Posts Tagged ‘Election 2020’

Trump really did try to instigate an insurrection

February 11, 2021

The video above, introduced as part of the prosecution’s impeachment case against Donald Trump, underlines that the violence in the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6 was more than just a riot.

I had some doubts before as to how big a threat it was.  I don’t have such doubts any more.

The insurrection was intended to intimidate the Senate, and in particular Vice President Mike Pence, into refusing to certify the vote of the Electoral College.  It failed.  Vice President Pence and a majority of the Senate did their constitutional duty.

I don’t think that there ever was any serious possibility that the election results would be overturned.  Pence’s refusal to certify would not have changed anything in the end.

The harm that was done was to convince tens of millions of Americans that they are living under a government to which they owe no allegiance, any more than Americans of 1776 owned allegiance to King George III.

What bothers me is the thought of now things might have played out if the White House had been occupied by an authoritarian leader a little bit more self-disciplined and a little bit more astute than Donald Trump.

Such a leader would not have waited until after the votes were counted to question the voting system.  He and his followers would have sought court injunctions a year ago to block the changes they’re objecting to now.

When the game is over, it’s too late to question the rule book, because there’s no way to know how the game would have come out under different rules.

Such a leader would have a way to convince the FBI, the Pentagon, the CIA and the rest of the Homeland Security complex that he was on their side.  Experience in other countries shows that the police, the military and the intelligence agencies get along perfectly well with authoritarian rulers.

Such a leader would have had a real para-military force at his disposal—something comparable to Mussolini’s Blackshirts or Hitler’s Brownshirts (SA).

Trump gave winks and nods to encourage the Proud Boys and other authoritarian right-wing groups to think he was on their side, but he never (thank goodness) gave them effective leadership.  He never arranged for his supporters to secretly give them funds for recruitment and military training.

What happened on Jan. 6 could be a dress rehearsal for a right-wing coup to come.  A more astute authoritarian right-wing leader might well see all the possibilities that Trump’s attempt revealed and not make the mistakes that Trump made.

LINKS

Emotive video dominates day one of Trump impeachment trial by Niall Stanage for The Hill.

Insurrection TImeline: First the Coup and Then the Coverup by Steven Harper for Moyers on Democracy.  A more detailed timeline.

The martyrdom of Mike Pence by Sidney Blumenthal for The Guardian.  [Hat tip to Steve from Texas]  In the end, Pence did his duty.

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Why flawed election results should be accepted

January 12, 2021
Click to enlarge.

A new poll shows that a majority of American voters believe that fraud determined the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election. This is astonishing.

For this to have happened, there had to have been a vast conspiracy, implicating, at a minimum, election officials in half a dozen states, state and local legislatures and governments, judges up to the Supreme Court, and the national press, news networks and social media.

They would all have to be complicit in stealing the presidential election while nonetheless allowing the Republican Party to gain House seats and state legislatures. The entire apparatus of the American government would be implicated in such a belief.

As improbable as all these seems, millions of hard-core Trump supporters believe it.

Of course it’s not as if Democrats would have accepted the results if Donald Trump had been re-elected.  After the 2016 election, some Hillary Clinton supporters tried to influence Electors pledged to Trump to vote for Clinton

I think that there are some voting irregularities in almost every election, and also some attempts by foreigners to influence the outcome of the election.  But the time to deal with these issues is before the election is held. 

Once votes are cast, it is too late because there is no way to know how the outcome would have been if the irregularities hadn’t taken place.  It is like asking the results of the baseball World Series be changed on the grounds that an umpire made bad calls.

The time to deal with voter suppression, voting fraud or election fraud is before the election.  The time to start fixing the system is the day after the previous election.

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Some thoughts on democracy and insurrection

January 7, 2021

Protesters in Senate chamber. Source: ABC News

The basis of democratic government is a peaceful transition of power to the victor in an election.

If you think the result was wrong, you get a chance to try again the next election. If you think the voting process is corrupt or otherwise flawed, you have to fix it before the vote is held. 

Once you participate in an election, you commit to accept the result.  Otherwise the only appeal is to force.

The mob who stormed the Capitol yesterday did not accept the rules of democracy.

They may have done relatively little harm to life and property, compared to rioters in protests earlier this year and also compared to post-election rioters in other countries.

They only delayed the certification of the Electoral College vote for a few hours.  It wasn’t as if Congress was driven out and had to meet in a hotel somewhere.

And it is not clear to me at this point whether they really thought they could prevent the Electoral College vote from being certified, or whether they saw their action as a purely symbolic protest.  But whatever they thought they were doing, they were wrong.

The mob assembled in Washington in response to President Trump’s appeal to “stop the steal.”  It’s not clear to me that he intended what happened.  His record shows he does not think about the consequences of his actions.  He is like a vicious child playing with matches in a dynamite factory.

The Capitol Police were restrained and passive in dealing with the insurrectionists, compared with the way police often deal with peaceful environmental, anti-war or Black Lives Matter protestors.  I think that, under the circumstances, this probably was the right call.  A bloodbath would have been worse than anything that actually happened.

Still, many right-wing protestors in the United States think of themselves as supporters of the police, and many police appreciate this support.  Historically, revolution occurs when the police and military go over to the insurgents.  I think the events in Washington show there is potential for a more skillful demagogue than Trump to bring about a coup.

I don’t think that Republicans, self-described conservatives or even Trump supporters as a group are necessarily anti-democratic.  I don’t think that Democrats, self-described progressives or Trump haters are necessarily pro-democratic. 

I think yesterday’s insurrection was mild compared to the violence that would have been unleashed if Trump had won again by a narrow margin as he did in 2016.  Maybe I’m wrong about this, but I’m glad my thought wasn’t put to the test.

The various federal judges did not see evidence of voter fraud on a scale large enough to have changed the results of the Presidential election.  Indeed, based on the reporting of Greg Palast, I think Republican voter suppression is a bigger factor than anything Democrats have done.

But there are millions of devoted Trump supporters who think the election was stolen and the government illegitimate.  They constitute a threat to democratic government. 

The mainstream news media and the social media companies will respond to them by stronger measures to silence those who “sow discord.”  This, too, is a threat—possibly a greater one.

LINKS

It’s official.  Congress has formally recognized Joe Biden’s victory by Andrew Prokop for Vox.

MAGA Cosplayers Seize Capitol While Cops Flounder by Yves Smith for Naked Capitalism.

Capitol riots: Who broke into the building? by the BBC Reality Check Team and BBC Monitoring.  [Added Later]

Trump’s Wiemar America by Rod Dreher for The American Conservative.

Religious Meaning of MAGA Riot by Rod Dreher for The American Conservative.

Trump Has Proven the Country Is Ripe for a Right-Wing Coup by Ian Welsh.

MSM Media Already Using Capitol Hill Riot to Call for More Internet Censorship by Caitlin Johnstone.

Violence in the Capitol, Dangers in the Aftermath by Glenn Greenwald on Substack. [Added Later]

Religion and the U.S. political divide

December 23, 2020

It’s striking how religious divisions in the United State coincide with political divisions. It’s also striking how little the religious divisions have to do with theological beliefs.

Roughly 80 percent of white American evangelical Protestants vote Republican. Roughly 80 percent of Americans with no particular religion vote Democratic.

But this is not based on theological beliefs. Black American evangelical Protestants have the same theological beliefs as white evangelicals.

They believe in being born again and accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. But black evangelicals are as reliably Democratic and white evangelicals are Republican.

I can remember the 1950s, when theological beliefs were important. Evangelical Protestants thought Mormons were a “cult.”

Prior to the Second Vatican Council, many Unitarians and Universalists thought that Roman Catholics, not evangelical Protestants, were the people you had to watch out for, precisely because of their theology.

Nowadays sectarian religious beliefs are less important. The division is between those who cling to traditional religion, of whatever kind, and those who embrace modern and secular ways of thinking.

Conservative Protestants, Catholics and Jews are on one side and liberal Protestants, Catholics and Jews are on the other.  People who used to think each other were bound for Hell are now political allies.

The argument is not over specific religious doctrines, but over whether and how much to accept what’s called modernity, including, in recent years, the sexual revolution.

My hope used to be that the old-time live-and-let-live liberalism offered a way for people of differing opinions to live together, but this does not seem to be on offer.

LINKS

Secular ‘values voters’ are becoming an electoral force in the US – just look closely at 2020’s results by Phil Zuckerman, professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College.

What the election tells us about religion in America by Jennifer Rubin for The Washington Post.

In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace by the Pew Research Center.

It’s still the economy, stupid

November 29, 2020

Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were elected President primarily because of the economic failures of their predecessors.  Each of them faced a backlash in the midterm elections following their victories, at least partly because of their economic policies.

The same thing will happen to Joe Biden unless he can act decisively and quickly to meet the impeding economic and pandemic crises, according to political scientist Thomas Ferguson in an interview with podcaster Paul Jay. 

Clinton ran in 1992 on the slogan, “It’s the economy, stupid.”  But during his two years, he did little to improve the economy.  He pushed through the North American Free Trade Agreement, which had been part of the Reagan agenda and was opposed by organized labor.  He failed to get Congress to even consider a health insurance reform bill.  Republicans won control of both houses of Congress in 1994

Obama was elected during the 2008 recession.  His administration rescued failed banks, but did not fully implement a law to rescue victims of foreclosures.  Republicans won control of the House of Representatives in 2010.

The decisive factor in the 2016 election was the voters, of all races, who supported Obama in 2008 and 2012, but either voted for Trump and declined to vote at all in 2016. 

The notion that racism and sexism were the primary factors driving the Trump vote is not borne out by the data, he said.  Economics was very important too.  Trump’s promise to revitalize manufacturing and impose tariffs on imports gave him just enough votes to squeeze out a majority in key industrial states.

The rural working-class found their lives a little better under Trump and don’t believe the Democrats care about them.  Some of this was the momentum of the economic recovery that had begun under Obama.  Much of it, according to Ferguson, was due to the Federal Reserve System artificially pumping up the economy by holding down interest rates.

He said polls indicate Biden’s margin of victory came from voters in the income brackets between $100,000 and $200,000—not the ultra-rich, but not the wage-earning class, either—who are uncertain about their economic future.  Biden’s message was reassurance and a promise of economic stability.

Trump’s gains among Mexican-American voters along the Texas border were due to so many of them working in the oil and gas industry, he said; some of them found construction work in building Trump’s border wall.

The received wisdom is that big business leaders supported Biden over Trump because they thought Trump is too erratic.  Biden did get a lot of campaign contributions from Wall Street, but much of corporate America supported Trump—the oil and gas industry, the pharmaceutical industry and pollution-heavy industries such as pulp and paper making.

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There’s no such thing as ‘the Hispanic vote’

November 16, 2020

LatinX-plaining the election by Antonio Garcia-Martinez for The Pull Request.

“Lambert Strether” on U.S. politics, 2016-2020

November 10, 2020

“Lambert Strether” is a contributor to the Naked Capitalism web log. Here’s his idea of how U.S. politics has changed in the past four years.  I think he’s right, and my bet is that politics will change even more in the next four years.

  • The Professional Managerial Class (PMC) attained class consciousness.
  • The PMC was and is embubbled by a domestic psyop.
  • The press replaced reporting with advocacy.
  • Election legitimacy is determined by extra-Constitutional actors.
  • “Fascism” became an empty signifier, not an analytical tool.

Read his full post to see what he means. The comment thread is good, too.

LINK

“What It Took”: The Price of Democrat Victory in 2020 by “Lambert Strether” for Naked Capitalism.  A brilliant analysis and an interesting comment thread.

Nine reasons for the GOP to be happy about 2020

November 9, 2020

If I was a partisan Republican, I would be happy with the 2020 election results as reported so far.

  1.   The GOP no longer has to make excuses for the antics of Donald Trump.
  2.   Democrats have to explain away the apparent cognitive decline of Joe Biden.
  3.   As the incumbent, Joe Biden will get the blame for the looming interconnected economic, medical, climate, political and international crises.
  4.   Biden’s likely Democratic successor will be the unpopular Kamala Harris.
  5.   The GOP continues to increase its share of the Hispanic vote, the fastest-growing U.S. demographic category.
  6.   The GOP has a chance to keep its majority in the U.S. Senate.
  7.   The GOP gained seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  8.   Six of the nine Supreme Court justices are conservatives appointed by Republicans.
  9.   The GOP increased its representation in state legislatures in time for the post-2020 redistricting.

Was Trump too incompetent to create a crisis?

November 8, 2020

Donald Trump (Getty Images)

I worried a lot about the possibility of a Constitutional crisis following this year’s national elections.  I feared Donald Trump would somehow sabotage the election process.  I worried about possible violence.

None of my fears of come true. We Americans can look forward to a peaceful transition of power, with nothing worse than hard feelings by the losers.

Maybe my fears were overblown.  But maybe we Americans dodged a bullet.

Rod Dreher, an editor of The American Conservative, noted that President Trump had threatened a massive legal challenge to the election results—like the Florida recount, but spread across many states.

But he never did anything to bring this about.  Dreher quoted the Wall Street Journal—

Some advisers have privately said they see little path forward, politically or legally, that would prevent Mr. Trump from becoming the first president to lose reelection since 1992.

Among the president’s advisers, finger-pointing over the campaign’s legal strategy has intensified in recent days, White House and campaign aides said. 

Aides have expressed acute frustration over what many see as a slapdash legal effort, complaining that—even though Mr. Trump spent months telegraphing his intent to fight the election outcome in the courts—there wasn’t enough planning ahead of Election Day and has been little follow-through on decisions made this week. 

For days after the election, advisers said they didn’t know who was in charge of the strategy.

Dreher himself added—

You got that?  Trump has known for months that this thing might conclude with a hellacious legal fight, but hasn’t bothered to put together a legal team to fight it.  The WSJ also reported that Trump has named longtime conservative political operative David Bossie to head his legal team.  Bossie isn’t a lawyer.  This is not a serious effort.  MAGA is done.

I can’t see the up side of fighting for Trump at this point, not only because this Biden win seems decisive, but also because Trump hasn’t taken the fight to defend his presidency seriously.  The Journal story is pretty incredible … but about what you would expect from a president whose mouth writes checks the rest of him can’t cash. 

Seriously, how is it that you spend months telling your supporters that you are going to fight this in court if you have to, but then half-ass the legal prep? 

When the GOP went down to Florida in 2000 to wage legal war in the Bush-Gore contest, they sent the lawyer equivalent of Seal Team Six.  Now?  The fact that Trump doesn’t take this seriously telegraphs to conservatives how seriously we should take him from now on.

Yesterday the WSJ editorialized that Republicans are correct to put an eagle eye on voting, especially in Philadelphia, but said that Trump is going to have to prove his allegations in court. 

So far, it doesn’t seem that Trump’s claims are very strong.  My sense is that most Americans are going to want this thing settled, and don’t have the stomach for a long, drawn-out argument.  Civil society is pretty fragile right now.

Source: Rod Dreher.

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Why was this election even close?

November 6, 2020

Thomas Frank, author of What’s the Matter With Kansas?, Listen, Liberal and The People, No! talks with broadcaster Paul Jay about the 2020 election and the future of the Democratic Party.  You can read a transcript on Jay’s theAnalysis.news.

Why were the polls so wrong?

November 6, 2020

The polls are wrong because (1) most people aren’t interested in talking to pollsters and (2) the ones who do respond aren’t a cross-section of the public, partly because (3) educated Trump supporters often lie about their preferences.

LINKS

Is the Era of Polling Over? by Kevin Drum for Mother Jones.

Who are the real Shy Trumpers? by Eric Kaufmann for UnHerd.

The 2020 election hasn’t really settled anything

November 6, 2020

Trump’s election plan (in addition to standard voter suppression, like having almost no machines in poor ridings [election districts]):

  1. Tell Republicans not to vote by mail, and claim there is a lot of fraud.
  2. Have DeJoy, his man in the Post Office slow down and damage mail delivery, slowing down ballot delivery and losing ballots.
  3. Have Republican legislatures in important states forbid counting mail in and early vote ballots before election day.
  4. If the election is close, go to court to stop the counting of votes after election day.

Source: Ian Welsh

As of this morning, it looks as if this strategy has failed, mainly because the courts didn’t co-operate, and Joe Biden is virtually certain to win an Electoral Vote majority.

But if President Trump hadn’t mishandled the coronavirus pandemic, or hadn’t had so many obvious character flaws, he might well have won the election fair and square.

The basic reason Biden gave voters to support him is that he isn’t Donald Trump.  Anybody else would be better, and Biden was someone else.

The Democrats in this election were backed by big business.  In money terms, they massively out-raised and out-spent the Republicans. 

Joe Biden’s campaign promises were (1) to not enact Medicare for All, (2) to not support a Green New Deal and (3) to not ban fracking. 

The main achievement he boasted of was beating Bernie Sanders.  The main reason he gave for voting for him was that he wasn’t Donald Trump.  That was enough—but just barely.

Democratic support among key constituencies continued to erode, as it did in the previous two Presidential elections.

Let’s be very clear: the Democratic Party screwed this election up massively.  Trump actually did better than he did in 2016 in areas with high COVID-19 deaths.  Union members in Ohio appear to have gone for Trump, and most of the people who saw the economy as the top issue voted for Trump, even though this should theoretically be the issue on which the Democratic Party is strongest.

Source: Current Affairs.

Preliminary exit polls indicate that the Republicans increased their vote share among woman, African-Americans and Hispanics, including poor Mexican-Americans in south Texas who’ve historically been reliable Democratic voters for maybe a century.

The result is that Republicans will probably keep control of the Senate, increase their representation in the House of Representatives and keep control of enough state legislatures to keep their gerrymandering advantage.

Neither Democrats nor Republicans have the upper hand.  What this means is that things will continue just as they are, except that Donald Trump will no longer be using the White House as a stage for his psychodrama.

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After the election: links 11/5/2020

November 5, 2020

Wall Street Warms to Democratic White House, Republican Senate by Matt Phillips and Kate Kelly for the New York Times.  (Hat tip to Steve from Texas)

Why are the media reporting different election results? by Martin Belam for The Guardian.

Biden campaign gears up for legal warfare as he nears 270 by Natasha Purecki, Elena Schneider and Alex Isenstadt for POLITICO.

The U.S. Inability to Count Votes is a National Disgrace – And Dangerous by Glenn Greenwald.

Trump gains in all groups but white men

November 4, 2020

I didn’t see this coming.

According to the Edison Exit Poll, President Trump increased his share of the vote among Hispanics, African-Americans and white women this year compared to 2016, but lost some ground among white men.  The same was true of Trump’s vote in 2016 compared to Romney’s in 2012.

LINK

Trump gains with Latinos, loses some white voters by Chris Kahn and James Oliphant for Reuters.

A choice between bad and worse

November 2, 2020

I voted by mail several weeks ago for Howie Hawkins, the Presidential candidate of the Green Party.

My idea was to send a message that neither Donald Trump or Joe Biden is acceptable.  I would vote for Jo Jorgenson of the Libertarian Party if she were the only alternative.

The question is not, as in the last few Presidential elections, which candidate has the best policies. 

The question is whether either of them are capable of dealing with the coming perfect storm of emergencies—the pandemic, unemployment, a financial crisis, disruptions in international trade and emergencies caused by drought, fires, floods and storms brought on by global warming.

Based on their records, I have no confidence in either of them.

I live in New York state, which is virtually certain to go for Joe Biden, so nothing was at stake in my vote.

I think there is great danger of civil disorder if Donald Trump claims victory tomorrow night on the basis of early returns or if he actually ekes out a narrow victory.

His margin of alleged or real victory, if there is one, would almost certainly be the result of purging of voter rolls or manipulating the election progress. Greg Palast has done good reporting on this.

And most major and many small U.S. cities have had George Floyd protests, so there is a core group that is ready and able to mount a protest on short notice.

I don’t know how I would have voted if I lived in a swing state. I certainly would not have voted for Donald Trump, but I don’t think I could have brought myself to vote for Biden.

LINKS

The Day Before the U.S. Election by Ian Welsh.

Donald Trump Exposed Truths About Both Parties by Ross Douthat for The New York Times.

How Trump damaged science—and why it could take decades to recover by Jeff Tolletson for Nature.

Deluge After the Donald? by Ted Rall.

We Can’t Follow Obama Back to Brunch by David Sirota and Andrew Perez for The Daily Poster.

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Countdown to Election 2020

October 27, 2020

Will the Election Be Close or Contested? What to Expect From Trump and Biden by Mark Niquette for Bloomberg.

Preparing for Electoral Unrest and a Right-Wing Power Grab: an analysis by Peter Gelderloos for Crimethinc.  In-depth analysis by an anarchist.

Americans Increasingly Believe Violence Is Justified If the Other Side Wins by Larry Diamond, Lee Drutman, Tod Lindberg, Nathan P. Kalmoe and Lilliana Mason for POLITICO.

What a 21st century civil war would look like

October 26, 2020

Patriot Prayer rally. Source: US Defense Watch.

I think there is a real possibility of civil war in the United States—not all-out war as in 1861-1865, but an intermittent, continuing conflict like The Troubles in Northern Ireland in 1968-1998.

Whatever the outcome of the Presidential election, the losing side will not accept it as legitimate.  Democrats will point to illegal purging of voting rolls and other tampering with the election process.  Republicans will point to slanting and censorship of the news by big media and high-tech companies to favor Biden.

Many Democrats think President Trump is a puppet installed by Vladimir Putin to undermine the U.S.  Many Republicans believe the Q-anon story of a secret struggle against a conspiracy of pedophiles.

I’m not going to argue the relative merits of these beliefs.  The point is that they are widely held.  Democratic leaders didn’t accept the legitimacy of Trump’s 2016 victory.  They tried to block him from taking office by manipulating the Electoral College and then tried to impeach him on far-fetched grounds.

Along with this there are armed factions already in the streets—the revolutionary faction in the George Floyd protests and the armed right-wing militias.

Black Lives Matter originated as a non-violent protest movement.  But the conflict in Northern Ireland also originated with non-violent protests, conducted on behalf of the Catholic minority there.  The conflict didn’t stay non-violent because the Provisional IRA and the Protestant militias joined in.

One of the lessons of the Northern Ireland conflict is that when civil war breaks out, it is difficult or impossible for the government to put down both sides.  Inevitably, it lines up with one faction or another.

So could it be in the United States.  A Biden administration would tilt toward the Black Lives Matter faction.  A Trump administration would tip toward the right-wing militias.  Democratic and Republican mayors would have their own agendas, as would Homeland Security and state and local police. 

Things could get complicated, very quickly.   We see these kinds of alignments forming right now..

I of course hope that this doesn’t play out as I fear, or that, if it does, violent conflict soon dies down to the point where it can be controlled. 

But with a looming economic crisis, an ongoing pandemic and continuing climate-related crises, I fear the USA is headed for a tipping point, and I do not know what the results would be.

On Oct. 26, 1860, few Americans, North or South, expected or wanted a civil war.  A year later, they were fighting one.  I doubt that, in 1968, the people of North Ireland, Protestant and Catholic, wanted or expected decades of conflict.  But they were forced to choose sides, whether they wanted to or not.

LINKS

A New Civil War: News & Opinion Aggregator.

Could America Split Up? by Damon Linker for The Week.

Is a New Civil War Possible? by Rod Dreher for The American Conservative.

Over half of voters expect violence, disagree on election legitimacy by Ledyard King for USA Today.

The Northern Ireland Conflict, 1968-1998 by John Dorney for The Irish Story.

Donald Trump’s big accomplishment

October 24, 2020

Trump’s Biggest Economic Legacy Isn’t About the Numbers by Patricia Cohen for the New York Times.  Hat tip to Steve from Texas.

Biden, Harris and their hidden constituency

October 15, 2020

Joe BIden and Kamala Harris have turned their backs on the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.  Biden rejects Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.  Harris promised a Biden administration won’t ban fracking.  Biden is possibly more of a war hawk than Trump isSo is Harris.

Why would they refuse to pay even lip service to popular reforms?  I think it is because they are appealing to a different constitutency—-the un-elected parts of the American power structure, the permanent government, the deep state, the power elite, call them what you will.

These include Wall Street, Silicon Valley, the military-industrial complex, the intelligence agencies, the news media, the corporate lobbyists and the big campaign donors. 

They’re fed up with Donald Trump’s antics.  They’d prefer someone more predictable, provided that person doesn’t threaten their power or wealth.  Biden and Harris fit that bill.

Trump is losing support because of his mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic.  I think he’s also hurt by his administration’s hamstringing of the Postal Service.  Many people depend on prompt mail delivery of medications and pension checks.

His only path to victory, as I see it now, is in Republican interference with the election process.  This includes purging of voter rolls of minority voters and students, making it difficult for minorities and students to vote and demanding that results be announced before all the votes are counted.

This isn’t new.  Such tactics provided the margin of victory for Trump in 2016 and for Bush in 2000 and, according to investigative reporter Greg Palast, for Bush in 2004 as well, not to mention whole lot of other Republican governors, senators and congressional representatives.

I think we’re  in for a repeat of the 2000 Florida recount crisis, except spread across many states.  In that crisis, the news media, the Supreme Court and other powers that be sided with George W. Bush.  But I don’t think the powers that be will side with Donald Trump.  Biden and Harris haven’t given them any reason to.

LINKS

Rochester AFL-CIO Calls For General Strike if Trump Steals Election by Mike Elk for Payday Report.

How Could Everyday People Stop a Coup? by Enzo Lorenzo with Unity and Struggle, an anarchist collective. 

[Added Later] Why would anybody in the political establishment want to risk mass strikes and political demonstrations if they could keep their power without that risk by supporting Biden and Harris?

A Constitutional crisis in the making

September 26, 2020

I think this prediction by economist Jack Rasmus is all too possible.

CNN poll shows 66% of Trump supporters will vote in person on Nov. 3 but only 22% of Biden supporters vote in person. (53% Biden supports to vote by mail). Trump will appear to win on Nov. 3 based on direct in person voting. He’ll declare victory and then move quickly to have Barr and the Justice Dept. stop the counting of mail in ballots in key swing states.

His lawyers are already fanning out and filing motions for injunctions against mail in voting. They will flood swing-blue states mail in ballot vote counting to delay the counting still further. States where Republican governors (and State secretaries of state who manage those states’ vote counting) will meanwhile throw out millions of mail in ballots based on technicalities like signatures failing to dot i’s or cross t’s to ensure Trump ‘red’ states turn in pro-Trump decisions.

Examples of US post office chaos & claims of lost vote ballots, etc. will be used by Trump lawyers to make legal argument that mail in ballots cannot be used to determine the final vote count. Injunctions will be filed to require states to disregard mail ballots. Further delays in mail in ballot counting will occur.

Disputes and legal action by Dems in response will be quickly sent up by Trump federal district judges (appointed by hundreds under McConnell since 2013) to the Supreme Court, now 6-3 in Trump’s pocket. Trump’s Supreme Court will repeat its Florida 2000 decision stopping the vote count––this time counting original votes not a recount. Only swing and blue states will be targeted, not red states already pro-Trump.

Street protests will erupt after Nov. 3 protesting the legal coup d’etat in progress. Trump has already called protestors “insurrectionists” and identified all protests as ‘antifa’ or ‘communist’. His attorney general, Barr, has also already pre-labeled protestors as “treasonous” and traitors who should be forcibly repressed and jailed

The US executive branch since 2002 now has its own executive police force called the Dept. Homeland Security (DHS), with de facto military swat teams who’ve been doing ‘dry runs’ in Seattle, Chicago, Portland and elsewhere. They will be used to suppress protests, aided by pro-Trump local police departments (e.g. New York City, etc.) and perhaps even welcoming right wing radical supporters as provocateurs to attack protestors and thus allow DHS-Police to declare protests riots and directly quash protests.

Source: Jack Rasmus

When Donald Trump was elected, I scoffed at those who called him a potential dictator.  I thought he was too erratic and ignorant to be a dictator.  I thought his significance was as a kind of proof-of-concept of how someone more intelligent and purposeful might become dictator.  Maybe I underestimated him.

This potential crisis is not Trump’s doing alone.  The Republicans–and it is mainly the Republicans–have been chipping away at the integrity of the voting system for 20 years.  In 2000, the election did not go to George W. Bush merely because the Florida recount was halted.  It was because thousands of black voters were disqualified based on false claims they had been  convicted of felonies in other states.

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How real is the danger of a Trump coup?

September 25, 2020

How real is the danger that Republican state governments could set aside the results of the Presidential vote and simply appoint Trump electors?

The President is chosen by members of the Electoral College, and although the Electors are chosen by the voters in all states, this is not a Constitutional requirement.  The Constitution states  that “each state shall appoint, in such manner as the legislature shall direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of senators and representatives to which the state may be entitled in the Congress……”

Theoretically, any state could change its election law between now and Nov. 3 so as to allow the state legislature to name the electors.  Such a law would have to be passed by both houses of a state legislature and signed by the governor.

Of the states in which the outcome is in doubt, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have Democratic governors and Republican legislatures.  The governor would be sure to veto any bill changing the election law.

Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio and Texas have Republican governors and legislatures both.  But how likely is it that the governor and legislators, who all have to stand for re-election, would openly thwart the expressed will of a majority of the voters?

Anything is possible, I guess.  You never know what people are capable of.

But I’d be more worried about the Postal Service not delivering all the mailed ballots on time, a declaration of a winner before all the ballots are counted, throwing ballots out for arbitrary and trivial reasons, etc., than this particular scenario.

LINKS

Could Republicans ignore the popular vote and choose their own pro-Trump electors? by Sam Levine for The Guardian.

Sanders issues stark warning on Trump and calls for election commission by David Smith for The Guatdian.

The Election That Could Break America by Jason Kottke for kottke.org. [Added Later]

Poorly Protected Postal Workers Are Catching COVID-19 by the Thousands.  It’s One More Threat to Voting by Mail by Maryam Jameel and Ryan McCarthy for ProPublica. [Added Later]

How Trump could win by cheating

September 24, 2020

A lot is being written about what happens if Trump refuses to concede defeat.  This is a bogus question.  He wins or loses when the Electoral College meets.  Whether or not he admits defeat is neither here nor there.

The big question is what happens between Nov, 3, which is Election Day, and Jan. 6, when the Electoral College announces the results.

My previous post was about what happens if Trump wins fair and square, more or less, and whether Democrats could live with it.. This post is about how Trump could cheat.

I don’t have direct access to The Atlantic, but Eric Lutz of  Vanity Fair summed up the high points:

The Atlantic’s Barton Gellman reports that the Trump campaign has been discussing “contingency plans to bypass the election results and appoint local electors in battleground states where Republicans hold the legislative majority.” Citing the president’s baseless claims of fraud, Team Trump could ask GOP-controlled state governments to choose electors, completely ignoring an unfavorable or uncertain popular vote, state and national Republican sources told Gellman.

“The state legislatures will say, ‘All right, we’ve been given this constitutional power,’” a Trump campaign legal adviser explained to the Atlantic. “‘We don’t think the results of our own state are accurate, so here’s our slate of electors that we think properly reflect the results of our state.’”

Does completely ignoring the will of the voters seem anti-democratic? Unconstitutional? Impossible? One would think. But as Gellman points out, however authoritarian this kind of end-around may seem, the Constitution doesn’t forbid such a move, and it’s something the Trump campaign could pull off. Indeed, state Republican leaders have already casually indicated that they’d be all too happy to enable this kind of power grab.

“I’ve mentioned it to them, and I hope they’re thinking about it too,” Lawrence Tabas, chairman of the Republican Party in Pennsylvania, one of the swing states on which the 2020 race could hinge, told Gellman. “It is one of the available legal options set forth in the constitution.”

Disturbing as the prospect of bypassing the popular vote in GOP-controlled battlegrounds may be, it’s but one of several vulnerabilities in the electoral system Trump and his flunkies are trying to exploit this fall, ranging from complex legal fights to declaring absentee ballots fraudulent before they’ve even been processed to the possibility — likelihood? — that the president will simply pronounce himself the winner before all votes are tallied.

While Joe Biden …… retains a strong lead over his counterpart nationally, polls suggest the two are locked in tight races in several key states like Georgia, Iowa, Florida, and Arizona. The idea that typically deep-red states like Texas and Georgia are in play for Biden would seem to reflect the president’s challenging reelection prospects—but those states all are controlled by Republican-majority legislatures, creating just the opening Trump needs to call the votes bogus and appoint electors that will decide in his favor.

Source: Vanity Fair

(more…)

Trump’s weak record is hurting him

September 15, 2020

‘I Keep My Promises,’ Trump said – Let’s Check by Nicholas Kristof for the New York Times.

Keeping Score – Trump’s Broken Promises by Hedrick Smith for Reclaim the American Dream [Added 9/16/2020]

How Trump Is Losing His Base by Stanley B. Greenberg for The American Prospect.

Majority of voters don’t see either Trump or Biden as mentally fit to be president by Tal Axelrod for The Hill.

The passing scene: Links & chart 9/8/2020

September 8, 2020

The Left Secretly Preps for MAGA Violence After Election Day by Sam Stein for The Daily Beast.

Matt Taibbi on the origins of the Russiagate hoax, an interview for Antiwar.com.

America and Russia in the 1990s: This is what real meddling looks like by Yasha Levine for Immigrants as a Weapon.

Academics Are Really, Really Worried About Cancel Culture by John McWhorter for The Atlantic.

The Trouble With Disparity by Adolph Reed Jr. and Walter Benn Michaels for nonsite.org.

Disdain for the Less Educated Is the Last Acceptable Prejudice by Michael J. Sandel for the New York Times.

Joe Biden and the George Floyd riots

September 1, 2020

Strong and wrong beats weak and right.  [Attributed to Bill Clinton]

A month or two ago, I thought that the Presidential election would be a referendum on President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and that Trump would probably lose.

Now it is shaping up as a referendum on the George Floyd protests, which will work against the Democrats.

The American public may support peaceful protests for just causes.  Looting and revolutionary violence are a different matter.

Reports of major violence are in cities with Democratic mayors and states with Democratic governors—Washington, D.C.; New York City; Chicago; Kenosha, Wisconsin; Minneapolis; Seattle; and Portland, Oregon.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I know of no breakdown in civil order in cities with Republican mayors in states with Republican governors.  And I don’t think this is because white people are more racist in states like Minnesota than we are in states like Texas.

It is ironic and unfair that Joe Biden should get the blame for this.  He has been pro-police and in favor of harsh penalties for crime throughout his political career, as has Kamala Harris.

On the other hand, the Trump administration and right-wing street fighters, some working with the official police, have been adding fuel to the fire.

Some news accounts tell of police attacking peaceful protesters, which I am sure happens.  Other news accounts tell of vandals and looters destroying small businesses, which I am sure also happens.

There is almost no overlap between the two types of reports.  I don’t know what weight to give to each.

Joe Biden upholds the right to peacefully protest, while condemning vandalism, looting and mob violence.

I completely agree with him on that.  But I don’t think either side will accept an even-handed approach that equates themselves with the opposition.  Unfortunately.

LINKS

The Trap the Democrats Walked Right Into by Andrew Sullivan for The Weekly Dish.

One Author’s Argument ‘In Defense of Looting’, an interview of Vicky Osterweil for National Public Radio.

When Violence Is Justified to Defend Civil Society by Tony Woodlief for The American Conservative.

You Know In Your Heart the Day of Real Resistance Is Coming by Yves Smith for Naked Capitalism.

How White Radicals Hijacked Portland’s Protests by Michael Tracey for Unherd.

White Vigilantes Have Always Had a Friend in Police by Christopher Matthias for HuffPost.

Joe Biden Whispers the Riot Act, Sort Of by Rod Dreher for The American Conservative.