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About a week-and-a-half after finishing Hillary Clinton’s What Happened  I was

1) not ready to re-read it quite yet and

2) not ready to start reading anything else. I wanted it to sit with me awhile like a nice Thanksgiving dinner.

I looked for a good movie on TV and nothing appealed to me, so I checked out *On Demand and found Recount available.

I hadn’t watched it in years – double digit years. There was much that I had either forgotten, or never noticed, or had not realized the significance of the first time around.

Ron Klain is the central character in the film. Hillary gives him a shout out in her book as a member of her debate prep team. We see him often as a commentator on MSNBC as we do Jeremy Bash who is a major supporting character in the film. The first time I saw this movie, I really had no idea who they were besides dedicated campaign staffers.

I had forgotten that each campaign had called in a former secretary of state to manage the chaos that originated around the infamous ‘butterfly ballot’ in Palm Beach County, FL.  The Democrats brought Warren Christopher aboard, and the Republicans called on James Baker.

If you are unfamiliar with that ballot, here it is.

Image result for image butterfly ballot

The butterfly ballot necessitated the correct insertion of the ballot (the yellow part underneath) into the machine and the use of that blue-handled stick-pin to punch a hole in the appropriate place on the ballot beside the ticket you chose. The complaint among many seniors in Palm Beach County was that they thought they might have punched hole #4 for Buchanan when they meant to vote for Gore (#5).

The confusion that ensued comprised the possibilities that people may well have simply punched the wrong circle, those circles are pretty small and many older people are vision-impaired, or that they may have inserted their ballots incorrectly, or that they had not punched the ballot firmly enough resulting in CHAD (Card Hole Aggregate Debris ) not completely detached from the ballot or even a “dimpled” ballot, i.e. no hole at all – only a dimple or indentation. A machine recount, as we learned, could push the partially detached “debris” back into the ballot nullifying the vote. A manual recount would raise the issue of voter intent in the cases of dimpled ballots. Florida does have a law regarding voter intent.

This is pretty nitty-gritty stuff for former global diplomats to be dealing with … unless it is your vote. Bringing in Christopher and Baker was also necessitated by the fact that the entire election would pivot around Florida, and once Palm Beach County was in question, folks in other counties began to question whether their votes were counted. In other words, the election in Florida, where one candidate’s brother was governor, was in question and was a mess … a world-class mess.

Here are a few things I had forgotten.

Al Gore had the popular vote even before Florida was counted.

Al Gore did concede on election night. He called George W. Bush. Then he called back and retracted when he was told the Florida numbers were going haywire. He was stopped just short of delivering his concession speech on election night.

Here is one thing I had never paid attention to. One line might well have gone forgotten or fallen to the cutting room floor since the actual character never made an appearance in the film. In an organizational meeting, James Baker is told that Jesse Jackson has Black and Jewish senior citizens marching in the streets demanding that their votes be counted and, as he said, “Who can argue with that?”

He then told Ben Ginsberg, a campaign attorney, to call in Roger Stone and bring crowds to Tallahassee, Palm Beach, and Miami.

Yes. That Roger Stone. Yes, this James Baker, and that James Baker! He called in that Roger Stone!

We all know how this ended when it finally did on December 12, 2000. SCOTUS halted the recount, Gore decided not to pursue any other pathways still open (to Ron Klain’s agony) and delivered a televised concession speech in the most upbeat of his usual upbeat manners. Many of us cried.

Looking back on this after reading Hillary’s excruciating chapter on election night and the day after, I see a difference in myself. I was a Gore supporter. No question about that. I would even say an enthusiastic one. But I was not impassioned. I kicked in my contributions. I had a demanding job that did not permit me much free time, and I was certain that this country would not elect George W. Bush. He was a joke to me and ended up a joke on me.

For Hillary, I was impassioned. Hillary was a cause for me. Despite my job, I worked hard for her in 2008 and much, much harder in 2015-16. One reason was the lesson I had learned about how U.S. voters will elect a joke. Much more of it was a long history of Hillary appreciation. She had the best experience, was the hardest worker, had the best mind and the best plans, as usual.  I knew all about them and promoted them. I gave every way I could.

Yet, on election night, I was not among the sobbers. I was not one of those crying. First, I was in severe shock. I could not comprehend what happened. It was as if I had been kicked in the head or struck by lightning.  I heard that she had called Trump. Then, I was deflated. Completely. I could not move, think, type, or speak. I was a zombie. Walking Dead. (Mind you. I have lived in Haiti and seen and met true zombies. That is how I was. Exactly.)

Neither was I tearful the following morning. This was a formality. A speech she felt she had to give. I appreciated the thought and feeling she had put into her words and the courage of her delivery. But it all was unreal to me. I was still in warrior mode – zombie warrior. Much as she did in June 2008, she graciously conceded. I was angry in 2008, and I was confused in 2016 because I did not see how this had happened. Something was very wrong here, but crying was too simple, and it was not going to satisfy my soul.

Having read Hillary’s reaction I think hers was pretty close to mine (hers, obviously, must have been mine times 66 million). Just drained, traumatized. Something had gone terribly wrong. But what?

What went into her decisions, to call Trump, to delay the speech since she had not written one, to give the speech the next day, what she did in those crucial hours, she explains all of that in that chapter. We didn’t have a lot of solid answers then.

Since then, we have gradually learned a lot, but we don’t know everything. For that we need to hear from Robert Mueller’s team.

We know that Obama encouraged Hillary to concede quickly and that she agreed with that. When I said on social media that she did not want to put the nation through another 2000, I was reminded that this is not 2000.  That is true, but the effect would have been similar, and even now we do not have the answers and there was no provision or mechanism to hold things off until we did have the information.

It was not Hillary but Terry Gross who brought up the issue of questioning the legitimacy of the election  earlier this month. Hillary responded that she did not think we had a mechanism for that.

That is another issue that looms large in Recount. Mechanisms. Apparently, the way election law was written in Florida at the time (and I have zero reason to think this has changed), if you want a total recount in that state, you must ask for that recount first before you request recounts in specific counties. That may be bass-ackwards, but that is their law. Having first requested recounts by county, Gore’s team was, by law, unable to request a full recount of the state. This was temporarily overturned by the Florida Supremes who called for a full state recount which proceeded until SCOTUS reversed that decision and stopped it. Likely they halted it because there are always those annoying dates! You must have a state winner by the time the Electoral College meets. You must have a president by January 20 even if Congress has to choose.

Another point brought up in the course of the machinations was that SCOTUS really should have no voice at all in an election and only Congress should, but both sides had already filed suits that had reached the Florida Supreme Court. By default, appeals went to SCOTUS.

In an election, much of what happens in 50 states with 3,142 counties is a function of local laws. If you did not like what happened in 2000, specifically that came down to Florida and its 67 counties. At best it would mean changing state election laws, which I do not think they have. At worst that would involve making micro-changes at the county level.

As for 2016, it would likely require some Constitutional change – an amendment. The least complicated path would be to abolish the Electoral College which twice in this young century has handed us the unpopular president. The College misrepresents the population. Who knows how likely such an amendment would be given gerrymandering and dark money in elections? It would not be easy. But worth a try.

At the end of Recount a codicil is read providing that the SCOTUS decision applied exclusively to Bush v. Gore. In other words, it can never be seen or used as a precedent for any future case.

There is much to be learned from the past, but there are not necessarily permanent fixes to past obstacles.
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If you saw the movie “Woman in Gold,” and I strongly recommend that you do, you know that as a young lawyer and new dad, Randy Schoenberg argued before Chief Justice Rhenquist’s Supreme Court and prevailed. He did this having given up his job and devoting all of his time, energy, and resources to helping Maria Altmann recover paintings stolen from her family’s Vienna residence by the Nazis.

Here is his Facebook entry.

E. Randol Schoenberg

So, I filed a lawsuit today against the US Department of Justice seeking immediate disclosure of the FBI search warrant for the e-mails of Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin on Anthony Weiner’s laptop. As I explained in my blog http://schoenblog.com/?p=1008, I think we need to see what “probable cause” was shown for obtaining the search warrant, because whoever thought there was going to be evidence of a crime was obviously mistaken. And that mistake probably changed the outcome of the election. Journalists should contact my attorney Dave Rankin for more details.


E. Randol Schoenberg. Photo courtesy of E. Randol Schoenberg

E. Randol Schoenberg was confused when he read a New York Times article in the waning days of the presidential election reporting the FBI had obtained a warrant to seize new material in the Hillary Clinton email case.

“I thought, ‘What does that mean?’” he told the Journal. “Normally you have to show probable cause. That’s what it says in the Fourth Amendment.”

SNIP

“It’s more likely something criminal happened in the obtaining of the search warrant than… Hillary Clinton did something wrong,” he said

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We thank him and applaud his effort.  In a Gothamist article, Schoenberg says this.

“I like tilting at windmills, and sometimes it turns out not to be as crazy as everybody thinks,” he said. “[Maybe] I’m right that there’s some big story behind this, maybe i’m wrong…Sticking to your convictions, trying to think differently from everyone else is what I like to do.”

In the movie, Ronald Lauder tells Maria Altmann that her “schoolboy” lawyer is not equal to an argument before SCOTUS to help her retrieve family treasures looted by the Nazis. Maria tells Lauder that she will stick with her schoolboy.  He succeeded. Perhaps he is right. Maybe this is a battle worth having. Maybe it indeed is not “as crazy as everybody thinks. ”

Go for it, Randy! (We hope you don’t mind us calling you Randy. Maria got us accustomed to that in the movie.) donate-to-dems

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Hillary Clinton’s Full Statement on Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt:

The Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt is a victory for women across America. By striking down politically motivated restrictions that made it nearly impossible for Texans to exercise their full reproductive rights, the Court upheld every woman’s right to safe, legal abortion, no matter where she lives.I applaud everyone who flooded the Texas Capitol to speak out against these attacks on women’s health, the brave women and men across the country who shared their stories, and the health care providers who fought for their patients and refused to give up.

Our fight is far from over. In Texas and across the country, a woman’s constitutional right to make her own health decisions is  under attack. In the first three months of 2016, states introduced more than 400 measures restricting access to abortion. We’ve seen a concerted, persistent attack on women’s health and rights at the federal level. Meanwhile, Donald Trump has said women should be punished for having abortions.  He also pledged to defund Planned Parenthood and appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade.

Dr. John J. Edney is not only committed to the care of his patients and their families, but also to the education of medical students and the surgical needs of residents.

Today’s decision is a reminder of how much is at stake in this election. We need a President who will defend women’s health and rights and appoint Supreme Court justices who recognize Roe v. Wade as settled law. We must continue to protect access to safe and legal abortion – not just on paper, but in reality.

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Note to Mitch McConnell: The American people had a voice in this … in 2012 by electing Barack Obama to a four-year term.  #DoYourJob!

Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland receives applause from President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden as he is introduced as Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court during an announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, March 16, 2016.

Add your name to join Hillary in standing with President Obama and demanding a fair and open hearing >>>>

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Super Tuesday was not and not expected to be resounding.  Hillary’s showing was strong and creditable but was not the Sanders shut-down of which some had dreamt and continue to dream. Bernie racked up solid wins in caucus states.  Ignoring that does not delete those delegates.

From the very beginning, eleven month ago, Hillary told us that this was going to be hard-fought.  It has been and still is.  Hillary and her team – of which we all count ourselves part – worked hard for every success.  She was solid in the South, and she edged Bernie out in his neighboring state, Massachusetts.  That was the good news.

Portraying Super Tuesday as more than it was and predicting a swift demise of the Sanders campaign are land mines to be avoided.  Of course we celebrate the victories. The danger is in sitting back and behaving as if it is time to pop the champagne cork.

While it is fine to celebrate these victories, and we should, it is dangerous to believe, complacently, that Hillary is a shoo-in. Too many analyses, articles, and comments at Facebook groups in the wake of last night provide an alarming message that Hillary is going to win this no matter what.  The “inevitability” mentality is a trap.

There are tough battles ahead.  We are the ones who must fight them.

In the 1950s there was a prevailing attitude in the United States of  “Let George do it.”  Perhaps the threats of the McCarthy era influenced people to stand back in the shadows and let others who were willing to take risks shoulder the struggle.  We cannot afford that today.

This is what is happening today, March 2, the day after Super Tuesday, in the House.

March 2, 2016

Bioethics of Fetal Tissue Research The Select Investigative Panel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on the practice of fetal tissue donation and the use of fetal material in medical research.

This is what SCOTUS is doing.

Supreme Court closely divided on abortion case

Sitting at a keyboard and whipping up pipe dreams about Bernie’s money pit drying up is not going to get us the president we need to combat the assault – from two sides of our tripartite government – on the rights of women and families to make family planning decisions. This is every bit as much a part of what we do at the kitchen table as paying the bills.  We are and should be past the era of four older siblings working to put the fifth through school.  Deciding how many children we can support as a family is the right of individuals that should not be overridden by government edict. This is very much at the heart of both of those hearings.

The Republican Party is in upheaval.

Longtime traditional Republicans like Christie Whitman, Peter King, and Mitt Romney are alarmed that Donald Trump carries the mantel of their party as he did last night. There are Democrats who feel the same way about Bernie Sanders running as a Democrat. The hard, cold fact is that both of these men are exactly where they are, and Bernie Sanders has actual delegates.  There are more contests ahead.

A handful of outlying Congressional endorsements is not enough for Bernie Sanders to effect the kind of legislation that will protect our rights. Pretending that he is not having the successes that he is does nothing to ensure that Hillary will prevail in Philadelphia – preferably before.

We know which president we need, and we have to fight for her because she is fighting for us.  There is no “George” who is going to do this. We have to.  We all have to be “George.”

02-19-16-Z-01

Be a fighter for Hillary!

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