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DEA authorized to conduct surveillance on protestors (buzzfeednews.com)
599 points by codezero 39 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 312 comments

Via Kim Zetter:

> If you're wondering why DEA and US Marshal's Service have been given authority to conduct covert surveillance of protestors, it's likely because they have planes outfitted with Dirtboxes - powerful stingray devices that collect data on phones from the air


I've seen a lot of cessna-style aircraft circling over south seattle at low altitude in the last few days - no visible camera - I bet that's what they're being used for.

there have been Cessnas flying over Dallas too

This may explain why the DEA, but not why protestors, as opposed to looters

Do you really think the cops see a distinction? If so, I encourage you to watch any of the dozens of videos of cops attacking people that have come out over the past 72 hours.

Cop brain is very simple: You wither listen to the cop or you are a criminal. There are no shades of grey, and the US police have demonstrated this across the country this weekend.

Maybe it is because protesters are more of a threat to those in power than looters

Of course, most of the looters are undercover cops anyway.

Most? I've seen hundreds of people looting in my neighborhood. Most of them aren't even adults, let alone cops.

Yeah this just isn't true. I'm sure that there's been some false flag attacks but to say that most of the looters are undercover cops is asinine.

There are several concerning videos of people trying to trigger violence at protests. Here is one list I saw today...


I find it unusual and upsetting that this comparison gets made so often.

On one side, you have the generally disorganized public which naturally includes the opportunistic, the provocative, the desperate. On the other, you have the police and the military, nominally organized with a largely uniform mission and code of conduct.

Bad behavior by the government is less excusable and also more threatening.

I don't think it's meaningful to try to compare them. Is police brutality worse - ok. It's not relevant to the investigation the FBI is looking into.

I also think there may be some suspicions that some violent instigators might be acting at the urging of a foreign government - which is the domain of the FBI.

I think it's reasonable to help them in that effort - while also condemning the police for their role.

The death of ONE MAN, George Floyd, caused mass outrage. If a foreign directed agent is able to instigate a similar tragedy, I think that's very very important to nail down.

Actual text from the authorization memo:

"...to enforce federal criminal laws in the wake of protests..."

So not protestors, but criminals taking advantage of protests.

Because putting "protestors" in the title fits Buzzfeed's narrative better than "looters"? The stated purpose is to allow the DEA to investigate crimes such as looting, arson etc committed under cover of the protests.

This is why we need strong encryption. Our First Amendment is under attack. These days you cannot have a right to peacefully assemble and protest without having strong encryption available to plan.

Encryption is a small part of the problem: you need to deal with mass tracking, coercion, infiltration, and the lack of checks and balances preventing abuse. I want strong E2E encryption as well but it’s just one part of a large problem.

1A doesn't extend to riots. Peaceable assembly is what it covers. Not burning down gov't buildings, shooting people trying to protect their property, or throwing Molotov cocktails in police cruisers.

Peaceable assembly is what the anti-lockdown protesters were all about, but those people are grandma killers, right? Unlike the Antifa thugs that are assaulting women in wheelchairs.

The gov't should use all it's resources to put an end to these riots, which are more insurrection than riot. Hence the surveillance drones and planes. Get used to it or stop rioting. And the gov't will go back to their normal surveillance state. So yeah, we still need strong encryption.

> Peaceable assembly is what the anti-lockdown protesters were all about, but those people are grandma killers, right?

They came with long guns and spat at the police officers. But, okay, sure, that's "Peaceable".

... yes? How many people did they shoot? AFAIK it was 0, in which case how many guns they brought is irrelevant. Likewise spitting at police officers is pretty peaceable by the standards of the current riots.

To be clear, they are total and complete idiots, but unless I've missed something they are peaceful idiots.

Not only the First Amendment, but also the Fourth.

>> “In August 2013, a report by Reuters revealed that the Special Operations Division (SOD) of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration advises DEA agents to practice parallel construction when creating criminal cases against Americans that are based on NSA warrantless surveillance.”


How is this relevant to this article?

Parallel construction can occur from any justice department org.

Because the DEA has a special unit for it: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-dea-sod/exclusive-u-s-dir...

I think a lot folks are overlooking that there are indeed some concerning instigators in some of the crowds, trying to escalate violence. I found this list of supporting videos...


There was a post on Reddit where a guy found dozens of cameras hidden on poles that he could access with their IP addresses in browser and even control directly and get live feed into people's homes. Some of those said "Property of DEA". Eventually hundreds of people started accessing with the ip addresses that were listed by the OP and the feed was cut off.

[0] https://old.reddit.com/r/conspiracy_commons/comments/gin79z/...

We knew years ago that the DEA has cameras all over the place. They do things like hide them in traffic control devices and read license plates with them. They analyze the traffic to look for drug mules and pass off tips to local police so they can execute parallel construction and hide the real source of the evidence. We all talked about it and, like most big brother shit, no one cared and we all moved on. Glad the kids are rediscovering it.



Discussed here at the time too: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23167592

Some of those links are still active even after being outed more than 3 weeks ago.

I wish we had more opportunities to learn about and highlight the kind of tech that could change or strongly affect this sort of narrative.

Tech isn't always the answer, but here we are on HN reading about a frustrating issue, a bunch of spinning wheels in a sense, and we're good at tech as a group.

I don't even know what it would look like, but currently the typical HN community response to this stuff is hyper-perceptive. From "here we go" to "here's what the article says". This alone is far too limited (we're not just here with our popcorn; we want to _do_) and it creates a pattern that can eventually shut out such news because no traction can be gained--what's the point.

IMO we can build communications environments and frameworks that empower ourselves and others to take creative action, even of the sociopolitical type. And if we can't build 'em, we can share and promote the news.

(Some of you are already doing this--thank you, please keep sharing your work)

Well I just learned about a website today that gives the list of the police who have been sued and their names and records. [1]

I think maybe a better use of the public outrage of cancel-culture might be to direct that call-out energy from celebrities to police that commit manslaughter.

Next step might be getting pictures on such a website.

1. https://www.capstat.nyc/officer/p11154/

After getting pictures start gluing their mugs onto walls,windows, and doors. Not much different than printing mugshots in papers or on Facebook...


Contact your local chapter of Black Lives Matter (or a different social justice group if you prefer) -- thats the besr way. The more we technologists can engage directly with the organizations and communities, the higher the odds we will be sble to build something that meets a real need.

What exactly do you want to empower people to do? Loot Louis Vuitton and Walmart in the name of stopping police brutality? This violence isn't good for anybody and needs to stop.

Well, to be able to spot propaganda like the variety you’re spouting right now would be a decent start.

I’m not even sure where to begin worrying about the assets of WALMART AND LOUIS VITTON of all stores over the needs and apparent rage of the local community.

Because it's just property, right? No downstream effects on society at all, right?

I'm sure you were out their leading the charge when Justine Damond was shot in the stomach by a cop in Minneapolis, right?

This isn't about race and probably never was. Tragic as it is, looting and riots are going to solve anything. Seriously, if you think that's helpful, then you are the problem. What's happening now is akin to a toddler throwing a tantrum. This behavior won't change anything. It's all virtue signalling until dark when it turns in to chaos.

So how about spouting of some things that will actually make a difference, instead of following the crowd blindly in to the Apple store as you yell, "hands up. don't shoot."

You know people can complain about the way they are treated without needing to come up with a solution, right? Your comment is akin to defending a bully whise response to their victim's pleas to stop bullying them is "make me". Besides, there are a variety of actions and reforms the protesters call for, and just because they may differ, or arent being actively chanted in the streets, doesn't mean they aren't being made. At the very least, I'm sure everyone protesting would agree that they want to see real consequences for uncalled-for police violence going forward, instead of the current system which has failed in this regard. You may disagree with that solution but to argue it isn't being proposed at all is just wrong. If you haven't seen the proposals people are making, you aren't paying attention.

If people won't take the peaceful protests seriously the protestors that don't get maimed, murdered, or imprisoned will, almost certainly not give up. Instead, as the movement grows, because the problems are getting worse and the cohort growing in number the protests will inevitably get worse until the movement is crippled or succeeds one way or another. Destroying property and looting is a common theme in successful protests. Your casual contempt of the plight of the poor and minority and ignorance of this is telling but not surprising.

If that's where your thoughts are going, maybe I can't help you much; anyway here's something to consider: I'd prefer to keep the outcomes open to all kinds of win-win possibilities. Assuming that those outcomes must involve looting does both of us a disservice. You can do better here. Maybe just leave it at that first sentence?

This situation reminds me the beginning of the pandemic: everybody thought it's just a couple cases here and there and would resolve by itself quickly. This won't resolve quickly, partially because the current sketchy administration really needs this kind of protest to justify using more force and implementing the global survelliance - something they've been wanting for long time.

I'm also having a similar emotional response that I did in mid March. Fear, anxiety, anger, sleepless nights, and distorted time perception.

I'm livid with companies that aren't talking about this with their employees and giving them space and flexibility on deadlines, meetings, telling them to not worry about taking vacation if they need to, etc.

I've talked to so many friends that are stressed out and barely able to work or function right now and they have massive anxiety and stress from world events that are only being compounded by managers and C's not leading by example and telling them to take time for themselves and stopping the unnecessary meetings or TELLING them that they understand their productivity might be gone.

And these are fairly privileged people with the ability to work from home and a stable income.

My wife is a black engineer and she's hanging on the last 2 days still taking client meetings and putting on her "work is still important" face but she's miserable before and after dealing with them. She's also, like a lot of us who haven't been hearing direct empathy from leadership, afraid to take PTO/Vacation right now BECAUSE of the economy and fear of losing her job.

On the flip side I have seen a lot of companies that are giving people Fridays off, 3-4 day weekends to decompress, etc.

I think after this I'll be moving to only working for companies that I find to be very active in social movements.

I'm really shocked that this is the case. I work for a big evil company (not entirely by choice, my former company was acquired). I really didn't have anything nice to say about them before the pandemic, but so far through the last couple of months they've been doing everything you're talking about. If my company, with their incredibly damning Wikipedia article can do it, I'm at a loss to why anyone else can't.

I've mostly worked for old-timey telco companies not from CA/WA and they're pretty behind the times on empathetic leadership in my experience. I didn't really start even experiencing what I consider empathetic leadership until I started working for CA/WA companies over the last 5 years.

Any remotely awkward event that popped up you likely had a boss who just didn't say a peep about anything because they didn't want to rock the boat.

Thankfully I'm seeing a lot more reports of the opposite this week but there's still a lot of those companies out there.

Allowing world events to affect your internal emotional state is no way to live. If you cannot consume news media without being emotionally compromised, you may want to re-consider the news sources you are using, and perhaps reduce your consumption.

"Consume news media"

Some of us are living through this in real life, we're not all privileged to just watch this on TV. That's the entire point of being understanding to your employees and coworkers right now, YOU have no idea what is going on right now in other peoples lives, especially if they're not willing to be open with you because of opinions like you've just shared.

Acting like some "just deal with it and work" type is neither endearing nor macho. It wasn't cool 15 years ago when I got into tech and it's not cool now.

Have some empathy for your peers.

Work is not life. Tech is not life.

I think there's an emotional segregation that happens with age - where you keep work at work, and personal life at home.

I appreciate that a lot younger employees may not be there yet, but I don't think it's correct to assume that everyone in the world needs to emotionally deal with every social/economic/political problem in the world.

That isn't scalable.

I think that's because people emit all the time, without quite realizing that, "magnetic waves" and emotions are the way we "observe" these waves. The strength of these waves is remarkable that even in my deep suburbia I can feel them. It seems the nation is rapidly finding its resonance mode.

No, that's silly. If I had managed to spend the last week without knowing anything about the news, I wouldn't have felt any of this. It's just a natural reaction to troubling events, no need to add magic to it.

Interesting notion...further reading/sources?

At the same time that this administration decries the overreach by other government law enforcement bodies such as the FBI.

That’s because the FBI was investigating them and their buddies. For Trump it’s not about principles, it’s about power and what they can get away with.

There is no credibility to this administrations statements, only its actions.

I am starting to wonder if this is what it means to run "government like a business". Corporations are basically authoritarian dictatorships that don't tolerate dissent or only within a narrow range and it seems that government is run the same way.

Surveillance of protesters:

Student leaders were put under close surveillance by the authorities, traffic cameras were used to perform surveillance on the square and the restaurants in the nearby area and where students gathered were wiretapped.[108] This surveillance led to the identification, capture and punishment of participants of the protest.[109] After the massacre, the government did thorough interrogations at work units, institutions and schools to identify who had been at the protest.[110]


Clearly Trump and his accomplices are huge fans and admirers of Chinese methods. And they've only just started.

Palantir has contracts with these agencies. So you've got Facebook board members, and probably Mark Zuckerberg, profiting from this chaos.

Are you guys figuring out the game yet?

Curious: what is Zuck’s relation to Palantir?

Peter Thiel serving on the board of both Facebook and palantir.

Good to see that any pretense that the drug war was not just another way to enslave minorities and other undesirables is gone with the current government. Now they're bringing in the veteran warriors who have deep experience suppressing the aforementioned. A more hostile and unnecessary police force than the DEA doesn't exist.

"The DEA is limited by statute to enforcing drug related federal crimes."

Barely an inconvenience.

They just need to sprinkle a little crack before making the arrest.

I'm waiting for when "sprinkle a little covid on dead people" becomes a thing.

What statute?

I think this has more profound history and consequences than people realize.

The DEA for a long time has been slowly transforming into this catch all military/police/spy/logistics/legal/intelligence/technical agency. It picks up little bits of responsibility and capability here and there that enable it to do some function in a drug case. But because the funding of drug law enforcement is so crucial for so many government functions in direct and indirect ways, and because individuals in a position often benefit from an increase in scope the pressure is always towards scope creep, to saying yes when permission for more power is asked.

So the DEA has organically expanded and expanded and expanded and the more this is accepted the easier it is for it to creep further and further until it starts to resemble something totally different than how it would have originally been envisioned.

On the other side of this you get someone like Trump, who is looking for tools he can use that have limited restrictions on their powers and a wide scope of arenas in which they can be deployed, and the DEA is an obvious choice.

An you end up with a very dangerous combo of a person who is looking for as much power as he can grab onto and this entity which is incredibly efficient and capturing scope and power within our current system and therefore extremely ripe for abuse.

This is a great argument for strictly defining the scope of these alphabet soup agencies upfront and making the process to change those scopes very restrictive. Unfortunately we've chosen the exact opposite path.

As the people say, "Fuck 12".

As much as I support not supporting the police, I feel like there are better ways to further that cause than shouting cryptic slogans.

Nothing better captures systemic, institutional, hidden racism than the war on drugs. Why oh why can't we end that already!

I don't find that systemic, institutional racism very much hidden.

Before it gets asked...

>The DEA is limited by statute to enforcing drug related federal crimes. But on Sunday, Timothy Shea, a former US Attorney and close confidant of Barr who was named acting administrator of the DEA last month, received approval from Associate Deputy Attorney General G. Bradley Weinsheimer to go beyond the agency’s mandate “to perform other law enforcement duties” that Barr may “deem appropriate.”

How can we repair a system that's been systematically corrupted over several years? As a systems engineer my instinct is to rebuild the system from the ground up. If only politics was that simple.

Speaking as an infosec practitioner,systems like this are pieced together over time, they are not and cannot be torn down and rebuilt since that implies you can plan a complete design and follow through.

It takes time but a mess like this can be corrected. You first isolate/segment,then you determine scope and source of the compromise/failure as well as external communication channels. The cleaning up part starts when you first disable the communication channels, get forensics imaging as needed,surgically remove threats on critical systems and slowly rebuild systems that are less than critical.

Think of america as a network instead of a system, the hackers have seized control of the domain controller and other critical systems but they haven't compromised all systems or prevented admins from kicking them out.

The problem is not actually fixing America but convincing anyone how deep and widespread the problem is. You can fix it but the bad guys will just get back in, it's not just a cleanup but a systemic change on how security(national security,public security,etc..)is done. In american politics we're talking about changes to the constitution, perhaps even a rewrite. You can convince people a new president that will magically fix things is needed but you can't convince them the very foundation of the country has been cracked due to changes that happened over time and will cause a structural collapse.

> The problem is not actually fixing America but convincing anyone how deep and widespread the problem is.

There's a Churchill quote that's similar. Something like: The problem isn't winning the war, it's convincing others that it needs to be fought.

Unfortunately, in American politics, it's the equivalent of getting a week or two to work on the problem, and then you're fired and a new consultant is brought in. Do they identify the same problems? Even if they do, is their top of the list item to fix the same as the prior consultant's? Welcome to the revolving door of American politics.

What's worse, it's not really like you're a consultant, because then you might be able to leave it behind. It's more like you all work for that company, and it's a revolving set of promotions and demotions, and you're forced to watch people abandon your work for some other goal that you think is at best less important, but have no real ability to influence.

But see, this is one reason I said constitutional changes are in order. But politicians are focuses on the next election so they think they have to have visible accomplishments so they spend their time fixing exterior symptoms. Approval rating would not be good if you spenf most of your term focused on getting traction for a constitutional convention.

The way we fix legacy software systems: By carefully refactoring it one step at a time and testing and monitoring to make sure our refactoring doesn't break stuff that's working correctly.

The big rewrite is always appealing but almost always doomed to failure. There is 200+ years of painfully learned lessons in the US legal code. If we throw it all out and start over, we'll have to re-learn all of those lessons one tragedy at a time.

How far can we push this software analogy...

The government is a PAAS business. They have various customers, both direct B2C, like you and me, and B2B relationships with other companies that run business on their platform. Either way the customers pay quarterly or yearly for the services through a system called taxes.

Political activists and are a type of white /gray hat hacker who seeks to demonstrate exploitable flaws in the platform and may benefit through bug bounties from backers or through getting advantageous features implemented. Lobbyists are a kind of social engineer that also wishes to influence feature decisions.

Legislators are a type of software developer. Their job is complicated by the lack of adequate test and simulation environments, and the presence of competing interests who frequently oppose the suggested features or implementation decisions but whose approval is often needed for the PR to garnish approval.

> How far can we push this software analogy...

People used to talk about the "Microsoft tax"... well this system already has Federal, State, and local taxes...

Well, a federal legislator has the states as a test environment. One of the great things about a federal system.

If only you could refactor faster than features are added...

> The way we fix legacy software systems: By carefully refactoring it one step at a time and testing and monitoring to make sure our refactoring doesn't break stuff that's working correctly.

Have to be careful with this as these protest are about things that are indeed working as designed.

The way we fix most legacy software systems is by replacing them with newer, different ones.

>>The way we fix legacy software systems: By carefully refactoring it one step at a time and testing and monitoring to make sure our refactoring doesn't break stuff that's working correctly.

We no longer have the time for a slow approach where we make small changes and test and see. The system we have is not functioning, period, and end-users are protesting in the tens of thousands across all major cities in the country.

We don’t have the capacity or runway to rebuild from scratch either.

Guess it's time to move fast and break things. I hope we don't break anything too important...

Like healthcare? Privacy? Freedom from enslavement? Right to trial by a court of peers? A level footing between apenniless person and a billionaire? Crumbling infrastructure? Toxic water and food? Freedom from persecution?

We've been moving slow and pulling up the ladders behind us for hundreds of years. Things only trickle down when there's profit. That needs to change. These protests are exposing that game.

I'm pretty sure you've imposed your own assumptions on what I meant when I said that.

That said, if all you see are the problems, it's easy to think there's no downside. It's entirely possible for other aspects of our society to get worse as we focus on those items. It's also possible for those aspects to get worse as we fail to make any meaningful change on the items we focus on, and eventually fail.

Assuming only positives can come from change is very dangerous. That doesn't mean we shouldn't attempt things anyways, but we should do so with eyes wide open, and not delusional as to the possible outcomes.

Trump does that :-/

If the system wasn't functioning "period" the protesters wouldn't even be able to protest though. They wouldn't have gas, they wouldn't have food, they wouldn't have phones, they wouldn't have any sort of protection and the powerful would kill them and they would disappear from history.

That's not to say there aren't serious problems or the system couldn't be improved, nor to say the system functions well for everyone at all times because it doesn't. It obviously favors some people over others. But taken as a whole, it functions and we have a pretty good life.

You know what life has been like for most people in most places and times? What the system was in those places? The strong nakedly rape and abuse the weak. Hunger. No recourse. Zero justice except might and whatever charity came along. Gulags. Genocide. No say whatsoever and constant want and fear.

It's manifest this system functions fairly well all things considered. It allows you to sit here in comfort and say that for instance. To say any differently is either very naive or very disingenuous.

There are problems. There is injustice. There is corruption. We need to work on those things. But anyone out to overturn the system should do a little deep thinking first.

I think the problem is that for a significant proportion of the US population, it appears that they don't have a "Pretty good life" and the fact that you can even say this shows you are not paying attention.

From what I am learning, if you are black and encounter the police, then you life is in their hands, and depending upon your luck, things have a real chance of going badly for you. Black people are telling of how they avoid at all cost dealing with law enforcement.

How is that "pretty good"?

It's easy when you are in a position of privilege, easy to assume that everybody has the opportunity you have, easy to think that everybody is treated as you are. What the events of the last week have show is that this is not the case. If you are black, then your world is very different.

Something like 1000 people a year are killed by police in the US.


A larger than should be expected percentage of them are black. And this of course doesn't include harassment or other indignities inflicted on black people because of race. Also not those abuses by non police because of race.

It should be noted some number of these killings were entirely appropriate to protect life.

The point is, even though we have problems, and as this points out, we clearly do, the chance of being killed by the police for being black is very very small.

So rhetoric about "privilege" aside, ya, there is a lot of opportunity for people. Very few people go hungry in the US. There is general freedom of movement, freedom to vote, freedom to own property, some semblance of legal protection. Contrast that to say for example Boco Haram or Europe in 900AD or Baghdad during the Mongol invasions or so many other times and places, past and present in human history.

So I'm going to stick with my original thesis because it's true. We have problems. We also have ways to correct them. We also have a general understanding we should correct them. But claiming the "system doesn't work period" in hopes of <what?> is complete bollocks and in fact is usually something spoiled rich white kids say.

As a systems engineer you probably also know that building something complex from the ground up will have very buggy rollouts for the first versions :). Rewrites also have a pretty good history of bankrupting organizations. The current system is very fixable if somebody actually had the political will. Compared to building something new it will be easy.

This reminds me of the discussion about terraforming Mars. It’s deemed to be too hard and expensive to reduce our greenhouse emissions on a perfectly fine planet like earth so people think it’s easier to terraform a barren planet.

Electoral reform. Every state manages its own electoral processes, and the vast majority of states have some mechanism for direct democracy through ballot initiatives.

There are many potential improvements, from algorithmic redistricting to mail-in voting, but the big one IMO is Ranked Choice Voting (Maine has already achieved this successfully, and it's stood up against court challenges [0]). This allows us to break the R/D duopoly, and shift the incentives towards big-tent consensus-building rather than demonization and "lesser evilism", and giving independents and third parties a real path to victory.

[0] https://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/upcoming/rankedchoicefaq....

Ranked choice voting (often implemented as instant runoff) likely won’t break the duopoly in the ways you think it will. Approval Voting is a better technique. Check out the Center for Election Science for more info.

Funny you should mention it! I actually prefer Approval voting, partially for its simplicity, partially because it elegantly represents Consent of the Governed. I sometimes don't bother mentioning Approval, because RCV has greater mindshare, and "Ranked Choice" is a little stickier from a branding perspective. I kind of wish there were a better overarching term to describe multiple voting; either way, the priority IMO is that we get off of First Past The Post.

I'll check out CES, thanks.

Fargo, ND will use approval voting for the first time this Tuesday, June 9th. First time in American history. Albeit this is a two-winner race. So their are 7 candidates on the ballot (one of whom dropped out), and two write-in slots. You can vote for as many candidates as you want to, and the two with the most votes win.


Every state manages its own electoral processes, and the vast majority of states have some mechanism for direct democracy through ballot initiatives.

We already know how states being able to run their own elections worked out in the South before the Voting Rights Act.....

I was describing how it works already. Disenfranchisement can also swing the other direction (such as the Supreme Court intervening to stop the Florida recount in 2000).

The main point is: while there's no mechanism for citizens to pass a federal law without the existing parties and representative, most states do have such a mechanism, which puts the power to reform our electoral processes directly in the hands of We The People (while still subject to court oversight under state and federal Constitutions).

>How can we repair a system that's been systematically corrupted over several years?

Slowly, over several years or quickly with high body count and/or slim odds of lasting success depending on the nature of the proposed changes.

History is littered with attempts to move fast and break things but lasting change takes time because people's attitudes have to change. At the end of the day even unpopular dictators require some amount of consent of the governed in order to rule. You can try to play politics and then use the power gained to push whatever it faster with propaganda, indoctrination, legislation (which is somewhere between an appeal to authority and coercion when used in this manner) but if you push faster than the population actually wants they might push back.

I've thought about this for a long time.

Ranked choice voting and vote out everyone with a party affiliation on either side, the end goal being to take away the majority from both parties at both the state and federal level (and county etc also). After you get that you can start doing things like term limits, reining in K-street, etc.

That's the start to taking back both congress and eventually potus/scotus etc.

Unfortunately many people identify with their party as a tribe and fail to acknowledge the oligarchs own them both. As Chris Hedges says, it's the quiet bipartisanship you don't hear about that's the most dangerous.

Now is a very good time to focus on local politics.

For example, the police is very much controlled locally. Do you have real civilian oversight? There are a host of policies that are mostly enacted locally that are recommended by this org: https://www.joincampaignzero.org/

You'd probably want to start by passing a sweeping anti-corruption plan. https://www.vox.com/2019/9/16/20867216/elizabeth-warren-anti...

This is equivalent of a system engineer only reading the reports of one dept, let's say the HR department, and then formulating the rearchitecture.

When founding fathers designed the system, they intentionally did not choose to design a democracy because their firm believe was that democracies don't work. This is why they opted for a democratic republic.

One of the reasons why American republic works so well because any small minority can throw a wrench, people can vote with their feet (by moving across states, this is why American federal govt was designed to be so weak, at first it was even weaker but then they had to give it more powers, and today we end up with world's most powerful govt on an absolute scale, but on a relative scale, it can't even shutdown states for a pandemic), and people can vote with their wallets.

Rich people vote with their money directly, but make no mistake, just like disenfranchisement would any minority group will have severe negative consequences, disenfranchisement of the rich and powerful by taking their pretty open medium of participation would also have severe consequences.

American system doesn't just have rich and powerful buying the outcomes, it's just that it's the most open system where anyone can see what they're doing, this makes people comparing it to the rest of the world think that this is a corrupt system, when it is opposite of that.

Larry Lessig also points at treating campaign donations like the illegal bribes they are and reforming the "money in politics" problem first.

In Australia each vote received by a candidate is worth a $ amount of funding (paid by tax payers). We also have campaign donations. But I wonder how far the tax payer funded model could be taken.

Each vote represents a) the path to election but also b) funding for the next election campaign.

In Australia, are parties a "first-class" part of the system? In the US, the historical animosity toward "factions" by the Federalists left us with a system where individuals are funded and the parties are independent corporate entities with their own rules but only de facto power.

In the US, a proportional representation system would have to be enabled by constitutional amendment, I think.

No, it wouldn't require a constitutional amendment.


* Warren believes the flow of money in politics has stalled progress on a number of other issues, including gun violence, climate change, and the rising cost of health care. Stamping money out of politics goes to the root of these issues, she says.*

And Lessig has been a supporter of Warren's for exactly this reason for years.

I highly recommend watching this video [1] to understand why "progress has stalled".

Believe it or not, it's by design.

1. https://youtu.be/Ggz_gd--UO0

This was a good video! I'd never seen Scalia speak, and he's very compelling - I think he would have been a good teacher. Unfortunately, while the gridlock between senate and house is good at stopping progress benefitting the vulnerable, it has been less successful in stopping "progress" benefitting moneyed interests. This is perhaps because the jobs of both house and senate representatives depend so much on securing funding for their next campaign. Or maybe it's simply because most legislators personally benefit from such legislation, being moneyed themselves. Whatever the cause, the result resembles an oligarchy.

I hear the French did that once with great success. Took a while though.

Great success my ass, we got an Emperor, 3 kings and another emperor after that.

We only got the right to vote for men in a republic after we patriotically enlisted in 1875 to fight Prussia, and women when they patriotically replaced men in factories during WWII. Notice a pattern ? Like it would be handled like a carrot to a population so exhausted the only thing they vote for is the people already at the top ?

People who bullshit that beheading privilege-born people leads to great success is a lunatic and will be beheaded like Robespierre eventually. Even the second revolution in 1848 lead to the election of ... Napoleon III as president, before he created the "second empire"... Another violent fiasco.

Not saying it should be that way, but tired of hearing the french revolution disaster quoted as a miracle of democracy by all pseudo-anarchists to justify their blind violence. It's not taught that way to children in France. We call part of it the Terror...

The American Revolution produced first a weak Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation, then changed their government in 1787 and the new constitution and... well, the most substantive change to that government was the 12th amendment that changed the electoral college procedures.

Compare this to France, which went like this (not counting the smaller regimes):

* Absolute monarchy (ancien regime)

* Constitutional monarchy (until Louis XVII flees)

* First Republic

* First Empire (Napoleon seizes power)

* Constitutional monarchy

* Constitutional monarchy #2 (July Monarchy)

* Second Republic

* Second Empire (different Napoleon seizes power)

* Third Republic (only because the monarchists couldn't decide on which branch to restore, and agreed to a republic until one of the contenders died... who took an awfully long time to do so)

* Vichy France (after the Fall of France)

* Free French government-in-exile

* Fourth Republic

* Fifth Republic (the one we're on today)

Quite a stark contrast.

It was an all consuming revolution, sure (just about everyone that started it ended up dead, and poetically by the very revolutionaries they instigated). I don’t think the Revolution was too interested in individual rights, but more so on the class disparity.

It’s hard to judge because most nations as we know them were built on blood, however unjust. One is rarely handed a country, or in many cases, handed back a country.

Violent revolutions aren’t great when the ruling system is a democracy. By definition it’s going against the will of “the people”

With gerrymandering, the non-proportional Senate, and the Electoral College system, it might be a stretch to call the US federal government a democracy. Something like it, but not exactly.

I would be down for a revolution against gerrymandering.

I hear it was rough on headcount.

Once? About eight times. Five republics, plus some empires and a monarchy or two.

And cost a lot of heads.

> How can we repair a system that's been systematically corrupted over several years?

It's not the fault of the "system". The "system" wrote a law that says what the DEA is allowed to do (not this). It's not the "system" deciding to ignore that law, it's people. Hell, it's literally people with names. There are senior administration officials named all over that article.

You fix people by electing better people.

How do you elect those people?

Sticking with the software analogy, it’s like our system has these environment variables that only administrators get to set.

We don’t know how to make a simple change to those variables, so we’re coming up with all kinds of wonky workarounds.

I agree with you, it’s as simple as changing the environment variables. What’s complex is that it’s impossible.

That’s kind of the underlying frustration if we were to zoom out a bit. We need to make some simple changes in the config, and no one wants to give us admin rights or make the changes for us. It’s frustrating stuff, and has caused paralysis in our political system on every issue imaginable.

Yeah I'm tired of this loudmouthed confused old man from the Northeast who groped and digitally penetrated his Senate staffer... oh, wait.

Maybe this "electing better people" thing could be a challenge.

Friend if you think it is "just several years" then you have got it wrong. These degrees of corruption take time to build up, maybe even decades.

It is just like the Republic. Does Palpadine magically corrupt it in just years? No the Republic has been corrupted long before. It is a systemic corruption and such thing takes a long time to happen.


Of course the current US constitution is V2.

So how should it have gone? Roll with England’s framework and just ditch the King?

Doesn’t sound too terrible, we’d have proportional representation at least.

V1 was articles of confederation and it was pretty terrible.

No, they have gerrymandering too. But more proportional, yes.

The answer appears to be build a new system quietly behind the scenes and then abruptly switch over to it one day without regard to the difference between systems.

The U.S. is more a tale of peacefully handing power between two separate systems that both constantly evolve.

From time to time, these two systems lead to a state of cognitive dissonance which threatens their existence until a time in which the rubber band violently snaps back to an equilibrium.

This is one of the best ideas I've seen:



Re-align the interest of the rich so they have a strong financial interest in the middle class doing better. By having a progressive tax pegged to the median income of Americans.

Really enjoyed this. Thanks for posting. It doesn't directly address the abuse of the lower class. Is it assuming that a stronger middle class will lead to a system that better protects the lower class?

The system seems to be working as intended. You're asked every 4 years for a feedback and a direction, 30% of all concerned people bother to do so, 30% of the population is satisfied.

Maybe, oh maybe, look at yourself in the mirror and at least use the system, before rebuilding it from absolute 0 ? It's not like Trump grabbed the power from the feeble hands of the poor masses. The masses chanted his name for christ's sake... on a platform to revoke everything the previous guy did...

Sorry but this time, the system worked perfectly.

If you had put it to them as a hypothetical scenario at the time, what percentage of 2016 Trump voters would you guess would approve of how his administration is handling the protests? Or what about other issues?

(And we could ask the same question about other presidents, of course.)

An omnibus law of restrictions on law enforcement.

Burn it all to the ground and rebuild.

To task the DEA with this action is a direct affront to everything the movement asks for.

The war on drugs was a direction action against blacks, to task the DEA with oversight in response to the murder by racist cops is to both acknowledge and turn down any complaint that we may have had.

This is so completely fucked. I always worry about sounding hyperbolic, but I really do wonder these days if we’re living through the last days of the American republic.

Censorship is now widespread, banking and communications are now under total and constant surveillance.

Dissent groups are immediately infiltrated and quickly disbanded or redirected by the state (Tea Party, Occupy, Wikileaks, and presumably soon BLM).

All new vehicles and telephones come with surveillance and tracking technology (for the phones, by law) that the state has declared authority to bulk wiretap and store forever.

The US is in the longest war of its history, and support for these large-scale mass murder efforts, as well as the ubiquitous surveillance both domestically and abroad, is widespread and bipartisan.

Finally, and perhaps most depressingly, the US is now running a set of concentration camps in the south. Several of them are holding children by the hundreds.

There is no way out, as I see it. All of the meaningful methods of dissent have been outlawed or will result in violence being immediately deployed against you.

As far as I can tell, the only peaceful method of coping with it is to immediately move to another country.

> There is no way out, as I see it. All of the meaningful methods of dissent have been outlawed or will result in violence being immediately deployed against you. As far as I can tell, the only peaceful method of coping with it is to immediately move to another country.

I’ve often had similar thoughts. It seems that either authoritarianism or complete anarchy are the only solutions being presented. In that case, I reject both. Some ideas are worth dying for. Particularly life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I'm not interested in perpetrating violence against others (even in self-defense), nor having violence deployed against me for my simple belief in human rights.

You're not advancing a cause by getting killed by feds or rotting/dying in prison. The only way you can make real, meaningful, effective progress (and not little teensy incremental baby steps that take 500 years to mean anything) is to be happy, healthy, and prosperous outside of an oppressive system, and to amass huge resources that can be deployed against the damage.

PS: Don't knock "complete anarchy". Most human beings are kind and considerate, and certainly much nicer than those in the current government who would be happy to rule you at the point of a police officer's machine gun or tear gas grenade launcher.

> You're not advancing a cause by getting killed by feds or rotting/dying in prison

My grandfather and his brothers would disagree. They believed so strongly in the independence of their country, they were willing to go to jail for it. And they did spend much time there, though not as much as the leaders they followed. Civil disobedience works. So does violent disobedience. It all depends on what you believe in. And how strongly you believe in it.

I feel the same way a lot recently and I would love for someone to tell me why I'm wrong.

Because every other country in the world has a vested interest in keeping the USD stable as a currency, which would mean that they'd help keep the country up if needed (whether it's good or not that a civil revolt is extremely difficult here is up to you).

The entire world's economy, as well as many countries political configurations, rely on the United States existing. I doubt it's going anywhere, but hopefully reform might actually happen this time.

>>> This is so completely fucked. I always worry about sounding hyperbolic, but I really do wonder these days if we’re living through the last days of the American republic.

>> I feel the same way a lot recently and I would love for someone to tell me why I'm wrong.

> Because every other country in the world has a vested interest in keeping the USD stable as a currency, which would mean that they'd help keep the country up if needed

You're answering the wrong question. The American republic isn't primarily an economic system, it's a political and social one. It can become completely fucked in so many ways without disrupting the currency too badly too quickly.

I know it will be little consolation to me to have the currency remain stable while things descend into pseudo-democratic authoritarianism.

Yes. Now imagine my frustration at having been warning people about this authoritarian creep (as in political trend, not an individual person) since ~2010.

Yeah. I remember being so angry about the over-reach of executive power by Bush 2, and hoping that Obama would fix some of it (him being a constitutional lawyer and what not). He didn't, Trump replaced him and here we are.

Even if by some miracle Biden gets elected in November, he probably won't change it either. Sad.

I don’t have to imagine.

I think its hardest to see and hardest to believe once it starts actually happening. All the hyperbole beforehand didn't help either.

I must admit that Saturday night I went to bed wondering if I'd still have a country on Sunday morning.

The best thing for Americans and for the rest of the world would be for USA to be broken up into about ten pieces. It would really suck for armaments manufacturers, though, so it ain't gonna happen.

I wonder if there is a specific loophole they are exploiting here or if they are simply ignoring the law because they can.

There is no law that forces them not to work on other areas. It is just an administrative division.

The comment at the top of the thread disagrees with that; it says there is a statute that applies.

ah the old catchall "other duties," often used to abuse employees into doing work outside of their employed scope which would have been a higher pay grade if it were part of the job description.

I'm pretty sure they are only too happy to buat riot organizers (as distinct from protesters).

I was referring more to other jobs such as IT Helpdesk (who also has to do server or network admin because it's "other duties as assigned" after they're hired) and the like

21 USC section 878(a)(5) is what allows the AG to deputize the DEA like that.

It's fascinating, seeing the lawful mechanisms of executive overreach in play. Horrifying, but fascinating!

man, if your constitution does not protect you from this, you have to change it. ours certainly does (Tunisia). executive can't simply give orders to restrict liberties without a proper law voted by the parliament.

Did everyone forget what just happened with the pandemic? There are no rights anymore.

Great. One step closer to ending the war on drugs and re-deploying DEA resources toward crimes that hurt people.

right? im not sure why everyone is against the DEA focusing on more pressing issues

Does it really matter? Whether it's the FBI or the DEA on the street arresting people, does it make a difference? They are both federal law enforcement and both are held to similar standards.

Is there an easy way to detect fake cell towers? A rooted android maybe? Wouldn’t be surprised if they’re using Stingrays and it would be fun to catch one in the wild.

You don’t need to be rooted for basic searching. Back when I ran android I found an app that would alert when you connect to a tower not in the database. I think it was called AIMSICD but it’s been a while.

I think you would need to deploy more advanced techniques to be sure though.

There've been reports that the Minneapolis Police Department has used Stingrays. Apparently there are some phones that can detect it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stingray_phone_tracker#Counter...

I use an app called cellular z. Never caught a stingray in the wild, but it's easy to see if a tower "moves" with it.

There's already apps for it. You need root if you want to actually be able to avoid the suspicious towers.

Most previous versions of iOS are rootable - easy on an older phone that can't be updated.

Hmm... If they want to stop rioting and looting, why are they going after "protestors" rather than the rioters and looters? Someone's torching a mall? No police in sight. People are walking and chanting in the street? That calls for a crowd of 1000 police fully decked out in military gear and tear gas, itching to crush heads.

They don't care about rioting or looting. Watch how the police have been arranged, in Los Angeles at least. They are there to make the protest seem dangerous, while intentionally allowing looting to go on 2 streets over.

The idea is to allow scary looking but ultimately meaningless damage to occur while blaming it on protestors.

The respond to peaceful protests with violence, which causes rioting, which leads to more power and money for police.

That is just not true. Lapd was not prepared to handle the changes in technology since 1992 and the roving bands of organized looters.

They adjusted their strategy drastically on Monday and caught easily hundreds of looters on live tv. Their response times were under 5 minutes and they boxed in an entire caravan of looters at one point and caught them all.

There has been basically no looting today at all so far.

Barr is one of the most dangerous AG's this country has ever had. He believes in extreme executive power. That "secularism" is evil and the downfall of this country. Worst of all imo, is that he believes that the law enforcement of the federal government is there solely to serve the president. Somehow he still calls himself a conservative.

Secularism (the sharing of religious space in a pluralistic society) is not a particularly unifying perspective among American Christians so it's not very surprising. For American Christians, secularism is a fancy word for "forfeit the power in your hands."

All of the "conservatives" that come to mind for me, those that have their opinions spread across various news, sound like they fit fairly tightly into the shape you've described for Barr.

At best they're apologists for the policies of the conservatives in power, at worst they decry the inability for the conservatives in power to really make change due to the cowardly, soft, obstructionist, lefty, socialist opposition.

But I tend towards the cowardly, soft, obstructionist, lefty, socialist side, so maybe that's just what all conservatives sound like to me.

> Somehow he still calls himself a conservative.

As opposed to all the other conservative AG's and administration figures throughout history, right? I mean, clearly the Bush administration didn't preside over any sweeping expansions of executive law enforcement authority, right? And the Regan-era "war on drugs" was clearly an outlier...

This is the most truly scottish of true scotsman arguments. It comes up every time someone reaches a breaking point where they can't apologize for a republican administration. And the best they can come up with is that somehow they aren't "conservative".

It's interesting how the USA is becoming again a Brzezinski Experiment State.

This time it's all the new fancy tech combined with the military on home soil and a mad head of state.

Did anyone spot those fancy microwave crowd control stuff yet?

Can you expand upon that? I'm unfamiliar with the context behind 'Brzezinski Experiment State'.

I can only imagine it’s some kind of reference to https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trilateral_Commission and their disdain for excess of democracy.

It was a common phrase of Brzezinski during the Cold War era to describe the Soviet Union (or East Block countries) as "Communist Experiments" (vs. USA as the Proto-Capitalist Experiment country). I'm not sure if he'd did that in the english version of his books though.

One of his German ones is called: "Das gescheiterte Experiment: Der Untergang des kommunistischen Systems" (The failed experiment: the fall of the communist system".

Ah, thanks!

I'm not sure what the US administration is doing, but I won't be surprised if they are going to manage this as good as the virus pandemic, i.e. that they are completely oblivious to what's happening and what to do with it.

Since it's not in my interests to find one day an angry mob at my house, I'm tempted to give some advice regarding the "crowd management". The nation is like a bowl with liquid: the bowl is the borders that contain it and emotions is the force that drives the liquid particles. The exact equation describing this liquid doesn't matter much. What matters is that just like any liquid like substances contained in something, it has resonance modes and resonance frequencies. If there is an external periodic driving force (emotions in our case), the frequency of the force is going to find one of the resonance modes and once the mode is found, the amplitude grows exponentially. Time to find this mode depends on the strength (amplitude) of the driving force. The way to prevent or even stop the resonance is to keep changing the driving frequency: then the liquid forms steady patterns.

>The way to prevent or even stop the resonance is to keep changing the driving frequency

Well here I was thinking to myself "yeah yeah resonance hippie bullshit" but this does make a lot of sense.

Or we could just hold police officers accountable when they break the law.

Or we could do both?

Parallel construction in effect!

If you’re going to a protest, for the love of god bring a prepaid phone.

In Soviet union it was KGB and their black Volga's coming in the early morning hours to pick up the "inconvenient" ones. Early morning hours were picked because there were not many witnesses around. How far away from KGB are any of these 3 letter angencies? DEA, FBI, CIA, NSA...?

my cynical take: DEA has been authorized because DOD will not.

B-34 et infra, p.B-6 FM 3-19.15 https://fas.org/irp/doddir/army/fm3-19-15.pdf (esp B-54)

I have no idea what the most recent incarnation of GARDEN PLOT may be, the above is what I found in a quick search. But I'd hope that at this point the DOD is more likely to side with the population than other agencies, and work-to-rule if need be.

Anyone know of an online copy of DA Civil Disturbance Plan 55-2?

Many comments here assuming that we can get out of this hole we've fallen into by changing laws or replacing the administration.

Perhaps things are falling apart because of the massive influx of underdeveloped evil egos: they've got a supermajority mostly everywhere and can ignore the few good people. This is what some Hindi manuscripts mean by kali-uga - the dark age.

With this skeptical view in mind, there isn't much we can do to reverse the flow. It's a flood and we can do our part to minimize the damage, but ultimately we have to wait when the weather changes.

There aren't that many people with power. We can only assume these underdeveloped evil egos have a supermajority within a group of a few thousand. Numerically, that's not an unmanagable problem, supposing it's the case.

It's apparently enough to have just a few people with visible power. I'm just saying, the reason we see so much snow everywhere is because it's the winter of the human civilization. And no, the winter won't end because some good minded folks issued a decree that from now on its summer.

I remember seeing "kali uga" somewhere, but it's not pretty, and unfortunately, still somewhat relevant today given this whole thing:


"Yuga" is a large timespan in a human civilization: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuga.

What is an "underdeveloped evil ego"?

It's a "toddler ego" that acts according to its naive idea of the world. Often, they aren't knowingly evil. It's known that kids are often cruel, but change as they grow. Same here.

It says for fourteen days. Can you open an very wide investigation and keep it ongoing for longer than that?

You can collect a lot of data that will have value long after the window is closed.

So with the DEA spying on Twitter what messaging apps are truly secure these days for the organizers of the peaceful protests to use?

r00fus 39 days ago [flagged]

This is the thin edge to a national police action. Crazy how little oversight there is over the executive branch (and this administration in particular).

And of course, DEA is mandated for that, at a time where many people explain that the war on drugs is actually a tool to enforce racist policies.

And w stonewalling from the administration, which really needs to be cracked down on.

There is a ton of oversight on the executive branch- by congress. The only problem is half of congress doesn't care because it's their guy.

Trump fires everyone involved in oversight that he can. What is amazing is he is allowed to.

> Trump fires everyone involved in oversight that he can. What is amazing is he is allowed to.

IIRC, the old special prosecutor law (passed after Watergate) did not allow the president to fire them, but it was allowed to expire after Ken Starr.

It's too late. America IS a police state.

Haven't you seen the videos of police arresting, sitting, beating and otherwise mistreating the media?

It's a done deal. Our only hope is to vote trump or and hope he goes.

Please read the 22nd amendment. As a matter of fact everyone that reads this please read the documents that our country is founded on. Here is an excerpt of an article from the Atlantic that explains what would happen in this case.

"If Trump were inclined to overstay his term, the levers of power work in favor of removal. Because the president immediately and automatically loses his constitutional authority upon expiration of his term or after removal through impeachment, he would lack the power to direct the U.S. Secret Service or other federal agents to protect him. He would likewise lose his power, as the commander in chief of the armed forces, to order a military response to defend him. In fact, the newly minted president would possess those presidential powers. If necessary, the successor could direct federal agents to forcibly remove Trump from the White House. Now a private citizen, Trump would no longer be immune from criminal prosecution, and could be arrested and charged with trespassing in the White House. While even former presidents enjoy Secret Service protection, agents presumably would not follow an illegal order to protect one from removal from office."


The entire "checks and balances" system breaks down when a handful of Republicans in the Senate are complicit in everything that is going on.

Please don't take HN threads further into partisan flamewar or generic indignation. Such threads are basically all the same—people just repeat the same points they always do, and usually turn nasty. It's not what this site is for.


> when a handful of Republicans in the Senate

This is one of the really brilliant things the GOP has done. They've led us all to believe that it's just McConnell and a couple of other shitbags but that the rest of the Republicans are mostly OK.

That's a deliberate smokescreen. Notice that the "handful of Republicans" always happen to be in red strongholds? McConnell volunteers to be the public face of the GOP's bad policies because they know his seat is secure. Meanwhile, all the other GOP Congresspeople who support those same awful policies but might risk losing an election can stay out of the news and pretend it's not their doing.

McConnell was voted into his seat by a majority of the GOP Senators. They all know what they're doing.

Or those in purple states can occasionally vote against the party to provide a thin veneer of bi-partisan support and help them maintain their seats in their state.

Gosh if only the cities that are burning to the ground right now had dem senators, dem congresspeople, dem governors, dem mayor, dem city councils we could solve this thing. Alas!

This (inadvertently) highlights a major part of the issue right now. Cops are largely invulnerable to civilian oversight. Democratic elected officials won’t save you from the NYPD - they can’t really be fired, the police union doxxes the mayor’s daughter, they instigate police riots, and they do work stoppages when criticized.

An example from Minneapolis, from a City Council member:


> Politicians who cross the MPD find slowdowns in their wards. After the first time I cut money from the proposed police budget, I had an uptick in calls taking forever to get a response, and MPD officers telling business owners to call their councilman about why it took so long.

This is a result of public unions. Which party caused those to be so strong?

Police unions are fairly unique, and heavily supported by the Republican party in recent political history.


> When Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker cracked down on collective bargaining rights of public-sector unions, he exempted cops and fire fighters. He feared the police might go on strike and join the protestors. Videos of that pairing could have doomed Walker’s entire effort. “It’s a decision by politicians not to bite off more than they can chew,” explains James Sherk, a labor policy expert with the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Their impunity to civilian oversight should be concerning to both parties. You're not hearing much concern from the Republicans on this right now.

>They've led us all to believe that it's just McConnell and a couple of other shitbags but that the rest of the Republicans are mostly OK.

I have never, ever believed this.

Yep. And there are no more "checks and balances" because POTUS stacks the SCOTUS, and POTUS and SOTUS work hand-in-glove. The last remaining hold-out is HOROTUS, but that can flip any session.

Even so, D and R are both beholden to the American aristocratic wealth class for support, legitimacy, and power, so there is effectively no difference beyond a few, token, mild progressives in D who don't hold sway over the majority of neoliberals.

> Yep. And there are no more "checks and balances" because POTUS stacks the SCOTUS, and POTUS and SOTUS work hand-in-glove. The last remaining hold-out is HOROTUS, but that can flip any session.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm warming up to the idea of the Democrats passing court-packing legislation for the Supreme and Appellate courts the next time they control both houses of Congress and the presidency. Especially if they can somehow establish a very strong super-majority requirement for all future judicial branch nominations that would be immune to stealth court-packing tactics like the Senate Republicans have been using.

The prior institutional restraints have broken down, and balance needs to be restored and new restraints implemented if the system is going to survive.

Excuse my pessimism, but this won't work for the simple reason that if this were introduced, Republicans would cry foul, say it's unfair, and the Democrats would agree to back down because it's not nice to play on an unlevel playing field.

They will conveniently forget that were the tables turned, Republicans would not do the same.

Democrats removed super majority requirement for Supreme Court nominations. I believe a super majority would have acted as a check against a stacked court. There would be compromises and more moderate justices would have been considered. [1]

People take less notice of transgressions when their party is in power. As much as we might like to think there’s universal recognition of the current administration’s misuse of power there’s a lot of people who support it - “to get things done”. People just hate it when it’s not the things they want.

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/senate-poised-to-lim...

Democrats removed the requirement for lower court nominations. Republicans removed the supreme court requirement to appoint Brett Kavanaugh, which is a seat they stole from a sitting Democratic president, even though said president nominated a moderate Republican for said seat.

It is true that the Democrats opened this can of worms, but the Republicans then taking advantage of it instead of setting a better example does not exonerate them. They're all bad actors now.

> Republicans removed the supreme court requirement to appoint Brett Kavanaugh

Actually, it was to appoint Gorsuch (who replaced Scalia's vacant seat). Kavanaugh was appointed to replace Kennedy.

Wouldn't that super-majority for the court be a risk, as a minority could easily block its workings (not influence, just block)?

> Wouldn't that super-majority for the court be a risk, as a minority could easily block its workings (not influence, just block)?

I don't think so. The idea is to force compromise by putting the threshold so far out of reach to eliminate fantasies that after the next election one party or other will be in the position not to have to compromise. That's the issue now.

The idea that a minority would try to literally destroy another branch of government for some reason seems so remote and so extreme that I'm not sure if it's worth considering. What would the political calculus be for trying to block the workings of the court system?

> I don't think so.

Actually, that is specifically the reason some supermajority rules were lifted [1]. Do you recall Merrick Garland?

The filibuster is abused similarly [2].

[1]: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2018/06/04/senate-obst...

[2]: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brookings-now/2013/11/21/char...

They only moved it for federal district court nominations. Because every single nomination was prevented by the GOP from going through. Ultimately we all know that if any Democratic senators tried to keep GOP's nominees from the federal bench (including fascist bloggers and people who have never tried a case), the GOP would have done the same.

I applaud the effort and I think we need to go further and get rid of the fillibuster rules entirely.

> Democrats removed super majority requirement for Supreme Court nominations.... People take less notice of transgressions when their party is in power.

> People take less notice of transgressions when their party is in power....

I used to fault the Democrats for that (and used to consider myself more of a conservative), but on reflection I think the Republican's obdurate obstructionism is the more important fact. That's clear now that the Republican's priority now seems to be to ram through nominees when they have the power to do so (as shown by their last session, nominations over caronavirus response), and they've done such a shit job at checks and balances when it's needed now more than ever.

You mean like how FDR threatened to do that during the new deal, and then the court backed down and let all sorts of unconstitutional stuff through?

When we ended a government of enumerated powers and everything could be done at the federal level without an amendment - great things like the drug war.

FDR packed the court with his own judges when others had retired during his term. That's how he got the New Deal through, not on threats or cowing.

That will never happen. FDR's own party shit bricks when he tried to stack the Supreme Court. He got his pee-pee smacked hard.

> That will never happen. FDR's own party shit bricks when he tried to stack the Supreme Court. He got his pee-pee smacked hard.

It didn't happen then, but that doesn't mean it can't happen now. For several decades, the Republicans have played political hardball to pack the courts in their own way [1]; I doubt that was a factor nearly a century ago.

[1] bitter obstructionism to maintain vacancies until they have the power to fill them with their own picks, selected primarily for ideological reliability.

You are literally changing the definition to fit your editorializing, that's about as radical as it gets.

> You are literally changing the definition to fit your editorializing, that's about as radical as it gets.

Eh, if the definition of "court packing" is so narrow that it only covers things nearly exactly like FDR's proposal, then I don't consider it a very useful term.

If it makes you more comfortable, feel free to replace "court packing" in my comment with a term that's general enough to encompass FDR's proposal and the Republicans' recent tactics.

FDR won, the supreme court backed down and FDR was able to execute his programs.

And later he committed one of the worst civil rights violations by the federal government (the bulk of the injustices against the Indians were done by the states)

> the bulk of the injustices against the Indians were done by the states

Maybe, and maybe that means that the Japanese internment was worse then anything the federal government did to the Native Americans.

I mean, it's not like native Americans were forcibly relocated from their homes into federally designated lands for a handful of years like the Japanese... oh, wait...

Seems very relevant, I’m a fan of FDR and this is absolutely necessary to talk about.

the feds vs states thing seems like a distinction without meaning, tbh, the federal government certainly intended the states to deal with natives as they did, and there is absolutely no shortage of crimes done by the federal government itself (treaties broken, allies backstabbed, lands taken, literal genocide, fucking DAPL)

The federal government was supposed to only execute its enumerated powers, which could be expanded by passing amendments.

Instead the federal government can do anything it wants. It's why we have the drug war, DEA, huge national debt, broken medical system.

FDR got things done in spite of, not because of, his party. democrats have never been particularly good at passing progressive legislation without someone in the drivers seat.

we're about to enter a very different phase imo

That’s kind of what most pragmatic leftist fundamentally want. Instead of getting wrapped up in melodramatic leftist emotional narratives, a lot of us really just want to push the left wing into the courts and be done with the national political mess.

> And there are no more "checks and balances" because POTUS stacks the SCOTUS, and POTUS and SOTUS work hand-in-glove. The last remaining hold-out is HOROTUS, but that can flip any session.

Some time in the past, certainly at FDR’s time, dems were confident about stacking the court. What changed to defang them? The dem’s actions while Merrick Garland was denied hearings infuriate me until today: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2018/06/04/senate-obst...

I think that’s a little unfair. The executive branch has always taken more and more power. Obama was guiltily of it. Bush was guilty of it. And nearly every president before them.

The expansion of executive powers us usually makes sense to the party in power, and doesn’t make sense to the minority party. But there was always an understanding that everyone was a rational actor with these powers. No one ever stopped and asked what would happen if someone a little more irrational now had these expanded powers.

> The executive branch has always taken more and more power.

No, the judicial and legislative branches have ceded it. The whole point of checks and balances is the tacit understanding that each branch will naturally grow as much power as it can and it is the responsibility of the other branches to check it.

Blaming the executive branch for growing its power is like blaming the seller for high prices in a free market — the system is designed presuming competition and selfish behavior.

It's just possible that the system of checks and balances that was designed by a bunch of people who were pretty much new to this, and who didn't anticipate the development of the two-party system, didn't actually turn out to be in a state of perfect equilibrium that would last for centuries upon centuries.

Frankly, I think we should be impressed. It's a borderline miracle that it's survived as well as it has.

> ... and who didn't anticipate the development of the two-party system ...

Actually they did. The Federalist papers contained some strong warnings that we must strive to prevent factions / parties from taking over. They were painfully aware it was a potential failure mode in the system they were designing.

The problem was that electoral system in the US takes no steps to mitigate the issue. Without a preferential voting system of any kind, there's no possible way to have anything other then 2 viable parties, and an attempt to create a third rewards whichever side has a more entrenched voting block.

It also robs the US of a signalling mechanism: there's no way for the Republicans or Democrats to see that they didn't get primary vote share and only recovered it after specific-issue or more focused parties dropped out.

The US desperately needs preferential voting and mandatory voting. The default supposition of the US has to be that there must be exceptional circumstances as to why any individual did not vote.

Australia has both preferential and mandatory voting, and the end result isn't much better.

It's still a two-party system, but then there are also single-issue or hardline minor parties who often have the ability to hold the government hostage on their demands.

Yes, it's a two-party system, but because voting is mandatory, it means that the overwhelming majority of people (who are largely centrist with differing flavours), electorally punish politicians that stray too far from the political centre. At the same time, the "loony fringes" have much less relative voting power compared to the overwhelming majority. Remember, in voluntary voting regimes, its the loonies that are most invested in getting out the vote, whereas a majority of reasonably centrist people are more likely to think, "Why bother? My vote won't change anything". If any Australian politician or party promotes voluntary voting BEWARE!

I'm Australian. It's definitely not perfect, but our politics has managed to stay moderate in a way the US has not.

I shudder to think what we'd look like if disenfranchising voters were a more viable strategy.

The Australian senate which use proportional representation rather than two-party preferred preferential has a more reasonable spread imho.

> The US desperately needs preferential voting and mandatory voting.

The problem is not that people don't want to vote, it is that people can't vote: voter suppression (e.g. voter roll manipulation, ID requirements abused to specifically target PoC) or people working two/more jobs combined with the fact the US unlike almost all other countries do not vote on a Sunday or have it a national holiday are quite powerful.

To add to that mix, mail-in voting is not accessible by default for everyone, and extreme gerrymandering (local/state elections) and the "electoral college" system (presidential elections) make it effectively moot to vote in states that are either hard blue or hard red.

It was honestly naive to believe that hopes and wishes would mean anything in fifty years. There are solutions that increase democratic representation. I have heard arguments against these solutions. All of the arguments have been bad.

I'm always amazed by the sanctity Americans attach to the constitution, as if it was personally brought down from the mountain by Thomas Jefferson carved into stone tablets.

As you say, the US constitution was one of the first attempts at a constitution in the modern period. The people who wrote it were not experts on writing constitutions, and could not benefit from the experience of previous constitutions. It should not be at all surprising that it isn't very good.

> didn't anticipate the development of the two-party system


I’d argue that it would be impossible for them to be ignorant of it. The constitutional convention itself had a bifurcation on the issue of slavery from the get go.

Yes and no. More and more there's less legislation and more executive orders. Perhaps we need a limit on number of executive orders per term?

Yet it happens and the system fails when last altruism and principles are erased. The same demons blame the victims.

>No, the judicial and legislative branches have ceded it.

Well, it is the executive branch that chooses the supreme court... For every John Marshall there has been on the court, there is likely a Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr with his famous quote “If my fellow citizens want to go to Hell I will help them. It’s my job.”.

>>Well, it is the executive branch chooses the supreme court...

And the Senate that confirms the nominees.

And really as a practical matter the senate chooses the nominees too. We don't have a Justice Garland.

Or a Justice Bork, for that matter.

At least they voted.

Obama was guiltily of it. Bush was guilty of it.

Exactly. I can remember when Obama was using procedural rules to force things though. The response was "if you do it, you can't complain when the other party does it when they are in power".

>No one ever stopped and asked what would happen if someone a little more irrational now had these expanded powers.

Now that's just deeply wrong. People have been complaining about this my entire life. I was 12 when the PATRIOT act came into being and I remember people pointing out all the deeply unamerican ways it could be used, and then later all the ways that it was in fact being abused. I've been complaining about consolidation of power in the executive branch my entire politically conscious life. And right now on HN there are people constantly complaining about the overreaches of surveillance under the belief that they will all be abused one day. This isn't a surprise.

And the court has been packed, and executive agencies gutted of non-loyalists.

You don't see democrats screaming about it either. Democrats love the police state and their usual trick is to rotate through who has to take the bad vote so that authoritarian measures barely pass while the bad rep doesn't keep sticking to the same people.

Are the courts powerless too? Can't citizens sue the government? I don't know how exactly the 3 powers work on US, but over here you can also petition courts (including the Supreme Court) to judge whether a given decree by the executive is inconstitutional or not. How does it work in the US?

Citizens (and more often, organizations like the ACLU) can sue. But it takes 3+ years to get through the courts, so we’re still waiting for judgements on even the earliest abuses of this administration.

In general "checks and balances" never work particularly well. Very few presidential democracies last more than 50 years. Once you have two branches of government that can both claim a democratic mandate but have different ideologies in a conflict you get a cycle of constitutional hardball then eventually one says "I have a democratic mandate to do this and you can't stop me" and the system fails. The US managed to avoid this for so long first, because of the good example of George Washinton in establishing norms to start with. Then we had parties that were highly partisan but non-ideological and mostly fighting over graft until the progressive era. Well, there was the brief era of ideological polarization between the Democrats and Republicans around the 1860 election but we all know how that turned out. From the progressive era through Nixon's "southern strategy" we had an era of unusually low partisanship with ideologically mixed parties. But since then the parties have been diverging and nowadays all the conservatives are in the Republican party and all the liberals are in the Democrat party. And hardball tactics like filibustering all the opposing bills in the senate has started.


We're in a pretty bad place and I'm not sure how we get out of it.

The Democrats are actively trying to give Trump even more police power. Just because they say some of the words you like doesn't mean they're on your side.


some great points in there. we need more ppl thinking constructively like this.

> ...system breaks down when a handful of Republicans...

Sorry to burst your bubble, but it isn't just Republicans who resort to... creative executive strategies that are worth criticizing.

I'm sorry, but "both sides" arguments are nothing but a deflection.

Is it “deflecting” to point out how much Democrats benefit form gerrymandering while taking Republicans to task for the same thing? [0][1][2]. What about about senate confirmations[3][4][5]?

[0] https://thefulcrum.us/worst-gerrymandering-districts-example...

[1] https://www.thedailybeast.com/democrats-hate-gerrymanderinge...

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/03/28/how-m...

[3] https://www.heritage.org/homeland-security/commentary/hypocr...

[4] https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/senate-nuclear-filibuster-ru...

[5] https://time.com/3701079/obama-filibuster/

If we don’t wanna go there that’s fine I suppose, I just want to know where we’re gonna draw the line between “deflection” and having a substantive discussion on the gamesmanship going on inside the beltway without devolving into the usual brutish “my side good, your side bad”.

dlp211 39 days ago [flagged]

You can't ascribe singular districts to Democrats gerrymandering. The ones in Ohio, Texas, Alabama, NC, Mich were all done by Republican legislatures, some using REDMap. And while Maryland is certainly an offender and they too should be subject to independent redistricting, comparing a single state with a concerted, organized, multistage effort using advanced mapping software designed to maximize your advantage is the kind of bullshit bothsiderism that the right and the apolitical love to use.

Stop punishing one party for not being perfect but striving for better, but letting the other off for the most blatantly obvious destructive practices because that is who they are.

Stop punishing one party for not being perfect but striving for better, but letting the other off for the most blatantly obvious destructive practices because that is who they are.

Hang on, you think that’s what I’m doing here? I don’t think we have a thing to discuss if this is really the immediate conclusion you’re coming to, since it frames my entire position as antagonistic to anything but whatever critique you think should be made instead, and there’s no way out of that corner for me, now is there?

How am I even supposed to respond to an assertion about what I’m doing when providing numerous sources for my position only to get boxed in as “letting the other off for the most blatantly obvious destructive practices”?

I’m no partisan hack, Gerrymandering and Senate Procedure are probably the best examples of how both parties engage in pure unabated gamesmanship to get what they want while launching strikes against the other side for doing the exact same thing. Either argue the impact and convince me why the rules are inconsistently applied (as I’ve shown clearly was the case with Harry Reid changing Senate confirmation rules) or don’t, but leave the straw manning at the door.’

BOTH parties deserve a wag of the finger and a volume of criticism for their behavior where warranted. This should not be excused by anyone who pretends to give a damn about the country.

Democrats in the Senate changed the rules only after Republicans became the most obstructive body in the history of Congress. They forced the hands of the Democrats. But notice you don't also point out that Democrats follow pay-go rules or put back into place and follow blue slip rules or the 100 other norms that Republicans have destroyed over the last decade.

You want to feel superior to both parties, that you're above it, fine, but at least know you aren't being an honest broker when you do so.

But notice you don't also point out that Democrats follow pay-go rules or put in place blue slip rules or the 100 other norms that Republicans have destroyed over the last decade.

Sorry, were you looking for a complete and exhaustive list of every problem I have with the Democrats and the Republicans? I’m happy to provide that, but so far I have a 6-0 lead on providing sources for my complaints. You’ve given nothing to the conversation so far. Would you like to? Floor’s yours.

You want to feel superior to both parties, that you're above it, fine, but at least know you aren't being an honest broker when you do so.

Again with the strawmen. Those were not words I typed, it is not a sentiment I hold. I’m directly calling out the problems with acting like any critique on both Democrats and Republicans when those critiques are deserved amounts to “deflecting”.

Take care friend, I don’t know whatever debate you think we’re having here but it doesn’t exist.

Only one side has pursued widespread restrictions on voting. We literally have a Republican president lying everyday to the American public about voting by mail and doing everything he can to prevent it. This both-sides-ism may have once been true but Trump and the party that decided to follow him have killed it.

Stop punishing one party for not being perfect but striving for better, but letting the other off for the most blatantly obvious destructive practices because that is who they are.

I'm going to be honest - attitudes like yours are the reason why politics is so nasty in the US.

Rather than take the perspective that everyone wants the best for the country, there are just disagreements on what best looks like and how to get there, you're just taking the perspective that the other side is broken, immoral and, in your words, destructive.

I'm on the conservative side of things and I don't think Democrats are evil. They just want the US to look different than I do. That's their right.

My argument has nothing to do with policy and everything to do with the asymmetrical abuse of political power by the Republican party and how they are never held to account by their voters, the press, or our institutions for that abuse and how Democrats are held to an entirely different standard.

And no offense to you, I'm sure you believe that you have a consistent idea of what it means to be conservative, but I have no clue what being conservative means anymore.

Perhaps the reason Democrats complain about Republicans gerrymandering is because the Republicans are better at it than them[0]? If your opponent cheats more than you do, then obviously you have an incentive to make cheating harder.

For a substantive discussion on gamesmanship, we need to ask "Which side is most likely to work to end partisan gerrymandering (perhaps with a change to a more proportional voting system[1])?"

[0] https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/11/republicans-ger...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/June_2018_Maine_Question_1

I mean it’s certainly possible, have definitely floated that idea around before whilst talking politics with friends over beers.

It’s just seems to me the problem many have when this type of conversation emerges isn’t with the behavior, it’s the actor and that doesn’t quite square with me.

“Don’t hate the player, hate the game”. If gerrymandering is a “threat to democracy”[0], seems to me we should be critiquing anyone who plays that game instead of waiting for our team’s turn to ratfuck the country the country by the same measure. That signals either the rules were a problem to begin with and we should have changed them long ago, or we kept them in place knowing they were being taken advantage of and just waiting for our team to get the ball back-does it not?

But that’s just merely one example, it’s not representative of the totality of Capitol Hill politicking. Arguably one party is focused and pushing a message of progress and righting social ills but I’m not going to let them off when they play stupid games either, nor should anyone IMO.

[0] https://www.npr.org/2018/10/23/659745042/gerrymandering-is-a...

When this administration with the support of the Republican Party has intimidated peaceful protestors in DC with military helicopters a la Baghdad, yes, it is deflection to talk about that at this moment in time.

Call it deflecting, but it's true.

Neither parties hands are clean.

No, it really isn't, because in the end the oligarchs own both sides, full fucking stop. You can argue about the degree of harm, but almost always that approach is used to argue the degree of harm selectively about one particular partisan angle, and it's frankly bullshit.

Obama just put on a nice face and was eloquent while he expanded the surveillance engine, the drone wars, the arms shipments to unstable third world countries, bailouts for billionaires, etc. Trump is brazen and up front about it, but the end result is still the same bullshit! Cops sending agent provocateurs in to justify kettling protestors happened under Obama too. That doesn't justify it in the Trump era either though!

So tired of hearing this trite and cliched response anytime someone brings up that the corruption permeates the entirety of the policy elite establishment. The DNC and RNC (both corporations, never mentioned in the constitution) would rather work together in collusion than allow any real change to happen (as they did in the early 90s to control the debates), and until people wake up to the fact they won't be able to understand why nothing is changing. It just becomes a pendulum swing back and forth every few years while the inverted totalitarian kleptocratic oligarchic corporatists retain power in the shadows.

Lets just spit some real facts here. Blackmail operations such as Epstein was at the front of, are a core part of how this has happened. He is a great example of how the corruption knows no party lines, but that's also why he was taken out, the story buried and convoluted, and half-assed coverup stories like netflix's latest doc are put out. The greatest thing the oligarchy fears is a united people... and the ol party lines and any other divide they can drum up is good at keeping us at each others throats instead of theirs.

It's time to wake up and break out of the cycle. Or not. If not, we are Rome headed for a mighty and bloody collapse of epic proportions.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Top down compromise of a centralized system becomes increasingly trivial the further the compromise progresses.

Have to realize that they are two faces of the same shit, and the "Vote" route doesn't help either.

Yup. Only the Republican Party is to blame for the system not working. Democrats have never done anything to game the system at all.

> The entire "checks and balances" system breaks down when a handful of Republicans in the Senate are complicit in everything that is going on.

If Democrat mayors and governors would just send in their own police to control the situation, there wouldn't be all this hand wringing.

Control the situation as in suppress the protests by whatever means necessary? Violate the protestors' constitutional First Amendment rights? Please explain.

There is a difference between protesters who are peaceful and rioters who are violent and destructive. Which do you think I mean?

Edit: This mental trick of calling a person who throws a brick through a store window or sets fire to a cop car, a "protester", is so similar to the way people unbelievably attribute a "legal" status to someone who has crossed the southern border by bypassing a port of entry.

Its like saying that a person who doesn't tolerate someone else's world view is anti-fascist, because a fascist is someone who tries to impose their own worldview on others.

So what were your thoughts on Hong Kong?

The same.

Edit: So, rights have to be enumerated by a country's founding documents, and then protected by that country's government. Ultimately, though, the people are responsible to establish their own freedom when no freedom exists.

Black people don't have the exclusive claim of persecution by police in the US. In fact, they suffer far fewer death by cop than white people. [1] Why do they feel they are singled out? Could it be a victim-stance mentality?

1. https://www.statista.com/statistics/585152/people-shot-to-de...

That's a pretty disingenuous way to argument using absolute numbers, considering that blacks make up a considerably smaller proportion of the population. Their relative numbers are much higher than whites: https://www.pnas.org/content/116/34/16793

Also if you are from the US I'm sure you are happy to go back to be ruled by the UK, considering that the US was founded on violent protest (note if you're from somewhere else I am very likely to find a similar example in your countries history), or are you saying it is ok to protest violently if you believe you are taxed to high (or not represented enough) but not if you are being shot disproportionally?

The UK has a not so great track record on freedoms and rights. The Americans didn't protest violently, they used force of arms to overthrow a tyrannical government, something for which the UK still is sore about.

Frame your argument using whatever numbers you like. I prefer absolute numbers, regardless of you calling me disingenuous.

If police would just stop killing black people, this wouldn't be happening at all.

The white people ain't rioting and they have far more deaths by cop in the US than black people. [1]

1. https://www.statista.com/statistics/585152/people-shot-to-de...

Is that deliberately dense? Per-capita its still 5:1

Oh, sorry. I even forgot to figure in income and marital status.


What gets me is how many people think “refusing to leave office” means he’ll declare himself emperor or something. It will be nothing close to that dramatic.

It’ll be simple: he will claim there were irregularities in mail-in ballots and say that voter fraud was rampant, and that he will have to stay in office until it’s sorted out. His supporters will believe him. Conservative news outlets will toe the line and the republican congress will cooperate.

He’s already priming the pump for this going on and on about how mail-in voting is “predominantly fraudulent” etc etc. Does anyone really think he will accept a defeat of any kind in November?

I think if he loses, what you say could definitely happen. What worries me though is that he won't need to. His base is excited right now. They'll always be his base. But a lot of people who would vote against him just aren't going to go out and vote, though.

if he wins he'll win via the electoral college again and not the popular vote. There are too many people on the West and East coast for him (and probably any non-Democrat these days) to win the popular vote.

If he loses he could call for a recount I guess but I believe the margin would be wide enough to make it unrealistic.

I think it's all legal. Law says (?) drug crimes only unless DOJ asks you to expand in other crimes. So DOJ did. Scary what little known and reasonable provisions do when taken to the limit...

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