THE BATTLE TO REPLACE RUTH BADER GINSBURG

As most of you know, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing has left a vacancy on the Supreme Court to be filled. As I predicted in my last blog a fierce battle has ensued over the timing of nominating her replacement. In all likelihood, this will be as contentious as the election, itself, and, in the long run, may turn out to be even more significant. Why, you may ask? Because, the nominee could be on the court and ruling on matters for decades.

Predictably, President Trump and his supporters want the vacancy filled as soon as possible and by a right-of-center candidate. Based upon multiple media reports Mr. Trump plans to disclose his choice by the end of the week. He has committed to naming a woman. He has stated that there are five under consideration. The two most likely candidates seem to be Amy Coney Barrett and Barbara Lagoa. Both are strong candidates and both seem to check the required right-of-center boxes. Barrett has more experience on the Appeals Court and is better known, but Lagoa has the added benefits of being Hispanic and from a key battleground state, Florida. The Dems and their supporters are strongly opposed not only to both of them but also to the very idea of any nomination.

It is important to understand one thing right at the outset. The Constitution states clearly and emphatically that the President is authorized to nominate Justices to the Supreme Court with the “advice and consent of the Senate.” It does not say “except during an election year.” So, legally, the Dems do not have a leg to stand on. Their sole avenue of recourse is to prevent the Senate from confirming a nominee.

That could happen as the GOP only has a three person majority. Furthermore, two Senators, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins have already expressed a reluctance to proceed before the election, and a few others are reportedly wavering.

Don’t be deceived by the media reports criticizing President Trump for taking this action. His plan is not without precedent. My research has disclosed that since 1900 there have been several instances in which a president, both Dem and GOP, has nominated and the Senate has confirmed a SC Justice in an election year. You may hear someone mention the “Thurmond Rule” as justification to prevent a nomination during an election year. This “rule” is named for former senator Strom Thurmond who basically made it up to justify blocking LBJ’s nomination of Abe Fortas back in the 1960s. However, it is not an actual “rule,” and it has no legal standing.

Politicians on both sides of the aisle are being very disingenuous about this entire issue. Predictably, the GOPers are defending Mr. Trump’s proposed action, while the Dems are condemning it. As always, most of the media is supporting the Dems. In my opinion, their arguments are specious.

The bottom line is it is all about power. The Party that has it will want to forge ahead with the nomination; the Party on the short end will oppose it. The prospect of having an additional “friendly” SC Justice on the Court for life is too valuable a commodity to ignore.

If one does a little research one will find instances in the past where each of them has argued for the other side of the issue. For instance, as recently as 2016 former President Obama, VP Joe Biden, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other leading Dems were pushing for the confirmation of Merrick Garland as a replacement for Antonin Scalia even though it was an election year, and Mitch McConnell and leading Republicans were opposing it. Even Ginsburg spoke out in favor of Garland’s candidacy. Now, supposedly she told her granddaughter she was opposed to an election year nomination. I understand their motivation. I don’t consider it hypocritical. In politics, it’s all about power. If you have it, use it while you can.

CONCLUSION

One reason why it is imperative to fill the SC vacancy as soon as possible is the strong possibility that the Court will be called upon to resolve presidential election disputes in one or more states (as in 2000), particularly with respect to mail-in ballots. In that event having only eight members could result in a 4-4 tie. That would throw the dispute back to the appeals courts and degrade the validity of the election results further in the eyes of many voters. That would be devastating as the key to the continued viability of the Republic is that the voters have confidence that elections are free and fair.

In summary, expect a lot of posturing and threatening from the Dems between now and the election. Already Chuck and Nancy have threatened that if the Republicans proceed “nothing [will be] off the table.” What does that mean? Your guess is as good as mine, but in the past they have signaled they may seek to “pack” the Senate by pushing for statehood for Puerto Rico and Washington, DC, impeach Mr. Trump again, and/or seek to “pack” the court when they reacquire power. (The first one is farfetched; the latter two have already been tried and failed.)

As I said, I expect this issue to add to the divisiveness, violence, contentiousness, and mistrust we are already experiencing.

My advice to Dems. Grow up. Quit your griping. In the words of former President Obama, “elections have consequences.” If you don’t like what’s happening, try winning more of them.

RUTH BADER GINSBURG

She was diminutive in stature, but larger than life in all other respects. As a Supreme Court Justice her fiery dissenting opinions earned her the sobriquet “Notorious R. P. G.” Her 23 year tenure on the Supreme Court was one of the longest in history. She was a powerful and tireless advocate for the rights of women, minorities, and the disadvantaged as well as other liberal causes. As you will see, this attitude was shaped by her experiences beginning in childhood and continuing throughout her life.

As the de facto leader of the liberal wing of the Supreme Court she often clashed ideologically with the more conservative justices, such as Antonin Scalia and William Rehnquist, but, at the same time, they exhibited a mutual respect for each other that should serve as an example for all officials in the legislative and executive branches of government.

Scalia often praised her tenacity as an advocate for her causes. Regarding women’s rights, he called her the “Thurgood Marshall of that cause – so to speak.” Those who are familiar with Marshall’s record and accomplishments regarding civil rights will recognize that as high praise, indeed. Despite their sharp ideological differences she and Scalia were close friends with shared outside interests, e. g. opera and cooking, and enjoyed each other’s company away from the Court. She was devastated by his untimely death in 2016.

Joan Ruth Bader was born on March 15, 1933 in Brooklyn, NY. Her father was a first-generation immigrant from Ukraine. Her mother was born in the US. She had an older sister who died from meningitis at age six. Bader’s childhood nickname was “Kiki,” which was derived from the fact she had been a “kick baby” in the womb.

In elementary school Bader’s class had several girls named Joan, which apparently led to some confusion. So, Bader’s mom suggested that the teacher call her by her middle name, Ruth. Thereafter, “Joan” was kaput, and she became known as “Ruth.”

Ruth’s mother was determined that Ruth would receive a strong education, which was most unusual for a female in those years. Undoubtedly, this desire was fueled by her own experience. Due to limited financial resources, her parents could only afford to send one child to college. So, they sent her brother, and her desire for a college education was thwarted. That was very common at that time. Her desire for Ruth was to become a teacher, a noble profession to be sure, but a far cry from what she ultimately achieved. If that had come to pass think how different history would have been. Sadly, Ruth’s mom died from cancer the day before Ruth’s high school graduation, so she never got to see what Ruth accomplished.

Ruth attended Cornell and graduated with a BA in government. She made Phi Beta Kappa and was the highest ranking female student in her class. More importantly, she met her future husband, Martin Ginsburg.

In 1956 Ruth enrolled in Harvard Law School, one of nine women out of a class of 500. Supposedly, the Dean invited all nine females to a welcoming dinner at his house. A nice gesture, but the story goes he asked each of them “why are you at Harvard Law School taking the place of a man?” Can you imagine a Dean of a law school asking such a question today?

When her husband got a job in NY she transferred to Columbia. Upon graduation Ginsburg had difficulty finding a job despite the fact that she had been ranked tied for first in her class.. She was being denied due to her gender. The deniers included Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter. It was only after one of her law school professors strong-armed a US District Court judge to hire her that she got a job.

Some of the highlights of her early career included the following:

  1. In 1963 her first job was a professorship at Rutgers, where she was told she would be paid less than a man because she had a husband with a well-paying job. At the time she was one of only 20 female law professors in the nation.
  2. In 1970 she co-founded the Women’s Rights Law Reporter, which was the first US law journal that focused on women’s rights.
  3. In 1972 she co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, which specialized in gender discrimination against women, of which there was plenty. She handled hundreds of cases, including six that she argued before the Supreme Court, winning five of them. (One might wonder how she lost the one she did.) Shrewdly, some of the cases she chose had male plaintiffs, which demonstrated to the SC justices that discrimination could and did cut both ways.
  4. In 1980 President Carter appointed her to the US Court of Appeals for DC.
  5. In 1993 President Clinton appointed her to the SC. She became only the second woman to serve on the SC after Sandra Day O’Connor.

During her tenure on the SC she was involved in many landmark cases. As I said above, she became known for her “fiery” dissenting opinions, earning the sobriquet “The Notorious RBG.” For me, the two cases that stood out are the 1996 decision that required Virginia Military Institute to accept female applicants and the 2000 decision that made George W. Bush president.

In recent years she was beset with a plethora of physical problems, such as broken ribs, a procedure for a blocked artery, and, of course, the big one, cancer. Through it all she refused to retire. She viewed her work on the SC as too important to abandon.

The tributes have been pouring in from various sources – both US and foreign, and both supporters and adversaries. Some examples:

1. President Trump called her an “amazing woman.”

2. Former President Jimmy Carter – “We [Rosalynn and I] join countless Americans in mourning the loss of a great woman.”

3. Chief Justice John Roberts – “Our nation has lost a jurist of historic stature.”

Perhaps, this is not a time for politics, but as they say, in a presidential election year, “everything is about the election.” The election is the proverbial “elephant in the room.”

Pols on both sides of the aisle will be anxiously waiting to see (a) when (not if) Mr. Trump will nominate a replacement, and (b) who it will it be. Mr. Trump will be widely criticized, but it is the smart move, politically. The new justice would likely remain in place for decades.

The politics of replacing Ginsburg are very complicated. Most observers believe Mr. Trump will act sooner rather than later, while the GOP still has a majority in the Senate, perhaps even before Election Day. The president has already published a list of potential appointees, and chances are he will choose someone from that list. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has signaled the Senate is primed to “fast track” a nomination.

On the other hand, the Dems desperately want Ginsburg to be replaced by a liberal. Thus, they want to delay matters in the hope that they will seize control of the Senate on November 3 and/or that Biden will defeat Mr. Trump. The matter is being further complicated by the fact that Biden has not yet published his list of possible successors, and he seems to be reluctant to do so. Remember, the new Senate will take over on January 1, not on Inauguration Day, so the GOP has a narrow window of time in which to act.

An additional complication is that the GOP’s control of the Senate is very tenuous. Only a majority vote is required for approval, but there are only 53 GOP senators, and many of them are embroiled in tough re-election campaigns. Therefore, they may be reluctant to support the Administration on a vote this controversial so close to an election. Additionally, two of them – Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski – have already expressed reluctance to voting on a replacement until after the election.

In short, what we will likely get is the last thing we need in this already tumultuous election year. More controversy, more animosity, and more violent protesting/rioting. Stay tuned.

CONCLUSION

Ginsburg was the recipient of a slew of honors. For example:

  1. In 2002 she was inducted into National Women’s Hall of Fame.
  2. In 2009 she was named one of the “100 Most Powerful Women.”
  3. In 2012 she was named Glamour Magazine’s “Woman of the Year.”
  4. In 2015 Time Magazine dubbed her one of the “100 Most Influential People.”

Ginsburg’s years’ long battle with cancer was well-documented. Many people grew to admire her strength, determination and dedication to her work. When a reporter asked her when she thought there would be enough women on the SC, she replied “when there are nine.” And she meant it.

During the latter stages of the Obama Administration many of her friends were urging her to retire, so that Obama could name a liberal replacement. She adamantly refused. She admired the longevity of Justice John Paul Stevens, who had retired at the ripe old age of 90 after having served 35 years. She wanted to beat that record. At the time of her death she had served 27 years, and was the fourth-oldest Justice in history.

Ginsburg passed away on September 18. She dedicated her life to fighting for the disadvantaged and was an iconic role model to women. She was loved, admired and respected by supporters and opponents alike. Rest in peace Ruth. You were a tower of strength, and you will be sorely missed.

9/11 REMEMBRANCE. HAS IT REALLY BEEN 19 YEARS?

Tomorrow, Friday, is September 11, a date that will always have special meaning for all Americans, indeed for all decent people worldwide. Like December 7 and November 22, September 11 is a date that will, in the words of former President FDR, “live in infamy.”

September 11, 2001 at 8:46 a.m. ET, Americans’ safe and secure lives changed forever. Like the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor and the JFK assassination, undoubtedly, most everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing when they first heard of the attack. At that moment, the first hijackers’ plane crashed into the north tower of the WTC. This was followed quickly by a second plane crashing into the south tower, and, later, a third one crashing into the Pentagon. Incredibly and inexplicably, by 10:28 both towers had collapsed.

Later in the day, a fourth plane crashed into a field in Shanksville, PA. It is believed that this fourth plane was bound for a target in Washington, D.C., perhaps, the White House or the Capitol, and it would have succeeded but for the heroism of some of the passengers on board.

This year will mark the 19th anniversary of those horrific attacks. They resulted in just under 3,000 deaths. Most of those were workers who were trapped in their offices and consumed by fire or smoke/chemical inhalation. They could not escape because most of the stairwells were blocked.  Many victims have only been identified due to their DNA, in some cases many years later.

Compounding the tragedy was the fact that NYC’s 911 operators were not as well informed as they should have been. Thus, they were advising callers from inside the towers not to descend the stairs on their own. Some of them proceeded to the roof hoping to be rescued by helicopter. Unfortunately, helicopters could not land on the roofs due to the heat and thick smoke. Many of us who were watching on tv witnessed the awful sight of people jumping to their deaths (in some cases, actually holding hands with others for support) rather than awaiting their fates from the fire.

The horror of the attacks, themselves, was amplified by the fact that the victims were not soldiers but innocent civilians who were merely working at their jobs.  In addition to the thousands of civilians, police officers, firemen and EMS workers that were killed in the attacks, themselves, thousands more volunteer workers and even people who lived or worked in the vicinity ended up contracting various illnesses from inhaling the many carcinogens in the air and dying subsequently, in some cases many years later.  Many of us know or know of someone, such as Jamie Testa, a close family friend, who suffered this fate.  Even today, 19 years later, people are still contracting diseases and dying.  Horrifying as it may seem, some doctors have predicted that eventually these victims will exceed the 3,000 killed on 9/11. 

The primary illnesses are cancer, respiratory disorders, asthma, COPD and gastroesophageal reflux disorder. In addition, in the aftermath health workers noted a significant increase in anxiety, depression and PTSD. As I said, many of the above have manifested themselves years later. Even now, new cases are being presented. The number of documented cancer cases, alone, has tripled in the past few years. The physical, mental and emotional toll has been astounding. An estimated 18,000 people have contracted illnesses from the toxic dust. Moreover, there is speculation that 9/11 has caused health issues in babies whose mothers were pregnant at the time of the attacks, such as premature birth, respiratory problems, below average weight, and increased neo-natal requirements.

This was the deadliest attack on US soil ever. By comparison, the shocking Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, which, as I said, President FDR characterized as “a date that will live in infamy” resulted in “only” 2,400 deaths, and they were mostly military personnel.

This year, due to the health threat of the CV many of the commemorations will be scaled down.  There will be an attempt to balance paying proper respect to the victims with the safety and health of the participants. 

For example, the 911 Memorial and Museum, which is the body in charge of the commemoration, has changed the procedure of the reading of the names of the victims.  911 M&M Director Alice Greenwald stated the overriding objective was to “balance safety and tradition.”

Many friends and family strongly objected to the changes.  A group called the Stephen Stiller Tunnel to Towers Foundation announced it had arranged its own ceremony a few blocks away (on the corner of Liberty and Church Streets).  Survivors would still read the names live but at a safe distance from each other.  Said Chairman Frank Stiller, “we need to ensure that “America know[s] what happened 19 years ago.  And they need to [experience] the emotion of the day [live], not [via] a recording.”  

Normally, the survivors read the names of every 9/11 victim out loud in real time on tv, including those killed at the WTC (in both 1993 and 2001), the Pentagon and on flight 93. This is a particularly poignant scene as the readers are typically the spouses, children and/or grandchildren of the victims. In addition to citing the name of the victim some of the readers add personal messages of remembrance. In my opinion, these readings of the names of the victims is a fantastic idea as it helps us to remember the horrific and cowardly terrorists attacks and continue to pay tribute to the victims.

However, this year due to COVID concerns, the procedure will be altered.  In lieu of the traditional live reading of the names family members have pre-recorded the victims names, which will be streamed on line beginning Friday morning.  The 911 M&M will permit family members to gather at the site to listen, but they will be spread out to observe social distancing. 

In addition, there was a huge controversy over the traditional Tribute in Light ceremony.  The Tribute of Light is an amazing spectacle.  It consists of 88 vertical lights placed on top of Battery Park Garage, which is located six blocks south of the former WTC site.  It creates two columns of light which represent the Twin Towers.

Initially, the 911 M&M announced that, due to COVID concerns, it would be cancelled.  But, under pressure from the survivors and other groups it was reinstated with appropriate safety precautions.  In an additional statement Greenwald stated “this means something to us so profound, we must have it.”  The objective was “how we could do it safely that became a question for us.”  I agree as I’m sure most of us do.

The 911 M&M committee effected these changes with good intentions and perhaps an abundance of caution.  They insisted they wanted to conduct the ceremony but, at the same time, “avoid close contact among the readers who are usually paired at the podium.”  It is scheduled to commence at dusk. 

Some of the surviving relatives and friends understood.  Anthoula Katsimatides noted “it [the ceremony] wasn’t cancelled.  It’s just been changed in such a way where we still get to pay tribute to our loved ones in a respectful and safe way.”  However, others were not mollified.  For example, Jim Riches, who lost his firefighter son, Jimmy, characterized it as a “slap in the face.”     

There will also be a memoriam at Shanksville, PA.  President Trump and the First Lady, will be the featured speakers.  Joe Biden is also expected to attend, but hopefully not at the same time.   

I understand this will also be scaled down due to COVID.  The names of the passengers will be read in tribute, but there will be no musical interludes nor any other entertainment.

In addition to the deaths there was significant damage to the economy of NYC and the US as a whole. The entire Wall Street area, including the financial markets, was closed until September 17. Air travel was disrupted. Americans’ psyche was severely damaged. The cleanup of the WTC area was not completed until May 2002. All in all, it took 3.1 million man-hours to clean up 1.8 million tons of debris at a cost of $750 million.  Internationally, countries were generally horrified and supportive, although some of the people in some Muslim countries, such as Iraq, were seen to be celebrating.

Fifteen of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, with the others having originated from Egypt, Lebanon and the UAE. The terrorist group, Al Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden, quickly claimed responsibility. Bin Laden had declared a holy war on the US and had issued a fatwa calling for the killing of Americans. Following 9/11, bin Laden became public enemy number 1. Eventually, the US exacted revenge, hunting him down and killing him.

In the aftermath of the attacks, Americans wanted to know how our intelligence agencies had failed to anticipate them. Who had “dropped the ball?” Amid many investigations and finger-pointing it became obvious that the major factor was a failure to communicate and share intelligence and information. For example:

l. The CIA had intelligence reports that a terrorist attack was forthcoming, but it was expecting it to be in Israel, not the US.
2. The CIA knew that two known terrorists had slipped into the US.
3. The FBI had information of certain anomalies at some US flight schools.
4. The Justice Department policies advocated very limited intelligence sharing, even with other agencies.
5. The CIA and NSA were reluctant to reveal sources of information and their methods of attaining it.
6. None of these agencies reported their information to each other or to the White House.
7. In 2004 Attorney General John Ashcroft testified to the “9/11 Commission” that the “single greatest structural cause…. was the wall that segregated or separated criminal investigators and intelligence agents.”

I hope that the coordination and information-sharing among these agencies have been enhanced since 9/11, but I have my doubts. As time has gone on, I sense that we have grown more and more complacent and the various alphabet agencies have resumed “guarding their own turf” rather than sharing intelligence and information for the greater good.

CONCLUSION

Americans’ lives have changed considerably since 9/11. Many believe that not all of these changes are good or even necessary. For instance:

1. The US created the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate and oversee intelligence activities and security. In addition, it passed the USA Patriot Act. These agencies have improved our readiness and security but at the price of certain civil liberties. There is, and should be, a balance between security and liberty, and depending on one’s political point of view the pendulum may have swung too far, or not enough, toward security.

2. Enhanced security at airports and train and bus terminals has made travel more complicated, time-consuming, and nerve-wracking. Some people have curtailed or ceased their travel entirely, particularly internationally.

3. Many parents are apprehensive, if not paranoid, about letting their children go outside to play or ride their bicycles in the neighborhood. Also, they accompany their children to the school or school bus stop and pick them up at the end of the day. The various terrorist attacks in schools in recent years have done little to assuage these fears and concerns. Schools have ramped up security protocols. Some have even hired armed guards. Some people have advocated arming teachers.

4. Many Americans have become very focused on enforcing immigration laws strictly to protect our borders, which has led to conflicts with those who view such an approach as “racist” and favor looser, or even open, borders.

5. On the plus side, there has been a significant increase in patriotism and gratitude toward veterans.

In my opinion, parents should make a concerted effort to educate their children on the tragedy of 9/11, what happened, how it happened and what it means. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation approximately one-third of Americans are under the age of 26, and, therefore, have little or no recollection or knowledge of this event. The danger is that as time passes the populace will forget, and we should never allow that to happen. Educate your kids!

Already, some people are “down-playing” the 9/11 attacks. For example, Rep Ilham Omar, one of the notorious “Four Horsewomen of the Apocalypse” who has uttered many disparaging remarks about America and Americans, has summed up 9/11 as “some people did something.” Really? Is she kidding? It’s easy to write off her and others of her ilk as “kooks,” but she does have followers who place credence in what she says.

I encourage everyone to find the time to visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. It is on the site of the original WTC complex in lower Manhattan. It occupies approximately one-half of the acreage of the original complex. It features two huge waterfalls and a “survivor tree,” which symbolizes resilience and strength. Take the time to stroll around this beautiful area. Take one of the many tours. You will find them most informative. Yes, it is tragic to be reminded of the horror of that day, but, on the other hand, it is uplifting to be reminded of the heroism and resilience of many first responders and even ordinary citizens and to experience the healing that has occurred. Remember, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Undoubtedly, many of you experienced 9/11 firsthand. Please feel free to share your experiences.

THE CURRENT STATUS OF THE ELECTION

I am finding this election increasingly difficult to analyze and comprehend. Based on the candidates’ policies, Biden should not be ahead in the polls, but he is. I have observed a lot of conflicting information. For example:

  1. Joe Biden has been leading in all the polls all year. Presently, he is ahead nationally by anywhere from five to eight points depending on the particular poll, and he is slightly ahead in most of the swing states, although his leads have narrowed since the two conventions. Yet, I cannot figure out the source of much of Biden’s support. In my view, the polls are not consistent with what I am seeing with my own eyes.
  2. According to the evidence I have observed Biden is losing the enthusiasm test to President Trump. I think isolating himself in his basement for months has not helped his campaign. Now, he has been venturing out in public, but I have not seen any enthusiasm for his candidacy among the voters. I have yet to see him draw a large, enthusiastic crowd, a crowd that chants and cheers.
  3. He has seemed stale. The tone of his speeches has been drab and lifeless. We all know he is reading from a script that has been written for him, and it shows. In a recent speech he even ended a sentence by saying “end quote.”
  4. Attendance at his “rallies” has been limited to just a few reporters or a select few supporters. He either takes no questions or limits them to a few “softball” questions that are pre-approved by his staff.
  5. On the other hand, Mr. Trump routinely draws large, enthusiastic crowds wherever he goes. I see this difference as wholly inconsistent with what the polls are telling us.
  6. The Dems are on the wrong side of all the issues that voters care about.
  7. Historically, the number one issue in most elections has been the economy. People want to be able to provide for their families. In the words of the late Ronald Reagan they want to feel that they are better off now than they were four years ago and they want to feel that conditions will improve prospectively. They prefer optimism to pessimism. All the polls say voters have more confidence in President Trump to manage the economy. Don’t forget, prior to the CV he had led us to the best economy ever. Conversely, the Obama-Biden economy for their eight years in office was poor.
  8. Most voters are appalled and frightened by the rioting and lawlessness in the cities. Even though CNN and MSNBC have done their best to hide this most voters have seen the evidence on news outlets, such as Fox News, local news, and U-Tube. Perhaps, my favorite shot was of a CNN reporter describing a “peaceful protest” in one of the cities as we saw fires burning in the background. Even CNN host Don Lemon admonished the Dems on air that the issue was being mishandled. People want to feel safe. They want to be able to walk their neighborhood streets, sit in their backyard, go to the store, and go to work without fearing for their lives. They want to know their kids will not be killed while playing in their yard or walking to school.
  9. The Dems are seen as supporting the rioters, because (1) every city plagued by rioting is under their complete control and has been for years or, in some cases, decades; (2) they have either defunded the police or sharply curtailed their ability to deal with the situation; and (3) they refused to condemn or even criticize the rioters’ actions until recently, when they realized it was hurting their poll numbers.
  10. It appears as though the COVID pandemic is waning. Cases, hospitalizations and fatalities have been declining; businesses and schools are re-opening; unemployment, which at one point seemed headed to 25%, is down to 8%; major league sports are being played without major issues; there are various therapeutics available to treat the virus; and, most importantly, there are three separate vaccines in final trials. It looks like a vaccine will be available by year-end. These events are mitigating what the voters have seen as one of Mr. Trump’s biggest weaknesses. The Dems’ complaints that Mr. Trump is rushing the vaccines along for political purposes rings like “sour grapes.”

I am continually perplexed why Biden’s support in the polls is as strong as it is given some of the planks of the Dem platform, which Biden has repeatedly endorsed. The Bernie Sanders crowd had a heavy hand in its construction, and clearly it is a far-left platform with some elements of socialism.

For example:

  1. It supports the Green New Deal, which, among other things, advocates an end of fracking and all fossil fuels. So, why would anyone who works in the oil, gas, coal, auto, and airline industries vote for Biden? Don’t they realize his policies would eliminate their jobs?
  2. It supports no bail for criminals. So, if law and order is an important issue to you why would you vote for Biden?
  3. It supports open borders and free healthcare for illegal immigrants. That is a recipe for financial, economic and social disaster. Why would anyone vote for a candidate that advocates that?
  4. Biden has been promising a huge tax increase, which would be necessary to pay for his policies. If you buy his story that it will only be levied on the “rich” I have a bridge I can sell you.

These are but a few examples. I have described this in previous blogs. Biden and the Dems are relying on an uninformed and/or apathetic electorate. Any voter that digs a little below the surface would see the folly of the Dems’ platform.

CONCLUSION

I believe Biden’s popularity is a “mile wide and an inch deep.” Many of his supporters are not for him so much as against President Trump. I don’t believe that they will be strongly motivated to turn out in big numbers on Election Day. That is one reason why the Dems are so strong on mail-in voting.

Furthermore, I keep hearing reports of surveys claiming that as many as 12% of Trump supporters are reluctant to admit it to pollsters. If true, that does not augur well for the Dems. Perhaps, the Dems suspect this is true. That would explain Biden’s sudden change in campaigning strategy. It would also explain why some Dems are vowing to “fight to the end” and to never accept defeat and concede the election.

PIVOTAL ELECTION ISSUES

Traditionally, in national elections the Labor Day weekend, which is now upon us, marks the beginning of the home stretch. By that time, voters have generally begun to focus on the election and the major issues; both parties have held their respective conventions and formally nominated their candidates; and the nominees have commenced campaigning vigorously.

Such is the case this year. For example, the major issues have come into focus; the few battleground states that will actually decide the election have been identified; President Trump has gone on the road taking his case directly to the people as he did in 2016; and Joe Biden has left his bunker to campaign in person.

In my opinion, Biden would have been content to run his entire campaign virtually from his bunker/man-cave basement. He would have done so had he maintained his lead in the polls. Instead, in recent days, his once comfortable lead has shrunken to five to eight points, depending on which poll one views, and most of the battleground states are within the margin of error.

Moreover, the momentum is with the GOP. Therefore, Biden has no choice but to campaign in person and even answer questions from the media. In addition, any hopes he had of avoiding the scheduled debates is gone.

As I said above, at this point I believe the pivotal issues that will decide the election have come into focus. Hint: they are not what you might think. Some issues, which seemed so important not long ago now no longer appear to be pivotal to the election.

For example, a certain portion of the electorate hates President Trump on a personal level. We’ve heard this for four years now. They believe he is rude, crude, a racist and a misogynist, among other things. They will not give him credit for any positive thing he accomplishes; and they will not vote for him under any circumstances.

Similarly, many voters believe the moderate Joe Biden we remember from the 1980s and 1990s is gone. They view the current version as an “empty suit.” They are convinced he is mentally impaired, a puppet for the far left zealots, and will permit his handlers to impose socialism on the country if he wins.

There is nothing that can be done to change their minds. Those opinions are, as they say, “baked in.”

To be sure, things could still change. Some unforeseen external event, such as a war, a terror attack, a resurgence of COVID, a COVID vaccine, or a calamitous natural disaster, could impact the election. But, barring those occurrences, I believe the following issues will decide the election. Hint: they are not what some of you may think.

Rioting, violence and general lawlessness in the cities.

I have posted several blogs dealing with this issue. For the past few months we have seen these incidences spread and intensify. Property has been destroyed; including many small businesses owned by minorities and immigrants; the police have been hamstrung by ultraleft mayors, and innocent bystanders have been attacked and even killed; a portion of Seattle was occupied; the politicians in charge of these cities, all Dems, have done nothing to quell this rioting, and, in some cases, have even aided and abetted them.

These started as legitimate Black Lives Matter protests over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, but radical anarchist groups, such as ANTIFA, have long since hijacked the movement. Presently, it bears little resemblance to peaceful protests. In fact, there is mounting evidence that many, if not most, of these rioters are not local. They roam from location to location and are being supported and funded by organized groups of outsiders.

The polls show that the overwhelming majority of voters are fed up and afraid. They simply don’t feel safe in their own homes or neighborhoods. They want the violence to end. Many of those who can are fleeing these cities for safer environments.

Clearly, the Dems are on the wrong side of this issue. Their history with it is, frankly, laughable.

First, they ignored it. For weeks, prominent Dems, such as Biden and Pelosi, and most of their supporters in the mainstream media denied its existence. Biden called it “fear mongering.” Jerry Nadler, denigrated it as a “myth.” They failed to even mention it at their convention. Not a word. Zip, zilch, nada. Liberal mayors and governors refused to accept President Trump’s offers to help. Various Biden supporters have even given money to a fund that posts bail for arrested rioters.

When pressed on the matter they insisted they were “peaceful protests.” The height of this hypocrisy was a CNN piece that showed the reporter describing the “protests” as “peaceful” while, in the background, one could see fires raging. Talk about “fake news!”

For months, Biden was unwilling or unable to stand up to the mob and liberal governors and mayors in these locales. He refused to criticize, much less condemn, their actions. Probably, he was afraid to anger his supporters who were the perpetrators and abettors.

Now that the polls have turned against Biden and have indicated he is losing support among Blacks and Hispanics, who have been most affected by the violence, now that even CNN anchors, such as Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo, have criticized the Dems’ handling of this issue, Biden has belatedly and half-heartedly condemned them. I say, too little, too late.

Now, the talking point is the rioters are Trump supporters. Huh? Does anyone actually believe this nonsense? If they are Trump supporters why are the Dems providing funds to bail them out of jail? The Dems are really scrambling on this issue, and if the violence persists it could cost them the election.

Mail-in Voting

Potentially, the entire election could be decided by mail-in votes. So what, you might say. A vote is a vote regardless of how it is cast. On the other hand, the system is subject to manipulation and fraud. There are various bugs that should be resolved before it is rolled out in a national election.

This issue is being hotly debated right now, and both sides are dug in. I will stipulate that there are legitimate points on both sides. I don’t want to rehash them here. Suffice to say, now is not the time to enact it on a massive basis as some want to do.

Here is the problem as I see it. The entire legitimacy of our republic is based on free, fair and honest elections. Regardless of the outcome, the people accept the result. This has not been a problem in the past. We have had many close and even controversial elections.

In my lifetime, the two that come to mind were 1960 and 2000. In 1960 there were suspicions that Chicago mayor Richard Daley had caused additional votes to be cast for JFK, thus swinging Illinois and the election to him. Chicago already had a reputation for such shenanigans. But, Richard Nixon did not challenge the outcome and the public accepted the result.

In 2000 Florida had a controversy with thousands of its ballots, the infamous “hanging chads” problem. The ballots were recounted several times and ultimately the Supreme Court had to decide the winner, George W. Bush. The Al Gore camp was not happy, but, ultimately they accepted the decision, and the country moved on.

In those years the country was not nearly as divided as it is now. In my view, there is a strong possibility of a controversy in a few closely contested states, such as questionable signatures, accusations of voter harvesting, or late submission of votes. We could end up with litigation or violent protests over the result lasting months if not years. I fear that whichever side loses will claim they were “robbed,” and that would be very bad for the country.

To be sure, there are many other issues that people care about, but I feel that these two have the greatest potential to affect the election.

CONCLUSION

Both sides agree that this will be an important election. I maintain that it will be the most crucial election in my lifetime. The result will impact our way of life for many years, if not forever. The country is divided as it is. We don’t need matters to be exacerbated by a controversial election.