WaPo: “It’s up to John Roberts to save his court”

“Monday’s Senate confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, preceded by a pell-mell scramble to seat her before next week’s election and followed by an unseemly campaign-style celebration at the White House, shreds whatever remained of the high court’s integrity and independence,” columnist Dana Milbank writes in The Washington Post this morning.

“Whether the court regains its independence or cements itself as a third partisan branch of government is now largely up to Chief Justice John Roberts. If he does not act, and fast, to mitigate the court’s politicization, Democrats will be fully justified in expanding the court’s membership to restore balance — and indeed will face a public outcry if they don’t.

“The Barrett spectacle could not have been uglier. It began with a superspreader event at the White House after which a dozen people, including President Trump, contracted covid-19. Trump insisted on naming a replacement even before Ruth Bader Ginsburg was in her grave, and he belittled the late justice’s granddaughter for conveying the women’s rights icon’s dying wish that Trump not replace her.”

The rest of the article is here.

NYT Editorial Board: “RIP, GOP”

“Of all the things President Trump has destroyed, the Republican Party is among the most dismaying,” The New York Times Editorial Board declared on Sunday.

“’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!’

“’There is no philosophical underpinning for the Republican Party anymore,’ the veteran strategist Reed Galen recently lamented to this board. A co-founder of the Lincoln Project, a political action committee run by current and former Republicans dedicated to defeating Mr. Trump and his enablers, Mr. Galen characterized the party as a self-serving, power-hungry gang.”

The rest of the editorial is here.

Pope Francis backs same-sex civil unions

“Pope Francis has backed same-sex civil unions for the first time, calling for the partnerships to be protected by law,” as Sky News and others are reporting. ‘Homosexual people have the right to be in a family,’ he said in a feature-length documentary. ‘They are children of God.’ However, he hasn’t deviated from the Catholic church’s opposition to gay marriage.”

Nevada County officials address voter intimidation concerns

“Election officials in Nevada County are reminding everyone that campaigning near voting centers and ballot drop boxes is not allowed,” as KCRA is reporting.

“Voters in the county expressed concern this week over their personal safety while using a drive-up ballot drop box at the Rood Center in Nevada City.

“‘There was a pro-Trump rally here,’ Nevada County Registrar of Voters Gregory Diaz said. ‘Many, many vehicles and people were not able to access the outdoor drop box that we have and our constituents felt they were intimidated — didn’t want to get out of their cars.'”

The video is here:

https://www.kcra.com/article/nevada-county-officials-address-voter-intimidation-concerns/34401986

Conservative operatives face felony charges in connection with robocalls seeking to mislead voters

“Two right-wing operatives infamous for inventing outlandish conspiracy theories face felony charges in Michigan for allegedly intimidating voters with inaccurate robocalls that discouraged residents in urban areas from casting their ballots by mail,” as The Washington Post is reporting.

“Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman were charged with four felonies of intimidating voters, conspiring to violate election law and using a computer to commit a crime, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Thursday. Thousands of residents from at least five states received the robocall aimed at discouraging absentee voting at a time when many Americans are expected to vote by mail rather than in person during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Each charge against the pair carries a five- or seven-year sentence if they are convicted in Michigan — adding up to a maximum 12 years as some sentences for the charges would be concurrent. Wohl and Burkman, who live in Los Angeles and Arlington, Va., respectively, have not yet been arraigned, Nessel’s office said, adding that it is ‘too early to say if formal extradition will be necessary or if they will present themselves here voluntarily in the very near future.’

“Nearly 12,000 residents with phone numbers from the 313 area code in Detroit were targeted, Nessel’s office said. Attorneys general in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois reported similar robocalls made to urban residents, amounting to an estimated 85,000 calls nationally, according to the Michigan office.”

The rest of the article is here.

Kellyanne Conway announces she tested positive for coronavirus

“Former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Friday night that she has tested positive for coronavirus, the latest major political figure to say they have Covid-19 after attending a Rose Garden event last Saturday where President Donald Trump announced his Supreme Court pick,” as CNN and others are reporting

“‘Tonight I tested positive for COVID-19. My symptoms are mild (light cough) and I’m feeling fine. I have begun a quarantine process in consultation with physicians,’ Conway tweeted. ‘As always, my heart is with everyone affected by this global pandemic.’

“Conway is now the sixth person who attended the event last week, where masks and social distancing were rare, known to have subsequently tested positive. President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump, top Trump aide Hope Hicks, Republican Utah Sen. Mike Lee, Republican North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis and University of Notre Dame President the Rev. John Jenkins are all confirmed to be positive for Covid-19.

“Many of the guests for Trump’s announcement that he was nominating Judge Amy Coney Barrett arrived at the event with masks on, but as the Rose Garden event got underway, masks were virtually nonexistent.”

The rest of the article is here.

President Trump tweets he and First Lady test positive for Covid-19

“President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for coronavirus, the President announced early Friday morning,” as CNN and others are reporting.

“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!” Trump tweeted shortly before 1 am Friday.”

“The President had said earlier in the night that he planned to quarantine.”Hope Hicks, who has been working so hard without even taking a small break, has just tested positive for Covid 19. Terrible! The First Lady and I are waiting for our test results.

“In the meantime, we will begin our quarantine process!” Trump tweeted Thursday night.

“Hicks has traveled with the President multiple times recently, including to the debate in Cleveland on Tuesday, and was seen boarding Marine One, along with several other of the President’s closest aides — Jared Kushner, Dan Scavino and Nicholas Luna — none of whom wore masks, on Wednesday as Trump was heading to a campaign rally in Minnesota.”

The rest of the article is here.

Trump says he and First Lady will begin “quarantine process” after Hope Hicks tests positive for COVID-19

“President Trump’s counselor and confidant Hope Hicks has tested positive for COVID-19, after two days of traveling with him to Ohio and Minnesota. President Trump tweeted Thursday night that he and the First Lady would ‘begin our quarantine process’ while awaiting test results,” as CBS News and others are reporting.

“Hicks was photographed without a mask after Air Force One landed in Cleveland for the presidential debate, and she also traveled with the president aboard Marine One and Air Force One en route to Minnesota Wednesday. Bloomberg first reported Hicks’ positive test. 

“Hicks tested negative for COVID-19 Wednesday morning, which is why she boarded Air Force One, according to a senior administration official. But she then developed symptoms some time during the day and took a second test that came back positive.

“Mr. Trump acknowledged Thursday night in an interview with Fox News that Hicks ‘did test positive.'”

The rest of the article is here