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Category: News

Democratic Party of Contra Costa County September 2022 Newsletter

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

  • A message from our Chair, Katie Ricklefs;
  • A report about our monthly meeting;
  • The 68 candidates the DPCCC endorsed for the November 2022 election;
  • How you can take action to elect Democrats to local, state, and federal office; and
  • The legislative positions, proclamations, and resolutions adopted by our members.

Beware of the Dangerous Independent State Legislature Theory

Everyone who cares about democracy should make themselves aware of the dangerous independent state legislature theory that may already have majority support on the United States Supreme Court.

Judd Legum at Popular Information goes into the history of the independent state legislature theory and how it could be used to overturn any 2024 election result to which Republicans object. Chief Justice John Roberts, who gets far too much credit from liberals, has laid the foundation for this dangerous theory in a series of opinions that struck down many voter rights laws. And Federalist Society leader Leonard Leo, who has been successful in overseeing radical right efforts to take over the Supreme Court and much of the federal judiciary, is now raising money to push this theory.

As Legum explains:

The independent state legislature theory was promoted by Trump’s lawyers after the 2020 election to argue that state legislatures could simply ignore the election results and appoint electors pledged to Trump. Such actions, according to the independent state legislature theory, would be unreviewable by state courts even if they directly violated state constitutions. 

Advocates of the independent state legislature theory argue that this means that, apart from Congress, the state legislature has absolute power over the administration of elections. This power, according to the theory, cannot be constrained by state constitutions or state courts. 

The most important thing to know about the independent state legislature theory is that it makes no sense. State legislatures do not exist independently. They are created and constrained by state constitutions. And state courts interpret state constitutions. 

The idea that the intention of the Election Clause is to allow state legislatures to violate the state constitution is absurd. 

The Strict Scrutiny podcast also recently featured an episode focused on debunking the independent state legislature theory. I encourage you to give it a listen.

Our democracy is over if the Supreme Court adopts it, and four justices have already signaled their support.

Trump Under the Espionage Act

James Fallows turns over his Breaking the News Substack to longtime defense and intelligence official Jan Lodal to examine how best to investigate former President Donald Trump under the Espionage Act.

Lodal argues that many sections of the act include soft elements that may be impossible to get an unanimous jury verdict against the former President. No jury is going to convict Trump of treason or being a spy, Lodal argues. But there is another subsection of the Espionage Act that doesn’t require interpretation.

But there is one remaining subparagraph of the Espionage Act that isunambiguously applicable to what Trump has done — subparagraph (d).  This paragraph makes a straightforward action a crime: namely, failing to return classified documents if properly directed to give them back.  No proof of the level of classification, or the intentions of the document holder, or the content of the documents, is required.  Just a simple question, did he or she give them back or not. 

Lodal encourages us, and prosecutors, to look more closely at subparagraph (d) when looking to prosecutive Trump for stealing classified documents. I’m glad Fallows shared this perspective, because I also hadn’t heard this kind of analysis before.

Republicans Often Lie About Abortion

Republicans often lie about abortion. To be forced-birth requires Republicans to lie about the science, lie about who needs to use it, and lie about those who provide this essential medical service.

Judd Legum in his Popular Information Substack highlights GOP candidates who are lying about their position on abortion in new advertisements. It turns out that their forced-birth position isn’t as popular as they assumed.

Legum offers several examples, starting with Minnesota Republican gubernatorial nominee Scott Jensen:

So Jensen’s new ad not only contradicts his own statements during the campaign but the power of the Governor to influence abortion rights in Minnesota. And Jensen isn’t the only anti-abortion Republican looking to mislead voters to win an election.

The opponents of these forced-birth candidates need to be blunt about what is happening here, if only to get reporters to cover this GOP attempt to hide its real position.

CNN’s Rush to the Right

Parker Malloy explains why CNN’s hiring of John Miller as its Chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst is so problematic. It is also another sign of CNN’s rush to the right under the new Warner Bros. Discovery regime and CNN CEO Chris Licht. As Malloy writes:

This is someone viewers are supposed to see on TV and think, “This is a trustworthy source of information”? Setting aside anything else in his career that I don’t care to get into right now, how is lying about a secret anti-Muslim surveillance program you took part in not enough to more or less disqualify you from landing jobs at major media outlets? How are viewers supposed to trust a word out of this man’s mouth? And what should Muslim viewers take away from this decision? CNN’s latest hire has effectively told the hundreds of thousands of Muslim New Yorkers that the well-documented spying program that was unleashed on them post-9/11 is all in their heads. Does Chris Licht not see this as an issue?

We don’t have to accept our major media entities hiring people who lie all the time. If you have to lie to court conservative viewers, perhaps there is a worse problem about the state of our nation that requires urgent reporting and analysis.

Big Media to Democracy: Drop Dead

The headline to Philadelphia Inquirer’s Will Bunch’s newsletter today is perfect: Big Media to Democracy: Drop Dead. Bunch describes the dynamic of our elite reporters and political analysts not understanding that the MAGA Republicans’ threat to democracy is also a direct threat to their survival.

There shouldn’t be two sides to the survival of our democracy. Yet we see a failure to understand this from CNN to the Washington Post to other pundits we see on television. As Bunch writes:

“Except that “both sides”-ing the current moment or equating Biden’s struggles to find the right tone to explain the threat to democracy with the actual threat itself, isn’t “accurate” in any true or moral sense of the term. Instead of rising to the occasion, the loudest voices in America want to run away, to hide in a shell of faux professionalism and medieval ethics rather than acknowledge that the foundation that allows them to perform acts of journalism is near collapse.

Our democracy is at stake. I wish more of our reporters and editors understood that fact.

Learn What’s Happening with Unions This Labor Day

I spent a part of my Labor Day reading Jonah Furman’s Who Gets the Bird? Substack and learning what’s happening with unions across the country over the past few weeks.

Furman updates us on strikes, negotiations, politics, and legislation across the nation in every edition.

A bunch is happening as workers try to take back some control as workplaces find a new normal after the COVID pandemic. This newsletter is a great way to stay up to date on developments.

The Media’s Latest Failure

Dan Froomkin writes at Press Watch about the media’s latest failure to do its job and open the window to see if it is raining outside when providing analysis of President Biden’s latest speech about the threat MAGA Republicanism poses to our democracy.

Well before the actual speech, it was clear that Biden’s sounding of the alarm for American democracy would also be an implicit reproach of the mainstream media, for its failure to do so.

So instead of directly addressing the substance of his speech, our elite political reporters stuck to their way of doing things: They marginalized any mention of the threat to democracy as a purely partisan attack (political, yes, partisan, no); they cast the speech as a tired campaign move (see, e.g., Peter Baker); they raised quibbles about the optics (see, e.g., Brianna Keilar. They also downplayed it, like it didn’t really matter.

Whether the nation heard what Biden was saying has yet to be seen. But the nation’s most influential political reporters couldn’t hear it – they literally could not take it in — because it would have meant acknowledging how far from truth-telling they have fallen.

The GOP’s Rejection of Political Norms

Jamelle Bouie writes in his latest newsletter about the latest examples of the GOP’s rejection of political norms.

One of the recurring points I make in my column is that the Republican Party, from the most junior state lawmaker to senators in Washington, has turned against many of the hallmarks of a functional political system, including a commitment to fairness and following the process. There are almost always new examples of Republican politicians rejecting any result or rule that doesn’t favor their interests, and this week we have two.

A democracy can’t work if one party decides that any loss is illegitimate. This isn’t new: it goes back at least to Newt Gingrich’s takeover of the House Republican Caucus in the 1990s. But understanding this dynamic is the first step in any effort to save our Republic.

Bringing Charges Against Donald J. Trump Shouldn’t Depend on the Number of Days Left Until the Next Election

Charlie Pierce asks an important question in his Esquire newsletter:

Why the hell would prosecutors wait until after November to bring charges against Donald J. Trump? He’s not running for anything. And if some people who are running are wounded by their association with him, that’s extremely tough beans. They should be. It should be all the reason you need not to vote for someone. 

Justice shouldn’t depend on the number of days left until the next election. Trump is not a candidate. Not acting is also a political act. So the focus should be on the evidence and on what it indicates to the prosectors. Leave the political considerations to the politicians.