The Election 2024 Chronicles, Volume 12; The Trump Chronicles, Volume 163: April Update

It’s obvious that I haven’t been attending to this blog. I haven’t posted since January. It’s not for lack of thinking; it’s just that the news these days is hard to read. As I write this Joe Biden and Donald Trump are the presumptive nominees and one of them will be elected President in November. Virtually every election is known as “the most important of your generation/lifetime/country’s history” but this one may well be.

There’s a lot I don’t need to write about (e.g. Trump’s dozens of indictments) but my fears boil down to this: whichever way the election goes the Trump camp will do their best to end our democracy and usher in a new era of fascism.

I’ve been suggesting that as the legal nooses continue to constrict around his neck Trump will not face justice. He will instead flee to Russia and ask Putin for asylum. This would explain Trump’s continuing craving of Putin’s approval. Unfortunately Trump has been successful in delaying justice through a long, strange series of inane legal arguments. I fear that none of his trials will conclude before the election.

So here’s my fear:

Scenario 1: Trump wins the election. This may sound crazy but he did win in 2016 after I had spent months saying this was impossible. We’re too far away from the election to be able to make a prediction. If he returns to office he has already promised to use the Justice Department to seek revenge against his enemies. See this article in the Texas Tribune. Ironically this is what he charges the Biden administration of doing: weaponizing the Justice Department against him. He also spends a great deal of time talking about the border with Mexico. He clearly can’t close the border as Mexico is much to important a trading partner. But this threats of mass deportation and increased enforcement will discourage some of this and will be bad for the economy. Most importantly he promises to dismantle the executive branch so that loyalty isn’t to the American people but to him. He perpetuates the lie of the existence of a “deep state” of government employees who wish to take down the government by liberal policies; ironically he will attempt to take down the government through his fascist policies. Trump recognized that many of his goals weren’t achieved because he chose people served the American people over him. He won’t make that mistake again.

Scenario 2: Trump loses the election. Even if Biden wins Trump will (again) refuse to accept the results. When this happened in 2021 he tried to block the peaceful transition of power on January 6th. It was a chaotic day filled with mistakes that he won’t make again.

Trump famously predicted that he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not lose support. I didn’t believe him at the time but I do now. His support base is strong and deep and they have lots of guns. I don’t say this lightly but our only real chance of remaining a democracy lies in some outside factor. Polls show that if Trump is convicted in one of his trials he will lose support but I don’t believe that. He’s gotten too much mileage claiming he’s being persecuted. I do believe he’s running in part to avoid jail time; he has already raised the possibility of pardoning himself.

I can’t promise I’ll get any better at posting to this blog but I’ll try.

The Election 2024 Chronicles, Volume 11; The Trump Chronicles, Volume 162: Why I Believe Trump Is Ineligible To Be President Again

As of a few days ago we are in an election year. This election, alas, has been hard to watch and I wish I had written more. By the election I hope to have written enough to have given a good sense of the year.

This is unusual this early but the nominees are almost certainly set. Once again, presumably, Joe Biden will run against Donald Trump. We’ve had a rematch before. We’ve been this way before. Grover Cleveland served from 1885 and 1889 and lost to Benjamin Harrison in 1888. Cleveland ran again in 1892 and defeated Harrison’s bid for reelection. He served his second term from 1893 to 1897 and retired after that.

But the election of 2024 has a few wrinkles. For the first time in our history in 2020 the loser refused to concede. Trump has spent the time since 2020 successfully convincing a large percentage of Americans that he was fraudulently defeated and the Presidency was stolen from him. Frankly conceding defeat is custom but not a requirement.

But on January 6, 2021, in the waning days of his Presidency Trump planned to overthrow the government and stop the peaceful transfer of power. That was the day the Senate was to gather and accept the electoral votes and vote to name Joe Biden the 46th President. But on that day Trump gathered his supporters at the White House and directed them to march to the Capitol and stop the voting. They almost succeeded. It was only through the heroic actions of Vice President Mike Pence, the Secret Service and the Capitol Police.

So why does that make him ineligible to run again? After the Civil War we passed three Constitutional amendments: 13, 14, and 15. The 14th Amendment guarantees citizenship to newly freed slaves who were born in the United States but it does several other things. Section 3 says this:

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 3 intended that those who betrayed their oaths by fighting for the Confederacy couldn’t come back to government service. But according to my reading Trump’s actions fit this. He took an oath of office at his inauguration in 2017 and called for the violent overthrow of the government in 2021 to stay in office.

Those who support his reelection claim that it should be up to the American people to chose our next President. But if you want someone who is under 35 or was not born in this country to be President, you can’t have what you want. Several years ago when Arnold Schwarzenegger was the wildly popular governor of California there was talk about finding a way to be President. His political star fell soon after that but even if it hadn’t he couldn’t become President. Even a naturalized citizen can’t be President.

Constitutional amendments don’t expire and they don’t become guidelines. They are the law of the land unless they are repealed (as was the 18th Amendment).

More later.

The Election 2024 Chronicles, Volume 10: Goodbye Tim Scott (and RFK Jr.)

It’s been a while since I’ve updated this category, not because of a lack of activity but because other topics have been making more noise.

Last time I wrote Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was running for the democratic nomination but has switched to run as an independent. Unlike other elections I have chosen not to follow independents only because it’s too hard to differentiate who is a viable candidate. RFK Jr. is running on a platform of vaccine denial and I don’t anticipate him garnering many votes.

On the Republican side former Vice President Pence dropped out late last month. He has run on his Christian credentials which necessitated a strong showing in Iowa. But the polls in Iowa showed him doing poorly and he saw the writing on the wall. Hard to know if his political career is over, and if not, what he’ll do next.

The news now is the departure of Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina. He attempted to run without criticizing Trump and may have been a victim of his own civility. The GOP debates were free for all’s rife with interruptions, talking over each other and general incivility. While most of us appreciate politeness and deference it meant he was pushed out and just couldn’t find his lane. This is nothing but good news for his fellow South Carolinian Nikki Haley. She now has the inside track for South Carolina’s primary, set for February 24th.

Of course former President Trump continues to dominate the GOP polls and as of right now is favored to win the nomination. Stay tuned for how his trials are going.

Democratic Candidates:

Republican Candidates:

The Election Chronicles, Volume 9: Updates and Thoughts

As I write this seven Republicans who hope to be the nominee in 2024 are debating at the Ronald Regan Library. I have to confess that I don’t watch debates from either party because they are so tightly scripted and spun that I find them fairly useless.

This debate is also probably an exercise in futility because it would take a large and unplanned event to keep Donald Trump from being nominated. His legal troubles are, if anything, cementing his support. At this point it would take something like a medical issue that would prevent him from serving.

I rarely agree with him on advice but if he asked me I would have advised him to skip the debates because of his lead. His presence would give a platform to his opponents; he would have nothing to gain and much to lose.

As I’ve said, every four years I attempt to list the serious candidates and spend the entire cycle trying to decide who is serious. I haven’t made any changes to the Democratic slate but with the Republican slate I’ve pared them down to the candidates who were invited to tonight’s debate, and of course, Donald Trump. I’ve decided to let the Republican party do the heavy lifting for me:

Democratic Candidates:

Republican Candidates:

The Election 2024 Chronicles, Volume 8: Weekend Update

As I write this we are a short (!) 464 days until election day 2024. It’s often been said that it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and it’s true. There hasn’t been an update in the candidates I’m following but I’ve included that part of my page. I have hopes of placing a countdown clock in this space but I haven’t yet found anything that works.

So here’s my update on day 464 until:

On the Democratic side, President Biden continues to lead the small pack. I have to confess I haven’t heard anything from Marianne Williamson but her web page is still active and she’s still collecting donations. Meanwhile, Robert Kennedy Jr. continues to find ways to make news without making him look like a lunatic and continues to fail. He recently suggested a conspiracy that COVID was targeted to spare Jews from getting sick. He later claimed this was not meant to be antisemitic. A few days ago he claimed that even though he is running for President he has been denied Secret Service protection. The Secret Service does provide protection for candidates but they determine when it’s appropriate (for example they protected candidate Barack Obama because of credible threats because of his race). But here RFK Jr. claims that the President is blocking them from protecting him. It’s true that both is father and his uncle were assassinated and that must be taken into account. But, as always, he cries conspiracy at every turn.

The Republican side is more interesting, if not new. Former President Trump continues to hold a sizeable lead even though he’s been charged with 37 indictments for his mishandling of classified documents. With the exception of former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, his opponents either supports Trump’s claim of innocence or have remained silent. Despite the indictments Trump continues to raise money and has not lost much support. On the other hand he’s continuing to have trouble attracting independents. I suspect that the other Republicans are hoping something happens to Trump to remove him from the campaign. That will allow them to gain support without appearing disloyal to Trump’s supporters.

This isn’t exactly the level of courage I look for in leadership but they are not a courageous bunch. Playing the waiting game and hoping outside forces put you in the driver’s seat is no way to run a campaign, or a country for that matter.

It’s going to be a long 464 days.

Democratic Candidates:

Republican Candidates:

The Election 2024 Chronicles, Volume 7: Another One Joins The Bus

I have to admit that this one caught me by surprise: Miami Mayor Frances Suarez has announced he is running for the Republican nominee for President. I have to confess he doesn’t sound much different than the rest of the field. I’ve linked to his campaign page but it appears ask for money and do little else. We’ll see how it turns out.

This may be a good time to ask why so many Republicans are running, particularly since Donald Trump currently runs so far ahead. Well, here’s my theory: I’ve discussed (and will continue to discuss) his many legal troubles; he’s also 77 years old and eats a poor diet. There is a distinct possibility that something outside of the voters will end his campaign and I think his competitors hope his exit will begin their rise.

This certainly explains why most of them are loathe to criticize him. They all know he has a loyal base who they don’t wish to anger. They know they can’t beat him with votes but want to be ready if he’s arrested (or flees) or has a health crisis.

In any case here’s the lineup:

Democratic Candidates:

Republican Candidates:

The Trump Chronicles, Volume 159; The Election 2024 Chronicles, Volume 6: Our First Former President Is Indicted

Since he first announced his run for President we’ve known that Donald Trump believes that rules and laws apply to other people and nothing he does is wrong. He is the only President to be impeached twice for clear wrongdoing; he successfully hid behind his office. But it appears his hubris may have reached its limit.

In March he was indicted by the state of New York for falsifying business records; a woman named Stephanie Clifford (stage name Stormy Daniels) claimed to have had an affair with Mr. Trump. Trump then directed money to buy her silence and claimed it was money paid to his attorney.

But he has since been indicted on far more serious charges. When a President leaves office virtually all his papers belong to the National Archives and special care is given to memos classified as Confidential, Secret and Top Secret. There’s always a fair amount of chaos when a President leaves office and it’s not unheard of for someone to accidentally remove documents that should have stayed. When President Trump left the White House on January 20, 2021 he directed boxes to be taken to his residence in Florida. When the National Archives noticed documents were missing they asked the Trump team to produce them. Trump refused. Trump was then issued a subpoena demanding those documents. Again he refused. He then directed his lawyers to either deny they exist or hide them to make sure they weren’t found. In August of last year the FBI obtained a search warrant as they believe Trump still has documents that belong to the National Archives; they search his residence and find 102 classified documents.

You can read the full text of the indictment here. It’s remarkably short and readable and I recommend everyone read it. Please note: if you haven’t read it and want to give me your opinion I won’t listen.

So where do we go from here? These are serious charges and he could end up doing serious prison time if he’s convicted. But he has a history of using social pressure and money to avoid taking responsibility for his actions. He’s claiming that he’s being singled out because he’s running for President and the whole thing is unfair. It’s been good for his popularity and fundraising but won’t make any difference as his case goes on.

At this point he has a few choices:

  • He can go to trial and hope to be acquitted. But he runs the risk of being convicted and sentenced. I don’t see him doing this
  • He can instruct his lawyers to bargain for a lighter sentence. In other words he pleads guilty to a lesser charge that will give him a lighter sentence. This would require him to admit guilt. Again, I don’t see him doing this.
  • He can plead “no contest.” This means he avoids admitting guilt but does not fight the charges and he accepts that he will be sentenced. Vice President Spiro Agnew famously used this plea in 1973. To the extent that this does not absolve him of the charges I don’t see him doing this.
  • Similarly a defendant can use the “Alford plea.” Here the defendant also does not admit guilt but recognizes that there is enough evidence to convict him. Once again this does not allow him to avoid being sentenced and I can’t see him agreeing to this.

So what will he do? I’ve been miserably wrong in all my predictions but I think he’ll run. Much like Edward Snowden I believe he’ll find a way to get to Russia and seek asylum from Vladimir Putin. Furthermore I believe that he kept many of those documents as a type of “currency” to get Putin to allow him in.

I know that’s a pretty serious charge but I believe nothing matters to Trump more than saving his own skin. When he was arraigned he wasn’t required to surrender his passport. If that happens you heard it here first.

The Election 2024 Chronicles, Volume 5: Yes, There’s More

While the Democratic field for the 2024 Presidential election appears pretty stable, the Republican field keeps getting bigger and bigger. Former President Donald Trump continues to be the front runner but his legal troubles continue to pile up. It appears that the other candidates are banking that at some point he won’t be able to continue his candidacy and they are hoping to be positioned to take the mantle. Some are critical of Mr. Trump, others are not. But all of them know that something will have to happen for them to have a shot.

As of now here is the lineup:

Democratic Candidates:

Republican Candidates:

The Election 2024 Chronicles, Volume 4: This Surprises Nobody

For several months now we’ve known that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was planning a run for the Republican nomination for President, and a few days ago he made it official. He’s been a strong supporter of Donald Trump and he probably hoped that Trump wouldn’t run in 2024 but instead would endorse him. Yea, I don’t think any serious person thought Trump would move over for anyone.

Unlike some of his early opponents it’s easy to see where DeSantis is planting his flag. He believes that homosexuality is evil and that young people can be “groomed” into that lifestyle. In other words he claims the need for laws that will “protect our children.” He has signed legislation that makes it illegal for elementary and high schools to teach about LGBT issues; he believes this education should come from parents and not from schools.

It is no surprise that the LGBT community and their supporters see this a way to drive them further into the closet and return is to the days of state sanctioned discrimination. The Disney corporation has expressed its opposition and this has led DeSantis to “reign in” Disneyworld. I’ll certainly have more to say about this as the campaign continues.

Here is the current lineup:

Democratic Candidates:

Republican Candidates:

The Election 2024 Chronicles, Volume 3: Another Hat In The Ring

This will likely keep happening over the next few weeks and months. Tim Scott is now officially a candidate for the Republican nomination for President. He is currently a Senator from South Carolina and is the only Black Republican Senator. You can read for yourself but he’s running on a popular platform: control immigration, restore traditional values, etc. He enjoys some name recognition partly because of his race. His challenge in the next months will be to differentiate himself from others and raise serious money.

Stay tuned, there will be more announcements in the coming days. In the meantime here is the updated field:

Democratic Candidates:

Republican Candidates: