A Nation on High Alert

Author: Gary Hart

A surprising number of very thoughtful people are beginning to fear a national election like no other in our history.  Some are taking steps to prevent it.

A toxic brew composed of an unstable president (who is not a genius, but seeks to become an autocrat), a political party which offers no constraints, a “base” that encourages his every excess, a captive television and radio system providing the propaganda and the drum beat, a society purposely being bitterly divided, a judicial system rapidly being converted to ideological orthodoxy, and a sinister set of operatives willing to subvert legal restraints and traditional behavioral norms.

And there are five months left for this brew to bubble and ferment.

And lying beneath all this, profoundly secret “presidential emergency action documents” are finally coming into public view. (“Trump Has Emergency Powers We Aren’t Allowed to Know About,” New York Times, April 10, 2020.)

According to this column, “These documents consist of draft proclamations, executive orders and proposals for legislation that can be quickly deployed to assert broad presidential authority in a range of worst-case scenarios.  These are one of the government’s best kept secrets.”  They are designed “to implement extraordinary presidential authority in response to extraordinary situations.”

Given the past three plus years, how much imagination is required to consider this president considering an election loss, especially a close loss, as an “extraordinary situation.”

To invoke extraordinary authority the possibilities are endless.  With a single phone call, gangs of right-wing extremists can descend on State capitals fully armed.  Anti-viral medical supplies can disappear overnight.  Opposition party leaders can be jailed on phony allegations of treachery and habeas corpus suspended with no opposition from the US Department of Justice which will fully endorse the president’s “extraordinary authority”, invoking these secret documents.  Presidential loyalists now controlling our intelligence agencies can certify that Iran is preparing a nuclear attack on US forces in the region.

This president, his back to the wall, and though completely without Constitutional authority, can seek to suspend the election.  The votes of any State that goes against him by a slim margin will be challenged in court and a prolonged recount demanded.  Attempts will be made to fiddle the appointment of electors.

We know for a certainty that there will be massive efforts at voter suppression, especially in minority precincts.  Ballots will run out mid-day and some will be mysteriously lost.  Lines will be very long.  Registrations will be challenged at considerable length.

Several scholarly studies now document the various complex ways a national election can seek to be twisted and turned.  The election is early November.  The inaugural is the 20th of January.  Think of the mayhem that can occur in those few weeks.

It is to be hope that Governors, Secretaries of State, and Attorneys General will be prepared.  Efforts at fraud and manipulation will have to be challenged in courts across the land on election day.
Absent a landslide against the incumbent, which is to be prayed for, the forthcoming national election will be like no other in U.S. history.  Given all that has gone before, it would be to expect a miracle for this one to be conducted peacefully and maturely.

Contrary to the mythical “deep state” the Trump band blames for all its ills and failures, they themselves are creating a genuine deep state and it is operating well outside the Constitution and laws of the United States and two and a third centuries of American history.

In the words of a famous movie line: “These are desperate men, and they will stop at nothing.”

30 Responses to “A Nation on High Alert”

  1. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Was it by coincidence that Axelrod and Plouffe have a piece in the NYTimes on the same day as this alert to extraordinary presidential powers is published? I would like to hope not. 🙂

    It is a bit concerning, though, that there is only an implied reference in the Times piece to the Trump administration using false sexual assault allegations to bring down a challenger to the White House and, no reference, whatsoever, in this piece.

    If this reticence to torpedo Trump’s attempts to destroy Biden, working in concert with Bernie Bros et al if not in actual coordination, then Trump won’t have to rely on secret documents.

  2. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Sometimes, I react too quickly.

    On sober second thought, I hope this MOP piece has NOTHING to do with the Axelrod/Plouffe column.

    Why would these two share such campaign-directed advice with anyone but the, ah, campaign?

    It is almost as if they wish to highlight – for ALL to see – basic and fundamental problems rather than offer any real assistance. I mean, if they have to share such basic advice that any one of us could have provided, then there is trouble in River City!

  3. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Something else comes to mind.

    I have always understood that Senator Biden has never really experienced the king of support from the Democratic party that I would have expected as a given.

    Yes, Obama chose him for VP – but, let’s face it, there was NO other option!

    No one has ever been able to explain that to me in any way that made a scintilla of sense …

  4. Stephen D. Pillow Says:

    Senator Hart,

    I have been prodding you, most of all among other enlightened commentators, upon our current fiasco to “put your foot down” on the situation at hand. FINALLY you have done so and quiet eloquently I might say. Thank you.

    Now that the problem has been identifies, what can the average citizen do to stop this overthrow of our nation by the current repubican regime, it facilitators in Congress, and its supporters among the populace, and how can we inspire them and the leaders of the democratic party both elected and not, to do something about it. Short of armed resistance, which I abhor to even contemplate, are we left to just await the outcome and see what happens. How do we stop the idiotic squabbling within the democratic party and start working in a unified manner for the election of democratic candidates at all levels of government. The democrats, if they continue upon their idealistic pursuit of a “pure” candidate, whom they can anoint as the “true messiah”, who can walk upon water and has no social, ideological, and personal blemish, to lead the fight against the repubican “evil” infesting the white house and the rest of our government as you have herein so cogently pointed out?

    I too will end with a line from a famous movie, “This shit has gotten out of hand and is only going to get worse.”

  5. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Would that movie be a personal favourite, Clear and Present Danger?

  6. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    NO no no … I mean another personal favourite … The Hunt For Red October!

  7. Stephen D. Pillow Says:

    Elizabeth,

    Yes, Hunt for Red October. Do you remember the actor who delivered those lines? I thought that it was apropos that he was chosen to paly that part.

  8. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Of course, that was Senator Fred Thompson, R -Tenn. It was a good choice.

  9. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    There are many great lines from both of those movies. Which I have used from time to time … 🙂

  10. Eric C. Jacobson Says:

    “The votes of any State that goes against him by a slim margin will be challenged in court and a prolonged recount demanded.”

    Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (who made the news Monday by asking a rare question during oral argument in an intellectual property case) is the last of the Bush v. Gore “Supreme Court Five” still serving. He and his colleagues (2 posthumously) should still be censured for that vote. The 20th anniversary of that infamous ruling is upcoming on December 12, 2020.

    And lately I’ve been thinking of the need to encore my 1st anniversary op-ed http://censurethefive.org/ladj.jpg
    and 10th anniversary letter to the editor 
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/18/AR2010121802827.html on the subject.

    9/11 kiboshed any chance for traction of my and David Harden-Warwick’s proposed Congressional censure resolution of the Supreme Court Five for extra-legally freezing inaccurate results of Florida’s popular vote intact (with a minuscule Bush lead) while 175,000 decipherable but slightly mis-executed ballots (some with under-votes and some with over-cites) remained to be counted. http://censurethefive.org/

    The Five said that Florida’s recount of one category of slightly mis-executed ballots but not the other violated the federal Constitutions’s Equal Protection clause. Then put the fix in to the 2000 election by falsely declaring December 12th the final date to complete a recount in a contested election under Florida law, instead of ordering Florida to conduct a Constitutionally compliant recount in the 24 days that remained before the Electoral College met on January 6, 2001.

    My whole reason for “dropping everything” for weeks and months to meticulously document (totally pro bono) the high court’s treacherous scuttling of the 2000 presidential election and then attempting to persuade members of Congress to censure the Five, was the distinct possibility the Supreme Court would do so again in a future hotly-contested presidential election.

    Public acceptance of Bush v. Gore was a grave mistake. I personally loathed bought-and-bossed Democrats Clinton and Gore and Lieberman and voted for Ralph Nader in 2000. But I knew instinctively that allowing the Republican SCOTUS rogues to install Bush and Cheney was an intolerable affront to “truth, justice and the American way” per the Adventures of Superman voice-over intro of my childhood. https://youtu.be/Q2l4bz1FT8U

    If the 2020 presidential election goes “all the way to the Supreme Court” my Bush v. Gore 20th anniversary article will write itself.

  11. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Eric,

    “My whole reason for “dropping everything” for weeks and months to meticulously document (totally pro bono) the high court’s treacherous scuttling of the 2000 presidential election and then attempting to persuade members of Congress to censure the Five … ”

    Kudos to you! I don’t know about you but THAT would have left me utterly jaded.

    Wait a sec … you voted for Nader? Well then … how many voted that way, I wonder, personal loathing aside?

  12. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Eric,

    Did you see this?

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/07/opinion/supreme-court-electoral-college.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

    I love reading Linda Greenhouse pieces and, this one really floored me. A Democratic elector in 2016 voted for Colin Powell? Say, what!?

  13. Michael Says:

    ‘A political party which offers no constraints.’

    That is a profound problem. Republicans are craven. They don’t see the Democrats as legitimate. They will not give up power willingly for they know that in this country, in the twenty-first Century, they are the minority party. An unstoppable tide of changing demographics is cresting over them. They have lost so much of the electorate – women, suburban voters, people of color, the young voters who are now dominant, and now, due to the pandemic, it seems even seniors. A loss would send them into the wilderness, never to return in their current form – as the white people’s party. They have nothing to lose by backing any extraordinary measures Trump might attempt to use to stay in power. Losing would mean acceptance of a different America; one where the white power structure that has governed the nation since its founding has collapsed. Forever gone. Well before election day, especially if the polling is unfavorable to him, Trump will be inciting his base by telling them everything is rigged against him, just as he did in 2016. After having already incited armed men to ‘liberate’ Michigan, Virginia and Wisconsin with no real pushback, doing so again is easy. A precedent has been set. I fear that, even in the event of a landslide, even if McConnell is defeated and the Democrats sweep the Senate, Trump will not accept the result, and neither will his party.

    It’s beginning to feel like the Weimar Republic around here.

  14. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    There is another high alert that needs our attention.

    At my other favourite blog, very well-informed and reasonable commenters are wondering out loud if Senator Biden will be the Democratic nominee or, allowing for that, if he will be replaced before the election.

    We CANNOT let that happen!

  15. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Between me and Michael, the future looks bleak. I think some practical, down-to-earth measures are in order, post haste.

  16. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    And, as if all of that isn’t enough, there is the Flynn situation. I am so afraid of what’s to come over the course of the next few months, not to mention the virus.

  17. Michael Says:

    Elizabeth, Biden will be the nominee. He’s got over 1,400 delegates (of the 1,991 needed). All the other candidates have dropped out. A lot of Bernie supporters have this fantasy about Biden being forced out of the race and Sanders swooping in to become the nominee. The only way he could be replaced after the convention and before the election is if he died or decided he just doesn’t want to be president after all. Neither is going to happen.

  18. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Is it just Bernie Bros, though? I’ve started hearing names like Cuomo and Inslee and others from people who believe or don’t know what to believe about “the allegations”.

    But, thanks for the reassuring words!

  19. LORENZO CHERIN Says:

    As usual, good commentary from the colleagues.

    Elizabeth you surely understand many do not have your view of Biden, with or without allegations. Many see him as the wrong man at the right moment for a Democratic party that is as out of touch electorally as are the other tribe totally.

    I think the party is way to sure that centre left voters cannot see the hypocrisy re Kavanaugh vs this case. Believe neither, both, and believe in innocent until proven guilty. Me too is discredited.it is an issue.

  20. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Lorenzo, I know all too well that very few share my view of Biden or know him like I do or have spent the time I have over the decades following his career. Fewer still, probably, can say as I can – without hesitation or doubt – that he is the best candidate for the presidency today and that he is completely innocent of “the allegations”.

    Having said that, he is doing himself no favours by appearing to hide in his basement – we should be seeing him and hearing from him on a daily basis. And, I don’t understand why that isn’t happening. 🙁

  21. Michael Says:

    Elizabeth,
    It is not just Biden in his basement. The entire Democratic Party is absent. Biden, Pelosi, Schumer should be shouting daily about how Trump’s incompetence has led directly to the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans; how studies have shown that if he had acted just two weeks earlier, sixty percent of those deaths could have been prevented. Now he’s given up completely and is pushing the states to open despite the danger. Just try to imagine how the Republicans would be acting if this catastrophe had happened while Obama was in office. They would be calling him a mass murderer and they would not give a damn about anyone accusing them of politicizing the pandemic.

    Americans need to have it drilled into them that Trump’s ‘American carnage’ means a hundred-thousand-plus dead and an economy that is a smoking ruin.

  22. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Michael,

    For me, there is a big problem with Democrats coming out in force and criticizing Trump on his pandemic response, given the ongoing state of unity in the country or lack thereof. And, that is that I believe completely in the notion, expressed almost daily by WHO director general, Dr. Tedros, that the antidote to this pandemic is national unity and global solidarity and all that that entails.

    However, that doesn’t mean that the presumptive Democratic nominee for president and all Democrats can’t point out inefficiencies in the national response and continually suggest better ways of doing things together – I haven’t been following what’s happening in Congress but they have come together to pass pandemic legislation.

    The sad fact is that the response may be too far gone off the tracks in the US. But, I’ll tell you what, any Democrat worthy of his party’s nomination for POTUS in the middle – no, beginning – stages of a pandemic would know what to do to help bring the country together and work everyday to improve the response.

  23. Michael Says:

    Elizabeth,
    The country is already divided. Trump has been sowing division from his first day in office. He has actually incited violence against states with Democratic governors who are trying to protect their populations from the virus. The Democrats have absolutely nothing to lose by putting blame squarely where it belongs. Trump should be branded with this catastrophe forever.

  24. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Yeah, I’m leaning far in your direction, Michael. Besides, there can still be global solidarity with disunity in the US. At least, that is my new working paradigm. 🙂

    Division is the only way Trump wins elections. And, he is literally responsible for too many American deaths to count. I agree, if nothing else sticks, he will not be able to hide from this horrible situation, try as he definitely will.

    So, while criticizing, Democrats need to focus on a positive agenda like universal health care and beyond that, massive investments in the public healthcare architecture and strengthening health systems so that when the next pandemic hits it can be far better controlled and the blunt tool of lockdowns won’t be necessary.

    Democrats could focus on a message that asks if Americans wish to spend trillions more on the next pandemic or billions to prevent it.

    I hope Biden will announce that as president he will recruit or, at the very least, form a partnership of sorts with Bill Gates to push this message forward.

  25. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Another significant high alert is the Flynn situation. Hopefully we can get into what the dismissal of perjury charges by the Barr DoJ and the reasons given.

    Is this worse than Hoover?

  26. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    I have some knowledge of the horrible civil rights abuses and unconstitutional department under Hoover so when I ask if Barr is worse than Hoover, I ask it only in the sense of national security and how Barr is turning the justice department on itself.

  27. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    I guess, probably, he’s too radioactive for a place in the Biden or any administration but, I would surely love to see former FBI Director and deputy Attorney General James Comey as the next US Attorney General.

    Comey’s take on crisis leadership:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/04/11/james-comey-people-crave-leadership-when-they-are-afraid-they-arent-getting-it/

  28. Michael Says:

    Elizabeth, Comey’s handling of Hillary’s email nonsense is the main reason we are in this mess. If it were up to me, I’d make Adam Schiff the next AG.

  29. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Well, we would even know who Comey is if it wasn’t for the usual malfeasance of the Clintons and for one misstep in particular by the candidate’s husband.

    Though, I’d be okay with Schiff.

  30. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Let me try that again … remember, I tendt to react and over-react and, too quickly, in any case. 🙂

    What I meant to say is that Comey would not have been put in the position of handling the results of the investigation into Hilary’s email nonsense if husband Bill hadn’t, in 2016, boarded the plane of then Attorney General Lynch on a tarmac in Phoenix days before his wife was to be interviewed by the FBI, resulting in the recusal of sorts of Lynch, saying that she would defer to the FBI on the matter of the email situation and would defer to the recommendations by the FBI.

    Remember, AG Loretta Lynch is a long-time associate of the Clintons.

    Had Lynch not felt the need to defer to the FBI, she would have been the one announcing the status of the email investigation, not Comey! Since everything stemmed from the infamous Comey presser on July 5th (?) of that year, Comey would not have become the radioactive persona he is today if Bill hadn’t boarded that plane.

    I’d still be okay with Schiff as AG.

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