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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Forget that the so-called Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act that the House passed Tuesday  228-196 will never pass the Senate. Forget that the president has already said he would veto it. Forget that the Supreme Court would rule it unconstitutional.

The House Republicans’ proposed ban on all abortions after the 20th week would only affect 1.5 percent of all abortions, including women who are facing dire circumstances including “medically futile pregnancies.” If this bill became law, women could be forced to carry a fetus with no skull to a full term for no medical purpose whatsoever.

Additionally, it punishes those who do not have insurance and can’t get to a doctor in time to conduct crucial tests, even as House Republicans have voted 37 times to prevent millions from getting coverage.

The House’s futile pursuit of a 20-week ban first got national attention thanks to Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ).

Franks argued in front of an all-male panel that the “incidence” of pregnancy from rape was low, in order to justify the bill not having an exception for rape or incest. Now, he wasn’t making Todd Akin’s argument that began in Nazi death camps that it’s almost impossible to get pregnant from rape. Franks was saying that the estimated 30,000 women who get pregnant from rape is a low number. That’s about the same number of Americans who die from gunshots or automobile accidents. Do we consider either of these numbers “low?”

House Republican leadership recognized that Franks had created a big problem, so they made some changes.  They put Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) in charge of managing the bill because she’s female and not Trent Franks. And they added exceptions to the bill for rape and incest. But even those exceptions have exceptions. The rape has to have been reported to the police and the incest exception only applies to women under 18.

This is only a fantasy bill, but it gives you a chance to imagine the world Republicans imagine: abortions banned, women questioned for saying they were raped, miscarriages investigated.

So why are Republicans focusing on this issue right now when they could be focusing on all the “scandals” or repealing Obamacare again? Why are they treading into the same nonsense that cost them two Senate seats just months ago?

Is it because 15-week old male fetuses masturbate?

MSNBC’s Timothy Noah calls it “Kamikaze conservatism.”

“When all you have to worry about is appealing to people like yourself, the prospect of being unpopular outside your chosen sphere doesn’t seem all that frightening,” Noah writes.

These bans are hugely popular with Republican primary voters, typified by Red State’s Erick Erickson, especially in the wake of the Kermit Gosnell “scandal.”

What isn’t popular is what the House GOP has to do next: keep the government running, raise the debt limit, pass immigration reform or destroy their chances of winning the White House.

With the IRS scandal falling apart and House Republicans far to the right of the president on issues like indefinite detention, closing the Guantánamo Bay detention camp and likely even NSA spying, this is the kind of easy, meaningless win they’re capable of achieving.

But to do it, they have to seem both crazy and cruel — and that’s apparently just fine with the House GOP.

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File

Many Democrats are getting nervous about the upcoming presidential election. Ominous, extensively reported articles by two of the best in the business—the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin and The Atlantic's Barton Gellman—outline Boss Trump's plot to keep control of the White House in 2021 no matter how the American people vote.
Trump is hardly making a secret of it. He's pointedly refused to commit to "a peaceful transfer of power."

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," is how he answered the question. He added that after we "get rid of the ballots"—presumably mail-in ballots he's been whining about for weeks--"there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation."

Of course, Trump himself has always voted by mail, but then brazen hypocrisy is his standard operating mode. If you haven't noticed, he also lies a lot. Without prevaricating, boasting, and bitching, he'd be mute. And even then, he'd still have Twitter. He recently tweeted that the winner "may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED" because mail-in ballots make it a "RIGGED ELECTION in waiting."
Gellman gets this part exactly right in The Atlantic: "Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.
"Trump's invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before."
No, we haven't. However, it's important to remember that Trump makes threats and promises almost daily that never happen. Remember that gigantic border wall Mexico was going to pay for? Trump has built exactly five miles of the fool thing, leaving roughly two thousand to go.
His brilliant cheaper, better health care plan? Non-existent.
On Labor Day, Boss Trump boasted of his unparalleled success in strong-arming Japan into building new auto-manufacturing plants. "They're being built in Ohio, they're being built in South Carolina, North Carolina, they're being built all over and expanded at a level that we've never seen before."
Not a word of that is true. Two new plants, one German, another Swedish have opened in South Carolina, but construction began before Trump took office. Auto industry investment during Barack Obama's second term far exceeded Trump's. His version is sheer make-believe.
But back to the GOP scheme to steal the election.
First, it's clear that even Trump understands that he has virtually no chance of winning the national popular vote. He's been polling in the low 40s, with no sign of change. To have any chance of prevailing in the Electoral College, he's got to do the electoral equivalent of drawing to an inside straight all over again—winning a half-dozen so-called battleground states where he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 by the narrowest of margins.
At this writing, that looks highly unlikely. The latest polling in must-win Pennsylvania, for example, shows Trump trailing Joe Biden by nine points. That's a landslide. Trump's down ten in Wisconsin, eight in Michigan. And so on.
So spare me the screeching emails in ALL CAPS, OK? Polls were actually quite accurate in 2016. Trump narrowly defeated the odds. It can happen. But he's in far worse shape this time. Furthermore, early voting turnout is very high, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans two to one.
Hence, The Atlantic reports, "Trump's state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for post-election maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states."
The plan is clear. Because more Democrats than Republicans are choosing mail-in voting during the COVID pandemic, Trump hopes to prevent those ballots from being counted. Assuming he'll have a narrow "swing state" lead on election night, he'll declare victory and start filing lawsuits. "The red mirage," some Democrats call it.
"As a result," Toobin writes, "the aftermath of the 2020 election has the potential to make 2000 look like a mere skirmish." With Trump in the White House urging armed militias to take to the street.
Mail-in votes take a long time to count. Things could definitely get crazy.
True, but filing a lawsuit to halt a Florida recount was one thing. Filing suits against a half dozen states to prevent votes from being counted at all is quite another. Public reaction would be strong. Also, winning such lawsuits requires serious evidence of fraud. Trumpian bluster ain't evidence.
The Atlantic reports that GOP-controlled state legislatures are thinking about sending Trumpist delegations to the Electoral College regardless of the popular vote winner—theoretically constitutional but currently illegal.
Fat chance. If that's the best they've got, they've got nothing.
Anyway, here's the answer: Vote early, and in person*.

[Editor's note: In some states, receiving an absentee ballot means that a voter can no longer vote in person* or may have to surrender the absentee ballot, including the envelope in which it arrived, at their polling place. Please check with your local election authorities.]