Sunday, November 29, 2020

Something to Know - 29 November

The time from now until January 20th is the outgoing #45's mark of his legacy.  The whole world is watching as he takes his sledge hammer, and wildly swings away at anything that gives him the feeling of revenge.  He cares not for the people being served by a president; as we all know he only cares for himself.  If he is searching for any feelings of empathy, especially his pending legal problems, he is not helping himself. You can read this Washington Post story about the day-by-day swirling of the drain as Trump's fantasy plays out in its final drips into the sewer.   If you care not to read it, enjoy HCR's recap:

20 days of fantasy and failure: Inside Trump's quest to overturn the election

Philip Rucker, 
Ashley Parker, 
Josh Dawsey and 
Amy Gardner
November 28, 2020 at 4:08 p.m. PST

The facts were indisputable: President Trump had lost.
But Trump refused to see it that way. Sequestered in the White House and brooding out of public view after his election defeat, rageful and at times delirious in a torrent of private conversations, Trump was, in the telling of one close adviser, like "Mad King George, muttering, 'I won. I won. I won.' "

However cleareyed Trump's aides may have been about his loss to President-elect Joe Biden, many of them nonetheless indulged their boss and encouraged him to keep fighting with legal appeals. They were "happy to scratch his itch," this adviser said. "If he thinks he won, it's like, 'Shh . . . we won't tell him.' "

Trump campaign pollster John McLaughlin, for instance, discussed with Trump a poll he had conducted after the election that showed Trump with a positive approval rating, a plurality of the country who thought the media had been "unfair and biased against him" and a majority of voters who believed their lives were better than four years earlier, according to two people familiar with the conversation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. As expected, Trump lapped it up.

The result was an election aftermath without precedent in U.S. history. With his denial of the outcome, despite a string of courtroom defeats, Trump endangered America's democracy, threatened to undermine national security and public health, and duped millions of his supporters into believing, perhaps permanently, that Biden was elected illegitimately.

President Trump lost his bid for re-election, but he and many of his most fervent supporters have refused to accept it. (Jon Gerberg/The Washington Post)
Trump's allegations and the hostility of his rhetoric — and his singular power to persuade and galvanize his followers — generated extraordinary pressure on state and local election officials to embrace his fraud allegations and take steps to block certification of the results. When some of them refused, they accepted security details for protection from the threats they were receiving.

"It was like a rumor Whac-A-Mole," said Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Despite being a Republican who voted for Trump, Raffensperger said he refused repeated attempts by Trump allies to get him to cross ethical lines. "I don't think I had a choice. My job is to follow the law. We're not going to get pushed off the needle on doing that. Integrity still matters."

All the while, Trump largely abdicated the responsibilities of the job he was fighting so hard to keep, chief among them managing the coronavirus pandemic as the numbers of infections and deaths soared across the country. In an ironic twist, the Trump adviser tapped to coordinate the post-election legal and communications campaign, David Bossie, tested positive for the virus a few days into his assignment and was sidelined.
Only on Nov. 23 did Trump reluctantly agree to initiate a peaceful transfer of power by permitting the federal government to officially begin Biden's transition — yet still he protested that he was the true victor.

The 20 days between the election on Nov. 3 and the greenlighting of Biden's transition exemplified some of the hallmarks of life in Trump's White House: a government paralyzed by the president's fragile emotional state; advisers nourishing his fables; expletive-laden feuds between factions of aides and advisers; and a pernicious blurring of truth and fantasy.

Though Trump ultimately failed in his quest to steal the election, his weeks-long jeremiad succeeded in undermining faith in elections and the legitimacy of Biden's victory.
This account of one of the final chapters in Trump's presidency is based on interviews with 32 senior administration officials, campaign aides and other advisers to the president, as well as other key figures in his legal fight, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details about private discussions and to candidly assess the situation.

In the days after the election, as Trump scrambled for an escape hatch from reality, the president largely ignored his campaign staff and the professional lawyers who had guided him through the Russia investigation and the impeachment trial, as well as the army of attorneys who stood ready to file legitimate court challenges.

Instead, Trump empowered loyalists who were willing to tell him what he wanted to hear — that he would have won in a landslide had the election not been rigged and stolen — and then to sacrifice their reputations by waging a campaign in courtrooms and in the media to convince the public of that delusion.
The effort culminated Nov. 19, when lawyers Rudolph W. Giuliani, Jenna Ellis and Sidney Powell spoke on the president's behalf at the headquarters of the Republican National Committee to allege a far-reaching and coordinated plot to steal the election for Biden. They argued that Democratic leaders rigged the vote in a number of majority-Black cities, and that voting machines were tampered with by communist forces in Venezuela at the direction of Hugo Chávez, the Venezuelan leader who died seven years ago.
There was no evidence to support any of these claims.

Trump campaign lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani claimed Nov. 19 that President Trump lost the election because of a baseless conspiracy theory. (Zach Purser Brown/The Washington Post)
The Venezuelan tale was too fantastical even for Trump, a man predisposed to conspiracy theories who for years has feverishly spread fiction. Advisers described the president as unsure about the latest gambit — made worse by the fact that what looked like black hair dye mixed with sweat had formed a trail dripping down both sides of Giuliani's face during the news conference. Trump thought the presentation made him "look like a joke," according to one campaign official who discussed it with him.

"I, like everyone else, have yet to see any evidence of it, but it's a thriller — you've got Chávez, seven years after his death, orchestrating this international conspiracy that politicians in both parties are funding," a Republican official said facetiously. "It's an insane story."
Aides said the president was especially disappointed in Powell when Tucker Carlson, host of Fox News's most-watched program, assailed her credibility on the air after she declined to provide any evidence to support her fraud claims.

Trump pushed Powell out. And, after days of prodding by advisers, he agreed to permit the General Services Administration to formally initiate the Biden transition — a procedural step that amounted to a surrender. Aides said this was the closest Trump would probably come to conceding the election.

Yet even that incomplete surrender was short-lived. Trump went on to falsely claim that he "won," that the election was "a total scam" and that his legal challenges would continue "full speed ahead." He spent part of Thanksgiving calling advisers to ask if they believed he really had lost the election, according to a person familiar with the calls. "Do you think it was stolen?" the person said Trump asked on the holiday.
But, his advisers acknowledged, that was largely noise from a president still coming to terms with losing. As November was coming to a close, Biden rolled out his Cabinet picks, states certified his wins, electors planned to make it official when the electoral college meets Dec. 14 and federal judges spoke out.
A simple and clear refutation of the president came Friday from a Trump appointee, when Judge Stephanos Bibas of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit wrote a unanimous opinion rejecting the president's request for an emergency injunction to overturn the certification of Pennsylvania's election results.

"Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy," Bibas wrote. "Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here."
For Trump, it was over.
"Not only did our institutions hold, but the most determined effort by a president to overturn the people's verdict in American history really didn't get anywhere," said William A. Galston, chair of the governance studies program at the Brookings Institution. "It's not that it fell short. It didn't get anywhere. This, to me, is remarkable."
'There has to be a conspiracy'

Trump has repeatedly — and falsely — claimed that the election was rigged. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Trump's devolution into disbelief of the results began on election night in the White House, where he joined campaign manager Bill Stepien, senior advisers Jared Kushner and Jason Miller, and other top aides in a makeshift war room to monitor returns.

In the run-up to the election, Trump was aware of the fact — or likelihood, according to polls — that he could lose. He commented a number of times to aides, "Oh, wouldn't it be embarrassing to lose to this guy?"
But in the final stretch of the campaign, nearly everyone — including the president — believed he was going to win. And early on election night, Trump and his team thought they were witnessing a repeat of 2016, when he defied polls and expectations to build an insurmountable lead in the electoral college.
Then Fox News called Arizona for Biden.
"He was yelling at everyone," a senior administration official recalled of Trump's reaction. "He was like, 'What the hell? We were supposed to be winning Arizona. What's going on?' He told Jared to call [News Corp. Executive Chairman Rupert] Murdoch."
Efforts by Kushner and others on the Trump team to persuade Fox to take back its Arizona call failed.
Trump and his advisers were furious, in part because calling Arizona for Biden undermined Trump's scattershot plan to declare victory on election night if it looked as though he had sizable leads in enough states.
With Biden now just one state away from clinching a majority 270 votes in the electoral college and the media narrative turned sharply against him, Trump decided to claim fraud. And his team set out to try to prove it.
Throughout the summer and fall, Trump had laid the groundwork for claiming a "rigged" election, as he often termed it, warning of widespread fraud. Former chief of staff John F. Kelly told others that Trump was "getting his excuse ready for when he loses the election," according to a person who heard his comments.

In June, during an Oval Office meeting with political advisers and outside consultants, Trump raised the prospect of suing state governments for how they administer elections and said he could not believe they were allowed to change the rules. All the states, he said, should follow the same rules. Advisers told him that he did not want the federal government in charge of elections.
Trump also was given several presentations by his campaign advisers about the likely surge in mail-in ballots — in part because many Americans felt safer during the pandemic voting by mail than in person — and was told they would go overwhelmingly against him, according to a former campaign official.
Advisers and allies, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), encouraged Trump to try to close the gap in mail-in voting, arguing that he would need some of his voters, primarily seniors, to vote early by mail. But Trump instead exhorted his supporters not to vote by mail, claiming they could not trust that their ballots would be counted.
"It was sort of insane," the former campaign official said.
Ultimately, it was the late count of mail-in ballots that erased Trump's early leads in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and other battleground states and propelled Biden to victory. As Trump watched his margins shrink and then reverse, he became enraged, and he saw a conspiracy at play.
"You really have to understand Trump's psychology," said Anthony Scaramucci, a longtime Trump associate and former White House communications director who is now estranged from the president. "The classic symptoms of an outsider is, there has to be a conspiracy. It's not my shortcomings, but there's a cabal against me. That's why he's prone to these conspiracy theories."

This fall, deputy campaign manager Justin Clark, Republican National Committee counsel Justin Riemer and others laid plans for post-election litigation, lining up law firms across the country for possible recounts and ballot challenges, people familiar with the work said. This was the kind of preparatory work presidential campaigns typically do before elections. Giuliani, Ellis and Powell were not involved.
This team had some wins in court against Democrats in a flurry of lawsuits in the months leading up to the election, on issues ranging from absentee ballot deadlines to signature-matching rules.
But Trump's success rate in court would change considerably after Nov. 3. The arguments that began pouring in from Giuliani and others on Trump's post-election legal team left federal judges befuddled. In one Pennsylvania case, some lawyers left the Trump team before Giuliani argued the case to a judge. Giuliani had met with the lawyers and wanted to make arguments they were uncomfortable making, campaign advisers said.
For example, the Trump campaign argued in federal court in Philadelphia two days after the election to stop the count because Republican observers had been barred. Under sharp questioning from Judge Paul S. Diamond, however, campaign lawyers conceded that Trump in fact had "a nonzero number of people in the room," leaving Diamond audibly exasperated.
"I'm sorry, then what's your problem?" Diamond asked.
'How do we get to 270?'

In the days following the election, few states drew Trump's attention like Georgia, a once-reliable bastion of Republican votes that he carried in 2016 but appeared likely to lose narrowly to Biden as late-remaining votes were tallied.
And few people attracted Trump's anger like Gov. Brian Kemp, the state's Republican governor, who rode the president's coattails to his own narrow victory in 2018.
A number of Trump allies tried to pressure Raffensperger, the Republican secretary of state, into putting his thumb on the scale. Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler — both forced into runoff elections on Jan. 5 — demanded Raffensperger's resignation. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a Trump friend who chairs the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, called Raffensperger to seemingly encourage him to find a way to toss legal ballots.
But Kemp, who preceded Raffensperger as secretary of state, would not do Trump's bidding. "He wouldn't be governor if it wasn't for me," Trump fumed to advisers earlier this month as he plotted out a call to scream at Kemp.
In the call, Trump urged Kemp to do more to fight for him in Georgia, publicly echo his claims of fraud and appear more regularly on television. Kemp was noncommittal, a person familiar with the call said.

Raffensperger said he knew Georgia was going to be thrust into the national spotlight on Election Day, when dramatically fewer people turned out to vote in person than the Trump campaign needed for a clear win following a surge of mail voting dominated by Democratic voters
But he said it had never occurred to him to go along with Trump's unproven allegations because of his duty to administer elections. Raffensperger said his strategy was to keep his head down and follow the law.

"People made wild accusations about the voting systems that we have in Georgia," Raffensperger said. "They were asking, 'How do we get to 270? How do you get it to Congress so they can make a determination?' " But, he added, "I'm not supposed to put my thumb on the Republican side."
Trump fixated on a false conspiracy theory that the machines manufactured by Dominion Voting Systems and used in Georgia and other states had been programmed to count Trump votes as Biden votes. In myriad private conversations, the president would find a way to come back to Dominion. He was obsessed.
"Do you think there's really something here? I'm hearing . . . " Trump would say, according to one senior official who discussed it with him.

Raffensperger said Republicans were only harming themselves by questioning the integrity of the Dominion machines. He warned that these kinds of baseless allegations could discourage Republicans from voting in the Senate runoffs. "People need to get a grip on reality," he said.
More troubling to Raffensperger were the many threats he and his wife, Tricia, have received over the past few weeks — and a break-in at another family member's home. All of it has prompted him to accept a state security detail.
"If Republicans don't start condemning this stuff, then I think they're really complicit in it," he said. "It's time to stand up and be counted. Are you going to stand for righteousness? Are you going to stand for integrity? Or are you going to stand for the wild mob? You wanted to condemn the wild mob when it's on the left side. What are you going to do when it's on our side?"
On Nov. 20, after Raffensperger certified the state's results, Kemp announced that he would make a televised statement, stoking fears that the president might have finally gotten to the governor.
"This can't be good," Jordan Fuchs, a Raffensperger deputy, wrote in a text message.
But Kemp held firm and formalized the certification.
"As governor, I have a solemn responsibility to follow the law, and that is what I will continue to do," Kemp said. "We must all work together to ensure citizens have confidence in future elections in our state."
'A hostile takeover'

On Nov. 7, four days after the election, every major news organization projected that Biden would win the presidency. At the same time, Giuliani stood before news cameras in the parking lot of Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Philadelphia, near an adult-video shop and a crematorium, to detail alleged examples of voter fraud.
The contrast that day between Giuliani's humble, eccentric surroundings and Biden's and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris's victory speeches on a grand, blue-lit stage in Wilmington, Del., underscored the virtual impossibility of Trump's quest to overturn the results.
Also that day, Stepien, Clark, Miller and Bossie briefed Trump on a potential legal strategy for the president's approval. They explained that prevailing would be difficult and involve complicated plays in every state that could stretch into December. They estimated a "5 to 10 percent chance of winning," one person involved in the meeting said.
Trump signaled that he understood and agreed to the strategy.
Around this time, some lawyers around Trump began to suddenly disappear from the effort in what some aides characterized as an attempt to protect their reputations. Former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi, who had appeared at a news conference with Giuliani right after the election, ceased her involvement after the first week.
"Literally only the fringy of the fringe are willing to do pressers, and that's when it became clear there was no 'there' there," a senior administration official said.
A turning point for the Trump campaign's legal efforts came on Nov. 13, when its core team of professional lawyers saw the writing on the wall. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit in Philadelphia delivered a stinging defeat to Trump allies in a lawsuit trying to invalidate all Pennsylvania ballots received after Election Day.
The decision didn't just reject the claim; it denied the plaintiffs standing in any federal challenge under the Constitution's electors clause — an outcome that Trump's legal team recognized as a potentially fatal blow to many of the campaign's challenges in the state.
That is when a gulf emerged between the outlooks of most lawyers on the team and of Giuliani, who many of the other lawyers thought seemed "deranged" and ill-prepared to litigate, according to a person familiar with the campaign's legal team. Some of the Trump campaign and Republican Party lawyers sought to even avoid meetings with Giuliani and his team. When asked for evidence internally for their most explosive claims, Giuliani and Powell could not provide it, the other advisers said.
Giuliani and his protegee, Ellis, both striving to please the president, insisted Trump's fight was not over. Someone familiar with their strategy said they were "performing for an audience of one," and that Trump held Giuliani in high regard as "a fighter" and as "his peer."

Tensions within Trump's team came to a head that weekend, when Giuliani and Ellis staged what the senior administration official called "a hostile takeover" of what remained of the Trump campaign.
On the afternoon of Nov. 13, a Friday, Trump called Giuliani from the Oval Office while other advisers were present, including Vice President Pence; White House counsel Pat Cipollone; Johnny McEntee, the director of presidential personnel; and Clark.
Giuliani, who was on speakerphone, told the president that he could win and that his other advisers were lying to him about his chances. Clark called Giuliani an expletive and said he was feeding the president bad information. The meeting ended without a clear path, according to people familiar with the discussion.
The next day, a Saturday, Trump tweeted out that Giuliani, Ellis, Powell and others were now in charge of his legal strategy. Ellis startled aides by entering the campaign's Arlington headquarters and instructing staffers that they must now listen to her and Giuliani.
"They came in one day and were like, 'We have the president's direct order. Don't take an order if it doesn't come from us,' " a senior administration official recalled.
Clark and Miller pushed back, the official said. Ellis threatened to call Trump, to which Miller replied, "Sure, let's do this," said a campaign adviser.
It was a fiery altercation, not unlike the many that had played out over the past four years in the corridors of the West Wing. The outcome was that Giuliani and Ellis, as well as Powell — the "elite strike force," as they dubbed themselves — became the faces of the president's increasingly unrealistic attempts to subvert democracy.
The strategy, according to a second senior administration official, was, "Anyone who is willing to go out and say, 'They stole it,' roll them out. Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell. Send [former acting director of national intelligence] Ric Grenell out West. Send [American Conservative Union Chairman] Matt Schlapp somewhere. Just roll everybody up who is willing to do it into a clown car, and when it's time for a press conference, roll them out."

Trump and his allies made a series of brazen legal challenges, including in Nevada, where conservative activist Sharron Angle asked a court to block certification of the results in Clark County, by far the state's most populous county, and order a wholesale do-over of the election.
Clark County Judge Gloria Sturman was incredulous.

"How do you get to that's sufficient to throw out an entire election?" she said. She noted the practical implications of failing to certify the election, including that every official elected on Nov. 3 would be unable to take office in the new year, including herself.
Sturman denied the request. Not only was there no evidence to support the claims of widespread voter fraud, she said, but "as a matter of public policy, this is just a bad idea."

"As was the case throughout his business career, he viewed the rules as instruments to be manipulated to achieve his chosen ends," said Galston of the Brookings Institution.
Trump's highest-profile play came in Michigan, where Biden was the projected winner and led by more than 150,000 votes. On Nov. 17, Trump called a Republican member of the board of canvassers in Wayne County, which is where Detroit is located and is the state's most populous county. After speaking with the president, the board member, Monica Palmer, attempted to rescind her vote to certify Biden's win in Wayne.
Then Trump invited the leaders of Michigan's Republican-controlled state Senate and House to meet him at the White House, apparently hoping to coax them to block certification of the results or perhaps even to ignore Biden's popular-vote win and seat Trump electors if the state's canvassing board deadlocked. Such a move was on shaky legal ground, but that didn't stop the president from trying.

Republican and Democratic leaders, including current and former governors and members of Congress, immediately launched a full-court press to urge the legislative leaders to resist Trump's entreaties. The nonpartisan Voter Protection Program was so worried that it commissioned a poll to find out how Michiganders felt about his intervention. The survey found that a bipartisan majority did not like Trump intervening and believed that Biden won the state.
House Speaker Lee Chatfield and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said they accepted the invitation as a courtesy and issued a joint statement immediately after the meeting: "We have not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan."
A person familiar with their thinking said they felt they could not decline the president's invitation — plus they saw an opportunity to deliver to Trump "a flavor of the truth and what he wasn't hearing in his own echo chamber," as well as to make a pitch for coronavirus relief for their state.

There was never a moment when the lawmakers contemplated stepping in on Trump's behalf, because Michigan law does not allow it, this person said. Before the trip, lawyers for the lawmakers told their colleagues in the legislature that there was nothing feasible in what Trump was trying to do, and that it was "absolute crazy talk" for the Michigan officials to contemplate defying the will of the voters, this person added.
Trump was scattered in the meeting, interrupting to talk about the coronavirus when the lawmakers were talking about the election, and then talking about the election when they were talking about the coronavirus, the person said. The lawmakers left with the impression that the president understood little about Michigan law, but also that his blinders had fallen off about his prospects for reversing the outcome, the person added.
No representatives from Trump's campaign attended the meeting, and advisers talked Trump out of scheduling a similar one with Pennsylvania officials.
The weekend of Nov. 21 and on Monday, Nov. 23, Trump faced mounting pressure from Republican senators and former national security officials — as well as from some of his most trusted advisers — to end his stalemate with Biden and authorize the General Services Administration to initiate the transition. The bureaucratic step would allow Biden and his administration-in-waiting to tap public funds to run their transition, receive security briefings and gain access to federal agencies to prepare for the Jan. 20 takeover.
Trump was reluctant, believing that by authorizing the transition, he would in effect be conceding the election. Over multiple days, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Cipollone and Jay Sekulow, one of the president's personal attorneys, explained to Trump that the transition had nothing to do with conceding and that legitimate challenges could continue, according to someone familiar with the conversations.
Late on Nov. 23, Trump announced that he had allowed the transition to move forward because it was "in the best interest of our Country," but he kept up his fight over the election results.

The next day, after a conversation with Giuliani, Trump decided to visit Gettysburg, Pa., on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving, for a news conference at a Wyndham Hotel to highlight alleged voter fraud. The plan caught many close to the president by surprise, including RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, three officials said. Some tried to talk Trump out of the trip, but he thought it was a good idea to appear with Giuliani.

A few hours before he was scheduled to depart, the trip was scuttled. "Bullet dodged," said one campaign adviser. "It would have been a total humiliation."
That afternoon, Trump called in to the meeting of GOP state senators at the Wyndham, where Giuliani and Ellis were addressing attendees. He spoke via a scratchy connection to Ellis's cellphone, which she played on speaker. At one point, the line beeped to signal another caller.
"If you were a Republican poll watcher, you were treated like a dog," Trump complained, using one of his favorite put-downs, even though many people treat dogs well, like members of their own families.
"This election was lost by the Democrats," he said, falsely. "They cheated."
Trump demanded that state officials overturn the results — but the count had already been certified. Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes will be awarded to Biden.

Emma Brown, Beth Reinhard and Michael Scherer in Washington and Tom Hamburger in Detroit contributed to this report.


I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Something to Know - 26 November

When the group formerly known as the Republican Party tries to carry out a circular firing squad, nobody does is better than the MAGA folks:

Trump's conspiracies have MAGA world talking Georgia boycott

It's hard to tell if the online chatter reflects wider voter sentiment, but some Republicans have expressed concern.


11/26/2020 06:00 AM EST

President Donald Trump's demonization of mail-in voting may have cost him votes in the recent election. Now, his demonization of Georgia's entire electoral system is hurting his party's chances at keeping the Senate.

Driven by Trump's insistence that Georgia's elections are indelibly rife with fraud, conspiratorial MAGA figures are calling for a boycott of the two Senate runoff races, slated for Jan. 5, that will determine which party controls the upper chamber.

Their reason: The two GOP candidates, Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, are not only insufficiently pro-Trump, they may be complicit in Georgia's electoral fraud.

It doesn't matter that both candidates are essentially lock-step with Trump, or that there is no evidence of links to electoral malfeasance. On Twitter and its less-restrictive alternative Parler, Trump's more hardline followers have linked the duo to the president's favorite — and untrue — voter-fraud theories. Hashtags like #CrookedPerdue and #CrookedKelly are flying around. The two lawmakers' Parler accounts are brimming with posts accusing them of being secret "liberal DemoRats."

The swelling anger is not just emanating from everyday QAnon believers in the MAGAverse. It's also coming from prominent lawyers working on Trump's behalf, including Sidney Powell, who was briefly a lead attorney in Trump's push to overturn the election.

The growing chorus has caught the attention of some of Trump's top surrogates, who have scrambled to push back against the movement. "I'm seeing a lot of talk from people that are supposed to be on our side telling GOP voters not to go out & vote for @KLoeffler and @Perduesenate. That is NONSENSE. IGNORE those people," implored Donald Trump Jr., the president's son and typically a MAGA world leader, in a Monday tweet.

The top comments below the tweet disregarded the plea: "We're telling everyone to write in Donald J Trump!" one read.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Sen. David Perdue

Loeffler, Perdue turn to Fox viewers to fund pricey Georgia runoffs

The tensions symbolize the broader fights likely to erupt as Trump's presidency dwindles. Trump was always an insurgent figure who grafted his loyal base onto the GOP. Once Trump is no longer the top elected Republican, that base may simply follow him wherever he goes — attacking anyone who shows daylight with Trump, spinning up "evidence" for Trump's preferred conspiracies and, as in Georgia, boycotting the political system as punishment for betraying their leader.

And while it's hard to tell exactly how much of the online chatter reflects wider voter sentiment, some Republicans are worried the conspiracy talk could shave off just enough MAGA voters to hand a tight race to the Democrats.

"Whenever you have a close election, any distraction can be decisive, and by all accounts, the runoffs in Georgia are going to be close, just like they were in November," said Alex Conant, a political strategist and the former communications director for Sen. Marco Rubio's presidential campaign in 2016. "I think Republicans need to focus the runoffs squarely on stopping Joe Biden's agenda. If it's about Trump and conspiracy theories, that only divides our party and emboldens Democrats."

Loeffler's campaign did not return a request for comment, and Perdue's campaign declined to comment.

Statewide races in Georgia have become tossups in recent years.

Trump lost by roughly 12,000 votes in the Nov. 3 election, two years after Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp narrowly bested Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams by just under 55,000 votes. The 2020 Senate races have been no different. Both moved to runoffs after no candidate could secure the state's required 50 percent threshold on Election Day.

But the races aren't identical. Perdue was running against one opponent, Democrat Jon Ossoff, and earned 88,000 more votes on Nov. 3.

Loeffler, meanwhile, was running in a special election after Kemp appointed her to a vacant Senate seat last year. In the field of 20 candidates, Loeffler got the second-most votes behind Democrat Raphael Warnock and faced a strong Repubilcan challenger in Rep. Doug Collins, a congressman popular among the MAGA set.

With Collins not advancing to the runoff, Loeffler was clear to potentially inherit his supporters. But Loeffler, a multimillionaire financial executive and WNBA franchise co-owner, came to the Senate viewed as a political moderate, even if she has since clung tightly to the president. For instance, Loeffler recently joined Purdue to call for the state's Republican secretary of state to resign over unproven allegations of voter fraud in the Nov. 3 election.

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Still, Trump's most fervent supporters have not always flocked to Loeffler's side. And now they're being egged on by some of the president's close allies.

Powell, Trump's erstwhile attorney, turned parts of the MAGA community against Loeffler when she started pushing an untrue allegation that Loeffler had somehow conspired with a voting technology company, Dominion Voting Systems, to suppress votes for Collins.

Georgia Senate candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff
Democratic Senate candidates Raphael Warnock (left) and Jon Ossoff gesture during a campaign rally on Nov. 15, 2020, in Marietta, Ga. | Brynn Anderson/AP Photo

The QAnon-leaning MAGA community has long looked to Powell as a leading authority on such deep state plots against Trump's supporters, especially after she took over as Michael Flynn's attorney. The one-time Trump national security adviser had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, but Powell came in and started alleging the authorities had actually duped and coerced him, a narrative that played well to Trump's base. Trump on Wednesday formally pardoned Flynn after months of speculation.

And Powell isn't the only Trump-affiliated attorney demeaning Loeffler and Purdue to the MAGA crowd.

Lin Wood, a prominent Georgia attorney who filed his own suit to overturn the state's results, has repeatedly called for Loeffler to drop out of the race, pressed Perdue to show more Trump loyalty and for them both to begin "investigations" into the election.

"Threaten to withhold your votes & money," he directed his followers on Twitter.

Wood seems to hold a special ire for Loeffler, tweeting about unrealistic scenarios in which she could be replaced by Collins and threatening to turn his "patriots" against her.

The vitriol is not necessarily widespread in the MAGA crowd, though.

Debbie Dooley, a founder of the Tea Party movement in Atlanta and vocal Trump supporter, had supported Collins in his race against Loffeler. While she was still undecided on whether to vote for Loeffler in the runoff, she called the chatter about boycotting the race the "most asinine thing I've ever seen in my life."

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"When you call on the Republican secretary of State to resign, that's pretty strong," Dooley said in an interview. "I don't know what more people want them to do?"

It might seem counterintuitive that QAnon adherents, a group of pro-Trump diehards, would actively try to damage his Republican allies. Yet the Q mythology has little to do with the fortunes of Loeffler and Perdue, much less the Republican Party. At its core, it's a theory that Trump is the sole savior from a cabal of satan-worshipping, pedophiliac Washington elites.

"It's really hard to put aside that worldview, even for just a couple months, to get behind a conventional election," said Mike Rothschild, a writer and researcher on conspiracy theories who is working on a book about QAnon.

"When you've been spending years thinking all elections are rigged, the deep state controls everything, nothing you do matters and the only way to stop it is for Donald Trump to win every state, be president for life and destroy his enemies — you're so caught up in believing this radically enormous thing, that you miss the very small thing right in front of you," he said.

Even endorsements for the senators from popular QAnon figures, such as Congresswoman-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene, wouldn't be enough, Rothschild noted.

And the pleas from people like Trump Jr. have done little to stop the disagreements.

"Some leaders in GA & National GOP complain I am hurting chances of @KLoeffler &@sendavidperdue to win runoff & save Senate control," Wood tweeted on Wednesday to his 613,000 followers. "They are ones hurting those chances by failing to publicly demand investigation of fraud & special session of legislature. Look in mirror."

To Dooley, the Tea Party activist, the fighting is illogical.

"That's like cutting off your nose to spite your face," she said. "The Republicans have to win one of those seats. … If Democrats win both of those seats, if you boycott the runoff or you write in names, you are giving Democrats control of the Senate and they will have total control of the government."

But pragmatism, Rothschild warned, may not be enough to sway conspiratorially minded Trump supporters.

"They're still so very deep in the mythology and the conspiracies and the double dealing and the chicanery," he said. "It's like they can't get out of their own way to see what an opportunity they have here, and how bad it will be for them if things go wrong."


I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Something to Know and Celebrate - Thanksgiving Day 2020

It's a cool morning here in Claremont, California, and like you, we will settle in and attempt to carry on as we have in past years for Thanksgiving.   While the outgoing president pardons his crony criminals (he is not done yet), his destructive clown show will only enhance the dark and muddy legacy he leaves behind.  Today's column from Professor Heather Cox Richardson puts today's celebration into a context of a new meaning that many of may not be familiar with.   It points to the time in our history that Thanksgiving really meant something as we struggled to define our purpose in forming a democracy that we can all live by; enjoy it:

It doesn't feel like much of a Thanksgiving this year. Lots of chairs are empty, either permanently, as we are now counting our coronavirus dead in the hundreds of thousands, or temporarily, as we are staying away from our loved ones to keep the virus at bay.

Lots of tables are empty, too, as Americans are feeling the weight of an ongoing economic crisis.

Rather than being unprecedented, though, this year of hardship and political strife brings us closer to the first national Thanksgiving than any more normal year.

That first Thanksgiving celebration was not in Plymouth, Massachusetts. While the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags did indeed share a harvest feast in fall 1621, and while early colonial leaders periodically declared days of thanksgiving when settlers were supposed to give their thanks for continued life and-- with luck—prosperity, neither of these gave rise to our national celebration of Thanksgiving.

We celebrate Thanksgiving because of the Civil War.

Southern whites fired on a federal fort, Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor in April 1861 in an attempt to destroy the United States of America and create their own country, based not in the American idea that "all men are created equal," but rather in the opposite idea: that some men were better than others, and had the right to enslave their neighbors. In the 1850s, convinced that society worked best if a few wealthy men ran it, southern leaders had worked to bend the laws of the United States to their benefit. They used the government to protect slavery at the same time they denied it could do any of the things ordinary Americans wanted it to, like building roads, or funding colleges.

In 1860, northerners elected Abraham Lincoln to the presidency to stop the rich southern slaveholders from taking over the government and using it to cement their own wealth and power. As soon as Lincoln was elected, southern leaders pulled their states out of the Union to set up their own country. For their part, Lincoln and the northerners set out to end the slaveholders' rebellion and bring the South back into a Union in which the government worked for people at the bottom, not just those at the top.

The early years of the war did not go well for the Union. By the end of 1862, the armies still held, but people on the home front were losing faith. Leaders recognized the need both to acknowledge the suffering and to keep Americans loyal to the cause. In November and December, seventeen state governors declared state thanksgiving holidays.

New York Governor Edwin Morgan's widely reprinted proclamation about the holiday reflected that the previous year "is numbered among the dark periods of history, and its sorrowful records are graven on many hearthstones." But this was nonetheless a time for giving thanks, he wrote, because "the precious blood shed in the cause of our country will hallow and strengthen our love and our reverence for it and its institutions…. Our Government and institutions placed in jeopardy have brought us to a more just appreciation of their value."

The next year Lincoln got ahead of the state proclamations. On July 15, he declared a national day of thanksgiving, and the relief in his proclamation was almost palpable. After two years of disasters, the Union army was finally winning. Bloody, yes; battered, yes; but winning. At Gettysburg in early July, Union troops had sent Confederates reeling back southward. Then, on July 4, Vicksburg had finally fallen to U. S. Grant's army. The military tide was turning.

President Lincoln set Thursday, August 6, 1863, for the national day of thanksgiving. On that day, ministers across the country listed the signal victories of the U.S. Army and Navy in the past year, and reassured their congregations that it was only a matter of time until the United States government put down the southern rebellion. Their predictions acknowledged the dead and reinforced the idea that their sacrifice had not been in vain, as Lincoln himself did just three months later in the Gettysburg Address.

In October 1863, President Lincoln declared the second national day of thanksgiving. In the past year, he declared, the nation had been blessed.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, he wrote, Americans had maintained their laws and their institutions, and kept foreign countries from meddling with their nation. They had paid for the war as they went, refusing to permit the destruction to cripple the economy. Instead, as they funded the war, they had also advanced farming, industry, mining, and shipping. Immigrants had poured into the country to replace men lost on the battlefield, and the economy was booming. And Lincoln had recently promised that the government would end slavery once and for all. The country, he predicted, "with a large increase of freedom," would survive, stronger and more prosperous than ever. The President invited Americans "in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea, and those who are sojourning in foreign lands" to observe the last Thursday of November as a day of thanksgiving.

The following year, Lincoln proclaimed another day of thanksgiving, this time congratulating Americans that God had favored them not only with immigration but also with the emancipation of formerly enslaved people. "Moreover," Lincoln wrote, "He has been pleased to animate and inspire our minds and hearts with fortitude, courage, and resolution sufficient for the great trial of civil war into which we have been brought by our adherence as a nation to the cause of freedom and humanity, and to afford to us reasonable hopes of an ultimate and happy deliverance from all our dangers and afflictions."

Lincoln established our national Thanksgiving to celebrate the survival of our democratic government.

Today, more than 150 years later, President-Elect Joe Biden addressed Americans, noting that we are in our own war, this one against the novel coronavirus, that has already taken the grim toll of at least 260,000 Americans. Like Lincoln before him, he urged us to persevere, promising that vaccines really do appear to be on their way by late December or early January. "There is real hope, tangible hope. So hang on," he said. "Don't let yourself surrender to the fatigue…. [W]e can and we will beat this virus. America is not going to lose this war. You will get your lives back. Life is going to return to normal. That will happen. This will not last forever."

"Think of what we've come through," Biden said, "centuries of human enslavement; a cataclysmic Civil War; the exclusion of women from the ballot box; World Wars; Jim Crow; a long twilight struggle against Soviet tyranny that could have ended not with the fall of the Berlin Wall, but in nuclear Armageddon." "It's been in the most difficult of circumstances that the soul of our nation has been forged," he said. "Faith, courage, sacrifice, service to country, service to each other, and gratitude even in the face of suffering, have long been part of what Thanksgiving means in America."

"America has never been perfect," Biden said. "But we've always tried to fulfill the aspiration of the Declaration of Independence: that all people are created equal…."

Biden could stand firmly on the Declaration of Independence because in 1861, Americans went to war to keep a cabal of slave owners from taking control of the government and turning it into an oligarchy. The fight against that rebellion seemed at first to be too much for the nation to survive. But Americans rallied and threw their hearts into the cause on the battlefields even as they continued to work on the home front for a government that promoted the common good.

And they won.

I wish you all a peaceful holiday.




I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Something to Know - 25 November

If there was ever any sympathy out there for excusing or just letting Trump go without any accountability, forget it.   It was bad enough before the election, then all of the absolutely disgusting behavior after the election and now until the transition to the Biden administration.   The most lenient that I could be would be to excuse him from federal prosecution (in the hint of a pardon), if he would actually stand before the public and agree and admit culpability to all investigations, charges, and other known anti-social acts, and list each one, and sign a written document to all.  However, the State of New York, has its own legal action pending on him, and he may experience actual face time in court, and stand before a jury, while a judge renders its verdict(s).   My opinion is that he will magically disappear, since we appear to be rounding the curve in our quest to restore democracy and the rule of law to our battered nation.

The stock market, which has been strong thanks to the good news about coronavirus vaccines, jumped to a record high today on news that President-Elect Joe Biden is planning to nominate Janet Yellen to head the Treasury Department. She will be the first woman to lead the department, and is considered an especially strong pick, particularly at this moment. Yellen is a labor economist and monetary policy expert who cares deeply about issues of inequality, and is respected by members of both parties. She served as the Chair of the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018, and headed the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Bill Clinton.

Yellen's strong piloting of the Federal Reserve won her support on Wall Street, while she is also popular with labor interests: many analysts credit her with the strong labor market of the Obama years that continued until the pandemic. Former Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn, who advised Trump on economic policy, tweeted that Yellen "is an excellent choice…. [S]he will be the steady hand we need to promote an economy that works for everyone, especially during these difficult times." Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), known as a progressive, tweeted that the choice of Yellen is "outstanding…. She is smart, tough, and principled…. [S]he has stood up to Wall Street banks…."

Yellen's expected nomination is yet another Biden pick that emphasizes stability and a return to a government to which Americans had become accustomed before Trump's election. The Biden-Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris administration appears ready to use the government to help ordinary Americans.

That return to our traditional position appears popular among financial markets as well as with ordinary voters. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped with the Yellen news, but it had topped 30,000 earlier, shortly after Pennsylvania certified its votes for Biden. Investors like political stability. Trump's erratic behavior threatened to make business success depend not on ability but on political favoritism, which business leaders actually don't like because it enables a political leader to pick winners and losers. Recently, the president's attacks on our democratic system have undermined confidence so that Biden's certified win was a relief (although later in the day Trump tried to take credit for the stock market high).

Yesterday, officials at General Motors noted that the Trump years had made the government lag behind popular opinion. They abandoned their former support for Trump's rollback of emissions standards and sided with California in its quest to modernize our automotive fleet. CEO Mary Barra wrote to leaders of environmental groups, saying: "We believe the ambitious electrification goals of the President-elect, California, and General Motors are aligned to address climate change by drastically reducing automobile emissions," she wrote. "We are confident that the Biden Administration, California, and the U.S. auto industry, which supports 10.3 million jobs, can collaboratively find the pathway that will deliver an all-electric future."

The outgoing Trump administration is not taking the rejection of their policies lying down. It appears officials are trying to use their last months in office to undermine Biden and Harris, making sure they enter office with crises at hand and a limited number of options for dealing with them.

As coronavirus roars across the country, the administration remains committed to the idea of simply letting the virus take its toll until vaccines are available. Vice President Mike Pence, the head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, briefed reporters last Thursday for the first time since July, assuring them that while infection rates are rising, "[W]e approach this moment with the confidence of experience. We know the American people know what to do."

In the last week, the United states has seen 1.2 million new infections, bringing our total to more than 12.5 million. We are approaching an official death count of 260,000, and are losing about 1500 people every day. Doctors in Utah are having to ration care; Minnesota, Kansas, and Missouri are short of beds in intensive care units; Texas had to mobilize 36 National Guard personnel to help clear an overflow of bodies at the El Paso morgue.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warns that fatalities could get worse. "Two to three thousand deaths a day times a couple of months, and you're approaching a really stunning number of deaths," he told Yahoo News. But, he noted, "It isn't inevitable…. We can blunt the curve" by wearing masks, washing hands, and social distancing until the newly announced coronavirus vaccines are widely available.

And yet, Republicans continue to downplay the dangers of the virus, although 8 of the 53 Senate Republicans have themselves tested positive for it. Last week Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) called a request from Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) that another senator wear a mask to protect nearby staffers "idiotic" and "an ostentatious sign of fake virtue."

More than 125 economists this week wrote an open letter calling for a new coronavirus relief package to tide the country over until coronavirus vaccines can stem the economic crisis, especially as measures passed back in March will expire with the end of the year. They are simply echoing the many calls for such a measure, including ones from Trump-appointed Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. But while the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed a new $3 trillion bill back in May, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has declined to take it up, and has not been able to bring Senate Republicans together to back their own version. Now, he has sent senators home for Thanksgiving without taking up a bill.

Today negotiators for the House and Senate hammered out a deal to keep the government funded past the December 11 shutdown date, but while Democrats still remain hopeful they can include coronavirus relief measures in the package, Republicans are pessimistic.

Last week, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin went further to divorce the government from supporting the economy in this perilous time. He announced that he was suspending the Treasury's lending powers at the end of the year, taking away a crucial backstop for businesses and local governments. He is also clawing back from the Federal Reserve about $250 billion appropriated under the original coronavirus relief bill in an apparent attempt to keep it out of the hands of the Biden team. That money will go back to Congress, which would have to reappropriate it in another bill to make it available again, which the Republican Senate shows no sign of being willing to do. Republicans have expressed concern that the Biden administration could use the appropriated money to bail out states and local governments, which by law cannot borrow to tide them over.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce objected strongly to Mnuchin's actions. In a public statement, it said: ""American businesses and workers are weary of these political machinations when they are doing everything in their power to keep our economy going. We strongly urge these programs be extended for the foreseeable future and call on Congress to pass additional pandemic relief targeted at the American businesses, workers and industries that continue to suffer. We all need to unite behind the need of a broad-based economic recovery."

David Wilcox, who holds a PhD in Economics from MIT and is the former chief economist for the Federal Reserve, was blunt. He told journalist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, "The most obvious interpretation is that the Trump administration is seeking to debilitate the economic recovery as much as possible on the way out of the door."

This is why Yellen's nomination is being greeted with such relief. Observers expect her to back government spending to address the devastating effects of the coronavirus on the economy, while her background in monetary policy will help her craft a coordinated response between the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department.





I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.