Later On

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Archive for the ‘Election’ Category

The American Abyss: Fascism, Atrocity, and What Comes Next

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Timothy Snyder, Levin professor of history at Yale University and the author of histories of political atrocity including “Bloodlands” and “Black Earth,” as well as the book “On Tyranny,” on America’s turn toward authoritarianism, writes in the NY Times Magazine on the mechanisms and failures that brought the US political system to its current state of wreckage:

When Donald Trump stood before his followers on Jan. 6 and urged them to march on the United States Capitol, he was doing what he had always done. He never took electoral democracy seriously nor accepted the legitimacy of its American version.

Even when he won, in 2016, he insisted that the election was fraudulent — that millions of false votes were cast for his opponent. In 2020, in the knowledge that he was trailing Joseph R. Biden in the polls, he spent months claiming that the presidential election would be rigged and signaling that he would not accept the results if they did not favor him. He wrongly claimed on Election Day that he had won and then steadily hardened his rhetoric: With time, his victory became a historic landslide and the various conspiracies that denied it ever more sophisticated and implausible.

People believed him, which is not at all surprising. It takes a tremendous amount of work to educate citizens to resist the powerful pull of believing what they already believe, or what others around them believe, or what would make sense of their own previous choices. Plato noted a particular risk for tyrants: that they would be surrounded in the end by yes-men and enablers. Aristotle worried that, in a democracy, a wealthy and talented demagogue could all too easily master the minds of the populace. Aware of these risks and others, the framers of the Constitution instituted a system of checks and balances. The point was not simply to ensure that no one branch of government dominated the others but also to anchor in institutions different points of view.

In this sense, the responsibility for Trump’s push to overturn an election must be shared by a very large number of Republican members of Congress. Rather than contradict Trump from the beginning, they allowed his electoral fiction to flourish. They had different reasons for doing so. One group of Republicans is concerned above all with gaming the system to maintain power, taking full advantage of constitutional obscurities, gerrymandering and dark money to win elections with a minority of motivated voters. They have no interest in the collapse of the peculiar form of representation that allows their minority party disproportionate control of government. The most important among them, Mitch McConnell, indulged Trump’s lie while making no comment on its consequences.

Yet other Republicans saw the situation differently: They might actually break the system and have power without democracy. The split between these two groups, the gamers and the breakers, became sharply visible on Dec. 30, when Senator Josh Hawley announced that he would support Trump’s challenge by questioning the validity of the electoral votes on Jan. 6. Ted Cruz then promised his own support, joined by about 10 other senators. More than a hundred Republican representatives took the same position. For many, this seemed like nothing more than a show: challenges to states’ electoral votes would force delays and floor votes but would not affect the outcome.

Yet for Congress to traduce its basic functions had a price. An elected institution that opposes elections is inviting its own overthrow. Members of Congress who sustained the president’s lie, despite the available and unambiguous evidence, betrayed their constitutional mission. Making his fictions the basis of congressional action gave them flesh. Now Trump could demand that senators and congressmen bow to his will. He could place personal responsibility upon Mike Pence, in charge of the formal proceedings, to pervert them. And on Jan. 6, he directed his followers to exert pressure on these elected representatives, which they proceeded to do: storming the Capitol building, searching for people to punish, ransacking the place.

Of course this did make a kind of sense: If the election really had been stolen, as senators and congressmen were themselves suggesting, then how could Congress be allowed to move forward? For some Republicans, the invasion of the Capitol must have been a shock, or even a lesson. For the breakers, however, it may have been a taste of the future. Afterward, eight senators and more than 100 representatives voted for the lie that had forced them to flee their chambers.

Post-truth is pre-fascism, and Trump has been our post-truth president. When we give up on truth, we concede power to those with the wealth and charisma to create spectacle in its place. Without agreement about some basic facts, citizens cannot form the civil society that would allow them to defend themselves. If we lose the institutions that produce facts that are pertinent to us, then we tend to wallow in attractive abstractions and fictions. Truth defends itself particularly poorly when there is not very much of it around, and the era of Trump — like the era of Vladimir Putin in Russia — is one of the decline of local news. Social media is no substitute: It supercharges the mental habits by which we seek emotional stimulation and comfort, which means losing the distinction between what feels true and what actually is true.

Post-truth wears away the rule of law and invites a regime of myth. These last four years,  . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more — it’s a long article — and at the link you can also listen to it (30 minutes at normal speed).

Written by LeisureGuy

16 January 2021 at 1:56 pm

Combat in the Capitol

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It was worse than it’s been portrayed. Rebecca Solnit on Facebook:

One of the things seldom remembered is that 9/11 in NYC could have been much worse. Nearly everyone in the Twin Towers below the plane impacts got out alive, the great majority of people there, before the buildings collapsed (and because there was an election that Tuesday morning, a lot of people were not at work at all, so the towers were much emptier than usual).

Likewise, 1/6 could have been much worse. It nearly was.

Reading the Washington Post‘s riveting, horrifying firsthand accounts (published Thursday night; posted on my page) from the police who were battling the insurgents is a reminder that thousands of would-be assassins with guns were engaged in hours of brutal, almost unhinged hand-to-hand combat to try to get at the elected officials. (One police account says that they confiscated a lot of guns and knew there were far more, and that he suspected the protestors were waiting for the police to shoot first, so, aside from the shot that took out the Navy vet, they didn’t.) That the mob did not manage to lay hands on any of our representatives, so far as we know, seems remarkable under the circumstances. There would have been beatings, probably rapes and murders, possibly torture and hostage-taking.

The first round of images of the goofballs lounging among the paintings and sculptures, taking selfies, putting feet up on a Pelosi staffer’s desk were misleading. Elsewhere, it was combat. A lot of police, ex-soldiers, militia members in the crowd were committing some very organized violence.
We were misled by the early photographs and media accounts, which didn’t sufficiently portray the sheer violence of that day. I think that some blame for what happened lies with some members of the Capitol police; much will probably turn out to lie with those officials elsewhere who failed to gather or act on the information that monumental violence was planned or possibly actively suppressed that information and the aid that should have been given to the Capitol force beforehand and during what it now feels legitimate to call a battle.

What I know for sure is that we know a lot more today than we did on 1/6, and we will continue to learn. About, among other things, a broad conspiracy to try to topple the government by attacking the legislative branch with lethal violence. (As I wrote in Lithub a few days ago, their devout faith in violence was misplaced; even had they succeeded in taking the building and killing some congresspeople and senators or taking hostages, they would not have convinced the nation and the world that 45 was the legitimate winner of the November election and entitled to stay in office.) I think we are seeing the first edges of a many-faceted conspiracy.

The more people recognize this, the more the alliance between these invaders and their supporters in right-wing media, among elected officials, and beyond will be questioned. This is the culmination of who this sector has become over the past four years, a disinhibited, intoxicated version of the worst of what the far right has long been. The supporters need to either assent to what happened or disown it; the long having it both ways needs to end. Or so it seems to me tonight.

See also: ‘We got to hold this door’: How battered D.C. police made a stand against the Capitol mob.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 January 2021 at 8:18 pm

Microcosm Of Republican Rejection Of Democracy Seen In Michigan

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A succinct and clear summary of one strain of the Republican party that believes, once it seizes office by whatever means necessary, it is empowered to ignore public wishes and do as it wants.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 January 2021 at 1:12 pm

Why poor people find Trump attractive

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This is a Twitter thread that seems to have been deleted. It is by @jpbrammer and was posted 18 Nov 2016. I have typed it out from screengrabs of the tweets.

So I’m a Mexican-American from a poor rural (mostly white) town in Oklahoma. Missing from this debate? How poor whites seem themselves.

If you’re wondering how poor exploited white people could vote for a dude with a golden elevator who will fuck them over, here’s how.

They don’t see themselves as poor. They don’t base their identity on it. They see themselves as “temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”

The stigma against poverty is incredibly strong. It is shameful to be poor, to not have the comforts of the middle class. So they pretend —

that they aren’t poor. They are willing to lie to make it seem that they aren’t poor. They purchase things to make it seem like they’re not.

In my town, wealth waan’t associated with greed, but with hard work and inherent goodness. You are blessed if you have material wealth.

When they see Trump they don’t see an extortionist who is rich because of the very conditions that keep their own communities in poverty.

They see someone who worked hard and was justly rewarded with wealth. Most men, especially, think they too could be Trump were it not for

the unfair obstacles put in their way. White men who don’t consider themselves successful enough have so many excuses for their “failures.”

The idea that immigrants are the reason they are poor and not wealthy like Trump is so appealing. It takes all the shame and blame away.

And here we have a man who, they think, “tells it like it is’ and is willing to name the things stealing prosperity out of their hands.

If these people saw themselves as an exploited class of people, if American culture didn’t stigmatize poverty so much, it might be different.

But American has so entangled wealth with goodness and poverty with moral deficiency that they can’t build that identity. They won’t.

Trump is rich, and so according to American criteria, he is also:
1. Wise
2. Fair
3. Moral
4. Deserving
5. Strong
6. Clever
He *has* to be.

Capitalism and the American Dream teach that poverty is a temporary state that can be transcend with hard work and cleverness.

To fail to transcend poverty, and to admit that you are poor, is to admit that you are neither hardworking nor clever. It’s cultural brainwashing.

So if an exploited class of people don’t want to admit they’re exploited and they blame themselves for their oppression, what manifests?

Xenophobia. Hatred of anyone who is “different,” queer people, people of color. These people are eroding the “goodness” of America.

And if they would just stop ruining America, then the perfect design of America could work again and deliver prosperity.

I’m telling you, as someone who has spent almost his entire life in this environment, that if you think cities are a “bubble…” Good God.

How you balance those realities, and what conclusions you reach to improve the lives of both, well, I’m not smart enough to have the answer.

Still, we need to understand the identity working class white people have built for themselves, on diametrically opposed to, well, reality.

Because Trump won’t make them rich. Even if he deports all the brown people, it won’t bring them what they’re hoping for.

It strikes me that once a person’s falls into accepting an illusion as true, they become vulnerable to more deceptions because they’ve lost touch with the testing ground of reality — false hopes, false dreams, false statements have more power on those who already live in self-deception or who already believe a false vision.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 January 2021 at 3:01 pm

20 corporations, $16 million, and 138 Republicans trying to subvert democracy

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Judd Legum and Tesnim Zekeria write in Popular Information:

On Wednesday, dozens of Congressional Republicans will object to the certification of the Electoral College vote that made Joe Biden the next President of the United States. Their goal is to set aside millions of votes, ignore the clear will of the electorate, and install Trump for a second term.

The votes have been counted, recounted, and certified. The Electoral College met on December 14 and confirmed that Joe Biden was the winner. And it wasn’t particularly close. Biden won 306 Electoral College delegates and received over 7 million more votes than Trump.

Apparently, that isn’t enough. A group led by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) claimed that “the allegations of fraud and irregularities in the 2020 election exceed any in our lifetimes.” Although there have been many allegations of voter fraud and other irregularities, there has been no proof. Trump and his allies filed dozens of suits based on these allegations seeking to overturn the results of the election and lost.

The effort to overturn the results of the election has been widely derided as dangerous, anti-democratic, and unconstitutional. Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY) wrote a 21-page memo to her colleagues explaining why there was “no appropriate basis” to object to the certification of the election. An excerpt:

Such objections set an exceptionally dangerous precedent, threatening to steal states’ explicit constitutional responsibility for choosing the President and bestowing it instead on Congress. This is directly at odds with the Constitution’s clear text and our core beliefs as Republicans.
Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) said the scheme “would essentially end presidential elections and place that power in the hands of whichever party controls Congress.” The right-wing Wall Street Journal editorial board called it an “unconstitutional” effort to disenfranchise “81 million Americans who voted for Mr. Biden.”

The business community has also expressed its opposition. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents most large businesses in the United States, said this effort “undermines our democracy and the rule of law.” A separate group of prominent business leaders calls it “counter to the essential tenets of our democracy.”

But many of the members who are planning to object to the certification of the vote on Wednesday are generously supported by corporate America. A Popular Information analysis reveals . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 January 2021 at 4:11 pm

Facebook fails Georgia

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Judd Legum writes in Popular Information:

Over the last two weeks, Facebook has repeatedly allowed a top Republican Super PAC, American Crossroads, to run dishonest attacks against Democratic Senate candidate Raphael Warnock — in violation of Facebook’s own misinformation rules. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Georgians have been exposed to misinformation about Warnock on Facebook in the critical days leading up to the January 5 run-off election.

Internal Facebook communications concerning the American Crossroads ads, obtained by Popular Information, reveal dysfunction and confusion about Facebook’s advertising policies, even among executives purportedly in charge of such matters.

Beginning on Election Day, November 3, Facebook banned all political ads on the platform. But it partially lifted the ban on December 16 to allow ads about the Georgia runoffs targeting Facebook users in Georgia. The announcement said that Facebook would activate its “Elections Operations Center” to “.fight…misinformation” about the Georgia runoffs in “real time.”

On December 17, American Crossroads, a Republican Super PAC run by Karl Rove and funded by Mitch McConnell’s political operation, began running an ad with a short snippet of Warnock saying, “God damn America.” The ad presents Warnock’s statement as an expression of his own views, saying his comments represented “anti-American hate.” This is blatantly dishonest. . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 January 2021 at 10:31 am

That call from President Trump to Georgia election officials

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To no one’s surprise, President Trump lied about the content of his call, but to President Trump’s surprise the entire call had been recorded, and once he attacked the Georgia officials, the recording was released.  Marc Caputo writes in the Politico Playbook newsletter:

On Sunday, politics here switched from a national fascination to an international spectacle, courtesy of — surprise! — President Donald Trump, who was secretly recorded trying to pressure Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to throw out votes for an opponent and “find” votes for himself. Trump was strangely quiet about the call on Twitter on Sunday as the news exploded online, but expect the president to trash his new GOP bête noire by name at his rally tonight in Dalton.

The story of the extraordinary call of a president pushing a top election official to rig the Georgia results was broken by the superb reporting of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Greg Bluestein and the Washington Post’s Amy Gardner, but the backstory is almost as interesting.

It started on Saturday when Trump and his team reached out to talk to Raffensperger, who, according to an adviser, felt he would be unethically pressured by the president. Raffensperger had been here before: In November he accused Trump ally and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham of improperly exhorting him to meddle in the election to help Trump win Georgia. Graham later denied it.

So why not record the call with the president, Raffensperger’s advisers thought, if nothing else for fact-checking purposes. “This is a man who has a history of reinventing history as it occurs,” one of them told Playbook. “So if he’s going to try to dispute anything on the call, it’s nice to have something like this, hard evidence, to dispute whatever he’s claiming about the secretary. Lindsey Graham asked us to throw out legally cast ballots. So yeah, after that call, we decided maybe we should do this.”

The call took place Saturday afternoon. “Mr. President,” announced Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, at the top of the call, “everyone is on the line.” Little did he know. Trump made his ask and did most of the talking for the next hour, trafficking in the same conspiracy theories about election fraud that no court or criminal investigator has found credible. At the end of the call, Trump complains, “What a schmuck I was.”

Raffensperger’s team kept quiet about the call and the recording and waited. The president made the next move, claiming on Sunday morning via Twitter that Raffensperger was “unwilling, or unable, to answer” questions about his baseless claims of widespread voter fraud. “Respectfully, President Trump: What you’re saying is not true,” Raffensperger replied at 10:27 a.m. “The truth will come out.” It wasn’t an empty promise.

This isn’t the first time that a call or his recorded comments have threatened Trump (see: Access Hollywood, Ukraine president).

“This phone call is bad,” Georgia conservative commentator Erick Erickson said on Twitter. We asked him to expand on that, and here’s what he added: “I think the general worry is that the GOP early vote actually came on strong [late] and there’s a real worry that the president shows up tomorrow and messes it all up. The North Georgia GOP has to turn out on Election Day. They’ve lagged the whole state. The President goes to Dalton tomorrow to get them out and now people are worried he spends his time attacking the GA GOP … There is real nervousness.”

Erickson and other Republicans have been concerned since November that the president’s voter fraud rhetoric will dampen turnout, a fear intensified by far-right activists who’ve suggested that Trump voters not go to the polls unless Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue fight harder to somehow cancel Biden’s Georgia win. Trump’s handling of a coronavirus relief package and his vetoing of a defense bill is another concern: Congress overrode the vote, but Perdue and Loeffler skipped out so they weren’t crosswise with Trump. Loeffler on Sunday avoided answering how she would’ve voted on the defense bill.

“Look, voters aren’t paying attention to all this stuff, people like us are,” one Georgia Republican strategist who’s working to elect Loeffler and Perdue told Playbook. “But at a certain point, all these little things that don’t look like they matter could matter. I still feel OK. But this doesn’t help. The president needs to cut out the Leeroy Jenkins s—. Unfortunately, he won’t.” Full transcript of the call with audio

Heather Cox Richardson also discusses Trump’s blatantly criminal phone call. In her column, she notes:

David Shafer, the chair of the Georgia Republican Party, tried to excuse this extraordinary conversation by tweeting that the phone call had been a “confidential settlement discussion” of two lawsuits Trump has filed against Raffensperger, and that the audio version the Washington Post published was “heavily edited and omits the stipulation that all discussions were for the purpose of settling litigation and confidential under federal and state law.” [In fact, the Washington Post published the entire phone call, omitting only the name of a person about whom President Trump made unsubstantiated claims. David Shafer is simply lying. – LG]

Marc E. Elias, a lawyer leading the Biden team’s litigation efforts to counter Trump’s lawsuits over the election, knocked that explanation flat. “Trump and his allies have lost 60 post-election lawsuits, including several in GA,” he tweeted. “There are no cases that could have plausibly been the subject of settlement discussion. Oh, and I represent parties in all of those cases, so I would have had to be on the phone as well. I wasn’t.”

Her entire column is worth reading, particularly the references in the Notes at the end of the column.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 January 2021 at 10:00 am

The Twelfth Day of Christmas may be very bad

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January 6 is the Twelfth Day of Christmas, ending the Christmas season with the Feast of the Epiphany, commemorating the anniversary of the visit of the Three Magi to view the infant Jesus. This year the date may have a grimmer outcome. David Troy comments on Facebook:

It looks like we have a serious problem emerging. There is a gap between what intelligence analysts and government officials are reporting and what journalists are reporting about our current situation. This may be a potentially catastrophic “failure of imagination” that may lead to dangerous and unpredictable outcomes.

Washington Post’s columnist, the intelligence analyst David Ignatius, shares with increasing alarm that Trump loyalist Kash Patel, recently installed at the Pentagon, may replace Wray at FBI. This may stall important investigations and also threaten intelligence dumps intended to harm political enemies and/or protect allies.

Most alarmingly, he reports that Ezra Cohen-Watnick, whom we have been watching and reporting on here, may replace Gen. Paul Nakasone as head of NSA. This likewise has potential for damaging intelligence dumps.

There is perhaps an unhealthy if understandable focus on the election. There do seem to be efforts to incite violence around DC on January 6th. That violence may spread; it may lead to invocation of the Insurrection Act; there may be calls to invalidate the election and, at Flynn’s urging, re-run the election using “military capabilities.” I rate this as young adult fantasy. The Constitution is clear and the election will not be re-run.

HOWEVER, the actual thing to be on the lookout for here is the final thrust and twist of the knife on the way out the door, and the damage that could ensue. Who benefits? Putin and Trump. Moves that harm the incoming administration’s ability to govern; moves that create chaos and delegitimize American democracy; things that kill Americans through inaction and neglect? All of those things are on the table.

I can’t stress this enough: it’s not about overthrowing the election, it’s about saving face, tearing down as much as possible, creating conditions that favor the maximization of discord and even death.

We have no idea the harms possible with Patel at FBI and with ECW at NSA! The fact that Ignatius is getting the same chatter that we are as lowly OSINT analysts is extremely concerning. The Nashville incident was driven by a 5G fringe lunatic, and is adding momentum to the cult narratives.

We need to close the gap between analysis and reporting immediately and get people within government and media up to speed on the potential for harm here. This is a moment as dangerous as 9/11 (as if every day is not already; difficult to overstate here) and we are suffering from a lack of imagination about what is possible — especially with regards to Iran, as noted by Ignatius. In the end the election is over but there is a high-stakes final roll of the dice. We mustn’t be in denial about the potential for harm.

The article by David Ignatius that Troy references begins:

Not to be alarmist, but we should recognize that the United States will be in the danger zone until the formal certification of Joe Biden’s election victory on Jan. 6, because potential domestic and foreign turmoil could give President Trump an excuse to cling to power.

This threat, while unlikely to materialize, is concerning senior officials, including Republicans who have supported Trump in the past but believe he is now threatening to overstep the constitutional limits on his power. They described a multifaceted campaign by die-hard Trump supporters to use disruptions at home and perhaps threats abroad to advance his interests.

The big showdown is the Jan. 6 gathering of both houses of Congress to formally count the electoral college vote taken on Dec. 14, which Biden won 306 to 232. The certification should be a pro forma event, but a desperate Trump is demanding that House and Senate Republicans challenge the count and block this final, binding affirmation of Biden’s victory before Inauguration Day.

Trump’s last-ditch campaign will almost certainly fail in Congress. The greater danger is on the streets, where pro-Trump forces are already threatening chaos. A pro-Trump group called “Women for America First” has requested a permit for a Jan. 6 rally in Washington, and Trump is already beating the drum: “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

Government officials fear that if violence spreads, Trump could invoke the Insurrection Act to mobilize the military. Then Trump might use “military capabilities” to rerun the Nov. 3 election in swing states, as suggested by Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser. Trump “could take military . . .

Read the whole thing.

Later in the article:

Another strange Pentagon machination was the proposal Miller floated in mid-December to separate the code-breaking National Security Agency from U.S. Cyber Command, which are both currently headed by Gen. Paul Nakasone. That proposal collapsed because of bipartisan congressional opposition.

But why did Trump loyalists suggest the NSA-Cyber Command split in the first place? Some officials speculate that the White House may have planned to install a new NSA chief, perhaps Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the young conservative recently installed to oversee Pentagon intelligence activities.

With firm control of the NSA and the FBI, the Trump team might then disclose highly sensitive information about the origins of the 2016 Trump Russia investigation. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe tried to release this sensitive intelligence before the election, despite protests from intelligence chiefs that it would severely damage U.S. national security. Trump retreated under pressure from then-Attorney General William P. Barr, among others.

Trump’s final weeks in office will also be a tinder box because of the danger of turmoil abroad. Iranian-backed militias fired more than 20 rockets last Sunday at the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad, with around nine hitting the compound but inflicting no American casualties. The United States sent intense, high-level messages to Tehran, public and private, warning against any further provocation. The toughest was a Dec. 23 tweet from Trump warning: “If one American is killed, I will hold Iran responsible. Think it over.” State Department and Pentagon officials say Trump’s retaliatory threat is real.

Another potential flash point is just a week away. Jan. 3 marks the first anniversary of the U.S. targeted killing of Quds Force commander Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani and Iraq militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. Any new violence could . . .

Written by LeisureGuy

27 December 2020 at 7:02 am

Kushner OK’d Trump Campaign Shell Company That Secretly Paid Trump’s Inner Circle

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Rachel Olding in the Daily Beast describes the details of how Trump’s scam “send me money to fight election outcome” works:

ared Kushner approved the creation of a shell company that operated like a “campaign within a campaign” and secretly funneled millions of dollars in campaign cash to Trump family members, Business Insider reports. The company, American Made Media Consultants Corporation and American Made Media Consultants LLC, took more than half of the Trump campaign’s massive $1.26 billion war chest and was largely shielded from having to publicly report financial details. However, a source told Business Insider that Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump was the company’s president, Vice President Mike Pence’s nephew was its VP, and Trump campaign CFO Sean Dollman was treasurer and secretary.

The mysterious company caused consternation among other campaign staffers, who had no idea how it was spending money, and the Campaign Legal Center filed a civil complaint with the FEC in June accusing the Trump campaign of laundering $170 million largely through it. A campaign spokesperson . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 December 2020 at 8:13 am

Donald Trump’s desperate fight for psychic survival

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David Pell wrote las month:

How, after four years of this, can many Americans keep finding themselves shocked by Donald Trump’s behavior. As my psychoanalyist friend Dr. Michael Levin explains: “This disconnect exists because we’re living in a world that is grounded and checked by reason. His is grounded only in his emotional needs and fantasies. I think this is a useful framework to understand why we all have repeatedly been shocked by his behavior for years. It’s just a bridge too far for most of our psychological imaginations … Most of the commentary I’m seeing in the press about his narcissism seems not to get that, deep down, it’s not about feeling good. It’s about psychic survival. I think this is the case with most of his base too. It’s not the garden variety narcissism of someone like Elon Musk or Bill Clinton. It’s much more desperate and psychotic.” Indeed, we keep applying strategic goals to what is a narcissistic sociopath’s emotionally disturbed reaction to a fear of shame and humiliation. Trump truly believes he’s being cheated because the alternative is too brutal and painful to accept; even if democracy has to be destroyed so his fantasy, and thus his psychic existence, can survive. When we see mental illness play out in public or celebrity spheres, we often view it as a sideshow. When we encounter it in real life, we know it’s the whole show. Those politicians who cynically use Trump as a battering ram for their own ends will be able to let go of him when his usefulness declines. For his true believers, the relationship is less transactional and operates more like a religion. And that’s a lot to ask someone to give up because of the small reality of a few million votes. Will the unnerving and democracy-smashing coup-like attempt continue? How far will the GOP enablers take this? I don’t know. But I do know that the psychic frenzy it’s stirred up among millions of Americans cannot be turned off with a switch. An addiction to falsehoods is not easy to relinquish. And no one wants to go cold turkey for Thanksgiving.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 December 2020 at 9:20 pm

Trump Asked About Imposing Martial Law to Run a New Election

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Kevin Drum picks up on something the NY Times seems to view as inconsequential:

Here is the front page of the New York Times at the moment:

Down below the fold, just barely beating out “Biden Introduces His Climate Team,” is a story headlined “Trump Weighed Naming Election Conspiracy Theorist as Special Counsel.” The conspiracy theorist in question is Sidney Powell, who is indeed a complete loon. However, if you click the link and read down to the sixth paragraph, you learn this about Friday’s meeting at the White House:

Ms. Powell’s client, retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser whom the president recently pardoned, was also there….During an appearance on the conservative Newsmax channel this week, Mr. Flynn pushed for Mr. Trump to impose martial law and deploy the military to “rerun” the election. At one point in the meeting on Friday, Mr. Trump asked about that idea.

Now, I’m not a Times editor with decades of experience with this stuff, but doesn’t this seem a wee bit more important than whether a nutter is appointed special counsel for a few weeks? And also perhaps more important than “Britain Tightens Lockdown” at the top of the page?

It does to me! The president of the United States asked a bunch of his advisors about the feasibility of imposing martial law and having the Pentagon run a new election. In other words, staging a military coup. Sure, everyone at the table shot it down, because even Rudy Giuliani isn’t that far gone. But he asked! The president of the United States! What does Trump have to do these days to rate a bigger headline? Invade Canada?

Written by LeisureGuy

19 December 2020 at 8:28 pm

The end-game seems to be in Russia’s favor

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I blogged earlier about the explicit celebration in Russian media over the damage President Trump has done (and continues to do) to the United States. And Heather Cox Richardson sounds a somber note in her column today in which she reflects on yesterday’s news. I quote from the middle of the column:

. . . The story is getting worse still.

Today CISA said that the hackers used many different tools to get into government systems, taking them into critical infrastructure, which could include the electrical grid, telecommunications companies, defense contractors, and so on. Officials said that the hacks were “a grave risk to the federal government.”

Later in the day, it came out that the Energy Department and the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees our nuclear weapons, was also hit, although a Department of Energy spokesperson said that there is no evidence that the hackers breached critical defense systems, including the NNSA.

Microsoft’s president, Brad Smith, today said the company had identified 40 different companies, government agencies, and think tanks the hackers infiltrated, and that those forty were just the tip of the iceberg. Smith said that more companies had been hit than government agencies, “with a big focus on I.T. companies, especially in the security industry.”

The Associated Press quoted a U.S. official as saying: “This is looking like it’s the worst hacking case in the history of America. They got into everything.” Tom Kellermann, the cybersecurity strategy chief of the software company VMware, told Ben Fox of the Associated Press that the hackers could now see everything in the federal agencies they’ve hacked, and that, now that they have been found out, “there is viable concern that they might leverage destructive attacks within these agencies.”

It is not clear yet how far the hackers have penetrated, and we will likely not know for months. But given the fact they have had access to our systems since March and have almost certainly been planting new ways into them (known as “back doors”), all assumptions are that this is serious indeed.

Initially, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo downplayed the attack, saying that such attacks are common and that China, not Russia, is the biggest offender. Trump has said nothing about the attacks, and administration officials say that they are simply planning to hand the crisis off to Biden.

But this attack does not come out of the blue for the Trump administration. There was discussion of strengthening our security systems against attackers after the 2016 election, and on July 9, 2017, Trump suggested we would partner with Russia to address the issue. “Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded,” he tweeted.

Congress instead created the CISA within the Department of Homeland Security in 2018 to protect against precisely the sort of attack which has just occurred, shortly after Russia hacked our electrical grid, including “multiple organizations in the energy, nuclear, water, aviation, construction, and critical manufacturing sectors,” according to the FBI and Department of Homeland Security report.

In response to the Russian attack, the U.S. hit Russia’s electrical grid in June 2019.

And then — and note this especially:

Since then, administration officials have deliberately forced out of CISA key cybersecurity officials. The destruction was so widespread, according to Dr. Josephine Wolff, a professor of cybersecurity policy at Tufts University’s Fletcher School who holds her PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), “they signify the systematic decimation of the personnel most directly responsible for protecting critical infrastructure, shielding our elections from interference and guarding the White House’s data, devices and networks.”

Almost exactly a year ago, on December 19, 2019, Wolff warned in the New York Times that “As we head into 2020, worrying about the integrity of our elections, the growing scourge of ransomware and the increasingly sophisticated forms of cyberespionage and cybersabotage being developed by our adversaries, it’s disconcerting to feel that many of our government’s best cybersecurity minds are walking out the front door and leaving behind too few people to monitor what’s coming in our back doors.”

Just a month ago, Trump continued this process, firing Christopher Krebs, the former director of CISA, on November 18, saying he was doing so because Krebs defended the 2020 election as “the most secure in American history.” Krebs said that there “is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”

Read the whole column and reflect on it. And this morning Mike Allen and Jonathan Swan report in Axios:

Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller ordered a Pentagon-wide halt to cooperation with the transition of President-elect Biden, shocking officials across the Defense Department, senior administration officials tell Axios.

The latest: Biden transition director Yohannes Abraham contradicted the Pentagon’s official response to this story on Friday afternoon, telling reporters, “Let me be clear: there was no mutually agreed upon holiday break.”

  • “In fact, we think it’s important that briefings and other engagements continue during this period as there’s no time to spare, and that’s particularly true in the aftermath of ascertainment delay,” Abraham continued, referring to the Trump administration’s delay in recognizing Biden as president-elect.
  • Miller had said in a statement following the publication of this story: “At no time has the Department cancelled or declined any interview. … After the mutually-agreed upon holiday, which begins tomorrow, we will continue with the transition and rescheduled meetings from today.”

Behind the scenes: Trump administration officials left open the possibility cooperation would resume after a holiday pause. The officials were unsure what prompted Miller’s action, or whether President Trump approved.

Why it matters: Miller’s move, which stunned officials throughout the Pentagon, was the biggest eruption yet of animus and mistrust toward the Biden team from the top level of the Trump administration.

  • Fury at the Biden team among senior Pentagon officials escalated after the Washington Post published a story on Wednesday night revealing how much money would be saved if Biden halted construction of Trump’s border wall.
  • Trump officials blame the leak on the Biden transition team (Though, it should be noted, they have no evidence of this, and both reporters on the byline cover the Trump administration and have historically been prolific beneficiaries of leaks.)

What happened: Meetings between President Trump’s team and the Biden team are going on throughout the government, after a delayed start as the administration dragged its feet on officially recognizing Biden as president-elect.

  • Then on Thursday night, Miller — who was appointed Nov. 9, when Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper right after the election — ordered officials throughout the building to cancel scheduled transition meetings.

A senior Defense Department official sought . . .

Continue reading.

This all seems quite ominous, particularly since many Republicans (including the White Supremacist wing and President Trump) continue to dispute that Joe Biden is the President-Elect, despite having previously said that they would accept only the decision of the Electoral College. When that decision did not go the way they wanted, they promptly reneged. They are not to be trusted because they so consistently lie.

December 21 seems to be a date that holds a special fascination for them — the winter solstice plus the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn (an unusual astronomical event) plus Trump’s time in office is running out and on that date he will have less than a month left to screw things up for his successor (or, as he undoubtedly sees it, for the person who humiliated him). And in the meantime the daily death toll in the US continues to climb. (That little downturn is an artifact of reports delayed by the Thanksgiving holiday. You can see how the catch-up continued the trend line upward.) The chart shows a 7-day rolling average of deaths per million. The US current death rate is greater than in the earlier peak.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 December 2020 at 11:34 am

Former Houston Police Department captain’s crusade to stop voter fraud ends with him in handcuffs

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Miya Shay reports for KTRK in Houston just how insane the Right has become:

A former Houston Police Department Captain was arrested and charged for running a man off the road and pointing a gun at his head in an attempt to prove claims of a massive voter fraud scheme in Harris County, according to a news release from the Harris County’s DA’s office.

Mark Anthony Aguirre, 63, was arrested by Houston police Tuesday and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

“He crossed the line from dirty politics to commission of a violent crime, and we are lucky no one was killed,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said. “His alleged investigation was backward from the start – first alleging a crime had occurred and then trying to prove it happened.”

According to court documents, Aguirre told police that he was part of a group of private citizens called the “Liberty Center,” who were conducting a civilian investigation into the alleged ballot scheme.

According to Aguirre, he had been conducting surveillance for four days on a man who was allegedly the mastermind of a giant voter fraud scheme. Aguirre told authorities the man was hiding 750,000 fraudulent ballots in a truck he was driving.

Instead, the victim turned out to be an innocent air conditioner repairman, court documents said.

Aguirre ran his SUV into the back of the truck to get the technician to stop and get out, according to court documents.

When the technician got out of the truck, Aguirre pointed a handgun at the technician, forced him to the ground and put his knee on the man’s back until police came, the court document said.

Aguirre allegedly directed police to a parking lot nearby where another suspect, who has not been identified, took the truck.

According to court documents, there were no ballots in the truck. The truck was filled with air conditioning parts and tools.

“I think it’s a political prosecution. I really do,” said Terry Yates, Aguirre’s attorney. “He was working and investigating voter fraud, and there was an accident. A member of the car got out and rushed at him and that’s where the confrontation took place. It’s very different from what you’re citing in the affidavit.”

Aguirre allegedly never told police that he had been paid a total of $266,400 by the Houston-based Liberty Center for God and Country, with $211,400 of that amount being deposited into his account the day after the incident.

“Does the Liberty Center endorse that?” ABC13 reporter Jessica Willey asked . . .

Continue reading. Video at the link.

And, of course, their lunacy is unfalsifiable. If you point out that the truck was full of air-conditioning parts, then that just shows they were clever enough to ship the fraudulent ballots another way. If you searched the shop and showed that it contained only air conditioners and air conditioner parts and equipment to repair air conditioners, then that shows just how clever and sneaky they are and the power of the forces these warriors of the Right are fighting.

Everything can be interpreted as supporting the delusion.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 December 2020 at 12:11 pm

Trump Is Growing the GOP’s ‘Anti–Rule of Law’ Wing

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Eric Levitz writes in New York:

The American right has always been home to factions that demand “law and order,” while declaring themselves — and not the federal government — the arbiters of legality. The roots of this anarchic conservatism run deep into the foundation of the Republic. Andrew Jackson, who is hailed as a great democratizer by mainstream U.S. history, was a great champion of settlers who defied federal restrictions on their liberty to kill indigenous people and confiscate their lands. The (solid-red) South has, of course, always had a complicated relationship with the concept of federal sovereignty. And the Christian right, once it abandoned that whole “render unto Caesar” tripe, has insisted that God’s law comes before man’s (and the Constitution, as interpreted by the Christian right, is God’s law).

This tendency made itself felt during the Obama years through the armed standoff between right-wing militias and federal agents at Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada. And it gained new institutional form through the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, a group of active law-enforcement officials who believe the U.S. Constitution gives local government primacy over the state and federal governments, at least on the subject of firearm regulations.

All this is to say: Donald Trump did not import this tendency into the Republican Party. But by using the bully pulpit to encourage far-right groups’ violations of COVID-19 public-health restrictions, to preach conspiracies about Democratic plots to foment “invasions” of the U.S. by criminal migrants, and to contest the legitimacy of his defeat in the 2020 election, the president has helped grow the Republican Party’s “anti–rule of law” wing considerably.

In recent weeks, Republican elected officials, activists, and law-enforcement agents have made the contingency of their support for lawful government more widely felt.

Only 26 of 249 Republican members of Congress were willing to acknowledge Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election, when asked by the Washington Post this week. Meanwhile, at the president’s urging, 64 Republicans in Pennsylvania’s General Assembly sent a letter to the state’s congressional delegation urging them to disenfranchise their own constituents — and subvert democratic government in the United States — by voting to “reject the state’s Electoral College votes for Mr. Biden.”

One Pennsylvania Republican offered some insight into her colleagues’ motives in an interview with the New York Times:

Kim Ward, the Republican majority leader of the Pennsylvania Senate, said the president had called her to declare there was fraud in the voting. But she said she had not been shown the letter to Congress, which was pulled together hastily, before its release.

Asked if she would have signed it, she indicated that the Republican base expected party leaders to back up Mr. Trump’s claims — or to face its wrath.

“If I would say to you, ‘I don’t want to do it,’” she said about signing the letter, “I’d get my house bombed tonight.”

Ward was almost certainly being hyperbolic. The primary threat constraining her colleagues’ behavior was that of primary challenges, not violence. But there’s reason to think that the latter threat is exerting some influence on elected officials’ behavior. After Michigan representative Cynthia A. Johnson criticized her Republican colleagues for inviting Rudy Giuliani to hold a hearing on spurious voter fraud allegations last week, Johnson found herself inundated with racist death threats.

Trump cannot claim full credit for the broader radicalization that many conservatives are undergoing across the United States. The traumas and tribulations of the COVID-19 pandemic seem to have been instrumental. For some paranoid, petty, small-government conservatives, the imposition of government lockdown orders was experienced as the confirmation of their darkest fears. In certain instances, these state orders really did threaten their livelihoods and personal property (while in others, it threatened their shallower “right” to enter public spaces without a mask in the middle of a public-health crisis).

In Politico, Ciara O’Rourke reports on an “Oath Keeper” named John Shirley who was elected constable of Hood County, Texas, in 2018. The Oath Keepers self-describe as a nonpartisan association of “tens of thousands of current and former military, police, and first responders who pledge to defend the Constitution and refuse to obey orders they consider unconstitutional.” In practice, they are nonpartisan only in the sense of having as much contempt for RINOs as they do for Democrats.

O’Rourke relays an instance earlier this year in which Shirley’s group curried favor with the locals:

The coronavirus pandemic had hobbled communities across the state and Governor Greg Abbott had ordered gyms, among other businesses, to shut down. Lift the Bar Fitness in Granbury followed that direction, at least for a while. By April, David Todd Hebert, who owns the gym with his wife, had grown impatient with what he considered an unconstitutional mandate from ”King Abbott.” They decided to reopen the gym even if it meant going to jail.

The gym announced on Facebook that members could finally come back even though Abbott’s executive order was still in effect. Someone commented that the police better “bring a lot of guns” if they were planning to stop them, Hood County News reported.

When Lift the Bar Fitness opened on April 28, about 10 Oath Keepers turned up “to make sure that we stayed open,” Hebert told me. They were friendly, he said, and they’d heard he was going to get arrested. They wanted to document any violations of his constitutional rights.

Notably, the local Oath Keepers’ commitment to protecting citizens’ civil liberties against law enforcement — even in cases where those citizens’ are running afoul of the law — is highly dependent on context:

Oath Keepers showed up to Black Lives Matter protests at the courthouse the following month. The events, held on June 6-7 in spite of some reported threats directed at one of the demonstration’s teenage organizers, were peaceful. But from their perch in the impressive limestone building that anchors the county’s charming downtown square, Shirley and two other constables asked Sheriff Roger Deeds whether the county had any riot shields, Deeds said.

It didn’t, perhaps because the county of about 60,000 people didn’t need them. But a couple weeks later the commissioners court accepted a donation of eight riot shields to be used by the sheriff’s office, Shirley and another constable, Chad Jordan.

Meanwhile, Shirley has spent his time in official office (1) calling for the execution of the Democratic mayor of Portland, (2) warning that if Democrats stole the election, there would be “open conflict,” and (3) after November 3, calling on patriots to rise up and fight against Bill Gates — the “master manipulator of the [election] heist” — and all his accomplices.

Shirley is not the only Republican public official who has expressed support for the nullification of public-health laws and presidential elections this year. In Michigan, Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf infamously defended a thwarted plot to kidnap Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer on the grounds that “a lot of people are angry with the governor, and they want her arrested,” and so perhaps they were merely planning to make a citizen’s arrest of the head of the state. Leaf remained in his position as an agent of law enforcement following his endorsement of a coup against the governor. And this week, he filed a federal lawsuit alleging mass voter fraud in his state.

Meanwhile, in Boise, Idaho, on Tuesday night, public-health officials had to cancel a meeting after hundreds of anti-mask protestors assembled outside their buildings and personal homes. (This week, hospital officials in Idaho warned that  they may soon be forced to implement “crisis standards of care.”) Such protesters in Idaho and around the country enjoy the backing of a myriad of county sheriffs who have encouraged their constituents not to be “sheep” by following public-health laws. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 December 2020 at 3:09 pm

Trump’s video deposition in Trump University fraud case

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Mother Jones posted the video below, which contains snippets from the deposition. Their note on the video:

📝 Full analysis on the Trump University deposition: https://www.motherjones.com/deposition
🗣 Full Trump “hot-mic” tape with commentary:
https://youtu.be/SqNtc-t0Cr0
📼 Trump deposition “hot-mic” tape highlights:
https://youtu.be/fZw228yu0hI

During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump was burdened with federal lawsuits that accused him and his Trump University of defrauding students who had paid thousands of dollars to learn the supposed secrets of Trump’s financial success. As part of the lawsuit, Trump sat for a contentious six-hour deposition in Trump Tower on December 10, 2015. He subsequently managed to get the court to seal the video recording of the session.

But Mother Jones has now obtained the full video of Trump’s deposition. The written transcript of the session was released in June 2016, but the video version includes several exchanges that likely would have not played well for Trump if they had become public when he was chasing votes. Had the video deposition been released during the campaign, it probably would have yielded ammo for anti-Trump ads.

The video shows Trump parrying with the lawyer for the plaintiffs, Jason Forge, over various issues, including false statements made by Trump University employees and Trump’s own memory. Trump at one point griped, “It’s the most ridiculous lawsuit I’ve ever seen.” He claimed not to remember having boasted that he possessed one of the best memories in the world and repeatedly said he could not recall matters related to the fraud case. He downplayed false and misleading statements presented by Trump University instructors as merely “hyperbole,” refusing to label them “false.” He even disavowed a passage from one of his own books in which he had assailed educational institutions for committing “fraud.”

Mother Jones was provided the video by a source who asked not to be identified. Art Cohen, who was a lead plaintiff in one of the lawsuits against Trump University and Trump, confirmed that this was the actual video of the deposition. (Last month, Mother Jones posted a video of a conversation that occurred during a break in these proceedings between Trump and Dan Petrocelli, Trump’s attorney, in which Trump boasted of threatening the Better Business Bureau to change the D grade it awarded Trump University to an A.)

Trump University shut down in 2010. Though Trump vowed during the 2016 campaign that he would never settle the Trump U lawsuits, days after the 2016 election, he did just that. He paid the students $25 million, without acknowledging any wrongdoing.

NOTE: We are providing subtitles for this video that draw on details, including names, found in the official court transcript: https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-sta…

00:00 Introduction
00:44 Trump’s memory: best in the world?
02:07 The name game
07:00 Trump can’t name one instructor
07:27 “I’ve heard good things.”
08:27 Trump praises Hillary Clinton
14:59 Trump’s fraud flip-flop
17:58 Trump won’t call a lie a lie
21:45 Another lie Trump won’t acknowledge
25:53 Doing “well” by losing

Written by LeisureGuy

3 December 2020 at 5:56 pm

Michael Cohen on How ‘Monster’ Trump Will Undermine Biden

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Jeff Wise interviews Michael Cohen for New York:

Back in February 2019, President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen declared at a House Oversight Committee hearing that if Trump were to lose the 2020 election, “there will never be a peaceful transition of power.” Years of service as Trump’s bagman and consigliere — including participation in crimes that landed Cohen in prison with a three-year sentence — had provided him unique insight into the thoughts of the man he once called the Boss. With that in mind, New York asked Cohen to interpret Trump’s ongoing election meltdown.

Is there a strategy behind the tantrum Trump has been throwing since November 3? 
It’s all a shameless con job. He sees his claims of fraud as driving up donations — there’s nothing behind it beyond greed. Trump is using the moment to raise money. The number is actually shockingly large, over $150 million [currently closing in on $200 million – LG], a majority of it from small-dollar donations. This money is not going to his Election Defense Fund; it’s to keep him relevant in the GOP and launch his media brand. It’s all about money and power, and you need one to get the other.

Does he really believe massive election fraud took place?
There is that part of him that cannot accept losing. In his mind, the only way Biden could have won is through fraud. He has convinced himself of a narrative and is being fed back what he wants to hear from sycophants. The only one of these scumbags who truly believes this crap is Sidney Powell, but she is legitimately insane.

Assuming he can be removed from the Oval Office, what next?
The money he’s raising is going toward the Save America PAC, which will be the base from which he establishes an entire parallel system of government. I call it the Republic of MAGAstan, and its capital will be in Florida at Mar-a-Lago. He’s also going to have his own 24/7 media platform with Trump TV, which will be an unholy alliance between Newsmax, OANN, and whoever he can drag from the swamp looking for relevance. He’ll continue to suck from the veins of his MAGA faithful while chipping away at the Biden presidency, casting doubt on the legitimacy of the election. All of this is in service of a Trump 2024 run for president and his return to power. If this happens, all bets are off. He will try to change the Constitution and give himself a third term.

Yesterday the New York Times reported that Trump has been discussing pardoning his three oldest children as well as Jared Kushner and Rudy Giuliani over concerns that the Biden administration may seek retribution against them. Do you think he’ll issue those pardons?
If Donald Trump believed the pardons would be a slam-dunk benefit to him, he would already have signed off. Unfortunately for him, he is painfully aware that there are negative repercussions to such an action that could place him, his children, and his company in significant legal trouble. It is why he is proceeding cautiously.

The idea that he’s concerned about “retribution” is what’s known as deflection. Donald Trump knows that he, his children, and Kushner have all violated the law. And it’s not about retribution; it’s about an investigation that would most certainly lead to a conviction. He’s doing an act in advance of what he knows is coming down the pipeline. He’s already laying the groundwork for the premise of why he believes he must pardon his family: not because of their own dirty deeds but because of retribution. It’s all about distraction and deflection.

In your book, Disloyal, you tell a fascinating story about the socialite Patricia Kluge and how Trump slyly leveraged his way into acquiring her $100 million estate by exploiting her weaknesses. You wrote that Trump “was constantly calculating and assessing how to take maximum advantage of every situation.” I wonder if, while most people see the lame-duck period as a time to pack up and go, he sees it as a valuable opportunity to create discomfort that he can then trade for something valuable. . .

Continue reading.

It’s worth noting that it’s not just Trump who’s dedicated to undermining Biden. The entire GOP is complicit and will actively engage in obstructing all Biden initiatives, just as they did for Obama.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 December 2020 at 3:42 pm

Rebecca Solnit: On Not Meeting Nazis Halfway

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Rebecca Solnit writes at Lit Hub:

When Trump won the 2016 election—while losing the popular vote—the New York Times seemed obsessed with running features about what Trump voters were feeling and thinking. These pieces treated them as both an exotic species and people it was our job to understand, understand being that word that means both to comprehend and to grant some sort of indulgence to. Now that Trump has lost the 2020 election, the Los Angeles Times has given their editorial page over to letters from Trump voters, who had exactly the sort of predictable things to say we have been hearing for far more than four years, thanks to the New York Times and what came to seem like about 11,000 other news outlets hanging on the every word of every white supremacist they could convince to go on the record.

The letters editor headed this section with, “In my decade editing this page, there has never been a period when quarreling readers have seemed so implacably at odds with each other, as if they get their facts and values from different universes. As one small attempt to bridge the divide, we are providing today a page full of letters from Trump supporters.” The implication is the usual one: we—urban multiethnic liberal-to-radical only-partly-Christian America—need to spend more time understanding MAGA America. The demands do not go the other way. Fox and Ted Cruz and the Federalist have not chastised their audiences, I feel pretty confident, with urgings to enter into discourse with, say, Black Lives Matter activists, rabbis, imams, abortion providers, undocumented valedictorians, or tenured lesbians. When only half the divide is being tasked with making the peace, there is no peace to be made, but there is a unilateral surrender on offer. We are told to consider this bipartisanship, but the very word means both sides abandon their partisanship, and Mitch McConnell and company have absolutely no interest in doing that.

Paul Waldman wrote a valuable column in the Washington Post a few years ago, in which he pointed out that this discord is valuable fuel to right-wing operatives: “The assumption is that if Democrats simply choose to deploy this powerful tool of respect, then minds will be changed and votes will follow. This belief, widespread though it may be, is stunningly naive.” He notes that the sense of being disrespected “doesn’t come from the policies advocated by the Democratic Party, and it doesn’t come from the things Democratic politicians say. Where does it come from? An entire industry that’s devoted to convincing white people that liberal elitists look down on them. The right has a gigantic media apparatus that is devoted to convincing people that liberals disrespect them, plus a political party whose leaders all understand that that idea is key to their political project and so join in the chorus at every opportunity.”

There’s also often a devil’s bargain buried in all this, that you flatter and, yeah, respect these white people who think this country is theirs by throwing other people under the bus—by disrespecting immigrants and queer people and feminists and their rights and views. And you reinforce that constituency’s sense that they matter more than other people when you pander like this, and pretty much all the problems we’ve faced over the past four years, to say nothing of the last five hundred, come from this sense of white people being more important than nonwhites, Christians than non-Christians, native-born than immigrant, male than female, straight than queer, cis-gender than trans.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito just complained that “you can’t say that marriage is a union between one man and one woman. Now it’s considered bigotry.” This is a standard complaint of the right: the real victim is the racist who has been called a racist, not the victim of his racism, the real oppression is to be impeded in your freedom to oppress. And of course Alito is disingenuous; you can say that stuff against marriage equality (and he did). Then other people can call you a bigot, because they get to have opinions too, but in his scheme such dissent is intolerable, which is fun coming from a member of the party whose devotees wore “fuck your feelings” shirts at its rallies and popularized the term “snowflake.”

Nevertheless, we get this hopelessly naïve version of centrism, of the idea that if  . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

She concludes:

. . . Some of us don’t know how to win. Others can’t believe they ever lost or will lose or should, and their intransigence constitutes a kind of threat. That’s why the victors of the recent election are being told in countless ways to go grovel before the losers. This unilateral surrender is how misogyny and racism are baked into a lot of liberal and centrist as well as right-wing positions, this idea that some people need to be flattered and buffered even when they are harming the people who are supposed to do the flattering and buffering, even when they are the minority, even when they’re breaking the law or lost the election. Lakoff didn’t quite get to the point of saying that this nation lives in a household full of what domestic abuse advocates call coercive control, in which one partner’s threats, intimidations, devaluations, and general shouting down control the other.

This is what marriages were before feminism, with the abused wife urged to placate and soothe the furious husband. Feminism is good for everything, and it’s a good model for seeing that this is both outrageous and a recipe for failure. It didn’t work in marriages, and it never was the abused partner’s job to prevent the abuse by surrendering ground and rights and voice. It is not working as national policy either. Now is an excellent time to stand on principle and defend what we value, and I believe it’s a winning strategy too, or at least brings us closer to winning than surrender does. Also, it’s worth repeating, we won, and being gracious in victory is still being victorious.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 November 2020 at 1:20 pm

“I Lived Through A Stupid Coup. America Is Having One Now”

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Indi Samarajiva writes in Medium:

1 | You’re being couped

As a recovering coup victim to another, let me tell you this. The first step is simply accepting that you’ve been coup’d. This is hard and your media or Wikipedia may never figure this out (WTF does constitutional crisis mean? Is murder a legal crisis?), but it’s nonetheless true. The US system is weird, but people voted for a change of power. One person is refusing to accept the people’s will. He’s taking power that doesn’t belong to him. That’s a coup.

Americans are so caught up with the idea that this can’t be happening to them that they’re missing the very obvious fact that it is.

What else do you call Donald Trump refusing to leave, consolidating control of the military, and spreading lies across the media? That, my friends, is just a coup. You take the power, you take the guns, and you lie about it. American commentators say “we’re like the third world now” as if our very existence is a pejorative. Ha ha, you assholes, stop calling us that. You’re no better than us. The third world from the Sun is Earth. You live here too.

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 November 2020 at 10:56 am

Edward Norton has a powerful Twitter thread

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The thread begins:

Continue reading at the link

Written by LeisureGuy

20 November 2020 at 11:08 am

The tide on the Right begins to turn, with Tucker Carlson as the bellwether

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The bellwether is the lead sheep in a flock of sheep, and certainly the Right has shown a sheep-like (if not sheepish) willingness to follow Trump wherever he leads them. But now the cliff’s edge is being reached, with Joseph Biden’s clear victory being certified, county by county and state by state.

So what can Trump do? “Send in the clowns” seems to be his answer (in addition to unleashing an on-going string of hysterical tweets). Reed Richardson offers a clip of Tucker Carlson breaking ranks to head in a new direction in a Mediaite article that is very much worth watching.

The article begins:

Fox News host Tucker Carlson laid out in great detail the incredible allegations about massive, nationwide election fraud put forward by Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell — and then patiently explained how she was unable to provide any evidence to back up her claims, despite numerous, polite requests from his show.

During his Thursday evening show, Carlson began by reviewing the latest in President Donald Trump’s increasingly desperate attempts to reverse his 2020 election loss.

Just hours earlier, at a bizarre press briefing, Powell had trotted out on Trump’s behalf a byzantine election fraud conspiracy theory, one that roped in a large cast of conservative boogeymen, including the Communist Party, Antifa, George Soros, the deceased Hugo Chavez, and, for good measure, the Clinton Foundation. Powell was joined by the similarly bonkers spectacle of Rudy Giuliani re-enacting a courtroom scene from My Cousin Vinnyleaking what looked to be hair coloring product down both cheeks, and lashing out at reporters who dared to ask to see the evidence to back up his claims.

Calling the Powell claims a “bombshell,” Carlson explained that she is accusing “international leftists” of changing seven million votes across the country via Dominion election software — a claim that has already been debunked by numerous news sources, and even pooh-poohed by Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy.

“Sidney Powell has been saying similar things for days, on Sunday night, we texted her after watching one of her segments. What Powell was describing what amount to the single greatest crime in American history,” Carlson noted. “Millions of votes stolen in the day. Democracy destroyed, the end of our centuries-old system of self-government, not a small thing.”

The Fox host went to say he did not dismiss Powell’s claims out of hand, despite their elaborate and hard-to-believe nature. . .

Continue reading. And do watch the clip.

The comments to the article are also interesting. Here are two:

“Rat-tucker leaves the sinking Trumptanic.”

“I am no longer impressed that Sacha Baron Cohen tricked Rudy Giuliani.”

Written by LeisureGuy

20 November 2020 at 10:09 am

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