Sunday, November 29, 2020

Trump Campaign Updates for Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia

Instead of recounting the entire state of Wisconsin, the Trump campaign decided to save some money and only count the state's two largest counties, Milwaukee and Dane.   Still, the recount cost the Trump campaign more than $3 million.  It turned out to not be a good investment.  

Biden had a net gain of 132 votes after the Milwaukee County recount.  In Dane County, Trump netted 45 votes. For the recount to succeed Trump would needed a gain of over 20,000 votes.  


Saturday night, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court unanimously dismissed a lawsuit filed by Congressman Mike Kelly and other Pennsylvania Republicans.  The lawsuit had tried to invalidate absentee voting and block the certification of vote total.

On Friday, a federal appeals court upheld a Pennsylvania district court's decision to dismiss a Trump campaign lawsuit.

Both cases are now eligible for consideration by the United States Supreme Court.  Yeah, good luck getting the Supreme Court to elect Donald Trump president.


Georgia Republicans are feeling the effects of Trump's claim that Georgia GOP officials ran a fraudulent election in November.   On Thursday,  Trump called Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, a Republican and Trump supporter, an "enemy of the people."  Georgia Governor Kemp, also a Republican and enthusiastic backer of President Trump, also has been attacked by prominent Trump supporters, including Trump attorneys who accuse Kemp and Raffensperger of being involved in a conspiracy to help Biden win the election.

On Saturday, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel attended a campaign stop to promote Republican Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in their up-coming run-off contests, only to find herself confronted by angry Republicans demanding to know why they should participate in the run-off when the election is already rigged against the GOP candidates.  McDaniel struggled to explain her support for Trump's claim that he lost Georgia because tens of thousands of Republican votes were not counted in the vote totals due to fraud, but those same Republicans should vote in the January 5th run-off election because that election will be run fairly.

  • Prominent Atlanta attorney and huge Trump supporter L. Lin Wood is viciously attacking Georgia Governor Kemp on his Twitter feed.  While his tweets are entertaining, they are also kind of sad.  One gets the impression there may be something wrong with Mr. Wood.  One wonders if the Georgia Bar should intervene to see if there might be some mental health concerns.
  • Maria Bartiroma of Fox News is getting skewered over a phone interview she had of President Trump this morning.  CNN Brian Stelter had the best description of the Bartiroma interview: "This was not hardball. It wasn't even softball. It was t-ball,"  This though is not the first time Bartiroma completely abdicated her journalistic responsibilities to act as a shill spewing Trump propaganda.  She is giving Lou Dobbs a run for his money in that department.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Trump Republicans in Georgia May Hand Senate Control to Democrats

In a previous column, I documented how defections from Never Trump Republicans provided the winning margin for, now, President-Elect Joe Biden in Arizona, Wisconsin and Georgia, three states Biden won by a total of 43,475 (a revised figure) votes.  If those states had flipped, it would have been a 269-269 tie in the Electoral College and the House would have handed Trump a second term

Democrat Joe Biden is the 46th President of the United States and his win, without question, was made possible by Republicans who refused to sign on to another four years of Donald Trump.

Next up on January 5th is a run-off election involving the fate of two sitting Georgia Republican Senators.  This time it might be another group of Republicans - Trump Republicans - whose efforts, or lack thereof - give control of the Senate to the Democrats.

A movement is afoot to punish Georgia Senator David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler for their sin of not being sufficiently supportive of Trump's attempts to overturn the election result in Georgia.  Salon today reports: 

A super PAC linked to longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone is calling for Republicans to write-in the president's name in the upcoming Senate runoff elections in Georgia as retaliation after his re-election bid failed in the once red state.

The Committee for American Sovereignty, a group tied to Stone which raised millions pushing disinformation during the 2016 election, launched a new website urging Republican voters to "crush" the "plot to destroy America" by "writing in Trump for the Georgia Senate runoffs."

With enough write-ins in the Georgia senate race, we can tilt the balance in Georgia in Trump's favor!" the site says. "If we can do this, we have a real chance at getting these RINO senators to act on the illegitimate and corrupt election presided over by a Democrat party that is invested in the Communist takeover of Our Great Nation."

The website was first covered by The Daily Beast. Trump supporters on Parler, the far-right version of Twitter, have also pushed a similar plan to boycott the pivotal runoffs or write in Trump's name.

The irony is that few Senators have been more loyal Trump supporters than Perdue and Loeffler.  The two Senators issued a joint statement calling for Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, also a Republican and Trump supporter, to resign for unproven irregularities in the running of the election. Governor Brian Kemp has also been attacked by Trump supporters.  Unlike Kemp, Raffensperger has chosen to fight back, using social media and an op-ed published in USA Today.  In his editorial, Raffensperger complains that, despite his running an honest election and his previous support for the GOP and President Trump, he is being thrown under the bus because Trump lost the state and Perdue and Loeffler couldn't get to the 50% threshold to avoid the January 5th run-off.

It would be a mistake to just assume that the Trump supporters pushing for Georgia Republicans to write in Trump's name for the Senate, or to stay home in protest, are part of a fringe group, too small to make a difference.  After all, only 3% of Republicans think Biden won the election according to a CNBC poll.  The myth of Trump having the election stolen from him is gospel in GOP ranks and it would not be surprising if those voters were motivated to punish someone for that supposed theft, including Republicans. 

Although there are a lot more Trump Republicans than Never Trump Republicans, it was the latter who put Biden in the White House. Assuming a decent Democratic turnout in the Peach State, it would not take that many protesting Trump Republicans to ensure Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock defeat Perdue and Loeffler, handing control of the Senate to the Democrats.

Add to that GOP headache, is the fact that Republican organizations like the Lincoln Project will be working to motivate Georgia Never Trump Republicans to vote against Perdue and Loeffler.  For four years, President Trump fawned over dictators and undermined our allies, all the while trashing the Constitution and American democratic values.  As United States Senators, Perdue and Loeffler chose to enable Trump's worst behavior rather than stand up and do what is best for their state and this country.  I agree with the Lincoln Project that Trumper enablers, like Perdue and Loeffler, need to be defeated.

OOP's short takes:

  • Everyone is assuming the Georgia run-off election will decide control of the Senate.  But if Democrats win the two Georgia Senate races, Mitch McConnell might have another card up his sleeve.  Keep an eye on West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin.  West Virginia is the most Republican, or at least the most Trumpian, state in the country.  Trump won West Virginia by 39% in 2020, which was actually down from 41% in 2016.  Running as a Democrat, Manchin dodged a bullet to get re-elected in 2018.  If Manchin wants to continue to be elected statewide in West Virginia, he probably will have to switch parties.  Jim Justice, the Democrat West Virginia Governor, switched parties 2017.  This year, running as a Republican, he won re-election by 34%. 
  • News is that former former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn is in line to get a pardon from President Trump. Actually it would be shocking if he did not get one.  Flynn admitted that he lied, twice, to federal investigators.  That is a a federal crime, but in the Trump administration lying is not a felony, but a badge of honor.  That is as long as the lie is for the benefit of Donald J. Trump.
  • Although I have not studied the issue extensively, I do not agree with this analysis that a President cannot pardon himself.  The argument is based entirely on the legal concept that one cannot be a judge in his or her own case.  The rest of the CNN article seems focused on the wisdom of such a pardon...that a pardon is an admission of guilt.  (Which I don't think I agree with either.)  The fact is the Founders undoubtedly had the chance to consider a presidential self-pardon when they wrote the Constitution and they did not include any language in the Constitution prohibiting such a pardon.  I think that's the end of the analysis.
  • Terrific article by Tim Alberta in Politico on "The Inside Story of Michigan's Fake Voter Fraud Scandal."  The article details how one Republican member of the Michigan State Board of Canvassers, Aaron Van Langevelde, refused to bend to political pressure and not certify Biden's 154,000 vote victory in the state.  Now some powerful Republicans are trying blackball Van Langevelde, an attorney who has worked with several Republican politicians and for conservative causes, from ever working in Michigan GOP politics again.  Warning:  Although the Alberta piece is fascinating, it is quite lengthy.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Trump is the Republicans' Frankenstein's Monster

Early in his Presidency, Republican elected officials and GOP activists had the opportunity to push back on the excesses of President Trump, to hold him accountable, to guide him toward being a better President, someone who truly did put the interests of America and Americans first.  Instead they chose to do absolutely nothing.  The result was that the power and cult of Donald Trump, within the ranks of the Republican Party, grew and grew and grew.   Now that Trump has lost his quest for re-election, those same Republicans expect Trump to step aside and cede hcontrol over the Republican Party to his successor, whomever he or she may be.  

Here is a hard truth my fellow Republicans never understood, or, at least, accepted.  Donald Trump does not care about the Republican Party or conservative causes.  The GOP was merely a vehicle for Trump promoting himself and acquiring power.   If the Republican Party is not providing him with an opportunity for political power, Donald Trump would just assume burn the party down ... and let the libs win.

I am not a fan of scary books or movies.  But the Republicans' dilemma reminds me of the monster Dr. Frankenstein built in his lab.  It started out as an harmless experiment and the monster that was created was well-liked by a blind man who took him in.  But the monster eventually turned against the world that didn't like his ugliness and started killing.  

Donald Trump is one ugly human being and he's very likely to start killing the Republican Party.  He has been given the keys to the GOP, and even though he lost the election, he is keeping those keys.  Before Trump leaves office he will announce his intention to run again in 2024.  The announcement will mean he remains in the public eye and the money will continue to flow into his campaign coffers.  It is a simple thing to turn around and spend that campaign money on companies with "Trump" in their name, which means much of that money ends up in the pocket of Donald Trump and his children.  That's exactly what happened to much of the 1.2 billion the Trump re-election campaign raised.

Trump may not actually follow through and run for re-election in 2024.  Running and serving is a lot of work.  But the announcement would mean he could continue scamming his followers for more money.  The effect of Trump's announcement, however, is that he will freeze the Republican field for 2024, leaving whoever is nominated in a deep hole.  And Trump does not care.  He never did.

OOP's short takes:

  • Trump has been tweeting that he will never concede the election to President-elect Biden. I believe, for once, Trump is telling the Truth.  I expect the President will eventually issue a statement acknowledging the purported result of the election, without recognizing its legitimacy or conceding to his opponent.  If Trump wants a model how to do this, he need only look to Democrat Stacey Abrams who lost the Georgia governorship to Brian Kemp in 2018.  
  • Abrams ultimately refused to concede the election, but acknowledged the result while saying that Kemp only won because of "voter suppression."  Most of the media and all of the Democrats simply accept Abrams' claim as true even though the claim doesn't stand up to any sort of scrutiny.  For the record, Abrams lost the race by 50,000 votes (1.4%).  Trump lost Georgia by about 1/4 of that, around 12,700 (.2%).
  • New poll from CNBC/Change Research has only 3% of Trump voters believing President-elect Joe Biden won the 2020 election.  73% of Trump voters believe the President won.  Never mind the lack of evidence of any widespread fraud that could have flipped the result. The Trump cult lives on.
  • Former CIA director John Brennan has the quote of the week when he said he will "leave [Trump's] fate to our judicial system, his infamy to history, and his legacy to a trash heap."  Exactly.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Trump Campaign Seeks to Stop Certification of Votes in Michigan and Pennsylvania

Vice-President, now President-Elect, Joe Biden won Michigan by 155,000 votes (2.8%) and Pennsylvania by 81,000 (1.2%).  Since both states are outside the range of recounts, the Trump campaign has taken a new tact...claiming that fraud and irregularities in those states should cause Republican election officials in those states to not certify the results, a task which is normally just ministerial in nature.   The hope of the Trump campaign is that the Michigan and Pennsylvania legislatures would then step in and appoint a slate of Trump electors to replace Biden electors.  If not, at least the 36 Biden electors would be gone and Michigan and Georgia would have no electoral votes.

Let's say Trump's efforts in Michigan and Pennsylvania were successful.  That would mean the 306-232 electoral vote result would instead be 270-268 in favor of Biden.  The Trump campaign would need one more electoral vote, which would put the election into the U.S. House of Representatives, a maneuver that would favor Trump since Republicans have a majority (26) of state delegations that would be voting in that chamber.

If the split is 270-268, one more electoral vote could come from a Biden faithless elector or it could come from Trump's efforts in Wisconsin (10 electoral votes) and Arizona (11 electoral votes), which certifies their popular vote totals on December 1st and November 30th, respectively.   Georgia already certified the vote total favoring Biden on Friday after the automatic recount.   Another recount is taking place in that state at the request of the Trump campaign...and paid for by the Georgia taxpayers.

If Michigan and Pennsylvania, because of the disputes, do not end up appointing any electors, Biden's lead would shrink from 306-232 to 270-232. However, the electoral vote need for a majority would also shrink from 270 to 251.

OOP's short takes:

  • Apparently Attorney Lindsey Powell has been booted from the Trump legal team for being too crazy.  Since the Trump legal team is led by bat-shit crazy Rudy Giuliani, that is quite accomplishment.
  • President-Elect Biden's appointments are being announced.  It is so refreshing to see quality, competent people appointed to those positions.  After Trump's initial appointments resigned, his administration was staffed with sycophants, most of which were not competent enough to run a Seven Eleven much less part of the executive branch.  As I've long said, voting for Trump was never an option because of the President's extreme incompetence and unfitness for office.  The issues simply does not matter when you have a candidate for the Presidency who demonstrates not even a modicum of competence or ability to do the job.  But it wasn't just Trump...that can be said of most of the people the President chose to surround himself with from the mid-point of his first term.
  • Biden needs to make a point to reinstate the Trump administration whistleblowers who lost their job for trying to expose misconduct and other abuses within the administration.  There also needs to be action taken to protect those whistleblowers in the future.  A President's intimidation of whistleblowers can never be allowed to happen again.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Trump Attorney Accuses Republican Governor, Secretary of State of Receiving Bribes to Flip Georgia Election to Democrat Biden

Which party controls the United States Senate depends on the outcome of the two Georgia Senate run-off races set for January 5th.   How could a Republican President help out in that effort?   By his attorney accusing the top two Republican officials in that state of being involved in a massive bribery, conspiracy scheme to help the Democratic candidate for President, why of course.
The Trump Campaign has petitioned for a recount in Georgia while the president’s legal team alleges that Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger are part of an
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp

international voter fraud conspiracy.

Georgia law allows for a recount since President-elect Joe Biden’s margin of victory was less than .5 percent. The effort, just like last weekend’s audit where ballots were recounted by hand, will be paid for by Georgia taxpayers.

Meanwhile, Trump attorney Sidney Powell made wild, unsubstantiated accusations on Saturday that Kemp, Raffensperger and their families were bribed by Dominion, the company that sold Georgia its voting machines, to rig the vote in favor of Biden.

Powell spun a conspiracy theory in an interview with Newsmax that Dominion’s voting software was created in Venezuela at the direction of former president Hugo Chavez, who died in 2013, using technology provided by the CIA.  Powell and other members of the Trump legal team have also alleged China is somehow involved in rigging the election and that U.S. votes were being stored on servers in Germany.
Kemp and Raffensperger are both supporters of President Donald Trump.  Kemp, in particular, has been a huge ally of Trump and appeared with him at several rallies during his successful 2018 campaign for Governor.   Kemp did go against Trump's wishes by appointing Kelly Loeffler to the open Senate seat created when Johnny Isakson resigned for health reasons last year.  Other than that, Kemp has been lockstep in his support for President Trump, including resisting mask mandates and shutdown orders local officials attempted to implement in response to Covid-19.

Loyalty to Donald Trump is a one-way street.  Now that it is in his best interest to do so, Trump has no problem tossing one his biggest supporters under the bus, even if it means handing control of the Senate to the Democrats.   Trump cares about Donald Trump, and no one else.

OOP's short cuts:
  • During a Newsmax interview, Attorney Powell complained that Judge Matthew Brann, the Pennsylvania federal court judge who harshly slammed Trump attorneys for not providing evidence while dismissing the campaign's the most recent case, was appointed by President Obama.  While it is true that President Obama appointed Brann, his appointment was part of a package deal brokered by Pennsylvania Senators Pat Toomey, a Republican, and Bob Casey, a Democrat, in which each would get to pick a nominee to fill two vacancies on a Pennsylvania federal district court.  Brann was Republican Toomey's choice.  Far from being a Democrat, Brann had been a long-time Republican party official who was active in the Federalist Society and the National Rifle Association. 
  • In the Sunday political shows this morning, there seemed to be a consensus that the state certifications of the election results this coming week would cause Republicans to accept Joe Biden as President-Elect.  I disagree.  Trump will never stop contesting the election and he will seek to exact a political price against any elected Republican official who does not accept Trump won the election. He might even go after anyone who refers to Biden as "President."  
  • This past week, Trump withdrew from the Open Skies treaty.  I wouldn't be surprised if Trump announces a withdraw from NATO, though he will not have time to implement that withdrawl before leaving office on January 20th.
  • And expect the pardons to fly in the weeks ahead.   In addition to associates and members of his administration, I would not be surprised if Trump pardoned family members.  I think there is also a 50-50 chance Trump pardons himself.   Because the legality of a self-pardon is debatable, Trump might resign a week or two early to get a pardon from a President Pence.  I just don't think Pence would go along with that, though it probably will be the only way Pence can put "President of the United States" on his resume.  Nonetheless, a federal pardon does not help Trump or his family with possible criminal exposure in New York state courts.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Trump Lobbies Republican State Legislators to Override Will of Voters and Give Him a Second Term

Every four years, I watch the television coverage of the presidential election results come in.  The map of the United States gets colored red and blue depending on which party's candidates win particular states.  (Fun fact, did you know that Republicans used to be blue and the Democrats red?)  Next to the map is a tally of the electoral vote which changes as each state gets declared.  Then when a candidate gets to 270 electoral votes, the network declares that person to be the next President of the United States!  Game over!

If it were only that simple.

Contrary to what you see on election night, electors are not numbers.  When you go vote for President, you're not directly voting for that office.  You are voting for a slate of electors the President's party has named to vote for that person.  It is up to each state to decide how those electors are to be selected.  48 of 50 states have decided that whichever candidate wins its state, even if by one vote, receives all the state's electoral votes.  Two states - Nebraska and Maine - award two electors to the winner of the state and one for the winner of each congressional district in the state.

But, again, I've fallen into a shorthand in describing this process.  Again, electors are PEOPLE.  Winning the popular vote a state means those people the state party has picked to support you will be the ones casting ballots in mid-December in the state's capitol.  In the past, there has been scant attention to who these electors are.  Many times they are simply party regulars with free time on their hands.  High level people in the party did not usually want to be electors because it was simply seen as a ministerial job.  Anyone can rubber stamp the election winner in the state.

The United States Constitution provides that state legislatures (no mention of the governor's role) decides how each state's legislatures are to be assigned.  Some argue that once Congress utilizes its power to set the date for the election (the date of chusing the electors), and that election takes place, it's too late for legislatures to take back their authority.  On the other hand, Bush v. Gore (by a 7-2 vote) has dicta that says that "there is no doubt" that the legislature can "take back the power to appoint any time." There is no language in that case saying the legislature has to take back its power before the election takes place.

Nonetheless, this conflict is moot if there is a popular vote dispute within the state that is not resolved by the "safe harbor" date. Then state legislatures definitely get to decide the allocation of the electors.  That's why Rudy Giuliani and his crack team of lawyers are desperately trying to create disputed election results.  And that's also why Trump is now lobbying the GOP state legislative leaders in Michigan and Pennsylvania.  It is also why Trump made calls to the two Republican members of the Wayne County (Detroit) to try to get them to stop their certification of the results in that heavily-Democratic county.

Unlike Wisconsin, Arizona and Georgia, Biden won Michigan and Pennsylvania by comfortable popular vote margins.  But if Trump is somehow able to get those Republican legislatures to override the popular vote in Michigan and Pennsylvania, the electoral vote goes from 306-232 to 270-268.  That would leave Trump just one electoral vote shy of a win.

The Founders did not trust democracy.  They did not believe the average voter had the intelligence and information necessary to elect a President. They left that decision in the hands of electors, who they expected to be much more enlightened and responsible citizens, who would be elected to attend a convention at the state capitol. There they would debate about who would be the best President and cast their vote accordingly.  If no one received a majority of the electoral vote (which is now 270 of 538) at these electoral conventions, the United States House voting by delegation, would decide the election.

The Electoral College has never operated like a deliberative body.  Over the years, many states have tied the hands of electors to force them to vote for the popular vote winner.  Some states enforce this dictate through replacement of what is called a "faithless elector," i.e. an elector who does not vote to rubberstamp the popular vote winner in the state.  Other states fine the faithless elector or make it a crime to not vote for the popular vote winner.  Still other states impose no penalty at all on the faithless elector.  They are free to vote for whomever they want.  While "faithless electors" historically have been rare we actually had seven of them in 2016.

Earlier this year, the United States Supreme Court unanimously held that states can bind the vote of electors to the popular vote in the manner described above.  But that decision did not say states are not required to bind those electors to the popular vote.

While electors pledge to support their party's candidate if he or she wins the popular vote of the state, it does not take much imagination to see the Trump campaign seek out an elector or two to flip.  At 270 to 268, that elector would not even have to flip from Biden to Trump.  That Biden voter could vote for Hillary Clinton or Stacey Abrams or just abstain from voting.  The result would be the same - Biden would be one electoral vote short of a majority.  That would mean the election would be decided by the United States House, voting by state delegation.  Since Republicans have a majority of the House state delegations, that would mean a second term for President Trump.

I feared that would happen in 2000.  After the election, Bush led Gore 271 to 267 in the electoral vote.  But for Gore to win that vote he had to have three Bush faithless electors actually vote for him, not abstain or vote for a third person.  If Bush and Gore were both short of the 270, then the Republican-dominated House would have given the election to Bush.  For the record, in 2000 there was one faithless Gore elector from DC who abstained, lowering his total to 266.

All of what we're seeing happening in 2020, could have happened in 2000 but did not.  Why?  Because at the end of the day Bush and Gore, although motivated by ambition, were decent, honorable men who put their country first.  In 2020, Donald Trump puts Donald Trump first. If he has to burn down American democracy to be re-elected he is more than willing to do that.

OOP's short takes:
  • It's easy to laugh at the Rudy Giuliani show.  But there is also lot of sadness to it.  It's astonishing to think that that bumbling old man, a has been attorney handling a matter way over his head, was once a legendary prosecutor who, as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, cleaned the city of the organized crime that dominated the city until his tenure.  His success as prosecutor earned him two terms in the Mayor's Office, winning as a Republican in a city Democrats had come to dominate.  As Mayor, Giuliani was praised for his efforts in reducing crime in the city and guiding the metropolis through 9/11.  While some people rightly questioned his tactics, particularly when it came to crime reduction, no one considered Giuliani to be a joke and everyone took him seriously. If Giuliani would have retired from the public eye in 2001, they would have erected statutes commemorating his service to the city.  Instead Giuliani today has become a joke, his reputation sullied beyond repair.  Mark my words, some time in the not too distant future Giuliani is going to announce he has health problems, possibly something that affects the decision-making and executive part of his brain, the frontal lobe,  
  • It is likewise sad what is happening to L. Lin Wood, the once legendary trial attorney from Atlanta.  He appears to be having a meltdown and sadly doing it all in public, possibly forever ruining his reputation.  If you don't know about the direction Wood's career has taken check out his Twitter feed and read the lawsuit filed by Wood's former law partners in which they quoted at length from his emails and other communications.  Very sad.
  • I predict that when the Indiana General Assembly convenes they are going to draw a new congressional map so the state's congressional delegation is 8-1 Republican instead of 7-2.  The Democratic margin in the First Congressional District in northwest Indiana has declined enough that it can be divided into nearby GOP-dominated districts without endangering the election of Republicans in those districts.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

K-File Outs Trump Legal Advisor Jenna Ellis For Having Called Trump an Idiot, Corrupt, and a Fascist

I don't spend a lot of time on Twitter these days.  It's become a cesspool of misinformation, a forum by which people can live in an alternative, fact-free environment.   A place where people can have their own biases reinforced by like-minded individuals who don't care about actual facts.

Twitter is also where Jenna Ellis, one of Trump's closest attorneys, likes to hang out.  Unfortunately, I often run across posts by Ellis in which she readily regurgitates the most recent Trump talking points.  

K-file published an expose of Ellis which detailed her previous criticism of Trump...criticism she leveled at the reality show star before he got elected.  CNN reported on the K-file revelations:

Jenna Ellis has been one of President Donald Trump's most ardent defenders since joining his campaign as a legal adviser and surrogate a year ago, but in early 2016 she was one of his toughest critics and deeply opposed his candidacy, according to a CNN KFile review of statements she made on her official Facebook page and in local Colorado radio appearances.

Ellis ... repeatedly slammed then-candidate Trump as an "idiot," who was "boorish and arrogant," and a "bully" whose words could not be trusted as factually accurate. She called comments he made about women "disgusting," and suggested he was not a "real Christian."

In one March 2016 Facebook post, Ellis said Trump's values were "not American," linking to a post that called Trump an "American fascist." She praised Mitt Romney for speaking out against Trump, referring to him as "Drumpf," -- a nickname coined by comedian John Oliver after a biographer revealed Trump's ancestor changed the family's surname from Drumpf to Trump.

"Why should we rest our highest office in America, on a man who fundamentally goes back and forth and really cannot be trusted to be consistent or accurate in anything," Ellis said in one April 2016 radio appearance.

In March 2016, Ellis attacked Trump supporters in a Facebook post for not caring that the Republican candidate was "unethical, corrupt, lying, criminal, dirtbag."


"I could spend a full-time job just responding to the ridiculously illogical, inconsistent, and blatantly stupid arguments supporting Trump," she wrote in March 2016. "But here's the thing: his supporters DON'T CARE about facts or logic. They aren't seeking truth. .. .And this is the cumulative reason why this nation is in such terrible shape: We don't have truth seekers; we have narcissists."

The article continued on to cite Ellis saying Trump was trying to destroy democracy, threatened our liberty (by seeking to limit freedom of speech via stricter libel laws), was not mature enough to handle criticism, and was not a genuine Christian because he was incapable of seeking forgiveness or repentance. 

I couldn't agree more with everything Jenna Ellis said back then..

In conjunction with the K-file expose, CNN interviewed Ellis.  She said her earlier views were because she just didn't know Trump at the time and that she has found him to be a "sincere, Christian, the best president in modern history, and made and kept his promises to the American people."

Assuming that claimed re-evaluation of Trump were sincere, that would mean that Ellis aggressively and publicly defamed someone she did not even know.  It would reflect a person who is reckless and has bad judgment...certainly not a person you would want to be your attorney.  

One would have to question what events in Trump's presidency persuaded Ellis that her original impression of Trump was wrong.  Indeed, Trump's four year tenure as President seems to provide a plethora of evidence (too much to get into here) reinforcing Ellis' original view of the reality show star when she opposed his nomination in 2015/2016.  

Of course, the more logical explanation for her conversion is that Jenna Ellis wanted to advance her career and sucking up to the President of the United States was a way of doing that.  So, like so many other Trump critics turned sycophants, Jenna Ellis willingly set aside her morals and values, as well as her intellectual integrity, to go all in on Trump.  It appears to be working.  Ellis seems well on the way to transforming a modest legal career into a much more financially lucrative career as a "conservative legal media analyst" post-Trump.  

In pursuing her media gigs, Ellis claims to be a "constitutional law attorney".  One can be a civil rights attorney, divorce attorney, probate attorney, tax attorney, criminal law attorney.  But "constitutional law" is not an area of practice.  We attorneys all deal, to one extent or another with the Constitution and statutes during our career.  But we don't claim to be "statutory attorneys."  When someone claims to be a "constitutional law attorney," you know he or she is padding the resume.

To give herself more legal credibility, Ellis also claims to be a "law professor."  I went looking for support for that claim.  Turns out Ellis taught pre-law classes at Colorado Christian University, a small private school.  CCU does not offer a law degree.  I doubt most lawyers, or even lay people, would call someone a "law professor" if they are not teaching at a law school.  

In researching CCU, I ran across the school's student handbook which governs student behavior while attending the school.  It is clear from reviewing that document that Donald Trump would have been kicked out if he had been a student where Ellis taught.  According to the Handbook, CCU:

  • Holds a high expectation of honesty and the role it plays in the Christian life.   Students who displayed dishonesty can be disciplined or kicked out of school.
  • Bans performances that involve "ethnic or offensive jokes," "profanity," and "demeaning remarks about men and women."  
  • No bullying or verbal threats against others
  • No tolerance for "extramarital sexual activity" or any sex activity whatsoever on campus for that matter. 
  • Does not allow nonmarried students of opposite sex to cohabitat on or off campus, engage in sexual touching, spending the night together or sleeping together (including when sex is not involved).
  • [E]ndorses healthy heterosexual relationships that uphold God's desire for sexual purity and which seek to honor Him through a holistic biblical relationship.
  • Confront "sin that affects the heart such as anger, lust, jealousy."
Trump would pretty much fall short on every one of these items.  Indeed, if anyone has seen Jenna Ellis' media appearances and Twitter feed, she has not lived up to CCA's expectation regarding honesty either.

OOP's short takes:
  • Last time we checked in, the two Republican members of the Wayne County (Detroit) canvassing board (The board is split 2-2 between Democrats and Republicans) had reversed their original decision not to certify the county's vote, which vote went heavily for Joe Biden.  If the State canvassing board (also split 2-2 in partisanship) had went along with that original decision, that would mean that Biden, despite winning Michigan by 146,000 votes, might not receive the state's 16 electoral votes.  Well, those Wayne County Republicans members of the canvassing board are now wanting tp "rescind" their vote and go back to their original decision.  One of the Republicans admitted that she had received a call from Trump after her vote to certify.  I kid you not.  There is no limit to Donald Trump's corruption and the willingness of other Republicans to go along with it.  The election in Michigan was not close and trying to steal that state should outrage every American.
  • While Biden's Electoral College majority was obtained by just a total of 45,100 votes in three states, by other measures the election was not close.  Fortunately for Biden, multiple states would need to have their results overturned for Trump to win the election.  If it were just one or two states, Trump might be able to succeed in using the intricacies of our Electoral College system to reverse what was, after the popular vote in the states was counted, an electoral vote loss.
  • Once again I issue my warning that the problem with the Electoral College is not that the liberals' concern that the winner of the popular vote nationwide can lose the electoral vote and the election.  The problem is all the things that can go wrong in how those state electoral votes are ultimately cast.  Imagine this election if Biden led 270-268 in the electoral college vote.  It would just take ONE faithless Biden elector voting for someone else, anyone, for the election to be kicked to the House (voting by delegation) which would have meant Trump were re-elected.
  • Prior to Election Night, I thought Trump understood he would probably lose the election. Now it seems apparent that Trump thought he could win a second term, despite losing the election.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Despite Autocratic-Wannabe Trump's Election Loss, the America Experiment Remains Hanging by the Thread

The 2020 election was never about the issues.  It was about whether we wanted the American Experiment, a government founded 244 years ago on our shared democratic values, a government which embraces freedom of the individual, to survive.  In one term in office, Donald Trump had proven himself to be utterly antithetical to the values of the Republic founded 244 years ago.  He openly admires the powers of dictators and regularly exercised autocratic, extra-constitutional authority as President.  Trump, regularly bypasses Congress in virtually everything he does, executing executive orders instead of working to pass legislation.  If Congress attempts to exercise oversight authority, his administration just ignores the subpoenas.  If his appointed cronies are so unqualified, so unfit they are not able to get confirmed even by a Republican Senate, Trump simply installs them in office anyway, simply adding "acting" to their titles. 

Trump has been equally dismissive of federalism as a limit on his power.   He has ignored the emoluments clause as a protection against executive conflicts of interest.  Trump even takes the position that Americans should have their freedom of speech, particularly the freedom to criticize public figures like him, sharply curtailed.   As President, Trump acts as if he was above the law and accountable to no one.   Government officials who dare report what they believed to be Trump administration misconduct, are savagely attacked by Trump and usually fired.  Many Trump supporters regularly follow up Trump's tweets with personal attacks and occasional physical threats against those who dare blow the whistle.  Meanwhile, Republican elected officials who try to hold Trump accountable are savagely attacked by Trump, and their political careers threatened, if not destroyed.

Trump lost the 2020 election. But we are far from out of the woods when it comes to the survival of the Republic.  Nearly one half of the country was willing to give Trump another term, four more years during which Trump no doubt would have turned his autocratic fantasies into reality, using his authority to enrich himself and punish his enemies.

But even though he lost, Trump is claiming Biden and the Democrats rigged the vote.  Although now two weeks later, Trump's lawyers have not put forth any persuasive evidence to support this claim, some 70% of Trump's supporters nevertheless believe the Democrats stole the election from him.  Meanwhile Trump refuses to cooperate with the transition, even though the delay puts America's national security at risk and could cost the lives of tens of thousands of Americans who might contract Covid-19 in the meantime.  Trump does not care about those Americans or America.  Never did.

You would think that Trump's loss would cause Republicans to develop a backbone.  Not so.  Emily Murphy, administrator of the General Services Agency, is refusing to process the paperwork to allow the Biden transition to move forward.  Newly-elected South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham is willing to risk a felony by contacting swing state election administers trying to get them to throw out legally cast mail-in ballots.  Yesterday, we had two Wayne County (Detroit) Republican administrators refuse to certify election results in that heavily-Democratic county, a decision which could have invalidated Michigan's electoral votes, leaving it to the Michigan legislature to appoint the electors instead. Those local Republicans quickly changed their minds and certified the results.

The one thing Donald Trump has taught us is that American democratic institutions are much more fragile than we ever realized.   So much is based on the honor system.  Well, the honor system does not work when America elects leaders who have no honor, people who have  no commitment to America's values.  Might be time to put those protections, which depend on the honor of America's elected officials, into writing.

OOP's short takes:
  • I see that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, is being investigated by the FBI over allegations of bribery and abuse of power.  Four whistleblowers from Paxton's office were fired or forced to leave their positions.  I am sure Trump sees nothing wrong with anything Paxton is alleged of doing. Guess who is getting a pardon for Christmas?
  • On my blog, I have criticized elected Republican officials, so many of them, for abdicating their constitutional responsibility to hold Trump accountable.  Thus, I should recognize when Republicans risk their reputations and political careers to do their job.  Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger refused to cower to the pressure put on him by President Trump, the two Georgia Senators, and Senator Graham (see above).  Raffensperger could have put his finger on the scale and thrown the election to Trump but he refused to engage in such dishonesty.  If we had more Republicans like Raffensperger there would have been no need for today's column.
  • Speaking of Georgia, Senator David Perdue has announced he will not debate his Democratic opponent, Jon Ossoff.  That is a good position for a candidate to take when he or she is way ahead in the polls.  It's not a good position to take when the race is dead even.   Perdue not debating Ossoff will be a far bigger campaign issue than any thing that would have come out of the debate.
  • In the other Georgia Senate run-off, appointed Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler has agreed to debate her opponent, Rev. Raphael Warnock.  Here is the problem.  Given Loeffler's flirtation with the Qanon crowd during the jungle primary, she is going to be asked whether she denounces the  conspiracy theory that Democrats are are a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who are running a global sex-traffic ring, which ring Trump is trying to stop.  If she says "yes," she runs the risk of losing some of her crazy GOP supporters, which she desperately needs.  If she says "no," she could lose the support of independents and some of the more sane Republicans.  My guess Sen. Loeffler will try the Trump tactic of pretending not to know what Qanon.  That would be consistent with Loeffler earlier this year saying she had not heard of the Access Hollywood tape during which Trump talked about grabbing women's private parts.
  • Yesterday, I heard someone put it quite well.  Let me paraphrase:  "There is no Republican Party any more. There is a Democratic Party and an anti-Democratic Party.  Today's Republican Party does not stand for anything but being against the Democratic Party."  Yep.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Efforts of Lincoln Project and Other Never Trump GOP Organizations Succeed as Republican Defections in Three Key States Cost Trump Re-Election

Make no mistake about it, the 2020 election was close.  Very close.  Donald Trump in 2016 won a majority in the Electoral College by winning three states - Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania - by approximately 78,000 votes.  In 2020, Joe Biden won the Electoral College by winning three states - Wisconsin, Arizona and Georgia - by what is currently (the recount in Georgia is continuing) approximately 45,100 votes.  If those three states had flipped, the Electoral College would have been a nightmarish 269-269 tie, with the United States House of Representatives (voting by delegation) breaking the tie.  That would have meant a Trump second term.

It is said that one one of the strengths of Donald Trump as a politician was an ability to get traditional Democrats and independents to cross over and vote for him.  Working men and woman (but particularly men) without college degrees, who usually voted Democrat, crossed over to vote for Trump.

That was always more myth than reality.

First the independents.  Trump in 2016 did appeal to independents, winning those voters in every swing state.  But in 2020, Trump lost the independent vote in every swing state.  

That would have led to a Democratic landslide, except for one thing.  Although the Democrats greatly boosted their turnout, Republicans did even better, including people who rarely vote.  The assumption has always been that the great swath of non-voters out there, those who don't regularly participate in elections, would vote for Democrats if they would just show up.  Well, in 2020. they did finally made it to the polls - and voted Republican. 

So even though Trump lost the independent voters in 2020, the increase in GOP turnout, relative to the Democrats, should have allowed him to win key swing states to put him over the top thanks to increased Republican turnout.  Except for one thing - GOP voters defecting to Biden.

Contrary to Trump mythology, in 2016 Hillary Clinton was just as adapt as Trump when it came to getting partisan cross-over vote.  But in 2020, Biden bested Trump in partisan cross-over vote in every swing state, except for Ohio where they ran evenly.  Although those who identified as Democrat and Republican voted heavily for their party's candidate, Biden's ability to get more Republicans to vote for him than Trump's success with Democrats, was enough to put him over the top in the three closest swing states - Wisconsin, Arizona and Georgia.  

WISCONSIN (10 Electoral Votes)
Biden won the Badger state by 20,567 votes.   Partisan breakdown in the state according to 2020 exit polls was 37% Republican, 32% Democrat and 32% Independent.  Of the Democratic voters, 4% voted for Trump and, of the Republican voters, 7% voted for Biden.  If Republican Wisconsin voters would have matched the Democrats support for their presidential candidates, Trump would have had 36,401 more votes and won the state.  

ARIZONA (11 Electoral Votes)
Biden won Arizona by 10,377 votes.  Partisan breakdown in the state was 34% Republican, 27% Democrat, and 39% Independent.  Of the Democratic voters, 3% voted for Trump while 10% of the Arizona Republican voters voted for Biden.  If Republican Arizona voters would have mirrored their Democratic counterparts, Trump would have had 69,058 more votes and fairly easily won the state.  

GEORGIA (16 Electoral Votes)
Right now Biden is winning Georgia by 14,156 votes.  (A recount is continuing as I write this).  Partisan breakdown in the state in the 2020 election was 38% Republican 34% Democrat, and 28% Independent.  Democrats voted for Trump at a 4% clip, while 6% of Republicans voted for Biden.  Not much of a margin, but enough.  If Republican Georgia voters had simply matched the Democrats support for Biden, Trump would have had 37,576 more votes and won the state.

Since the election, some political types have been dismissive of the efforts of the Lincoln Project, Republican Voters Against Trump and other Republican organizations and individuals who worked to defeat Donald Trump.  And, indeed, their efforts may not have moved the GOP numbers by much.  But what those naysayers did not understand was that the Republican electorate did not have to be moved much to deny Trump a second term.  It is clear from crunching the numbers that the Never Trump Republicans succeeded in making Donald J. Trump a one term President. 

Monday, November 16, 2020

More Good Covid-19 Virus Vaccination News Propels Dow Jones Near 30,000

As I write this the Dow Jones is within reach of 30,000.  The stock market index is up nearly 2,300 points since the election.

It is obvious that the stock market is not at all troubled by the fact that Donald Trump will no longer be President.  Indeed, the stock market seems thrilled with the result - a new President who is much more stable than his predecessor, a Democrat who will be checked from going too far to the left by Republicans in Congress.  Those who invest in the stock market could not have asked for a better result.

The stock market also is rising in no small part due to news about Covid-19 vaccination news. First Pfizer announced last week that tests have shown Covid-19 vaccination is 90% effective, much higher than the 50% or so effectiveness of the season flu vaccine.  Then this morning came even better news that Moderna's Covid-19 vaccination is 94.5% effective and has significant storage advantages over the Pfizer vaccination which requires super cold temperatures.

Donald Trump's response?  This morning he tweeted the following

Another Vaccine just announced. This time by Moderna, 95% effective. For those great “historians”, please remember that these great discoveries, which will end the China Plague, all took place on my watch!

Of course, because everything is always about him.  Trump's supporters are so brainwashed they would probably believe that "Dear Leader" was the one in the lab coming up with the formula for the vaccine.  

Back in the real world, President Trump has not met with his Covid-19 task force in 5 months. He has made opposition to mask mandates and other public health measures a matter of conservative orthodoxy.  Indeed just this morning, one of Trump's closest Covid-19 advisors, "Doctor" Scott Atlas, tweeted this:

The only way this stops is if people rise up. You get what you accept. #FreedomMatters #StepUp
Quote Tweet
philip lewis
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has announced an epidemic order for 3 weeks, starting this Wednesday. In-person learning for high schools and colleges are halted. Indoor dining, theaters, stadiums, organized sports (except pros) are no longer open.

Again, returning to the real world, the United States has 4.2% of the world's population and, despite some of the best health care facilities in the world, over 19% of people who have died from Covid-19 are Americans. President Trump has not only mocked mask-wearing and social distancing, he has actively worked against expanded testing and contact tracing.  He even put hundreds of thousands of his supporters at risk for contracting the virus during campaign rallies.  How many Trump supporters have gotten sick and died from Covid-19 because they decided to attend a Trump rally? 

Now that the election is over, Trump has blocked the transition including the Biden folks working with the Trump public health officials working on Covid-19.  The result will be a delay in distribution of the vaccination, with more Americans dying as a result.

A quarter of a million Americans have died from Covid-19.  Trump does not care that Americans are dying.  Donald Trump cares about Donald Trump and no one else.   Not sure when or if Trumpers  wake up to that fact.

OOP's short takes:

  • Voters who brought lawsuits in Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania with the goal of overturning the results in those states were dropped Monday morning.  All the lawsuits were brought by Indiana attorney James Bopp, Jr., a well-known conservative political free speech attorney who successfully litigated the Citizens United case.  I worked with Bopp on the Rex Early for Governor campaign in 1993/1994   I like Bopp and hate to see him lend his name to such nonsense.  My guess is that Bopp realized that his reputation as a serious attorney would be damaged by his involvement in the lawsuits.  Or, maybe Bopp realized that he, like virtually everyone who works for Trump, would never actually get paid for the work he did..
  • I am fascinated by Attorney L. Lin Wood, the legendary trial attorney from Atlanta.  It has  been alleged that he is going through a late career meltdown, perhaps similar to Rudolph Giuliani.   His former law partners sued Woods on August 31st over a broken agreement on fees when those partners broke away from the firm.  The complaint details allegations of Wood's unhinged behavior including threats, physical assault, middle of the night rambling communications, early a.m. meetings, and repeated assertions he is doing God's will.  Here are a couple paragraphs from a lengthy 3:45 am email Wood allegedly sent, which email is included in complaint:  
  • "You all better get on your knees and pray to Almighty God that He now asks me to show you mercy. If he does, I will show it, if he does not, I will deliver a fiery judgment against you on earth. Who the fuck did you think you were dealing with? You were screwing around me with, but I was someone else in disguise. You in fact have been screwing around with God Almighty. I am not God. You lied when you told others that I thought I was…. I am L. Lin Wood – the sole member of L. Lin Wood, P.C. The architect of the most masterful and powerful Valentine’s Day massacre known in American history. The last one killed seven. Mine will ruin many more before it is over. Deservedly so."
  • "You are the ones who are crazy, not me. You are all the fools, not me. You are all driven by fame and fortune, not me…. You are going to have to spend every day for the rest of your lives on earth by your every act and deed proving to God that you are genuinely sorry for the sins you have committed against HIM. I’m not going to waste anymore time listing your sins. You know them. God knows them…"
  • And that's just a small portion of Wood's allegedly erratic behavior detailed in the complaint.   Wood is representing Trump in a Georgia lawsuit and is also representing, pro bono, the Kenosha, Wisconsin shooter Kyle Rittenhouse.  God's work, apparently.