Election 2020: The Final Days Of D. J. Trumpashenko

Trump Casting Doubt on Power Transfer Like Scene From Belarus

The lead story on the transition continues to be: there is no transition, because the President of the United States is a colicky baby who must be coddled in case he acts out and bites his tongue or orders the nuclear obliteration of a random city. Fun fact: he can do that on a whim and chances are extremely good that the missile will launch within 5 minutes, before anyone can impose sanity and cancel it. But yes, let’s consider his feelings here.

Aside from the “those of us who were alive in the Cold War are laughing maniacally until blood flows out of our eyes” prospect of nuclear winter as a result of a temper tantrum, there’s also the minor problem of a pandemic wreaking havoc through the country. Today it came out that not only was Biden’s team denied access, to security briefings (given Trump’s recent hires, Biden’s team almost certainly could give better ones anyway from open source intelligence) but also are being denied access to planning regarding distribution of COVID-19 vaccines — something that come spring of next year will hopefully be A Big Deal, and the distribution of which, to every person in the country without cost, will require a small, tiny bit of advanced planning.

The bitter irony here is that while Biden and his inner circle are denied security and national health briefings, Trump and his inner circle haven’t bothered with them. (Trump famously found the daily security briefing given Presidents too boring because it didn’t have his name featured prominently enough, had too many words and not enough pictures, and he knew more about all that stuff anyway. I am quite literally making not a word of this up.)

Instead of the boring slog of running the country, Trump and his cohorts are busy stirring the conspiracy plot on far-right social media, morosely calling his friends depressed because he isn’t sure he won the election, and plotting how to steal the damn thing anyway. Today’s revelation that the Trump cabal is planning on suborning members of the electoral college to vote for Trump despite what their voters pledged them to do (what’s called “faithless electors”) would be deeply frightening except for the following minor details: a) after 10 faithless electors filed protest votes for people like Bernie Sanders and Ron Paul, most states made the practice illegal, b) the Supreme Court ruled just this year those laws were constitutional, and c) the Trump team would have to flip 39 electors, or the entire delegations of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and most of Wisconsin. This is both utterly unthinkable, and were it to actually happen would probably provoke an insurrection since, you know, America would no longer be a democratic republic.

What’s frightening, really, isn’t the prospect of a multi-state revocation of the election so Donald Trump can avoid prosecution for another 4 years, but the fact that most of the Republican party is all things considered pretty OK with this sort of thing. This is because for the past 30 years the Republicans have been radicalizing themselves; Democrats are no longer an opposing party but literally the Devil, who must be defeated by any means necessary. You don’t vote out the Devil, you exorcise him. And the Republicans who had guest starring roles on the West Wing as genial antagonists no longer exist. Thus, for these far-right anti-paladins, which does not include Trump (who is mentally incapable of thinking about anything other than himself) but does include most of his staff, cancelling an election the people voted incorrectly in is quite reasonable.

In fact, for some, it’s a sacred duty. To quote from an infamous 2016 essay by Michael Anton, “The Flight 93 Election”:
“The election of 2016 is a test—in my view, the final test—of whether there is any virtù left in what used to be the core of the American nation. If they cannot rouse themselves simply to vote for the first candidate in a generation who pledges to advance their interests, and to vote against the one who openly boasts that she will do the opposite (a million more Syrians, anyone?), then they are doomed. They may not deserve the fate that will befall them, but they will suffer it regardless.”

Yes, his primary argument for a Trump presidency was that he hates immigrants unlike fire breathing Communist Hillary Clinton, who lusts for the death of America. Yes, the entire essay is wildly racist – I’ll link it downthread in case you haven’t read it. And yes, the author served as a high ranking member of the Trump administration.

It’s a small step from that to “the people don’t deserve to choose their rulers, because the liberal media and their godless allies in academia have brainwashed a generation and let millions of immigrants pollute our shores.” And make no mistake – that is what is being advocated for.

Thankfully for our republic, the current crop of fascists are too shambolic, incompetent and venal to make much headway at it. Trump is far too scatterbrained and dim to make a decent go at emulating Xi Jinping or even Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He can’t even rouse a decent riot like Aleksander Lukashenko of Belarus. He’s just yet another third world dictator stuffing the pockets of his well-tailored suit with the silverware before flying away to his resort away from all the responsibility and the peasants baying for his head.

But cheer up! There’s always 2024.

Election 2020: Mercifully Briefer Tonight!

2021 Founding Member Donor List

The Trump administration seems to be looking for a way to climb down from the tree Donald climbed up into. The legal actions being taken are either ludicrous — entire elections are to be de-certified because someone made a face at a poll watcher — not nearly enough to affect the result — in every court case where actual numbers of ballots are given, including the one success with setting aside some mail ballots in PA, the numbers are far lower than Biden’s margin of victory — or in most cases, both.

It’s also becoming increasingly clear that rather than a brave stand at the barricades to defend the rights of the lonely MAGA voter, Trump’s intransigence is, in large part, driven by the same thing that drives almost everything else he does: shameless grift that would make a boiler room operator blush. His team’s relentless fundraising drive to ostensibly fund the poll challenges actually went to paying down the campaign’s debt – since that was paid off fairly quickly, money is now going to “Save America”, Trump’s brand new leadership PAC. By the rules of such things, the money is essentially a slush fund for whatever Trump wants to spend it on. So, that’s great. By all means, let’s do manic fundraising to benefit billionaires. I’ll go start a GoFundMe for Jeff Bezos.

The Trump Show is already damaging Republican attempts to hold on to the Senate in Georgia. Ronna Romney McDaniel, the GOP chair, had to delete a tweet today threatening voters with a 50/50 Senate split being dominated by a Vice President Harris, because Eurasia has always been at war with Eastasia. Holding those seats is absolutely critical to the Republican’s chance of staying relevant without constantly convincing to Manchin, Sinema or other wavering Democrats to break ranks, and instead relying on Romney, Collins, and other wavering Republicans not to break ranks. Our dysfunctional democracy is so very awesome, especially when we vote 50/50 ties for everything.

This all is fairly meaningless when considered before Pestilence’s pale horse: America added 1 million new cases of COVID-19 in the past 10 days, and the death curve is likely to sharply increase after the Thanksgiving holidays. It’s going to be a jolly merry Christmas, assuming you can breathe. Biden named Ron Klain, who ran Obama’s Ebola response, as his chief of staff today, so at least someone vaguely connected to government is taking this seriously.

And last and least, the Proud Boys are fighting amongst themselves over whether they’re crypto-Nazis or just plain Nazis. Let. Them. Fight.

Election 2020: Party’s Over, Send In The Lawyers, Guns, And Money

So today saw two significant legal actions – one is hilariously dumb, the other is fairly frightening.

The first was the Trump campaign finally filing suit against the State of Pennsylvania to disqualify every single mail-in ballot (which would flip the state to the Trump column) on the grounds that, and I quote, “In a rush to count mail ballots and ensure Democrat Joe Biden is elected, Pennsylvania has created an illegal two-tiered voting system for the 2020 General Election, devaluing in-person votes.” The reason given, in so may words, is that voter ID cannot be checked when mailing a ballot as ID is checked when voting in person. This would, of course, disqualify every mail-in ballot cast nationwide if it held up in court.

The filing itself (which I’ll link below in a comment) is in general less of a legal document and more of a campaign manifesto, and would be laughed out of any reasonably run court in the country. Unfortunately, Trump and McConnell have been busy stacking the courts with partisans, so we can’t say with 100% conclusiveness that this will be dismissed, but given prior rulings it looks REALLY likely.

Just in case you thought this was the only dumb move by the Trump legal team, they failed to file a suit in Michigan today as well. Note: they did actually file a suit. It just failed and was rejected immediately, because it had about 7 errors that prevented it being filed. Trump’s definitely got the A team working on this one.

So if you were laughing and thinking everything is still that party scene at the end of Return of the Jedi where teddy bears go yub yub, Leia debuts a new hairdo, and Darth Vader’s force ghost changes appearance depending on the phase of the moon, the Empire is most definitely striking back – after a week of silence, Bill Barr confirmed that yes, under his watch the Department of Justice is in fact the political police, and will begin to prosecute all the non-existent voter fraud allegations the extreme right is busy cavailing about. (Note: these allegations are so unproven and false that even Fox News cut away from Kayleigh McEnany today when she tried to peddle them on-air.) This comes after consulting with Mitch McConnell earlier in the day to confirm everyone on the GOP is on the same delusional page.

In case you think I’m being overwrought about this: after this was announced, the DoJ attorney in charge of investigating voter fraud immediately resigned.

It ain’t over.

Election 2020: See You At The Winter Palace/On Parler, Bitches

A fairly slow news day, but still quite a bit happening.

The biggest news was the Postal Service reporting to Congress that Trump’s highest profile “whistle blower”, a postal worker that Project Veritas — a band of seriously shady liars and grifters previously known for being arrested breaking into a Senator’s office to wiretap it, trying to seduce a CNN reporter on a sex boat, and appearing on CNN in a pimp’s outfit. Really. This is where the Trump people are in terms of detective work. — ANYWAY, this postal worker said he would testify under oath that his boss ordered him to backdate late-arriving mail-in ballots. When the postal inspectors general interrogated him, he promptly recanted. He then went to Youtube and recanted his recantation, probably because he was trying to make his $130k GoFundMe not disappear. (It did.)

Project Veritas also offered $25,000 for any more evidence of voter fraud. As much voter fraud as Trump’s people are insisting happened, you’d think this would be an easy way to get 25k, but so far the only taker is Pennsylvania Lt. Governor and literal freaking half-ogre John Fetterman, who gleefully pointed out the one verified case of voter fraud in his state, a Republican who tried to vote for his dead mother.

The Trump camp’s other legal actions have been going about as swimmingly as their strategy came into focus today. Essentially, the end game appears to be decertifying the votes of the swing states in which Biden won by a narrow margin – Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. If ALL of them are decertified, neither candidate will have 270 electoral votes, and thanks to wacky arcane rules that were last used in the late 19th century during the Hayes/Tilden election, a Republican majority of states will duly name Trump the winner. Also, I am absolutely winning the lottery tomorrow. I have a better chance of that then Trump’s legal team of making the argument that all of these states had so much Democrat Crime that tens of millions of votes should be thrown out (while helpfully ignoring the equally close elections in Ohio, Texas, and North Carolina that Trump came out ahead in.) An NPR article I’ll link downthread has the details on each one, but suffice to say, not even the most partisan Trump-appointed judge could rule in their favor with a straight face.

There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration': Pompeo  - ABC News
Our nation’s top diplomat, which may be why the world is going so swimmingly of late.

Yet apparently, the Trump administration seems to be proceeding on the assumption that actually, you stupid libs, they won the election and will just stay there in office. There has been no cooperation with Biden’s transition team, Trump’s personnel director has threatened to fire anyone who even considers looking for work, the national security team is having wholesale replacements (including Gen. Anthony Tata, whose claim to fame is insisting that Obama is a secret Muslim who wants to betray the country among many other similarly tactful quips) and in the most surreal instance, began planning the budget that the second Trump administration plans to submit in February.
The most visible instance of this was Mike Pompeo, during a news conference when asked if the State Department will cooperate with the coming transition, said that they absolutely will facilitate the second term of the Trump administration. He then smirked, as only someone thinking “you got OWNED, lib” can. Bear in mind, that for the next 70 days this is our nation’s chief diplomat.

At this point it is quite reasonable to wonder how far this farce is going to go, and when a point of no return is crossed. Biden for his part, when asked today remarked that Trump’s behavior was “sad” and “will not reflect well on his legacy”. Considering that up to this point his legacy has been “the most incompetent President in our nation’s history” I’m not so sure that has any real deterrent value, but Biden is nothing if not a slave to decorum.

There are some hard deadlines to all this coming up. The most obvious, of course, being January 20 when a new President is sworn in. Before that, the Electoral College must be seated, before that slates of electors must be certified by states, before that the state voting results must be officially certified. That last is set to happen, in most states in question, within the next week to ten days. Realistically, by this weekend, things will be MUCH, MUCH clearer.

The dangers as I see are twofold. One, and thankfully not very likely, is that Trump actually carries through what Nixon contemplated in 1974 – getting the 82nd Airborne to set up a perimeter around the White House and yelling “Come and take it, ya losers!” at passers-by from the balcony. If all legal remedies fail (as seems increasingly the case) then this is really the only available next step. However there are some powerful reasons for this not to happen.

First, the military won’t cooperate. Gen. Mark Milley has already gone on the record as saying so, and it is highly likely that if given a direct order to do so anyway he would, at the minimum, slow-walk it long enough that legally his orders would come from Biden, not Trump. (We saw this slow-walk maneuver in action during the BLM protests, so this isn’t merely an educated guess.)

Second, Trump really isn’t that much of a revolutionary. Revolutions take work, and Trump really, really does not like work. This is a man who spent the past weekend, when his administration was in an existential crisis, at the golf course. Once things get to the “shit gets real” phase, he’ll pull what Avril Korman calls the Vietnam ploy – hold up two fingers in victory, yell “I WON!” and get on the helicopter to Mar-A-Lago. Removing Trump from office would be much like when the Bolsheviks stormed the Winter Palace – a cannonade of fire and fury, only to find the “defenders” are a few shell shocked apparatchiks – the ones not smart enough to leave the night before – that walk out saying “all this is your problem now, have fun!” (Note: this actually happened. The person who said “your problem now” was the Transportation Minister.)

The fall of the Winter Palace: How the Bolsheviks took power 100 years ago  - Russia Beyond
“Yeah, we out.”

That brings us to the second danger, which is far more likely and in fact already beginning to happen. You see, while you and I are looking at Trump’s maneuvers and alternately cackling and shaking our heads, the 40% or so die-hard MAGA fans actually BELIEVE IT. They have spent the past week convinced that literally everyone – every news media network including Fox, the FBI, the Defense Department, every world government – everyone cooperated in a grand conspiracy to make Trump lose the election through massive vote fraud. And the more Trump’s antics fail, the angrier they get – confirmation that in fact the world IS out to get them.

Today for example quite a few of their voices demanded that the MAGAverse relocate to Parler, since Twitter and Facebook both are in the hands of the enemy. Parler up until now has been known best as “the one place Laura Loomer and other unrepentant alt-righters can still post”. Like most right-wing alternatives to actual social media, it’s not very good. (As someone who’s spent much of his life working on programming large-scale services, I can tell you (a) it’s not trivial and (b) you could NOT pay me enough to do it so Laura Loomer has a safe space.) Parler, unlike Twitter or Facebook, has no problem with angry people talking about how, for one random example “every true conservative should kill two liberals, and then our country will be saved”.

The longer Trump lets this fester, the longer the voices of the right-wing grifterverse will keep poking at the MAGA multitudes. The longer they are poked, the angrier they will get.

Tyjos on Twitter: "Emperor Turhan: "How will this end?" Kosh: "In fire."  #Babylon5 #Scifi https://t.co/rFPnaaSt6e" / Twitter
“How will this end?” (wheeze) “In fire.”

Election 2020: Thursday Night Nevada’s Blue, Friday I’m In Dystopia

It looks like vote counting will finally start finalizing up (except for Nevada, which will announce its final vote count sometime in May) so we can see a clear picture going into the all-important next step: Spurious Legal Challenges!

NV: 89% of votes counted, Biden ahead 0.9%. This could still go either way (the remaining votes are from Clark County/Las Vegas) but it looks fairly good for Biden.

AZ: 90% of votes counted, Biden ahead 1.6%. Maricopa County still has about 200,000 ballots to report, up to now they have been 51/47 for Biden. Again, could go either way but looks good for Biden here as well.

GA: 99%+ of votes counted and it is a TIE. 49.4% for Biden, 49.4% for Trump. Biden leads currently by 1,097 votes out of 4.9 million. This one is definitely going to a recount and the margin is so tiny that it could flip either way.

PA: Order a Philly cheese steak for lunch, because the city of brotherly love may finally put an end to this long count of woe today. 95% of votes counted, and Biden has just pulled into the lead by 5,587 votes (a 0.1% margin). Unlike Georgia, this looks likely to increase further (election officials say the count should finish today) and could survive a recount. If Biden wins PA, he wins, period.

So now, with the map shown, even without calls in AZ, GA and NV, Biden has clinched the race. The next step is legal challenges and recounts. Recounts are likely because so many races are razor-thin. Wisconsin could conceivably flip due to a recount, though Biden’s margin look pretty good there. Georgia is, as I said, a coin toss. Trump’s strategy is to accuse the Democrats of being crafty enough to forge hundreds of thousands of fake ballots (a vote fraud on a scale unseen in US history) and then somehow forget to fill out the Senate and House races which went mostly Republican. In other words, a typical Trump big lie that his fans will lap up and others will groan at having to actually spend valuable neurons thinking about Infowars and Newsmax.

The kicker, though, is that Trump has spent the past 4 years stacking nearly every court, including the highest one in the land, so a laughably stupid conspiracy theory could just work if competently laid out and argued. Our saving grace, as always this past 4 years, may well be the Trump team’s utter inability to ever approach competency in anything.

Still, I probably won’t exhale until February.