Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Buckle Up, Hold Tight And Tune Out Trump's "Fraud!" Dog Whistles & Phony Deadlines

My Mail Ballot Acceptance notice from Colorado Tracking Website

 "The consequences of four years of fabulism are coming into focus as President Trump argues that the vote itself is inherently “rigged,” tearing at the credibility of the system. Should the contest go into extra innings through legal challenges after Tuesday, it may leave a public with little faith in the outcome — and in its own democracy.

The nightmarish scenario of widespread doubt and denial of the legitimacy of the election would cap a period in American history when truth itself has seemed at stake under a president who has strayed so far from the normal bounds that he creates what allies call his own reality.-  Peter Baker, Sunday NY Times, 'Dishonesty Has Defined The Trump Presidency - The Consequences Could Be Lasting."

"This election is a battle between a pro-democracy majority and an anti-democracy minority.  This is a fight for majority rule in this country to wrest control from a minority of  Trumpists. A minority that has governed with disastrous and corrupt consequences.  

They know they are not going to win a majority of the vote. So stopping people from voting, or stopping votes from being counted is the Trump campaign's only viable option for victory." - Chris Hayes, on ALL In, Thursday.

"Never before in modern presidential politics has a candidate been so reliant on wide scale efforts to depress the votes as Trump." - Politico, Thursday

"Joe Biden leads in all national polls and most battleground states, but many Democrats are still sweating bullets in fear. That immovable approval rating shows that Trump has an electoral path to do it again, defeating a more popular opponent by appealing to conservative white voters in rural and suburban areas whose votes are hugely overvalued compared to people in big cities and major coastal states, thanks to the anachronistic and anti-democratic design of the Electoral College." - Amanda Marcotte, Salon.com, today

"The Associated Press has been counting the votes in US elections for more than 170 years, but this is the first year the news agency is actively preparing to contradict the president on election night."- Sally Buzbee, Executive Editor of The Associated Press, in The Financial Times,, October 29.

 I related to Janice - at the height of her "PTSD"  (from 2016)  2 days ago- that I anticipated a Biden blowout win over Donald Trump.  She protested that: "the polls are too tight" for that (i.e. in battleground  states) but I simply reminded her of what former Obama strategist  David Plouff said a day earlier (on ALL In): "The polls are garbage".  He reiterated that data and the "facts on the ground" are what count more than polls, and that combination  currently shows a Biden romp - including Florida falling to his column on Tuesday night.

Of course, this is not to say many things still can't go awry - especially given the skewed Electoral College and Trump-Reepo voter suppression tactics.  But the early voting - including the younger adult votes up 600 % in Texas alone - bodes very well for Democratic expectations.  Especially as 64% of those early young voters are going Biden's way.  Still, if by some fluke the election turns out to be much closer than I predict,  we may be in for a long night, and even a long week and longer month.

The unprecedented importance of mail-in ballots in 2020 has set the scene for legal wrangling over what votes should be counted or discarded. Signature verification and postmarks showing when the ballot was in the mail are set to be two fiercely contested questions.  Needless to say, Janice and I are glad we completed our (Colorado) mail ballots almost as soon as we got them and deposited both in  secure drop box, e.g.   

But you can be certain Trump and his hirelings will do their best to challenge mail ballots in many other states, especially the battleground ones new to mail voting (in such huge proportions).   They will do this because - as Chris Hayes pointed out (top quote) it is the only rational way they have to prevail.  They need to lessen, mitigate total votes entered to have any chance - because the sane majority is greater than their knuckle dragger minority.   This is why even now a 'ton' of voter suppression efforts have come through the courts. The Trump campaign and legal toadies are flooding the courts with lawsuits to try and stop votes from being counted and people casting votes.  

 Their only chance then is to hope the votes are close on election night or else - if Trump manages to get an early lead -  this will trigger him yelping "I win!" before all votes are counted.   Of course, viewers need to process that this is total nonsense since no real winner is possible until votes are certified.   He knows any ambiguity - which he will try to sow  -  may set the stage for a court battle, a la  Bush v. Gore in 2000. That things could get messy indeed if the voting is close, is evident when one sees how many barriers have already been erected, and that one state won't even commence counting until the day after the election!   

The key point for people to bear in mind, is that we may be in prolonged process of state by state tabulation which may not end for days or weeks. Thus, viewers'  need to wrap their brains  around the extended temporal template and accept it as it unfolds, and not allow impatience to creep in. Or worse, allow Trump's caterwauling and pleading to get into their heads.  Just remember he's a crybaby and pissant, so you take whatever he says with the proverbial  grain of salt.  Again, it is well to bear in mind this warning from Tim O'Brien of Bloomberg News

"In theory early voting should help make counting easier.  But more than a dozen states, including battlegrounds such as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, don't allow early ballots to be counted until election day.  Because counting mail ballots is more laborious this slows thigs down."

Given many more millions have voted by mail in this election that means things could be slowed down a lot.  But we cannot mentally allow Trump to use this normal delay to heap distrust on the process, which means we change the channel or turn the TV off whenever we see him baiting the networks with any premature calls.

Trump will try to use this to set the stage for challenging further vote counts, especially if he's ahead by even a smidgeon this evening.  Indeed, one Oxford professor  - writing in The Financial Times ( 'The World Must Prepare for a Contested U.S. Election') has warned we need to be prepared for a contested shit show.    As he puts it:

"Democracies everywhere must prepare for the contingency of a contested result in the most important U.S. election in living memory.  ...The situation today is much worse than in 2000. Because of Covid-19, more than half of all voters are considering voting by post. That would make things difficult even if the U.S. had a climate of Buddhist calm. But its political and media landscape is now so hyper-polarised that each side has its own facts, which for the other are not facts at all. 

U.S. president Donald Trump has been furiously sowing distrust of the legitimacy of the electoral process, and especially of postal votes. “This will be the most corrupt Election in American History!”, he tweeted recently. "

But look, we all damned well know Trump's game - at least those with IQs over room temperature.  That is, he knows the only way he can pull this one out of his ass is if he claims the election is "rigged" and mail ballots in particular must not be counted after tonight.  He will also try to finagle bringing a specious case before the newly packed Supreme Court.   Trump is also counting on acolytes to help him pull off an election theft.  I'm talking about benighted zealots like Catherine Engelbrecht of  True the Vote infamy.   

For those unaware, True the Vote has been one of the Repukes' primary machines to promote Democratic voter suppression.  For example, they've trained volunteers to serve as poll watchers and election workers. They've also pushed for tougher voter ID laws, and filed lawsuits against counties that it deems negligent in cleaning their voter rolls.   Declaring a voter "ineligible" if he or she misses even one election.  Imagine disenfranchising a voter on such a flimsy basis.

Engelbrecht  herself is a paranoid conspiracy monger who is particularly suspicious of mail ballots.   According to a recent FT piece, she blabbered:    “These are revolutionary Marxists that are attempting to destroy our elections,  destroy our country.”  Casting ballots by mail, she argued, was not a way to avoid crowded polling places in the midst of a pandemic but "a plot by the Left to sow electoral confusion"  that would eventually result in Nancy Pelosi, the House majority leader and Trump bogeywoman, seizing power. “It’s not just about mail voting,” Ms Engelbrecht said. “It is part of a much broader plan.”

It is crackpots like this that would turn this election into a shit show, or days of bloody unrest and civil uprising - if they don't get their way in a Trump win.  Her chief complaint   -   never mind the raging pandemic leaving ICUs overflowing - is that Democratic governors "have run roughshod over legislatures to extend deadlines for mail ballots, expand the use of drop boxes"  and other reforms that she believes their states are not equipped to manage.   No, you cannot make this shit up.  This is the type of batshit crazy Trumpy idiot we are dealing with now. 

It feels very intentional,” she told the FT. “It feels as though the pandemic was seized upon.”

Yeah, right!  And were all the Covid deaths - 226,000 - seized upon too? How about the virus exploding now in all fifty states - was that seized upon too - you brainless harpy?  On November 3rd, Engelbrecht plans to be in a "war room", responding to calls from her volunteers across the country, and readying for a contentious — possibly violent — election day.  

Financial Times columnist Simon Schama, meanwhile ('The Two Americas'), foretells a grim depiction of what may await should the difference in votes be "too close to call" and proceed for days that way:

"Anything short of a Biden blowout in which, say, not just North Carolina but Iowa turns Democrat-blue, may prolong the count for days or even weeks, creating a potentially perilous vacuum in which nothing will be settled. Infuriated foot soldiers will take to the streets and the cold cultural civil war that has been rumbling for years will ignite, in some places violently. 

Up until now it is yard signs that have been set ablaze (or, in one startling case in central Florida, systematically bulldozed by a Trumpian zealot who stole a backhoe to do the damage). In that no man’s land between an initial vote count and a conclusive result, Trump, who has run as grievance warrior, will light new fires, while Joe Biden, who has run as conciliator and unifier, will be holding the hose. The flames may not go out until trust in the democratic transfer of power has been burnt beyond recognition. 

More than any election in living memory, this one is not so much a choice between opposed policies as a totalising and bitter fight to the death between two mutually exclusive visions of what America is meant to be. In the way of such battles of beliefs (more akin to a war of religion), each side is convinced that the victory of the other spells the end of the republic, so the contest turns into a competition of terminal nightmares. 

Mike Pence declared with frosty certainty that in Biden’s America “you won’t be safe”, and the Trumpian nightmare features a socialist apocalypse in which the suburban idyll is invaded by low-rent riff-raff, city streets reduced to carpets of broken glass through which looting anarchists carry off appliances of their choice before setting your parked SUV ablaze. In this communist inferno much will be abolished, including, inter alia, Christmas, cows, large windows, the entire gas and oil industry and God. 

An opposing dystopia features the purging of civil service professionals and their replacement by political trusties; the demotion of science when its findings run counter to presidential self-glorification; the corruption of history into a cult of uncritical flag-wagging; the conversion of the Department of Justice into the enforcing arm of the executive — in sum, the end of constitutionally protected democratic America and the birth of a tinpot autocracy wallowing in spoils

Except he's way wrong in suggesting the Biden side and progressives are in any way delusional in what we fear. Hell's bells, we've already seen unfold most of what Schama describes in our purported "dystopia" -  from the undermining and demotion of science (e.g. climate change) to the conversion of the DOJ into a Trump extension and arm of power to the replacement of long time civil servants with Trump toadies.  So if anything our side's fears are vastly more supported than the Trumpites.  It follows that the real civil society - which our side represents - has incomprehensibly more at stake to lose if Trump sneaks in again via the Electoral College.  

As Thomas Friedman put it in his NY Times op-ed:

'Four more years of a president without shame, backed by a party without spine, amplified by a TV network without integrity, and the cancer will be in the bones of every institution that has made America America.  And if we re-elect him, knowing what a norm-destroying, divisive, corrupt liar he is, then the world will not treat the last four years as an aberration. It will treat them as an affirmation that we’ve changed.

The world will not just look at America differently, but at Americans differently. And with good reason. 

Re-electing Trump would mean that a significant number of Americans don’t cherish the norms that give our Constitution meaning, don’t appreciate the need for an independent, professional Civil Service, don’t respect scientists, don’t hunger for national unity, don’t care if a president tells 20,000 lies — in short, don’t care about what has actually made America great and different from any other great power in history."

Bear in mind through all the media blitz, state tallies and hubbub tonight, this election is essentially a referendum on Trump.  He's easily the most mendacious, incompetent, unqualified and narcissistic cretin to ever hold highest office. An impetuous, grievance-filled imp who has dismissed the virus, allowing the equivalent deaths of a 9/11 every 3 days. 

Of course, this election is also a referendum on the nation. A test of whether or not it has finally moved beyond the psychotic, vengeful episode that fired a broadside at our Constitution  4 years ago. Turning our nation into two hateful tribes manipulated by a divider-in-chief which no conscience or moral compass.  Will decency and honor prevail, and the U.S. be welcomed again into the fraternity of democratic, Western nations?  Time will tell, but my bet is we will pass that test.

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