Friday, August 31, 2018

Lies make a politician more "authentic"

By George Templeton
Gazette Blog Columnist
Together Again
We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately." – Benjamin Franklin            
Taking Chances
Sometimes things just happen that way.  It’s like the flip of a coin.  We have to make a choice without the facts.  When things work out well we take credit, even though the outcome is coincidental.  When we do poorly, we fix the blame, even though our choice was arbitrary.   When we don’t know the truth, we claim the opposite of what our antagonist is saying.  Lies make a politician more “authentic”.  They are a protest that is less mind-numbing than the facts.  We don’t choose outcomes.  We select policies that speak for us.  The winner becomes the person who initially set the rules, but that isn’t “the will of the American people”.
It was President Theodore Roosevelt who said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick”.  Can you hear what our government is not saying? 
A Guadalajara Sunday Morning
Homeowners swept the street in front of their home with a whisk broom.  Our factory was full of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of automation.  But there were parts of Mexico where the streets were cobblestone and filled with potholes.  Beggars with baby in knapsack looked hungrily through the window as we consumed our evening meal.  But in our clean-room factory, workers wore spacesuits.
It was one of the greatest achievements of mankind.  Many of its “secrets” are common to all semiconductor physics.  American schools educated their PHDs.  If they did not know it now, they would learn it in a few years.  It was that way, because of economies of scale.  Things that seem the same can have deep manufacturing differences, such as double-sided vertical instead of horizontal construction, and high power instead of shrunk size.  That renders them incompatible with the modernity that stays in America.
In Phoenix, our product sat waiting shipment to customers.  An American flag and the words, “Made in-America” covered our shipping containers.  But these products were diffused, assembled, tested, and marked in Mexico.  They used wafers manufactured in multi-billion dollar factories located in Japan or Germany.  They received only an overnight bake in an oven in Phoenix, but this obeyed regulations.
You can hire as many as thirty foreign workers for the price of one American.  But when America has overseas factories, we profit from the same low operating costs that foreign countries could ultimately use to compete with us.  It keeps it American.  It grows goodwill and their middle class.
When America Changed
The outsourcing of jobs began helter-skelter in the mid 70’s, but no one paid much attention.  We want access to huge developing markets.  Ownership and control are important.  But business did not take care of America’s workers.  It thought that cheaper prices for consumers would be enough.  It forgot about mergers, takeovers, acquisitions, automation, unions declining, and extravagant pension promises that could not be kept.  Government did not take care of America’s students.  It forgot about vocational education, participation with industry, and student loans.  The despicable forgot about apprenticeships, retraining, and investment.  They thought that Social Security was their bank account.  They wanted freedom from responsibility for themselves, to their fellow man, and to the world.  They bit the hand that fed them.
Healthy Capitalism
Wouldn’t it be great if workers shared in the ownership of the companies they worked for?  Economist Craig Richardson recorded images of Zimbabwe before and after the Robert Mugabe’s land grab.  Within four years, communal properties had visibly declined in comparison to private properties.  When people own, they care.  But they don’t know enough to run the show without management.  Modern high-technology companies realize that this is not 1955.  It’s called “Participative Management” and “Profit Sharing”.
Cynical capitalists used Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” to justify their immense salaries and the poverty of their poor and obscure employees.  But Elizabeth Warren’s Accountable Capitalism Act would require large companies to become responsible for their workers in addition to their stockholders.  Workers should get their fair share, but they are also responsible for their future.  “Corporations are people too”.  Was this the intent of the Founding Fathers?
Most of us march to the beat of a different drummer.  If we could plot a distribution we would get a bell curve.  Mathematicians know that this is because human nature is imperfectly aiming at a target.  It is a consequence of our collective situation and the fact that we overlap with each other.  But Leviathan in politics skews the curve in an abnormal way.  It is about power, us versus them, winning, and not people.
Ned Cross not Red Cross
Both were humanitarians.  Ned owned a famous bar near Falcon Field in Mesa during the WWII area.    The Red Cross did not take sides during the war.  They treated the wounded from either side.  To do otherwise, would confound their mission.  Does America have a calling?  Is it “no more nice guy”?  The world needs an accepted leader.  Countries like China, India, and Brazil are too focused on themselves to become economic leaders.  Should we cancel foreign aid as conservatives have long argued for?  Don’t we benefit when we help others?  The more we learn to understand each other the more we value others and ourselves.
Words More than the Deed
There are those who prefer the simplicity of a dictator to an independent administration with resources, authority, and the ability to do the job. 
 Trump threatened to punish countries doing business with Iran because that reduces the effect of our sanctions.  They will never again do business with the United States!  They must pay a price for not buying our stuff!  Forget about rewards for being a good customer!  It misses the point, when everything is reduced to a matter of economics, and when people and countries are just a means to an end, coerced to do our bidding.  The proud, infatuated with their power, chastise.  It’s quick and easy, but punishment is soon forgotten.
Positive reinforcement changes long-term behavior.  The great French mathematician Henri Poincare expressed that when he wrote that he, “… does not study nature because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it.”  Business embraced this when they changed their employee review sheet from, “List everything that is wrong with the employee” to instead discuss goals that were quantifiable and agreeable.  This gave a badly needed focus to the chaos of the workplace.  It will do the same for diplomacy.
Progress may seem like destroying the Government Leviathan, but it should not mean that the previous vanishes.  There are flaws in every large bureaucratic organization.  Fractured groups are easily scattered.  Humpty Dumpty sat on Trump’s wall.  Those with no regard for stability caused his fall.  Once splattered, he could not be put together again.
The Physics of Finance
Facts exist because they are falsifiable, but have never been, even once.  For example, there is a relationship between power and energy, held together by time.   But physics gets in the way of psycho kinetics, the human aura, and the soul.  The law of supply and demand is different.  Its variables are never “realized”.  There are many of them and they interact, making seeing difficult if not impossible.  The market place is like a balloon, pushed in at one spot it bulges out in another.  There are unforeseen unpleasant consequences for tariffs and meddling with the free market.
Economic Instability
Ninety percent of the world’s countries undergo violent regime change a couple of times per generation and they are poor.  The most prosperous ten percent have a median time of sixty years.  The United States is the world’s longest lasting regime, lasting from 1789 and it is rich.  Stability means prosperity.
Political institutions are by far the strongest variable in determining a country’s success.  They include customs and rules and determine motivation.  A universal policy requires a common electorate, but globally there is none.  Fascists, who are least economically entangled, uproot legal and democratic traditions and replace them with their own self-interest.  They do not minister to group needs.
Cutting taxes is a good way to combat economic downturns, but America has become a borrower nation and debts must be repaid.  High taxes (for everyone) raise prices, add to the cost of living, and discourage production.  Low taxes reduce prices and give us peace of mind.  But what is it that we are not investing in?
Republican Prudence
The myth of Reagan’s tax cut, the Economic Recovery Act of 1981, stands in the light of the seventies gas lines and twenty-one percent interest rates.  Its benefits particularly helped the wealthy.  The economy recovered, except for a recession in 1981 – 1982.  A mountain of debt resulted in the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act, the Highway Revenue Act of 1982, the payroll tax Social Security deal of 1983, the Deficit Reduction Act of 1984, and the Tax Reform Act of 1986.  We changed from a society that saved to a credit card consumption driven economy.
The Treasury Department estimates that our government will need to borrow $769 billion for the second half of 2018.  It is the highest borrowing estimate since the $1.1 trillion in the middle of the 2008 financial crisis and it projects a 25% increase over the annual deficit in 2017.  The Trump Administration claims that economic growth, stemming from tax cuts, will easily exceed the difference.  Besides our Air Force, he would create a “Space Force” and we would go to Mars.  To further stimulate the economy, Republicans are thinking about making the tax cuts “permanent”.  They would like to reduce capital gains taxes by calculating them from an inflation compounded value.  To increase “stability”, big business would be allowed to abandon the traditional quarterly report for a semi-annual one.
Sovereignty in Conflict
Many Americans believe that big government is a greater threat than terrorism.  The irony is that those same people turn to government when threatened.  In 1802 Thomas Jefferson wrote, “I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.”  But our Federal Reserve System is charged with reducing the frequency and severity of recessions.  It is supposed to be independent of politics.  Trump has indicated that he wants to keep interest rates low to stimulate the economy, but that risks inflation.
The Age of Instability
Domestic politics always trumps international cooperation.  Economics has become political instead of scientific.  The big issues:  our environment, free trade, and terrorism can be solved by no single nation.  When more countries participate, there are economies of scale, but a single hold-out can stop progress.
Nationalism promotes instability, but they say that if you want it done right, you should do it yourself.  The problem is that fast, good, and cheap are mutually exclusive.
Economics is all about “what if”.  Its math suggests that we cannot fail.  A series of events, each improbable, are even less likely.  But this incorrectly assumes that events are independent.  It ignores human nature.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Sarah Palin "Trump Lite" Not Invited To John McCain's Funeral

Maybe this is the image that persuaded McCain to not have her anywhere near his remains.
The guest list for John McCain’s funeral must be a litmus test for legitimacy in politics, or stature in any event, if the exclusion of bimbos Donald Trump and Sarah Palin are any measure. Sarah Palin is reportedly not invited to John McCain’s funeral. 

Sarah Palin apparently has a grudge against McCain, as was evident from a recent interview with the Daily Mail in which she said that McCain “had some strange people around him.” Boy is that the pot calling the kettle black. Mother Jones:

“I don’t think inherently he necessarily was really connected, so he did rely on people telling him – in polls – telling him and…he went from there.
“I think that’s unfortunate because he had some strange people around him and..disloyal people, and you know, I don’t say that as like hate speech or griping about it, it’s just a fact they were just some not nice people.”
The people to whom Palin is referring likely included Nicolle Wallace, who served as senior adviser to the McCain-Palin campaign in 2008 and is now a political commentator for MSNBC. Palin has been jousting with Wallace ever since she was assigned to help transform Palin from small-state governor to vice presidential candidate. Palin has been blaming Wallace for years for her disastrous performance on the campaign trail. Wallace, meanwhile, wrote a novel featuring a mentally ill female vice presidential candidate that many believed was a thinly veiled dig at Palin.
It’s not Wallace’s fault that Palin is dumb as a rock. Here, let’s take a trip down memory lane. 

On America’s enemies:

“Come on. Enemies, who would utterly annihilate America, they who’d obviously have information on plots, to carry out Jihad. Oh, but you can’t offend them, can’t make them feel uncomfortable, not even a smidgen. Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we’d baptize terrorists.”
On the Korean tensions:

“But obviously, we’ve got to stand with our North Korean allies.”
On speaking American:

“We can send a message and say, ‘You want to be in America, A, you’d better be here legally or you’re out of here. B, when you’re here, let’s speak American.”
On nuclear weapons:

“Mr. President, the only thing that stops a bad guy with a nuke is a good guy with a nuke.”
On why she made up the new word refudiate:

“‘Refudiate,’ ‘misunderestimate,’ ‘wee-wee’d up.’ English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!’
The last one is my favorite. Palin compares herself to Shakespeare, as she coins “wee-wee’d up.” Got it.

While McCain was taking the high road and telling the woman at a rally who had called Barack Obama an Arab, “No. He’s a good man,” Palin was out on the campaign trail telling people that Obama “palled around with terrorists.”

Palin got picked by some of McCain’s advisors because she was a telegenic female. It was a gimmick, one that a lot of people bought. I remember hearing somebody say, “It’s all over now. McCain’s running with a woman,” as if that was some magical panacea that was going to result in masses flocking to the polls to vote Republican. It was all over all right, for John McCain, but the beginning, unfortunately, for Donald Trump and his brand of toxic stupidity. Sarah Palin is Trump lite.

Please follow me on Twitter @ursulafaw56

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Trump Doesn't Want Untainted Elections

Sam Nobbs votes at the Dundee Presbyterian Church Tuesday, November 8, 2016, in Omaha, Nebraska. (photo: Megan Farmer/AP)
Sam Nobbs votes at the Dundee Presbyterian Church Tuesday, November 8, 2016, in Omaha, Nebraska. (photo: Megan Farmer/AP)

By Charles Pierce, Esquire

It opposes the Secure Elections Act because it's not interested in secure elections.

or a while, it looked like the Secure Elections Act was the safest vote in the Congress. It was introduced by Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, nobody's idea of a liberal, and co-sponsored by Democrats Kamala Harris of California and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who are practically everybody's idea of liberals.
As it currently stands, the legislation would grant every state’s top election official security clearance to receive threat information. It would also formalize the practice of information-sharing between the federal government—in particular, the Department of Homeland Security—and states regarding threats to electoral infrastructure. A technical advisory board would establish best practices related to election cybersecurity.
Perhaps most significantly, the law would mandate that every state conduct a statistically significant audit following a federal election. It would also incentivize the purchase of voting machines that leave a paper record of votes cast, as opposed to some all-electronic models that do not.
This would signify a marked shift away from all-electronic voting, which was encouraged with the passage of the Help Americans Vote Act in 2002.
It was priced to move. Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri, and chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, was scheduled to mark up the bill on Wednesday. Except that he didn't. From Yahoo! News:
In a statement to Yahoo News, White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters says that while the administration “appreciates Congress’s interest in election security, [the Department of Homeland Security] has all the statutory authority it needs to assist state and local officials to improve the security of existing election infrastructure.” Under current law, DHS is already able to work with state and local authorities to protect elections, Walters wrote. If Congress pursues the Secure Elections Act, it should avoid duplicating “existing DHS efforts or the imposition of unnecessary requirements” and “not violate the principles of Federalism.” “We cannot support legislation with inappropriate mandates or that moves power or funding from the states to Washington for the planning and operation of elections,” she added. However, the White House gave no specifics on what parts of the bill it objected to.
The "principles of federalism." As though the president* has the faintest clue what they are.

Tell me again about how the Republicans in the Senate are standing up to the band of brigands in this administration*. Blunt's gone to ground, and he's yet to explain why he bailed on the mark-up. Mitch McConnell's dark hand is probably involved in this somewhere. As for the president*, well, we know where he stands, even if he doesn't, because he doesn't know anything about anything and lies about it anyway.
The Trump administration has been unable to settle on how elections should be secured, and whom they should be secured against. Despite consensus from the nation’s intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in 2016, President Trump has dismissed the threat, even as others in his administration have issued unambiguous warnings. Trump has instead asserted that millions voted fraudulently in New York and California for Hillary Clinton, thus giving her an edge of some 3 million votes in the 2016 presidential race. No evidence of statistically significant voter fraud has been uncovered.
Even prior to Blunt's taking a dive, the SEA was being criticized by election security experts as being a watered down version of what it should have been, and what it originally was. But that's no explanation for why it wasn't even sent to the floor for a vote. To the credit of his sponsors, particularly Lankford, who has been a rock on this issue, and whose voice in his party is a lonely one, they're going to keep pushing.

But this White House doesn't want untainted elections, and it never has, and, in that, it is a very Republican administration* indeed.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

New York prosecutors know exactly how to bring down a New York mob boss

GREAT FALLS, MT - JULY 05:  U.S. president Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Four Seasons Arena on July 5, 2018 in Great Falls, Montana. President Trump held a campaign style 'Make America Great Again' rally in Great Falls, Montana with thousands in attendance.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Is Trump inadvertantly indicating how much trouble he's in?

Kerry Eleveld  
Nothing has come more clearly into focus this week than the fact that Donald Trump has been running a criminal enterprise, likely for decades, in which he surrounded himself with criminals willing to commit criminal acts.

Now, it's also becoming clear that federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York have applied their mob boss playbook to taking down Trump. In just one week, they secured the guilty plea of Trump's top lawyer, and we also discovered they granted immunity to both his chief media ally and lead finance guy. Of course, that would be Michael Cohen, David Pecker, and Allen Weisselberg.

In essence, they found people's legal liabilities and turned them against each other, ultimately isolating their boss by choking off all exit strategies around him. Weisselberg, by almost all accounts, is the biggest fish when it comes to Trump world and the Trump Organization, the family business where he has worked for decades. 
He has overseen the Trump Organization's finances, been involved in the Trump Foundation, the president's charity, and has managed Trump's private trust alongside his eldest sons, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr.
Anyone who has listened to former federal prosecutors from the Southern District or from the FBI's criminal division has certainly heard them talk about how the Trump case has so classically tracked with that of the mafia cases they have prosecuted in the past.

And Trump himself has sounded more and more like the mob bosses those prosecutors have taken down. "I know all about flipping," he told Fox News this week, adding that he had been watching "flippers … for 30, 40 years." Flipping, i.e. disloyalty, "almost ought to be illegal," he concluded.

He's also referred to "rats" in recent texts, co-opting the language of none other than famous fictional mob boss Tony Soprano. And he began his tenure in the White House by demanding a loyalty pledge from then-FBI director James Comey, asking him to see his way clear to just "let this go" with embattled aide Michael Flynn, and finally axing Comey when he wouldn't do exactly as Trump wanted.

“It’s the kind of subculture that most people avoid,” said Michael D’Antonio, one of Mr. Trump’s biographers, told the New York Times. “You cross the street to get away from people like that. Donald brings them close. He’s most comfortable with them.”

Fortunately for the nation, flipping isn't illegal, because you're never gonna stop the activity of a crime boss by merely taking out his underlings. There are always more conspirators to be found, as long as the head is intact. New York prosecutors know that and they've clearly got their eyes on the top prize: Trump. 

It’s not their first rodeo, and that’s becoming more pointedly obvious by the day.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Seventy Percent of Americans Support 'Medicare for All' in New Poll

A healthcare rally. (photo: Health Care for All)
A healthcare rally. (photo: Health Care for All)

By Megan Keller, The Hill
vast majority — 70 percent — of Americans in a new poll supports "Medicare for all," also known as a single-payer health-care system.

The Reuters–Ipsos survey found 85 percent of Democrats said they support the policy along with 52 percent of Republicans.

Medicare for all has been in the headlines after a study by the libertarian-leaning Mercatus Center at George Mason University found it would lead to $32.6 trillion increase in federal spending over a 10-year period.

The study’s author, Charles Blahous, wrote in The Wall Street Journal earlier this month that even doubling taxes would not cover the bill for a single-payer health-care system.

The policy’s proponents, however, point to a note in the study showing that health-care costs would also decrease by $2 trillion by 2031 if it became law.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has introduced a Medicare for all bill, has said that the Mercatus study is “grossly misleading and biased.”

The new Reuters poll also showed that a majority of Americans supports free college tuition. Forty-one percent of Republicans said they supported the policy, pollsters found, compared with 79 percent of Democrats.

The move to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was also opposed by a majority of respondents. Seventy percent of Republicans said they opposed abolishing the 15-year-old agency, while Democrats said they were evenly split on the issue, with roughly 44 percent in favor of abolishing it and 44 percent saying it should remain.

The Reuters poll consulted American adults throughout June and July this year. Reuters asked 2,989 respondents about Medicare for all, 5,339 about free college tuition, and 7,737 about abolishing ICE. The results have margins of error of 2 percentage points for the Medicare for all and free college tuition questions. The margin of error for the question about abolishing ICE is 1 percentage point.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Senator John McCain is gone.

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 19:  President-elect Barack Obama introduces his former political rival Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) at a bipartisan dinner in the National Building Museum on January 19, 2009 in Washington, DC.  Inaugural events continue throughout the city before President-elect Barack Obama is to be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States on January 20, 2009.  (Photo by Joshua Roberts-Pool/Getty Images)
Senator John McCain has died

Back in 2005, I covered Senator McCain's appearance in Payson, Arizona for a local newspaper.  My wife and I walked out of the room afterwards and agreed that this was one Republican we could vote for. 

Now there is no Republican on the national stage that I could vote for.

Now there is no Republican on the national stage with the integrity and courage to do what is right for the country over the party.

Now there is no Republican, except maybe AZ's other Senator Jeff Flake, who will dare stand up to Donald Trump - and Flake is not running for re-election. 

Who would've thought - the two senators from, of all places, Arizona.

It's a sad but proud moment for Arizona.

And a tragic one for America.

Even now, John McCain finds a way to put Trump in his place

John McCain had more class and patriotism in his worst days, than Donald Trump will ever have, no matter how many millions he makes, no matter how many thousands of people he attacks, from behind his computer screen.

John McCain in one final act of class and patriotism, has found a way to put Trump in his place. As not the leader of the Party that McCain once aspired to speak for and lead.

You see John McCain has asked that Donald Trump, have nothing to do with his funeral ceremonies:

John McCain told friends months ago that he didn’t want Donald Trump at his funeral. Instead he wanted former President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush to attend his funeral and deliver the eulogy.
McCain famously lost to Bush in the 2000 Republican primary race for President, and then lost to Obama in the 2008 general election for President. Yet McCain chose these two men — one Republican and one Democrat — to eulogize him.
McCain thus ensured that his funeral would be bipartisan and inclusive, making it all the more glaring that current “President” of the United States wasn’t invited.   [...], Aug 25, 2018
You see John McCain knew Trump was not ‘a decent man’ first-hand — having endured Trump cowardice, in the form of juvenile attacks on his long-suffering years of captivity. 

John McCain also knew the threat the Putin-catering Trump, poses to the nation, that McCain gave so much of his life to protect ...

After Trump treasonously stood next to Russian President Vladimir Putin and sided with him over the United States Government, an ailing McCain released a statement which called it and one of the “most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory” […]
It must be that John McCain ‘prefers his commander-in-chiefs who aren’t jack-asses, who aren’t an on-going threat’ to the nation, that the War-hero McCain gave up so much of his Life to serve, and protect, and to love. 

It is highly doubtful that anyone will eulogize Trump with the same honor and respect as McCain, when that time comes. Not even close.  You see, to get the widespread respect of the Public, you actually have to live a life of Public Service. Not a life of self-promotion and pettiness, as the current wantabee-hero in the White House has always, always done. 

To get respect Donald, you actual have to give it.  But of course that sentiment is simply wasted, on a reality-fabricating, twitter-bully, that is the current Insulter-in-Chief. 

Thank you John McCain.  For showing us all the breadth and depth of a Life well-lived.

Journey-well Sir, journey-well.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

In Case of Mueller Firing, Break Glass: Democrats Prep an Emergency Plan

Special Counsel Robert Mueller. (photo: AP)
Special Counsel Robert Mueller. (photo: AP)

By Josh Lederman and Mike Memoli, NBC News

Congressional action and protest rallies are among the contingencies being planned if Trump tries to shut down the Russia probe.

t would start within minutes of special counsel Robert Mueller being fired — a torrent of activity ricocheting through the halls of Congress and over television airwaves, including nearly a thousand protests being prepped from the Virgin Islands to Alaska.

Democrats have drafted a wide-ranging contingency plan should Mueller be fired or President Donald Trump take other steps to quash the Russia investigation, like firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein or pardoning key witnesses.

Of top concern in the first 24 hours of such a move would be preventing Mueller’s documents from being destroyed and his team disbanded, according to interviews with nearly a dozen lawmakers, congressional aides, Democratic operatives and attorneys involved in the planning.

Almost immediately, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer would consult with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, while Democrats would demand a floor vote on a bill retroactively protecting Mueller and protecting his materials. In both the Senate and House, rank-and-file Democrats would contact a list of sympathetic Republicans who have signaled privately that they’d be willing to act should Trump pull the trigger.

"We’ve had a lot of conversations about how exactly and who and when and where," Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat who sits on the Judiciary Committee, told NBC News. "There have been several moments when it seemed imminent."

And in cities across the country, rallies would be hastily scheduled for 5 p.m., if Mueller is fired before 2 p.m. on any given day. If he’s fired in the late afternoon or evening, the protests would be set for noon the following day.

The Democratic group has been organizing 933 such rallies, with locations picked out and sponsors enlisted to handle logistics. The list includes rallies in big cities like Los Angeles, along with protests in more remote areas, such as the federal buildings in Bismarck, North Dakota, and Hilo, Hawaii.

It’s unclear how many people would actually turn out, but more than 350,000 people have RSVP'd online to attend. The campaign director for MoveOn, David Sievers, said the group expects that the number of protests will grow and that far more would sign up to attend once news broke of Trump’s actions.

Any success in protecting Mueller would depend heavily on a sudden change of heart by Republicans and their leaders, who have largely defended Trump and thus far refused to allow a full Senate vote on legislation to protect the investigation.

Still, Democrats are hoping that a Mueller firing would be considered so egregious that even Trump's fellow Republicans would be pushed past a tipping point.

Coons predicted that "within minutes" of a Mueller firing, dozens of Republicans would either voice opposition publicly or phone the president or his chief of staff to register their objection privately. But he acknowledged that many Republicans have been coy, refusing to say even behind closed doors what actions they’d be willing to take.

Documents have already been drawn up for a number of contingencies, including a "Saturday Night Massacre" scenario in which Trump systematically fires top Justice Department officials who refuse to fire Mueller until one of them agrees to do so.

The concern has taken on a fresh urgency in recent days as the investigation has tightened around Trump.

On Tuesday, former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts, including two involving hush-money payments to women that Cohen said were made “at the direction of a candidate,” referring to Trump. In a breathtaking string of events, within minutes Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort was found guilty in another federal court on eight counts of tax evasion and bank fraud, creating fresh concerns for the president that Manafort might cooperate with the special counsel’s investigation.

Warned Schumer, hours later: “He better not talk about pardons for Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, tonight or any time in the future."

Trump, appearing late Tuesday at a rally in West Virginia, didn’t mention potential pardons. Yet in an interview on Monday, the president had told Reuters that he’s “totally allowed to be involved” in the investigation.

“I could run it if I want," Trump said.

Democrats have also revisited their contingency plans in recent days amid signs the president feels emboldened both to punish those involved in the investigation and to influence it directly.

Last week, after revoking former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance and threatening to do the same to other current and former intelligence officials, Trump said that he felt it "had to be done" because "these people led" the Russia probe.

It was the latest sign that even the most senior Republican leaders can neither restrain the president nor predict what lines he will or won’t cross. After all, House Speaker Paul Ryan had dismissed Trump’s earlier threat to terminate Brennan’s security clearance as mere "trolling," as Rep. Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat, pointed out this week on Twitter.

Other senior figures in the investigation have been fired or forced out since Trump took office, including former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, former FBI Director Jim Comey and former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.

After a Mueller or Rosenstein firing, Democrats would take to the floors of the Senate and House to call for obstruction of justice hearings and a special congressional committee to pick up the investigation, similar to the Senate Watergate Committee.

Democratic political groups would demand that the Senate be shut down until there’s a resolution, denying all requests for unanimous consent. Some would call for impeachment proceedings against the president, while others would stop just short, officials involved in the planning said.

To speed up the response, congressional aides said language has been drafted for letters that House Democratic leaders would send to committee chairmen demanding hearings; to inspectors general demanding investigations; and to White House Counsel Don McGahn and the Justice Department demanding information about their communications before the firing.

Mueller himself might be called to testify quickly before Congress. There have been early discussions about whether, if the investigation were shut down and Democrats win a majority in the House in November, they could subpoena testimony already given to the grand jury in the Russia investigation. At a minimum, newly empowered Democrats would call up those who have previously testified and demand they tell Congress what they told the grand jury.

Planning for such emergency Mueller-firing scenarios began more than a year ago, shortly after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia inquiry and then appointed a special counsel. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s team started working on a playbook with Schumer’s team, along with top Democrats on the Judiciary and Oversight panels in Congress.

Meanwhile, a coalition of mostly liberal advocacy groups banded together to hire the Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner starting in the summer of 2017 to research how the American people felt about the integrity of the Russia investigation. Jeremy Rosner, a partner at the polling firm, said Americans found Mueller to be credible because he was a lifelong Republican who served in the administrations of both parties.

"People were determined to protect the investigation, let Mueller do his job," Rosner said. Still, the polling right away identified that the issue was fluid and that new events could quickly change the perception, underscoring the need for a concerted messaging strategy to shape public opinion.

A "Friday group" of Democrats involved in key committees continues to meet weekly to discuss the Russia investigation, while another weekly meeting takes place among a coalition of outside advocacy groups such as MoveOn, Public Citizen, Indivisible, Common Cause and People for the American Way. Liberal legal organizations such as the American Constitution Society are also involved in drafting legal strategies that could be deployed if needed, individuals involved in the effort said. The American Constitution Society didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Over the last year, the level of concern that Trump might actually kill the investigation has ebbed and flowed, punctuated by his efforts to discredit Mueller on Twitter, his calls for Sessions to stop the investigation and his insistence — echoed by the White House — that he has the power to fire the special counsel himself. Although some legal experts have questioned that, they do not question that one way or another Trump, through his power to fire the Justice Department officials supervising Mueller, could get rid of the special counsel.

There have been false alarms before.

A scare in April, on Friday the 13th, had Democratic groups and lawmakers on the verge of putting their plan into action. Trump, sensing he was losing control over the investigation, had been going hard after Rosenstein, especially after the special counsel handed off part of the investigation — dealing with former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen — to a different team of prosecutors in the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office.

So when Rosenstein headed to the White House for a meeting with Trump, speculation about his imminent dismissal reached fever pitch in Washington.

"The rumors were sounding very specific. They were sounding really imminent," said Elizabeth Beavers of the group Indivisible, part of the coalition organizing the response plan.

Activists across the country who’d agreed to organize rallies started advertising to remind people where to show up if needed. Indivisible hosted an emergency “Facebook Live” video chat to lay out the plan and solicit more phone numbers for potential protesters.

And in Congress, Democrats huddled in their offices long after the sun went down, anticipating the news that never came.

"That was a very late night," said Coons, the Delaware senator.

Different Democrats have laid out different red lines for what actions by Trump would trigger a full-blown crisis response. In December, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Trump would be breaching a red line if he removed Mueller from his job, pardoned key witnesses or shut down the investigation. MoveOn has added replacing Rosenstein or repealing the special counsel regulations to the list, but notes that firing Sessions — who remains recused from the Russia probe — would "be one step short of the break glass moment."

The most likely legislative vehicle for trying to protect Mueller after the fact would be a compromise bill co-sponsored by Coons and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., along with GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Thom Tillis of North Carolina. That bill would put in statute that the special counsel could challenge his firing in U.S. District Court, and would require his “personnel, documents and materials” to be preserved in the meantime.

Although the bill already passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support, McConnell has said it won’t get a vote on the Senate floor, arguing there’s no need because the president won’t really fire Mueller.

But the bill specifically states that it’s retroactive — meaning it could be passed after Mueller was fired and still protect him. Democrats are counting on the fact that the public uproar after a special counsel ouster would be enough to change McConnell’s mind and allow a vote.