Friday, November 27, 2020

The Pilgrims got religious freedom right; the 2020 right 6-3 tilt of the Supreme Court may get it wrong

Reposting of a November 2018 blog post updated to November 2020

The Pilgrims got the ball rolling but it was only the beginning. They saw freedom of religion as freedom from a government-run religion that persecuted them. It was not freedom for others...but after the colonies provided a rocky start of hanging heretics and hunting witches, the Constitution gave all of us freedom of religion. Application of that First Amendment is still a work in progress. The 6-3 tilt to the more extreme right in 2020 may get religious freedom wrong. or terribly distorted. For some on the right, it means they have the right to discriminate, to refuse service to those of whom they disapprove because their religion disapproves. That most recently has become to mean those in love with those of the same sex. In the past, that same "freedom" to discriminate has been applied to Jews and Catholics.  It is religious bigotry and intolerance that drive these current advocates of "religious freedom",
What about marriage equality? The public sands have shifted under the feet of evangelicals to over 70% in October 2020... 
Support for gay marriage reaches all-time high, survey finds (nbcnews.com)   Any attempt for the religious right to attack that through the Supreme Court will run into the principle of overwhelming societal acceptance and settled law.


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This Thanksgiving we should give our thanks to the Pilgrims who have become an icon of what made the New World so unique in the civilizations that preceded them.. They left England and the old world to seek freedom to practice their own religion, free from a government backed state religion that oppressed them.  It was a beginning.  There was a rocky road ahead to laws guaranteeing religious freedom for everyone, not just one group.
 Some colonies adopted laws with limited forms of freedom of religion while others established state sponsored religions, hung heretics, and launched witch hunts.  Pennsylvania and Virginia   had enacted their own laws effectively protecting freedom of religion. The Constitution authors adopted those concepts in the First Amendment, ““Congress shalll make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." Congress  later passed  civil rights and hate crimes legislation that protected religious practitioners and punished those who interfered with their practice.

So, disconcerting in 2018 is that many seem to have forgotten the lessons leaned from experience, traditions, and history. So heartening in the 2018 midterms is that many more Americans rejected an Oval Office leadership condoning and even promoting hate and fear of “others”, including Donald Trump's attempted immigration ban of anyone who was a Muslim, .
In 2016 this country had given the reins of power to Donald Trump whose soaring oratory appealed to the worst of human nature. He set the example. It was alright to be uncivil, no longer to be politically correct, to denigrate and disrespect’ others”, especially people of color and women, and to express such feelings publicly. His inflammatory words have continued in rallies and tweets to this day.
 While protected by the Constitution, words of hate have deadly consequences. That was brought home shortly before the 2018 midterms by the Pittsburgh Synagogue massacre. While Donald Trump did not target his hateful words toward the Jewish community, he tolerated and promoted intolerance. Our President opined about the neo-Nazi demonstrators in Charlottesville in 2017 that there some were “fine people” among them. The tiki torch bearing marchers shouted anti-Semitic slogans in German while raising arms in the Nazi salute.  
 An atmosphere of permissive hatred does not confine itself to specific targets.  It is infectious and even if originally unintended, it can spread to harm other targets, including religious ones. In 2017, the year after the election of Trump, the FBI reported a 37% spike in anti-Jewish hate crimes over 2016, and the Anti-Defamation League found the number of anti-Semitic incidents, mostly vandalism, was nearly 60 percent higher in 2017 than 2016, the largest single-year increase on record.
 Alt- right conspiracy theorists and Trump friendly media inspired the Pittsburgh synagogue killer. The shooter posted on his social media that a Jewish immigration group was bringing in immigrants to kill “his people”. Reviving references to the international Jewish conspiracy theories, other alt right proponents claimed a wealthy liberal Jewish-American-immigrant philanthropist, George Soros, was funding the “caravans” of central Americans storming our southern border. Numerous fact checkers found that false. Others before had claimed Soros paid “mobs” of women protesting the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Fact checkers: Soros paid none of the demonstrators. Last week In Baltimore, attendees of the performance of Fiddler on the Roof, the musical about Russian persecution of Jews, were still on edge from the mass killing in Pittsburgh. They panicked when a man in the audience shouted, “Heil Hitler, Heil Trump”, fearing it signaled another anti-Semitic mass murder attack. Fortunately, no one was hurt running to the exits. The man apologized later, said he was trying to compare Trump to Hitler but said it the wrong way, and he had been drinking before the performance and claimed protection of free speech. Note: The Supreme Court ruled many years ago shouting fire in a crowded theater is not protected speech. (Schenck v United States: Oliver Wendell Holmes crowded theater reference)
________________________________________________________________________________2018 rulings by the Supreme Court  concerning  freedom or religion set no precedents that altered the underlining intent of the First Amendment or related laws.
The “muslim ban”, halting practitioners of one of the world’s greatest religions from entering the US simply because of their religious affiliation, was rejected by the courts, requiring a total rewrite of rules to comply by those facing extreme vetting to enter the US, now based on selected countries that harbor terrorists and not all had a Muslim majority . It was even retitled as a "travel ban"
 https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/26/supreme-court-rules-in-trump-muslim-travel-ban-case.html

If the tilting of the Supreme Court to the far right indicates that henceforth "religious freedom" means those who open the doors to the public can now discriminate against doing business with those of whom their religion disapproves, the answer should be nationwide and local boycotts of merchants who "exercise their religious freedom" to violate the rights of others. Nothing like causing them to lose the almighty buck to make a point. For those who oppose discrimination against any group, and especially the LGBTQ community and their supporters, it is in their right to use their freedoms to inform the community and to support those who are friendly to all and welcome their business. There are many more who do not discriminate than the narrow-minded holier than thou intolerant who do.

The Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of a cakemaker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple because it violated his religious beliefs...however, the ruling set no precedent because it based it on the specific  hostility of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/04/politics/masterpiece-colorado-gay-marriage-cake-supreme-court/index.html
Kim Clark, the Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to a gay couple because of her religious beliefs, spent jail time over it in 2015 and was defeated in her attempt to be re-elected in 2018. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/26/supreme-court-rules-in-trump-muslim-travel-ban-case.html

A number of Evangelical Christian ministers have recently proclaimed that the US is a "Christian nation".  It is not a state one per the Constitution, nor is the Evangelical brand of Christianity (full disclosure..I am a Mainstream  Protestant Christian) even the majority of the population.  Per a recent Pew Research study, Evangelicals are 25% of the population.  http://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/

Evangelicals have had an impact, though, in exemptions of  employers providing ACA coverage of reproductive rights based on religious beliefs, first in the Obama administration and more so   under the Trump administration. The battle yet to be fought is over further proposed  restrictions on  birth control  insurance accessibility coverage. https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/fact-sheet-religious-exemptions-and-accommodations-for-coverage.pdf     https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/17/us/politics/trump-birth-control.html
Roe v Wade will also face challenges in the very conservative tilt in the Supreme Court    As a public policy regardless of religious affiliation, 71% of Americans polled oppose overturning Roe v Wade, https://www.wsj.com/articles/record-71-of-voters-oppose-overturning-roe-v-wade-1532379600
and 72% support birth control as basic health issue    https://powertodecide.org/about-us/newsroom/new-polling-shows-strong-support-for-birth-control-basic-part-womens-health-care
The backlash to religious restrictions on reproductive rights was palapable in 2018. The womens' marches and demonstrations against  confirmation of pro life anti birth control Justice Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and the doubling of the women gender gap to 19% of the voters were certainly contributors to the Democrats turning the House blue.

Right wing attempts to get around the separation of church and state issue in the funding of education have not gotten far. Once again Colorado was the focus when the Douglas County School Board thought issuing vouchers to students to attend any school of their choice, including a faith based school, was rebuffed by the Colorado Supreme Court. https://www.denverpost.com/2015/06/29/colorado-supreme-court-rejects-douglas-county-voucher-program/   Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump's secretary of education has long been a supporter of tax payer money funding faith based schools through vouchers , and has set about issuing executive orders to chip away at the regulations forbidding public funds for religious schools. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/09/us/politics/betsy-devos-religious-christian-education-federal-aid.html

 Following US right wing efforts to alter the protection of freedom of religion,   in Europe and South America forces desiring to persecute and discriminate against  religious  minorities are raising their ugly heads. In Brazil, a fascist government was just elected, vowing to turn that country comprised of centuries of immigrants and native population, into a Christian nation.  In Europe a long list of countries electing very right wing, anti- Muslim immigrant governments are being elected to political leadership. http://www.pewresearch.org/topics/restrictions-on-religion/

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/documenting-hate-new-american-nazis/ 

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Tyrannical Trump's last stand and democracy is winning

Updated ;11/28/20

Published in the Winter Park Times December 4, 2020 https://winterparktimes.com/opinion/columnists/hats-off-to-those-that-stood-by-the-law/

Updated 12/10/20

Updated: 12/1l/20:Supreme Court rejected the suit Friday afternoon. Democracy wins again and the GOP is no longer grand: just the anti-democracy party.  https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/supreme-court/supreme-court-rejects-texas-effort-overturn-election-fatal-blow-trump-    His coup by federal court failed.  He claims to have more tricks up his sleeve to overturn the election and pursue his autocratic dreams. 

In their desperate attempt to stay in power, Donald, Trump and his enablers tried to trash the very definitions of a successful democracy, the faith in the vote of the people, a peaceful transfer of power to a new administration, and the rule of law, instead of the rule of a person. This was Trump's last stand. Finally, Trump was forced by public opinion polls and some in his own party to permit the transition to the Biden administration to proceed, but he did it without admitting the election loss. Judges upheld the rule of law, the vote of the people expressing their will survived to determine the winner, and the transition to the new administration remains peaceful.. The bottom line is democracy is winning. Democracy's survival was a near miss. Exit polls showed Biden voters had public policy issues and abhorrence of Trump's racism on their minds. Even if voters were not motivated by the significance of the difference between rule by the people and rule by a tyrant, the effect was the same. Democracy persisted.

Trump, instead of admitting defeat acknowledged the loss in a backhanded way. He hints at making plans to run again in 2024 and keep control of party discipline with his tyrannical tools of fear, loathing by tweets,, and threats of primary any GOP member of Congress who dare steps out of the loyalty to Trump line. Biden mostly ignored the Trump whoop de doo, kept acting presidential and announcing his cabinet nominees and staff.

The post-November 3 drama played out, but not as Trump supporters had hoped. The Trump strategy was to choose pro-Trump electors instead of Biden electors contrary to the public vote. The plan was activated soon after the November 3 vote..Trump's scheme to overturn the vote and keep himself in power was hardly a secret. Months before election day, Trump had laid the groundwork to claim fraud, that if he lost, it was because Democrats rigged the election. Now that he lost, he tried to rig the vote outcome to self fulfill his prophecy.

He tried every lawyer's trick in the trade. and Rudy Guiliani and his attorneys filed lawsuit after lawsuit, demanding recounts and audits. The out of step Trump lawyers soldiered on to execute their predetermined strategy made obsolete by the unexpected Nov. 3 vote totals. Trump's plot to thwart the vote against him might have been more likely to have succeeded if the size and scope of Trump's defeat had not been so large and spread across such a large number of states, albeit with thin margins in many. He needed to flip 40 electors. It is also darn near impossible to make a case before a judge without any evidence of widespread fraud and demand that thousands of votes should be thrown in the trash. Trump's lawyers failed. The reason: no such evidence has yet been found that would stand up in court.

At the sweat dripping press conference on November 19 held at Republican headquarters in Washington DC, the president's attorney Rudy Guiliani's with his backup cadre of lawyers laid out their purpose to "overturn the vote'". This was in spite of the over 6 million margins with which Biden won the popular vote. and the 306 electoral. votes. Trump's attorney/fixer Rudy Giuliani's strategy of filing lawsuits failed to produce any evidence of widespread fraud and could not stop state certifications of Biden's win in key states, including Pennsylvania and Michigan. Their state laws gave state legislatures no option but to approve the elector slate that reflected the state's certified popular vote winner. Challenges and recounts in Wisconsin continue, but their ten electoral votes are not enough to overturn the electoral college count. Both Pennsylvania, federal appellate, and State Supreme courts ruled against Trump's cases and motions. Next? Supreme Court? Still not enough electoral college votes to overturn the election if they win there.

Even after states like Pennsylvania certified the vote, the tilting at windmills continued as Guiliani and Trump continued their Don Quixote act, keeping up the charade that Trump won by a landslide. They claim the vote against them was because of fraud, and they " have affidavits to prove it." Of course, if they did, they would have presented them in court to provide the evidence they needed to win a case. . Their batting average in courts was zero. If they had come into court with the affidavits in hand, they would have had to swear to the truth and jeopardize their law licenses if they lied. That is in itself evidence the "affidavits" were pumped up hot air to keep the Trump supporter morale inflated. Nonetheless, Trump's attorneys continued making claims after judges ruled. They filed appeals, demanded recounts, and audits, and opined on friendly Trump media while Trump's cohorts continued fundraising to cover campaign debt and lawyer fees.

Trump's team also directed their bully fire at the certification officials and schmoozed them in the White House. Trump summoned the Michigan GOP members of their state legislature to the White House on November 20 in order to persuade them. It takes guts to be brave and to tell a tyrant president no, especially one who governs by fear of a tweet or threatens a primary next election cycle. Hats off to the legislators and certifiers who stood by the law. More despicable acts were death threats that are the modus operandi of the violent Trump supporters who disagree with any secretary of state or election official Just ask the Secretary of State of Georgia what that is like..and he is a Republican. Or ask the Michigan governor and state officials, too, whose plots to kill them were thwarted by the FBI. The last state to certify the vote outcome? December 1. By December 8 per Federal law, governors must sign and provide the names of electors... The electoral college vote takes place on December 14.

On December 1, Bill Barr, Attorney General and Trump Loyalist reported the DOJ could not find evidence of widespread fraud in an interview with the Associated Press.

Wisconsin Federal Court Shames Trump, GOP, & Kraken With Dismissal (bipartisanreport.com)

.https://apnews.com/article/election-2020-joe-biden-donald-trump-elections-william-barr-b1f1488796c9a98c4b1a9061a6c7f49d

‘Voters, not lawyers, choose the president’: Appeals court shoots down Trump suit in Pennsylvania (msn.com)

Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismisses lawsuit against mail ballots with prejudice in another defeat for Trump (msn.com)

Trump Election Fraud Allegations Disgraceful Endgame to 2020 Reelection Effort | National Review

This Election Result Won’t Be Overturned - WSJ

Fact check: Biden won popular, Electoral College votes in several battleground states (msn.com) Fact checking Guiliani et al.

CNN’s Tapper Shreds GOP For Enabling Trump as He Foments Post-Election Threats: ‘Did You Not Know Who This Man Was?’ (msn.com)

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The following Yahoo op ed lays out exactly how Trumpism nearly wiped out democracy and came too close to installing authoritarian rule. There are reforms which could protect us from that again. The op ed expresses thisclearly...and it is worth serious consideration. Op-Ed: To stamp out Trumpism, the U.S. needs to deal with these six things (yahoo.com)

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Trump's attempt to get Michigan's lawmakers to send Trump electors to the Electoral College failed. Meeting with him in the White House on 11/20, they gave him a lesson on the process and "found no reason" yet of fraud or the vote total would change. In short, they told him "no" as a group in a diplomatic way but left the door open to keep on looking for fraud as if recounts and audits would find the 20,000 frauds. On November 23, Michigan's certification board certified the election and Biden won. End of that Michigan vote-stealing strategy. Georgia's GOP Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger 11/20 certified the Biden win in their state and stood bravely on principle in spite of death threats and White House pressure. He said "no", though he was a proud supporter of Trump., while saying "Numbers don't lie" . Monday, 11/23 was Pennsylvania's certification day but some counties were not finished and the votes they possessed were not enough to make a difference. Two other court challenges elsewhere would not change the vote outcome in their states. A Pennsylvania district court judge threw out the Trump case in a "scathing ruling" on November 21..On November 23, the Penn state Supreme Court rejected Trump's suit to not count certain absentee ballots. The last lawsuit pending was tossed out by the judge in Arizona. In their illogic, they are asking only votes for one candidate for one office, except that the votes for GOP statewide down-ballot candidates would be thrown out, too. The Republican statewide candidates often did better than Trump did and even picked up House seats and kept control of state governments as before Nov.3. . In their racist bent, some Trumpsters are only asking for recounts in counties where there are many African Americans. who overwhelmingly supported Biden, earning a civil rights lawsuit from the NAACP.. 

The fallout, however, will not end. There will always be hard-core Trumpists who will "believe "they was robbed",, will keep on looking. and believing this to justify their anti-democracy extremism. They will continue the search for their leader, a wannabe autocrat/dictator who could rule by fear and iron fist on their behalf, and no one else's, and the rule of laws and the Constitution be damned. He is beginning to spin his tales of election fraud so that his Trumpists will believe he won. Note that the tales he tells has not been brought to court so no one has to swear to the truth. So far every court case his lawyers have brought has been laughed out of court for lack of evidence (they dared not have to swear to tell the truth about their "evidence" or they would have been disbarred.. The Pennsylvania Federal district judge called their legal case a "Frankenstein". However, if he lies to the devoted followers who have swallowed every other lie he has told, he may hold onto enough of them and may have terrorized GOP politicians, we may yet have to deal with him for a few years more. .

The Certification of the 2020 US Election Results is on Schedule. Here's a Timeline. - The New York Times (nytimes.com)https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/19/politics/giuliani-trump-legal-team-press-briefing-fact-check/index.html

Vote certification deadlines in states facing legal challenges from Trump, GOP - The Washington Post

Pennsylvania Judge Halts Further Vote Certification Steps (2) (bloomberglaw.com)

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-campaign-tries-to-throw-out-votes-in-wisconsin-recount-11606327239



At Least 4 Pennsylvania Counties To Miss Certification Deadline : NPR

Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejects Trump campaign's effort to block counting certain absentee ballots - CNNPolitics

Federal judge rejects Trump campaign's Pa. lawsuit with prejudice, saying it lacks factual proof - ABC News (go.com)



Georgia certifies election results, making Biden victory official - ABC News (go.com)

  https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2020/11/21/trump-campaign-lawsuit-challenging-election-pennsylvania-dismissed/6360749002/


Judge tosses last election lawsuit in Arizona | TheHill

Michigan Lawmakers Tell Trump They See No Reason State’s Election Results Would Change - WSJ

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-lawyers-promise-to-step-up-fight-to-overturn-election-results-11605828073

Georgia secretary of state: I'm a proud Trump supporter but numbers don't lie - CNN Video

Wisconsin officials: Trump observers obstructing recount (yahoo.com)

BACKGROUND 11/19
.. . It appears that the GOP pre-planned moves were based on a theory that the electoral count be would be dependent on a single state, as it did in Bush v Gore in Florida and there needed to flip only one or two states that voted for Biden substituting them with Trump electors. Should the resulting suit land in the Supreme Court, that contingency plan was made more possible by a stroke of luck, the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and the lightning replacement of her seat with a person Trump thought in his transactional mafia-like mind would vote his way in his belief that the new justice would owe him one. So far judges in lower courts whether appointed by Democrats or Republicans, have rejected suits to overturn the vote brought to them byTrump's cohorts because they were claiming fraud without evidence or they asked the judge to throw the votes out because of some baseless technicality. . The exception is now his last resort:.to use threats and the fear of Trump tweets to force electors to be in defiance to the popular count in their states and vote for Trump in the Electoral College when their state's majority popular vote went for Biden. The Trumpsters are also buying time by screwing up the certification process to pull off such a strategy of sabotaging the electoral college process. If it should happen, expect there to be a court suit slugfest. In a press conference on November 19, Biden did not rule out court action.

Trump has been somewhat successful with convincing his base for now that the claims of fraud are legitimate. Over 70% of Americans polled believe Biden won, but the other third is Foxated, believing Trump media that Trump won, conveying the message of conspiracy theories and charges of intentional criminal irregularities. Half of Republicans still believe the Democrats rigged the election by fraud. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-poll/half-of-republicans-say-biden-won-because-of-a-rigged-election-reuters-ipsos-poll-idUSKBN27Y1AJ For some of these true believers, facts, data, evidence and supporting the democratic process, the rule of law, hold no meaning and they will likely carry to their graves a belief Trump was robbed. OnlyTrump's words count. Fortunately for the continuation of the oldest democracy in the world, they are not the majority. The lasting negative fall out of the post-election day attempt to overturn the vote will be a minority body of antidemocratic forces always nipping at the heels of democracy, looking for a dictator/strong man that will carry out their will., and no one else's.

There may be a beneficial result if this attack on the vote integrity of the electoral college fails. I can imagine more pressure then to eliminate the electoral college system in favor of the direct election of the president based on the national popular vote. The electoral college has a weakness that was exposed in 2020. The electoral college can be exploited in the future to do what a tyrant like Trump is trying to do, to thwart the will of the people. Some have called this maneuver a "coup" like those stunts attempted in banana republics by tinpot dictators desperate to stay in power.. Even if the Electoral College is not replaced by popular demand, there will certainly be a retooling of state elector laws and election certification processes and increased penalties for such misbehavior..

Monday, November 16, 2020

Georgia on my mind. The Senate runoffs will determine the fate of so much

So much depends upon what happens in Georgia's Senate runoffs. I have a daughter who is still paying off her student loan and two grandchildren who are facing the burden after graduation. Here is what we could expect from a Biden administration...but only if the Senate turns blue. That latter clause is true for any of Biden's promises. Assuming the ACA survives the 6-3 Supreme Court, even extending Medicare to age 60 depends on what happens in Georgia's runoff for two senate seats. If you had been counting on COVID individual relief and propping up state and local governments, tyrant Trump will play golf until January 20 and the extent of the stimulus and relief will wait until the new administration and the Senate balance unless somehow the lame ducks in DC get some guts needed to buck a vengeful Trump still with his finger on the Twitter send button. 

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/what-joe-biden-has-said-about-canceling-student-loan-debt/ar-BB1b3hTk?ocid=msedgdh&fbclid=IwAR35EmEDULcHWjJHeV5-YqjIWKTJQnNGef9XFglqFMO8WRjsUW_bmZmrp6w

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Why did Trump purge civilian leadership at the Pentagon? Updated July 2021 The heroism of Gen. Milley

Update: July 2021 from November 2020 posts

New book reveals what was going on in the Pentagon as generals feared a coup after November 2021 General Milley is emerging as a hero who saw a repeat of a Nazi style takeover and who saved democracy . New book shows top US generals planned ways to stop Trump in case of coup - YouTube 

This explains why beginning Nov. 2020 the Pentagon issued statements regarding Trump's intent to use the military to keep power.  Trump's attempted to seize control of the military by replacing as many in the Pentagon he could with political loyalsts.  January 6 could be seen as an attempted coup by the non military. That one also failed.  Democracy prevailed.

 Below is a commentary in my posts during the fall 2020 period.  

Why did Trump purge civilian leadership at the Pentagon? There is a great deal of speculation about why Trump did that. The most disturbing was the speculation that Trump fired Esper because he intended to use the active military to put down demonstrations against him post-election... calling it an "insurrection".

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-pentagon-trump/after-esper-firing-white-house-moves-trump-loyalists-into-key-pentagon-jobs-idUSKBN27Q3F6

My observation: Joint Chiefs, in the wake of this summer's demonstration from Lafayette Square to those on the west coast, had made it clear they would not intervene in domestic political affairs. https://www.axios.com/milley-military-election-trump-biden-7b448425-07c0-4c43-b03b-96ba8d741f84.html :


Later October 11, https://www.npr.org/transcripts/922827554

Per Gen. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs:"“I believe deeply in the principle of an apolitical U.S. military,” Milley said in written responses to questions from two Democratic members of the House Armed Services Committee, according to AP.
  • “In the event of a dispute over some aspect of the elections, by law U.S. courts and the U.S. Congress are required to resolve any disputes, not the U.S. military. I foresee no role for the U.S armed forces in this process.”
  • When asked whether the armed forces would reject a presidential order to use military force for political gain, Milley said, “I will not follow an unlawful order.”

The big picture: This marks the second time that Milley has recently stressed the nonpartisan nature of the U.S. military.

  • He apologized in June for attending Trump's photo op at St. John's Episcopal Church, saying, "I should not have been there. My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military VWell, I've reminded people of that for years, you know, for four years as the chief of staff of the Army and in many years before that during reenlistment ceremonies, promotion ceremonies. I always talk about the Constitution and its importance to us as a military in that we - of all the countries in the world, I think that we are the only one - or at least one of the very few - that swears an oath of allegiance to an idea that's embedded in a document called the U.S. Constitution. We don't swear an oath of allegiance to an individual, a king, a queen, a president or anything else ....We don't swear an oath of allegiance to a country, for that matter. We don't swear an oath of allegiance to a flag, a tribe or religion or any of that. We swear an oath to an idea or a set of ideas and values that are embedded in our Constitution. And we, the U.S. military, are willing to die for - to preserve those ideas and values. And we're willing to die in order to preserve them and pass them onto the next generation. So - and they're all in the Constitution. They're all fundamental to the Constitution."
  • October 11, 2020, interview on NPR  https://www.npr.org/transcripts/922827554 ""This isn't the first time that someone has suggested that there might be a contested election," Milley said. "And if there is, it'll be handled appropriately by the courts and by the U.S. Congress. There's no role for the U.S. military in determining the outcome of a U.S. election. Zero. There is no role there."
That Joint Chief declarations also is relevant to the question of whether Trump could stage a coup. Answer: No so long as Gen. Milley has a say.. In the next 70 days, this aspiring autocrat of a President is taking revenge on the disloyal and may even try to start a war against Iran (for intervening against him in the elections), though I cannot imagine a Pentagon able to make such preparations for such an attack on such short notice, except for a bombing run. Removal of troops from Afghanistan is more likely, those our allies there say it would be turning the country over to the Taliban. https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2020/10/08/taliban-cheer-trump-tweet-promising-early-us-troop-withdrawal-from-afghanistan/ That he as put incompetent and Muslimphobes in key positions in the civilian control positions of the military is unnerving if any of this is on his agenda. The most benign reason might be incriminating document destruction.

The "insurrection" rationale depends upon whether Trump believes he is the state and demonstrations against him is an insurrection. The oath of office military take is allegiance to the Consitution and they do not have to obey illegal orders. From my Sept. 8 blog post: Can the president invoke the insurrection act to force the active military to put down post-election demonstrations? President Trump recently called for that. This apprentice dictator had better be able to tell the difference between protest riots and insurrection because the difference is already established case law. If he has fantasies of a military coup to keep him in office, he may be asking the military to commit an illegal act to overturn a constituted government. Ironically,  what is possible is that the insurrection act could be applied to organized militias and established right-wing terrorist groups who would foment violence if Donald Trump lost and tried to stage a "coup".  That would turn supporters of right-wing advocates calling for insurrection on its head, making them vulnerable to being charged with insurrection instead of left-wing demonstrators. Advocates of invoking the insurrection act ought to be careful what they wish. Riots and peaceful protests are not the same as acts of insurrections that could justify active military intervention per https://definitions.uslegal.com / "insurrection refers to an act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government. It is a violent revolt against an oppressive authority. Insurrection is different from riots and offenses connected with mob violence. In insurrection, there is an organized and armed uprising against authority or operations of government whereas riots and offenses connected with mob violence are simply unlawful acts in disturbance of the peace which do not threaten the stability of the government or the existence of political society. The following is a case law defining Insurrection: Insurrection means “a violent uprising by a group or movement acting for the specific purpose of overthrowing the constituted government and seizing its powers. An insurrection occurs where a movement acts to overthrow the constituted government and to take possession of its inherent powers.” [Younis Bros. & Co. v. Cigna Worldwide Ins. Co., 899 F. Supp. 1385, 1392-1393 (E.D. Pa. 1995)]" I note proven or unproven claims of voter fraud are not cited as a justification for an insurrection in the definition.