By Robert A. Vella
Today, we’ll cover the surprisingly riveting Democratic National Convention conducted virtually in which former First Lady Michelle Obama delivered an impassioned speech for the ages, another former high official in the Trump administration who has turned against the president, and the illegality of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s sabotaging of the U.S. Postal Service to help Trump get reelected through blatant voter suppression.
The opening day of this week’s virtual convention to select the Democratic Party nominee for president kicked-off last night with notable speeches from Democrats, Independents, and Republicans, effective visuals, superb music (including a memorable rendition of Buffalo Springfield’s legendary 1967 protest song For What It’s Worth performed by Stephen Stills and Billy Porter), and a clear focus on Donald Trump‘s egregious failures, incompetence, narcissism, racism, and tyrannical behavior. “This is not normal,” was a common meme used throughout the two-hour long event. The concluding keynote speech by Michelle Obama was so candid and moving that it brought tears to my eyes. Considering the dire circumstances facing the nation, it will surely be remembered as one of the greatest political speeches in American history, I believe.
In addition to what happened at the convention, a high-ranking official – Miles Taylor, who served over two years at the Department of Homeland Security under President Trump – has come out publicly and aggressively against his former boss.
I’ve included several links detailing how DeJoy, and possibly Trump himself, could face federal and/or state criminal charges for ordering the USPS to deliberately obstruct mail deliveries to interfere in the 2020 election.
Note: all bold highlighting by The Secular Jurist.
MILWAUKEE — The Democratic primary race began as a clash of ideas. But when the Democratic National Convention convened on Monday, the party assembled with a singular aim: defeating President Trump.
From the progressive left to the moderate wing, Mr. Trump has served for months as the glue keeping the party from fracturing. And never has this détente been more obvious than in the wide-ranging lineup for the first night of the convention, when, in the name of unity, the virtual stage was open not just to Democrats of various persuasions but to Republicans as well.
“We have got to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it,” said Michelle Obama, the former first lady.
The appeal came from other political leaders including John Kasich, a onetime Republican candidate for president; Senator Bernie Sanders, the progressive standard-bearer; and also Democratic moderates including Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan.
From the opening moments, which featured a dramatic recitation of the preamble to the Constitution and a mosaic of young people from across all the states and territories singing the national anthem, the convention was a surreal projection of America, slickly produced for a television audience no one could see. The event repeatedly touched on themes that have galvanized voters in recent months — racial justice, the coronavirus crisis, the mail — and portrayed the Democratic Party as uniquely able to heal a scarred nation.
Michelle Obama closed the first night of an unprecedented Democratic convention with a powerful, direct-to-camera excoriation of Donald Trump’s presidency that could reverberate through the rest of the 2020 campaign.
Obama excoriated Trump for what she called “a total and utter lack of empathy” in the most important speech of Monday night’s program.
Her role was clear: The former first lady got nearly 19 minutes — the longest speaking slot of the night, by far — to tear into Trump’s character.
“I know that regardless of our race, age, religion, or politics, when we close out the noise and the fear and truly open our hearts, we know that what’s going on in this country is just not right,” she said. “This is not who we want to be.”
She told Democrats that her catchphrase means “unlocking the shackles of lies and mistrust with the only thing that can truly set us free: the cold hard truth.”
“So let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can,” she said. “Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is.”
She also urged Democrats to turn out in force to vote — pack a brown bag with dinner and even breakfast and wait in line all night, she told them.
“If you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me, they can; and they will if we don’t make a change in this election,” she said.
I am one of a handful of people living today who have seen firsthand the immense weight and awesome power of the presidency. And let me once again tell you this: The job is hard. It requires clear-headed judgment, a mastery of complex and competing issues, a devotion to facts and history, a moral compass, and an ability to listen — and an abiding belief that each of the 330,000,000 lives in this country has meaning and worth.
A president’s words have the power to move markets. They can start wars or broker peace. They can summon our better angels or awaken our worst instincts. You simply cannot fake your way through this job.
As I’ve said before, being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are. Well, a presidential election can reveal who we are, too. And four years ago, too many people chose to believe that their votes didn’t matter. Maybe they were fed up. Maybe they thought the outcome wouldn’t be close. Maybe the barriers felt too steep. Whatever the reason, in the end, those choices sent someone to the Oval Office who lost the national popular vote by nearly 3,000,000 votes.
In one of the states that determined the outcome, the winning margin averaged out to just two votes per precinct — two votes. And we’ve all been living with the consequences.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Monday night urged his former primary supporters to back former Vice President Joe Biden, warning that progressive values are on the line in November.
Sanders, speaking as part of the virtual Democratic National Convention, warned that President Trump is “leading us down the path to authoritarianism,” and that if Democrats lose in November “the price of failure is just too great to imagine.”
“We need Joe Biden as our next president. … If Donald Trump is re-elected all the progress we have made will be in jeopardy,” the Vermont senator said.
“My friends, I say to you, and to everyone who supported other candidates in this primary and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election. The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake. We must come together, defeat Donald Trump and elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as our next president and vice president,” he continued.
The theme of the first night of the Democratic national convention was one that has gripped the intelligentsia more than the public: the unique authoritarian threat posed by Donald Trump. It was a point made most explicitly by Bernie Sanders. And it was made implicitly, and most controversially, by Republican John Kasich.
It would obviously be an exaggeration to say a Kasich speaking slot locks up millions of voters. Conventions can only do so much. Most undecided voters don’t watch them. But they do absorb at least some news coverage, and to the extent that coverage emphasizes Kasich’s testimony that Republicans should reject Trump and trust Biden, it’s meaningful. Lots of voters in the middle don’t follow politics closely, and the use simple heuristics like “Even voters in the other party like this candidate” help them make sense of their decision.
The larger moral purpose in Kasich’s endorsement is the imperative to put aside policy goals for the objective of stopping an unfit and dangerous aspiring dictator. It is because Kasich does not stand to gain from Biden’s election — his agenda would be harmed, while Sanders’s would be incrementally advanced — is a testament to his willingness to sacrifice something to save American democracy.
Of all the first night speakers, Sanders grasped the stakes most clearly, promising, “I will work with progressives, with moderates, and yes, with conservatives, to preserve this nation from a threat that … our heroes fought and died to defeat.” Bernie understands what many of his supporters fail to see.
Former official turns on Trump
The former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security recorded an ad for a political group opposing President Trump, calling the Trump presidency “terrifying.” Miles Taylor, who left DHS in 2019, claims the president wanted to use the agency “for his own political purposes and to fuel his own agenda.”
“What we saw week in and week out and for me after two and a half years in that administration was terrifying,” said Taylor in a video posted Monday on Twitter by by Republican Voters Against Trump. “We would go in to try to talk to them about a pressing national security, cyber attack, terrorism threat. He wasn’t interested in those things to him. They weren’t priorities.”
“A lot of the time, the things he wanted to do not only were impossible, but in many cases illegal. He didn’t want us to tell them it was illegal anymore because he knew that there were, and these were his words, he knew that he had magical authorities,” Taylor continued. He called Mr. Trump “unfocused” and “undisciplined.”
“I came away completely convinced, based on firsthand experience, that the president was ill equipped and wouldn’t become equipped to do his job effectively. And what’s worse was actively doing damage to our security,” he said.
Taylor then said that he would support Joe Biden for president, despite their political differences, because “I’m confident that Joe Biden will protect the country and I’m confident he won’t make the same mistakes as this.”
“Like many Americans, I had hoped that Donald Trump, once in office, would soberly accept the burdens of the presidency – foremost among them the duty to keep America safe. But he did not rise to the challenge. Instead, the president has governed by whim, political calculation and self-interest,” Taylor wrote.
Illegality of sabotaging the USPS
18 U.S. Code § 595. Interference by administrative employees of Federal, State, or Territorial Governments – Whoever, being a person employed in any administrative position by the United States, or by any department or agency thereof, or by the District of Columbia or any agency or instrumentality thereof, or by any State, Territory, or Possession of the United States, or any political subdivision, municipality, or agency thereof, or agency of such political subdivision or municipality (including any corporation owned or controlled by any State, Territory, or Possession of the United States or by any such political subdivision, municipality, or agency), in connection with any activity which is financed in whole or in part by loans or grants made by the United States, or any department or agency thereof, uses his official authority for the purpose of interfering with, or affecting, the nomination or the election of any candidate for the office of President, Vice President, Presidential elector, Member of the Senate, Member of the House of Representatives, Delegate from the District of Columbia, or Resident Commissioner, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
18 U.S. Code § 1701. Obstruction of mails generally – Whoever knowingly and willfully obstructs or retards the passage of the mail, or any carrier or conveyance carrying the mail, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.
18 U.S. Code § 1703. Delay or destruction of mail or newspapers – (a) Whoever, being a Postal Service officer or employee, unlawfully secretes, destroys, detains, delays, or opens any letter, postal card, package, bag, or mail entrusted to him or which shall come into his possession, and which was intended to be conveyed by mail, or carried or delivered by any carrier or other employee of the Postal Service, or forwarded through or delivered from any post office or station thereof established by authority of the Postmaster General or the Postal Service, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.