Progressive Breakfast for November 12

Morning Message

Is Government Of, By, and For the People Over?

On the hallowed ground of Gettysburg, where over 50,000 Northerners and Southerners died in a battle over the integrity of the Union and the future of slavery, Abraham Lincoln dedicated the nation to the proposition “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from this earth.” Such a government may be in the process of perishing in the U.S., to be replaced by a government of the minority, by the minority, and for the minority. What can be done? We can fight voter suppression, and make it easy rather than hard for ordinary people to vote. We can publicly finance elections and reduce the nefarious influence of big money on our politicians. Replacing the current partisan gerrymandered redistricting system with a system of non-partisan commissions could go far toward protecting the power of the majority of voters in House and state legislative elections. Ranked-choice voting - which Maine has been the first state to adopt - could make the meaningful growth of third parties possible, help break the partisan gridlock of the winner-take-all two-party system, and expand the range of political choices. Such moves would not eliminate the minority-rule bias in the Constitution, they might help America continue to be a flawed, but more-or-less genuine democracy, rather than drifting, or even racing, towards tyranny.

Florida Recount Begins

Three FL races head to recount. USA Today: “A statewide machine recount of more than 8 million votes slowly was in full swing in Florida over the weekend for three seats including the closely watched governor and U.S. Senate races. Ballot counting began in Broward and Palm Beach counties, two Democratic strongholds, after razor-thin margins caused Florida’s secretary of state to order a recount on Saturday. In the Senate race, the Republican challenger, Gov. Rick Scott, claimed victory just before midnight Tuesday, but the incumbent, Democrat Bill Nelson, never conceded the race. The vote totals on the Florida Division of Elections’ website show Scott had 50.07 percent of the ballots counted, to 49.92 percent for Nelson. In the race for governor, Republican candidate, Rep. Ron DeSantis, led Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by fewer than 34,000 votes or a margin of .41 percent, according to the Florida Division of Elections. A day after pulling back his concession in the race for Florida governor Saturday, Gillum will be heading to recount ground zero for a count every vote rally. Sunday morning, Gillum and his family were to attend a church service in Tallahassee, where the congregation adorned in blue and white and Gillum campaign paraphernalia was to honor his years of public service. In the other close race for commissioner of agriculture, Democrat Nikki Fried extended her margin to 51.30 percent to 48.70 percent for Republican Matt Caldwell. The 3 p.m. Thursday deadline for the unofficial recount totals loomed large over the troubled counties, both of which have election workers feeding ballots through machines 24 hours a day.”

Abrams Challenges GA Vote Count

Abrams files lawsuit to challenge GA count. CNN: “The Georgia Democratic Party and gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams’ campaign filed a lawsuit in federal court Sunday asking for rejected absentee ballots and provisional ballots to be counted in the Georgia governor’s race. The lawsuit challenges the rejection of more than 1,000 absentee ballots for missing information or mismatching information, like birth dates or addresses. The lawsuit also seeks relief for voters whose provisional ballots were rejected in Gwinnett and Dekalb counties, which are in the Atlanta metro area, because they are registered in a different county. Republican candidate Brian Kemp currently leads Abrams with 50.3% of the vote. If Kemp’s share dips below 50%, the race automatically goes into a run-off on December 4, even if Kemp is the top vote-getter. For now, Kemp’s lead stands at nearly 59,000 votes. ‘This race is not over. It’s still too close to call. And we cannot have confidence in the secretary of state’s numbers,’ Abrams’ campaign manager, Lauren Groh-Wargo, said in a conference call with reporters Sunday. Groh-Wargo said that 5,000 votes were counted Saturday, most of them absentee or vote-by-mail ballots, and Abrams added nearly all of those votes to her total ‘In short, our legal strategy is simple: Count every vote,’ Groh-Wargo said later on the call.”

Macron, Merkel Rebuke Trump’s Nationalism

Macron’s Armistice speech sends message to Trump: ‘Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism’. Fortune: “French President Emmanuel Macron delivered a speech condemning the rise of nationalism as dozens of world leaders—including President Donald Trump—gathered in Paris to mark the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I. ‘Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism,’ Macron said. ‘By saying, ‘Our interests first, who cares about the others,’ we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what gives it grace and what is essential: its moral values.’ Macron delivered the address, with its historical resonance tied to the nationalist movements that gave rise to World War I, almost three weeks after Trump adopted the label of ‘nationalist’ at a campaign rally. Trump appeared alongside world leaders—including Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Russian President Vladimir Putin—after missing a scheduled visit the day before to Aisne-American Cemetery and Memorial to honor American soldiers killed in the war. The White House said Trump missed the event due to the rainy weather, a decision that overshadowed much of Trump’s visit to France. ‘I know there are old demons which are coming back to the surface. They are ready to wreak chaos and death,’ Macron said in his remarks at the Arc de Triomphe. Macron didn’t mention Trump or the United States by name in his remarks, and his message was likely meant for several world leaders in the audience and listeners worldwide, given the rise of nationalist movements throughout Europe.”

High-Stakes Lame Duck Congress Opens

Congress braces for high-drama lame duck. The Hill: “Congress is returning to Washington this week for an end-of-the-year session that’s expected to be filled with high-stakes legislative flights and plenty of drama. Lawmakers will be forced to juggle several crucial deadlines on must-pass pieces of legislation and unravel thorny policy fights, while also navigating political battles over leadership and a potential Cabinet shakeup. Both chambers are set to be in session for approximately four weeks once they reconvene on Tuesday, giving lawmakers little room for error as they race to wrap up their work for this session of Congress. Republicans are mulling who will lead them starting in January as Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) prepares to retire and the caucus comes to grips with their looming status as the minority party in the House. awmakers have less a month to prevent a partial government shutdown after Congress missed a Sept. 30 end-of-the-fiscal-year deadline to pass seven of the 12 individual appropriations bills Hanging over the talks are concerns about a shutdown fight over Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall. Two other issues could throw up potential hurdles to government funding talks: Trump’s pledge last month to start cutting off aid to Central American countries in retribution for a migrant caravan and his decision to oust Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”

Acting Attorney General’s Partisan Past

I was the subject of a political ‘Witch Hunt.’ Matt Whitaker directed it. Politico: “Whitaker, an avowed conservative who has run for state office multiple times as a Republican, was part of what would come to be widely considered a politically motivated effort by the Department of Justice to investigate Democratic officeholders. Whitaker’s office clearly wanted to give the evangelical right within the Republican Party a trophy, and that trophy was me—one of the state’s most prominent young Democrats at the time. Whitaker is a social conservative who supported the Iowa Christian Alliance, the pre-eminent group in the state for like-minded conservatives. In 2014, he was executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civil Trust (FACT), a conservative watchdog, which Slate described as a ‘Dark Money-Funded Clinton Antagonist … [which] largely publicized what it described as ethical lapses by prominent Democrats and requested that government agencies and law enforcement investigate them.’ People should be very concerned with Whitaker’s elevation to acting attorney general. The DOJ is supposed to be blind to politics. Whitaker clearly is not.”