Friday, November 27, 2020

If Trump lives by numbers, ...

… then he dies by them (politically speaking, of course).

Catherine Rampell as the Washington Post, viewsTrump’s legacy, by the numbers

As covid–19 hospitalizations hit another new high on Tuesday, President Trump called a news conference to boast about a different record: the stock market.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, he crowed, had just pierced 30,000. “That’s a sacred number, 30,000,” he said.

It was a bizarre statement even for Trump. After all, Trump has argued for years that any stock market gains that occur after a presidential election should be credited to the new president-elect, not the guy on his way out the door. In reality, neither presidents nor presidents-elect control stock markets, of course; but even if Trump did unilaterally control equity prices, and even if he had done so for the entire duration of his presidency, his record would still pale in comparison with his predecessor’s.

More important, 30,000 hardly seems like a “sacred number" — or a particularly significant one, in the context of this administration’s overall record. Here is a compendium of more memorable metrics that should forever be linked with the Trump legacy:

(Scriber: Assume block quotes for all that follows.)

261,000 (and growing): If anything is “sacred,” it is human life. This number is the minimum tally of U.S. lives lost to the novel coronavirus as of Wednesday night. By the time Trump leaves office it will be higher. Even by Thanksgiving morning, it will be higher.

$750: The amount Trump reportedly paid in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. He paid the same amount his first year in the White House, too.

14.7 percent: The unemployment rate in April 2020. Also the highest unemployment rate on record since modern statistics on joblessness began in 1948 and likely the highest rate since the Great Depression.

$421 million: The amount of loans and other debts for which Trump is personally responsible, with most of it reportedly coming due within four years — that is, a period when Trump had hoped to serve his second presidential term.

100.1 percent: Federal debt held by the public as a share of gross domestic product, in the fiscal year that recently ended, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The last time this measure exceeded 100 percent was just after World War II.

$1.9 trillion: The 10-year cost of Trump’s 2017 tax cut. (This is “dynamic” cost — that is, it accounts for the effects of economic growth.) This contributes to the debt number above.

$130,000: The amount Trump paid an adult-film actress with whom he had an affair; this bought her silence ahead of the 2016 election.

26: The number of women who have publicly accused Trump of sexual misconduct.

26 million: The number of American adults who reported that their household didn’t have enough to eat just ahead of Election Day.

Eight: The number of Trump associates to date charged with or convicted of criminal offenses. The former aides and advisers are: onetime 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort; 2016 deputy campaign chair Rick Gates; former national security adviser Michael Flynn, whom Trump pardoned Wednesday; foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos; informal Trump foreign policy adviser George Nader; political adviser Roger Stone; personal attorney Michael Cohen; and strategist Stephen K. Bannon.

666: The number of separated migrant children whose parents still have not been found, because the Trump administration didn’t keep sufficient records.

23,035: The number of false or misleading claims Trump had made as of mid-September, according to the Washington Post Fact Checker team. Presumably that number will continue to grow during Trump’s final weeks in office.

$3: The amount that Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club charged taxpayers for a glass of water served to Trump.

289: The number of times Trump visited a golf course while president. So far.

15: The number of times that people have to flush their toilet, according to Trump. (Why he made this claim on the campaign trail I do not know.)

One: The number of viewers Trump officials sought to reach during their TV appearances (the infamous “audience of one”).

49 percent: The peak share of Americans who said they approved of Trump’s performance as president, according to Gallup.

306: The number of electoral college votes Trump won in 2016, which he called a “landslide.”

306: The number of electoral college votes Joe Biden won in 2020.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Criminal justice reform - Trump style

Trump’s Pardon of Flynn Signals Prospect of a Wave in His Final Weeks in Office. Political allies and associates are starting to press for clemency as the president also considers extending his criminal justice overhaul by commuting lengthy sentences for other offenders.

Thanks to our Editor at Large Sherry for this one

Here are some of the NY Times’ concluding observations.

Mr. [Allan] Dershowitz is exploring applying for pardons on behalf of Greg E. Lindberg, a North Carolina businessman who was sentenced in August to more than seven years in prison for his role in a bribery scheme that shook the state’s Republican Party, and Eliyahu Weinstein, a New Jersey man sentenced to more than 20 years in prison for a real estate Ponzi scheme.

Mr. Dershowitz said he had not approached Mr. Trump about either case, though he recalled an earlier conversation in which he explained his general philosophy on the importance of pardons to Mr. Trump.

The president, Mr. Dershowitz said, “was very interested in the concept of the pardon power being more than just clemency, but being part of the system of checks and balances for *excessive legislative or judicial actions.*”

Others seeking creative ways to forge ties to the president include Joseph Maldonado-Passage, the former Oklahoma zoo owner who is better known as Joe Exotic. His representatives have been running a carefully orchestrated campaign to try to persuade Mr. Trump to pardon Mr. Maldonado-Passage, who is one year into a 22-year sentence for trying to hire a hit man to kill an animal-rights activist.

I guess trying to hire a hit man is an example what’s OK in Trump’s criminal justice reform. There will be more. Wait for it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

What we give thanks for - 'it feels like a miracle'

Yes, we still have serious problems facing our nation. Many more citizens will die before the vaccines are widely available. But we are on the road to recovery - physically, politically, psychologically. And the one thing driving that is why we should give thanks.

The Biden Era Is Really Here, and It Feels Like a Miracle. Imagine: The guy whose every sentence will potentially be news will be a normal and decent human being who understands in a sincere way that he is a public servant. So observes Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast.

And suddenly, things felt different Tuesday. It was that cowardly GSA woman finally throwing in the towel. It was Laura Ingraham admitting it was over the night before. It was Donald Trump pardoning the turkeys, a self-abasing ritual for a president in the best of circumstances, but these were the worst of circumstances, and it was actually the first time in his presidency that I felt any empathy for him as I sat there imagining for, oh, at least 1.3 seconds what it must have taken for him to haul his lazy septuagenarian girth out there to do that.

But more than any of those images, it was the sight of Joe Biden and his new national security team standing up there and introducing themselves to America. Serious people. Public servants, who are in this for the right reasons. Not a grifter or gonef in the bunch. People who are qualified for the jobs to which they’re nominated, and people who will be given rein to do those jobs without having to worry that the president is going to tweet at 5:37 a.m. that he’s been rethinking things and maybe it’s time to sell Alaska after all.

And later on Tuesday, it was Biden again, solo this time, giving his first big transition-period interview to NBC’s Lester Holt. He talked like a president. Imagine. He didn’t pout or lash out or accuse Holt of bad faith. He gave answers that reflected that he has the public welfare in mind. And while he sounded notes of realism about the Senate he’ll probably have to deal with, he also laid out his ambition, which is not just to recover but to do more: “It’s a crisis that’s causing real mental stress for millions of people, and it’s in our power to solve it, and to grow the economy at the same time.”

Add all this up, and it comes to one simple point: It’s real now. I mean, it was real from that Saturday morning at 11:28 a.m., but now it’s really real. The Trump era is ending, and the Biden era is beginning.

Biden’s choices so far are great. In addition to the foreign policy team unveiled Tuesday afternoon in Wilmington, Janet Yellen for Treasury is absolutely an inspired choice. A former Fed chair has instant cred with those kinds of people, and she has very serious Keynesian cred too. This is not Tim Geithner redux by a longshot, and it’s perhaps a sign that whereas Barack Obama felt he had to calm the markets by taking in people like Geithner, Biden knows that he doesn’t haven’t to kowtow to “a bunch of fuckin’ bond traders” in the way that both Obama and Bill Clinton did, or felt they did (the quote was Clinton’s, during his transition). So this is exciting news.

Of course, we’ll have to see if all these people can get confirmed in Mitch McConnell’s Senate. Here’s a trivia question for you. Who was the last Democratic president to assume office without a majority in the Senate from his own party?

You have to go back—are you ready?—to Grover Cleveland. And not even the second term, after the four-year interregnum, but his first term. Yep—1885 was the last time a Democratic president didn’t have a Senate majority to help push his appointees through.

It’ll be very interesting to see how McConnell plays this when the time comes. I have to think that Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski, and Susan Collins will vote for most Cabinet nominees, and maybe even a few other Republicans here and there. But McConnell will choose two or three to mess with, just because he can. They’ll gin up some phony scandal on the person, because that’s how they start the “corrupt Biden administration” narrative that they’ll need to be in fifth gear by the time the midterms come around.

But all that’s for later. What’s for right now is the very good news that this is happening. States are certifying the results. It’s done. Of course, as soon as I write that, I think uh-oh, I better not, but it sure seems done. And now, we can begin to imagine a future where, well, we’re not exactly rid of him, but where we don’t have to give a fuck about whatever steaming bullshit flies out of his mouth. His statements, his tweets, won’t be news anymore. MSNBC and CNN won’t (I hope and assume) cover them, because soon they won’t be policy. He can say whatever he wants about the markets or a cop shooting or North Korea or anything, and we just don’t have to care.

And meanwhile, the guy to whom we will be listening, the guy whose every sentence will potentially be news, is a normal and decent human being who is also knowledgeable about policy and about the world and is also, and this is the main thing, someone who knows and understands in a sincere way that he is a public servant.

I loved that moment last week at that presser when someone asked him about the consequences of the Trump people not sharing virus info with him and his people. He didn’t talk about himself. He didn’t say how it affected him. He said he was concerned that more people would die.

That’s a president. It should be unremarkable, but after four years of this infantile and solipsistic behavior, it feels like a miracle.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Transtion moves ahead as GSA ascertains Biden win

Michigan certifies Biden win despite Trump’s GOP overtures.

The move is another setback in Trump’s efforts to use unconventional means to undermine the results of the Nov. 3 election and comes even after he made direct overtures to Republican officials in the state by inviting them to the White House last week.

Trump’s efforts to stave off the inevitable — formal recognition of his defeat — faced increasingly stiff resistance from the courts and fellow Republicans with just three weeks to go until the Electoral College meets to certify Biden’s victory. Time and again, Trump’s challenges and baseless allegations of widespread conspiracy and fraud have been met with rejection as states move forward with confirming their results.

GSA ascertains President-elect Joe Biden as winner, beginning formal transition process.

The General Services Administration has ascertained that President-elect Joe Biden is the “apparent winner” of the Nov. 3 election, clearing the way for the start of the transition from Donald Trump’s administration.

Now why, you ask, did this take two weeks? Doers anyone believe the GSA administrator’s claims that she was not pressured by Trump to block the transition?

Monday, November 23, 2020

GOP campaign in Georgia runoff is more and more unhinged ...

… and entertaining.

Judd Legum at popular.info describes A Confederacy of Dunces.

Background: Sidney Powell is whackadoodle

On Saturday night, Sidney Powell, one of the top attorneys on Trump’s legal team, appeared on Newsmax and alleged a massive conspiracy involving thousands of people to rig voting machines against Trump. The scandal, Sidney Powell said, is “so big no one wants to wrap their heads around it.”

The scheme, according to Powell, has been in the works for “multiple decades” and was initially created by Hugo Chavez with technology he obtained from the CIA. She claims that Dominion voting machines are set up so that people can “literally drag and drop hundreds of thousands of votes wherever they want them.”

All of this is false. Dominion machines have no connection to Chavez or Venezuela. There is one company involved in voting technology with Venezuelan founders, Smartmatic. But it is a separate company, and Dominion told The Dispatch that “no Smartmatic software has ever been used by the company.” Claims that Dominion machines were found shifting votes from Trump to Biden were also definitively debunked.

Powell said that Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R) and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), two outspoken Trump supporters, were part of the scheme to steal the election for Biden. This scheme also involved, according to Powell, “thousands” of other people, including “the people running the machines at each of the polling centers.”

Why would Kemp and Raffensperger conspire to steal an election from a president they both support? Powell suggested, without providing any evidence, that they were paid off. “The state bureau of investigation ought to be looking into the financial benefits received by Mr. Kemp and the Secretary of State’s family,” she said.

Powell also said that Hillary Clinton stole the 2016 primary from Bernie Sanders by rigging the same machines. Sanders was told what happened but stayed quiet in exchange for “money to buy another fabulous house.”

Powell promised a “biblical” new legal filing in Georgia next week that will “blow up” the state. She’s also not worried about the fact that the election results in Georgia were already certified in Georgia and elsewhere. “I could wait a month to file the fraud case, and everyone would have to undo their certifications because it’s so bad,” Powell said.

Notably, in the Newsmax interview, Powell claimed that, on Election Day, the voting machines were rigged in favor of Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), who will face Raphael Warnock in a January run-off election. Powell said that the “real vote” would show that Congressman Doug Collins (R-GA) would have won and face Warnock.

We don’t know who bought their election… I’m sure it crosses party lines… I’m reasonably certain [the Republican nominee for Senate in Michigan] John James was ripped out of his seat, and he was entitled to have won that election by the real vote, and the same thing is true for Doug Collins in Georgia.

Popular Information highlighted these comments on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon, and the information went viral. A Loeffler victory in Georgia is critical for the Republican effort to maintain their Senate majority. Now Powell is suggesting that Loeffler cheated to advance to the run-off.

WTF? Read on.

Unhinged

Legum tweeted:

Trump’s legal team is now asserting that DOUG COLLINS, not KELLY LOEFFLER would be participating in the January 5 runoff if Brian Kemp hadn’t rigged the voting machines.

Does LOEFFLER agree? Or will she admit that the Trump campaign’s claims of voter fraud are BS.

“We don’t know who bought their election.. I’m sure it crosses party lines.. I’m reasonably certain John James was ripped out of his seat, and he was entitled to have won that election by the real vote, and the same thing is true for Doug Collins in Georgia.” — @SidneyPowell1

Trump’s legal strategy has never made any sense but, over the last few days, it has managed to become even more unhinged.

Last Thursday, Powell spoke at an official Trump campaign press conference with Rudy Giuliani and other members of the Trump campaign legal team.

And Powell has repeatedly appeared on television as a representative of the Trump campaign.

UPDATE: Moments ago the Trump campaign sent a press release claiming that Sidney Powell, who has participated in press conferences with Trump’s legal team, is not a member of Trump’s legal team and is “practicing law on her own”

This is false. On November 14, Trump tweeted that Powell was part of his legal team.

SMASH!!! THUMP! THUMP! THUMP! THUMP!

Such is the sound of Powell being thrown under the bus.

McConnell’s choice

With a few exceptions, Republican elected officials have adopted the posture of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). McConnell says that Trump is “100 percent within his right” to pursue litigation and refuses to acknowledge that Biden won.

But Trump isn’t pursuing a rational legal strategy. Judges have repeatedly rejected Trump’s claims as baseless — as a matter of fact and law. Those are the arguments that McConnell and most other elected Republicans are still legitimizing. And if they continue to do so, things will continue to deteriorate.

I can’t wait!

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Trump insists that he won in a landslide. He got that right - if you sub 'Biden' for 'he'

Here is some of the November 21, 2020 (Saturday) Letter from Heather Cox Richardson.

We are faced with the odd prospect of a president fighting desperately to keep a job he evidently doesn’t want. Trump has continued to insist he did not lose the 2020 election, and yet seems to have given up on governing. He has not taken any questions from reporters since Election Day and has spent a great deal of time golfing. Today the G20, the “Group of Twenty, which consists of leaders of developed or developing countries from around the world, met virtually. After speaking briefly, Trump turned his attention back to tweeting false information about the 2020 election. Then, while members of the G20 began to talk about responses to the global pandemic, Trump went golfing. This was his 298th golf trip during his presidency. Today America surpassed 12 million coronavirus infections.

While the president golfs, President-Elect Joe Biden is trying to pressure Congress to pass another coronavirus bill as the economy lurches toward another drop. Incoming presidents usually want to hold their influence in reserve to take credit for new policies, but Biden is pushing forward because he is so concerned about the economy. Unless Congress passes a new bill, about 12 million Americans will lose their unemployment benefits at the end of the year. Hunger and homelessness will follow.

With Prejudice in Pennsylvania

Here is a retweet from Neal Katyal with the summary of the court’s ruling in a Pennsylvania case.

In larger print

And here is the legal definition of “with prejudice.” In brief, that means that the judge said in effect go away and don’t come back.

From Wikipedia: Two of the more common applications of the word are as part of the terms “with prejudice” and “without prejudice”. In general, an action taken with prejudice is final. For example, “dismissal with prejudice” forbids a party to refile the case, and might occur either because of misconduct on the part of the party who filed the claim or criminal complaint, or the result of an out of court agreement or settlement. Dismissal “without prejudice” (in Latin, salvis iuribus) allows the party the option to refile, and is often a response to procedural or technical problems with the filing that the party could correct when filing again.

Trump vaccine - only Fox news could imagine that

Nicole Wallace alerts us to this gem by Brian Williams. This is a must view!

Trump 'keeps smashing into the brick walls of ballot math and election law' - and keeps losing.

Near the end of the Harry Potter series, Harry faces off against the principal villain, Lord Voldemort, each wielding powerful magic. Harry gains the upper hand and Voldemort literally explodes into pieces.

Now imagine that Voldemort represents Trump’s legal actions against the voters of this country. What we are witnessing is the explosion of Trump’s strategy, if you want to call it that, as Trump and his sycophants run up against the superior forces of ballot math and election law. No magic there. Just cold hard numbers and the rule of law.

In this morning’s NY Times, we learn that Trump’s Legal Team Sets a Precedent for Lowering the Bar. President Trump and his lawyers are engaged in a spectacle that would be funny if it weren’t so dangerous, and if the stakes weren’t so high.

One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. By that definition, Trump’s post election efforts to wreck our election system, if not also Trump himself, is just plain insane. Consider: as of Saturday night, Trump’s courtroom score is two wins and 34 losses. The judges are openly contemptuous of the shenannigans of Trump’s lawyers.

Here are excerpts from the NY Times report.

On Thursday, the president had claimed on Twitter that he had “a very clear and viable path to victory” and that “pieces are very nicely falling into place” for his re-election.

Nobody who has been paying attention to the evidence believed this.

“Working as an engineer throughout my life, I live by the motto that numbers don’t lie,” said Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, at a news conference on Friday. He reiterated this while confirming Mr. Biden’s victory in the state after a hand recount of ballots.

It was merely the latest setback for Mr. Trump, whose helter-skelter effort to reverse Mr. Biden’s victory keeps smashing into the brick walls of ballot math and election law.

"Trump’s legal strategy seems like the product of the same mind that gave us hydroxychloroquine as a Covid cure,” said Ben Ginsberg, the Republican election lawyer who represented George W. Bush in 2000 in his Florida recount dispute with Vice President Al Gore.

… On Friday, the conservative website Power Line reported that the president’s lawyers filed documents claiming fraud in Michigan — and then cited townships in Minnesota.

"I have to say, it’s been strange,” said Mark Aronchick, a veteran Philadelphia lawyer who is representing four Pennsylvania counties against the Trump campaign’s challenge. “We have a robust legal system where we’re trained to focus on evidence and precedent. And then you go into a court of law and suddenly Rudy Giuliani is talking like he’s in the driveway of Four Seasons Total Landscaping.” (Four Seasons was the site of a Giuliani news conference on Nov. 7 in Philadelphia, between a crematory and an adult book shop, where the former mayor announced that Mr. Trump would not concede.)

One of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Sidney Powell, went so far as to claim this week that the president had in fact won the election “not just by hundreds of thousands of votes, but by millions of votes.” However, she added, votes that were cast for Mr. Trump had been nefariously shifted to Mr. Biden by a software program “designed expressly for that purpose.”

Ms. Powell also said that the C.I.A. had previously ignored complaints about the software. She urged the president to fire Gina Haspel, the C.I.A. director.

As the past four years have shown, Mr. Trump’s say-anything style has been mimicked by his minions, like Ms. Powell, and can prove brutally effective in certain political and media settings. But it has limits in more rigorous and rule-oriented places, like court.

“You’re alleging that the two individual plaintiffs were denied the right to vote,” Judge Matthew W. Brann of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania said Tuesday in Williamsport, addressing Mr. Giuliani. “But at bottom, you’re asking this court to invalidate more than 6.8 million votes, thereby disenfranchising every single voter in the commonwealth. Can you tell me how this result can possibly be justified?”

Mr. Giuliani did not immediately answer. The judge appeared to be losing his patience.

(Thanks to our Editor at Large Sherry.)

Saturday, November 21, 2020

'Democracy requires at least two healthy political parties.' Trump is trying to kill off one of them

Michael Tomasky reports onTrump’s Last Hurrah: Trying to Kill American Democracy. If he somehow gets away with this, if he persuades four state legislatures to somehow invalidate Biden electors and seat Trump electors, then American democracy is dead.

Why is that?

In her November 20, 2020 Letter, Heather Cox Richardson explains why we need a vigorous 2-party system.

The news today remains Trump’s unprecedented attempt to steal an election in which voters chose his opponents, Democratic candidate Joe Biden and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, by close to 6 million votes, so far. A close second to that news is that the leadership of the Republican Party is not standing up to the president, but is instead seemingly willing to let him burn down the country to stay in office.

SNIP

Aside from the outcome of this particular election, this attempt of Republican leaders to delegitimize the Democratic Party is an assault on our democracy. Here’s why:

Democracy requires at least two healthy political parties, so there is always an organized opposition to the party in power. Having a party that stands in opposition to those in power does two things: it enables people to disagree with current leadership while staying loyal to the nation, and it provides a means for oversight of the people running the government.

Until the early 1700s, in Europe, the monarch was the state. Either you were loyal to the king, or you were a traitor. Gradually, though, the British political thinkers from whom Americans drew their inspiration began to object to the policies of the British monarchy while remaining loyal to the government. They developed the idea of a loyal opposition. This was an important development in political thought, because it meant that a person could be loyal to the country (and keep his head firmly on his shoulders) while criticizing government policies.

It also meant that the people in power would have oversight to keep them on the straight and narrow. There’s nothing like opponents watching you for any potential scandal to keep corruption to a minimum.

During the establishment of the early American republic, the Framers of the Constitution briefly imagined that since the colonists had thrown off the king they would no longer need an opposition. But almost immediately—as early as President George Washington’s administration—men who disagreed with Washington’s policies organized their own party under Thomas Jefferson to oppose those in power. Jeffersonians offered to voters an alternative set of policies, and a way to put them into practice without overthrowing the government itself. This recognition of a loyal opposition was key to more than 200 years of peaceful transfers of power.…

until now.

Trump is rejecting the idea that Democrats can legally win an election. As this crisis drags on, more and more of his followers are echoing his insistence that the Democrats could not possibly win except by cheating. There is no evidence to support this claim. Trump’s lawyers have repeatedly admitted as much in court. It is rather a rejection of the possibility that Democrats can legitimately govern.

Our democracy depends on our ability both to criticize our government and to believe that we can legitimately elect a different set of leaders to advance different policies. If we lose the concept of a loyal opposition, we must all declare allegiance to the king.

No matter how politically and psychologically corrupt and unfit for high office.

Trump interferes with Michigan legislature

In their latest Ad, the Lincoln Project advised Michigan Legislators to Pick America over Trump reports David Gordon at Blog for Arizona.

The people at the Lincoln Project, rightfully not trusting Donald Trump or any person supporting him in his apparent coup attempts two weeks after Joe Biden was called the winner of the 2020 Presidential Election, have released a new ad called “Michigan.”

Noting that Donald Trump won Michigan by less than 11,000 votes in 2016 and Joe Biden emerged victorious there by about 153,000 ballots in 2020, the narrator reveals that:

“Donald Trump is attempting to steal the election by demanding that Michigan Presidential Electors vote for him.”

The narrator immediately points out that Trump’s attempt to circumvent the will of the people in Michigan (where Biden won by a landslide) is “illegal and UnAmerican.”

Furthermore, the ad continues by asserting that Trump’s inviting of the Michigan State House and Senate Republican leaders to accomplish this goal is wrong and treasonous.

The narrator concludes:

“Tens of thousands of Michiganders have died defending the Democracy Donald Trump now tries to overthrow. Nothing like this has happened in American History. The Republican Party of Michigan must decide if it is loyal to America and our Constitution, or to Donald Trump. All America is watching. The world is watching. What will (Michigan) Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield do? Will they go down in history as good citizens who did their duty or traitors who attempted a failed coup? Donald Trump or America? Voters chose America. Now Michigan Republicans must do the same.”

Friday, November 20, 2020

Rudy's wretched wreck rolls on - to more legal losses for his master

I gotta ask: How could hiring Rudy as chief counsel NOT go wrong?

Rudy Giuliani Is a Hot Mess observes John Cassidy at The New Yorker.

Nearly two weeks ago, Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s legal point man in his effort to reverse the result of the 2020 election, virtually broke the Internet when he held a press conference at Four Seasons Total Landscaping, a yard-care business situated next to a sex shop, in a North Philadelphia mini-mall. For his latest public outing, which came on Thursday, he chose a different location: the headquarters of the Republican National Committee, on Capitol Hill. But if the setting for this Giuliani event was more salubrious than the last one, its content was even more bizarre. As the former New York mayor stood under the television lights for about forty minutes and accused the Biden campaign of orchestrating an elaborate nationwide voter-fraud scheme, he sweated like a sumo wrestler in a sauna. At one point, he was forced to dab away with a handkerchief two streams of what appeared to be hair dye that were running down each of his cheeks. When he finally ceded the lectern to Sidney Powell, another member of Trump’s legal dream team, he immediately cracked open a water bottle and gulped down its contents like a camel happening upon an oasis.

By that stage, Giuliani had earned the twenty thousand dollars a day he had reportedly requested for representing Trump in a crusade that even many of the lame-duck President’s Republican defenders privately regard as a lost cause. (Did he not see Lindsey Graham giving Kamala Harris a fist bump on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday?) Barely stopping to draw a breath, Giuliani claimed that Biden operatives, working in cahoots with big-city Democratic machines, corrupt judges, and a voting-software company tied to Communist governments abroad (I kid you not), contrived to reverse the early leads that Trump held on Election Night in states such as Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. “What I am describing to you is a massive fraud,” Giuliani insisted at one point. At another, he said that the evidence he and his colleagues had gathered was “enough to overturn any election.”

And what is that evidence? Giuliani claimed that Trump’s legal team had gathered hundreds of affidavits from poll watchers and election officials alleging perfidious acts. But when reporters asked him to release these documents, he replied, “I can’t do it. I can’t put a witness’s life in jeopardy.” Much of the evidence Giuliani did point to has already been discredited, including claims from Republican poll watchers of malfeasance in Wayne County, Michigan, which includes the city of Detroit. Last week, a Wayne County judge dismissed the case to which these witnesses’ affidavits were attached. He said that the witnesses did not attend a session on the ballot-counting process hosted by election officials and their statements were “rife” with speculation.

Giuliani also claimed that in Pennsylvania more than six hundred thousand mail-in ballots weren’t inspected—which rendered them “null and void.” This claim was based on another dubious allegation from the Trump camp: that Republican poll watchers weren’t allowed to get close enough to the vote counters. To back it up, Giuliani invoked Joe Pesci’s performance in the 1992 film “My Cousin Vinny.” Aping a scene in which Vinny, a Brooklyn lawyer, gets a key witness to acknowledge that she might not have seen what she thought she did, the former mayor held up two fingers and said, “How many fingers do I got up?” He went on, “These people”—the poll watchers—“were further away than my cousin Vinny was from the witness. They couldn’t see a thing.”

Giuliani didn’t mention that Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court has already dismissed this argument out of hand. In an important ruling handed down last week, it said that poll watchers don’t have the right to inspect individual signatures. Having failed in state court, Giuliani is now fronting a case in federal court, but that isn’t going well, either. Turning to Georgia, he claimed that thousands of ballot signatures weren’t properly matched with voter-registration records and that, as a result, such votes should not be counted. Election officials, including Brad Raffensperger, the Republican secretary of state, have already explained that Georgia has an electoral law that was specifically designed to separate signature matching from vote counting in order to insure that votes are kept secret.

"Give us an opportunity to prove it in court, and we will,” Giuliani declared at one point. The truth is that Trump’s legal team has suffered a long series of legal setbacks, including three on Thursday alone: in Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. Virtually none of their claims have been substantiated. Despite all this, Giuliani persisted with his tale of a grand conspiracy against Trump, even claiming that Joe Biden himself was involved in putting it together. “The logical conclusion is this is a common plan, a common scheme—it comes right directly from the Democratic Party, and it comes from the candidate,” he said. “That’s the reason why he probably didn’t have to go out and campaign. He had to have known what they were going to do.”

What’s really going on here? Trump and Giuliani are surely aware that their allegations have no basis. Their game is to delay the vote certifications and rile up the maga base, which can then be mobilized to put pressure on Republican state legislatures to usurp the voters and appoint slates of Trump loyalists to the Electoral College. As part of this strategy, Trump has invited Republican lawmakers from Michigan to the White House on Friday, reports on Thursday afternoon said.

This outlandish, anti-democratic venture has no antecedent in modern American history, but Trump and Giuliani gave up caring about precedent long ago. Just as with Ukraine, they will push their foul scheme as far as they can, secure in the knowledge that every day it lasts is another day of fund-raising for the Trump election-defense fund; another day of legal fees for Giuliani; and another day in which Trump doesn’t have to acknowledge that he’s a loser. And so the circus will go on—until the courts, or the calendar, or the American people bring it to a conclusion. (The Republican Party? As the location of Giuliani’s press conference demonstrated, it is part of the scheme.)

Toward the end of his clammy peroration, Giuliani declared, “We cannot allow these crooks—because that is what they are—to steal an election from the American people.” He was right about that, anyway. He is one of the ringleaders.

Con, coup, and the [GOP] clowns fueling Trump's pathetic losing

The Coup Stage of Donald Trump’s Presidency. Masha Gessen of the New Yorker compares Trump’s con to a coup. Scriber follows on by pointing out a progression from con to coup get’s us to the same, bad place.

Across a reassuringly wide political spectrum, observers hold that Trump’s refusal to concede the election results is not tantamount to a coup attempt. In the Washington Examiner, Timothy Carney wrote, “Trump is a con man, and his insistence that he can overturn the election is his latest grift.” In The Nation, Jeet Heer argued that, while Trump’s behavior is concerning, “it is very different than a coup. It is more accurately viewed as a cover-up,” adding that Trump is “interested in keeping his con game afloat.” My colleague Susan Glasser posed the question “Is it a coup or a con?” to a dozen of her smartest Washington sources, and they, too, tilted the needle closer to “con.”

But, as I said …

"Con versus coup” might be a false dichotomy. A coup is a power claim made illegitimately, often but not always with the use of force, sometimes illegally but sometimes within the bounds of a constitution. A con is a mushy term: it can be a criminal act or simply an unethical one, perhaps just wily and manipulative. A con, in other words, is an illegitimate act of persuasion. A coup always begins as a con. If the con is successful—if the power claim is persuasive—then a coup has occurred.

Gessen reviews all he weird legal maneuvers that end up failing and closes with this:

Trump’s bad con continues to show how easy it would be to stage a good one. Then we would call it a coup.

Susan B. Glasser, also at the New Yorker, takes us on a ride with Trump’s Clown Coup Crisis. On another terrible week for American democracy.

… [Trump] is no longer merely pursuing spurious lawsuits in state courts; in recent days, he and his lawyers have confirmed publicly that Trump now is trying to directly overturn the election results and the will of the American people by pressuring Republican state legislators to appoint electors who will vote for Trump in the Electoral College instead of Biden.

Since the end of this campaign, which did not result in that victory, Trump has engaged in what I’m increasingly certain history will record as one of the worst offenses of his Presidency: a systemic attack on the integrity of the election itself. This escalated dramatically this week, as his first wave of lawsuits began collapsing under the scrutiny of skeptical judges and nonexistent evidence. Rather than retreat, however, Trump has redoubled his efforts in key states, such as Georgia, Michigan, and Arizona, publicly pressuring local Republican officials not to certify the election results.

In Georgia, this ploy appears to have failed, with the Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, openly feuding with the President and denouncing Trump’s efforts to undermine the vote count. On Thursday night, after a hand recount, Georgia officials said that Biden had once again emerged as the winner in the state—the first Democrat to do so since 1992—and that Raffensperger will certify the results on Friday. …

… Mitt Romney, the Utah senator who was the only Republican to vote to convict Trump in his impeachment trial, earlier this year, issued a statement that might well have been the toughest I have ever seen about a President from a member of his own Party. “Having failed to make even a plausible case of widespread fraud or conspiracy before any court of law, the President has now resorted to overt pressure on state and local officials to subvert the will of the people and overturn the election,” Romney said. “It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American President.”…

Last week, I wondered in this column about just what Trump was up to in challenging the results: Was it an attempted coup, or just another Trump con? The past few days have seemed to offer an answer, and not a reassuring one. The truth is that even if Trump’s would-be coup looks like a con, even if it seems to be a clown show that’s surely doomed to fail, it must still be taken seriously as long as it is happening. Look at how far Republicans have gone along with Trump’s folly after an election that was decisively won by Biden, a contest in which he beat Trump by more than five million votes and garnered three hundred and six electoral votes—exactly the electoral-college “landslide” that Trump secured in 2016. Republican excuses have grown increasingly pathetic: We’re just giving him time. We’re just letting the process play out. He’s entitled to pursue his claims in the courts. In explicitly demanding that Republican state officials disregard the will of the voters, Trump has, once again, made his Party’s leaders out as stooges and patsies.

The G.O.P. knows all too well that this is not the process by which American elections are decided, not now and not ever. What Trump is doing is not like the 2000 Florida recount. It is not like anything before in American history. Republican leaders can end this today by finally saying publicly what so far they have only had the courage to admit in private. But will they, at long last, tell Trump what the voters said loudly and clearly: It’s over, you lost, and Joe Biden won?

COUP!

‘These are the words and actions of an attempted coup’ reports Steve Benen (MSNBC/MaddowBlog), It’s just now starting to become clear that Trump is serious. He intends to overturn an election in which he was defeated.

Background

In the wake of the 2010 midterms, House Republicans made a dangerous threat. The newly elected GOP majority in the chamber said it had no intention of raising the debt ceiling, at least not unless the Obama White House met Republicans’ unconditional demands.

There was, however, a small problem: few took the threats seriously. The political mainstream assumed the party was simply engaged in hollow posturing; investors shrugged; and even Democrats found it hard to believe Republicans would crash their own country’s economy on purpose. The widely held assumption was that the GOP was bluffing, thumping its chest to make a point, but with no intention of trashing the full faith and credit of the United States.

Eventually, the political world confronted a difficult realization: Republicans weren’t kidding. The threats weren’t hollow. The far-right party was quite sincere in its hostage strategy, and it didn’t much care about the consequences.

As this reality came into focus, anxieties spiked. Markets fell. Job growth abruptly slowed to a near halt. Phone lines on Capitol Hill crashed, as the public reached out to lawmakers.

It took a little while, but people began to say, “Wait, Republicans are actually going through with this. The nightmare scenario is actually happening.” It was the first crisis of its kind in U.S. history, and though few wanted to believe it would happen, it did.

Nearly a decade later, Donald Trump signaled his willingness to nullify his own country’s presidential election. Many weren’t altogether sure what to make of the threats, but it was widely assumed that cooler heads would prevail.

Trump is trying for a coup and that is not hyperbole

It’s just now starting to become clear that Trump is serious. He intends to overturn an election in which he was defeated. We should, in the words of Masha Gessen, “Believe the autocrat. He means what he says. Whenever you find yourself thinking, or hear others claiming, that he is exaggerating, that is our innate tendency to reach for a rationalization.”

And so, as the political world confronts another first-of-its-kind crisis, brought on by yet another radicalized Republican, stark realizations are coming into view. The front page of the Star Tribune in Minneapolis features a striking headline in a large font this morning: “Trump trying to nullify election: He wants GOP lawmakers to ignore will of voters.”

The front page of the New York Times included an all-caps headline that told readers, “Trump targeting Michigan in ploy to subvert vote.” The lede on the front-page article alerted readers to the president’s attempts “to overturn the 2020 election” through an “audacious use of brute political force.”

The Washington Post ran a front-page headline that read, “Trump wages full assault to overturn election.” The accompanying article reads:

President Trump is using the power of his office to try to reverse the results of the election, orchestrating a far-reaching pressure campaign to persuade Republican officials in Michigan, Georgia and elsewhere to overturn the will of voters in what critics decried Thursday as an unprecedented subversion of democracy. After courts rejected the Trump campaign’s baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud, the president is now trying to remain in power with a wholesale assault on the integrity of the vote by spreading misinformation and trying to persuade loyal Republicans to manipulate the electoral system on his behalf.

Note, this isn’t an opinion column; it’s just a factual description of what’s unfolding. The United States is, in fact, currently led by a man “trying to remain in power with a wholesale assault on the integrity of the vote.”

In the immediate aftermath of Election Day 2020, the White House’s allies suggested the president has the right to pursue every possible avenue. Just this morning, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) argued, “The president has every right to see that every ballot’s counted.”

But we’re well past that point now. Trump and his team don’t want to count ballots; they want election results in some states to be invalidated. A member of the president’s legal team was explicit on this point yesterday on Fox Business, arguing, “The entire election, frankly, in all the swing states should be overturned and the legislatures should make sure that the electors are selected for Trump.”*

With this in mind, the president is still scheduled to meet this afternoon with GOP leaders from the Michigan legislature, who were yesterday summoned to the White House for unsubtle reasons.

Reuters reported that Trump’s strategy for “retaining power despite losing the U.S. election is focused increasingly on persuading Republican legislators to intervene on his behalf in battleground states Democrat Joe Biden won.” The Post’s report added the president’s hopes that Republicans in some states will simply “flip” results in his favor, voters’ will be damned.

“These are the words and actions of an attempted coup, according to historians and other experts,” the article said.

It matters, of course, that Trump will almost certainly fail. But the fact that he’s making such an attempt is itself a scandal of historic proportions, and he’s creating new norms, standards, and strategies that will outlive what remains of his failed term.

As with the GOP’s debt-ceiling crisis in 2011, few wanted to believe this would, or even could, happen. But here we are.

Trump's lawyers make outlandish claims - without a shred of evidence.

In her November 19, 2020 letter, Heather Cox Richardson summarizes Trump’s attempts to overturn the election - while noting that the Georgia SoS called Georgia for Biden.

Today Trump continued his assault on our democracy, trying to overturn what at this point is a very clear victory for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris.

Today, Trump’s lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell alleged—without evidence—widespread fraud in the election and that Biden won because of “the massive influence of communist money through Venezuela, Cuba, and likely China and the interference with our elections here in the United States.” On his Fox News Channel show, personality Tucker Carlson noted that Powell refused to produce any evidence for any of her outlandish claims. The Washington Post described the press conference in which Trump’s lawyers made these allegations as “truly bonkers.”

Rick Hasen, an election law expert, wrote, “This is very dangerous for our democracy, as it is an attempt to thwart the will of the voters through political pressure from the President…. Even though it is extremely unlikely to work, it is profoundly antidemocratic and a violation of the rule of law. It’s inexcusable.” And yet, the official Twitter account of the Republican Party endorsed Powell’s statements.

The goal of Trump’s team is not to make a coherent argument; they have lost 31 lawsuits so far, and have racked up only 2 quite minor wins that do not affect the outcome. They are simply creating a narrative to muddy the waters, apparently either to get legislatures to replace Democratic electors with Republican ones, or to delay the certification of ballots to throw the election into the House of Representatives, where they think Trump has a chance of winning. They are making no pretense that Trump is the choice of a majority of voters– Biden is ahead by almost 6 million votes. Rather, they are trying to game the Electoral College.

This is a long shot that gets longer every day. Today, Trump invited to the White House Michigan lawmakers and the Republican canvass board members from Wayne County who first certified the ballots that elected Biden, and then, after Trump reached out to them, declared they wanted to “rescind” their approval of the ballot counts. But it was too late to change the certification of the ballots.

Tonight, the Republican secretary of state from Georgia, Brad Raffensperger, announced the result of the hand audit of ballots there, too. He confirmed that Biden has won Georgia. It turned out there were indeed some minor errors in the original count, but they were concentrated not in Democratic counties, but in Floyd County, which is Republican.

Also in the news,

the House Committee on Oversight and Reform called out Emily Murphy, the administrator at the General Services Administration responsible for refusing to acknowledge Biden’s victory. Her refusal has kept Biden’s people from access to intelligence and federal staffers who could help them prepare to hit the ground running when Biden takes office in January. The committee members wrote a letter pointing out that Biden has won by nearly six million votes and has been identified as the winner of the 2020 election by all major news media outlets. At this point, members of the committee say, “there is no conceivable argument that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are not ‘the apparent successful candidates for the office of President and Vice President,’” the standard the law sets for recognizing an incoming administration.

The Lincoln Project's latest ad tags 2024 GOP wannabes.

In their new Ad, the Lincoln Project said 2024 Republican Presidential Contenders are Anything But “Leader”s reports David Gordon at Blog for Arizona.

In their latest ad, “Leaders,” the Lincoln Project paints potential 2024 Republican Presidential Candidates Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Tom Cotton, Mike Lee, and Niki Haley as cowards, liars, enablers, and traitors to the American Ideal and Political System.

In the Trump campaign's 'last dying gasp' Trump's legal team makes elementary goofs - like misspelling 'poll' as 'pole'.

As in pole watcher and poll cat?

The Associated Press reports on Trump’s failed legal tactics in this morning’s email. You can find more in the Daily Star reporting Trump’s election lawsuits plagued by elementary errors.

Trump, allies make frantic steps to overturn Biden victory; Biden flips Georgia; It’s his birthday, at 78, he’ll be oldest U.S. president

Refusing to countenance the clear reality of a comprehensive election defeat, Donald Trump and his allies are taking increasingly frantic and desperate steps to subvert the results.

That includes summoning Republican state legislators from Michigan today for an extraordinary meeting at the White House as part of a longshot bid to overturn Joe Biden’s victory. Trump also has personally called local election officials who are trying to rescind their certification votes in Michigan.

His legal team has suggested that a judge order Pennsylvania to set aside the popular vote there. And his allies are pressuring county officials in Arizona to delay certifying vote tallies.

Election law experts see this as the last, dying gasp of the Trump campaign and say there is no question whatsoever that Biden will walk into the Oval Office come January. Colleen Long, Zeke Miller, Jill Colvin and David Eggert have the latest developments.

It seems Trump hasn’t perhaps assembled a team of legal eagles to do his electoral bidding. He has launched a barrage of lawsuits across at least five states. But his attorneys have repeatedly made elementary errors in those high-profile cases: misspelling “poll watcher" (P-O-L-L) as “pole watcher” (P-O-L-E), forgetting the name of the presiding judge during a hearing, filing a Michigan lawsuit before an obscure court in Washington by accident and having to refile complaints after erasing entire arguments they’re using to challenge results, Nomaan Merchant reports.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Trump lost. He knows it. He is setting fires on the way out. And the GOPlins are aiding and abetting.

Trump’s latest X/AntiX nomination is exposed by Catherine Rampell at the Washington Post:Republicans are trying to jam through Judy Shelton. She has no business working at the Fed.

Republican lawmakers are about to start an arms race politicizing a government institution critical to the country’s functioning, one that spent decades painstakingly establishing its credibility as a neutral, apolitical body of professionals.

No, not the Supreme Court. This time it’s the Federal Reserve.

The Senate is expected to vote as soon as this week on Trump’s nomination of Judy Shelton to the Fed. Simply put, Shelton is a demonstrably unqualified partisan quack who has no business working at the world’s most powerful central bank. Her nomination has been condemned by hundreds of economists and Fed alumni, including prominent Republicans and at least seven Nobel laureates. The senators poised to confirm her appear to know she is unfit; ahead of February hearings, a former Republican Senate Banking Committee aide said that “the idea of even calling her as a witness for something was beyond the pale” not long ago.

Republican lawmakers who now support Shelton’s appointment to one of the most important economic policymaking jobs in the world have struggled to explain why. In damningly faint praise, they admit that sure, she might believe ridiculous things, but she’d serve alongside competent people. So she can’t cause that much damage, right?

To be clear, these lawmakers have generally not endorsed Shelton’s stances.

Perhaps most objectionable is her multi-decade effort to bring back the gold standard. This might be popular among the right-wing fringe, but it was abandoned worldwide long ago and remains almost unanimously rejected by economists. For good reasons, including that gold prices are volatile. Linking the dollar to gold can also restrict liquidity when the economy needs it most — as happened during the Great Depression.

She has also questioned whether the Fed should even exist — before she was nominated to serve on its board.

So … why?

It’s unclear why Republicans are lowering the bar now — in the midst of a historic economic crisis. Another pending Fed nominee, Christopher Waller, is qualified for the job and still hasn’t gotten a vote; yet somehow Shelton is getting jammed through ahead of him.

One possible explanation: a desire to salt the earth for incoming President-elect Joe Biden.

Heather Cox Richardson (Letters from an American) sees it the same way.

Trump appears to be doing all he can to cripple Biden’s administration before it begins. Officials have told CNN that Trump is withdrawing troops worldwide in order to box Biden in before he takes office. A senior official told CNN that the goal is “to set so many fires that it will be hard for the Biden administration to put them all out.”

This has passed incompetence. It’s clearly vengeful malice perpetrated by the political equivalent of a school yard bully.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Why does Trump want the job he cannot do and does not give a damn about

Max Boot at WaPo takes a stab at the answer in Trump fights to keep a job he shows no interest in performing.

Imagine if, in November 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had decided to check out of World War II because it wasn’t going as well as he had hoped. Imagine if he had secluded himself in the Oval Office, listening to the radio all day, laughing at “Fibber McGee and Molly” and cursing at Walter Winchell’s news program. Imagine if, instead of attending meetings with his military chiefs, he spent his time purging government officials who weren’t loyal New Dealers and screaming about supposed fraud in the midterm elections (a big Republican victory).

That’s roughly where we stand today with President Trump and the coronavirus. A million new cases of covid–19 were recorded in the United States last week. On Saturday alone, we lost more than 1,300 people — equivalent to some three Boeing 747 crashes. To put our tragedy in perspective: As economist Jeremy Horpedahl pointed out, South Dakota (pop. 885,000) has about 25 percent more covid–19 deaths than South Korea (pop. 51 million). On the current trajectory, the United States will lose more lives by March 1 — roughly 440,000 — than the number of Americans who died in all of World War II.

Yet instead of providing leadership in a time of crisis, Trump prefers to golf, nurse his grudges and try to overturn the results of the election. The Post reports that “the president has not attended a coronavirus task force meeting in ‘at least five months,’” “is no longer regularly briefed on the pandemic by his team of doctors,” “rarely reads the daily virus reports” prepared by his staff and “has all but ceased to actively manage the deadly pandemic.”

Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, asked Trump to call for reducing in-person dining in restaurants and bars. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, asked him to stress the importance of mask-wearing and to let health officials work with the Biden transition team. Trump has simply ignored these urgently needed requests.

It is left to President-elect Joe Biden to urge mask-wearing. But his words are likely to be ignored by Trump’s cult followers. Imagine how much good the president could do if he were to rebuke the dangerous rantings of Rep.-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.). This QAnon supporter just tweeted that “masks are oppressive”: “In GA, we work out, shop, go to restaurants, go to work, and school without masks. My body, my choice.” That’s like saying that stoplights, seat belts and drunken driving laws are oppressive: “My car, my choice.” Yet Trump is silent even though scientists estimate that universal mask use could save 130,000 lives by the end of February.

Trump is ignoring the scientists just as he is ignoring the economists. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell keeps warning that it’s imperative to pass a new stimulus bill to give a boost to the economy, which is likely to stagger under the weight of renewed closings. “The next few months could be challenging,” Powell said on Thursday, despite promising vaccine news.

Yet hopes for an economic stimulus package in the lame-duck Congress are fading, with Democrats and Republicans too far apart in their demands. Democratic leaders are asking for at least $2.4 trillion, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wants to spend only $500 billion. This is the kind of impasse where presidential leadership — even from a lame-duck president — could make all the difference in forcing Republicans to negotiate in good faith, while the president-elect pressures Democrats to do the same.

But Trump is missing in action in stimulus talks just as he is in strategy sessions to fight the pandemic. On Oct. 27, he promised: “After the election, we’ll get the best stimulus package you’ve ever seen.” But he has done next to nothing to deliver on his promise beyond sending out a solitary tweet on Saturday demanding that Congress pass a “Covid Relief Bill” — “Get it done!” Tweeting is no substitute for legislating.

Trump’s focus in his final days seems to be on replacing competent officials with unqualified loyalists. A purge directed by his 30-year-old former “body man” has heads rolling at the Defense Department, Homeland Security, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Energy Department and even at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — where a climate-change denier has been put in charge of the U.S. Global Change Research Program. These capricious personnel moves simply heighten the United States’ vulnerability while Trump still refuses to work with the Biden transition team.

Trump could not be doing more damage if he were consciously attempting to sabotage the U.S. government. For the record: I don’t believe that he is deliberately burning everything down on his way out the door to punish Americans for rejecting him. He is merely salving his ego, and is heedless of the causes, as always. But it wouldn’t look much different if he were. Why is he fighting to keep a job that he shows no interest in performing? He should resign now and give Vice President Pence a chance to govern in the administration’s waning days.

With Rudy to the rescue, what could go wrong. Read more about Trump's failing legal attack on our election

Trump turns from the courts to right-wing media to try to hold the White House reports Joan McCarter of the Daily Kos Staff.

It’s not so awful that Trump keeps losing in court. It’s far worse. Because RUDY!

Here’s how two-time popular vote-losing impeached lame duck Donald Trump fared in his election lawsuits on Monday: The plaintiffs—Republican voters represented by James Bopp Jr. of the right-wing True the Vote group—dropped their suits claiming general fraud in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Wisconsin; three attorneys on his key suit in Pennsylvania withdrew from the case; their replacement failed to secure a delay in a hearing on the case; and the Michigan Court of Appeals denied a Republican effort to stop the state from certifying the election on the grounds of “failure to persuade the Court of the existence of manifest error requiring reversal.” That put Trump and the Republicans at 1–24 in the win/loss count on their suits.

Trump, by all accounts, is not pleased with how his lawsuits have been progressing, with lawyers dropping out like flies and no important wins. That seems to be behind the replacement of the entire team representing him in his federal suit to block certification of Pennsylvania’s results on Monday following the withdrawal of the prominent regional law firm Porter Wright Morris & Arthur. So now he’s got this new lawyer, the one who couldn’t get more time from the judge to get up to speed. This lawyer is Marc A. Scaringi, a conservative talk show host and lawyer who declared on his radio show on Nov. 7 that Trump’s lawsuit against the state was a loser. “At the end of the day, in my view, the litigation will not work,” the said. ”It will not reverse this election." That’s a vote of confidence, huh? But it’s okay for Trump, because he’s got reinforcements now: Rudy Giuliani.

Rick Hasen tweets this gem: Gets Worse for Trump Campaign in Its PA Suit: Giuliani Misrepresents His Bar Status. https://electionlawblog.org/?p=118750

I have already written how the Trump campaign sought a last minute substitution of lawyers and then a delay of the preliminary injunction hearing in Trump’s Pennsylvania lawsuit seeking to delay certification of the vote.

Well now Rudy Giuliani has asked to make an appearance in the case for the Trump campaign. His application says he’s a member of the DC Bar in good standing (seeking pro hac vice status). But he’s suspended for not paying his bar fees.

This lawyering is a joke.

Yes, believe it or not all Trump’s hopes for getting the Pennsylvania case to the U.S. Supreme Court rest on Rudy, who last appeared in court in 1992. That’ll go well. Trump, according to The Washington Post’s sources, is “frustrated that his campaign lawyers were not appearing more frequently on television to amplify his baseless claim that he was the real election winner.” So he’s put Giuliani and campaign legal adviser Jenna Ellis in charge of both the legal and public relations efforts. You can guess which is the more important part of this to Trump. He wants to see his loyalists when he turns on Fox News, where his base will see him “keep fighting,” the Post’s source says.

“He is more dug into his position than he was at the beginning,” the source, a Trump adviser, said. “He thinks this is his base for 2024, and that half the country are warriors fighting for him, and that he’s got to keep fighting.” According to that adviser, there are voices telling Trump it’s time to give up. But there’s a louder voice Trump loves to hear, which is Giuliani’s: “In a meeting Friday, Giuliani told Trump that his advisers had been lying to him about his odds of prevailing and that he actually could win, a person with knowledge of the meeting said,” the Post reports.

They’ve convinced him that the debunked claim that Dominion Voting Systems machines in some states deleted Trump votes is real, and he is now “personally obsessed” with it, even asking national security officials in the government about the company. Giuliani and Ellis are also true believers in this conspiracy theory. Ellis is the perfect counterpart to Giuliani and Trump, an “uncontrollable figure” in the campaign who regularly fed Trump’s fraud obsession, who would make television appearances without coordinating with the campaign, and who recently started calling herself “President-Elect Jenna Ellis” on Twitter. For some reason.

So rather than trying to win in court with valid cases, the plan now seems to be riling up the base by blanketing right-wing media with allies. If they can’t win in the courts, they’ll try to win by intimidation, like the campaign led by Sen. Lindsey Graham to pressure Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to throw out legal ballots. Raffensperger reports not just pressure from Graham, but death threats against him and his wife.

In other words, Trump’s reverting to form, going to what’s been working for him so far: enraging his army of deplorables. The good news is that it’s not a winning strategy to get to the Supreme Court, or to get the court on his side. The bad news is that it’s very dangerous for the country.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Trump loses legal battles - because of fumbles and bumbles

Trump lost at the ballot box. His legal challenges aren’t going any better. David A. Fahrenthold, Emma Brown and Hannah Knowles

President Trump lost his reelection bid at the ballot box. But he said he could win it back in court

In five key states, Trump and his allies filed lawsuits that — according to Trump — would reveal widespread electoral fraud, undo President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, and give Trump another four years. “Biden did not win, he lost by a lot!” Trump tweeted.

It’s not going well.

Rather than revealing widespread — or even isolated — fraud, the effort by Trump’s legal team has so far done the opposite: It’s affirmed the integrity of the election that Trump lost. Nearly every GOP challenge has been tossed out. Not a single vote has been overturned.

“The Trump legal team does not seem to have identified any kind of global litigation strategy that has any prospect of changing the outcome of the election, and all of the court filings to date underscore that — as do all of the court rulings that have been issued to date,” said Robert Kelner, a Republican lawyer who chairs the election and political law practice group at Covington & Burling, an international law firm based in Washington.

Part of the problem is that Trump’s approach has been backward: Declare crimes first, then look for proof afterward.

Again and again, the president or his allies said they’d found evidence that would stun the public and swing the election.

But, when Trump and his team revealed that evidence, it often was far less than they had promised. A “dead” voter turned out to be alive. “Thousands” of problematic ballots turned out to be one. Election-changing problems turned out to involve a few dozen, or a few hundred, ballots.

Some moments veered into the absurd, as the president’s lawyers tried — and failed — to use Trump’s reality-bending logic on baffled, unbending judges.

[For Example:] … Trump’s campaign had filed a lawsuit saying that 53 late-arriving ballots in Savannah’s Chatham County may have been backdated to appear valid.

But, when they called their witnesses, the witnesses admitted they didn’t know that for sure. The local board of elections testified that the ballots arrived on time.

Judge James Bass dismissed the case in eight words: “I’m denying the request and dismissing the petition,” he said from the bench.

That’s just one instance of the incompetence of the lawyers pursuing complaints against the election. Almost all have been rejected by the court or have been abandoned by Trump’s campaign legal team.

I’ll end with one more close to home.

"We’re not alleging that anyone was stealing the election,” said the Trump campaign’s lawyer, Kory Langhofer, in a court hearing Thursday. Langhofer added later: “The allegation here is that, in what appears to be a limited number of cases, there were good faith errors in operating machines that should result in further review of certain ballots.”

State and county election officials have said there is no truth to the rumors that ballots filled out with a Sharpie cause problems for the voting machines. “We looked into that. We were able to determine that did not affect anyone’s vote,” said Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R).

On Friday, Langhofer officially gave up on claims that the Sharpie allegation could flip the result of the presidential election in Arizona, saying the point was moot because so few votes were affected.

They could have saved time and effort and money by admitting that at the start.

Check out the Post’s reporting for more instances from other states.

Following the money - Scotland seeks ‘unexplained wealth order’ for Donald Trump resorts

Scots ministers told to seek ‘unexplained wealth order’ for Donald Trump resorts

’The Scottish Government has been urged to apply for an unexplained wealth order to investigate Donald Trump’s deals to acquire his Scottish properties.“ This was reported by Martyn McLaughlin back in Thursday, 27th February 2020. I got the tip from Aldous J Pennyfarthing at Daily Kos: Scotland may look at ‘serious and long-standing concerns about Trump’s business activities’ who remarked ”And, man oh man, if Scotland seized his golf courses, I might have to start believing in God again."

Patrick Harvie MSP, co-leader of the Scottish Greens, said there were reasonable grounds for suspecting that the US president, or people he is connected with, “have been involved in serious crime.”

He has called on ministers to apply to the Court of Session to seek answers as to how Mr Trump’s bankrolled his multimillion acquisitions of land and property in his mother’s homeland.

Responding at First Minister’s Questions, Nicola Sturgeon stressed she was “no defender” of Mr Trump, but said any allegations of criminality were a matter for Police Scotland and the Crown Office.

An UWO is a relatively new - and rarely used - power which has been designed to target suspected corrupt foreign officials who have potentially laundered stolen money through the UK.

The mechanism, introduced in 2018, is an attempt to force the owners of assets to disclose their wealth. If a suspected corrupt foreign official, or their family, cannot show a legitimate source for their riches, then authorities can apply to a court to seize the property.

Mr Trump and the Trump Organisation have always stressed that they did not require any outside financing for their Scottish resorts.

George Sorial, the Trump Organisation’s former chief compliance counsel, told The Scotsman in 2008 that it had £1bn “sitting in the bank and ready to go” for its inaugural Scottish course, located in Aberdeenshire.

Scotland on Sunday later revealed how the same year, Mr Trump asked the Bank of Scotland for a 15 year mortgage worth £23m, and a £15m construction loan, as part of his efforts to establish a “landmark” hotel at St Andrews in Fife, the home of golf. The bank refused, and Mr Trump’s plans were never realised.

Mr Harvie, an avowed critic of Mr Trump and his administration, said that an UWO was “designed precisely for these kinds of situations.”

He told MSPs: “Trump’s known sources of income do not explain where the money came from in these huge cash transactions. There are reasonable grounds for suspecting that his lawfully obtained income was insufficient.

“Trump is a politically exposed person in terms of the law, and there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that he, or people he is connected with, have been involved in serious crime. Some of them have pleaded guilty.”

Sunday, November 15, 2020

'Democracy' is the latest ad from the Lincoln Project

In “Democracy,” the Lincoln Project Calls on Republicans to Put Democracy and America First reports David Gordon at Blog for Arizona. /The Lincoln Project is continuing its assault on the Republican Party with the new ad “Democracy.”

Commenting that voters in 2020 elected Joe Biden President “with the most votes ever cast for a President in U.S. History,” the narrator pointed out that “most Republican leaders (Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, Kelly Loeffler, and David Perdue) are refusing to accept the outcome of the democratic process.”

On this Republican refusal to concede to reality, the narrator calls the GOP leadership and those who will not call Joe Biden President-Elect “shameful, cowardly, and Un-American.”

The narrator goes further, saying Republicans are acting like leaders in “Russia, Iran, North Korea, China,” asking the question “Are these Republicans not Americans?”

The ad concludes with the narrator asking the people to “call your Republican officials, and tell them to start acting like Americans and support Democracy. The question in 2020 was America or Trump. America won. It’s time for Republicans to put America first.”

It is time.

It is time for Republicans to act like obstructionists and aspiring black shirts and do what is right for the country.

Trump's legal failures reflect the 'utter incompetence' of his administration. If he helped with the transition all that would be exposed.

This morning I feature some presents and futures for Trump.

(1) Trump’s legal beagles don’t have a bone to chew

Joan McCarter of the Daily Kos Staff writes reports on the demise of Trump’s legal attack on the election. That is not going well for Trump. (Undersatement alert!)

(2) What Trump’s recalcitrance conceals a - A “network of utter incompetence and indifference to planning, strategy or policy”

Susan Rice speculates on potential impact of withholding security briefings from Biden transition team reports Dartagnan at the Daily Kos.

Former Ambassador Susan Rice, writing for The New York Times, frames the danger involved in depriving President-elect Joe Biden of access to top intelligence briefings normally afforded to the incoming commander in chief of our armed forces.

Rice first recounts her own experience of working through three transitions, including, ultimately, the transition from the Barack Obama administration to that of Donald Trump. In that case, she describes how she “laid out in depth the numerous challenges (Trump) would confront immediately—from the campaign to defeat the Islamic State to threats posed by Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. I also stressed the need to be prepared for less obvious threats, like the potentially catastrophic collapse of the Mosul Dam in Iraq and pandemic disease.”

The reaction from Trump and his people was typical both in its arrogance and blithe disinterest; Rice spent a few hours with now-convicted felon Michael Flynn detailing the most serious concerns. As it turned out, those few hours constituted the near-totality of the interaction between the incoming Trump and outgoing Obama team with regard to national security. Trump’s people had been specifically told not to meet with the Obama people, obviously intended as a gesture of contempt.

Rice notes that in the current “transition phase,” Trump’s people have denied the Biden team access to intelligence briefings with respect to national security threats, COVID–19, and related economic issues—and how the American public could pay the price for those denials.

Rice explains:

While we are extremely fortunate that Mr. Biden may be the most experienced president-elect ever to take office and brings with him a deep bench of highly qualified, knowledgeable experts, the Trump administration’s continued refusal to execute a responsible transition puts our national security at risk. Without access to critical threat information, no incoming team can counter what it can’t see coming.

If, today, the Trump administration is tracking potential or actual threats — for instance, Russian bounties on American soldiers, a planned terrorist attack on an embassy, a dangerously mutated coronavirus, or Iranian and North Korean provocations — but fails to share this information in a timely fashion with the Biden-Harris team, it could cost us dearly in terms of American lives.

I would suggest one reason the Trump people are denying Biden’s team access to high-level intelligence as long as they possibly can with respect to the three most predominant issues (national security, the pandemic, and the economy): There are virtually no policies put in place by the current administration to address any of these concerns in any meaningful, substantive way.

I believe that once Biden’s team does gain access to what is happening from an internal perspective, they are going to be appalled at the degree of inaction and wholesale lack of any efforts whatsoever to address these challenges. They will find instead a network of utter incompetence and indifference to planning, strategy or policy, staggering in its depth, and the Trump people know this. They will find security threats and intel festering, ignored, or shunted aside in favor of groveling to Trump’s every chimerical whim. They will find communications from our overseas allies to have shriveled into nothingness, and our intelligence services put at risk, if not wholly ignored. They will find corruption, graft, kickbacks and politicization to have completely replaced national security policy.

They will find only token measures performed with respect to the COVID–19 pandemic, and all of those measures redounding to the Trump family’s personal coffers and the interests of those still employed within the highest level of the administration. They will find no coherent policies, plans, or measures in place to address the economic calamity facing tens of millions of Americans, and they will find our national security apparatus on the cusp of disaster, with only half-baked plans geared less to satisfy the interests and safety of American citizens than to fulfill the wishlists of foreign adversaries.

The Trump people know this is what they are on track to leave behind for the Biden people, which is why they’re very busy right now, deleting or destroying as much information as they can. They’re trying to stave off the horror they know will ensue when Biden’s team gains access and finds out what really has—and hasn’t—been going on.

Trump’s minions know the dam is about to break and a huge cesspool is waiting, and they seek only to delay the inevitable—and cover their tracks.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Lincoln Project takes the field in Georgia US Senate races

David Gordon (Blog for Arizona) reports that The Lincoln Project Gets Involved in the Georgia Senate Races with “1962”.

Well, the Lincoln Project, headed by ex Republicans that have repudiated their party, is showing again that it is not just Donald Trump they want out of office.

They want his enablers in Congress and across the country gone as well.

In their new ad “1962,” the Lincoln Project involves itself in the two Georgia Senate Runoff Elections, telling the viewers that voting for Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue is like voting for Donald Trump and policies last seen in the 1960’s.

The narrator states:

“They’re at it again, trying to take away our right to vote. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler support Donald Trump’s plan to strip Georgia voters of our right to vote. Black and military voters will lose their voice. You can stop it. Vote for Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. We’ve come too far to go back to Jim Crow. We made history on November 3. Let’s do it again.”

Please click here to access the article that has links to sites that will show you how you can help the Democratic Senate Candidates in Georgia.

The Battle for Control of the United States Senate is still on.

Please help stop Enemy of the People-Political Prince of Darkness Moscow Mitch McConnell from becoming Majority Leader.

The importance of flipping AZ

Steve Benen (MSNBC/MaddowBlog) explains Why Biden’s election victory in Arizona matters. Arizona isn’t just another red-to-blue flip. We’re talking about one of the nation’s most consistently Republican states over the last century.

The vote tallies in Arizona clearly suggested Joe Biden was likely to prevail in the Grand Canyon State, and as of last night, the race was called for the president-elect.

President-elect Joe Biden has won Arizona, NBC News projects. The state’s 11 Electoral College votes bring Biden’s lead to 290–217 and put further pressure on President Donald Trump, who has yet to concede the election.

At a certain level, this may not seem especially notable. After all, not only did the vote tallies point in this direction over the last several days, but pre-election forecasts suggested Biden was a slight favorite to win Arizona. What happened is largely in line with what many expected to happen.

But let’s not be too quick to overlook just how significant the statewide outcome is.

We now know, for example, that President-elect Biden, if he prevails in Georgia, will end up with 306 electoral votes – which just so happens to be exact same number of electoral votes Donald Trump earned in 2016. Four years ago, Trump’s campaign manager argued that 306 electoral votes constituted a “landslide” and a “blowout” – and that was with the Republican losing the popular vote by nearly 3 million ballots.

By these metrics, Biden’s victory is considerably more impressive.

What’s more, Arizona isn’t just another red-to-blue flip. We are, after all, talking about one of the nation’s most consistently Republican states over the last century. Arizona was home to Barry Goldwater. It fought harder than most in opposition to a Martin Luther King holiday. It made Joe Arpaio famous. It approved a notorious “papers please” law.

What’s more, before this year, Arizona had only backed a Democratic presidential ticket once over the last 70 years – Bill Clinton narrowly carried the state in 1996, but it was a bit of a fluke – making it an unlikely Democratic target.

And yet, as of this morning, Arizona has not only helped elect the next Democratic president, it’s also represented by two Democratic U.S. senators for the first time since the early 1950s.

There are a variety of factors that led to this, and it’s worth emphasizing the importance of both Native American voters and Latino support for Democrats in the state. But let’s also not overlook the degree to which Donald Trump went out of his way to undermine his own chances.

The outgoing president spent much of his term railing against John McCain, for example, even after the late senator’s passing. The McCain name still means something in Arizona, and Trump did himself no favors by needlessly making the late senator one of his favorite enemies.

I also find myself thinking about a New York Times report published early last week: “Some aides said that Mr. Trump had often resisted entreaties from Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, and Brad Parscale, his former campaign manager, and others to spend more time in Arizona. But they said he had resisted in part because he did not like traveling west and spending the night on the road.”

The shift in the political winds in Arizona are likely to have lasting effects on American politics for years, but as Trump lashes out and looks for people to blame for his defeat, he probably ought to look at the man in the mirror.