Republicans Were More Successful in 2020 Than We Knew

The Daily Escape:

The Grist Mill, Chelmsford MA – photo by Michael Blanchette. The original mill was established in the 17th century by Captain Samuel Adams, an ancestor of Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams.

We dodged a bullet on Jan. 6, but the gun is still loaded.

Trump says he plans to be the GOP presidential nominee in 2024, and there doesn’t seem to be much standing in his way. After all, the Republican Party’s leader attempted a coup to overthrow our democracy, and they refused to punish him for it.

Most of Republican voters won’t even admit that the GOP was responsible. Trump got 74 million votes despite all that went wrong under his leadership. The Republicans won House seats. They lost 2 Senate seats in Georgia by just 150,000 votes out of 9 million cast.

Had the Republicans only lost 2 seats instead of 3, Mitch McConnell would still be Senate Majority Leader.

Biden’s 43,000 votes in AZ, GA and WI are why Trump isn’t on his second term right now. With a reasoned response to Covid, including encouraging masks/distancing, had he sent more relief to Americans, he would almost certainly be the president today.

And it’s far from certain that Trump would be a two-time loser. Data from an NBC News poll shows that there are signs across racial and ethnic demographic groups that Republicans are fast becoming the party of blue-collar Americans and the change is happening quickly:

The blue-collar voter shift has policy implications for both Parties. Blue-collar voters tend to want different things from the government than those with white-collar jobs, on issues such as trade and even Wall Street regulation. Here’s another way to look at the growing GOP share of White blue-collar voters:

Among white-collar voters, the numbers have remained stable, with Democrats seeing a one percent increase and Republicans seeing a tiny drop. Turning to Hispanic voters, the Republicans are also dramatically improving their share by 57% in ten years:

Looking at these numbers, the big jump in the GOP’s blue-collar growth took place during Trump’s presidency. If the Republicans continue to try and peel these groups away from the Democrats, it means that they will be tied even more closely to Trump.

This is where we’re at as a country. There are two ways to appeal to these groups that are moving away from the Dems. A cultural appeal, and an economic one.

It’s obvious that what spoke to most of those who moved to the Republicans, was a cultural appeal, not economics. Trump signed the biggest tax cuts in US history for wealthy people. He tried awfully hard to repeal health care benefits and never produced anything better. He rolled back safety regulations.

He appealed to this cohort almost exclusively on cultural grounds. If some of these voters were to become motivated by economics, they should vote for Democrats next time, since they offer a far friendlier economic agenda. As a reminder, Democrats must be successful EVERY TIME the Republican Party attempts to steal an election. They only need to be successful once.

Moreover, the Big Lie, the claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump via massive voter fraud, is now a standard Republican talking point. So the national media allow them to say it repeatedly:

This was last Sunday. Even after an insurrection based on a lie, it’s become a Party talking point. The Capitol riot mob has become the Republican Party. And the moderators were ineffective in their efforts to push back.

OTOH, Democrats need to react to this clear Republican strategy to continue to peel off Dem voters based on cultural issues, along with a few conspiracy theories like Trump’s Big Lie that the presidential election was stolen in broad daylight, and that few believe Covid is an existential threat.

Andrew Levinson at the Democratic Strategist says Democrats need some out-of-the-box thinking to win in 2022 and 2024. He says that White working-class people can hold traditional attitudes about cultural and racial issues while supporting a range of progressive economic policies. He thinks that running as economic populists with vaguely Red cultural values, even in solid Red districts, will eventually bring success.

According to a USA Today/Suffolk poll released over the weekend, 46% of Republicans would join him if Trump made an effort to create his own party. That means about half may be still be open to persuasion by Democrats if they come with the right message.

Building a plan that will successfully counter the GOP’s effort to continue peeling away Democrats should be what all of the Democratic Party leadership are working on right now.

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Study of MAGA Supporters Reveals Dangers

The Daily Escape:

Sunrise, Mt. Hood, OR – 2021 photo by debuggerfly. The “smile” on Mt. Hood is called the Mississippi head wall.

The MAGA movement isn’t going away. Even if Trump’s political strength fades, the MAGAs are strong enough to remain a toxic element in our politics. Chris Parker at the University of Washington, along with Rachel Blum of the University of Oklahoma, have conducted what may be the first comprehensive national survey of MAGA supporters.

They surveyed about 1,500 self-identified MAGA members in December 2020 to try to better understand them. This wasn’t a poll, but an in-depth survey of MAGA attitudes. The study participants were found based on their MAGA activity on Facebook. Interestingly, the numbers are huge: They found 6,610,370 Facebook users self-identify as MAGA.

They are well-represented throughout the country, and their numbers correlate with population density. Less populous states have fewer members. This shows that MAGA presence is not limited to rural areas. In most states, MAGA respondents were clustered around major cities like Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, LA and New York.

After the Capitol riot, a subset of the group was re-interviewed specifically about that event. That questioning wrapped up around the end of January. It seems that to the MAGAs, there’s an alternate universe where the Trump coup didn’t happen:

  • More than 80% of the MAGA survey respondents say the Capitol riot wasn’t the fault of the GOP, and not Trump’s; Antifa was behind it.
  • 98% said they agree with Trump’s claim that the election was stolen.

In other words, it wasn’t Trump’s fault, so they don’t think Trump deserves any punishment or criticism for what happened.

And a new national poll released on Feb. 11, the American Perspectives survey of 2,016 adults, found that half of GOP voters nationwide agreed with this statement: “Antifa…was mostly responsible for the violence that happened in the riots at the US Capitol.” That’s an astounding level of delusion. It makes crystal clear how and why so many Republican politicians could end up looking the other way at an anti-democratic insurrection that killed five people.

The Parker/Rubin study found that MAGA members are not demographically diverse:

  • 60% are White, Christian, and male.
  • About half are retired, over 65 years of age, and earn at least $50K per year.
  • Roughly 30% have at least a college degree.

Since about half are middle-class by income, and nearly a third are middle-class by education. the data show that economic anxiety isn’t the primary explanation for Trumpism.

Roughly 85% of MAGA supporters are members of gun-rights groups. Approximately 60% are members of pro-police groups. In addition, 50% belong to anti-lockdown and pro-life groups. Significantly, only 38% of the MAGA movement identify with the “Stop the Steal” campaign, and only 23% identify with militia movements of any kind.

So what IS driving the MAGA movement? Parker and Blum ask: if they want to Make America Great Again, what’s wrong with America? They started with questions about racial resentment:

Note that 90% disagreed with whether “slavery and discrimination make it difficult for Blacks to work their way up,” and whether “Blacks have gotten less than they deserve”. A lot of their response seems to boil down to “I don’t want those people doing better than me.” What seems true is that resentment over possibly losing status is the driving force behind Trumpism.

What about views on immigrants and women?

  • 85% of respondents believe that “Immigration is changing the culture for the worse,”. They also believe that “Immigrants refuse to abide by our laws.”
  • On questions used to assess sexism, about 75% agreed that: 1) Women are seeking special favors; 2) Feminists make unreasonable demands of men; and 3) Feminists are seeking more power than men.

Parker and Blum asked a series of questions about political activism. At least 50% have signed a petition, contacted a representative, participated in a boycott, or donated funds to a campaign. Roughly 45% attended a political meeting, 35% have attended a rally, and 30% have volunteered for a campaign.

Approximately 90% of MAGA supporters self-identify as Republicans, or lean GOP, the rest saying that they are independents. Importantly to Trump’s Big Lie, they found that 90% of the MAGA movement disagreed with making it easier for people to vote:

Based on this survey, these MAGA loyalists do not believe in democracy. They are a threat to our country and will be a threat for many years to come. The GOP can’t let Trump go, because doing so would mean losing the MAGA vote, and the GOP needs each one of them in order to hold on to power.

This is why we should disregard the rosy comments that: “Our democracy was tested and survived! The system worked!

Every Republican needs to be asked two simple questions:

  1. Who won the 2020 US presidential election?
  2. Was it a free and fair election?

The answers are one word each: “Biden” and “yes.” If they can’t answer correctly, they are an enemy of democracy.

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Demographics of the Insurrection

The Daily Escape:

Winter at Oak Creek, Sedona, AZ – 2021 photo by mwinaz3106

With the impeachment trial underway, we’re seeing lots of video of the insurrectionists. Now, more than a month later, what do we know about the people who attacked the US Capitol on January 6? The truth is, we don’t know a whole lot, because we can only examine the demographics of those who have been arrested.

But that number has been growing, and two University of Chicago political scientists Robert A. Pape and Keven Ruby, have analyzed the demographics of 193 individuals arrested for entering the Capitol. Here are some characteristics of those arrested on January 6:

  • They are 94% white, and 86% male.
  • By age, 32% are between 35 to 44, 24% are aged 45 to 54, and 12% are 55-plus.
  • By economic status, 9% are unemployed, 27% are white-collar workers, and 13% business owners.
  • 10% are members of a right-wing militia/violent group.

Pape and Ruby have been studying right-wing violence for years, and they say the characteristics of those arrested on Jan. 6 are different from those arrested for right-wing violence in prior years. They are older, less likely to be unemployed, and less likely to be affiliated with right-wing groups.

They conclude that the differences are troubling because:

“Pro-Trump activists joined with the far right to form a new kind of violent mass movement….This is not about a few hundred arrests,….We need to understand who we are dealing with in the new movement. Targeting pre-2021 far-right organizations will not solve the problem.”

Pape and Ruby warn that the ingredients are there for a violent mass movement to grow. The ingredients are:

  • A leader (Trump) willing to engage in extra-legal activity.
  • Grievances perceived by large numbers of people (the “stolen” election).
  • A deadly focal point event (January 6).

An important finding from the Pape and Ruby study was that more than half came from counties that were won by Biden. And nearly 17% came from counties that Trump won with less than 60% of the vote. They found that 39% of suspected insurrectionists came from battleground counties, where Trump received between 40 and 60% of the vote, while 12% came from counties where less than 60% of the population is white. More from the study: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“Importantly, our statistics show that the larger the absolute number of Trump voters in a county—regardless of whether he won it—the more likely it was to be home to a Capitol arrestee. Big metropolitan centers where Biden won overwhelmingly…still have hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters. A third of suspected insurrectionists come from such counties; another quarter come from suburban counties of large metro areas.”

They conclude:

“This breakdown mirrors the American population as a whole—and that is the point. If you presumed that only the reddest parts of America produce potential insurrectionists, you would be incorrect.”

Again, we’re dealing with limited data, but Trump has actively been fomenting division for the past five years. He has been aided and abetted by most of the Republican Party. This has made the people who attacked the Capitol and those around America who still think that Trump won the election into a bunch of entitled assholes who have no regard for democracy.

The bottom line is that regardless of their financial histories, they feel that they’ve been wronged. They’ve developed a grievance, and they tend to connect that to a broader issue, in this case, Trump’s false claims of a stolen election.

But in what world is being a fuckup somehow a reason to riot? How did that get to be the government’s fault? Or the fault of Pelosi and Pence, the people they wanted to assassinate at the Capitol?

Life is hard for everyone, but not everyone gears up and invades the Capitol.

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Myanmar Coup Parallels Trump’s Coup

The Daily Escape:

Last light on Mt. St. John, MT – 2021 photo by vincentledvina

Tuesday was the deadline for Trump’s brand-new legal team to present their briefs to the Senate for the impeachment trial that is due to start next Monday. The House impeachment managers have delivered their trial brief to the Senate.

And Trump’s lawyers filed their answer, arguing his incitement was protected by the First Amendment, that the House moved too quickly to impeach, and although he was impeached while still President, the Senate can’t constitutionally try him now that he’s out of office.

As we head into next week’s impeachment circus, there are parallels between the attempted Trump coup in DC and the military coup that just took place in Myanmar. First, an update: Troops there are patrolling the streets and a night-time curfew is in force. A one-year state of emergency was declared with Senior General Min Aung Hlaing in control. Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the civilian leader of the government, along with several other leaders of her National League for Democracy party (NLD) were arrested in a series of raids. Later, the military announced that 24 ministers and deputies had been removed, and 11 replacements had been named, including in finance, health, and the interior and foreign affairs.

It’s unclear what will happen next.

But, check out the similarities between what has happened there, compared to what happened here three weeks ago in Washington:

  • The military coup follows weeks of tensions between the armed forces and the government following parliamentary elections lost by the army-backed opposition party.
  • The opposition had demanded a re-run of the election, raising allegations of widespread fraud that were not confirmed by Myanmar’s electoral commission.
  • The coup occurred on the week that the first session of Parliament since the election was due to start. That session would have certified the election result by seating the next government.

What differentiates Myanmar from the Jan. 6 coup in America is that in Myanmar, there was an “army-backed opposition.” When the opposition lost the election, the military claimed fraud, demanded a do-over, and then intervened before the new Parliament could legitimize the results.

Apparently in Myanmar, there has been an ongoing power struggle between the head of the military and Aung San Suu Kyi. The two have rarely met since 2015, often only at public events. Suu Kyi’s party wasn’t simply a victim in this coup. Last November, her government barred huge numbers of Myanmar’s ethnic minorities, who typically support their own political parties, from participating in national elections. Her party then won in a landslide.

And last year, Suu Kyi attempted to push through constitutional amendments that would have gradually shrunk the military’s share of Parliament from 25% to 5%. It failed, but this may have been what turned the military against her.

One lesson to take from Myanmar as we head into next week’s impeachment trial is that Trump’s coup may have failed because he didn’t have the support of the US military.

All of our institutions matter, they need to be strong. While they can be bureaucratic, inefficient, and boring, they always matter. Trump tried to use the courts to overturn the election, and failed. He tried to use the state-level electoral vote certification process to overturn the election, and failed. He tried to use his base to invade the US Capitol to block the certification of the Electoral College Vote on Jan. 6, and it failed.

Trump couldn’t use the US military to overturn the election despite a significant number of military supporting him, and believing that the election was rigged. That’s because the US military has never been a political tool, and it wasn’t going to change that by being a tool for Trump.

America isn’t Myanmar. In many less developed countries the military has an important political role. We’re in an entirely different situation, at least for the present, and hopefully, forever.

The fight for American democracy cannot be left to election officials, judges, or corporations like Twitter. It must first be fought by the Republican Party, many of whom still say the presidential election was a fraud, and who still refuse to acknowledge Biden as president. They have to reject their Sedition Caucus. Then Democrats and Republicans together can reset the terms of the political battle in America.

Democracy is a contest of ideas; it isn’t simply a propaganda war. It must start from a shared reality, one that Trump and his followers fail to see.

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Corporations, Not Congress, Do The Right Thing

The Daily Escape:

Winter, Stowe VT – photo by John H. Knox

On January 6 2021 America’s professional managerial class felt fear for the first time since WWII. These corporate titans saw our democracy stumble. And they didn’t like it, since they have a vested interest in the US continuing to be a stable democracy. They rely on the rule of law to allow them to operate in a predictable and rational environment. That environment was jeopardized last week.

For the moment, the USA is effectively without a leader. We’ve heard no public briefings from the White House, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, or the Justice Department about what happened on January 6, or what has happened since. We’ve heard only Trump say he isn’t responsible for the attack on the Capitol.

The acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security resigned. The Defense Department is being run by a Trump lackey. Outgoing Secretary of State Pompeo is trying to blow up the entire Biden administration by recognizing the independence of Taiwan.

America is crying out for leadership, and a broad coalition of CEOs stepped up to silence Trump. These CEOs acted faster and more effectively as a check on the president’s power than Congress could, or would. A new overt corporatist political force is emerging, and Facebook (excuse the pun) is its face. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said:

“You cannot call for violence…the risk to our democracy was too big. We felt that we had to take the unprecedented step of an indefinite ban, and I’m glad that we did.”

Twitter followed suit with a permanent Trump ban.

For years, many people, including Trump, have used these platforms to undermine democracy. Since before the November election, they have used these platforms to attempt to nullify the results of the November election, and install Donald Trump as an illegitimate president. From Jonathan Last:

“Had this attempt been successful, it would have been the end of American democracy and, consequently, the failure of the rule of law. This would have had dire consequences for Twitter, Facebook, and every company in America because it would have meant that they were no longer subject to the predictable process of the rule of law, but rather…the pleasure of a strongman.”

Despite the whining on the Right, there is no right of free speech on private platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Google. Those companies built, and now operate their platforms, and they are available to most for free. That doesn’t imply that individuals or corporations must be free to say anything they want while using them.

The people who run Twitter and Facebook are just as qualified to make judgments about what’s useful for a healthy society as any Right Wing politician. Anyone who says that these platform companies must simply let anyone join their platforms, and then allow them to do whatever they want, are simply wrong.

We’ve learned last week that when a sitting president threatens the political stability of the country by inciting an insurrectionist mob that storms the Capitol, corporate America will do everything in its power to restrain him.

This week, the tech giants including Facebook, Google, Amazon and Twitter worked in concert to decapitate Trump and the extreme Right.

Other corporations pulled political funding from all legislators who supported overturning the result of November’s free and fair election. Several major companies on Monday said they planned to cut off political donations to the 147 members of Congress who last week voted against certifying the results of the presidential election. Other major corporations said they are suspending all contributions from their political action committees. This is a sign of corporate America’s growing unease with the election falsehoods promoted by Trump, along with the violent attacks he encouraged.

All of this happened before the House could even schedule a vote on impeachment.

It also highlights the inaction by the Senate. For the first time in the last ten presidential transitions, the GOP-led Senate is not confirming Biden cabinet members prior to the inauguration.

There will be no head of the CIA, no Homeland Security secretary, Attorney General, Secretary of State, or Secretary of Health and Human Services when Biden takes office. This, despite being hip deep in a domestic terror attack during a pandemic that’s killed nearly 400,000 Americans.

And everyone should have a problem with the fact that the New England Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick, by refusing Trump’s offer of a Medal of Freedom, is showing more moral leadership than any Republican Representative or Senator.

Between the demonstrations we saw last summer, through the Georgia Senate runoff election, political activism is on the rise across America. That now includes major corporations.

There will be no going back.

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The Attempted Coup

The Daily Escape:

Trump supporters storm the US Capitol in Washington D.C on January 6, 2021. – Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP

Yesterday, while driving home after the gym, Wrongo thought that it would be a good day for some champagne, given the Democrats’ double play in Georgia that had flipped control of the Senate.

By mid-afternoon, that idea was dead.

What we saw in the Capitol on Wednesday ranks near the top of a very short list of unimaginable and historic insults to the American system. Wrongo was in college when JFK was killed. He was in the US military when RFK and MLK were killed, but none of those events make his top three insults to our way of life, and our democracy.

Wrongo’s top three have all occurred since 2000. They are: the 9/11 attack, Katrina, and Wednesday’s attempted coup. All demonstrated how weak our government is when truly threatened. We were threatened from outside on 9/11 by al-Qaeda, threatened by Mother Nature in Katrina, and finally, we are currently threatened by fellow citizens seeking to install Trump as president, despite his losing the election.

It’s hard to overstate what happened yesterday. The Capitol was attacked. Guns were drawn. People died. Congressmen and senators had to hide. And the president’s allies in the mob and in Congress tried to overturn the election. Let’s give some perspective to the attack on the Capitol.

  1. Trump has organized an armed militia within the Republican Party. Our politicians and press watched him do it. In some cases, members of both groups facilitated the organizing!
  2. What happened yesterday was a national effort. Fox News reports that at the same time the takeover of the US Capitol was happening, like-minded protesters descended on state houses, prompting multiple evacuations. Fox reports that protesters entered state houses in 11 states.
  3. The Capitol invaders came disturbingly close to achieving their objective. Sen Jeff Merkley tweeted a photo of the boxes containing the Electoral College ballots that were rescued from the Senate floor just before the rioters broke in. The boxes were removed by Senate floor staff. Otherwise they could have been taken by the rioters and destroyed. Had that happened, Biden’s Inauguration would certainly have been delayed.
  4. The Capitol Police were utterly unprepared. Why? The likely attack was well known in advance. For weeks, Trump supporters openly discussed the idea of violent protest on the day Congress would meet to certify the result. Leaders of the Stop the Steal movement called their Wednesday demonstration the Wild Protest, a name taken from a tweet by Trump that encouraged his supporters to take their grievances to the streets of Washington. It “Will be wild,” he tweeted.
  5. Quite a few of the Capitol Police didn’t put up a real fight. Some took selfies with the rioters. Similarly, neither the DC cops, nor the Capitol Police, treated these White terrorists as terrorists. We need to recognize that in America today, police forces are filled with extremists who sympathize with people like the White terrorists who stormed the Capitol. There needs to be a cleansing of extremists from the police, or they will become a force multiplier for the Trump militia.
  6. How America handles White conservative protestors versus how America handles protestors of color is clear. The summer’s Black Lives Matter protests in DC had a very impressive show of National Guard support. For Wednesday’s White Right protests, the Guard wasn’t called in until after the Capitol had been breached. Many noted that DC cannot protect itself. It needed approval from the Commander-in-Chief, who in this case, was one of the enemy. This provides a compelling reason for DC to be granted statehood.
  7. Last night finally made it clear that unchecked authority is incompatible with the Constitution. Some Republican politicians (but too few) finally understood that their posturing has consequences. Some Trump appointees responded appropriately to the coup attempt, citing their oath to the Constitution. But others dawdled until Mike Pence took action. It will take some time until we understand why some decided to continue to protect the president rather than the Constitution.

What happened yesterday was unprecedented in the nation’s history, and we’re not out of the woods. It is 13 days until Trump most likely plunges the nation’s capital into havoc again by refusing to leave the White House. His destruction of our norms shouldn’t go unanswered, and the Constitution offers remedies. Now the Cabinet and the Congress must pursue them. There must be a cost for his coup attempt. Trump must pay.

Today, Trump stated that he will leave office, but he also promised to sustain his insurgency. On top of everything else Biden has to deal with, he now has to coup-proof the US government

Wrongo attended a few riots in the 1960s. Biden needs to figure out if this coup attempt represents the true feelings of a large segment of the population, or not. The danger is that tens of millions of armed Americans who won’t simply stand down are behind yesterday’s coup attempt.

But some riots can be simply sound and fury. They can peter out, either because they don’t represent a large enough segment, or it’s clear that they can’t change the thing they’re angry about.

We’re stuck with hoping that this battle will return to being waged on Twitter and Facebook, and not in the streets. It’s somewhat encouraging that the protestors were taking selfies and souvenirs, not setting up barricades.

It’s hopeful that every Republican of consequence has turned on Trump. Maybe, he’s finally disgraced.

Those Republicans who supported Trump now understand that they must uphold the Constitution, not Trump. Those that continue to support him will end their political careers.

Let’s hope it’s over.

Here’s a song for Trump to go out on: Let’s listen to “Commander-in-Chief” by Demi Lovato. It’s a powerful anti-Trump message:

Lyrics:

Commander in Chief, honestly
If I did the things you do, I couldn’t sleep
Seriously, do you even know the truth?
We’re in a state of crisis, people are dying
While you line your pockets deep

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Trump’s Subversive Ploy

The Daily Escape:

Sunrise, Mauna Kea, HI – 2020 photo by laramarie27

When the joint session of Congress begins on Wednesday at 1 pm, all eyes will be on VP Mike Pence. He has a ceremonial role with just three duties: Open the states’ envelopes, hand them to tellers to count, and announce the winners.

  • Article 2 of the Constitution dictates that the president of the Senate, (Mike Pence) shall open the envelopes that contain the electors’ votes and the certifications from every state. Then it says that the votes shall be counted, but it doesn’t specify how. So Congress remedied that with:
  • The Electoral Count Act of 1887 along with subsequent statutes are designed to minimize the role of Congress in election disputes, giving that responsibility clearly to the states. The Act specifies the procedures states should follow to resolve disputes, how they should certify the results, and the fact that each state’s governor should send those certified results to Congress.

If those procedures are followed, then those certified electoral votes will be counted. But in Trumpland, things are always different.

At the joint session, as Pence opens each state’s envelope (in alphabetical order), he hands it to four tellers— two chosen by the Senate, two by the House— who then count the electoral votes inside and keep a running tally. The objections in writing to a particular state’s electoral votes by a member of the House and a member of the Senate must happen prior to beginning the counting process for the next state.

Sen Ted Cruz (R-TX) announced that he’s going to object to Arizona’s votes. Arizona is third in alphabetical order, but no Republican will object to the votes from Alabama or Alaska since Trump won both states. Expect a few Republican House back-benchers to join Cruz.

There will likely be objections to the votes from Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania, and maybe more. The Representatives and Senators will then retreat to their respective Houses, debate the objection for up to two hours, then vote on it. And this will happen for each state that Trump is trying to overturn the electoral vote results.

At the conclusion of this kabuki play, we will get a definitive count of Republicans who are happy to undermine democracy on the basis of lies, conspiracy theories, and grifting. This should be the easiest vote of their careers: simply doing their Constitutional duty. But, as Michael Gerson says:

“They not only help a liar; they become liars. They not only empower conspiracy theories; they join a conspiracy against American democracy. They not only excuse institutional arson; they set fire to the Constitution and dance around the flame…..they are no longer just allies of a subversive; they become instruments of subversion.”

Settle in for at least a day (possibly two) of tediousness.

If there were no objections, then after the tellers counted all the electoral votes, they would hand the results to Pence, who would then be required to announce the names of the winning president and vice president. In this case, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

But on Wednesday January 6, 2021, roughly half of all the elected Republicans in the federal government will vote to overthrow America’s democratic system. Republicans have not only decided Democratic victories are illegitimate, this is now their playbook for prosecuting their case.

They have been getting progressively and more conspiratorial and transparently undemocratic. Their behavior in these final days of the 2020 election cycle shows that there is no limit to how far they can go.  So they will go farther. They always do.

They’ve decided it’s to their advantage to blow up our democratic system and assert that no election is valid unless they win it. That’s where we are today. Sadly, it’s also likely where we’ll be in Georgia Tuesday night after the polls close, and before the final tallies are in.

Objections have happened before. It’s not a big deal, but it becomes a big deal when one Party turns the vote certification process into enough of a circus that people believe the election was stolen.

Unfortunately, that ship has sailed.

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Monday Wake Up Call – Sedition Edition, December 21, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Arches NP – photo by Jack Bell Photography

Maggie Haberman of the NYT reported the scary details of a meeting at the White House on Friday. During the meeting, Trump tried to hire Sidney Powell as special counsel to continue the investigation into Trump’s claims of voter fraud. He also asked advisors about declaring martial law, an idea floated by Michael Flynn, the general he recently pardoned.

The meeting’s attendees included Powell, Flynn, and Rudy Guilani via phone, along with White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. In addition to talk of martial law and Sidney Powell obtaining special counsel status and a top-level security clearance, Giuliani floated the idea of Trump issuing an executive order to commandeer Dominion Voting Systems voting machines. Giuliani had previously called Ken Cuccinelli, number two at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and asked him whether DHS could seize voting machines. Cuccinelli said that DHS didn’t have that authority.

Haberman reported that Meadows and Cipollone strenuously and repeatedly objected to these suggestions, saying they had no constitutional basis for going forward. Apparently, the meeting lasted several hours, and things got pretty heated. More from Haberman:

“The meeting got raucous, with various administration members drifting in and out and different people arguing. Powell told others they were quitters…”

The Washington Times, a right-leaning newspaper in DC reported that on Saturday, the military said it wants no part in the martial law discussion. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said in a joint statement:

“There is no role for the US military in determining the outcome of an American election,”

This shows how weak our government really is. With the right people supporting Trump, he could have attempted a military coup and overturned the election. This also shows how seditious Trump has become in the wake of his election loss. Thinking about, and possibly calling for, troops to stop a democratically elected president from taking office have taken his voter fraud claims to a much darker and militaristic place.

Since Trump has been thinking about suspending the Constitution and invoking martial law to overturn the election, he and his associates are committing seditious acts that should be treated accordingly.

America needs to make the price Trump pays for thinking about sedition higher than his price for accepting Biden’s win.

Now would be a good time for Biden to state publicly that attempts to violate election laws, or undermine democracy through overt and/or covert acts will be investigated by his DOJ, and that they will go wherever the evidence leads.

There are practical problems to think about: how will the incoming Biden team deal with a Trump administration that simply won’t agree to leave? Trump has stooges at the Department of Defense and the Justice Department. The Pentagon has already called a halt to transition activities, ostensibly until after Christmas, but who really knows?

What if Lloyd Austin, Biden’s new Secretary of Defense shows up at the Pentagon, and is denied entrance? Who does Biden appeal to? Trump? What happens when Trump refuses to take Biden’s call?

Does Biden ask the DOJ to step in? Trump’s stooge is sitting there as well. Does Biden ask the Supreme Court to intervene? What happens next?

None of us have any idea what’s going to happen between now and January 20th, but we need a concerted effort to strengthen the guardrails of our democracy. Trump has exposed just how weak our safeguards are.

The US is one month away from inaugurating a president who will follow established norms and conventions. There’s one more month for Trump to try martial-lawing his way out from under the nastiness that awaits him upon his leaving MAGAstan.

Time to wake up America! Trump has already tried several non-military coups, from trying to influence state electors, to multiple lawsuits attempting to throw out election results. It’s not really a question of what Trump is willing to do. And he’s not going to give up. We left “peaceful, dignified transfer of power” behind several weeks ago.

It’s now a question of how many people in our government institutions won’t play along with his coup. To help you wake up, have a listen to Leslie Odom Jr. perform “Winter Song”, featuring Cynthia Erivo.

The lyrics were written by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson:

 

 

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Trump’s Real Plan is Working

The Daily Escape:

Snow in the Bigelow Preserve, Stratton, ME – December 2020 photo by CaptainScrummy

So you think that America will cruise in to the acceptance of the Electoral College vote by a Joint Session of Congress on January 6, and Trump and the millions of members in his Lost Cause will just fade away? Think again:

The past four years have been a train wreck, and Trump has been the conductor.

In one way, Trump’s attempted soft coup is failing. After all, his hand-packed Supreme Court wouldn’t hear the case designed to overturn Pennsylvania’s election win for Biden. Yet, as the tweet above shows, Trump’s continuing effort to poison our voting process may yet lead to some terrible things.

But, is PA Sen Ward telling us the truth? Does she really fear Republican partisans? Or, is this an ex-post excuse for doing what they all wanted to do anyway? WaPo’s Greg Sergeant makes a good point:

“What matters is that many of them (Republicans) are entirely willing to support specific concrete actions to steal the election on Trump’s behalf.”

Aaron Blake notes that state GOP officials so far have overwhelmingly sided against Trump’s voter fraud claims, when they are forced to decide. But as we showed on Monday, Republicans are keeping their powder dry waiting for the House and Senate meetings to accept the Electoral College votes: (brackets by Wrongo)

“…just as notable as the lack of Republicans willing to say Biden is the president-elect is the lack of buy-in on Trump’s claims from other Republicans. They…have a choice to make if their colleagues press the issue, [by arguing against acceptance of the Electoral College vote at the January 6 joint session of Congress]”

Jonathan Last makes it clear what’s going on:

“Everyone laughs at how stupid the Trump lawsuits are. Can you believe these morons? They lose everywhere! Even Republican judges keep slapping them down! How embarrassing for Trump!

But that’s the wrong way to think about Trump’s actions since November 3. Because his goal hasn’t been to keep the office of the president. It’s been to keep the Republican Party.”

More:

“On the morning of November 4, Donald Trump faced two problems. The first was that he was going to lose the power of the presidency. The second was that this loss endangered his ownership of the GOP.”

Last says that for Trump, the lawsuits, the posturing, the attempted coup— all would still be nice if he were to be re-inaugurated January 21. But that’s a secondary objective. The primary objective was to stop the Republican Party from leaving him:

“…owning a major political party isn’t as useful as being president. But it’s not nothing….In a two-party system, you can exert a great deal of power by being the head of a Party. You have businesses and foreign governments that will pay tribute to you. You have an audience of something like 40 million partisans who can be mined for contributions and mobilized as a flash mob whenever you need them.”

Unfortunately, these millions out in TrumpWorld don’t know they’re being conned. They still actually believe that Trump will win reelection.  That’s dangerous, because many of them will be shocked when reality hits. What is most worrisome is the possibility of something happening that makes them feel they have license for mass violence. We can try to minimize the threat posed by Republican passivity, but there are always lone wolves who will try to do horrible things.

Can the Republican Party move on from Trump? It could, but that requires the next generation of ambitious presidential aspirants to replace Trump in the daily political discussion. But Trump won 74 million votes, more than any other Republican, just last month. And the base’s acceptance of Trump’s claim that he really won preempts the plans of the next generation.

The other Republican presidential aspirants have realized that the best path forward is to say they believe the voter fraud line. That means their incentive is to outbid their peers in expressing support for Trump’s claims of victory. Let’s leave it to Jonathan Last to close:

“….the minimum ante for Republican politics is now support for an insane conspiracy theory.”

Unlike his predecessors, Trump has not called Biden, much less invited him to the White House. Trump has indicated that he may not attend Biden’s inauguration, which would make him the first sitting president since Andrew Johnson in 1869 to refuse to participate in the most important ritual of the America’s democratic transfer of power.

Our democracy is on a knife edge right now. Even if we’re certain that Biden will prevail, the kowtowing to Trump by Republicans isn’t going to end soon, or well.

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Trump’s End Game

The Daily Escape:

”The Gates” by Christo, Central Park, NYC – 2005. A series of 7,503 vinyl “gates” were installed along 23 miles of Central Park pathways. The exhibit ran for 15 days, from February 12, 2005 through February 27, 2005. Wrongo and Ms.Right saw it on February 13th 2005.

From the AP:

“Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.”

Nothing Barr says makes any difference to the Trump true believers. Many Trump supporters have been calling for investigations by the FBI and Justice Department, but the Justice Department won’t be going there.

It makes no difference to the lawyers trying to make a buck on Trump’s quasi-legal actions. And there is quite a troop of legal monkeys like Rudy Giuliani, Sydney Powell, Lin Wood and Joe DiGenova. And some are spewing hate messages while reinforcing the Trump message of voter fraud. Here are two:

Lin Wood is a Georgia-based attorney best known for representing the wrongly accused bomber, Richard Jewell. He also apparently represents Donald Trump.

Joseph DiGenova, who is still helping Giuliani in challenging the 2020 presidential election results said this on a radio show about Chris Krebs, the Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, who was fired by Trump after saying America held its “most secure election”:

“Anybody who thinks the election went well, like that idiot Krebs who used to be the head of cybersecurity. That guy is a class A moron. He should be drawn and quartered. Taken out at dawn and shot.”

Wrongo is an advocate of free speech, but these people are fomenting assassination and a civil war, and should be stopped. Chris Krebs apparently is suing DiGenova.

But for Trump, the effort to destroy democracy is profitable. By pretending he didn’t lose, and has some legal avenues to remain in power, Trump gets to use the money he raises on pretty much whatever he wants. According to the NYT, so far, Trump has raised $170 million. The WaPo describes the funds-raising as using “a blizzard of misleading appeals about the election”. And Kurt Andersen tweets that:

“Donors on Mr. Trump’s website are opted in with a prechecked box to make monthly contributions.”

But as of Monday, all of the key swing states that Trump has been contesting — Arizona, Wisconsin, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Nevada — all certified Biden’s victory.

In other words, the 2020 election is over. Again.

But there also seems to be time for some hot elephant on elephant action: Republicans in Ohio have decided to try and impeach their Republican governor, Mike DeWine over his effort to contain the spread of Covid. DeWine imposed a three-week curfew from 10 pm to 5 am, and his fellow Republicans are outraged.

On Monday, Arizona’s Republican governor Ducey held a short ceremony to certify Joe Biden’s election win. He also certified the election of Democrat Mark Kelly to the US Senate. During the ceremony, Trump called on Ducey’s mobile phone, but he didn’t pick it up; he kept speaking. Trump did not take that well. He called into an Arizona election hearing Rudy Giuliani was holding, and said to the audience:

“Arizona will not forget what Ducey just did…”

You see, for Republicans, freedom isn’t free. My freedom costs yours. Democrats and other Leftists would be able to understand this, if only they loved America and freedom like Republicans do.

Republicans have been pushing extreme conspiracy theories at least since the 1950s with McCarthy and the John Birch Society. These are the same people whose fathers had “Jane Fonda Traitor Bitch” bumper stickers in the 80s and accused every liberal of being a communist. It’s natural enough that after 70 years, they really believe them. The Trumpers do not understand how a candidate who could fill arenas could lose to a candidate who barely left home.

So what’s Trump’s end game? Money in the bank can fund a presidency-in-exile. A significant portion of his dedicated followers certainly plan to stay engaged. There’s even some evidence that he may try to torpedo the Georgia Senate races. A recent poll showed that 54% of Republicans want Trump to run again in 2024.

OTOH, if that poll is correct, millions of Trump voters are done with him. Maybe he runs. But it may be that the rest of the GOP are ready to turn to one of the younger, more promising Republican creeps in the Senate.

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