Living Large in Carson City: All the News that Fit to Print . . . Not Edition

It is almost impossible to start with the first blog of the week without a mind-numbing paralysis hanging over my laptop keyboard, effectively rendering any semblance of objectivity moot and any sense rational thought impossible. Since Friday night, all hell has broken loose just like all the Friday nights since Trump took office. Here is a quick timeline of what has happened since 10 p.m. Friday evening.
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions fires Andrew McCabe at 10 p.m. 24 hours before the distinguished FBI employee was slated to retire.
  • This event snowballed creating a flurry of tweets from Trump attacking both McCabe and his former boss, James Comey, and ultimately the third rail of personalities in this bizarre comedy of errors, Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller III. The McCabe and Comey bashings are old hat; Mueller as a target, not such a good career move on Trump’s part.
  • McCabe’s firing prompted Trump attorney John Dowd (ostensibly speaking for the president) to call for Mueller’s investigation to end. This early morning story generated enough hysteria and outright fear in Trump world that Dowd was forced to call the reporter who was being interviewed on MSNBC’s Morning Joy to walk back the claim, and that Dowd was speaking only for himself, not the president. It’s the old “obstruction of Justice” specter that keeps rearing its ugly head in Trump world more and more these days.
  • At some point during the weekend, witnesses came forward to say that Sessions’ claim that he pushed back against George Papadopoulos and a proposed inquiry to set up a meeting with Russian officials. This event occurred originally at a National Security Meeting where Sessions, Papadopoulos and Trump plus most of the presidential cabinet were present. Sessions told the House Judiciary Committee on Nov. 14 that he opposed having Papadopoulos set up a meeting with the Russians. Sessions lied. He didn’t push back.

There are many more stories that could be listed. These are only the nationally promoted stories while a multitude of others went unnoticed. For instance, Trump and company stepped up to bat filing a law suit against Stormy Daniels to the tune of $20 million for breach of contract. Austin, TX suffered its fourth bombing, further confounding authorities and local police. Again with Sessions, he violated his pledge to recuse himself from the Russia probe by firing McCabe. The list goes on.

The upshot is that other stories with national consequences go unattended except on the back pages of newspapers and websites. This is a story that should be getting front page coverage.

This section shall not prevent any officer or agent of the United States Secret Service from providing armed protective services authorized under section 3056 or pursuant to a Presidential memorandum at any place where a general or special election is held. [emphasis added]
 – H.R. 2825, section 4012
he single sentence above, which amends current federal law, would give the president unprecedented authority to send armed Secret Service agents to any US polling place for any reason. The law allows the president to send armed Secret Service agents to every US polling place if he has enough agents.
Let’s be clear, this isn’t a floated proposition or pipe dream of a demented Banana Republic despot. This is a bill that passed the United States House of Representatives and moved over to the Senate. The implications are breath-taking, in that, a sitting president could send armed CIA personnel to voting sites to “monitor” possible voting irregularities.
As the article points out, an act of this sort would (and should) call into mind the illegal practices of Jim Crow laws that were meant to intimidate black voters in the American southern states. There is no reason for this move except for its propensity for misuse by both parties.
Fortunately, some nineteen state secretaries of state were watching:

The issue broke through to public attention on March 9, with a letter to the Senate’s party leaders, Republican Mitch McConnell and Democrat Chuck Schumer, from secretaries of state of both parties in 19 states, calling the Senate’s attention to “unprecedented and shocking language currently included in Section 4012 of HR 2825” that:

… allows Secret Service personnel unlimited access to polling places pursuant to the President’s direction. This is an alarming proposal which raises the possibility that armed federal agents will be patrolling neighborhood precincts and vote centers.

The bill basically expands and defines provisions that enable one of the most powerful departments in the federal government. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been a questionable department since its inception by the Bush administration after 911. Its over-arching, sweeping powers of surveillance in the name of protecting the “homeland” was always going to have the potential for abuse. When used as a political tool, a means of surveillance, or for unlawful acts that go unreported, DHS has proven to be a broken and flawed system in how America deals with domestic and foreign terrorism. Giving them the power to use CIA gunmen to oversee local and national elections is problematic on so many levels.
Why should this matter? Two reasons: first, avoiding politicization our electoral system is a 24/7 job. As America debates this topic, the Supreme Court is hearing a case on gerrymandering, which has vast implications about American’s ability to freely and fairly elect people to represent them in Washington.  Adding any new obstructionist laws or power to departments to further control or disrupt the electoral process is just stupid.
Second, stories like these should be seen as the bread and butter of our democracy. The Trump charade and dog and pony show is simply a ploy for conservative actors to remake our democracy in an unfair manner. Yet, as important as this story is to America, it will get only a fraction of the print space the story of a president and a porn star will get for days on end.
Moral: Pay attention to the details. The devil is in them.