THURSDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2020
Feinstein, off in the weeds: We lost the thread of this week's planned report as we spent the past three days watching the Barrett hearings.
Our original focus withered away as we sat and watched. On the other hand, we got to see Diane Feinstein say this, yesterday morning:
FEINSTEIN (10/14/20): For me, the Voting Rights Act is extremely important. And it defines our election system to a great extent. It’s hard for me to understand that anyone would want to do away with it. What is your position in that regard?
For what it's worth, the Court's decision in Shelby County v. Holder didn't "do away with [the Voting Rights Act]." As Barrett explained, it did away with certain parts of that act.
Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. 529 (2013), was a landmark decision of the US Supreme Court regarding the constitutionality of two provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965: Section 5, which requires certain states and local governments to obtain federal preclearance before implementing any changes to their voting laws or practices; and Section 4(b), which contains the coverage formula that determines which jurisdictions are subjected to preclearance based on their histories of discrimination in voting.
On June 25, 2013, the Court ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that Section 4(b) is unconstitutional because the coverage formula is based on data over 40 years old, making it no longer responsive to current needs and therefore an impermissible burden on the constitutional principles of federalism and equal sovereignty of the states. The Court did not strike down Section 5, but without Section 4(b), no jurisdiction will be subject to Section 5 preclearance unless Congress enacts a new coverage formula.
The Shelby decision left Congress free to create a new preclearance formula. Seven years have passed, and Feinstein and her associates haven't achieved, or perhaps even sought, any such revision.
For ourselves, we'd like to see every state and jurisdiction supervised by the federal government in this very important area. Others will strongly disagree, and the tribal divisions which undergird such matters have hardened, then turned to stone, in recent decades.
We were struck by Feinstein's statement, in which she said it was hard for her to understand why anyone would have favored the Court's decision. Despite our personal preference in this area, it wasn't hard for us to understand that matter, nor was it hard to understand the reasoning behind the majority decision.
But so it goes in modern America, a failing state which is, by the by, increasingly a gerontocracy. You can set possible agreement to the side. Feinstein, 87 years old, was happy to say that she can't even understand the values and views of the others.
It disn't seem to cross her mind that she was thereby making a comment about herself and about her own tribal faction.
It isn't that she doesn't agree with the others. She said she can't even understand why anyone would disagree with her. This is the essence of tribal intelligence, or so major experts have told us.
We were struck by Feinstein's admission that she can't understand. It seemed to us that her admission emerged from deep in the weeds. We thought of her statement early this morning when we heard that Candidate Biden may not be out of the woods.
We heard the statement on Morning Joe. It tracks to a detailed analysis piece by Thomas Edsall of the New York Times.
As of this morning. Edsall's piece was barely being featured at all at the New York Times web site.
It's classified as an Opinion piece. The site linked to nineteen other Opinion columns before Edsall's piece appeared on the list.
Edsall's piece is scary. It appears beneath these headlines:
Biden Is Not Out of the Woods / Unanticipated electoral developments are affecting both presidential campaigns in surprising ways.
EDSALL (10/14/20): With 20 days to go, most signals favor Joe Biden, but the chain of events that delivered an Electoral College victory to Donald Trump in 2016 still hovers in the rearview mirror.
Here are some of the things causing anxiety among Democratic partisans, particularly political professionals.
One way to measure voter enthusiasm is to compare voter registration trends for each party. A Democratic strategist who closely follows the data on a day-to-day basis wrote in a privately circulated newsletter:
"Since last week, the share of white non-college over 30 registrations in the battleground states has increased by 10 points compared to September 2016, and the Democratic margin dropped 10 points to just 6 points. And there are serious signs of political engagement by white non-college voters who had not cast ballots in previous elections."
David Wasserman, House editor for The Cook Political Report. wrote on Oct. 1 that voter registration patterns over a longer period in key battleground states show that “Republicans have swamped Democrats in adding new voters to the rolls, a dramatic GOP improvement over 2016.”
As an aside, the quoted excerpt from that "privately circulated newsletter" is virtually incoherent. We invite you to try to explain what either part of its first sentence means.
It's interesting that an experienced journalist, and his editors at the Times, were willing to publish a statement which basically can't be paraphrased. That said, Edsall then quotes Wasserman saying this, in recognizable English:
“Republicans have swamped Democrats in adding new voters to the rolls...”
Is it possible that a wave of new voters is being added to the rolls in a way which is slipping under the radar of polling groups?
We don't have the slightest idea. Meanwhile, Edsall cites other sources of concern, even including this:
EDSALL: Democratic strategists are also worried about how well their voters will perform in properly requesting, filling out and mailing in absentee ballots.
More than twice as many Biden voters as Trump voters—the actual ratio is 2.4 to 1—plan to cast ballots by mail, according to polling by Pew. So far, however, Democratic requests for absentee ballots have not reached the levels that surveys suggest will be needed for the party to cast votes at full strength on Election Day.
That resembles a point of concern we described on Monday. For the record, we have no idea how the election will turn out, even assuming that it proceeds in a normal way.
Could Donald J. Trump really win? This morning, Joe Scarborough started Morning Joe with comments about Edsall's essay.
Eventually, Scarborough explained why many of his family and friends are still going to vote for Trump, a man they regard with disdain. It comes down to "negative partisanship," Scarborough explained:
SCARBOROUGH (10/15/20): It’s really negative partisanship. It’s their fear of the Democrats. It’s their fear of "Woke Nation." It’s their fear that the kids will go to college and get hammered because of political correctness.
You can’t say that on television without people freaking out. I’m just explaining it to you. Political correctness is something that is not spoken of, [but] it drives so much of Donald Trump’s support.
How do I know? Because I keep hearing it from one person after another. When I say, "How can you support this man who has breached every constitutional norm, who breached every societal norm?", they’ll talk about how Democrats are socialists. They’ll come back and talk about political correctness and "wokeness." It’s the negative partisanship even more than it is Donald Trump.
You can watch videotape of the fuller statement at Raw Story. Inevitably, MSNBC declined to post this tape.
To what extent was Scarborough describing the source of Trump's continued support? Is it possible that Trump could still squeak through to re-election, thanks to this type of support?
We don't know how to answer that question, but we thought of Feinstein's lack of understanding when we watched Scarborough's presentation. We also thought of one of our tribe's better-known former professors, and of the possible disasters which may ensue when certain professors interact with the upper-end mainstream press.
We see The Crazy all around Candidate Donald J. Trump. Unfortunately, we also see emanations from the penumbra of The Crazy affecting our tribe Over Here.
Feinstein doesn't even understand the way the others feel. All too often, we suspect that we possibly do.
We'll start with that professor tomorrow. With hours lost before the tube, our exploration of this week's topic still has a long way to go.
Tomorrow: Our own tribe's professors gone wild