On today's BradCast: the COVID crisis continues to get worse, Americans wise up on reopening schools, potential hope for Kansas, and Donald Trump becomes a laughing stock. Again. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]
Last week, during his rambling, wildly political Rose Garden "press conference" (it was really a political rally), Trump promised that over the next eight weeks, we would be seeing "things that nobody has even contemplated, thought about, thought possible," and that "nobody's ever going to see eight weeks like we're going to have." While, I think it was meant as a rallying cry for a bunch of initiatives he plans to pretend to invoke during desperate days in advance of the November election, it sure sounded like a threat to me. Either way, we suspect he's right about what we will see. He suggested he would be "taking on immigration, taking on education" and that it all would start "some time on Tuesday."
On Tuesday, Trump unveiled something that had to do with immigration, which we discuss with our guest today (see below). As to "taking on education", that part remains somewhat less clear. But if it has to do with insisting that school kids go back to in-person classes next month in the middle of a deadly and worsening pandemic, the American people are decidedly not with him on that one. A new poll out today from AP/NORC finds that just 8% of Americans believe K-12 schools should reopen this Fall for normal, in-person instruction. Nonetheless, Trump is still threatening to take away federal money for special ed to those schools who do not obey his command.
That command is still in place --- and being ignored by most of the nation's largest school districts --- as more than 1,000 Americans died from COVID-related illnesses on Tuesday alone. It was the first time since May that that has happened, as mountains of evidence --- including 59,000 hospitalizations on Tuesday --- underscore, yet again, that the U.S. is headed in decidedly the wrong direction in dealing with the crisis. These will be a very difficult eight weeks indeed. There are fifteen weeks until the November 3rd Presidential election.
And, speaking of elections, state primaries are still ongoing, with statewide contests in Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washingtonstate coming up on August 4th. We take some time to focus on Kansas today, where notoriously failed GOP "voter fraud" fraudster and the state's former Sec. of State Kris Kobach is running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, in hopes of filling the seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Pat Roberts. It has been an embarrassing few days for Kobach, after his friend Rep. Steve Watkins was indicted last week on 3 felony counts and 1 misdemeanor charge related to voter fraud. As we reported last week, Watkins was charged for doing precisely what Donald Trump did. He unlawfully registered to vote at an address where he did not live, and then he unlawfully voted in an election using that unlawful address. Watkins has been indicted in Kansas. Trump is still a Florida voter fraud criminal at large at this hour.
Kobach, who built his entire two-term career as Sec. of State by promising to stamp out rampant "voter fraud" in Kansas by Democrats and non-citizens, was able to bring only 15 prosecutions during his eight years in office, obtaining convictions on fewer than 10 of them, with nobody receiving any jail time. Virtually all of the convictions were against people who voted twice in two separate states, because they owned homes in both, with many not realizing that was against the law. Nonetheless, Kobach prosecuted people who did the same thing that Watkins (and Trump) did. But, when asked by the Kansas City Star for comment after Watkins' indictment, Kobach offered a bizarre reason why he disagreed with the charges.
All of which helps underscore the fact that the fraud Kobach --- after losing to a Democrat during his 2018 run for Governor in Kansas --- is now hoping to secure the GOP nomination for the Senate. He is running in a field of 11 candidates seeking the honor and we completely endorse him! So, apparently, does his presumptive Democratic challenger, Barbara Bollier, who, in the second quarter of this year, according to AP, "raised almost $1.3 million more than the top-tier Republican primary candidates combined."
Could a Democrat actually flip the Kansas Senate seat from "red" to "blue" this year for the first time since 1932? Bollier was a moderate Republican until she became so embarrassed by Trump and her own party that she became a Democrat at the end of 2018. We'll will find out in about 15 weeks. But a Kobach win in the August 4th primary would certainly help, as Kobach is far "too conservative" for Kansas.
Finally, back to Trump's promise to "take on immigration" on Tuesday, when he unveiled an Executive Memorandum (not an Executive Order, but a memo...not sure if he knows the difference), declaring it to be the position of the United States that immigrants in this country should not be counted when determining the next Congressional apportionment that is to occur after the completion of the 2020 Census. That, despite the very plain language of the 14th Amendment which reads: "Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state".
We're joined today by Constitutional law expert THOMAS WOLF of Brennan Center's Democracy Program, where he specializes in the Census, redistricting, and immigrant rights. He tells me, quite bluntly, that "the memorandum [issued by Trump] is not worth the paper its printed on. The Constitution's plain text is very clear: every person counts. 'Persons' means persons and 'persons' means everyone. That means that everyone is to be counted."
Even Bill Barr, when he was Attorney General the first time, back in 1989, agreed!
"The memorandum that President Trump issued yesterday," Wolf continues, "assumes that President Trump has the power to decide who counts and who doesn't. Unfortunately for him, but fortunately for the rest of the country, the Constitution has already made that decision for him, and the Constitution decided that all people count."
In case he was unclear about that, Wolf adds later: "From the top, there is no legitimacy to this order." But, if so, what was the point of Trump issuing the memo that obviously tries to reverse the 14th Amendment adopted during Reconstruction to do away with the Constitution's previous clause declaring that some people in America --- slaves --- were to be counted by the Constitutionally-mandated decennial Census as three-fifths of a person? Wolf offers insight and answers to that question, as well as how to help counter Trump's plan which, as he notes, "is so patently unconstitutional, it's astonishing."
(Hint: One of the ways to counter it, argues Wolf, is to "Get counted! That's how we push back against this." If your household has yet to do so, please go and fill out a Census form today at 2020Census.gov!)
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)