A couple of days ago, Trump floated the possibility of postponing the general election “due to the pandemic.” He made the suggestion in a tweet–of course–in which he also took another swipe at vote by mail, which he distinguished from absentee voting. Absentee voting, he tweeted, was fine; vote by mail, however, would lead to massive fraud.
The tweet displayed his usual–monumental–ignorance of its subject-matter.
First of all–and somewhat beside the point–vote by mail is pretty much identical to absentee voting–a method of casting one’s ballot that Trump himself has frequently used. His insistence that it leads to fraud is belied by the fact that some 29 states employ vote by mail for some portion of their elections; Oregon, Washington State and Colorado all have gone completely to vote by mail, and the only result that would account for Trump’s opposition is increased turnout.
Just as the GOP used fabricated hysteria over “voter fraud” to justify Voter ID laws–the real purpose of which is to suppress the votes of poor people and minorities–Trump is frantically trying to drum up mistrust of mail-in ballots.
When it comes to the question of postponing the election, Trump once again displays his total ignorance of the U.S. Constitution–a document I doubt he has ever read or had read to him. Article 2, Section I, gives Congress some leeway in counting Electoral votes; nowhere does the document give the President any authority whatsoever over the timing or conduct of elections.
Moreover, the 20th Amendment requires the President and Vice-President to end their terms at noon on January 20th in the year following the general election. It allows for no leeway. As one wag has pointed out, if we haven’t elected a new President at that point, the Speaker of the House would become President.
President Pelosi would be okay with me.
Throughout his term in office, Trump has obviously believed that Presidents are like kings–that he has unchecked autocratic power. Fortunately, he is often wrong, but as Gary Hart wrote in a recent New York Times Op-Ed, there are far too many times when he’s right. And that should scare the living you-know-what out of us.
In 1975, after public revelations of intelligence abuses concealed from all but a handful of members of Congress, the United States Senate created a temporary committee to study the nation’s spy agencies — something no standing committee had ever attempted.
What came to be known as the Church Committee, after its chairman, Senator Frank Church of Idaho, recommended broad reforms, including the creation of a permanent Intelligence Oversight Committee. Former Vice President Walter Mondale and I are the last surviving members of the Church Committee.
We have recently come to learn of at least a hundred documents authorizing extraordinary presidential powers in the case of a national emergency, virtually dictatorial powers without congressional or judicial checks and balances. President Trump alluded to these authorities in March when he said, “I have the right to do a lot of things that people don’t even know about.”
Hart says it’s time for a new select committee “to study these powers and their potential for abuse”, and advise Congress on mechanisms that would provide stringent oversight, if not outright repeal.
What little we know about these secret powers comes from the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School, but we believe they may include suspension of habeas corpus, surveillance, home intrusion, arrest without a judicial warrant, collective if not mass arrests and more; some could violate constitutional protections.
A number of us have urged immediate congressional investigations concerning what these powers are and why they have been kept secret. Public hearings should be held before the November elections, especially with rumors rife that the incumbent president might interfere with the election or refuse to accept the result if he felt in jeopardy of losing.
Hart asks some very important questions:
Where did these secret powers come from? Where are they kept? Who has access to them? What qualifies as a national emergency sufficient to suspend virtually all constitutional protection? And critically, why must these powers be secret?
If–as every rational American must hope–Joe Biden becomes President in January 2021, a searching examination of these secret powers and the nature of the events that might trigger them needs to be added to the very long list of tasks made imperative by Trump’s corrupt and disastrous Presidency.
19 thoughts on “Add This To The List”
This craziness scares the daylights out of me. Good Grief.
My father was a postman. The rank and file of our national postal service have expressed concern for the so called reforms imposed by a recent Trump appointee (a multi-million donor to Trump campaign war chest) as Postmaster that will compromise timely distribution of mail-in ballots during the national election. When Trump announces grave concern for the integrity of the mail-in ballot … he exposes his own guilt to ensure disruption. I hope the Postal Union will successfully neutralize corrupt initiatives to undermine the postal service.
“…vote by mail is pretty much identical to absentee voting…”
Exactly what is different between them that makes them “pretty much identical”? Will they have identifying marking on the envelops so USPS carriers will know which ballots are approved by Trump as “good” Absentee Ballots and those which are mail-in votes? Does anyone understand that all mail picked up at our homes and that which is picked up from drop and storage Post Office boxes and arrive by truck and planes from other states and countries are first sorted mechanically by zip codes; then delivered to that Post Office building and then must be sorted by carrier routes and to be sorted and arranged for delivery by carriers? Trump stated “they” won’t be ready to deal with millions of mail-in ballots. Who won’t be ready? The Absentee/mail-in ballots will not all be mailed out or returned at the same time; unlike election day when millions of votes must be counted as they come in on November 3rd.
Trump’s crony and donor who has been appointed Postmaster General has already started ordering procedural changes to slow the delivery of all mail. Think of Trump’s Ukraine interference and the failed Impeachment. Think of the mega-millions of people and businesses, including government offices, this slow down will effect and the effect it will have on the economy.
Adding this “one issue” to the unending list of Trump’s destructive decisions contains countless sub-issues throughout this country and all parts of the world where the United States Postal Services serves the people.
“Throughout his term in office, Trump has obviously believed that Presidents are like kings–that he has unchecked autocratic power.”
Trump’s fully successful “Add This To The List” has proved he is undoubtedly the King of America and this one issue will add to the already failing economy in this country and could very well be the “final straw” in his deconstruction of democracy, Rule of Law and upholding the Constitution of the United States of America. Damn all oaths of Office; it’s full speed ahead to the end of life as we have known it.
Is it even conceivable that alternatives to USPS could be available? I read a few tweets about people saying that they were going to send their ballots via UPS?
Since these “powers” are not granted in the Constitution and not granted by Congressional action, we must assume that these so-called powers are available to any President who would take them and tell Congress and the courts to go to Hell. So far, we have had only one of those, and he is the current occupant of the White House.
It seems to me that we need the next Congress to address many issues that are unique to this Administration. He has shown us that we can’t rely on the decency of the holder of any office. We must codify Constitutional violations and set penalties for them/
Peggy; if only we could find a way to force all members of Congress and the administration to uphold their Oath of Office, they would have addressed these current issues when they became known. How long has McConnell been holding federal judicial nominees on his desk; it began during the Obama Administration? And how many House submitted bills have been sitting on his desk gathering dust? We are in a situation with this current administration like the police abuse of powers on victims; who do you report them to…the police?
“We must codify Constitutional violations and set penalties for them/”
A vital part of “the good old days” was the fact that “a man’s word was his bond”; those days are long gone.
Efforts to initiate vote by mail should be redirected to making election day a national holiday – as a means to facilitate the maximum number of votes being cast. The President’s hand has been tipped early, in terms of his intention and ability to cry fraud by controlling leadership of the postal service. Clearly, a change is in order when the President has promised “the most corrupt election in history”.
Sheila, this calls to mind your previous “whack-a-mole” analogy AND it is appropriate to change strategy when a block is placed in the path to progress. But also, election day should have always been a national holiday – as a function of getting citizens out of work and to the polls. If we, as a society, can justify closing down work for “honorable” purposes (Labor, Memorial, Independence, etc) surely we can agree that a “functional” purpose is even more appropriate.
If the role of Putin’s puppet was to disrupt the USA’s world standing and cause chaos within our country, he has succeeded. I give Trump an A+.
If Trump’s administration has been helping Russia by giving them intelligence on what is happening within Russia (see the latest news), then why isn’t it believable that Russia gives Trump’s admin intelligence on the USA like what kind of “secret powers” the POTUS may possess?
The DNC and IC spent enormous resources to manufacture evidence that Russia interfered with 2016 because there is no way Clinton could lose to a reality buffoon like Trump unless Russia interfered. It was pathetic.
However, if you step away from the personalities of leaders around the world, you will see that far-right nationalistic mentalities are doing the damage to their own countries without the help of Russia. In effect, Russia is using the global strategy of the USA against us.
Look at what has happened to the European and US alliances against Russia. Germany even had to cut a deal with Russia because Trump and the US withdrew their support for global initiatives.
Trump laying the groundwork for voter fraud is mainly because his Ego cannot handle the prospect of losing an election to another senile old fart like Biden, but the polls all show Trump is losing by a wide margin.
Can you imagine what his narcissistic mind must be going through as he reads the polls?
And this is despite the fact Wall Street continues pressing forward while the last quarter’s GDP fell 33%. Back when I was a financial student, and then during my early career in banking, the stock market was considered a predictor of the economy. The fact our oligarchy has become socialized with the help of the FED should signal the socialism is coming to the working class. LOL
How is this free-market capitalism?
Our oligarchy enjoys socialism while the working class is forced to endure rugged individualistic capitalism where election after election changes nothing. The oligarchs and their owned politicians repeatedly talk a great deal to the media about helping the working class, but neither party does anything. Their actions during this pandemic are more than enough evidence for those willing to open their eyes.
These extraordinary presidential powers have been in place for some time now, decades even. So why didn’t previous administrations and Congresses do something about them?
Power corrupts…absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Transcripts from the Iran-Contra Hearings in 1987 record the following dialogue between Congressman Jack Brooks, Oliver North’s attorney Brendan Sullivan and Senator Daniel Inouye, the Democratic Chair of the joint Senate–House Committee:
[Congressman Jack] Brooks: Colonel North, in your work at the N.S.C. were you not assigned, at one time, to work on plans for the continuity of government in the event of a major disaster?
Brendan Sullivan [North’s counsel, agitatedly]: Mr. Chairman?
[Senator Daniel] Inouye: I believe that question touches upon a highly sensitive and classified area so may I request that you not touch upon that?
Brooks: I was particularly concerned, Mr. Chairman, because I read in Miami papers, and several others, that there had been a plan developed, by that same agency, a contingency plan in the event of emergency, that would suspend the American constitution. And I was deeply concerned about it and wondered if that was an area in which he had worked. I believe that it was and I wanted to get his confirmation.
Inouye: May I most respectfully request that that matter not be touched upon at this stage. If we wish to get into this, I’m certain arrangements can be made for an executive session.
Readiness Exercise 1984, was a classified scenario and drill developed by the United States federal government to detain large numbers of United States citizens deemed to be “national security threats”, in the event that the president declared a National Emergency. The plan was first revealed in detail in a major daily newspaper by reporter Alfonso Chardy in the July 5, 1987 edition of the Miami Herald. Possible reasons for such a roundup were reported to be widespread opposition to a U.S. military invasion abroad, such as if the United States were to directly invade Central America. To combat what the government perceived as “subversive activities”, the plan also authorized the military to direct ordered movements of civilian populations at state and regional levels, according to Professor Diana Reynolds.
Existence of a master military contingency plans (of which REX-84 was a part), “Garden Plot” and a similar earlier exercise, “Lantern Spike”, were originally revealed by journalist Ron Ridenhour, who summarized his findings in an article in CounterSpy.
Disturbingly, and it just really should disturb people, the full facts and contents of Mr. Reagan’s national plan remain uncertain. This is in part because President Bush took the unusual step of sealing the Reagan Presidential papers last November. However, many of the key figures of the Reagan era are part of the present administration, including John Poindexter, to whom Oliver North later reported.
At the time of the Reagan initiatives, the then-Attorney General, William French Smith, a Republican, wrote to the National Security Adviser, Robert McFarlane: “I believe that the role assigned to the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the revised executive order exceeds its proper function as a coordinating agency for emergency preparedness. This department and others have repeatedly raised serious policy and legal objections to an emergency czar role for FEMA.”
Criticism of the Bush administration’s response to September 11 echoes Mr. Smith’s warning. On June 7 of last year, the former Presidential counsel, John Dean, spoke of America sliding into a, quote, “constitutional dictatorship,” close quote, and martial law.
The reason I raise this issue is that I come from a State where in 1941 under executive order by the President, 9661, we rounded up all the Japanese Americans in this country and put them in concentration camps. We have set in place the mechanism to do that again and we must not, we cannot sacrifice the Constitution in this rush to war that we are doing in Iraq. ”
x x x x x
Here is a list of the executive orders which gives FEMA the authority to throw away the constitution and everything that we’ve worked for since it was written, and simply turn our country into a police state:
Allows the government to take control over all modes of transportation, highways, and seaports.
Allows the government to seize and control the communication media.
Allows the government to take over all electrical power, gas, petroleum, fuels, and minerals.
Allows the government to take over all food resources and farms.
Allows the government to mobilize civilians into work brigades under government supervision.
Allows the government to take over all health, education, and welfare functions.
Designates the Postmaster General to operate national registration of all persons.
Allows the government to take over all airports and aircraft, including commercial aircraft.
Allows the Housing and Finance Authority to relocate communities, build new housing with public funds, designate areas to be abandoned, and establish new locations for populations.
Allows the government to take over railroads, inland waterways, and public storage facilities.
Specifies the responsibility of the Office of Emergency Planning and gives authorization to put all Executive Orders into effect in times of increased international tensions and economic or financial crisis.
Grants authority to the Department of Justice to enforce the plans set out in Executive Orders, to institute industrial support, to establish judicial and legislative liaison, to control all aliens, to operate penal and correctional institutions, and to advise and assist the President.
Assigns emergency preparedness function to federal departments and agencies, consolidating 21 operative Executive Orders issued over a fifteen year period.
Allows the Federal Emergency Preparedness Agency to develop plans to establish control over the mechanisms of production and distribution, of energy sources, wages, salaries, credit and flow of money in the U.S.A. financial institution in any undefined national emergency. It also provides that when a state of emergency is declared by the President, Congress cannot review the action for six months.
x x x x x x
I don’t know about any of you, but this scares the hell out of me.
All that Bushco has to do to hang onto power is declare a national state of emergency, and it’s all over.
No wonder they don’t seem to concerned about their dwindling popularity.
From 1982-84 Colonel Oliver North assisted FEMA in drafting its civil defence preparations. Details of these plans emerged during the 1987 Iran-Contra scandal.
From 1982-84 Colonel Oliver North assisted FEMA in drafting its civil defence preparations. Details of these plans emerged during the 1987 Iran-Contra scandal.
(You will recognize a lot of the names in this congressional record volume 149 number 39)
Now that Trump has revealed the damage to our freedom that a rogue President can inflict one of the first things that President Biden must do is to resurrect the Church Committee and re-examine the issues of what freedoms a President plus a complicit Majority Party can put at risk.
If there is no election, Pelosi’s term expires on 3 January 2021. That shifts the presidency to the Senate Pro-Tempore. With no election, all the Senators up for re-election would also be out of a job. That would leave Patrick Leahy as the senior Senator Pro-tem.
I can just see the framers of the Constitution looking for their opium and brandy.
The ultimate ending is that there is MAGA chaos – late votes not being counted, actual votes being challenged at the polls (the GOP has already dedicated $30M to “poll watchers” – vast voter suppression (blamed on the virus) of fewer polling places, fewer poll workers, etc. . The counting will be challenged by the 36(?) GOP-run state governments, etc.
Trump rants about a rigged election no matter the count. Days pass, weeks pass…multiple lawsuits headed for the Trump-rigged courts….he stays in power….
Who can/will stop this? NADA
Hey… on the comment about sending ballots via UPS rather than USPS, The USPS is protected by a number of laws that do not protect private mail carriers like UPS and FedEx. Not being a legal expert, I was having a hard time finding anything concise, but the legal differences are significant. Before I handed something as important as a ballot to UPS, I would check with the Secretary of State to see if it makes a difference.
When it come to practical matters in normal circumstances (anything the Trump Administration does is not Normal) , like actually delivering something in a timely matter I am not sure there is a huge difference. It all depends on how much you want to pay.
An absentee ballot is a type of mail-in ballot. Some states, Indiana included, requires an excuse for why they won’t be able to get to the polls on Election Day. Which excuses are allowable depends on the particular state the person is voting in. Some states, such as Florida, allow you to vote by mail without an excuse. (The Florida GOP has a very sophisticated vote by mail operation in that state which Trump has effectively gutted with his rhetoric.) In other states, such as Oregon and Washington, the only option is to vote by mail. Nonetheless, there is no difference in the security of regular mail-in ballots and absentee mail-in ballots.
I know mail-in voting is being championed as working perfectly everywhere it is tried, and I agree during the pandemic it needs to be an option. But mail-in voting is hardly a perfect option. There are a lot of problems with it, but let me concentrate on one of them below.
Everyone is focused on whether people are going to have the right to vote by mail. Thus, they are focusing thus on the CASTING of those mail-in ballots. But the far bigger issue is on the COUNTING of those mail-in ballots. When you vote in person, in many if not most states, you confirm who you are by a photo ID and confirmation of a signature. But on mail-in ballots, in many states, the only way they confirm the ballots is to compare the signature on the ballot envelope compared to what’s on the files. And that can be a HUGE problem.
The people (usually an R and D poll worker) sitting at a table in the county election office who are comparing the signatures are not trained in handwriting analysis. In many states, such as Indiana, they don’t regularly update people’s signatures which evolve over time. My signature on file is decades old, maybe from when I was 18 and first voted. It is actually legible, contrary to my signature which has degraded from years of signing legal documents.
In other words, you’re likely to see a lot of mail-in votes tossed in the trash can. Think not? It’s already happened. On July 16th, the Washington Post published an article (unfortunately blocked by a pay wall or I would provide a link), about how earlier this year tens of thousands of mail-in votes were disallowed because the signatures did not match. And that was in primaries BEFORE the parties squared off against each other. What do you think is going to happen in the general election when Trump and Clinton face each other?
Again, focus on the COUNTING of ballots, not just the CASTING of ballots.
Why there should be any surprise about these Executive Powers is a mystery to me.
From Wiki The Imperial Presidency: 1973 book by historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., who wrote The Imperial Presidency to address two concerns: that the presidency was uncontrollable and that it had exceeded its constitutional limits.
Under Reagan (1981–1989), the role of Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, USMC, in the facilitation of funding to the Contras in Nicaragua, in explicit contravention of a congressional ban, was highlighted as an example of the ability to act by a “junior courtier” based on his position as a member of a large White House staff.
LBJ once he got the permission slip from Congress for the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1964 had a virtually free hand to send forces into S.E. Asia with almost no over sight by Congress.
Since 1964 the Presidents have been able to send military forces all over the planet with almost no resistance or oversight by Congress.
The Trumpet one way or another has either fired or neutered any watchdog I.G.s.
Imagine a situation in which the USA has slipped or been knocked so far down the tubes that none of the Constitutional provisions — military or civilian– for saving the country are useful.
I realize that many people are incapable of fruitful and creative imagination (which is why so often our leaders cry, “But who could have imagined that would happen”), but trust me; it is possible for a situation to develop in this country in which all is doomed to be lost…UNLESS WE RESORT TO EXTRA-CONSTITUTIONAL SOLUTIONS.
When that happens, John and others will be the first to whine that government should have thought of that and should have had contingency plans in place for just that sort of emergency. This is no place for lol.
In regard to such powers, our great threat is not that such dire emergency plans exist but that the conditions justifying their use are not explicit and are not public record.
Frankly, I think we should be prepared to use even more extra-Constitutional powers than John enumerated, but I agree that all citizens should have some input into what those powers should be and when they must be used. I think, too, that we are irresponsible as a people in that we don’t have a ratified Plan B Constitution…and a Plan C Constitution…and a Plan D Constitution already in place for whatever we together deem such emergencies to be.
Imagine (but maybe that’s too difficult) how much better France’s WWII underground would have functioned if it had been properly planned long before the Nazi takeover. In fact, I dare say that had pre-Hitler Germany had such imagination and such plans in its self-protection arsenal, it would have been able to prevent Hitler Germany from even happening.
And remember: when a people require a public servant to take an oath enumerating their responsibilities, every responsibility must come with the authority (power) to meet every facet of that responsibility, even the remotest of possibilities, whether ordinary blokes can imagine them or not. Such is the contract we have with our leaders, whether we know it or not. By accepting citizenship we accept the entire contract; our name is figuratively on the dotted line even before our leaders put their name to it by taking their oath.
Further, I hope our country has additional emergency plans that are kept secret from all potential enemies. To do that, those plans must be secreted away from even us. It is irresponsible that any country should be caught without such plans. We cannot be so naive as to believe there is no need for such plans. That sort of naivety is criminal and can lead to the death of any country as surely as tolerating a leader like Trump is national suicide.
So, as I read the comments, it still seems that everyone refuses to realize, Trump can do what he wants by executive order. There are executive orders already in place to suspend everything. He is testing it out right now! He is seeing how he can implement is martial law by floating these trial balloons in different parts of the country. And, if you are blind to this fact, then you are blind to all facts!
POTUS Nero is fiddling as Rome Burns because he started the fires! It’s a Happy feeling, unstable fiddling! When one has no personal guard rails, they will not respect any guardrails.
Will it happen? Does he have the intestinal fortitude to try it? If blood spilled is not his own, I’m sure he is all in. These presidential powers are the worst secret out there! And the Democratic party is well aware of all of this. And since they don’t have the presidency, there is nothing they can do about it. Even if the supreme Court sent a ruling down saying that he couldn’t do what he wants to do, he can suspend habeas corpus which would eliminate scotus altogether.
Read the executive orders posted, there is one that deals with the postal inspector, (11002) so, this guy is one of Trump’s cronies.
It’s fascism at its finest!
POTUS says he’s going to ban Tik Tok? Well, if you read the executive orders, he can do that, he can ban the internet all together if he wants! All he has to do is declare a national emergency, and everything is activated, and he is the absolute ruler of a dictatorship.
I would like to throw out his article in today’s NYT for reading and consideration: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/31/opinion/coronavirus-economy.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage
What are we REALLY confronted with? It should be clear to all that our government, at all levels, is “Corporate and Wall Street” SPONSORED. In others words, they not only hold all financial power, they have nearly all government officials and courts in their back pocket. I dare ANYONE refute this basic fact with real concrete facts to the contrary.
History is, also, factual on this point. Find me a country that falls into financial despair AMONG the working population, and I will show you greedy despots who fill the vacuums of power.
This country has seen a steady DECLINE in purchasing power, real wages, benefits and net wealth for going on FORTY YEARS. Each year of those 40 there has been a mirroring steady GROWTH in anger, mistrust of government, hopelessness, non-voting, etc, in conjunction with the dying economy of the working class who, more and more, turned to credit, refinancing and growing debt to sustain themselves these past 40 years.
Obama’s bailout of Wall Street, I think, was the cherry on top for a significant part of the population that has been suffering under our Wall Street and Corporate Government. They saw this as THE last straw. NOT one significant banker on Wall Street went to jail while MILLIONS lost their homes and jobs to live. That population had nothing to lose, from their perspective from the bottom of the economy, for putting Trump into power. That population, rightly so after a 40 year economic rampage upon the working class, said a big fat angry NO to BOTH “establishment” parties and elected a presumed “outsider” to shake up an economical and political system (Oligarchy) that has been screwing blue collar and no collar families for decades. FACT.
We know, as a matter of record, that the DNC and Hillary Clinton collaborated to steal the primary election from Bernie Sanders in 2016. The Wiki Leaks files are all there for folk to read. Computer polls rigged, outright manipulation of voting records, etc. The 100th President of The American Statistical Association who have had analysis and oversight of elections for decades stated that the 2016 Democrat Primary was jammed with abnormal statistical anomalies, suspicious counting records, etc, that looked to compromise the election for Hillary.
In short, people within the Oligarchy will stop at NOTHING to keep power. People, especially the newer generations (40 and younger) KNOW the long history of corruption inside and out of BOTH corporate owned parties that gets passed off as conventional business and politics as usual by the corporate media and their sheep.
The reason people hate Bernie and AOC in the Democrat party (much less the GOP) is because THEY TELL THE TRUTH about how money has COMPLETELY corrupted our economic and political systems. ANYONE who thinks those in power (again, of BOTH parties) will make any significant changes to this corruption is kidding themselves and ignorant of the historical facts, imho.
I also suggest, “The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes,” by Zachary D. Carter. It speaks EXACTLY to the Corporate Oligarchy we have in America today.
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