Senator Sasse (R-Nebraska) Has a Few Thoughts to Share on Democracy


In November, 160 million Americans voted. On December 14, members of the Electoral College – spread across all 50 states and the District of Columbia – assembled to cast their votes to confirm the winning candidate. And on January 6, the Congress will gather together to formally count the Electoral College’s votes and bring this process to a close.

Some members of the House and the Senate are apparently going to object to counting the votes of some states that were won by Joe Biden. Just like the rest of Senate Republicans, I have been approached by many Nebraskans demanding that I join in this project.

Having been in private conversation with two dozen of my colleagues over the past few weeks, it seems useful to explain in public why I will not be participating in a project to overturn the election – and why I have been urging my colleagues also to reject this dangerous ploy.

Every public official has a responsibility to tell the truth, and here’s what I think the truth is – about our duties on January 6th, about claims of election fraud, and about what it takes to keep a republic.


Yes. A member of the House and the Senate can object and, in order for the vote(s) in question to be dismissed, both chambers must vote to reject those votes.

But is it wise? Is there any real basis for it here?

Absolutely not. Since the Electoral College Act of 1887 was passed into law in the aftermath of the Civil War, not a single electoral vote has ever been thrown out by the Congress. (One goofy senator attempted this maneuver after George W. Bush won reelection in 2004, but her anti-democratic play was struck down by her Senate colleagues in a shaming vote of 74-1.)



For President-Elect Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College victory to be overturned, President Trump would need to flip multiple states. But not a single state is in legal doubt.

But given that I was not a Trump voter in either 2016 or 2020 (I wrote in Mike Pence in both elections), I understand that many Trump supporters will not want to take my word for it. So, let’s look at the investigations and tireless analysis from Andy McCarthy over at National Review. McCarthy has been a strong, consistent supporter of President Trump, and he is also a highly regarded federal prosecutor. Let’s run through the main states where President Trump has claimed widespread fraud:

* In Pennsylvania, Team Trump is right that lots went wrong. Specifically, a highly partisan state supreme court rewrote election law in ways that are contrary to what the legislature had written about the deadline for mail-in ballots – this is wrong. But Biden won Pennsylvania by 81,000 votes – and there appear to have been only 10,000 votes received and counted after election day. So even if every one of these votes were for Biden and were thrown out, they would not come close to affecting the outcome. Notably, Stephanos Bibas (a Trump appointee) of the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, ruled against the president’s lawsuit to reverse Biden’s large victory, writing in devastating fashion: “calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here.”

* In Michigan, which Biden won by 154,000 votes, the Trump team initially claimed generic fraud statewide – but with almost no particular claims, so courts roundly rejected suit after suit. The Trump team then objected to a handful of discrepancies in certain counties and precincts, some more reasonable than others. But for the sake of argument, let’s again assume that every single discrepancy was resolved in the president’s favor: It would potentially amount to a few thousand votes and not come anywhere close to changing the state’s result.

* In Arizona, a federal judge jettisoned a lawsuit explaining that “allegations that find favor in the public sphere of gossip and innuendo cannot be a substitute for earnest pleadings and procedure in federal court,” she wrote. “They most certainly cannot be the basis for upending Arizona’s 2020 General Election.” Nothing presented in court was serious, let alone providing a basis for overturning an election. (…/federal-judge-throws…/6506927002)

* In Nevada, there do appear to have been some irregularities – but the numbers appear to have been very small relative to Biden’s margin of victory. It would be useful for there to be an investigation into these irregularities, but a judge rejected the president’s suit because the president’s lawyers “did not prove under any standard of proof” that enough illegal votes were cast, or legal votes not counted, “to raise reasonable doubt as to the outcome of the election.” (…/judge-no-evidence-to-support-vo…/)

* In Wisconsin, as McCarthy has written, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled against President Trump, suggesting that President-Elect Biden’s recorded margin of victory (about 20,000 votes) was probably slightly smaller in fact, but even re-calculating all of the votes in question in a generously pro-Trump way would not give the president a victory in the state. (…/biden-won-wisconsin-but-i…/)

* In Georgia, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation complete audit of more than 15,000 votes found one irregularity – a situation where a woman illegally signed both her and her husband’s ballot envelopes.

At the end of the day, one of the President Trump’s strongest supporters, his own Attorney General, Bill Barr, was blunt: “We have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.” (…/barr-no-widespread-election-fraud-b1f1…)


I started with the courts for a reason. From where I sit, the single-most telling fact is that there a giant gulf between what President Trump and his allies say in public – for example, on social media, or at press conferences outside Philadelphia landscaping companies and adult bookstores – and what President Trump’s lawyers actually say in courts of law. And that’s not a surprise. Because there are no penalties for misleading the public. But there are serious penalties for misleading a judge, and the president’s lawyers know that – and thus they have repeated almost none of the claims of grand voter fraud that the campaign spokespeople are screaming at their most zealous supporters. So, here’s the heart of this whole thing: this isn’t really a legal strategy – it’s a fundraising strategy.

Since Election Day, the president and his allied organizations have raised well over half a billion (billion!) dollars from supporters who have been led to believe that they’re contributing to a ferocious legal defense. But in reality, they’re mostly just giving the president and his allies a blank check that can go to their super-PACs, their next plane trip, their next campaign or project. That’s not serious governing. It’s swampy politics – and it shows very little respect for the sincere people in my state who are writing these checks.


No. 160 million people voted in this election, in a variety of formats, in a process marked by the extraordinary circumstance of a global pandemic. There is some voter fraud every election cycle – and the media flatly declaring from on high that “there is no fraud!” has made things worse. It has heightened public distrust, because there are, in fact, documented cases of voter fraud every election cycle. But the crucial questions are: (A) What evidence do we have of fraud? and (B) Does that evidence support the belief in fraud on a scale so significant that it could have changed the outcome? We have little evidence of fraud, and what evidence we do have does not come anywhere close to adding up to a different winner of the presidential election.


I take this argument seriously because actual voter fraud – and worries about voter fraud – are poison to self-government. So yes, we should investigate all specific claims, but we shouldn’t burn down the whole process along the way. Right now we are locked in a destructive, vicious circle:

Step 1: Allege widespread voter fraud.
Step 2: Fail to offer specific evidence of widespread fraud.
Step 3: Demand investigation, on grounds that there are “allegations” of voter fraud.

I can’t simply allege that the College Football Playoff Selection Committee is “on the take” because they didn’t send the Cornhuskers to the Rose Bowl, and then – after I fail to show evidence that anyone on the Selection Committee is corrupt – argue that we need to investigate because of these pervasive “allegations” of corruption.

We have good reason to think this year’s election was fair, secure, and law-abiding. That’s not to say it was flawless. But there is no evidentiary basis for distrusting our elections altogether, or for concluding that the results do not reflect the ballots that our fellow citizens actually cast.


When we talk in private, I haven’t heard a single Congressional Republican allege that the election results were fraudulent – not one. Instead, I hear them talk about their worries about how they will “look” to President Trump’s most ardent supporters.

And I get it. I hear from a lot of Nebraskans who disagree with me. Moreover, lots of them ask legitimate questions about why they should trust the mainstream media. Here’s one I got this morning: “We live in a world where thousands and thousands of stories were written about the Republican nominee’s alleged tax fraud in 2012, but then when Harry Reid admitted – after the election – that he had simply made all of this up, there were probably three media outlets that covered it for thirty seconds. Why should I believe anything they say?” As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who has watched for four years as lies made up out of whole cloth are covered as legitimate “news” stories, I understand why so many of my constituents feel this in-the-belly distrust. What so much of the media doesn’t grasp is that Trump’s attacks are powerful not because he created this anti-media sentiment, but because he figured out how to tap into it.

Nonetheless, it seems to me that the best way we can serve our constituents is to tell the truth as we see it, and explain why. And in my view, President-Elect Biden didn’t simply win the election; President Trump couldn’t persuade even his own lawyers to argue anything different than that in U.S. federal courts.


The president and his allies are playing with fire. They have been asking – first the courts, then state legislatures, now the Congress – to overturn the results of a presidential election. They have unsuccessfully called on judges and are now calling on federal officeholders to invalidate millions and millions of votes. If you make big claims, you had better have the evidence. But the president doesn’t and neither do the institutional arsonist members of Congress who will object to the Electoral College vote.

Let’s be clear what is happening here: We have a bunch of ambitious politicians who think there’s a quick way to tap into the president’s populist base without doing any real, long-term damage. But they’re wrong – and this issue is bigger than anyone’s personal ambitions. Adults don’t point a loaded gun at the heart of legitimate self-government.

We have a deep cancer in American politics right now: Both Republicans and Democrats are growing more distrustful of the basic processes and procedures that we follow. Some people will respond to these arguments by saying: “The courts are just in the tank for Democrats!” And indeed the President has been tweeting that “the courts are bad” (and the Justice Department, and more). That’s an example of the legitimacy crisis so many of us have been worried about. Democrats spent four years pretending Trump didn’t win the election, and now (shocker) a good section of Republicans are going to spend the next four years pretending Biden didn’t win the election.

All the clever arguments and rhetorical gymnastics in the world won’t change the fact that this January 6th effort is designed to disenfranchise millions of Americans simply because they voted for someone in a different party. We ought to be better than that. If we normalize this, we’re going to turn American politics into a Hatfields and McCoys endless blood feud – a house hopelessly divided.

America has always been fertile soil for groupthink, conspiracy theories, and showmanship. But Americans have common sense. We know up from down, and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. We need that common sense if we’re going to rebuild trust.

It won’t be easy, but it’s hardly beyond our reach. And it’s what self-government requires. It’s part of how, to recall Benjamin Franklin, we struggle to do right by the next generation and “keep a republic.”

Go Ahead, Make My Day


Ruth Marcus, Let Josh Hawley put Republicans to the uncomfortable test

Paul Waldman, Jan. 6 will be a glorious tribute to Trump’s failure:

This is a fitting end to the 2020 election: pointless, insincere, performative outrage, promising the eternally aggrieved GOP base a victory Trump can’t deliver, contemptuous of the majority of Americans, and propped up by Republicans whose opinion of their own voters could barely be lower.

Like Ingmar Bergman’s God, Senators Perdue and Loeffler Have Gone Silent

The indispensable Steve Kornacki  has reappeared on the teevee, expatiating on the fact that, in the November election, Senator Perdue earned more votes than Donald Trump—and how that does not portend well for the Democrats’ chances in the January 5 runoff. There being, as Mr. Kornacki emphasizes, a small but important sliver of the population in the Atlanta metropolitan area who cannot stomach Dear Leader but who want divided government, not unified Democratic control of the executive and legislative branches. And, indeed, that is so. So, don’t hold your breath about the runoff election.

Nevertheless, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution calls our attention to something that is passing strange:

Catching up with U.S. Sen. David Perdue is no small feat lately. Although the senator is on what he describes as a 125-town statewide bus tour, for all but the largest events with other Republicans, his campaign alerts only GOP supporters and a few local media outlets in advance. The general public and most reporters learn about them through Perdue’s Twitter feed later.

Amanda Carpenter elucidates this mystery. In Georgia Is a Quiet Place for Republicans: They don’t dare speak the truth because they’re afraid of their voters, Ms. Carpenter lays it out:

David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler didn’t plan on orienting their Georgia run-off campaigns around a lame-duck president’s crackpot election conspiracies and cuckoo coup attempts. Yet, here they are, both desperately trying to signal to Republican voters that they’ll fight for Trump all the way to the bitter end. Even with their well-funded and heavily-staffed campaign arsenals, these two incumbent senators believe that this is the only way they can keep their seats.

It’s the perfect distillation of the dead-end conundrum of Trumpism:

Republicans know that they can’t win without the kooks.

Republicans also know that they definitely might lose with them.

And this dissonance has left the GOP too paralyzed to think of any other way forward.

Think about this: Trump just lost Georgia. But, if the incumbent senators running for re-election in Georgia acknowledge that reality, it would constitute instant grounds for rejection from their base.

Accordingly, the Peach State has become the quiet place for GOP realists: Utter one negative word—or even a positive word that laments his loss—and suddenly dark forces will appear out of thin air to hunt you down.

“Someone’s going to get hurt, someone’s going to get shot, someone’s going to get killed,” Georgia election official Gabriel Sterling warned during a press conference where he specified the threats being posed to fellow Georgians who supported the electoral system. Lest anyone thinks this is a one-off occurrence, look to Pennsylvania, where elected Republicans were pressured to sign a letter supporting Trump’s baseless election claims. “If I would say to you, ‘I don’t want to do it,’” Kim Ward, the GOP leader of the Pennsylvania Senate, said, “I’d get my house bombed tonight.” Not to mention the numerous other occurrences of election officials being staked out and threatened in their homes and offices.

It’s like a horror movie. But in real life.

To hear Republican campaign experts tell it, Loeffler and Perdue had no choice but to support Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s absurd lawsuit to cancel votes in their own state. And they simply had to ask Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to resign; nevermind there wasn’t any evidence of wrongdoing. GOP voters in Georgia wanted shows of fealty to Trump and standing with Republican Governor Brian Kemp to say something like We love Donald Trump; it’s a damn shame he lost; and we hope he runs in 2024 would have been taken as heresy by their supporters.

Whether you agree or not with this analysis, it’s how Loeffler and Perdue see the environment. And once political actors believe that their political future depends on supporting the overthrow of a free and fair election, it’s hard to see how they climb back down. Because now they’ve laid down a marker with their supporters and legitimized the idea that the official party line should be pro-authoritarianism.

Still, Trump’s base wants more from Perdue and Loeffler. They want more than co-signed letters expressing support for overthrowing an election. They expect them to actually do something about it.

Like the song says,

Bonaparte’s Retreat

Contrary to my expectations, Trump has backed down and signed the covid relief bill and the government spending bill. The Bonapart’s Retreat line dance depected in the video, filmed in a gymnasium somewhere in Asia, is a visual representation of Dear Leader’s back-and-forth positions on the stimulus package.

So, there will be no government shutdown tomorrow. David Perdue’s name is mentioned as one of several Republicans whispering into Dear Leader’s shell-like ear this weekend, successfully persuading Orange Man to leave fantasy island and rejoin the rest of America. But Trump still insists on upping the checks to $2000 per head, explaining his reasoning in a tweet that reached new heights of lucidity, even for Trump:


“Consider the source,” Mother Aardvark always advised. Here, the source of some disquieting reporting is David Ignatius of the Washington Post—a very sober, well-grounded person, and very well connected among intelligence and military folk.

Mr. Ignatius writes,

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 capabilities and he could place them in those states and basically rerun an election,” Flynn told Newsmax in a Dec. 17 interview. 

The Pentagon would be the locus of any such action, and some unusual recent moves suggest pro-Trump officials might be mobilizing to secure levers of power. Kash Patel, chief of staff to acting defense secretary Christopher C. Miller, returned home “abruptly” from an Asia trip in early December, according to Fox News correspondent Jennifer Griffin. Patel didn’t explain, but in mid-December Trump discussed with colleagues the possibility that Patel might replace Christopher A. Wray as FBI director, one official said. Wray remains in his job.

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.

Preparing the Ground for the Attempted Coup

Dear Leader is carefully preparing the ground for his forthcoming harebrained coup attempt by royally pissing off just about everybody in the country.

First, by denying covid relief to suffering Americans and then by shutting down the government come tomorrow night.

One’s admiration for his malign cleverness knows no bounds.

Trump to the American People: DROP DEAD!

WaPo, Mnuchin’s loyalty to Trump could end with painful setback as president shreds stimulus deal: Democrats and Republicans had thought Mnuchin was speaking for the president in negotiating the $908 billion pact, but Trump quickly called it a ‘disgrace’

Graybeard pundits are still saying that Trump will sign the covid bill and the government funding bill. I hope he does.

Or he could veto them.

My intuition is that he will employ the pocket veto, which means there will be a government shutdown and no covid funding through the adjournment of the current Congress on January 3.

The new Congress will begin that same day, January 3, and they can pass whatever laws they want to pass, and we will be back in the same boat.

Fun Facts about the Georgia Senate Seats

Here are some bonus fun facts. According to a reliable source, David Perdue’s six-year Senate term ends when the current Congress adjourns on January 3. Thereafter, the seat he now occupies will be vacant until the results of the Georgia runoff are certified—probably several days after the election on January 5. By contrast, Ms. Loeffler was appointed to fill a seat whose term expires in January, 2023. So, when the new Congress meets on January 3, 2021, she will still be there, even though Perdue will be gone, at least for a few days.

In sum, for the first few days of the new term—including the ceremonial electoral vote counting on January 6, as well as any necessary debates on covid relief and government funding—the Republicans will be down one senator. There will be 48 Democrats (counting the independents who vote with Democrats) and 49 Republicans.

This will give Senator Loeffler a golden opportunity to choose between the constitutional republic and Dear Leader. Gotta choose Column A or Column B; can’t do both.

Like a Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Chattachoochee River National Recreation Area

Depicted above is one of the bridges spanning the Chattahoochee. It is December 23. Much water will pass under the bridge between now and January 5. And the waters will be troubled.

Since the election, I have pretty much sworn off polls. Maybe it’s the same with you. But if you can’t help yourself, and want to check out the Georgia runoff polling—including, Heaven forfend, the infamous exit polls—you might try William Saletan, Trump’s Coup Attempt Could Cost Republicans the Senate: Georgians want him to concede the November election. Instead, he’s planning a fight in Congress just as they go to the polls.

The headline writer, alas, did not read the actual article. Because, of course, a great many Georgians do want Dear Leader to fight on and on, and do anything but concede the election. But the rubber meets the road in the last few sentences of Mr. Salaten’s article, where he writes,

Most Georgians, including more than a quarter of those who voted for Loeffler or Perdue in November, oppose the congressional fight Trump and his allies are preparing. These are law-and-order voters. They don’t want a crisis or a coup. If the GOP loses even a fraction of them, it will lose the Senate.


And it gets better.

Just after the covid relief bill passed, and just before Orange Man threw his hissy fit, Perdue and Loeffler were gearing up to flood the Peach State’s airwaves with the message of how that had, singlehandedly, or maybe doublehandedly, showered suffering Georgians with gazillions in federal largess, to ease their pain and suffering.

It was right then when Dear Leader blew a gasket. It was then when he let us all know that the covid relief bill–that would be the bill that Purdue and Loeffler had heroically and doublehandedly pushed through Congress–was in fact a “great disgrace.”

Now, these two selfless Republican public servants must either

  • Vote to override a potential veto by Dear Leader, thus riling up the more rabid among the Trump cultists in Georgia and endangering further Trump endorsement of their candidacies, or
  • Vote not to override Dear Leader’s potential veto, which will let Ossoff and Warnock tell the story about how Loeffler and Perdue hate, hate, hate the idea of Georgians getting federal relief.

And, to put the maraschino cherry on top of the cake, there is the little matter of whether Purdue and Loeffer will put hands on hearts and promise to try their damndest on January 6 to overturn that pesky November election. 

Or not.

As the song says, hell’s broke loose in Georgia. Like the fiddle player in the song, Purdue and Loeffler have bet their souls. We will see whether or not they win the golden fiddle.

As the water continue to flow under the bridge over the Chattahoochee River. 

The Relevant Market for Bullshit Political “News”: A Follow Up …


Axios, The real competitor to Trump TV:

The conservative media company that owns BlazeTV has quietly been building a massive subscriber base, a direct threat to any digital TV effort being floated by President Trump and his allies, sources tell Axios.

By the numbers: Blaze Media — which was created as a result of the 2018 merger between The Blaze, a pay-TV network founded by Glenn Beck, and CRTV, an online subscription network that owns Conservative Review — now has 450,000 paid subscribers to BlazeTV, paying on average $102 a year.

The big picture: Blaze Media’s business model offers a blueprint for how to build a successful partisan media network with little overhead, in a post-cable world.

    • BlazeTV, the OTT channel, is the cornerstone of the business. But the company also runs a sizable podcast platform, the Blaze Podcast Network, which caters to personalities that already have massive radio and social media followings, like Mark Levin and Glenn Beck.
    • The company also has a 24/7 digital TV channel called Live, which is available to BlazeTV subscribers and is also available on ViacomCBS’ free streaming channel Pluto TV.. Its digital linear radio stream, Blaze Radio, is available on its website and on the iHeartRadio app.
    • The podcast network, along with Blaze Live, Blaze Radio and its website, serve as a marketing funnel to its lucrative BlazeTV product, while also bringing in additional ad revenue.

About Sums it Up

From Charlie Sykes, in my inbox this morning:

Two things can be true at the same time.

    • Donald Trump has gone full Mad King, raging against his enemies and plotting a military-like coup. There is also a non-zero chance that he will refuse to leave the White House on January 20. Scary, but….
    • He is losing.Trump’s world his imploding around him as his presidency ends in disgrace. You can see the insiders edging toward the exits.

Every day now brings a new humiliation. 

There is no longer the remotest possibility that any court is going to overturn the votes of any state. 

Not a single legislature is going to vote to disenfranchise its state’s voters. 

The military is not going to obey any order to impose martial law. 

There is a zero chance that Congress will overturn the Electoral College on January 6.

As our friend Windsor Mann observes, Trump is now shedding loyalists. [Those mentioned: Bill Barr, pat Robertson, Mitch McConnell, and Vladimir Putin, who “have all bailed  on Trump in the past week.”] …

We have reached the endgame where Trump is simply too crazy for the crazy; he is demanding too much loyalty from all but the most completely deranged and corrupt. 

Consider Bill Barr, the man who Trump once thought would be his Roy Cohn. 

Trump may have thought he was throwing Barr under the bus last week, but yesterday the once loyal lapdog turned around and dropped the whole damn bus on his former boss. In a press conference worthy of years of study by historians, political scientists, and psychologists, the defenestrated AG said that (1) He is not going to appoint a special counsel to investigate election fraud. (2) He sees no reason to appoint a special counsel to look into Hunter Biden. (3) He believes there is “no basis” to seize voting machines on a massive scale. (4) Contra Trump, he said the massive computer hack “appears to be the Russians.” 

Kraken Up

Dear Leader’s breakdown continues apace. See, for example, WaPo, Trump assembles a ragtag crew of conspiracy-minded allies in flailing bid to reverse election loss.

Among the ragtaggiest of all is Sidney Powell, who was part of the big meeting on Friday, and who was at the White House again today.

Pollyanna called to remind me that this would be the same Sidney Powell who wants Georgia voters to boycott the January 5 runoffs. See, for example, Huffpost, Ex-Trump Lawyer Sidney Powell Urges Georgia Voters To Boycott Runoff Elections: Appearing at a “Stop the Steal” rally, the conservative firebrand implied once again that the state’s voting machines are not trustworthy.

The principal reason why Dear Leader might want to continue supporting Perdue and Loeffler is that Mitch McConnell yearns for that support.

But Mitch McConnell is failing Dear Leader. Bigly.

So, why should Dear Leader want to keep on doing Mitch McConnell any favors? Why, indeed, would he not want to screw Mitch McConnell six ways from Sunday?

Especially with his new best friend Sidney Powell whispering in his shell-like ear, reminding him that Georgia cannot hold free and fair elections?

And how better for Dear Leader to stick it to old Moscow Mitch than to tell Georgia voters that they might as well stay home on January 5?

A Short, Nine Step Microeconomic Analysis of the Highly Lucrative Market for the Consumption of Political Bullshit

Some fundamental principles, and their application to the relevant market:

  1. Just as live will evolve to fill any ecological niche capable of supporting life, so suppliers will arise to supply any demand that will engender the possibility of profit.
  2. There is a very large demand in our country from people who want to listen to lies about liberals and progressives. Because of the size of the customer base, the market has the potential to generate wealth beyond the dreams of avarice.
  3. Just like the market for whiskey or the market for opioids, the market for political lies is highly lucrative. And for largely the same reason: the customers are addicted to the product.
  4. Until recently, Donald Trump and Fox News have largely monopolized this market.
  5. But, in principle, entry conditions should be relatively easy. Any knave or fool can create a website. And even the creation of a TV network is no big deal, in the great scheme of things. Just look at the channel lineup on your premium cable service.
  6. As and when Donald Trump descends further into madness, he and Fox will lose their monopolistic dominance of the political bullshit market. Competitors will begin to come out of the woodwork. Like flies to a pile of shit, the huge potential profits will draw them in.
  7. To gain customers, the new entrants—and the market incumbents who are seeking additional market share—will differentiate their products. Just like Jack Daniels and Wild Turkey compete in the whiskey market by making their products taste different, and varying the strength of the booze.
  8. Over time, product differentiation in the political bullshit market will tend toward, not one alternative reality, but a number of competing alternative realities.
  9. In consequence of the foregoing, the 25 or 30 percent of our population who appear to be batshit crazy will divide themselves into different forms of craziness, and the danger posed by their adherence to alternative forms of reality will somewhat diminish.

The Crazies are Turning on the Crazier


Enquiring Minds Want to Know

Jonathan Chait reports,

At the White House on Friday, President Trump held what may have been his most deranged meeting yet. In it, the president raged at his loyalists for betraying him, and discussed taking extralegal measures to overturn the election.

The meeting, first reported by the New York Times, included lawyer and conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell, convicted felon Michael Flynn, and Rudy Giuliani. One plan floated at the meeting was for Trump to appoint Powell as a “special counsel” overseeing allegations of voter fraud. Powell’s voter fraud claims are so fantastical she has been mocked even by other far-right legal conspiracy theorists. Andrew McCarthy, a former birther and author of one book titled How Obama Embraces Islam’s Sharia Agenda and anothercalling for his impeachment on multiple counts, has described Powell’s vote-fraud claims as “loopy.”

Trump also reportedly brought up Flynn’s proposal, which he has expounded on cable news, to impose martial law and direct the military to hold a new election. “At one point in the meeting on Friday, Mr. Trump asked about that idea,” reports the Times. …

There is no reason to believe Trump commands the power to actually implement any of these wild ideas. Trump’s best chance to steal the election was to have the decisive voting margin in the Electoral College determined by the counting of mail-in ballots that were mailed before, but arrived after Election Day. This would have let him either persuade the Republican-controlled Supreme Court to invalidate those decisive ballots, or Republican-controlled state legislators to disregard their state’s voting results and appoint pro-Trump electors to represent their state.

But the election was not close enough for him to pursue either strategy, whatever chance he had for some kind of Bush v. Gore replay has passed. The measures he is now contemplating lie outside the normal framework for resolving election disputes, and would require, at minimum, almost uniform levels of GOP support.

Trump does not have that. Indeed the striking thing is that he is veering to positions so extreme and self-defeating that even his loyalists have blanched. Perhaps the most alarming fact about the Friday meeting is that Giuliani, who has spent months spreading fantastical claims of imagined voter fraud, became a quasi-voice of reason. Giuliani has proposed using the Department of Homeland Security to seize and examine voting machines — a move the Department has resisted — but even Giuliani opposes appointing a nutter like Powell.

One theme running through Trump World reporting in recent weeks is that the president has increasingly tuned out any advisers or friends who try to reason him toward accepting defeat. Friday’s meeting devolved into a loyalty contest, with “yelling and screaming,” and competing lawyers “often accusing each other of failing to sufficiently support the president’s efforts,” reports Politico.

Reporters are emphasizing that it isn’t just the usual Republicans who have always privately worried about Trump who express concern. Advisers fret that Trump “is spending too much time with people they consider crackpots or conspiracy theorists,” reports Jonathan Swan. The “too much time” line captures the extremely relative nature of the schism. It’s apparently well and good for Trump to spend some time with crackpots and conspiracy theorists — just not too much time. Even Trump’s hardened loyalists sound genuinely worried …

In all likelihood, their concern is not some scenario where tanks roll down the streets or Trump blockades himself in the Oval Office on January 20 like Al Pacino in the last scene of Scarface. It’s that Trump will spin so completely out of control that he discredits them, or puts the Georgia special election at risk. The crazies are turning on the crazier.