Tuesday, September 27, 2022

McConnell, Schumer back bill to prevent efforts to subvert presidential election results. (WaPo, by Amy Wang)

Good news from United States Senate tonight.  

Gladstone once called the United States Senate "the world's greatest deliberative body."  

I still believe in the Senate as an aspiring democratic. and republican institution, having worked there 1974-1977, as a freshman, sophomore and junior at Georgetown.  

For all its faults, the Senate still works, surprisingly often!

From The Washington Post:

McConnell, Schumer back bill to prevent efforts to subvert presidential election results

Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill Sept. 7, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have endorsed a bipartisan electoral count reform bill in the Senate, all but cementing its passage and giving the legislation a boost as Congress seeks to prevent future efforts to subvert presidential election results.

The endorsements followed House passage of a similar bill last week. Both measures aim to stop future presidents from trying to overturn election results through Congress and were driven by the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a mob of Donald Trump supporters seeking to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s win.

The Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act, sponsored by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), would amend the Electoral Count Act of 1887 and reaffirm that the vice president has only a ministerial role at the joint session of Congress to count electoral votes, as well as raise the threshold necessary for members of Congress to object to a state’s electors.

Speaking on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon, McConnell said there was a need to make “modest” updates to the Electoral Count Act.

Congress’s process for counting their presidential electors’ votes was written 135 ago. The chaos that came to a head on January 6th of last year certainly underscored the need for an update,” McConnell said. “The Electoral Count Act ultimately produced the right conclusion … but it’s clear the country needs a more predictable path.”

In a statement, Schumer said, “Make no mistake: as our country continues to face the threat of the anti-democracy MAGA Republican movement — propelled by many GOP leaders who either refused to take a stand or actively stoked the flames of division in our country — reforming the Electoral Count Act ought to be the bare minimum of action the Congress takes.”

The Senate Rules Committee, of which Schumer and McConnell are both members, later voted to advance the bill. Schumer voted yes by proxy, while Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) was the lone no vote. Speaking minutes after McConnell had expressed his support for the legislation in committee, Cruz went against his party leader and blasted the bill as “bad policy and … bad for democracy.”

“I understand why Democrats are supporting this bill,” Cruz said. “What I don’t understand is why Republicans are.”

The bill already enjoyed strong bipartisan support, with 11 Democratic and 11 Republican senators signing on to co-sponsor it before Tuesday.

“We are pleased that bipartisan support continues to grow for these sensible and much-needed reforms to the Electoral Count Act of 1887,” Collins and Manchin said in a joint statement last week. “Our bill is backed by election law experts and organizations across the ideological spectrum. We will keep working to increase bipartisan support for our legislation that would correct the flaws in this archaic and ambiguous law.”

Later Tuesday evening in the Capitol, Collins passed Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the ranking member of Rules, in the hallway. She stopped, put her hand on his shoulder and said: “Thank you. Good job. Thank you. Thank you.”

After the 2020 election, Trump had falsely told his supporters that Vice President Mike Pence had the power to reject electoral votes already certified by the states. Pence did not do so — and has repeatedly emphasized that the Constitution provides the vice president with no such authority. But on Jan. 6, many in the mob that overran the Capitol began chanting, “Hang Mike Pence!” on the mistaken belief that the vice president could have stopped Congress from certifying Biden’s victory.

The House last week passed the similar Presidential Election Reform Act, written by Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), on a 229-203 vote. Cheney and Lofgren argued that the risk of another effort to steal a presidential election remains high, as Trump continues to spread baseless claims of widespread election fraud, and as pro-Trump candidates in state and local elections around the country have embraced those falsehoods.

The Senate and House bills differ chiefly in how much they would change the threshold necessary for members of both chambers to object to a state’s results. Currently, only one member each from the House and Senate are required to object to a state’s electors. The House electoral reform bill would raise that threshold to at least one-third of the members of both the House and Senate, while the Senate version would raise that threshold to at least one-fifth of the members of both the House and Senate.

Schumer had withheld his support because he preferred Democrats’ sweeping voting bill that also addressed access to the polls. But after that bill failed in the Senate because of a lack of Republican support this year, the bipartisan working group forged ahead on a narrower bill that would implement guardrails and clarifications regarding how presidential electors are appointed, submitted and approved.

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), a member of the Rules panel who had worked on his own electoral bill, said Monday that it was “critical” they pass legislation as soon as possible.

“This isn’t comprehensive voting rights reforms, but it is important because of the danger that we experienced on January 6th,” King told The Washington Post. “It’s critical we do this before next year when we are in the throes of the presidential election.”

Unlike the Senate bill, the House bill saw little support from GOP lawmakers. Only nine Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the measure, and none of those nine will be members of Congress next year — either because they lost their primaries or chose to retire. Several of the Republicans who opposed the bill, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), criticized it as unconstitutional.

On Tuesday, McConnell called the House bill a “non-starter” because of its lack of support from GOP lawmakers.

“It’s clear that only a bipartisan compromise originating in the Senate can actually become law,” he said. “One party going it alone would be a non-starter. In my view, the House bill is a non-starter. We have one shot to get this right.”

The Biden administration issued a statement last week in support of the House bill, calling it another step in “critically needed reform of the 135-year-old Electoral Count Act.”

“Americans deserve greater clarity in the process by which their votes will result in the election of a President and Vice President,” the Office of Management and Budget said. “As [the Presidential Election Reform Act] proceeds through the legislative process, the Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to ensure lasting reform consistent with Congress’ constitutional authority to protect voting rights, tally electoral votes, and strengthen our democracy.”

The Senate is widely expected to vote on the measure in a lame-duck session in December.

Leigh Ann Caldwell contributed to this report.

Amy B Wang is a national politics reporter. She joined The Washington Post in 2016 after seven years with the Arizona Republic.  Twitter

Martha’s Vineyard migrant stunt demonstrates Gov. DeSantis’ inner jerk (Diane Roberts, Florida Phoenix)

Immature Florida "Boy Governor" RONALD DION DeSANTIS is losing votes amidst a Big Money campaign on television, which does not conceal his "inner jerk."  

Send this nasty man packing.  Vote your values on or before November 8, 2022.

Send the bumptious bully home in ignominy.

That's what jFlorida voters did August 23, 2022 to several other jerks, including:

  • Flagler County Commission Chairman JOSEPH MULLINS and 
  • St. Johns County Commissioner JEREMIAH RAY BLOCKER.  

From Florida Phoenix


Martha’s Vineyard migrant stunt demonstrates Gov. DeSantis’ inner jerk

His goal: become our first full-bore Christian Nationalist president

SEPTEMBER 26, 2022 7:00 AM

 “Here’s what Jesus would not do: lie to a bunch of vulnerable poor people fleeing for their lives and dump them out like trash, then boast about it.” Credit: Gerry Images

What kind of weapons-grade jerk celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month by using taxpayer money to lure four dozen frightened, exhausted Latino asylum seekers onto a couple of chartered planes, promising jobs, work permits, and free housing, flies them to Martha’s Vineyard, then brags about it?

Why, Florida’s own Ron DeSantis, of course, burnishing his brand.

And, in case you’ve forgotten, his brand is hatred.

The governor says he transported these people from San Antonio to “a sanctuary jurisdiction” to protect Florida from them. They never were in Florida, but DeSantis could somehow tell they were thinking about coming here.

 Gov. Ron DeSantis addressed a news conference on Sept. 20, 2022. Source: Screenshot/Florida Channel

DeSantis claims he used his authority under a line item in the state budget which allows for “the transport of unauthorized aliens from this state consistent with federal law.”

Except these are not “unauthorized aliens;” they are asylum seekers. Until a court rules on their status, they’re here legally.

The governor, on the other hand, may be in some legal trouble. Did he misappropriate taxpayer money? Did whoever enticed people onto the planes he paid for commit fraud? A brochure given to some of the asylum seekers pledges English classes and “up to eight months of cash assistance.”

The sheriff of Bexar County, where San Antonio is located, has opened a criminal investigation. Three of those asylum seekers are now suing him. State Sen. Jason Pizzo is suing, too.

The citizens of Florida will foot the legal bill.

But the governor’s core supporters across the country don’t care that he lies or bullies or breaks the law or does actual harm to actual human beings, as long as he “owns the libs.”

In his latest stunt, DeSantis’ operatives in San Antonio told another group of migrants they could have a free plane trip to Delaware, where there would be jobs for them. Social services were waiting — as was the press.

But the flight was canceled without warning and the migrants left stranded at a LaQuinta Inn by the Interstate: no money, no food, no prospects. One man told the Miami Herald: “I want to cry because I feel hopeless. I have nothing. How do I work? How do I survive?”

A DeSantis flunky who wanted to remain anonymous said the whole exercise was to “punk” the media.

DeSantis has one goal: become our first full-bore White Nationalist president. To achieve it, he’ll borrow Donald Trump’s playbook, whipping up white folks’ fear that their America — the one in which they were unambiguously in charge — is being taken over by feminists, gays, Marxists, Muslims, secular humanists, climate change activists, the “woke,” the over-educated elites, and migrants.

Especially migrants. To DeSantis, they’re not real people fleeing a particularly vicious dictatorship in Venezuela, they’re mere props for his 2024 campaign.

DeSantis figured he’d expose what he sees as progressive hypocrisy, “virtue signaling,” by sending this human cargo to the famously affluent Martha’s Vineyard: “The minute even a small fraction of what those border towns deal with every day is brought to their front door they all of a sudden go berserk,” he sneered.” They’re so upset that this is happening.”

Not for the first time, the governor got it wrong. The locals didn’t “go berserk.” They welcomed the people who got dumped on their front porch like so many Amazon boxes. Churches fed and housed them. Residents raised money to give them gift cards and cell phones.

After 48 hours or so, most left — voluntarily — for Joint Base Cape Cod, where they could meet with aid agencies. Lawyers, too: One of the most vicious aspects of the fraud perpetrated on these asylum seekers is that they may miss their court dates. If they don’t show, they could be kicked out of the U.S.

True to form, DeSantis was economical with the truth, claiming Martha’s Vineyard “deported those people off the island the very next day.”

He struggles to recognize human decency.

No random choicde

Appealing to racism, however, that he can do. Martha’s Vineyard was no random choice. Barack and Michelle Obama have a vacation home there. Tucker Carlson, Fox’s head white nationalist, says the Obamas should open their home to the Venezuelans: “You could probably fit a dozen immigrant families in Barack Obama’s pool house.” The Obamas could put a “soccer field on the lawn” and build “an outdoor goat barbecue.”

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas thinks Vice President Kamala Harris should do likewise. To that end, he sent three busloads of migrants from Texas to her official residence, the Naval Observatory in Washington, and left them on the street. One was a month-old baby.

A lot of these asylum seekers come from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, and other countries DeSantis and Abbott regularly excoriate as evil “communist” regimes. DeSantis has made a hobby of ranting about communism, muscling through a bill to make Florida students learn about its myriad evils, so you’d expect him to approve of helping people escape such horrors.

Instead, DeSantis and Abbott are heirs to the white supremacists of the 1960s, resurrecting the “Reverse Freedom Rides.

In 1961, the Congress for Racial Equality organized Freedom Riders to integrate Greyhound buses rolling through the South, trying to see if the Supreme Court’s ruling outlawing segregation in interstate travel would be upheld locally. It wasn’t. Many Freedom Riders were beaten and arrested.

Outraged by Black people attempting to assert their rights as Americans, the White Citizens’ Council — a middle-class version of the Klan — hit on the idea of tricking them into moving North. In 1962, they targeted poor laborers and single mothers with the promise of jobs and housing. They said maybe President John F. Kennedy himself would be there to meet them in Massachusetts.

A busload got out near the Kennedy family compound in Hyannis. One Arkansas lawyer who helped plan the stunt said, “We’re going to find out if the Kennedys, all of them, really do have an interest in the Negro people, really do have a love for the Negro.”

JFK didn’t show up, but a good number of his neighbors did and helped as best they could. Some of the Black families stayed in Hyannis; many moved to Boston. Obviously, the North was no Promised Land: they encountered racism there, too.

Refresher course in decency

Our immigration system is dysfunctional — under-resourced and over-influenced by racist stereotypes. But every time we try to fix it, the Right pitches a fit about how the American Way of Life (they mean white hegemony) is under threat.

We’re not poor and we’re not crowded: We have plenty of room. Our economy needs more workers, too. Not only did we lose a million people to COVID, our population growth is flatlining.

But Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis win votes by ginning up white folks’ anger.

Ron DeSantis presents himself as a Christian, barking about “putting on the full armor of God” to battle “the left.” His interpretation of Paul, however, would surprise the apostle, who meant to rally the Ephesians “to stand against the devil.”

Perhaps the governor should take a look at another of Paul’s Epistles, Philippians 2: 3-4: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,” and ask himself, what would Jesus do?

Here’s what Jesus would not do: lie to bunch of vulnerable poor people fleeing for their lives and dump them out like trash.

DeSantis might want to go back to Sunday School for a refresher course in Christian behavior.

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Diane Roberts

Diane Roberts is an 8th-generation Floridian, born and bred in Tallahassee, which probably explains her unhealthy fascination with Florida politics. Educated at Florida State University and Oxford University in England, she has been writing for newspapers since 1983, when she began producing columns on the legislature for the Florida Flambeau. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Times of London, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Oxford American, and Flamingo. She has been a member of the Editorial Board of the St. Petersburg Times–back when that was the Tampa Bay Times’s name–and a long-time columnist for the paper in both its iterations. She was a commentator on NPR for 22 years and continues to contribute radio essays and opinion pieces to the BBC. Roberts is also the author of four books, most recently Dream State, an historical memoir of her Florida family, and Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America. She lives in Tallahassee, except for the times she runs off to Great Britain, desperate for a different government to satirize.