Divide et Impera

Daily Beast, Roger Stone-Tied Group Threatens GOP: If Trump Goes Down, So Does Your Senate Majority:

The group becomes the latest in a growing list of Trump backers who are encouraging people to either not vote in the runoffs or write in the president’s name.

Conservative operatives and a super PAC with ties to infamous GOP dirty trickster Roger Stone are calling for Trump supporters to punish Republicans by sitting out Georgia’s crucial Senate runoffs or writing in Trump’s name instead. And though their efforts remain on the party’s fringes, the trajectory of the movement has Republicans fearful that it could cost the GOP control of the Senate.

The most aggressive call to boycott or cast protest ballots in the two runoff races has, so far, come from a dormant pro-Trump super PAC with ties to Stone that unveiled a new initiative to retaliate against the Republican Party’s supposed turncoats by handing Democrats control of the U.S. Senate.

The group, dubbed the Committee for American Sovereignty, unveiled a new website encouraging Georgia Republicans to write in Trump’s name in both of the upcoming Senate runoff elections, which could determine the party that controls the upper chamber during President-elect Joe Biden’s first two years in office. The PAC argued that doing so will show support for the president in addition to forcing Republicans to address the wild election-fraud conspiracy theories floated by Trump supporters and members of his own legal team.

“If we can do this, we have a real chance at getting these RINO senators to act on the illegitimate and corrupt election presided over by a Democrat party that is invested in the Communist takeover of Our Great Nation,” the group wrote on its new website, writeintrumpforgeorgiasenate.com. “We will not stop fighting for you, the American Patriot, against the evils of Socialism and inferior Religions.”

The effort is representative of a broader push among some of President Trump’s most devoted supporters to withhold support for the two Georgia Republican senators facing competitive runoff challenges, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, in the hope of leveraging the party’s fear of losing the U.S. Senate to get more establishment backing for their drive to change the result of the election. The goal, those operatives say, is to expose a supposed vast election-fraud conspiracy abetted by high-level Republicans in Georgia’s state government, including Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

 

Rushbo Has Spoken

Rush Limbaugh Slams Trump Legal Team: ‘They Promised Blockbuster Stuff and Then Nothing Happened’:

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh is unimpressed by the efforts of President Donald Trump’s legal team to advance his baseless claims that the 2020 election was rigged.

On Monday, Limbaugh opened his show by saying he didn’t know what to make of the Sidney Powell situation, now that the Trump team is distancing themselves from her after days of her unsubstantiated conspiracy theories. The Trump campaign claims Powell is “not a member of the Trump Legal Team” nor a personal lawyer to the president. But Limbaugh pointed out that it’s hard to deny her involvement after her appearance at the news conference led by Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis last Thursday.

“It’s a tough thing to deny she was ever a part of it because they introduced her as part of it,” Limbaugh said. “She was at that press Moving on to the presser itself, Limbaugh recalled that Team Trump seemed like they were about to release devastating evidence for their legal case, but the radio host was underwhelmed.

You call a gigantic press conference like that — one that lasts an hour — and you announce massive bombshells, then you better have some bombshells. There better be something at that press conference other than what we got…I talked to so many people who were blown away by it, by the very nature of the press conference. They promised blockbuster stuff and then nothing happened, and that’s just, it’s not good.

Limbaugh concluded his thoughts on this with “If you’re gonna do a press conference like that with the promise of blockbusters, then there has to be something more than what that press conference delivered.”

Plutocrats Detraining

WaPo, 164 business leaders urge Trump to begin presidential transition for the sake of the country: “Withholding resources and vital information from an incoming administration puts the public and economic health and security of America at risk” the letter says

N.Y. Times, G.M. Drops Its Support for Trump Climate Rollbacks and Aligns With Biden: General Motors said it would no longer back President Trump’s lawsuit seeking to strip California of the power to set fuel economy standards.

I Think He Might Be Depressed

Josh Dawsey, A noisy president goes (relatively) quiet in wake of election defeat:

Since Election Day, he has spoken 8,143 words over 18 days through Saturday, according to Factba.se, a website which tracks all of his utterances and movements. On average in 2020, he spoke 8,398 words daily, according to Bill Frischling, the website’s owner, but only 454 words per day since Nov. 3. On the last day of the campaign alone, he uttered more than 55,000 words. …

Advisers say he is trying to figure out what to say and what to do. Unlike 2016, when Trump doubted he would win, he is genuinely surprised by the defeat, advisers say. Over the past few weeks of the campaign, advisers on Air Force One repeatedly told the president he was going to win because of the large crowds at his rallies and showed him favorable polling. Trump mused about how he would mock the pundits and his critics after the election when he won again, advisers said.

Since then, he has vacillated between delusion that he actually won, anger and deflation that he lost and a desire to keep fighting. “I don’t think he knows what he wants to say yet,” said one official who has spoken to the president and who, like other aides and advisers, spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal private conversations. “It’s all over the place based on the day.”

“Yes and yes,” one adviser responded, when asked whether the president knows the election is over or believes it was truly rigged. Trump rails against Fox News and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and dives into Wisconsin laws on some days, while plotting his 2024 campaign on other afternoons and pondering ways to sabotage Biden. One afternoon last week, Trump told advisers that he was going to win Michigan and Pennsylvania and that he could still win Georgia. No one seemed to challenge him. 

Looks Like He’s Off the Trump Train

WaPo, Chris Christie calls the conduct of Trump’s legal team a ‘national embarrassment’:

Several prominent Republicans said this weekend that President Trump’s legal arguments had run their course, calling on him to concede to Joe Biden or at least allow the presidential transition process to begin.

“The conduct of the president’s legal team has been a national embarrassment,” former New Jersey governor Chris Christie said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

Christie, a Trump confidant who helped run debate preparations, said the Republican Party needed to focus on trying to win Georgia’s two runoff elections Jan. 5 to secure the Senate majority, rather than continuing with the unsuccessful legal challenges of the election results.

“The rearview mirror should be ripped off,” Christie said.

Neighbor, How Stands the Union?

Washington Post, Trump’s quest to overturn election runs into quiet resistance from local and state Republicans

Trump v. Broockvar, Memorandum Opinion of Nov. 21, 2020                        

Jonathan Chait, The Danger (and Ineptitude) of Trump’s Failed Coup:

Trump has attempted to retain power much as he wielded it throughout his term: with a comic ineptitude of his means that made it difficult to absorb the seriousness of his ends. If you had predicted four years ago that Trump would finish his term by proposing to cancel the election and reinstall himself in a second term, you’d have been brushed off as a hysteric. And yet here he is attempting to do just that and recruiting Republican allies to his mad scheme. The certainty of his failure does not make the damage caused by the coup effort disappear. It simply makes it harder to see clearly. The surreality of Mussolini continually slipping on banana peels is the defining paradox of this sordid era.

Stephen Vincent Benet, The Devil and Daniel Webster:

It’s a story they tell in the border country, where Massachusetts joins Vermont and New Hampshire.

Yes, Dan’l Webster’s dead—or, at least, they buried him. But every time there’s a thunderstorm around Marshfield, they say you can hear his rolling voice in the hollows of the sky. And they say that if you go to his grave and speak loud and clear, “Dan’l Webster—Dan’l Webster!” the ground’ll begin to shiver and the trees begin to shake. And after a while you’ll hear a deep voice saying, “Neighbor, how stands the Union!” Then you better answer the Union stands as she stood, rock-bottomed and copper-sheathed, one and indivisible, or he’s liable to rear right out of the ground. At least, that’s what I was told when I was a youngster.

Just a Rainy Night in Georgia—and the Republic Still Stands

N.Y. Times, Georgia and Michigan Deliver Blows to Trump’s Efforts to Undo the Election: Joseph R. Biden Jr. was certified as the winner in Georgia, and Michigan Republicans said they had no information that would change the tally in a state Mr. Biden also won.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, AJC Interview: Why Kemp formalized Georgia’s election despite Trump’s pushback

Time to Call Out the Mobs

Trump has lost the election, he has struck out in court, and he is probably going to make a fool of himself trying to get Republican state legislatures to pretend to select Republican electors even though the people chose Democratic electors to represent them in the Electoral College.

Why is he doing these things?

Is he delusional? Is this all part out a carefully crafted plan to establish a new TV network and steal viewers from Faux News?

I asked my friend Occam.

Occam helpfully responded that the most parsimonious explanation, and therefore the go-to explanation, is that Trump is just riven with fear of successful criminal prosecution after he leaves office.

When you are desperate, you do what you feel you have to do. Even if it’s ridiculous. Even if it’s wicked. Even if it’s pretty much doomed to failure.

What’s Trump’s Next Move, Then?

Trump’s logical next move is to call out the mobs.

As Shakespeare almost said,

Trump’s spirit, ranging for revenge,
With Rudy by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch’s voice
Cry “Havoc,” and let slip the dogs of war.

As Tectonic Plates Collide

Dr. Aardvark and I have been watching a geology series on The Great Courses, and we have learned a lot about plate tectonics. When plates collide, bad things happened.

Six years or so ago, the Republican Party had a choice between (a) changing its messaging to attempt to appeal to a majority of the voters, from a center-right perspective or (b) embracing White grievance and cultural nostalgia.

The chose option (b).

The consequences of that decision are now fully manifesting themselves. Having lost the election, having failed to discover credible evidence of wrongdoing in the counting of the votes, and having uniformly struck out in courts, they are, as of today, trying to prevail on state legislatures to overturn the will of the people in their states, and thus to embrace dictatorship and reject a republican form of government.

The plates are colliding. The volcanoes are erupting. And we will see how it all works out.

Rudy’s Day in Court

WaPo reports,

The president’s attorney opened his appearance in court with a broad claim: that the Trump campaign was alleging “widespread nationwide voter fraud.”

But he was unable to provide evidence of any fraud, and said later under questioning from Brann that the lawsuit did not allege fraud as a matter of law and that “this is not a fraud case.”

Without citing any evidence, Giuliani painted a sinister picture of Democratic Party machines conspiring to fix the election against Trump. He alleged without proof that mail ballots counted after Election Day in cities such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh were somehow faked to help Democrat Joe Biden make up a lead that Trump held among in-person voters on Election Day, whose ballots were counted first.

Addressing the one formal claim that remained in Trump’s lawsuit, Giuliani argued that Trump’s campaign and Republican voters had their constitutional rights violated when the Democratic-leaning counties invited voters to “cure,” or fix, defective ballots.

“The Trump campaign has been treated totally differently than the Bush campaign,” Giuliani said, misstating the name of President-elect Biden.

Attorneys for state and county authorities denied that charge, saying that Pennsylvania law allowed officials to contact voters with defective ballots, and arguing at length that Trump’s campaign had no standing to bring its lawsuit in federal court.

The defense attorneys repeatedly criticized Giuliani for basing his arguments on the discarded allegations that Republican observers were not allowed to watch ballots being counted, noting that three formal counts and a request for action over the issue had been erased in the revised version of the lawsuit.

Does Truth Even Matter Anymore?

The talking heads this week are furrowing their brows and asking, in stentorian tones, “Does truth even matter anymore?”

One might have thought the answer would be bleeding obvious. But, in case you are having some difficulty with the issue, I would like to supply the answer.

And the answer is: Yes, truth still matters—and it matters even to those who have persuaded themselves that it doesn’t matter.

Truth Matters: Example One

In a worsening pandemic, if Republicans make a point of behaving recklessly while Democrats make a point of behaving responsibly, then Republicans will die in much greater numbers than Democrats.

I leave it to you to decide how you feel about that.

But however you feel about it, Republicans will in fact die in much greater numbers than Democrats. 

Deaths will be especially high among Republicans who believe the pandemic is a hoax and that precautions do not matter. They will suffer the same fate as the soldiers in the Boxer Rebellion who thought their magic made them immune to bullets.

 

Truth Matters: Example Two

Trump has won the Electoral College by 306 to 232. To reverse that situation, Trump would have to persuade the courts to overrule the voters’ decision in three states, to wit,  Pennsylvania plus  any two of Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin

Just an Angry Old Man, Yelling at the Wind

The news as of one hour ago:

WaPo, Trump campaign jettisons major parts of its legal challenge against Pennsylvania’s election results:

President Trump’s campaign on Sunday scrapped a major part of its federal lawsuit challenging the election results in Pennsylvania.

Trump’s attorneys filed a revised version of the lawsuit, removing allegations that election officials violated the Trump campaign’s constitutional rights by limiting the ability of their observers to watch votes being counted.

Trump and Rudolph W. Giuliani, his personal attorney, have said repeatedly that more than 600,000 votes in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh should be invalidated because of this issue.

Trump’s pared-down lawsuit now focuses on allegations that Republicans were illegally disadvantaged because some Democratic-leaning counties allowed voters to fix errors on their mail ballots. Counties have said this affected only a small number of votes.

Cliff Levine, an attorney representing the Democratic Party in the case, said on Sunday evening that Trump’s move meant his lawsuit could not possibly change the result.

“Now you’re only talking about a handful of ballots,” Levine said. “They would have absolutely no impact on the total count or on Joe Biden’s win over Donald Trump.”

Kathy Boockvar, Pennsylvania’s Democratic secretary of state, submitted a court filing in response to the Trump campaign’s actions reiterating her request for the judge to dismiss the lawsuit.

The shift comes amid a string of losses in the Trump campaign’s post-election legal effort, which claimed without evidence that voter fraud, irregularities and rule-breaking led to Biden’s victory. The flurry of post-election litigation has affirmed the integrity of the election: Many of the complaints have been tossed, and not a single vote has been invalidated.