To my not very great surprise Mike Pence has indicated that he’ll be counting the electoral votes as presented. While there will be objections to various states’ electors those are unlikely to be sustained by either the House or the Senate. Which will mean that, likely by the end of today, Joe Biden will be President elect and Trump will be packing up his White House.
I have never been an all in Trumpist. When he was elected I supported him simply because Hillary was so dreadful. Biden is not nearly as dreadful and, while I will miss Trump’s anti-Swamp activities, the election of the thoroughly corrupt Biden is, in itself, a major disaster. Biden will nod along and the assorted loons in the Democratic party will fight among themselves.
What is a disaster is the fact that there was, apparently, nothing either Trump nor the Republican Party could do about the rampant cheating which led to Biden’s astonishing vote. Ballots in the night, the Dominion voting machines’ algorithms, the dead, non-resident and illegals voting, the mass mailing of ballots: nothing moved the needle.
The needle stayed put because the American media had absolutely no interest in what was and is the most significant political story of my lifetime. Not because they loved Joe Biden, rather because they hated Donald Trump and the people who supported him.
As I write the hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters who have flooded into Washington are, apparently, breaching the Capitol Building grounds. Where that goes will be interesting. Right thinking bow tie Republicans will see this as “deplorable” and it is. But the complete bad faith of the American ruling elite, the corruption of the voting systems, the resolute unwillingness of the Courts to hear actual evidence and the failure of the Vice President to find a way forward leaves those deplorables with very few choices.
They are inside the Capitol now and both the House and the Senate are recessed. This is not the day Joe Biden will be President Elect.
We’ll see how this turns out: there is a fair bit of shouting left to be done in Washington.
Update: It looks like the Capitol has been cleared and the Joint Session has recommenced. The great and the good have deplored “violence” and “riot” and Twitter has suspended President Trump’s account.
Unfortunately, a woman was shot and killed at the Capitol. Exactly how and by whom is unknown.
Washington insiders have closed ranks to push Biden across the line. Functionally, this should be enough to have him achieve a Presidency of a sort. Biden will start with the asterisk of a stolen election and an absence of any real personal support. There will be no inauguration parade and, I suspect, citing COVID and security, the actual swearing in will take place behind closed doors.
Will Trump retreat to the golf course and lick his wounds? Perhaps, for a while; but everything I have seen suggests that Trump will be back.
I don’t think Trump is going anywhere soon. But, if the lawsuits fail and the great steal succeeds, the Donald could leave in a blaze of glory.
“More than half of the prison inmates in the United States are non-violent offenders. In 2006, for example, there were 1,331,100 people imprisoned, only 667,900 of those were convicted of violent crimes.” wisegeek 2013 (Yes, I am lazy…but you get the idea)
One of the few “plenary” powers of the President of the United States is pardons and commutations. There is literally nothing to stop Trump from pardoning or commuting the sentences of well over 600,000 currently incarcerated people. (And the US being the US, a majority of those would not be white.)
Michigan certified – in the face of rather strong evidence of miscounting and outright fraud – Joe Biden as the Presidential winner. This triggered a minor functionary, who had the pleasure of death threats, to release transition money to Biden. (Not yet President Elect Biden, if that happens it won’t happen until mid-December.)
One of my delightfully anti-Trump children texted, “Stick a fork in it”. Not yet. On the one hand I want to see what Rudy and the “official” Trump legal team will come up in Michigan, Nevada, Georgia and so on. On the other, I’d like to see what the unofficial Trump supporters, led by the estimable Sydney Powell come up with on the broader, and more criminal, question of coordinated electronic and paper tampering with the vote. Is there the hard evidence it would take to convince a court or is it all just smoke and hand waving?
Biden is doing just what I would expect a presumptive Presidential winner to do, naming his Cabinet and senior staff picks. Nothing wrong with that although the radical left of the Democratic Party are unlikely to be happy with the very Establishment picks so far. I suspect the Biden people will have cast the Biden Adminstration down to the Assistant Deputy Secretary level by the time the Trump litigation is decided.
Of course, the Democrats and more than a few Republicans of a RINO inclination, are suggesting that Trump concede. Michael Walsh makes a very strong case for why that should be the very last thing Trump does.
“Trump similarly grasps that to stand down now, even in the face of overwhelming opposition—some of it coming from within his own ranks—would spell an ignominious end to his presidency and demoralize his voting legions. To leave an open question of whether our porous and multifarious systems of voting are easily manipulated and therefore untrustworthy would be to do the nation a great disservice.
As we’ve seen throughout the past four years, appeasement doesn’t work. No matter what the duly elected president of the United States did, there was no satisfying the rabid left and its media lackeys, short of Trump’s expulsion from office, however effected.”
If there is proof of the widespread fraud which gave the election to Biden that needs to be exposed. The Courts may be reluctant to had the election to the victim of that fraud, but it is critical that such fraud as can be proven be addressed if only to shame its perpetrators into fixing a genuinely crappy electoral system. And, on the other hand, if Biden’s election was, more or less, clean, it is important that this finding be affirmed.
The Democrats spent four years denying the legitimacy of the Trump Presidency for no particularly good reason. The legitimacy of the Presidency of the winner of the 2020 Presidential election is going to be an open question until the very real legal questions surrounding the vote and the count are determined in Court.
North Carolina has just been declared for Trump. He is also almost certain to win Alaska whenever the Alaskans get around to counting the rest of their votes. Decision Desk puts the count at Biden 279 and Trump 229. The expected flurry of law suits has commenced.
Here are the states in play:
Not exactly a big blue wave.
In baseball there are some players who swing for the fences every time they are at bat. Great to have on your team, but usually inconsistent. For a manager, a guy who gets on base consistently is often more valuable. With the sorts of fairly small numbers which could flip states to Trump, while it is certainly entertaining to try and knock out 800,000 absentee ballots in PA, it is much more efficient to look for ways to pick off 50,000, or 5000 a few times. All the more so in Georgia and Arizona.
From a legal perspective, judges are far more likely to declare the votes of the dead invalid, than to adopt a statistics based argument that a bunch of ballots turned up at 4:00AM all marked for Joe shouldn’t count. There is room for the high concept stuff and it should certainly be argued; but there is every chance states will be decided by eliminating demonstrably illegal ballots from the count pretty much one by one.
There are four obvious categories of ballot to challenge: the dead, the non-resident, the non-citizen and the ineligible because of age. To do this requires a hand recount and an audit for eligibility. It is not a big ask and it is one which has already been granted in Georgia.
Legally, there is a big difference between asking a judge to invalidate a swath of ballots and asking that same judge to require a recount and audit. No judge wants to order the removal of hundreds, maybe thousands of ballots some of which may, in fact, be perfectly valid, on the basis that they arrived late or were counted unobserved. The burden of proof in those homerun style actions will be, rightly, enormous. But requiring that each ballot be scrutinized for eligibility will have a much lower burden of proof as the consequences will be much less broad. (And, yes it would be nice to take a look for more “glitches” in the software.)
The headline cases with Rudy and world class lawyering are great and I hope that they proceed simply because they will hold the rather nasty practices of big city Democratic machines up to scrutiny; but for Trump to win he needs 41 Electoral College votes.
Grinding out singles isn’t glamorous, but it wins ball games. Especially close ball games.
People much closer to the scene of the crime(s) are looking very closely at how ballots are being counted and how ballots arrived to be counted in the US Presidential election. It is going to take a while.
Rigging an election is tough. Somehow you have to get enough ballots in the count for your guy (and get rid of the other guy’s, if possible). Mail-in voting made this, in principle, easier as there are all sorts of ways to get ballots which have been mailed out ranging from simple theft to outright purchase. The trick being to avoid over egging the pudding, that is bringing in more ballots than are plausible.
But it is more complicated than that. What do you do with down ballot races – every ballot will have a congressional race and some will have a Senatorial race and other items to vote on. Moreover, because of Congressional Districts you can’t really just roll in with a couple of hundred thousand “generic” ballots. If you want to cheat in Philadelphia you need ballots which have the correct Congressional races on them.
With mail in votes there is also the added problem that the person ostensibly mailing them in a) needed to be alive, b) at a specific address at the time the ballot was sent. These are checkable facts so, if you are going to steal you need to get them right.
If you want to add a couple of thousand ballots to the count, none of these issues will be insurmountable. But the whole thing gets a lot more complicated and prone to detection if you need to add tens or hundreds of thousands of ballots to drag your man over the line.
As things get more complicated the likelihood of detectable errors increases. So does the number of people who have to be in on the “steal”. Every additional person increases the risk of detection.
Was 2020 stolen for Biden? I don’t know and neither do the Trump people; but, if it was, there is every chance that the theft will be detected in one or more states with a bit of scrutiny. At this point, the Trump lawyers are attempting to have the Courts require that scrutiny. The precedents set back in the Gore/Bush election suggest that the Supreme Court of the United States will be perfectly willing to make such orders as are required to “true the vote”.
If the steal is on the scale of hundreds of thousands of votes it will almost certainly be proven and those tainted votes could be excluded from the final count.
What then? Nothing good I am afraid. The Democratic faithful will demand that every vote be counted, the Republicans will say, except the illegal ones. Do overs in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Georgia and Arizona would be one way out; but the logistics would be a nightmare.
The problem with cheating is that it ruins the game for everyone.
Biden is calling in Obama to campaign in Michigan (which should be a Democrat lock). But what is cute about this is that the campaign stop is to be at an “undisclosed location”.
Who does that?
Apparently, this is motivated by a desire to avoid the annoying Trumpsters who have been showing up at Biden rallies and mocking the old guy.
I’ve already written about why I think Trump will win bigly, however the events of the last few days – the Hunter Biden documents and videos, the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, riots in Philly and, tonight Washington, DC, the second debate – simply re-enforce that view.
People with a serious chance of winning do not campaign at undisclosed locations with former Presidents. They are out and about doing several events a day. These days, not pressing the flesh, but visible, confident, in charge. Biden is none of those things.
I am pretty sure Trump is going to win, but I am even more certain that Biden is going to lose.
Biden loses because he is a terrible campaigner and because he has not gained any traction for whatever it is he is presenting as vision for America. Leave aside his infirmities, he has not articulated anything which would make people want to vote for him. His voting base is voting against Trump, not for Biden.
The Trumpsters are out in force. Joyful, laughing, gently mocking “Sleepy Joe”. They are daylight contrasted with the Biden supporters looting Walmart in the dark.
Trump supporters are basically running spontaneous tail gate parties across America. Lots of people, no masks, have some fun, wave a flag, cheer for your guy. Biden and his campaign have no answer.
To avoid it they are running a “campaign event” at an undisclosed location.
If you read MSM, especially Canadian MSM, the US Presidential Election is over and Joe Biden will cruise to an easy victory in both the popular vote and in the swing states where US elections are decided. The polls say so. End of story.
It is trite to point out that the polls said the same thing about Hillary in 2016, yet here we are.
Elections are about a lot of things, policy, personality, demographics, ground game, likeability and so on. They serve as an outlet for the fears and frustrations of the electorate and an opportunity to express tribal loyalty. The 2020 US Presidential Election is really an up or down vote on Donald Trump.
In 2016 Trump short circuited the system by providing an alternative to a genuinely despised woman whose “turn” it was. If I had a vote, which I don’t because Canadian, I would not have voted for Trump, I would have voted against Hillary. I did not like Trump the man and was not at all excited at the prospect of “President Trump”.
This has changed a bit for 2020. He’s still an Orange Oaf but, in the face of multiple challenges, COVID 19 being only the most recent, he has managed to execute the office far better than I anticipated. No new wars, lots of new judges, de-regulation, tax cuts, a booming pre-COVID economy which led to very low unemployment generally and record lows for Blacks and Latinos. He has shown remarkable restraint in the face of the Antifa/BLM provocations and deference to the place of the States in the American Constitution on both COVID and the riots. For a rank amateur, often advised by people who did not share his agenda, Trump’s first term was a success.
Which is just one of the reasons I think he will be given a second term.
There are lots of others. Up until he beat COVID (we hope) in a weekend, Trump was running a real, old time, campaign. Flying into swing states and doing hanger rallies in places no Presidential candidate has been to in a century. Pulling 10,000 here, 20,000 there. And, of course, harvesting the data on all the people who wanted tickets.
The boat parades (apparently not organized by the campaign), truck parades and car parades, the spontaneous rally outside Walter Reed, even the Trump supporters greeting Biden when he occasionally campaigns, all indicate real enthusiasm for Trump. Biden’s campaign knows it can’t put on this sort of show so it is not even trying.
Trump is, first and foremost, a showman. He loves the crowds, the cheers, the signs. He has developed a rally “patter” with entertaining asides, imitations, jokes, insults all worked into the teleprompter material. His timing isn’t perfect but he never runs into “Please clap.” moments. Most of all, Trump always looks like he is having a ton of fun being with his people.
Now, if that was the whole of the Trump campaign it might very well beat the lame effort of the Dems and Joe Biden; but it is not:
“Although Stepien faces an unprecedented challenge — trailing in some national polls by double-digits with an unpopular incumbent in the midst of a pandemic — he has what Republicans believe is a crucial advantage over Democratic opponent Joe Biden: the Republican Party’s sophisticated, billion-dollar get-out-the vote operation.
Trump Victory, the joint operation between the RNC and the Trump campaign, has an army of 2,000 paid field staffers in 17 states and more than 2 million volunteers making phone calls and knocking on doors. The field operation claims to have made more than 90 million voter contacts in the cycle, including 12 million door knocks since they resumed the practice in June.
In just the last week, according to Trump Victory spokesman Rick Gorka, volunteers have knocked on more than 533,000 doors across the key states of North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Georgia.” cnn (September 10, 2020)
For years political consultants maintained that campaigns were won with advertising mainly on TV. Markets were saturated, consultants well paid – it was like selling soap. Now, fewer and fewer people are watching TV and if they are they have more than five channels to watch. National markets have collapsed, local markets are fighting for a share of fewer and fewer viewers. People get their news, their entertainment and their political views from the fragmented, siloed world of the internet. On the internet you can target very specifically, but you cannot really reach an undifferentiated mass audience.
Trump’s campaign figured that out in 2016 but it has had four years to figure out how to bypass both TV, mainstream media and the internet’s silos. A phone call is fine but the ultimate outreach to the undecided voter in key states is good, old fashioned, door knocking. It’s a big country, but in the states which matter, hundreds of thousands of direct contacts and a big data operation can make a huge difference.
Demographics matter too and here Trump has a huge advantage, he has nowhere to go but up with black Americans and Latinos. In 2016 Trump got 8% of black votes. According to exit polls in 2016 Trump got 29% of the Latino vote. For the past four years Trump has made a point of courting black and Latino voters. More importantly, in the pre-Covid economy employment rates for both groups hit historic highs. Will that translate to votes? I suspect it will, the question is how many. Much is made of the “shy” Trump vote. Realistically, you would have to be a very brave black person in a black community, to show any support for Trump. We’ll see how that goes but a tiny increase – and I mean 3% – in Trump voting in black and Latino demographics would have huge electoral consequences.
The final piece of the Trump victory is the gift of Joe Biden. No one hates Joe in the way people hated Hillary. He’s old, a bit dazed, corrupt, lousy at retail politics, bereft of policy and saddled with a VP candidate someone referred to as Hillary in blackface. But no one hates him. They just don’t like him very much. Even his supporters have bumper stickers saying “Settle for Biden”.
Incumbency is tough to defeat. People know who Donald Trump is. There are plenty of people who didn’t vote for Trump in 2016 and are looking forward to not voting for him in 2020. Just as there are lots who voted for Trump and will again. But no one is affirmatively voting for Joe Biden.
Which leads to the final reason why Trump will win. People who support Trump will all show up, most of the people who hate Trump will show up too, though likely not all – and there is no one who actually supports Joe Biden. Elections are decided by the people who actually vote. Trump’s job is to make sure every single one of his supporters and leaners (secret or otherwise) feels motivated enough to vote. And that is exactly what Trump and his organization are doing.
Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist #65, identified the greatest danger in an impeachment is “that the decision [to impeach] will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt”
President Trump’s impeachment was silly from the go but now, wait, the none too stable geniuses of the Democrat delegation to the House of Representatives are going to “hold” the Articles of Impeachment until they are assured of a fair trial in the Senate.
Did I mention Trump is a very lucky man?
I don’t think he was in any danger of conviction by the Senate but, if the Dems are dumb enough to hold the Articles – and if McConnell is willing to sit on his hands rather than setting his own rules – the Democrat Party’s vote will simply bleed out. Either Trump is a “clear and present danger” to the Constitution of the United States or, well, we can wait a couple of weeks, until the New Year, maybe March, to save the virtue of America.
The Democrats had one thing going for them, sheer, blind hate for Trump. Pause and that’s gone.
The Constitution will be just fine. If RBG keels over in the next few months the “impeached” President of the United States will do his Constitutional duty and nominate her successor. And Mitch will see that successor through the Senate.
I have been paying a bit of attention to the impeachment hearings conducted by the Intelligence Committee of the US House of Representatives. I was politically aware when the Nixon hearings occurred and followed the Clinton impeachment. In both cases the public was engaged and, while there were obviously partisan considerations, the elected officials seemed to take their responsibilities seriously.
Taking responsibilities seriously means a number of things: first and foremost, due process and a respect for evidence. Second, being clear about what is being alleged. Third, looking for a measure of bi-partisan support for the process. Fourth, a sense of fairness.
There is no legal requirement for any of these things. After all, impeachment we are endlessly told, is a political not a legal process. However, because the process is so deeply political it is unlikely to succeed without a political consensus supporting it. At the moment it looks very much as if the parade of witnesses in front of the Schiff committee have failed to create a strong, or even partial consensus in favour of impeachment.
Polling on fairly complicated questions is equivocal but it can give a sense of where the country is comfortable. For there to be any chance that sufficient Republicans in the Senate will vote for impeachment, the polls would have had to turn in favour of impeachment. Probably by a large margin. This has not happened and the fantastically one sided hearings under Chairman Schiff have not helped.
Which raises a huge problem for the Democrat party. To dyed in the wool Democrats the fact Trump is in office at all is an abuse of that office and impeachment on any grounds whatsoever makes total sense. They cannot imagine how this could be anything but self-evident. Which has meant that they were deeply careless in constructing their impeachment case. They paid no attention to what actually was the “impeachable offence” they were going after. They rigged the rules so that only their witnesses were heard and rigged them even further by creating a procedure designed to put the minority at a significant disadvantage cross examining those witnesses. They were blatant about this rigging.
The perception of unfairness, once established, is difficult to deal with but this was not the worst error the Democrats made. The worst error was believing that a startlingly insignificant bit of Presidential action (or inaction) the proof of which was ambiguous at best would galvanize the American People to demand Trump’s removal. There is no coming back from this misjudgment. All the more so because the action was so boring.
No one outside bureaucratic circles in Washington is the least bit interested in what Trump may have said or implied to some guy with an unpronounceable name who is the President of Ukraine which most Americans could not find on a map. There is no “blue dress”, no “18 minute gap” – there are just assorted, rather self-important, bureaucrats who overheard or heard from a colleague that the American President behaved inappropriately.
Of course, the President in question, has a talent for cutting to the chase and when he released the transcript of his call with the President of Ukraine, the air went out of the Democrats’ impeachment balloon.
The House of Representatives is on its Thanksgiving recess which means that the Representatives will be back in their districts. The media frenzy will die down and Congressmen and women are going to be talking to their constituents. If the impeachment hearings had been successful they would be hearing support for a vote on articles of impeachment. However, given the shambles of Schiff’s show, the best the Democrats can hope for is indifference, the worst will be independents telling them to forget impeachment and to get on with the business of the nation.
At a guess, following Thanksgiving, Nancy Pelosi will be looking for a way to end the whole impeachment show. She has very few good alternatives. She might well lose a vote on articles of impeachment. She could likely win a censure motion but that will not satisfy the rabid base. Perhaps her best bet would be to allow a low key report from the Intelligence committee to go to the Judiciary committee and then sit on it for a couple of months before announcing that it was up to the American people to throw Trump out in the next election.
No matter which way Pelosi jumps, losing touch with the American people on the question of impeachment is going to hurt the Democrats politically. It has solidified Trump’s base, annoyed independents and called into question the Democrats’ judgement which could cost them seats in Congress and the Senate. Plus, though this will only become clear in the next few weeks, it has fatally compromised Democratic front runner Joe Bidden.
I am old enough that I watched the Nixon Impeachment and the Clinton Impeachment. In both cases, it was hard to argue that there was not evidence of misuse of office. That evidence was marshalled by serious people in a set of televised hearings which, regardless of which “side” you were on, underscored the gravity of the accusations and the procedural, if not political, propriety of the process. In each case, there was a formal vote in the House of Representatives to commence the proceedings. The minority party was granted its full rights to put its side of the case.
This does not appear to be the intent in the Impeachment of Donald Trump. For details, it is well worth reading Sundance at The Conservative Treehouse.
This time out, the Democratic majority in the House seems willing to proceed on the allegations of an unidentified “whistleblower” who claims to have been told by others that Trump exerted pressure on the Ukrainian government to investigate Crowdstrike and whether or not Joe Biden exerted pressure (as he said he did) on the Ukrainian government to fire its Prosecutor who was looking into the affairs of a company which had hired Biden’s son, Hunter, for $50,000 a month to be a director on a Board which rarely met.
Trump – unlike Nixon or Clinton – believes that he has done nothing wrong and has released notes on the call as well as the whistleblower’s complaint. People will see what they want to see in these documents but there is a distinct absence of the smoking gun.
Which, apparently, does not matter to the Democrat majority in the House. Impeachment is a political act and the Democrats are apparently willing to use their majority to pass Articles of Impeachment irrespective of whether they in any way disclose a high crime or misdemeanour. The quaint legalisms of evidence, witnesses and actual misconduct have been thrown aside in an all out political hit on Trump.
I don’t think it will work. Partially for the reasons outlined by Conrad Black in his brilliant piece on why Trump will win big in 2020, partially because there is no public appetite for Impeachment.
With Nixon and, to a lesser degree, Clinton the public was scandalized by the President’s behaviour in office. With Trump, “un-Presidential” behaviour has already been priced in. Leaning on the Ukrainians, properly or improperly, is unlikely to fire up public indignation in the same way as a massive cover-up of a two-bit crime or Presidential blow jobs did. It’s a tough world and Trump is willing to throw America’s weight around. For his base this is a plus, for a significant majority of Americans it is very likely a non-issue, for Democratic partisans, it is just one more “outrage” in a string of outrages going back to Trump putting ketchup on his steak.
Impeachment is political and if Trump and his people are smart they are going to make it very costly for Democrat Representatives in areas where Trump is strong to turn up on the day the Articles of Impeachment are presented for a vote. This is good old retail politics. Taking the Trump rally machine into marginal Democratic districts and calling out the Representative. Astro-turfing the hell out of their emails and phone lines. Cutting deals with those Democrats one by one so that Pelosi gradually sees her majority dwindle and, perhaps, disappear entirely. (And Trump now has a pretty good idea of how to work with the US Senate and hold the 33 Republicans he needs to simply crush the Impeachment.)
This is the sort of straight, counter punching, fight Trump is good at. It gives him licence to let loose on the Democratic “leadership” for wasting the country’s time and not doing their legislative jobs. Trump will treat his Impeachment as a campaigning opportunity. He’ll be able to do this because the Democrats are proceeding with such an obviously political, obviously bad faith, evidence-free, hatchet job.
The consequence of the Democrat’s phoney Impeachment will, at a minimum, be the end of the Biden campaign and a huge reduction in interest in the ongoing Democrat Presidential Campaign. It will highlight the radicalization of the Democratic Party.
Trump’s road to victory in 2020 became a lot smoother when Pelosi’s intelligent, politically astute, resistance to Impeachment collapsed in the face of a confected complaint of the purest hearsay about Presidential actions which a large part of the country, now that they know about them will likely support.
Plus, and this is when it gets fun for Trump, between now and Christmas, there will be an Inspector General’s Report on the mis-use of FISA warrants to surveil the Trump campaign, the case against General Flynn will likely collapse and at least a few of the people involved in the ongoing FBI/DOJ/IC campaign against Trump will be indicted. With luck, some of those will cut deals to implicate higher-ups and, by Spring, the whole scummy Obama administration will be in the frame.
Trump will be insufferable and will ruthlessly mock the dim Democrats who thought this thin gruel would power a serious Impeachment.