if everything is about him and him alone, showed up this evening.

Meanwhile, 222,620 Americans have died from COVID as of the beginning of tonight’s debate. Americans are dying at a rate of 45-50 per hour, which means at least one American died while he blathered for two minutes about himself.

Revolting excuse for leadership.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-2 — 9:55 P.M. ET —

This is why I can’t watch Trump. Not at rallies, not in debates. When he gets a mic he lies and it hurts Americans.

He’s lied again tonight about his health care plan we’ve yet to see in +3.5 years. He’s preparing to take the Affordable Care Act in front of the Supreme Court within days so his stacked jurists can kill it along with more Americans.

Meanwhile, even more Americans have died from COVID over the last 40 minutes — an estimated 30 more families will be told their loved ones didn’t make it. For every one of these deaths there are at least 50 new cases of COVID, a number of whom will end up with long-term disability due to damage ranging from their lungs to their testicles.

And he’ll keep lying about health care for all of them just as he’s lied to Laura Packard.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-3 — 10:45 P.M. ET —


Blowhard knows blowing hard.

Numerous accounts say Biden stuck the landing with his closing. Tell me in comments who’s got it right before the media proceeds to tell us what happened.

169 replies
  1. RMD says:

    I don’t expect a skunk to lose its smell, or its inclination to spray when confronted.

    Biden has a target-rich opponent; while I understand the intention to present his vision for the future, I hope he doesn’t keep his powder dry on Taxes, China Taxes, Secret Accounts and the stated objective to have the Supreme Court end the ACA.

  2. Rayne says:

    The US has now lost 222,620 Americans to COVID as of the start of this debate, all the deaths are on Trump’s head.

    No apologies offered in saying this but I am not watching. I will check my Twitter feed periodically. I can’t stand listening to that obnoxious tangerine twatwaffle who lies like he breathes.

      • P J Evans says:

        I was following the live blog at Kos, plus Aaron Rupar and Daniel Dale. Much easier on the nerves (and the stomach and liver).

        He lies the way he breathes: constantly, automatically, and even when not doing it would be greatly to his benefit.

        • John Lehman says:

          “… even when not doing it would be greatly to his benefit.”
          Amen, sad…impossible to listen to.

        • ducktree says:

          I was viewing at my online WaPo link ~ waste of time except that some of the subtitles were classic:

          “former vice president” was transcribed as “warmer vice president.” Yes, indeed.

          I can liver with that. ;~P

  3. Raven Eye says:

    “…lies like he breathes”

    That might be a factor in his apparently rapid recovery from Covid: Annular respiration.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Donny promises vaccine “within weeks.” “We have our generals lined up….Easy distribution for him. 100,000,000 million vials.” This is the guy about to fire his head of the FDA because he wants to impose standard testing on a new vaccine that would be given to hundreds of millions of Americans. What could go wrong?

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I’ll bet a dollar that Donny has a micro-earpiece. His memory isn’t that good. Joey lives in a basement, says Donny, but he can’t afford to do that. No. He can afford to live in his bed while he eats McDonald’s, tweets, and watches TV for hours during each normal work day.

    Today, Donny takes “full responsibility,” for what he doesn’t say, but it’s China’s fault.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Somebody gave Donny a calm pill. Let’s see how long it lasts.

    Democrats shut down and they’re people are dying. Open up, says Donny. Putting capital over public health, Don, will destroy both.

    • ducktree says:

      Prexactly what I thought when he ENUNCIATED the names of the pharma companies working on vaccines ~ using full syl-la-bles…

  7. Alan Charbonneau says:

    I voted a week ago Tuesday, the first day of voting in Texas. The line wasn’t like what the news was showing in Georgia, no 4-hour waits. The process took 1 hour, 10 minutes from the time I joined the line until my vote was recorded. If I get hit by a bus, my vote is in.

    For those not following the polls, 538 has Trump ahead in Texas by 0.5 points as of today, 47.8% to 47.3%. We may flip blue this year and drive a 38 electoral vote stake through His Orangeness.
    In the senate race, John “Chinese people eat bats” Cornyn will almost certainly win, but I’m not so sure that Trump will.

    • Rayne says:

      What are the demographics like where you live in Texas, Alan? I notice a correlation between length of wait and percentage of white residents in southern states.

    • Pajaro says:

      I moved to TX many years ago, during the last years of Ann Richards’ reign. Worked for several state agencies run by elected Dems. It was fun, I enjoyed the people and my job took me everywhere in the state. Then the Repubs took hold, politics got ugly. Sen. K.B. Hutchinson actually killed off the program I worked for at TX Game and Fish Dept., for the good work we were doing on endangered species.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Nobody tuffer on Russia than Donald Trump. Guffaw. The Russians are paying Biden, he’s raking it in, he still is, it should have never happened. Yadda, yadda, yadda. A little projection, Don?

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Donny will release his tax returns as soon as he’s no longer under audit. Lucy, can I kick your football one more time? Sure, Charlie Brown, go ahead, it’s right here.

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Joe needs to move off the tit-for-tat. Accurate facts make no impression on Trump and it makes Trump’s false claims appear as balanced as Joe’s real facts.

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump still claims that higher American prices owing to tariffs on Chinese goods and federal subsidies paid to US farmers are paid for by China. With that level of ignorance and faulty arithmetic, Penn. should revoke his diploma.

  12. greengiant says:

    Some Blues got this. No waiting for election day poll crashes and impossible lines, people have been waiting in lines across the South from the first day of pre election voting.
    You don’t come to the superbowl as 88 to 12 underdogs and not play. No surprise the GOP is trying every play in their playbook. That does not mean the GOP thinks they are going to win. It does mean Dems have to make it so hard they have to felony cheat.

    • timbo says:

      As far as I can tell, the DP polling numbers are not taking in to account 3rd party candidates in the battleground states. This is a huge potential mistake IMO… Twitler’s strategy is to turn voters off to Biden if they can’t stomach Trump himself. It’s what won the electoral college last time and it might work again this year… hopefully Biden is more on this than Clinton was 4 years ago… and now that this debate is over, it is time for the DP field people to get on this big time. Just hope Biden is paying as much attention to this as he should—I expect he is but then how many of us were disappointed 4 years ago…

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump is selling his beautiful new better health care plan – to replace Obamacare, which his Supreme Court will torch – as if it were a rooftop condo he hasn’t built yet. Which makes sense, because after four years he still has no healthcare plan. Donny is waving the socialist medicine flag, as if it were a plague flag.

    Joe is going down a dead-end road in saying no one with private health insurance, who wants to keep it, will lose it. Naturally, he hasn’t time to go into cost and what sort of insurance it will buy, but he should have a better short marketing pitch than he’s got. His left wing still has a lot of work to do with him on that.

    • timbo says:

      Yeah, he could use a better pitch for sure. The problem is that he’s beholden to the private insurers and so can’t say anything that might stop them from shipping the DP tons of money right now I guess…

    • ND it's cold outside says:

      Aside about healthcare and pre-existing conditions: A Trump admin healthcare shill was interviewed by Minnesota Public Radio couple of weeks ago, along with a person who knows stuff. The shill kept saying pre-existing conditions have been protected before the ACA and about how there is no qualifying of people who sign up for employee health insurance, guaranteed acceptance, no experience rating, etc. Well, yeah. BUT until portability was legislated every time you changed jobs yes, you could get health insurance but no, the specific pre-existing condition (or anything else the insurer could tie it to) was NOT covered for a year. And even when it was, if you had any gap–lost job, couldn’t afford Cobra, didn’t qualify for Medicaid (because in most states you had to be a parent of a “deprived” child–i.e. single parent or other parent disabled, or disabled under Social security rules), and you did not get re-insured within a short window you started from 0. Went through that many times myself. My cousin could not leave his somewhat crappy job because his wife had MS and they would be screwed.

      BTW, ND, one of the reddest states, has the world’s highest infection rate due to Covid right now. In several counties more than 1% of people currently have active infections, and the total so far is around 6% of the state’s population. I’ll check back when we achieve herd immunity, I guess, but that would require the death toll to go up by a factor of 10.

  14. Pajaro says:

    Dropped off my, and my sister’s, absentee ballots at the county clerk office today. Early voting line there was about 20 people. County Seat, the clerks office is across the street from the Sheriff. Small population county, has 3 early voting sites. Drove by another county early vote site about 10 mi. away, to see if any mischief from the militia boys, nothing, all peaceful. Nah gonna watch the debates, we know what is going to happen.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Joe hasn’t learned to keep it short and sweet. He better work on that. He also needs to STFU when he’s made his point.

    • timbo says:

      Biden needs to be able to hit Trump where it really hurts in real time much more effectively. Alas, he wasn’t able to do much damage to Twitler in this debate. Definitely he had an excellent point about Trump’s tax returns. I also liked Biden’s dog whistle jab but he needed a lot more like that. He also needed to call Trump on his inability to care greatly or publicly about all the health workers in this country who are themselves suffering under the burden of cleaning up Twitler’s messes. Trump hasn’t said anything nice about the frontline healthworkers as far as I know, so that would be an effective contrast beyond just the “wear a GD mask!” mofit of Biden’s campaign so far.

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Now it’s badly run Democrat Party cities and states and all those immigrants that are the problem. For Donny, the combination is like beer and peanuts.

    • timbo says:

      Biden scored a major one here by pointing out that Trump is acting like a partisan hack here. Hopefully it gives the DP a few more votes.

  17. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Donny, how will you reunite the 545 kids permanently separated from their parents? It’s the parents’ fault. We’re working on it. Trump is asking the whole stadium to take a run at Lucy’s football.

    Trump claims Obama built the cages. Biden might ask, “But who put the children into them with nothing but a bottle of water and an aluminum blanket, and left them to fend for themselves like some Sonoran Desert version of Lord of the Flies?”

    • timbo says:

      Agreed. Yeah, that’s it. The GOP has been test running their “Obama built the cages!” trope for weeks now. You’d think Biden would have a sure fire comeback to that one but he’s struggling… ugh.

    • Rayne says:

      Trump’s entire adult life is gaslighting. Everyone around him is told on the regular they don’t see a bloviating mobbed-up corrupt hack.

    • timbo says:

      It’s disgusting, horrific really, giving the narcissistic failure to acknowledge all the dead as if they were people. At least Biden comes across as someone genuinely concerned in contrast… to those who haven’t already jumped down Twitler’s fantasy rabbit hole of lies.

  18. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Race in America is now the topic. Joe acknowledges that there in institutional racism in America.

    Trump responds to the question by slamming Biden over the 1994 crime bill. But, then he says no president since Lincoln has done as much for Black people in America as Donald Trump. Biden responds him with more restraint than I could to that spectacular lie.

    Biden now against federal and state mandatory minimum criminal sentences. That’s actually a whopper. Trump attempts to pivot by claiming Biden is a major criminal.

      • timbo says:

        It is a big admission. I’m glad Biden is finally acknowledging it. On the other hand, he has to acknowledge it given how the politics of lined up this past few years…

  19. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump is the least racist person in this room….Biden has a good response. All predictable, nauseating, and I’m done. ‘Night folks.

    • vvv says:

      I confess that I was kind of waiting for Ms. Welker to follow up on that …

      … mebbe a one word question:


      • Spencer Dawkins says:

        I was, too, but I’m assuming there’s no way that could have ended well.

        If I had been the moderator and had opened my mouth, what came out would have been “of the three people on the stage, who is the least racist? And please, show your work”.

        If the goal had been to make Trump’s head explode and it worked, awesome, but if not, the debate would have gone downhill even faster.

        If I were in the White House Press Corp, and they ever have another indoor briefing, I’d paint “REALLY?” on the wall behind the reporters in six foot letters, so the person at the podium has to look at it throughout the entire briefing. I’m really sick of unchallenged fact-free assertions (and “unchallenged fact-free assertions” is Donald’s middle name).

        • klynn says:

          My Ohio voter instincts tell me from my “Blackwell processing vote tallies through a funny little company in Chattanooga” experience that votes can be changed. Thus my wondering what was DT trying to infer.

        • Smeelbo says:

          I have seen Yes Votes counted as No Vote, Measure A in Santa Cruz, California, in June 1984. Because in that Election, Liberals for the first time swept both the City Council and the County Board of Supervisors, no one would support a challenge or recount. That vote counts are manipulated is a dirty little secret.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Blackwell and Kemp certainly come to mind. And Blackwell’s Republican successor is no different, he just has more tools to work with.

        • klynn says:

          Agree. I was also wondering if they “gamed” the censes to reduce representation in Dem areas for the future?

        • Spencer Dawkins says:

          You’re trying to keep me up tonight, aren’t you?

          I’m trying to think this through. If the Constitution still says “The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct”, I would THINK (“hope”?) that means if Ross and his ilk screwed up the 2020 census, an actual government could do another one in 2021 (so, well “within every subsequent Term of ten Years”).

          But I’m not a constitutional lawyer.

        • P J Evans says:

          They have done “second enumerations” in the past, mostly for big cities. (I know it’s happened for NYC and for Philadelphia.)

      • klynn says:

        Yep. I would be looking at all the House races and see which ones are possibly close enough that tweaking votes could push the seat from Dem to GOP.

  20. John Paul Jones says:

    As expected, he tried to inject Russian disinformation into things, going off on weird tangents about emails and laptops. Sigh. And the moderator, though trying hard, is not able to shut him up.

  21. Jan says:

    ‘There are no red states or blue states, just the United States.’ – Biden. Sounds cliche to political junkies, but not to most people who don’t spend very much time following politics. Coming after Trump went on and on about “Democrat states”, it very nicely highlighted where Trump’s concern lies. With himself. Americans as pawns.

    • timbo says:

      Yes, and it put the lie to Twitler’s claims of trying to work out anything in a bipartisan manner. Biden won this particular exchange, hands down. Many independents and new voters are indeed alarmed by the political hackery that Trump’s statements here showboat in big neon foghorns. The problem is that we are all getting tired of it and so try to just tune Twitler’s pronouncements out. Ugh.

  22. Nehoa says:

    I was only able to watch the first half due to a conference call, but I thought Trump was more effective tonight than the first debate because he got to get on a roll with his usual BS. And while he did get testy, nothing like last time.
    Biden had good lines, but had to spend time on refuting Trump’s BS. Each talked to the audiences they wanted to mostly the way they wanted to. Trump did not hurt himself like did at the first debate, but doubt that he moved the needle in his favor at all.

  23. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Yup. In terms of normal debate conduct, Biden was all over Trump. He definitely stuck the landing. Heartfelt, simple, truthful. Trump had no comeback.

  24. RMD says:

    A pattern throughout that felt uneven, unfair:
    Trump speaks for 2 minutes.
    Biden is given 10-15 seconds for a response (usually to a wildly defamatory claim Trump made)
    Trump now has to respond, out of cycle… and goes on for 30-45 seconds.
    Biden wants to reply, is told they’re ‘moving on to the next question’

    This pattern repeats
    Trump has to gainsay ever Biden utterance, regardless of whose turn it is.

    Annoying, uneven.

    • P J Evans says:

      Joe used his time to talk to people. Trmp used his to tell them the same stuff he’s been saying for the last four years – and nothing that he’s told us he’d do has happened.

  25. Stephen Calhoun says:

    Trump is too cynical to be a cynical politician. He summarized trumpism in castigating Biden for talking about the welfare of the family.

    Interestingly, Trump isn’t even offering a bait-and-switch in this re-election. It’s all rabies, all the time.

  26. ducktree says:

    Once I rescued a baby skunk that somehow had fallen down into the breezeway where the community mailboxes are located … I wouldn’t waste my energy with this overgrown and overblown stinker!

  27. ThoughtMail says:

    Saw some “undecided” voters on CNN. It’s difficult to understand how that’s possible at this point. Does anything! actually register with them? [sigh]

    • vvv says:

      Colbert said after the debate something to the effect that there’s now one of two choices:

      Whether to vote [for Biden] early or in person.

  28. graham firchlis says:

    Generally tune out Kristen Welker, too much both-sides-ism, but she actually did a solid job considering Trump’s relentless lies.

    Good on her.

    • timbo says:

      It’s a dicey area, whether to take Twitler’s bait or to just relentlessly ignore it… Trumpism is about ego winning over reality. How many of us have fallen prey to the same fantasies over time? Here’s where Twitler is able to twist our own emotions against us, to cow us into silence. Someone mentioned cynicism above. And this whole angle from the gibbering scammers mouth, to attack the moderator before the debate even begins, is part of his ability to control the narrative at all times. I would say that the moderator did a decent job with what she had, nothing more. In reality, I would have to say that 95% of the audience likely wanted her to go after Trump more than she did. That shows great restraint on her part I would guess. But the Twisslerings will still be gunning for her forever after… and that’s why we have to get Twitler gone ASAP. He’s making this sort of thing seem normal and acceptable to too many people, not just in our country, but all over the planet…

      • graham firchlis says:

        “…did a decent job with what she had….”

        Oh, if only we all achieved as much, all of the time, what a wonderful world this would be. I would never ask – or expect – more than that from anyone.

        As to twitter, I have never subscribed nor will I. The platform is designed to abbreviate and condense thoughts to fit the minds of those who rely on it.

        Not worth my time to deal with the mountains of chaff and silage for an occasional grain of value. I get more worth from one thoughtful article here, even when I deeply disagree, than can be found from a month of wading through bits and scraps however well intended.

        Can’t put twitter and the twits out of existence, but anyone can stop the negative personal effects by not engaging. Detox from the fear of missing out is hard, but it does get much better over time.

        • vvv says:

          Truth be told, I agree with you about Twitter – I need it moderated.

          That said, thank you to whoever does the Twitter links on the right side of the page here, and all who are linked therein – that’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout!

      • vvv says:

        Likely doesn’t matter to you at all, but I don’t read your posts due to the annoying pet name you have for your/our nemesis.

        Did I remember to say, “annoying”?

        Yes, I did.

  29. Tim Cline says:

    Wanted to respond to Rayne’s request (“Tell me in comments who’s got it right before the media proceeds to tell us what happened….”)

    This is the only debate I watched. Trump had nothing to offer. He tried to dominate Biden, the moderator, and anyone else he deigned befitting the target of his bile (Speaker Pelosi, Representative Ocasio-Cortez, Governor Whitmer [do I detect a pattern here?], immigrant families, etc.).

    He was so far into the conspiracy theories of the frothy right (‘the wife of the mayor of Moscow’) that my wife would turn to me and ask for a translation.

    And yet … when I survey the media this morning, I see that tRumpf is praised for being “disciplined”. This is a classic tRumpf con. Create a problem yourself (act like an undisciplined brat at the first debate). At second debate, tone it down from eleven to ten. Declare victory for having demonstrated “discipline”.

    Biden won, hands down. See you at the Big Blue victory party following Election Day.

    Tim C.
    Durham, NC

    • Rayne says:

      Thanks, Tim, your perspective is much appreciated. Not watching it I could see from my Twitter feed he attacked certain persons, but I think it’s become background noise because I didn’t pick up that he went after women. I liked AOC’s tweet about it:

      Our corporate media, owned/operated by men and mostly white men at that, ignore the misogyny because it wasn’t called out like racism was. They give Trump a pass for not misbehaving by talking about pussy-grabbing from the podium. What an incredibly low bar.

      Good to see you, drop in again soon.

    • harpie says:

      8:39 AM · Oct 23, 2020

      NEW: A dark money group with no website, no employees and no apparent offices brought in $80 million in its first year of operation.

      The group’s sole trustee is Leonard Leo, the Trump judicial advisor who’s tied to millions spent on judicial nominations

      The filing vastly expands the amount of money known to be flowing into the growing constellation of dark money groups tied to Leo and provides new details about his role in a secretive firm that was responsible for a $1 million donation to Trump’s inaugural committee.

      The only other people linked to the group, based on the sparse filing, are either longtime Federalist Society officials-turned-consultants like Leo, or operatives with a long history working behind the scenes on dark money groups tied to Leo.

    • harpie says:

      GOP VOTER SUPPRESSION which continues apace.

      Pack the Court, Save the Vote
      The Supreme Court’s conservative majority appears poised to entrench minoritarian rule without the consent of the electorate.
      Adam Serwer 6:45 AM ET

      […] Conservatives might retort that liberals regard Trump as an illegitimate president. The difference, which many conservative intellectuals avoid acknowledging with monk-like discipline, is that there are no Democratic efforts to deprive Republican constituencies of the franchise. Many Democrats see Trump’s presidency as illegitimate because of his reciprocal acceptance of aid from foreign adversaries in 2016. They do not view Republican constituencies themselves as illegitimate and unworthy of a right to participate in democracy. Although both parties engage in partisan gerrymandering, the absence of a concerted Democratic effort to, for example, deprive non-college-educated white men or white evangelicals of the ballot illustrates that this retort is an empty farce. […]

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Perhaps a nit, but I use, “expand” the Court. “Pack” is pejorative and implies wrongdoing. Leonard Leo, his billionaire patrons, and FedSoc followers have already packed the Court. Expanding it is meant to undo that.

        Expanding the S.Ct. (and the lower courts) is about keeping representative democracy from being hijacked by a shrinking minority party of neoliberals, who would use it to hamstring all of government, keeping it from working for anyone but them.

        • Manwen says:

          Shifting the language from “packing” to “expanding” (in order to “unpack” the court is an important rhetorical shift that can allow DP to control the narrative of this discussion. Case overload and higher litigation rates could justify expanding the circuit as well as justices. And, it makes more sense to call that expansion, justified by the need to unpack as well as the need to expand capacity of the federal courts.
          One of the biggest problems the Dems have had for decades is allowing Republicans to define the terms of the debate by controlling the words used in the debate. One of the most salient examples of this is Frank Luntz, Republican pollster. For example in the 90s he discovered through focus groups that using the phrase “climate change” instead of “global warming” made it sound less threatening and part of the natural cycle of the earth’s climate, allowing them to attack the idea that warming is anthropogenic. That subtle change set the “global warming” conversation back for at least a decade.
          When Biden first answered the questions about packing the court last week, he should have said that he would consider “expanding” the court rather than allow the interpretation that he would consider “packing” the court. This is why words and rhetoric are important.

        • BobCon says:

          In addition to language, another key piece is expanding the focus.

          The GOP wants to exclude any focus on what they have been doing at the state level and only allow discussion of the Supreme Court. But the GOP has agressively been changing the size of state courts to suit their needs, and they lose claims of purity as soon as the focus expands.

        • ND it's cold outside says:

          If Dems manage to get the Senate (better yet, keep the House and get the Senate) seems like a priority should be a serious investigation into the process of judge-picking, giving the extraordinary influence of life-time appointments. Then, assuming those results reveal very serious problems with the selection process, it would certainly make sense to expand the Court with language in the legislation as to the basis for so doing. Couldn’t it even include a provision that the number of seats is not permanent, and as attrition via retirement or death keeps the total judgeships over 9, the seat would disappear?

        • harpie says:

          Southpaw from two weeks ago:

          12:52 PM · Oct 10, 2020

          One thing the Biden team might do, but hasn’t noticeably done, is use the incessant court-packing questions as an opportunity to talk about Republicans’ Calvinball approach to judicial nominations, about the injustice done to Obama’s nominees Merrick Garland and Myra Selby, etc.

          If you haven’t heard Myra Selby‘s name before, she is a former Indiana Supreme Court Justice and Obama’s nominee to fill the 7th Circuit seat that Amy Coney Barrett eventually took.

          Obama nominated her in January 2016 and McConnell’s Republican Senate never acted on it. [PHOTO of Judge Selby] [They acted by NOT acting]

          [I’ll save you time…she’s a woman of color]

          I reached out to Justice Selby, who is now in private practice, hoping to discuss the federal judicial nominations process.
          “I am really not interested in talking about this at this very troubling time,” she wrote back this morning.

      • harpie says:


        […] Neither party has a monopoly on voters with illiberal instincts, but, according to a 2020 study by the political scientist Larry Bartels, a majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents believe that “the traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it,” and three-quarters believe that “it is hard to trust the results of elections when so many people will vote for anyone who offers a handout.” Surveying the source of anti-democratic attitudes among Republicans, Bartels concluded that “in every case the factor most strongly associated with support for antidemocratic sentiments is ethnic antagonism.” Even the prevalence of the voter-fraud myth, the brittle foundation of post-Shelby voting restrictions, reflects a sense of denial that the electorate could ever legitimately reject Republican dominance. […]

        • harpie says:

          Serwer, [continuing directly]:

          […] Where race proves an unacceptable method of discerning the worthy [VIRTUOUS] from the unworthy, and true citizens from impostors, sectarianism will do. William Barr, the attorney general of the United States, recently argued that the Founders believed that “free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious [VIRTUOUS] people,” not the “militant secularists” against whom he envisions himself waging a war for civilization. The actual faith of non-Republicans is irrelevant—they are secularists by virtue of their opposition to conservatism.

          As Fintan O’Toole writes, in Barr’s mind these “secularists” are condemned“to an exterior darkness, beyond the realm of the authentic citizenship of the holy elect.” [The VIRTUOUS]

          The logic here is as clear to present-day Trumpists as it was to Democrats decrying “negro rule” in the South:

          Their inalienable rights can only be preserved as long as the worthy [VIRTUOUS] deprive the unworthy of power.

          As Woodrow Wilson wrote in the January 1901 issue of The Atlantic, it was natural for southern legislatures to restrain the rights of those [UN-VIRTUOUS]

          “unpracticed in liberty, unschooled in self-control; never sobered by the discipline of self-support, never established in any habit of prudence; excited by a freedom they did not understand.”

          Americans who fail to vote Republican are similarly [UN-VIRTUOUS] unschooled in the virtues of liberty, and their ability to choose their leaders must be constrained until they are disciplined enough to choose the right ones. […]

        • harpie says:

          The reason I’m harping on VIRTUE:

          Amy Coney Barrett Wants Felons to Have Guns, But Not Votes
          A little regarded dissent written by Donald Trump’s new Supreme Court nominee could have a huge impact on voting rights.
          Matt Ford/September 26, 2020

          […] That distinction, suggesting that the right to vote was not an “individual” right, was no accident. She elaborated on her point later to note that
          “history does show that felons could be disqualified from exercising certain rights—like the rights to vote and serve on juries—because these rights belonged only to virtuous citizens.” By comparison, she argued that gun ownership was an individual right that could only be suspended based on whether the individual in question was dangerous. […]

          “Civic rights” such as voting and jury service, on the other hand, can be denied based on whether the individual is “virtuous” or not. […]

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Barrett speaks too whimsically of the right to vote, as if it were an afterthought that could be regulated to assuage any minor inconvenience.

          The Constitution creates a government and its parts, which comprise a representative democracy. That government is built on the right to vote. Yes, it might be regulated. But that is true, contra Barrett, of all constitutional rights, including the right to bear arms.

          Why is it no surprise that this Constitutional Law professor – much of whose time would have been spent teaching the art of constitutional criminal procedure – admits to never having visited a jail, prison, or immigrant detention center?

        • harpie says:

          Today, in the Barrett confirmation exercise, Sen. Chris Murphy:
          1:38 PM · Oct 23, 2020

          The chamber is full and McConnell is giving his Coney Barrett speech with his back turned to the Democratic side, speaking only to his colleagues, as if we don’t exist. Appropriate.

          That’s because Democrats,
          [Americans who fail to vote Republican for the WORTHY]

          …are UNWORTHY to be SEEN and HEARD.

        • harpie says:

          Historian Joanne Freeman on this:

          10:20 AM · Oct 24, 2020

          A display of power. An assertion that only people who agree with them count. A declaration—in line with others in this administration—that they only govern to help their friends. Blue states are excluded. A slap at the idea of a union of states. A slap at democracy.

        • harpie says:

          Again, Adam SERWER:

          Even the prevalence of the voter-fraud myth, the brittle foundation of post-Shelby voting restrictions, reflects a sense of denial that the electorate could ever legitimately reject Republican dominance. […]

          2:21 PM · Oct 25, 2020

          [MCCONNELL, with regard to Barrett vote:] “We’ve made an important contribution to the future of this country. A lot of what we’ve done over the last four years will be undone, sooner or later, by the next election. [They] Won’t be able to do much about this, for a long time to come.” — @senatemajldr [McConnell] #SCOTUS [VIDEO]

          1:55 PM · Oct 25, 2020

          if i were a senate democrat i’d want to expand the court just to put this jabroni in his place

          anyway as i’ve been arguing in my column, democrats are under no obligation to let republicans keep their ill-gotten goods. expand the court and send mcconnell’s hard fought “accomplishment” to the ash heap of history

          i’m just rereading that mcconnell quote and it’s like he’s spitting in the face of every american who votes against his party in this election

          sense of denial that the electorate could ever legitimately reject Republican dominance

    • harpie says:

      From the Maguire article:
      The name of the entity is: Rule of Law Trust (RLT)

      […] The records for RLT are maintained by Neil Corkery — who, along with his wife, Ann, is a longtime ally of Leo’s and has been tied to some of the largest conservative dark money groups in the country for more than a decade. Neil Corkery’s most notable connection is to two groups called the Wellspring Committee and Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), both 501(c)(4) social welfare groups like RLT. For ten years, from 2008 until its termination in 2018, Wellspring served as little more than a passthrough for anonymous money into politically active nonprofits that spent tens of millions of dollars on elections around the country and, in the case of JCN, judicial nominations. […]

      • harpie says:

        A picture is emerging, but it will take years to sort out.

        One thing is clear, though: Leo and his allies have amassed a massive war chest of anonymous donations for their fight to remake the federal judiciary.

        …AND their AUTHORITARIAN GOAL of
        relegating a MAJORITY of AMERICAN CITIZENS
        to UNDER-CLASS status where they
        might be SEEN, BUT NEVER HEARD.

  30. Jenny says:

    Best line by Biden: “This guy is a dog whistle about as big as a foghorn.” (About racism)

    Biden said “Poor Boys” rather than “Proud Boys.” Rebranding for the white supremacist group. Works!

    Ending speaks volumes with wives:

    Brookyn Dad_Defiant! on Twitter: 11:04 PM · Oct 22, 2020
    A tale of two couples:
    The Bidens: Loving embrace at the end.
    The trumps: They barely even touch each other.
    That says it all.

  31. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The MSM continues to paper over Trump’s failures, calling his performance last night, for example, “second best.” That’s what you call the loser in a two-person race for kindergarteners, so as not to stifle a delicate ego.

    The coverage reminds me of the late Richard Harris’s lament about the way London newspapers would describe actors on a bender. A drunken fop of an English actor, carousing around the West End, was exuberant. A pair of leading Irish actors accompanying him were hooligans on the prowl. The difference had a measurable effect in 2016, and might well have one on November 3rd.

    • BobCon says:

      It’s telling that they didn’t employ the cliche they trot out when a Democrat does well in some public event.

      It’s always some hack variation on “maybe it was good, but how does it make any difference?”

      By that measure, Trump blew it. That was not the performance he needed.

      Another take they should use (but won’t) based on his history is how long before he blows up again. Every single time a pundit says *this* is the moment Trump became president, he ends up driving more voters away. They can’t escape their narratives.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      His habits being what they are, Trump is likely to explode on twtr and against his staff the minute he comes down from whatever he was taking to stay calm last night. Normally, either Biden or an intelligent assertive woman would give him apoplexy.

  32. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I see that Rep. Doug Collins, hoping to become a Senator, continues to campaign wearing various Air Force uniforms (he’s in the Reserve). That is an obvious violation of the UCMJ – one a member of Congress would know by heart – but the SecDef has yet to act on numerous complaints. Esper’s fealty to Trump might be one reason, the legion of retired officers taking official stances against Trump might be another, but neither is really an obstacle to prosecution.

    On Trump being the most racist president, one Internet wag says he couldn’t be the most racist ever, given that Andrew Jackson – of Seminole War and Trail of Tears fame – committed genocide.

    I think we need to update the definition of genocide. It’s more than the immediate and overt mass murders by the likes of Hitler, Stalin, and Milosevic. It should include the slow-motion kind, too. There have been about 225,000 official Covid deaths so far, many of which are owing to Trump’s manifest failures. The number grows daily, and might double before Trump leaves office next January. There are the Covid sick and permanently disabled. There are the deaths and maiming owing to his many flawed policies and destruction of government agencies, starting with his intentional and cruel maltreatment of aspiring immigrants. Andy Jacson might be a more obvious perpetrator of genocide. But Donald Trump is certainly in the running.

    • John Lehman says:

      Under the dubious tutelage of the renown scholar (snark) Steve Bannon, our president was taught that Andrew Jackson was the greatest president in history. Our present president than decided to honor genocidal Jackson by bringing Jackson’s portrait (destroyer of five peaceful “civilized” tribes) for prominent display into the Oval Office.

  33. harpie says:

    As EoH mentioned above in real time, during the debate Trump accused Biden of hurting black people in the nineties with the 1994 Crime Bill, and accused him of using the term “super predator” at the time. [Here’s a factcheck about that: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2020-election/live-blog/2020-10-22-trump-biden-election-n1244210/ncrd1244459%5D

    Trump attacked Hillary Clinton with that in 2016, trying to deter black voters from voting for her.

    This also came out yesterday from the Miami Herald who “exclusively obtained a massive cache of internal Trump campaign data from 2016“:

    How the Trump campaign used big data to deter Miami-Dade’s Black communities from voting
    https://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article246429000.html OCTOBER 22, 2020 02:32 PM, UPDATED OCTOBER 22, 2020 08:10 PM

    […] So the campaign and its allies used big data to target Black communities along Miami-Dade County’s historically disenfranchised Interstate 95 corridor. […]

    They called it “deterrence.” […]

    As Election Day approaches on Nov. 3, the data provide a window into how the Trump campaign undercut Clinton’s Florida campaign in 2016, and how it might be able to do the same in 2020, as Democratic nominee Joe Biden relies heavily on high Black voter turnout to win the nation’s most prized battleground state. Several key staffers who worked on Trump’s 2016 data operation have returned for his 2020 re-election bid. Polls show a tight race in Florida. Millions of dollars are being spent on ads by both sides. The Trump campaign in particular is attacking Biden’s 1994 crime bill, which contributed to the increased mass incarceration of Blacks, and his running mate Kamala Harris’ record as a prosecutor. […]

      • graham firchlis says:

        Lots of responsibility to go around, including 2/3 of the then Congressional Black Caucus.

        Violence Against Women Act was a part as was an assault weapons ban, neither were garbage. A Republican congress refused to renew the gun ban, and withdrew funding for drug diversion and rehabilitation.

        The 1994 crime bill was a complex thing, as has been the aftermath. Biden and the Clintons have a share of responsibility, true, but fault cannot be laid on thier shoulders alone. The greater chance of real justice reform lies with Biden/Harris and the Democrats.


        • bmaz says:

          Oh stop. Yes there were a couple of shiny nuggets in it, but even then they were mostly vapor. The assault weapons ban was so narrowly tailored that it accomplished very little in practice. The VAWA portion sounded good, but accomplished little substantively.

          The net effect was a complete disaster. Many dozens of new, and unnecessary, crimes were promulgated. The death penalty was strengthened and supercharged. Rehabilitation programs for inmates were slashed. Three strikes punitive measures were supercharged. Most importantly, the prison construction and carceral state were supercharged along with a massive gift to the power of prosecutors and courts to fill up the prisons.

          I have no idea what you were doing back then, but I was in criminal courts every day, including often weekend days and nights for I/A s. The deleterious effects of the 1994 bill were extremely palpable, and remain so. And the US is still reeling from them. And, while the act was a federal one, it also gave space for state and local shifts in all regards. How it shifted that across the board, including mandatory sentences, is even more important than the federal effects.

          So, please, do not give me some hazy gauzy rose colored view of the 1994 Bill.

          Lastly, yes, there were many fathers of that Act, but two of the most prominent, indeed the shepherds of it all, were Joe Biden and the Clintons; so, yeah, they have to wear that collar of shame. To Biden’s credit, he now realizes it was a mistake, as does Clinton (who literally used it as campaign fodder). Maybe you should too. It was indeed garbage.

        • graham firchlis says:

          Be assured my view is neither hazy, gauzy, rose colored nor simplistic. I have the clarity of close association, from both sides of the bench.

          The federal 94 bill was a mashup, bits and pieces patched together so as to attract enough votes for passage – 60 in the senate. Your vaporous nuggets were enough to get Bernie Sanders’ vote, hang an albatross on him as well.

          Beneficial provisions were gutted by Gingrich and the VRWC. They get that blame.

          The Biden bill did not lead on any punative issue; it followed. Punishment driven three strikes law began in the states. Between 1993 and 1995, 26 states adopted 3strikes law, nearly all of them harsher than the feds. Overwhelming public support drove all of it, grassroots up not top-down.

          It is in the states where the greatest injustice has been done, in both magnitude and severity. The states and their citizenry bear that responsibilty, not the feds. California has been the worst, originating with Reagan who I blame a lot. Our 94 3strikes law passed 6 months before the 94 feds, and has been almost entirely self-funded at the expense of education and public infrastructure. California was all in on our own, regardless of the feds and their trivial funds.

          I know the 94 Biden bill well. As foreperson of a decidedly not rubber stamp special grand jury charged with investigating organized crime, I signed oh over 12 very complex indictments, many names, manifold acts, multiple charges from drugs to extortion to human smuggling, slavery, sex trafficking, rape, assault, torture and murder.

          (And another 10 or so narrower OCTF generated indictments, plus a few random others. 18 months of a cranky judge, agro prosecutors and a jury of people who would rather be elsewhere, an intense highspeed educational experience I hope to never repeat.)

          We made the AUSAs work for every charge, to their unending surprise and annoyance, and in result our work product was ironclad. Those were bad people, hell yes we RICOed them, and I stand by the work we did. The Biden bill made it much easier.

          The California 3strikes law I also know well. My son is incarcerated on a 3rd strike sentence, from a fight with another crack addict over a couple of rocks, drunk on cheap vodka and days off his schizophrenia meds. Again. Been in a long while, no set release date. He’s a sweet kind gentle soul sober, but Reagan and the VRWC shut down our asylums while preventing funding for outpatient mental health support. They put the mentally ill on the streets at the same time they cut what little public support structure there was, feeding a crime wave feeding on selfmedication, addiction, homelessness, hopelessness and easy victimization by criminals and courts alike. I ache for my son, and the too many like him, but my blame goes to Reagan and the VRWC, not Joe Biden.

          What I was doing back then was what I did near all my life, health care professionally for adventure on the frontiers of medicine and surgery, struggling against pain and damage and staving off death, in the end an exercise in humility, along with low level outsider politics for occasional elation in a sea of frustration.

          I learned in both arenas the importance of forgiving the mistakes of others, when the intention was honest and well meant. Biden and the others acted as they thought was right, in light of the best available advice from the leading experts of the day who misinterpreted the meaning of flawed data, all to overwhelming popular approval.

          I cannot sort out blame towards, much less hang collars of shame this many years out on selected individuals from what cannot be characterized as anything more – or less – than a horrific societal blunder in response to a crisis created by others – the VRWC. Them, I blame.

          From an electoral strategy standpoint, attacks on Hillary Clinton from the Left pulled her away from the center she wanted to run on, and charges of corporatist corruption validated longstanding VRWC tropes, together enough to negatively affect Democratic voter turnout. Not the only factor but still one of those that cumulatively sqeaked Trump into office.

          Banging on Biden and Harris for insufficient purity on justice policy will have the same effect now. Assuming a Biden win, right after the election is when the banging should begin, while the sausage is still being made and the pies are just going in the oven.

          Constructive criticism on future policy, informed by the past, and be prepared to accept incremental progress if that is all that can be had. To get more, the Left will need to stop carping about impure Democrats and defeat more Republicans, at all levels. Then big progress can be had.


        • bmaz says:

          “IMHO” you are full of shit and have no clue as to the real effects of the 1994 Crime Bill on the living and breathing criminal justice system. And, no, serving on a GJ does not give you much experience as to the regular practice, on either side, of the criminal justice system. Thanks for the run on response though.

          Oh, and if you think that what the 94 Crime Bill did was not behind the shift in the various states, you are an idiot.

        • graham firchlis says:

          The data do not support your contention. State incarceration rates began exploding coincident with the VRWC driven Great Divergence.

          The fed 94 crime bill was a panicky attempt to keep up with a nationwide mass movement driven by VRWC policy objectives. The rate of increase holds steady after 94, unaffected by the fed law. States now incarcerate 90% of all inmates, and a similar proportion of longterm sentences. The recent rethinking and leveling out of rates is also state driven..


          From NixonNixonFordReaganReaganBushBushBush to Trump, a straight line leads from then to now which the Dems have in their sharply limited time in power been politically unable to reverse.

          I blame the VRWC, and the people who fail to deliver sustained Democratic majorities. Want big change? Then deliver big Democratic majorities where progressive advance is a political benefit, not a suicide.

          Beating on Biden for a 25 year old admitted mistake won’t get us there.

        • bmaz says:

          You are full of shit. I did not watch it in real time, as you clearly did not, I was there on the ground. In real time. You do not know your ass from a hole in the ground.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          There was a lot of support for the 1994 Crime Bill, including among Black leaders, who were witnessing a storm of crack and other drug-related deaths in their communities. Biden and the Clintons rode a wave to get it passed, in part, because it fit with their then neoliberal priorities.

          The critical issue is whether, 26 years later, Biden’s contrition is meaningful and he gets legislation enacted to fix the problems he helped create. That’s the litmus test. The same is true with his backing for the incredibly pro-creditor 2005 reforms to federal bankruptcy laws.

          The middle of a global pandemic and near depression would give him whatever cover he needs with banks to undo those regressive reforms. Married to that is material student debt forgiveness, championed by Warren and Sanders. Those reforms, like many, are needed Now, to keep people whole and to help the economy recover.

        • ducktree says:


          FWIW, I never voted for Hillary’s hubs… I know when I’m being trolled for my “gay” vote.

          We got handed instead DADT and the Offensive Marriage Act ~ thanks, Bill!

          Monica was just icing on the cupcake…

    • Eureka says:

      They are running Black vote suppression ads here using that topic, with the tagline something along the lines of ~~ ‘You/we can’t vote for Biden’ (don’t recall anything about Harris in the latest ad; no suggestion is made to vote _for_ anyone).

      Related, it was suggested that the reason Obama kicked off in Philadelphia Wednesday — and addressed Black men not only in his speech, but at earlier events — was because Biden internal polling indicated they needed more enthusiasm there (in 2016 the turnout was not that much less than for Obama — though every vote matters with these margins and it could have made up a lot of the difference, esp. with increased white turnout for Trump; this fall, it was noted in an Inquirer article that many Black voters were planning to either vote for Biden or _not vote_, so it sounds like a battle of GOP “deterrence” vs Dem motivation).

      Common is doing GOTV performances in some major cities (was in Phila. Friday, headed to Jacksonville, Miami, and Atlanta).

        • harpie says:

          Here in the birthplace of American democracy, election officials are scrambling to prepare for a presidential vote they fear could plunge the nation into a historic political crisis. […]
          President Donald Trump last month called on supporters to monitor the city’s election apparatus because “bad things happen in Philadelphia” – one of his many unsubstantiated claims that Democrats are engineering a massive voter fraud. […]

        • Eureka says:

          I was targeted by a videotaper. It was demoralizing — violating — and shocking in that I never expected to become part of some cliched bullshit, but that’s how this whole thing is going so why (was) I surprised. Figuring out what to do next.

          Anyway, thanks for posting all of these updates, harpie.

          Another concern I have, as to election day voting at the polls: this is also the first general election for which PA has widespread (should be universal) paper ballots. That, along with COVID precautions, will slow things at the polls — which I expect to be packed. I hope folks aren’t deterred by longer lines than usual, even with this unprecedented number of advance ballots.

      • harpie says:

        More GOP voter suppression/deterrence shenanigans near Philadelphia [via Marcy] [I tried to edit this…but couldn’t figure out WHAT to leave out]:

        3:09 PM · Oct 24, 2020

        Just cast my early vote in the outskirts of Philadelphia County, PA. It was…kind of jarring. If you have option of *early voting*, do it!! If my experience was at all representative, Nov 3rd may be insane. Short [thread] 1/5

        I arrived just as polling place opened. Short line. Thought I’d be in and out in 20 minutes tops. Even w/ this short line, it took 2+ hours.

        About 10 minutes into me waiting in line, the first Semi started up the residential road adjacent to voting line. It started honking.

        2/5 Then the next Semi followed, then the 3rd. A motorcade of Semis, jeeps, and a few sedans drove down the road.
        All honking. All flying Trump 2020 flags.
        With people yelling out the window.

        This motorcade snaked around the polling place the entire time I was there (2 hrs)

        3/5 Let me just say that a line of Semis honking at the same time is *LOUD*. Listening to this for hours is jarring.

        Election officials, who were extremely professional, could not give instructions to people in line because no one could hear them. People covered their ears.

        4/5 At some point the people in line started yelling at the trucks. Some of which stopped, and started yelling back. There were enough police/officials to keep things from escalating. // But all this being said: There is no telling what Nov 3 is going to be like. Vote early! Fin

        • harpie says:

          Since the voters could not hear the election officials, wouldn’t this activity be considered election interference?

        • Eureka says:

          There are some ambiguities because these are satellite election offices, not polling places, so different rules and rights apply (same thing that prevented Trump from having “poll watchers” therein — though as in Reuters article you linked, Allegheny County is allowing them anyway). Public comments by SoS and AG have indicated that they’ll pursue intimidation at these offices or at ballot drop boxes that violate a voter’s privacy (such as taping them turning in a ballot — something about a right to be not known to have voted or not…but that info is available in bulk purchasable voting records so IDK how they mean for that to apply).

          My _guess_ as to the noise issue in that case is that so long as everyone present got to vote, that’s a wrap. However not only am I NAL but these are tricky new areas of law being explored (and exploited!) even for lawyers. (Even with official polling places, the distance for electioneering is a mere ten feet in PA. Maybe another aspect of local law such as noise ordinances could apply to coordinated honking or something.) All of these changes open the door to new ratfucking opportunities — and, sadly by the nature of that beast, a reactive posture. Cause who can figure out what all they’ll try?

          (They had to yell at our place, too — mostly yelling names when one’s ballot was ready, or instructions to back up / make a line. That’s partly informing my guessreply.)

    • harpie says:

      GOP using Big Data For Deterrence [voter suppression]:

      Rep. AOC:
      6:00 PM · Oct 23, 2020

      There is a massive Spanish-language disinformation campaign happening on social media networks targeting our election.
      Please check in on your parents and family and, if possible, coach them in how to identify questionable content. [NBC link]

      Via Justin Hendrix, disinformation researcher Joan Donovan:
      7:58 AM · Oct 24, 2020

      Disinformation, propaganda, and media manipulation are a feature of our media ecosystem, and these tactics are easily adapted to fit different audiences.

      Spanish-language disinformation happens because these voters will make a different in election outcomes.

    • harpie says:

      The other day, Halle Jackson was interviewing Trump spokesman Hogan Gidley about ALLEGED widespread “voter fraud”:

      10:44 AM · Oct 22, 2020

      MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson cuts short interview with Trump spox Hogan Gidley after he peddles conspiracies about widespread voter fraud and then deflects when asked if Trump has confidence in his FBI director.
      “Nope, okay, I guess you’re not gonna answer that question then…” [VIDEO]

      Justin Hendrix wrote a thread about WHY that exchange is very revealing.

      1:14 PM · Oct 23, 2020

      1/ I want to focus on this segment, which has been touted as a great example of holding a Trump administration official to account on false accusations of voter fraud. Folks are right to praise @HallieJackson but please listen closely to what Gidley is saying, as it is revealing.

      2/ When Jackson disputes the idea there is voter fraud Gidley says “You can’t deny what you’ve seen on television in all of these local markets, where people are finding ballots of trash cans, people are finding ballots in ditches and in the back of trucks….” […]

      Your local markets and all types of NBC affiliates are reporting on this in all types of areas across this country, this is rampant, everyone sees that”

      4/ It is Gidley’s repeated use of the word “local markets” that caught my attention. It sounds like he is giving us a peek into a communications strategy to produce evidence from the bottom up that would support the Trump narrative of voter fraud. […]

      5/ This is one of the six key disinfo threats I wrote about recently for @just_security. We know the Trump team is building an army of “observers” for election day. Most of the reporting has been focused on whether they will intimidate voters at the polls.

      • harpie says:

        Hendrix further argues that while Trump’s “Army of Poll Watchers” is a voter intimidation/suppression effort, it is ALSO an effort to PRODUCE BOGUS “evidence” to seed into the GOP misinformation system. [ie: Sinclair “local news affiliate”.]

        9/ So what I hear in Gidley’s deflection & false assertions is possible strategy- he is seeding the idea the picture will emerge from the bottom up- produced by the Army for Trump, brandishing cell phones across the land to film every janitor taking out the trash at a poll site.

        10/ Will it work? It takes time to debunk these claims. The Sonoma incident is a good example- it had already made its way into the media before it was dismissed. It took four days. […]

        Wasn’t one of the assertions by SCOTUS in Bush v. Gore that the United States couldn’t possibly endure the uncertainty of unknown final election results for SO MUCH TIME?

        2000: They inserted themselves, and then
        DECIDED they just HAD to put the American People out of our misery.

        2020: Trump and his GOP are creating this “crisis”
        so that they and their SCOTUS
        can intervene to save US from it.

      • harpie says:

        1] We’re Living in the Shadows of a Bush v. Gore 2.0
        The same people spending money to put Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court are also trying to suppress the vote.
        OCT 19, 2020 2:50 PM

        2] Six Disinformation Threats in the Post-Election Period
        Those seeking to sow discord may be keeping their powder dry until after November 3rd

    • harpie says:

      So, last night in PENSYLVANIA:

      9:31 PM · Oct 24, 2020

      – The PA Republican Party has now asked the PA Supreme Court to stay its decision re: the Nov. 6 deadline while it pursues a cert petition at SCOTUS (recall the last round was about an emergency stay application): [link]

      – So now a cert petition has been filed with SCOTUS, and the PA GOP is asking the justices for “expedited consideration”“to decide the case on the merits before Election Day or, in the alternative, on an otherwise expedited schedule” [screenshot]

      • harpie says:

        [via Marcy]:

        9:43 PM · Oct 24, 2020

        Here’s how you know the GOP is asking the Supreme Court to rerun Bush v. Gore: just look at the table of authorities. [screenshot]
        [Bush v. Gore and Bush v. Palm Beach County Canvassing Board]

        a lot of reliance on a decision that purportedly has no precedential authority.

        Bush v. Gore used to be a little embarrassing for GOP lawyers and judges (and Justices!).
        Everyone knew it was just results-oriented decision.
        Now [harpie: THEY’RE NOT EMBARRASSED ANYMORE!] they’re leaning all the way in and asking SCOTUS to say

        “Actually, Bush v. Gore establishes a doctrine and should be extended.”

        We can just make it a SUPER DUPER DUPER PRECEDENT!

      • harpie says:

        [Josh Block via Leah Litman]:
        7:20 PM · Oct 24, 2020

        John Gore back at Jones Day litigating against voting rights.
        He was previously in charge of the civil rights division where the only civil rights he seems to have enforced are protections for religious liberty, and various criminal prosecutions. [link]

        Kathleen A. Gallagher PA I.D. #37950
        Russell D. Giancola PA I.D. #200058 […]

        JONES DAY
        John M. Gore *
        E. Stewart Crosland * […]
        *Pro hac vice application forthcoming Counsel for Intervenor-Respondent The Republican Party of Pennsylvania

      • harpie says:


        8:45 AM · Oct 25, 2020

        Pennsylvania Ballot “mistakes” made, in my opinion, on purpose by the Democrat Governor, puts Republicans, in particular @SeanParnellUSA, at great risk. Corrupt politics in Pennsylvania must be investigated immediately. By the way, Philadelphia is out of control. @TheJusticeDept

      • Eureka says:

        Throughout, these GOP tactics have resulted in misinfo floods and trickles, incl their latest. I hate to say it really has been gumming up the works, causing the suppression-deterrence-delay-uncertainty they want. The Sisypheanity is the point.

        Here is Adam Bonin trying to correct the misnifo *aka direct assistance to Trump and the GOP* by a however well-meaning tweeter from Raw Story (who has nearly 100k followers and who was amply rt’d):

        Adam Bonin: “If your ballot is received by Tuesday, 11/3, it counts. No matter what the Court does. So if you place it in the mail *soon*, or if you deliver it to a dropbox by E-Day, you’re fine. Don’t panic. Don’t cause unnecessary lines on Election Day. Vote.”


        Matthew Chapman: “If you live in Pennsylvania and haven’t already cast a mail-in ballot, I urge you to not do so and to vote in person instead. Next week a 6-3 Republican Supreme Court will be deciding whether a mail-in ballot you send this late, counts. Don’t risk it.”

    • harpie says:

      Senator Warren:

      10:59 PM · Oct 25, 2020

      I’m heading to the Senate floor now to talk about Donald Trump and Senate Republicans’ corrupt and illegitimate process to steal a Supreme Court seat, and why Amy Coney Barrett will help hand our courts to the rich and powerful. Tune in live. #WhatsAtStake with this illegitimate Supreme Court nomination [VIDEO]

    • harpie says:

      From Wendy Siegelman’s THREAD on Rolling Stone’s
      “Erik Prince’s Private Wars”:

      1:06 PM · Oct 25, 2020

      [THREAD] I wonder how Erik Prince’s work with Roger Stone on “Project Clintonson” that aimed to dampen Black voter turnout aligned with the ‘Deterrence’ work of the Trump digital team in 2016 that was recently revealed by @Channel4News [link]

      Links to [from September]:
      1:02 PM · Sep 28, 2020

      REVEALED: Trump’s election campaign wanted to deter millions of Black Americans from voting in 2016.
      The ‘Deterrence’ project can be revealed after Channel 4 News obtained the database used by Trump’s digital campaign team. #DeterringDemocracy

      Millions of Americans in key battleground states were separated into eight categories, so they could be targeted with tailored ads online.

      One of the categories was named ‘Deterrence’, which was later described publicly by Trump’s chief data scientist as containing people the campaign “hope don’t show up to vote” […]


      Of course, these people were disproportionately people of color.

      • harpie says:

        Project Clintonson, 10/4/16:

        Bannon emails Stone: “What was that this morning?” Shortly afterwards, STONE received an email from [Bannon] asking about the status of future releases by [WL]. STONE answered that [Assange] had a “[s]erious security concern” but that [WL] would release “a load every week going forward.”

        Stone to Bannon about Assange:
        “Fear. Serious concern. He thinks they are going to kill him and the London police are standing done. [sic] However—a load every week going forward”.
        Bannon responds: “He didn’t cut deal w/ clintons???”
        Stone responds: “Don’t think so BUT his lawyer Fishbein is a big democrat .
        I know your surrogates are dumb but try to get them to understand Danney Williams case chick mangled it on CNN this am
        [link to Daily Mail story:
        “Man claiming to be Bill Clinton’s son by a prostitute continues campaign for the former president’s recognition”]
        He goes public in a big way Monday— Drudge report was a premature leak.
        I’ve raise $150K for the targeted black digital campaign thru a C-4 Tell Rebecca to send us some $$$”

    • harpie says:

      GOP Miami Mayor Gimenez:

      Taking the HEAT up on their offer would help too many people vote. [harpie: this is NOT a direct quote lol]

      How the Gimenez administration halted talks for early voting at the Heat’s AA Arena
      OCTOBER 23, 2020 08:13 PM, UPDATED OCTOBER 25, 2020 06:19 PM

      Via Brian Beutler [I added the numbers]:
      10:20 PM · Oct 23, 2020

      A close friend of mine works for the Miami Heat. The team offered to the stadium for voting.
      1] 200 voting booths.
      2] Hundreds of staff.
      3] Bike rack.
      4] Seamless operation.
      The Republican Miami Dade Mayor killed it, afraid it would help turnout. Disgusting.

      The venue the County ended up choosing has 10 voting booths.
      Also Mayor Gimenez, who killed the stadium voting access, is now running for Congress. Donate to @DebbieforFL

  34. harpie says:

    Mark Joseph Stern is ALARMED

    7:44 PM · Oct 26, 2020

    Holy shit—Brett Kavanaugh just endorsed Rehnquist’s concurrence in Bush v. Gore, which was too extreme for Kennedy or O’Connor. This is a red alert. I can’t believe he put it in a footnote. This is terrifying. https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/7276432/10-26-20-DNC-v-Wisconsin-SCOTUS-Order.pdf / [screenshot]

    The headline news here is that, by a 5–3 vote, SCOTUS made it harder for Wisconsin residents to cast a ballot and make sure it’s counted. // But arguably the bigger news is that Brett Kavanaugh endorsed a theory so radical that the court refused to adopt it in Bush v. Gore. My God […]

      • BobCon says:

        It’s not hard to imagine them drunk on power and when the GOP comes to them and says “Philadelphia vote fraud” the right wing agrees that every vote from Philadelphia is tainted and throws them out. When the GOP comes to them and says “Wisconsin absentees vote fraud” the right wing justices agree and throws them out.

        But should the Democrats say “Cleveland polling stations were improperly shut down for good at noon” the right wingers will say there is no standing and block a lower court remedy.

        I can easily see them reaching for a flame thrower to install Trump again, and not being prepared for what happens as a result. They think wiping out millions of votes is the same as squeaking out 500 votes in Florida in 2000.

        • harpie says:

          Yep…as Stern says at the end of his thread:

          We’re staring down the barrel of Bush v. Gore II. […]

          With Barrett’s vote, the Supreme Court is poised to become a Supreme Board of Elections with freewheeling power to stomp on state courts that try to protect voting rights.
          What Kavanaugh and Gorsuch did tonight is a five-alarm fire for democracy.

        • BobCon says:

          They come from a mindset that thinks it will be like Chile in the 70s where a strongman and his party can lock things down in a month and live in a virtual island for decades.

          They think that wiping out the votes of millions and overturning the will of a huge majority will be like locking in 500 votes in Florida.

          They are high on their own supply.

        • Doctor My Eyes says:

          I believe the actual vote will be a landslide for Biden with a much greater margin than polls are showing. Nonetheless, there are signs that trouble me greatly. I think it’s a tossup whether outright violence will determine who is president next January. It may well come down to who will follow unlawful orders from Trump and to whether there are people within our government who have prepared how to handle a situation in which saving our democracy entails acting extra-constitutionally, i.e., defying bullshit rulings of a corrupt SC. I would sincerely appreciate assurance from you on how you think a blatant power grab by the SC would play out.

          Here are the things that trouble me:

          Trump repeated again today that the vote must be decided on Nov. 3. He clearly has a tactic in mind around this.
          Trump has said outright that the election will be decided in the courts.
          (People with experience living in countries run by autocrats have told us since 2016 to believe Trump when he says things like this.)
          Trump’s recent executive order makes it easier for him to control the federal bureaucracy.
          Kavanaugh’s chilling footnote which started this thread.
          DeJoy sending home the Post Office police.
          The nutso alternate reality that a significant number of Americans believe in, for example, that a plot is afoot to use the 25th amendment to replace Biden with Harris and create a socialist coup (intelligent people actually believe a lot of such crazy things).
          And, of course, so much more.

          Thanks for any reassurance.

        • BobCon says:

          I think the hope is that threats or actual violence will shut down polling places in big Blue districts, and the GOP will get court orders (potentially going all the way to the Supremes) blocking extensions in hours or correctives measures, like allowing people to submit provisional ballots at other locations.

          Kavanaugh has signed on to the laughable theory that there is some kind requirement that results are known on election night. He didn’t hold to that standard while working in Bush v. Gore and there is no way that was the case for the Founders either. But the GOP wants to expand on the chaos idea behind much of Bush v, Gore, which is that somehow chaos will descend on the country if it takes time to count all votes, but won’t occur if the courts jam through a bad result.

          I don’t know if these shutdowns will occur in large numbers, but it is possible there are enough to matter. I don’t know if the courts will be nimble enough to screw votes as cases come up, but I wouldn’t rule out the state or US Supreme Courts coming up with insanely broad preemptive rulings. Again, I don’t know if this enough on its own, nor whether post election challenges to votes would be enough.

          But there is also a risk of cascading vote cheating with 10K, 3K there and 80K in another way, all adding up to a tipping point where the Supremes feel they can get away with something they couldn’t manage in one big bite.

          Or maybe they decide they don’t have the patience to undermine democracy on a case by case basis over the next few years, and frontload it all in the next ten days.

    • harpie says:

      Here’s Stern’s article he links to in the thread:

      Amy Coney Barrett’s First Votes Could Throw the Election to Trump
      A sinister argument from Bush v. Gore returns with a vengeance.
      MARK JOSEPH STERN OCT 26, 2020 7:28 PM

      Although George W. Bush prevailed in the Bush v. Gore decision, it’s often forgotten that the Supreme Court declined to affirm his chief legal argument. This claim was so radical, so contrary to basic principles of democracy and federalism, that two conservative justices stepped back from the brink. Instead, the majority fabricated a novel theory to hand Bush the election—then instructed lower courts never to rely on it again. […]

    • harpie says:

      Some statistics:

      9:07 AM · Oct 26, 2020

      Closest #SCOTUS confirmation votes:
      1. Kavanaugh (2018): 50-48
      2. Matthews (1881): 24-23
      3. Thomas (1991): 52-48
      4. Clifford (1857): 26-23
      5. L.Q.C. Lamar (1887): 32-28
      6. Gorsuch (2017): 54-45
      7. Alito (2006): 58-42

      We’re about to have a majority of current Justices in top 8.

      I don’t know how he determined that order, but I took his numbers and listed them in order of the DIFFERENCE between AYE and NAY votes, and added Handmaid Barrett:

      1. Matthews (1881): 24-23
      2. Kavanaugh (2018): 50-48
      3. Clifford (1857): 26-23
      4. L.Q.C. Lamar (1887): 32-28
      5. Thomas (1991): 52-48
      6. Coney Barrett (2020) 52-48
      7. Gorsuch (2017): 54-45
      8. Alito (2006): 58-42

    • harpie says:

      In contrast, this is what Kavanaugh wrote in his Wisconsin opinion concurrence:

      Those States want to avoid the chaos and suspicions of impropriety that can ensue if thousands of absentee ballots flow in after election day and potentially flip the results of an election. And those States also want to be able to definitively announce the results of the election on election night, or as soon as possible thereafter.

    • harpie says:

      Stern on “PRECEDENT” in Brett’s fever dream:

      And there was another, even more startling assertion in Kavanaugh’s dissent [???I think this should say “concurrence”]. While referencing an earlier case, Kavanaugh dropped a bombshell in a footnote: He endorsed an argument that was too extreme for even the Bush v. Gore majority that decided the 2000 election, one that would give the Supreme Court the wholly new right to overrule state courts on their own election laws. […]

      Yet Kavanaugh cited Rehnquist’s concurrence as if it were precedent. As Rehnquist “persuasively explained in Bush v. Gore,” Kavanaugh wrote, “the text of the Constitution requires federal courts to ensure that state courts do not rewrite state election laws.”

      It is surreal to read these words. Rehnquist’s concurrence garnered just three votes, so it is not precedent at all.

      Neither, for that matter, is the majority decision in Bush v. Gore, which warned future courts never to rely on it as precedent. To set a good example, SCOTUS itself has never cited any part of Bush v. Gore as precedent. Its opinions are ghosts that haunt modern constitutional law. Yet Kavanaugh just declared in a footnote that he not only agrees with Rehnquist but actually views his opinion as bona fide precedent. […]

      • P J Evans says:

        I wish that Kavanaugh would be asked to cite the Constitution and all applicable laws on that claim that voting must be finalized by the midnight on election day. Because AFAIK it’s never happened, ever.

        • harpie says:

          He already had this chance and just couldn’t manage it.

          And, then, as Stern notes, fifteen minutes after this opinion came down with Kavanaugh’s EXTREMIST CONCURRENCE, Trump tweeted:

          7:43 PM · Oct 26, 2020

          Big problems and discrepancies with Mail In Ballots all over the USA. Must have final total on November 3rd

          That tweet got slapped with a twitter warning for possibly MISLEADING and disputed content. LOL!

          Anyway, Steve Vladeck takes their assertions to the woodshed, in this thread:

          6:16 AM · Oct 27, 2020

          1. In response to the President’s claim that we “must have final total” election results *on* Election Day, here’s a #thread on how and why presidential elections *actually* work under state and federal law — and why, in fact, we’ve *never* had final results *on* Election Day. […]

        • BobCon says:

          A lot of folks in the media don’t get how Kavanaugh is going to turn his focus on them as soon as he can unless the court is expanded.

          He is the one I most expect to be pushing to enable ruinous defamation cases against the press. What’s stopping Charles Harder and Peter Thiel from digging up another podunk judge and jury from handing out a settlement ten times as much as the $140 million that bankrupted Gawker, only this time against CNN or the NY Times?

          It sure won’t be this Supreme Court. They are going to make it clear crazy defamation cases can be won and they will not interfere. For the right only, of course.

        • harpie says:

          Trump, this morning:
          https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1321142155721793539 1:30 PM · Oct 27, 2020 [VIDEO]

          TRUMP: It would be very, very proper and very nice if a winner were declared on Nov. 3, instead of counting ballots for two weeks, which is totally inappropriate, and I don’t believe that that’s by our laws. I don’t believe that. So we’ll see what happens.

          BRETT: “suspicions of impropriety”.

      • harpie says:

        Also, wrt: Bush v. Gore [via Marcy]:


        Here’s the thing. A big part of the PR efforts of the Bush camp in 2000 played on the fact that networks mistakenly called it for him on Election Night. Kavanaugh was part of the Bush team; he knows the script.

        Trump’s demands to freeze the count aren’t coming out of nowhere.

        It would be nice if we could get agreements from all the pontificators that they will NOT substitute [on TV OR Twitter] their prognostications for reality.

    • Jenny says:

      Past Reminder: transcript from the Kavanaugh hearing, Sept 27, 2018:

      — On whether he’d support an FBI investigation into his conduct:
      Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.: “I want to know what you want to do.”
      Kavanaugh: “I’m telling the truth.”
      Durbin: “I want to know what you want to do, judge.”
      Kavanaugh: “I’m innocent. I’m innocent of this charge.”
      Durbin: “Then you’re prepared for an FBI investigation?”
      Kavanaugh: “They don’t reach conclusions. You reach the conclusions.”
      Durbin: “No, but they do investigate questions.”
      Kavanaugh: “I’m innocent.”
      Durbin: “You can’t have it both ways, judge. You can’t say here in the beginning … I welcome any kind of investigation and then …”
      Kavanaugh: “This thing was sprung on me. This thing was sprung at the last minute.”
      Durbin: “Judge, if there is no truth to her charges, the FBI investigation will show that. Are you afraid that they might not?”
      Kavanaugh: “The FBI does not reach conclusions. You know that’s a phony question because the FBI doesn’t reach conclusions.”

      • P J Evans says:

        I get the impression that he’s skated through on his privilege, and now that he has to show his work for reals, he can’t do it.

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