Things do get strange in Michigan:
The Three Christs of Ypsilanti (1964) is a book-length psychiatric case study by Milton Rokeach, concerning his experiment on a group of three paranoid schizophrenics at Ypsilanti State Hospital in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The book details the interactions of the three patients – Clyde Benson, Joseph Cassel, and Leon Gabor – each of whom believed himself to be Jesus Christ.
The group therapy sessions got a bit awkward, theologically. The 2017 film based on the book was Three Christs starring Richard Gere as Milton Rokeach. It was a “dark comedy” and disappeared soon enough. There was no audience for ninety minutes of delusional people shouting at each other with righteous certainty that only they were the truth and the way, not any of those other people over there on the other side of the room. Each of those other people over there shouted back no, they were the truth and the way. Everyone shouted at everyone. And no one had any proof of anything. In these matters no proof is ever possible. You believe or you don’t. Nothing really has to make sense. Righteous certainty is far better than sense. That’s why these three were in the Ypsilanti State Hospital. There was no way to sort this out.
And now this has happened again, in Wayne County, in Detroit. The Washington Post’s Kayla Ruble and Tom Hamburger (their real names) report this:
At first, it seemed like a win for President Trump’s supporters: The Wayne County Board of Canvassers deadlocked Tuesday night over whether to certify the results of the presidential election in the populous Democratic county, punting the question to a state regulatory board.
In a tweet, Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis called it a “huge win” for the president, who has not conceded the presidential race and who has made false accusations of voter fraud.
But hours later, the board – composed of two Republicans and two Democrats – reversed itself, unanimously agreeing to certify the results and ask the secretary of state to conduct an independent audit. The about-face left Democrats and voting rights advocates cheering.
“I feel elated; I feel like we did the right thing,” said Allen Wilson, one of the board’s Democratic members, as he tried to catch his breath following the late-night twist to the local bureaucratic meeting.
The Trump folks in their righteous certainty had made sure that none of the votes in and around Detroit would count. Those people might just as well have not voted at all. And this would swing the state to Trump. Most of those votes had been for Biden. That has been just plain wrong of those people, but there was the righteous certainty on the other side. Every vote should count, damn it! Each side was saying that THEY were the truth and the way.
This was a stalemate, but then the news services had noticed what was happening. What the hell, they voted again:
The agreement came after two hours of emotional testimony, primarily from those who wanted to see the results certified, and objections from Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and others nationally.
“I appreciate putting our heads together to come to a solution,” Republican board chairwoman Monica Palmer said after the second vote.
This was not the Ypsilanti State Hospital after all, but there had been a plan:
Trump’s false claims about widespread fraud have reverberated with his supporters, putting white-hot attention on the usually mundane vote certification process across Michigan.
While state Democrats say Trump has no hope of overturning Biden’s wide lead in the state, they had expressed anxiety in recent weeks that Republican legislators might not only try to hold up certification in Wayne County but also seek to use a dubious interpretation of state law to appoint their own electors, leading the state to back Trump in the electoral college.
That’s the plan. Find some way to get local boards of canvassers, here and there, to refuse to certify the vote, and do that in enough of these places to be able to get the state to refuse to certify the whole state’s vote, allowing the state legislators to choose the electors – and in states with Republican legislatures, that would be a Trump slate. He would win that state, by the vote of the electors, not by the questionable popular vote. The constitution would allow that. Trump could win every state with a Republican legislature. Those citizens who voted might be pissed off, but this might work, or not:
That strategy has been scoffed at by legal experts.
“By indulging partisan conspiracy theories and debunked claims of fraud, legislative Republicans are eroding our citizens’ faith in our democratic institutions,” Christine Greig, the Michigan House Democratic leader, said in an interview Monday. “Stubborn refusal to acknowledge the election result flies in the face of the oath that each of us swore when we assumed our offices in the Michigan Legislature. It all needs to stop.”
Republican leaders in the legislature have tried in recent days to assuage fears that such a move could gain traction. The Republican Senate leader said just before the vote Tuesday that Biden won Michigan and the legislature won’t interfere – despite requests from Trump loyalists.
“That’s not going to happen,” Mike Shirkey told the publication Bridge Michigan.
“We are going to follow the law and follow the process,” he said.
He knew what the Trump people didn’t know, that telling Americans that their vote doesn’t mean a damn thing is a bad look, and telling that to Black Americans is deadly:
The initial decision provoked outrage among Democrats and activists in Detroit, and others who said it was no coincidence that Trump’s complaints about voting practices have centered on Detroit, Philadelphia and Atlanta – all heavily Black cities.
“Black folks spoke up about Donald Trump’s behavior and cast a vote against him,” said Branden Snyder, the executive director for grass-roots organization Detroit Action, of the Black turnout in the Detroit area that bolstered Biden’s victory.
Knowing the role Black voters would play in this election, Snyder says they also fully anticipated that the Trump campaign would in some way seek to suppress their votes.
“We knew that there were going to be the racist dog whistles that we hear right now about the validity of Detroit voters,” said Snyder, whose organization spent the last four years mobilizing voters in the nation’s largest majority Black city.
Something was up:
The first decision came after an hour-long meeting Tuesday evening. Democratic board members Jonathan Kinloch and Wilson voted “emphatically” in favor of certifying the results, with Republican members Palmer and William Hartmann voting against the motion to certify.
Kinloch said there was “no reason under the sun” not to certify and called the actions “reckless and irresponsible.”
“I was downtrodden, because we sort of figured that perhaps Trumpism, and I hate to say that, but Trumpism and the Republicans had filled the ears of our two comrades in there,” Wilson said, explaining that they’ve all had a good working relationship in the past. “Normally we can talk with each other. But somehow when I came in the room today the aura was not the same.”
The aura was poisonous:
Among those who spoke during the public comment period was Jennifer Redmond, the deputy chair of elections from Wayne County, choked up as she addressed the board about their decision not to certify the election results. Redmond recounted how she and her staff have worked 16 hours a day to certify the results for the counties more than 1,100 precincts where 878,000 ballots were cast in a nearly impossible two-week deadline.
“We have been here tirelessly,” Redmond said, calling it a “slap in the face” for the board members not to certify the results, particularly after the staff worked through a pandemic in which cases are spiking across the state. The staff largely made up of middle-aged and 20-something Black men and women, looked on in silence with their arms crossed as they watched the unprecedented move to not approve the results.
That silence was deadly:
After the vote, there was an overwhelming response at the meeting – and beyond. The two Republicans on the panel found themselves under verbal assault, accused of racism, violating their public obligations and attempting to hijack what even GOP leaders in Lansing said were the clear results of the election.
Then a Democratic member of the board proposed a compromise – that the 2020 vote be certified and that an audit of the Detroit vote follow.
And that was that. No one was claiming to be Jesus Christ, the truth and the way, any longer, and the disputes got back to normal:
On Monday, Michigan’s Court of Appeals ruled against two Republican poll watchers, days after a lower court judge had rejected their request to halt certification, saying he saw no convincing evidence of election fraud at the center where workers tallied absentee ballots.
A similar suit filed by the Trump campaign in federal court Tuesday is still pending. As part of it, the campaign filed 238 pages of affidavits from Republican poll watchers across Michigan. They contained no evidence of significant fraud, but included complaints about rude behavior or unpleasant looks from poll workers or Democratic poll watchers.
No on was alleging fraud, but those people on the other side of the room had been mean to them! It was those unpleasant looks! One thinks of those three paranoid schizophrenics at Ypsilanti State Hospital long ago, but it’s not just Michigan:
A Donald Trump campaign attorney declared the Republican president won in Nevada, not Joe Biden, despite results showing the Democratic former vice president drew 33,596 more votes in the battleground state.
“Donald Trump won… after you account for the fraud and irregularities that occurred,” campaign attorney Jesse Binnall told reporters as he announced a new lawsuit asking a state judge to declare Trump the winner or to invalidate the presidential vote results.
With lawsuits flying in Nevada, Binnall castigated Clark County election officials; declared the campaign and state Republican Party can prove 40,000 tainted votes, or enough to make up the approximately 2.4% vote difference Biden and Trump; and said media declarations that Biden won Nevada were wrong.
And he’ll have that proof soon, any day now, but he drew the wrong venue:
The new lawsuit, filed in Carson City, was assigned to Judge James Wilson Jr., who last month rejected Binnall’s bid on behalf of the Trump campaign and state Republican Party to halt the count of mailed ballots received in and around Las Vegas – a Democratic stronghold in an otherwise predominantly GOP state.
Wilson ruled that neither the state nor Clark County did anything to give one vote preference over another. Binnall appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court, but dropped that effort before ballot counting ended last week.
And he may drop this one too:
The developments came as Clark County lawmakers heard Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria report Monday that 936 “discrepancies” were found countywide among more than 977,000 votes tallied. Statewide, more than 1.4 million votes were cast.
Gloria said discrepancies ranged from inadvertently canceled votes, reactivated voter cards and check-in errors at polling places. Officials turned over to Nevada Secretary of State investigators information about six people who voted twice, Gloria said.
The Clark County Commission took steps to order a re-vote in a race where 10 votes separated two commission candidates. But six of the seven lawmakers signed off on the presidential election result.
A statement on behalf of Clark County and Gloria about the new legal filings noted that similar arguments failed to convince judges in other cases to stop the count of mailed ballots.
“The complaints misstate and misrepresent evidence,” county spokesman Dan Kulin said in the statement, “and parrot erroneous allegations made by partisans without first-hand knowledge of the facts.”
But this does slow things down. Bullshit does that, and there was this too:
The Arizona Republican Party has asked a judge to bar Maricopa County from certifying its Nov. 3 election results, including Democrat Joe Biden’s win over President Donald Trump, until the court issues a decision about the party’s lawsuit seeking a new hand-count of a sampling of ballots.
The GOP made the request Monday night after the county revealed officials planned to approve the returns on Thursday or Friday.
A judge is scheduled to hear arguments in the lawsuit Wednesday afternoon. The county faces a Nov. 23 deadline for certifying its results.
The lawsuit focuses on an audit of a sampling of ballots that is required to test the accuracy of tabulated results. The county has already completed the audit and said no discrepancies were found.
Yes, this really is bullshit:
The state party still wants the sample measured on a precinct level, rather than the audit that was conducted of the county’s new vote centers, which let people vote at any location across the county.
The county has asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed, saying the GOP participated in the audit it now contests.
And none of this will change anything. No state legislature is going to say that they, not the voters, get to say which presidential candidate won the state. Michigan won’t flip back. Nevada won’t flip back. Arizona won’t flip back. Trump is, as they say, shit out of luck.
And then there was Rudy:
Representing a client inside a courtroom for the first time in nearly three decades, Rudy Giuliani showed some rust as he tried to make the case that President Donald Trump has been robbed of re-election.
The former federal prosecutor and New York City mayor, who has taken over Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results, entered a courthouse in the small Pennsylvania city of Williamsport on Tuesday with a few dozen Trump supporters cheering him from across the street.
Over the next several hours, he fiddled with his Twitter account, forgot which judge he was talking to and threw around wild, unsupported accusations about a nationwide conspiracy by Democrats to steal the election.
No such evidence has emerged since Election Day.
And this was just sad:
Giuliani needled an opposing lawyer, calling him “the man who was very angry with me, I forgot his name.”
He mistook the judge for a federal judge in a separate Pennsylvania district who rejected a separate Trump campaign case: “I was accused of not reading your opinion and that I did not understand it.”
And he tripped himself up over the meaning of “opacity.”
“In the plaintiffs’ counties, they were denied the opportunity to have an unobstructed observation and ensure opacity,” Giuliani said. “I’m not quite sure I know what opacity means. It probably means you can see, right?”
“It means you can’t,” said U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann.
“Big words, your honor,” Giuliani said.
But they did get down to substance:
At one point, an opposing lawyer, Mark Aronchick, disputed Giuliani’s repeated contentions that it was illegal for counties to help people vote.
“I don’t expect that he would know the Pennsylvania election code,” Aronchick said, suggesting – without saying it – that Giuliani was an unprepared out-of-towner.
The Trump campaign is seeking to prevent Pennsylvania from certifying its election. The lawsuit is based on a complaint that Philadelphia and six Democratic-controlled counties in Pennsylvania let voters make corrections to mail-in ballots that were otherwise going to be disqualified for a technicality, like lacking a secrecy envelope or a signature.
It is not clear how many ballots that could involve, although some opposing lawyers say it is far too few to overturn the election result. President-elect Joe Biden won the state by more than 70,000 votes.
Yes, they were arguing over what would never matter anyway. The whole thing was strange:
President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, on Tuesday argued to a federal judge in Pennsylvania that there had been “widespread national voter fraud” in the presidential election that led to Joe Biden’s projected victory.
But a lawyer for several Pennsylvania county election boards called Giuliani’s effort to have a judge invalidate up to 700,000 mail-in ballots cast in the state was baseless and “disgraceful!”
Rudy didn’t think so:
“The best description of this situation is widespread, nationwide voter fraud,” Giuliani said during the hearing.
He also reportedly claimed that this purported fraud occurred in “big cities, controlled by Democrats.”
“You’d have to be a fool to think this is an accident,” said Giuliani, who argued that hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots in Philadelphia should be invalidated because observers from the Trump campaign could not examine them as they were being counted.
But lawyers for Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and a number of Pennsylvania county election boards pushed back, at times fiercely, against Giuliani’s claim.
Mark Aronchick, an attorney for some of those election boards, accused Giuliani of talking about “some fantasy world.”
That would be Donald Trump’s fantasy world, and Trump protects that:
President Trump on Tuesday fired a top Department of Homeland Security official who led the agency’s efforts to help secure the election and was vocal about tamping down unfounded claims of ballot fraud.
In a tweet, Trump fired Christopher Krebs, who headed the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CIS) at DHS and led successful efforts to help state and local election offices protect their systems and to rebut misinformation.
Earlier Tuesday, Krebs in a tweet refuted allegations that election systems were manipulated, saying that “59 election security experts all agree, ‘in every case of which we are aware, these claims either have been unsubstantiated or are technically incoherent.’”
Krebs’s statement amounted to a debunking of Trump’s central claim that the November election was stolen.
But that’s Trump’s story and he’s sticking to it:
Trump, who has not conceded the election to President-elect Joe Biden, said on Twitter: “The recent statement by Chris Krebs on the security of the 2020 Election was highly inaccurate, in that there were massive improprieties and fraud – including dead people voting, Poll Watchers not allowed into polling locations, ‘glitches’ in the voting machines which changed votes from Trump to Biden, late voting, and many more. Therefore, effective immediately, Chris Krebs has been terminated as Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.”
Trump and his allies have offered no proof for his fraud allegations and the president’s claims were quickly flagged by Twitter as “disputed.”
Twitter doesn’t have a “bullshit” flag. But that’s the dispute here:
In recent weeks Trump has made repeated, unproved charges of voter and ballot fraud, and his campaign is challenging election results in several states – so far with little success.
Krebs’s agency has asserted its independence in recent days, on Thursday issuing a statement that contradicted Trump’s allegations of fraud.
“The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history,” said the statement from the coordinating council of state and local federal government entities in charge of protecting elections. “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”
After his firing, Krebs responded from his personal Twitter account: “Honored to serve. We did it right. Defend Today, Secure Tomorrow. #Protect2020.”
Sure, Krebs had the facts, but righteous certainty is far better than the actual facts of the matter. Trump has lived his whole life assuming that is so. But now he seems to have become the Fourth Christ of Ypsilanti, claiming he is, still, the truth and the way. Maybe it’s time to lock him up too.