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Month: August 2022

Check Our Assumptions About Midterm Elections

John Stoehr of the Editorial Board asks us to check our assumptions about midterm elections as he examines what happens to the party holding the presidency over a longer time period.

While we hear so much about how the party holding the presidency loses Congressional seats during the midterm election, this “fact” is based only on recent elections and excludes data from much of the last century:

One is that the Congress did not change after the following midterm elections, according to my friend Bill Scher, who writes for Politico magazine, the Washington MonthlyRealClear Politics and others. 

Since 1900, they are: 1902, 1906, 1914, 1922, 1926, 1930, 1934, 1938, 1942, 1950, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1990 and 1998. 

That’s 19 midterms. There were 25 in the 20th century.

Six midterms flipped the Congress in 100 years.

There are other strong factors in play this year, starting with heavy partisan-based gerrymandering in Republican-held states. But we should be careful to base too much of our analysis on a small dataset.

Democratic Party of Contra Costa County August 2022 Newsletter

I am editing the Democratic Party of Contra Costa County (DPCCC) monthly newsletter and wanted to share it with you. The August 2022 edition includes updates about:

  • a presentation at the DPCCC general membership meeting about Reproductive Freedom: Meeting the Moment at the Ballot Box from leaders with Planned Parenthood Northern California Action Fund,
  • a CalMatters story that included the DPCCC’s work to counter Republican efforts to take over school boards across California,
  • ways to take action to support Democratic candidates,
  • resolutions and legislative positions adopted by DPCCC members; and
  • early bird tickets are now available for the DPCCC’s BBQ on September 10.

Donald Trump’s “Very Fine People”

Parker Malloy takes us back to the aftermath of the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and examines the context of former President Donald Trump’s horrific comments about how there were “very fine people” on both sides.

It is important to recall what happened, and just what the former president tried to do to provide cover to white supremacists. As Malloy writes:

One of Trump’s strategies has always been to stake out every possible position on any given topic. That’s exactly what he did here. He talked himself into a knot.

But again, he went back to saying that he “looked the night before — if you look, there were people protesting very quietly the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee.” That was not true. “The night before” was the tiki torch march. People were chanting “Jews will not replace us” and “Blood and soil.” There were “very fine people” within that group? No. There weren’t. Trump referred to some of the attendees of a neo-Nazi rally as “very fine people.”

Malloy will be breaking down and analyzing this important event in her The Present Age Substack. It’s a great reason to subscribe today.

Today’s Thought: We All Have a Choice

Timothy Snyder wrote in his essential book On Tyranny about how authoritarians need professionals to cooperate in carrying out their evil. We must remember that we all have a choice.

If lawyers had followed the norm of no execution without trial, if doctors had accepted the rule of no surgery without consent, if businessmen had endorsed the prohibition of slavery, if bureaucrats had refused to handle paperwork involving murder, then the Nazi regime would have been much harder pressed to carry out the atrocities by which we remember it.

Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny

The Fifth Amendment Protects the Innocent

People are having too much fun mocking former President Donald Trump for utilizing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Worse, some lawyers claim that no innocent person would ever take the Fifth.

I know from experience just how awful this legal advice is. The Fifth Amendment protects the innocent, as the many exonerees who were wrongfully convicted because of police misconduct during interogations can attest.

While I subscribe to Craig Calcaterra’s Cup of Coffee Substack mostly for baseball analysis, he’s also quite smart about politics and things in our culture. His response about the Fifth Amendment was spot-on:

But it’s still a profoundly wrong, profoundly stupid, and profoundly harmful thing to say. The “you don’t remain silent or invoke the Fifth unless you’re guilty” thing has been used against the powerless by the powerful for a very long time and it’s the sort of thing that, at best, causes otherwise good people’s — and innocent people’s — reputations to be ruined. At worse it pressures people into speaking to law enforcement or prosecutors when it’s against their best interests to do so. It’s no better to say such things simply because the target is a bonafide piece of crap.

Craig Calcaterra, Cup of Coffee, August 11, 2022

This dynamic is one of the reasons I support California’s AB 2644, a bill “that would, commencing January 1, 2024, prohibit law enforcement officers from employing threats, physical harm, deception, or psychologically manipulative interrogation tactics, as specified, during an a custodial interrogation of a person 17 years of age or younger.”

I think the police should never be allowed to use those tactics, but at a minimum they should be prohibited with children.

Now Republicans Want to Defund the Police?

So this is weird. Now Republicans want to defund the police because the FBI got a search warrant for President Trump’s Mar-A-Lago? Puck’s Julia Ioffe made an important point about the GOP’s hypocrisy:

When the national spotlight finally turned on law enforcement killing unarmed Black civilians, Republicans saw the call to “defund the police” as offensively unpatriotic. When the F.B.I. came after a former president who obstructed justice, flushed public records down the toilet, and did all kinds of other things that, let’s just say, weren’t extremely friendly with the law, it was suddenly time to get serious about defunding law enforcement. Funny how that works.

Julia Ioffe, Puck, August 9, 2022