A Question of Integrity

Perhaps the Associated Press really is an anti-American subversive Marxist organization run by George Soros and Hugo Chavez and funded by an international cabal of Jewish bankers, led by the Rothchild family, but outside the world of QAnon and Limbaugh and Hannity on radio, the Associated Press is seen as just a news organization. And it’s the boring one, the one with no particular agenda. The Associated Press just plods along. This happened. Here are the available facts about what happened. Here is what people have said about what just happened. You figure it out.

But here they are, trying to infuriate the president, by reporting this:

President-elect Joe Biden’s winning tally is approaching a record 80 million votes as Democratic bastions continue to count ballots and the 2020 election cracks turnout records.

Biden has already set a record for the highest number of votes for a winning presidential candidate, and President Donald Trump has also notched a high-water mark of the most votes for a losing candidate.

The Associated Press said he lost. He says he won. He didn’t win:

The rising Biden tally and his popular vote lead – nearly 6 million votes – come as Trump has escalated his false insistence that he actually won the election, and his campaign and supporters intensify their uphill legal fight to stop or delay results from being certified, potentially to nullify the votes of Americans.

“It’s just a lot of noise going on, because Donald Trump is a bull who carries his own china shop with him,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University. “Once the noise recedes, it’s going to be clear that Biden won a very convincing victory.”

Few would dispute that:

If Biden’s lead holds, he will win the Electoral College on 306-232 vote – the identical margin Trump won in 2016. Back then Trump described it as a “landslide.”

While Biden’s margins in states like Arizona and Wisconsin seem small – between 12,000 and 20,000 votes – those races aren’t nearly narrow enough to be considered likely to flip through a recount or lawsuits. Recounts typically shift total votes by only a few hundred votes. In 2000, the Florida recount and legal battle for the White House was prompted by a 537-vote margin.

“If you’re talking about it being close enough to be within what those of us in the field call the margin of litigation, this is not within the margin of litigation,” Rick Hasen, a professor at the University of Irvine and an expert on voting, said.

In short, it’s over, and it’s obvious, and resistance is futile:

Timothy Naftali, a presidential historian at New York University, has compared Biden’s still-growing popular vote and Electoral College margins to those of every winner of a presidential election since 1960. His finding: Biden’s win was right in the middle – tighter than landslides like Barack Obama’s 2008 win or Ronald Reagan’s 1984 wipeout reelection, but broader than Trump’s 2016 victory or either of George W. Bush’s two wins.

The closest analogy was Obama’s reelection, which he won by virtually the same margin as Biden has now.

“Did anyone think 2012 was a narrow victory? No,” Naftali said.

Despite that, Trump and his allies are continuing to try to stop certification of the election, in a longshot attempt to deny states the ability to seat electors supporting Biden.

That would explain what Politico’s Josh Gerstein reports here:

President Donald Trump’s campaign has filed yet another version of its lawsuit over the election results in Pennsylvania, now contending that he should be named the victor in the presidential contest there or that the state legislature be given the authority to assign the state’s 20 electoral votes.

The third iteration of the suit also restores legal claims dropped in the second version that the campaign’s constitutional rights were violated because of allegedly inadequate access for observers during the processing of mail-in ballots.

The campaign eliminated those claims in a version of the suit filed on Sunday, but Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani has said that was due to a miscommunication prompted by harassment and threats directed at lawyers who represented the campaign.

That was his apology to the court. All the death threats, which no one had heard about and which he would not explain, had discombobulated his entire legal team. But they got it right this time:

The new complaint claims 1.5 million mail-in or absentee votes in seven Pennsylvania counties “should not have been counted” and that the disputed votes resulted “in returns indicating Biden won Pennsylvania.”

The new pleading also continues to pursue an unusual tack for Republicans: invoking international standards to assess the legitimacy of U.S. election procedures. Trump campaign lawyers also leveled bitter criticism at a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision Tuesday that found, by a vote of 5-2, that access for election observers was adequate even if they could not see the details of individual ballots.

No one knew what to make of this. Toss out most of the mail-in and absentee ballots. None of that sort of thing should have been allowed. And our observers had to stand too many feet away from the action. But let’s make this easy – give Trump all twenty of the state’s electoral votes and we can all go home and play with the kids or whatever.

This wasn’t going to fly:

The latest version of the Trump campaign’s suit was filed one day after a hearing held in federal court in Williamsport, Pa., about an hour-and-a-half north of Harrisburg.

During the five-hour session, U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Brann sounded skeptical that the most sweeping relief sought by the Trump campaign – throwing out hundreds of thousands of votes, or perhaps more than a million – was justified by problems with poll watching or disparate procedures for “curing” defective mail-in ballots…

Brann had scheduled such a hearing for Thursday, but he canceled it at the conclusion of the arguments Tuesday, leading to speculation that he might throw the case out.

No matter, they also had this going for them:

The Trump campaign filed for a limited recount of two Wisconsin counties on Wednesday in a long-shot bid to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state.

The campaign is limiting its Wisconsin recount requests to Milwaukee County and Dane County, according to a press release from the campaign.

According to unofficial result, he leads President Donald Trump by 20,470 votes, or 0.62%. Trump has refused to concede and instead has promoted conspiracy theories about voter fraud.

But this wasn’t a fraud claim, just a request for a recount of the votes cast in certain areas:

Wisconsin election officials confirmed on Wednesday that they received a partial payment of $3 million from the Trump campaign. That money paid by the Trump campaign would be enough to pay for recounts in these counties, which are Democratic strongholds. These officials said last week that the price tag for a statewide recount would be approximately $7.9 million.

Trump is a tightwad, but this was more about tossing out the Black votes:

Milwaukee County contains Milwaukee, the state’s largest city and home to the largest Black population in Wisconsin. Biden beat Trump by 317,251 votes to 134,355 in that county, according to unofficial results from the Wisconsin Election Commission.

Dane County includes the state capital of Madison, home to many college-age voters at the University of Wisconsin. Biden won that county with 260,157 votes to 78,789 votes, according to unofficial results from the Wisconsin Election Commission.

Trump can’t make up those margins but can show he tried. And that sends a message to his base, those he might need in 2024 when he runs again:

In Milwaukee, the recount will take over a sprawling floor of the city’s convention center, where sheriff’s deputies will guard ballots 24 hours a day.

George Christenson, the Milwaukee County clerk, said the Trump campaign’s allegations about irregularities in voting had no basis in fact.

“The strategy here by the Trump campaign is to throw as much paint on the wall and see what sticks,” he said. “This is just another form of voter suppression and trying to essentially attack our minority neighborhoods.”

Experts have said it’s extremely unlikely that the recounts will shift enough votes to overturn Biden’s lead of 20,470 votes.

He won’t get the state’s ten electoral votes but he’ll send a message:

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat, blasted the Trump campaign’s recount request, calling it a racially biased bid to subvert the will of voters.

“It’s a very futile attempt to try to disrupt democracy in the most Democratic counties in the state of Wisconsin,” he told reporters. “This is flat out an attack on democracy in cities and places where people of color live.”

Yes, it is. That’s the plan. Robert Costa and his team at the Washington Post report this:

President Trump has abandoned his plan to win reelection by disqualifying enough ballots to reverse President-elect Joe Biden’s wins in key battleground states, pivoting instead to a goal that appears equally unattainable: delaying a final count long enough to cast doubt on Biden’s decisive victory.

That what his team’s sources say. Trump isn’t trying to win the election at all. He just wants to ruin Biden’s presidency, or at least cripple it, or at least wound it. Rudy said that’s somehow attainable:

Giuliani has told Trump and associates that his ambition is to pressure GOP lawmakers and officials across the political map to stall the vote certification in an effort to have Republican lawmakers pick electors and disrupt the electoral college when it convenes next month – and Trump is encouraging of that plan, according to two senior Republicans who have conferred with Giuliani and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter candidly.

But that outcome appears impossible. It is against the law in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin law gives no role to the legislature in choosing presidential electors, and there is little public will in other states to pursue such a path.

Behind the thin legal gambit is what several Trump advisers say is his real goal: sowing doubt in Biden’s victory with the president’s most ardent supporters and keeping alive his prospects for another presidential run in 2024.

He’ll need those people in four years. He has to ruin Biden’s presidency. The lawsuits are a start, but only a start:

Several Republicans said that even Giuliani believes the legal path is arduous. The goal now is to play for delay and cast doubt on the election, they said.

According to people familiar with their conversations, Giuliani is conferring regularly with Stephen K. Bannon, the controversial former White House adviser who earlier this month called for Anthony S. Fauci, the coronavirus task force member, to be beheaded.

No one has called for that yet, but this is a start, and a worry too:

The toll of the president’s false claims on public confidence in the election was apparent in a new poll from Monmouth University that found that 77 percent of Trump supporters believe Biden’s win was due to fraud.

“Anything that aids and abets doubts about an election that has been conducted with integrity makes the future of democracy darker,” said William Galston, senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution. “To weaken a democratic people’s faith in its fundamental institutions of self-government is inexcusable.”

It might be inexcusable, but useful, but some might not get the concept of the thing:

The president faces growing skepticism within his own party – and outrage elsewhere – about his drumbeat of false statements.

Former White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, in an interview Wednesday on Fox Business, criticized Trump’s hiring of Giuliani to litigate a federal lawsuit in Pennsylvania.

“It strikes me that this is the most important lawsuit in the history of the country, and they’re not using the most well-noted election lawyers,” Mulvaney said. “There are folks who do this all of the time. This is a specialty. This is not a television program. This is the real thing.”

No, it isn’t. Giuliani doesn’t want to win in these matters. He wants politically useful chaos:

Trump’s current chief of staff, Mark Meadows, told reporters on Capitol Hill on Wednesday that he “personally” has evidence of ineligible voters casting ballots. “But the real question fundamentally continues to be: Are there enough votes out there to overturn the election?”

In Arizona’s Maricopa County, which the state Republican Party has sued over the way the county conducted a required hand-count audit, the GOP chairman of the county Board of Supervisors has expressed exasperation with the claims.

“It’s time to dial back the rhetoric, rumors, and false claims. There is no evidence of fraud or misconduct or malfunction,” Clint Hickman wrote in a public letter Tuesday.

Roopali H. Desai, an attorney representing Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D), accused Republicans of using the lawsuit to delay the vote certification by furthering claims that the election was riddled with problems.

In asking Judge John Hannah to dismiss the case quickly, Desai said it was “dangerous” to allow that narrative “to go on even one more day.”

The pot has been appropriately stirred, but maybe too-well stirred:

Trump is increasingly relying on Giuliani and campaign advisers Jenna Ellis and Jason Miller for legal guidance, several campaign officials said – in part because Trump has stopped listening to the original legal team and in part because of those lawyers’ decision to distance themselves in recent days from the president’s increasingly erratic effort to reverse the election’s outcome.

As a result, Trump increasingly is hearing only from aides who are maintaining that the election is not over. He remains hopeful about Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania largely on the advice of Giuliani, who is close to Bannon, and Trump has urged Giuliani to continue the fight, several officials said.

Giuliani “is crazy and actually believes Bannon,” one senior Republican adviser said.

The idea is that this will not end well:

Veteran Republicans expressed unease and apprehension Wednesday about a mission tying Giuliani, Trump and Bannon together, calling it embarrassing and ill-fated.

“Giuliani is turning this into a clown car and Bannon has never had a plan. They think they’re being aggressive but it’s disorganized,” said longtime GOP strategist Scott Reed. “Bannon thinks he’s disrupter in chief.”

Trump does have an odd team here:

Giuliani and Bannon last worked in tandem in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 3 vote, when they sought to publicize emails and photos belonging to Biden’s son that they said had been taken from a laptop abandoned by Hunter Biden at a Delaware computer repair shop. Reporters for the New York Post, which published some of the material, indicated they were first told about the material by Bannon and provided copies of it by Giuliani.

That material turned out to be faked or useless and there was this:

Bannon was charged in August with fraud, accused by federal prosecutors in New York of duping Trump supporters into giving money to a charity dedicated to building a wall on the southern border and then redirecting the money for his own purposes. He has pleaded not guilty.

He’s awaiting trial, and then he lost his lawyer:

Earlier this month, Bannon was permanently barred from Twitter after posting a video to YouTube in which he said that Trump should behead Fauci, the leader of the government’s effort to fight the coronavirus, as well as FBI Director Christopher A. Wray.

“I’d put the heads on pikes. Right. I’d put them at the two corners of the White House as a warning to federal bureaucrats. You either get with the program or you are gone,” Bannon said in the video.

The next day, William Burck, a prominent Washington attorney who had been representing Bannon in his criminal case, told the court that he intended to withdraw from the case.

The New Yok Times’ Thomas Friedman has had enough of this nonsense:

Stop for a second and think about how awesome this election was. In the middle of an accelerating pandemic substantially more Americans voted than ever before in our history – Republicans, Democrats and independents. And it was their fellow citizens who operated the polling stations and conducted the count – many of them older Americans who volunteered for that duty knowing they could contract the coronavirus, as some did.

That’s why this was our greatest expression of American democratic vitality since Abraham Lincoln defeated Gen. George B. McClellan in 1864 – in the midst of a civil war. And that’s why Donald Trump’s efforts to soil this election, with his fraudulent claims of voting fraud, are so vile.

But it’s not just Trump:

Lou Dobbs actually said on Fox Business that the GOP should refuse to accept the election results that deny Trump “what is rightfully his” which raises this question: How do you trust this version of the Republican Party to ever hold the White House again?

Its members have sat mute while Trump, rather than using the federal bureaucracy to launch a war against our surging pandemic, has launched a war against his perceived enemies inside that federal bureaucracy – including the defense secretary, the head of the National Nuclear Security Administration and, on Tuesday, the most senior cybersecurity official responsible for protecting the presidential election – weakening it when we need it most.

Engineering Trump’s internal purge is 30-year-old Johnny McEntee, a former college quarterback who was hustled out of the White House two years ago after a security clearance check turned up a prolific habit for online gambling, but Trump later welcomed him back and installed him as personnel director for the entire U.S. government.

A political party that will not speak up against such a reckless leader is not a party any longer. It is some kind of populist cult of personality.

Are we just supposed to forget this GOP’s behavior as soon as Trump leaves and let its leaders say: “Hey fellow Americans, Trump tried to overturn the election with baseless claims – and we went along for the ride – but he’s gone now, so you can trust us to do the right things again.”

 That is why we are so very lucky that this election broke for Joe Biden. If this is how this Republican Party behaves when Trump loses, imagine how willing to tolerate his excesses it would have been had he won? Trump wouldn’t have stopped at any red lights ever again.

And the Washington Post’s Max Boot sees that too:

President Trump is cynically trying to overturn the election results based on claims of fraud that are themselves fraudulent. He is unlikely to succeed. But if he did, the United States’ 232-year history as a democracy would be finished. Now is a time of testing: Do you stand with the democrats or the autocrats?

Unfortunately, most Republicans are failing this test – just as they have failed every other test during Trump’s presidency. According to Axios, only six Republican senators (out of 53), seven Republican governors (out of 26) and 10 Republican members of the House (out of 197) have thus far acknowledged that Joe Biden won.

That means fewer than 1 in 10 of the most senior elected Republicans publicly stands behind our electoral system. Even fewer have followed Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) in warning that Trump’s unfounded claim of election-rigging “damages the cause of freedom.”

And then there’s the most cynical of them:

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) has often championed freedom abroad, but now he is a threat to freedom at home. The Republican secretary of state in Georgia, Brad Raffensperger, says that the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee pressured him to throw out as many ballots as possible in a state that Biden won narrowly. (Graham denies it.) Anyone who thought that Lickspittle Lindsey would grow a spine now that he has been reelected – and Trump defeated – will be disabused of that illusion.

Most Republicans aren’t as egregious as Graham. They’re simply cowards who offer mealy-mouthed support for Trump’s election challenges.

Asked on Tuesday whether he considers Biden the president-elect, outgoing Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) replied: “I’m not going to play your gotcha questions.”

Actually, it’s an easy question – if you have any integrity.

It’s too late for that now – but Biden set a record for the highest number of votes for a winning presidential candidate, and Trump set a record for the most votes for a losing candidate – and he did lose. He really did lose. Trust the Associated Press. He really did lose.

Didn’t he?

About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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