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Zorro

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 50
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 13,608

Journal Archives

'A disgrace to democracy': Dozens of ballots destroyed in suspected arson of a Boston drop box

Source: Washington Post


The FBI and Boston police are searching for a suspect in the alleged arson of a ballot box Sunday morning in Boston. (Boston Police Department/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

The fire started early Sunday morning inside a ballot drop box in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. By the time firefighters doused the fire by filling the inside of the box with water, dozens of ballots inside had been destroyed.

Now, the FBI and Boston police are searching for a suspect in the alleged arson, an act that local authorities decried as an attack on democracy itself.

“What happened in the early hours of this morning to the ballot dropbox in Copley Square is a disgrace to democracy, a disrespect to the voters fulfilling their civic duty, and a crime,” said a joint statement from Boston Mayor Marty Walsh (D) and Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin (D).

The incident is at least the second alleged arson attack this month on ballot drop boxes, which have emerged as a popular option for the record numbers of Americans voting remotely to avoid polling places during the coronavirus pandemic. In Southern California last week, as many as 100 ballots were endangered when a drop box was set on fire.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/10/26/boston-ballot-dropbox-arson-election/

King Kong Trump, Losing His Grip

A steaming mad president is running out of steam.

By Maureen Dowd

During the Barack Obama comet streak in 2008, a lot of Americans were electrified by the idea of leaping into modernity with a brainy, young, Black cool cat.

Now a lot of Americans seem resigned yet relieved to step back in time with a sentimental old-school Irish pol who was born the year Bing Crosby topped the charts with “White Christmas.”

Back to a time when the president did not rubbish people like an insult comic. Back to a time when the president did not peddle his own lethal reality. Back to a time when the president cared about the whole country, not just the part that voted for him. Back to a time when the president didn’t dismiss science, treat the Justice Department like his personal legal defense firm, besmirch the intelligence community, and denigrate the F.B.I. for not doing his bidding. Back to a time when the president behaved like an adult, not a delinquent.

You can only let King Kong, as Don McGahn, Trump’s first White House counsel, dubbed his former boss, smash up the metropolis for so long.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/24/opinion/sunday/trump-losing-his-grip.html

Enlarging the Supreme Court is the only answer to the right's judicial radicalism

Opinion by E.J. Dionne Jr.

There is only one good thing that can come from the power-mad Republican rush to jam Amy Coney Barrett onto the Supreme Court before Election Day: Of a sudden, as the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to say, Americans in the tens of millions now know that our country faces a crisis of democracy triggered by the right wing’s quest for unchecked judicial dominance.

Barrett’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and President Trump’s comments before nominating her, brought home just how dangerously disrespectful of democratic norms the enlarged conservative majority on the court threatens to be.

Her silence on the most basic issues of republican self-rule tells us to be ready for the worst. She wouldn’t say if voter intimidation is illegal, even though it plainly is. She wouldn’t say if a president has the power to postpone an election, even though he doesn’t.

She wouldn’t even say that a president should commit himself to a peaceful transfer of power, telling Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) that “to the extent that this is a political controversy right now, as a judge I want to stay out of it.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-high-cost-of-confirming-amy-coney-barrett/2020/10/24/8d5a236a-156f-11eb-bc10-40b25382f1be_story.html

Tumult at home, ailing alliances abroad: Why Trump's America has been a 'gift' to Putin

Under President Trump, the United States has abandoned international climate and nuclear arms agreements. It has announced its withdrawal from the World Health Organization, questioned the future of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and antagonized stalwart allies like Germany.

America’s past presidents have long promoted democracy, human rights and the rule of law abroad, yet Trump instead has waged an assault on those values at home, where he has weakened institutions, shredded norms and declared without evidence that the upcoming election will be “rigged.”

America’s moral authority also has been undercut by the devastatingly high death toll and wrenching economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, coupled with the racial reckoning that has convulsed the country.

These highlights from Trump’s nearly four years in office read like Vladimir Putin’s wish list. Few countries have benefited more geopolitically from Trump’s time in office than Russia.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-russia-putin/2020/10/24/4edb462e-13bb-11eb-ba42-ec6a580836ed_story.html

Trump camp: Stop using his name in medical marijuana effort

President Donald Trump’s campaign is telling a Mississippi group to stop saying that Trump supports a ballot measure that would legalize medical marijuana in the state.

Mississippians for Compassionate Care is a group promoting Initiative 65. It paid for a letter signed by several prominent Republicans, and the outside of the envelope said: “Join President Trump and 3 out of 4 Mississippi Republicans who support medical marijuana.”

The letter said: “President Trump Supports Medical Marijuana ... and allowing states to decide on that issue.”

Michael Glassner, chief operating officer of the Trump campaign, sent a “cease and desist” letter to the group Oct. 12, and opponents of Initiative 65 released Glassner’s letter Tuesday.

https://apnews.com/article/election-2020-donald-trump-mississippi-medical-marijuana-marijuana-2d36ae7c8bd931924b9b2cbafd14efa2

Issa lends campaign another $800,000 this month, has cash advantage in 50th District race

Former congressman Darryl Issa has given or loaned at least $7.7 million to his campaign in a tight contest with Ammar Campa-Najjar.

Earlier this month, Republican congressional candidate Darrell Issa lent his campaign $800,000, giving himself a nearly $300,000 edge over Democratic opponent Ammar Campa-Najjar, a few weeks before Election Day.

In the latest Federal Election Commission reports, Issa reported having $847,754 cash in his campaign war chest as of Oct. 14, compared to $587,455 in Campa-Najjar’s, as the two fight to represent the 50th Congressional District, which includes East and North Inland San Diego County and a small southern portion of Riverside County.

Issa, who had represented a different San Diego County congressional district for 18 years, led the way in fundraising Oct. 1 through Oct. 14th, raising more than $1.2 million in his campaign committee. However, the bulk of that came from the $800,000 loan.

Once the wealthiest member of Congress, Issa has not been shy about dipping into personal funds as he attempts to return to Congress. He has given or lent a total of more than $7.7 million to his campaign during this election cycle.

Without the latest personal loan, Issa would have trailed Campa-Najjar in fundraising during the first two weeks of October.

https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/politics/story/2020-10-25/issa-powered-by-personal-loan-outraises-campa-najjar-and-has-cash-advantage-just-ahead-of-election-day

How the waters off Catalina became a DDT dumping ground

Not far from Santa Catalina Island, in an ocean shared by divers and fishermen, kelp forests and whales, David Valentine decoded unusual signals underwater that gave him chills.

The UC Santa Barbara scientist was supposed to be studying methane seeps that day, but with a deep-sea robot on loan and a few hours to spare, now was the chance to confirm an environmental abuse that others in the past could not. He was chasing a hunch, and sure enough, initial sonar scans pinged back a pattern of dots that popped up on the map like a trail of breadcrumbs.

The robot made its way 3,000 feet down to the bottom, beaming bright lights and a camera as it slowly skimmed the seafloor. At this depth and darkness, the uncharted topography felt as eerie as driving through a vast desert at night.

And that’s when the barrels came into view.

https://www.latimes.com/projects/la-coast-ddt-dumping-ground/

End Minority Rule

Either we become a truly multiracial democracy or we cease to be a democracy at all.

By Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt

The Trump presidency has brought American democracy to the breaking point. The president has encouraged violent extremists; deployed law enforcement and other public institutions as weapons against rivals; and undermined the integrity of elections through false claims of fraud, attacks on mail-in voting and an apparent unwillingness to accept defeat.

In this, he has been aided and abetted by a Republican Party that has fallen into the grips of white nationalism. The Republican base and its white Christian core, facing a loss of its dominant status in society, has radicalized, encouraging party leaders to engage in voter suppression, steal a Supreme Court seat in 2016 and tolerate the president’s lawless behavior. As a result, Americans today confront the prospect of a crisis-ridden election, in which they are unsure whether they will be able to cast a ballot fairly, whether their ballots will be counted, whether the candidate favored by voters will emerge victorious and whether the vote will throw the country into violence.

Yet if American democracy is nearing a breaking point, the crisis generated by the Trump presidency could also be a prelude to a democratic breakthrough. Opposition to Trumpism has engendered a growing multiracial majority that could lay a foundation for a more democratic future. Public opinion has shifted in important ways, especially among white Americans.

According to the political scientist Michael Tesler, the percentage of Americans who agree that “there’s a lot of discrimination against African-Americans” increased from 19 percent in 2013 to 50 percent in 2020, driven in the main by changes in the attitudes of white voters. Likewise, a Pew Research Center survey found that the percentage of Americans who believe that the country needs to “continue making changes to give Blacks equal rights with whites” rose from 46 percent in 2014 to 61 percent in 2017.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/23/opinion/sunday/disenfranchisement-democracy-minority-rule.html

R.I.P., G.O.P.

The Party of Lincoln had a good run. Then came Mr. Trump.

By The Editorial Board

Of all the things President Trump has destroyed, the Republican Party is among the most dismaying.

“Destroyed” is perhaps too simplistic, though. It would be more precise to say that Mr. Trump accelerated his party’s demise, exposing the rot that has been eating at its core for decades and leaving it a hollowed-out shell devoid of ideas, values or integrity, committed solely to preserving its own power even at the expense of democratic norms, institutions and ideals.

Tomato, tomahto. However you characterize it, the Republican Party’s dissolution under Mr. Trump is bad for American democracy.

A healthy political system needs robust, competing parties to give citizens a choice of ideological, governing and policy visions. More specifically, center-right parties have long been crucial to the health of modern liberal democracies, according to the Harvard political scientist Daniel Ziblatt’s study of the emergence of democracy in Western Europe. Among other benefits, a strong center right can co-opt more palatable aspects of the far right, isolating and draining energy from the more radical elements that threaten to destabilize the system.

Today’s G.O.P. does not come close to serving this function. It has instead allowed itself to be co-opted and radicalized by Trumpism. Its ideology has been reduced to a slurry of paranoia, white grievance and authoritarian populism. Its governing vision is reactionary, a cross between obstructionism and owning the libs. Its policy agenda, as defined by the party platform, is whatever President Trump wants — which might not be so pathetic if Mr. Trump’s interests went beyond “Build a wall!”

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/24/opinion/sunday/trump-republican-party.html

Mary Trump: Psychiatrists know what's wrong with my uncle. Let them tell voters.

Muzzling its members is a dereliction of duty by the American Psychiatric Association

In 1964, Fact magazine published an unscientific survey asking psychiatrists whether they thought the Republican nominee, Barry Goldwater, was psychologically fit to serve as president of the United States. The problem wasn’t that professionals felt the need to share their views of what they considered Goldwater’s dangerous ideas; it was the irresponsible and often bizarre analyses that were in some cases based entirely on rank speculation. “Goldwater is basically a paranoid schizophrenic” who “resembles Mao Tse-tung,” one offered. Another said that he “has the same pathological make-up as Hitler, Castro, Stalin and other known schizophrenic leaders.” A third said that “a megalomaniacal, grandiose omnipotence appears to pervade Mr. Goldwater’s personality.”

Embarrassed, the American Psychiatric Association (APA), in reaction to this debacle, established the “Goldwater Rule,” which barred its members from diagnosing public figures. It concluded that “it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.” That’s fair, as far as it goes. But in March 2017, shortly after my uncle, Donald Trump, was inaugurated, the APA didn’t just reaffirm the rule — it expanded it past the point of coherence. Not only were members prohibited from diagnosing public figures, now they could no longer offer a professional opinion of any sort, no matter how well supported or evidence-based, even if they believed that a public figure posed a threat to the country’s citizens or national security.

This is absurd on its face and has potentially serious consequences for the safety of the American people. While psychiatric diagnosis is a technical process, it is entirely within bounds to draw conclusions based on observable behavior. It is one thing to declare definitively that a person has anti-social personality disorder (a specific diagnostic term); it is another to point to behaviors — such as deliberately putting other people in harm’s way for no discernible reason (for example, abandoning our Kurdish allies) beyond one’s own self-interest — and express the general conclusion that it is dangerous to have somebody in the Oval Office who is incapable of empathy. The APA has also stated that “psychiatrists are medical doctors; evaluating mental illness is no less thorough than diagnosing diabetes or heart disease.” That’s true — but what might a cardiologist say if a public figure kept having heart attacks? Would he need to be subjected to a “thorough” diagnostic regimen for a doctor to speculate that there might be an underlying heart condition? If the person who kept having heart attacks was a pilot who refused to seek medical attention, wouldn’t it be malpractice not to speak out? It is not an exaggeration to say that Donald has exhibited pathological behavior that is equally alarming — as evidenced most recently by his callous disregard for his own health and the well-being of those around him when he left Walter Reed hospital while still shedding coronavirus, or when he holds rallies and encourages thousands of people to attend without wearing masks or social distancing in order to prop up his ego.

The American public is inadequately educated about mental health. It would take a serious, sustained explication, backed by the power and reach of a professional association, to help us understand why the emotional and psychological stability of our leaders matters and can have an impact on all of us. Every day legal experts weigh in on Donald’s unconstitutional or norm-breaking behaviors. Since his covid-19 diagnosis, medical experts have speculated about the course of his illness and the potentially dangerous side effects he may be experiencing as a result of the experimental treatments he’s received. Only the mental health experts have been effectively sidelined.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/psychiatrists-mary-trump-goldwater/2020/10/22/ebf5e2b6-13c0-11eb-ba42-ec6a580836ed_story.html

Even at my young age in 1964 I knew that Goldwater (another "self-made" Republican from inherited wealth) was scary crazy. And one of Reagan's first despicable acts was to rescind federal funding for mental health, which helped incubate this current rash of right-wing conservative Republican batshittery.
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