Afraid? Who, Us? We’re Not Afraid!

h/t Flazingo Photos
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Politico has an interesting piece up about whether Trump administration staffers, especially at the senior level, will face any difficulties in life after January 20, 2021. Will they have trouble getting a new job? Will they be treated like Alan Dershowitz in the Hamptons at Martha’s Vineyard, and find themselves off the best invitation lists for the Villager’s Dinner Parties?

On the one hand, these Trump folks make a good point: the fact that more than 70 million people voted for Trump indicates that this was not a top-to-bottom repudiation of Trump and everything he stood for. The fact that so many of the folks eyeing the 2024 GOP presidential nomination are embracing Trump and his quixotic challenges to the election result suggests that these staffers won’t have a shortage of people looking to hire someone who has Been Inside The White House, even if it’s Trump’s White House.

But there’s one thing that suggests they are still worried. There’s one thing that suggests that they are looking over their shoulders. There’s one thing that suggests that they are not as comfortable as their brave words declare them to be.

Here’s a hint:

“. . . said a White House official . . .”

“. . . some current and former Trump officials . . .”

“. . . One top official at the White House . . .”

“. . . Many top Trump advisers now say . . .”

“. . . said one of the president’s closest advisers.”

“. . . Interviews with numerous current and former Trump officials reveal . . .

” . . . Most Trump officials feel . . .”

“. . . as one Trump official called them . . .”

“. . . said an administration official. . . .”

“. . . said a senior administration official . . .”

” . . . said a Trump adviser . . .”

” . . . said a Senate GOP aide . . .”

” . . . said a former senior administration official . . .”

To Politico’s credit, they did manage to quote one person by name in this story:  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

But back to those Trump staffers. For folks who are quite sure they will land on their feet, they are mighty nervous about putting their name next to their words. Maybe it’s because of this:

“None of the Trump officials interviewed for this story seriously believed that Trump would prevail in the election, and it was taken as a given that they would all soon be looking for work outside the administration.”

These unnamed Trump officials may not fear repudiation by the DC social circles for having been complicit in locking children in cages and taking them away from their parents, never to be reunited. They may not fear for their next job, despite enabling the feeble and fatal Trump administration response to the coronavirus pandemic. They may not fear poverty, because they’ve got their book deal lined up already.

But their unanimous unwillingness to allow their names to be used says they are afraid of something. Or should I say “someone”?

It’s Donald John Trump, and he’s not going away.

*That* is what worries these people. It’s one thing to say “Look at the Dubya folks – they did just fine as their Iraq War stuff and market crash faded into history.” But as long as Trump doesn’t fade away, neither will their enabling of his policies. And deep down, they know that Trump is not going to quietly ride off into the sunset. Ever.

Be afraid, Unnamed Senior Administration Officials. Be very afraid.

[The post has been edited to correct the object of Alan Dershewitz’s unrequited feelings. While it is possible the residents of the Hamptons may have just as much disdain for Mr. Dershewitz as the residents of Martha’s Vineyard, that is not a matter of public record. We regret the error of not giving the residents of Martha’s Vineyard their due.]

Don Jr’s Demand to “Declassify Everything” and the Secret Grand Jury Information His Buddy Shared about Julian Assange

Yesterday, Don Jr tweeted out a demand that someone — Daddy, maybe? — “declassify everything.”

I guess the failson believes there are secret facts that will change the reality that his Daddy just lost an election by the same Electoral College margin Trump beat Hillary by in 2016, with an even bigger popular vote loss than he suffered in 2016.

Given Jr’s belief that releasing classified information can save him, though, it’s worth revisiting testimony that former Sputnik propagandist Cassandra Fairbanks gave at the Julian Assange extradition hearing.

She testified under oath that, a month after President Trump would have learned that the Mueller team was investigating the Roger Stone-led effort to pardon Julian Assange — an effort that seems to have implicated Don Jr, too — Don Jr’s close friend Arthur Schwartz told Fairbanks that there would be no fucking pardon for Assange. Schwartz proceeded to give Fairbanks accurate, secret information about the grand jury investigation into Assange. She also testified vaguely that Schwartz said “other persons … might be affected” including people he referred to as “lifelong friends,” a reference she took to mean Don Jr.

In early 2019, Fairbanks traveled to London to share this secret grand jury information with Assange in person. So Schwartz’ leak played a role in the target of a criminal investigation learning secret details about that investigation.

Fairbanks implied that Ric Grenell — who inhabited the same far right wing chat room as Fairbanks and Schwartz and who gave Ecuador reassurances that Assange won’t face the death penalty — may have been Schwartz’s source. But if Schwartz knew that Assange might present problems for Don Jr, as Fairbanks implied, it suggests he spoke with the President’s son about it.

At the very least, DOJ must be investigating how grand jury information got leaked and how Schwartz got that information to leak.

The failson might not want to advertise how happy he is to share America’s secrets.

Trump’s Enablers Are Mistaking an Insurgency for an Off-Ramp

Jake Tapper tweeted that Jared Kushner and Rudy (both of whom have criminal exposure that Trump’s loss might make imminent), along with Jason Miller, are entertaining Trump’s demand that they hold rallies delegitimizing the election results. David Bossie (whom Jared reportedly brought in to play the role of respected elder, like Jim Baker played in the 2000 recount, which by itself is hilarious) and Mark Meadows are pushing Trump to concede.

The AP reports that anonymous senior officials are telling themselves that helping Trump to delegitimize the results is really just a way to give the Narcissist-in-Chief an “off-ramp” to accept the loss that he can’t grasp.

But senior officials, campaign aides and allies told The Associated Press that overwhelming evidence of fraud isn’t really the point.

The strategy to wage a legal fight against the votes tallied for Biden in Pennsylvania and other places is more to provide Trump with an off-ramp for a loss he can’t quite grasp and less about changing the election’s outcome, the officials said. They spoke to AP on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal strategy.

Trump aides and allies also acknowledged privately the legal fights would — at best — forestall the inevitable, and some had deep reservations about the president’s attempts to undermine faith in the vote. But they said Trump and a core group of loyalists were aiming to keep his base of supporters on his side even in defeat.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin is one of the few world leaders who has not congratulated President-Elect Biden, because — his spox says — there are still ongoing legal challenges. Thus, it is official policy of Russia to follow the strategy that Russia and its assets had planned in the eventuality of a 2016 loss, to discredit the outcome.

I get that Trump’s closest advisors are calculating the best way for him to remain kingmaker. Ensuring that his frothers remain frothy even after Trump is exposed as a weak man that even Georgia rejected is a one way to do that.

But kidding themselves that this is about getting Trump to come to grips with his loss is a dangerous game. Whatever these rallies would do for Trump’s damaged ego, they will serve to create a potentially violent insurgency, members of which have already tried, on repeated occasion, to engage in political violence in Trump’s name.

No one should treat these excuses for discrediting a clearcut democratic result as serious. They’re just rationalizations to repackage anti-American actions as something else.

It Didn’t Go Away: COVID, COVID, COVID

Remember Trump’s gaslighting the American public, telling them COVID would simply go away after the election because it was just a hoax?

Right.

It’s still here. By Thanksgiving COVID will have taken more than a quarter million American lives if it continues to kill at a rate of 1,000 more per day.

This is the real hoax, playing out in front of use: Donald Trump is not a leader but a killer who has persistently tried to persuade us we’re imagining these deaths as anything more than a campaign ploy.

The campaign’s over and the cases and deaths are still mounting.

Fortunately we have a president-elect who is taking the pandemic seriously. Biden-Harris transition team has already issued a plan for combating COVID: BuildBackBetter.com/Priorities/COVID-19

While the plan is more of an executive summary at this point, work is already beginning on details:

Doctors Rick Bright, Atul Gawande, Luciana Borio, and Michael Osterholm are expected to be named advisers for Biden’s COVID-19 team.

This is what leadership and competency looks like when American lives are on the line. If nothing is done between now and Inauguration Day, at least another 73,000 Americans will die from COVID. It looks like Biden-Harris are taking this seriously and not treating it like a hoax.

There’s one big wrinkle, though, not of Biden-Harris’s making.

A single person at the General Services Administration is holding up the formal transition process — a Trump appointee who has previously refused to answer the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s questions regarding Trump’s D.C. hotel which operates out of the old U.S. Post Office building.

States are going to suffer for the foot dragging by this lone obstructionist, GSA administrator Emily Murphy, protecting Trump. Red states will be hurt in particular since they are suffering the greatest proportional numbers of COVID cases, in part due to Trump’s campaign rallies. These ten states currently lead in number of cases per million residents:

North Dakota — 79408 cases per million
South Dakota — 67231
Iowa — 49899
Wisconsin — 49356
Utah — 47075
Idaho — 46191
Nebraska — 44716
Florida — 44281
Tennessee — 42816
Mississippi — 42534

When weighed against each states’ population, some of these numbers are obscene. South Dakota’s Gov. Kristi Noem’s weak-sauce advocacy for personal responsibility in lieu of a mask mandate in the face of the Sturgis Motor Cycle Rally during August demonstrated she isn’t capable of leading and protecting her state.

Utah announced Sunday night it’s implementing new restrictions including mandatory masks Monday:

Whether Utahns comply may depend on whether they believe what they are being told by both the state and federal government. At least Gov. Herbert sees ‘masks optional’ or personal responsibility doesn’t work.

For their sakes and their lives, let’s hope Utahns don’t wait for GSA’s Emily Murphy to do her goddamned job. Right now she’s endangering American lives.

Goodbye Earl Trump

“Well, the weeks went by and spring turned to summer
And summer faded into fall
And it turns out he was a missing person
who nobody missed at all”

Listen, this has been really over since mid Wednesday morning. Am not sure how long The Arizona Republic has called this race, but pretty sure it has been at least a day or more. Even if the drama happy cable networks won’t acknowledge it.

But even MSNBC and CNN are chiming. So, it is really over. Goodbye Earl Trump!

Some good college football on today. ASU at USC starts it off. Houston at Cinci could be interesting. Best game could be Gators at the UGA. But the oxygen in the room goes to…..Clemson at The Golden Domers. Having Taylor Lawrence out puts a large dent in this, bet Clemson can still put up a fight.

I’ll be back in a bit with the pros.

The Chicks with Goodbye Earl.

Congratulations, America — Once More, with Feeling [UPDATE-1]

[NB: Updates at bottom of post./~Rayne]

FINALLY we can breathe again. I swear the White House minions must have worked together to push Trump to get out and go play golf so that the media could finally make the call.

Election coverage has now taken over the entire Washington Post site, which now shows Biden at 273 electoral votes to Trump’s 214. This number varies depending on the news outlet; some have already added Nevada though that state is still counting ballots in Clark County.

People are celebrating all over the country:

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.

.

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Nothing yet from central to western U.S. but probably just a matter of time. The relief is so palpable even over social media.

It’s difficult to convey the amount of joy women especially women of color feel right now.

Words fail trying to express what it means to have so many firsts finally achieved — first woman, Black, South Asian, Jamaican American as VP — when the Equal Rights Amendment remains unratified since 1972, when so many Americans of color were denied their right to vote by myriad forms of suppression.

There will surely be attacks on Joe Biden’s history; his role in the Anita Hill hearings remains a bone of contention for me. But by choosing Kamala Harris as his running mate he kept faith with more than half of this country which has been systematically denied representation in their own democracy.

And in choosing Harris, Biden has also ensured the executive office hasn’t lost sight of the transition of power from one generation to another.

We have a lot to celebrate, not only because we can finally see an end to the Trump administration in 74 days. We can celebrate real change is coming.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 3:00 PM ET —

Still joy-scrolling through my timeline. Someone cracked wise and said the celebratory crowd in DC is bigger than Trump’s inauguration crowd. Based on the photos I’ve seen so far, I wouldn’t be surprised one bit.

Sure hope somebody gets a drone shot or two from a decent elevation so we can guesstimate a head count.

But this one made me sniffle:

It’s as if we’d been at war and the war is finally over. How horribly sad this is. And yet we really have been at war with the rest of the rational world; the U.S. formally left the Paris Agreement on climate change yesterday after Trump announced we would leave a year ago.

Now the work begins as we fix the damage, restore other allies’ faith in us, and return to work together on the existential crisis facing humans.

p.s. bmaz launched a Trash Talk post for those of you who still need a sports fix.

Distraction and Disinformation: The Stakes of Lessons Not Learned

The other night (I’ve lost track of which night — they’ve all blended together), when Trump’s campaign first rolled out the rent-a-mobs and invent-a-law challenges to the MI election, I was frantically trying to get journalists I know and respect to do two things: stop reporting that Trump had sued until they had paperwork in hand, and stop using a term for the mobsters, “challenger,” which has a specific legal meaning in MI.

Challengers are defined individuals provided credentials to operate under specific rules. While there are NGO challengers as well, each party gets two challengers in a precinct, but just one can watch the actual vote tally. The GOP had the designated number of challengers in the polling room when the rent-a-mob got called (indeed, aggressive challengers are reportedly what caused a delay in the counting of my own vote in Grand Rapids, assuming it did get counted), and yet the mobsters were referring to themselves as challengers.

The frivolous lawsuit filed well after the mobsters descended claimed that challengers weren’t being given access.

In other words, the Trump campaign had created a disinformation event by obscuring the law and creating a media event for the media to cover.

That’s not new. It has been going on for five years. Indeed, Trump’s success at using disinformation and distraction to tell a false story of victimhood surely is part of why he did better in 2020 than he did in 2016. COVID Donny is a story-teller, and many Americans in the post-exceptionalism era gravitate to stories that explain away personal failures to victimhood. (There has been some of this on the left, too, though usually with more basis in fact.)

To be fair, the press has done a less bad job of falling for Trump’s distraction and disinformation since Tuesday than it has for most of his presidency. (That may be because they’re increasingly certain they won’t need to rely on access going forward.) Even Fox is insisting that Trump provide actual evidence for the claims being made — before, often, treating those claims as credible whether or not evidence supports it.  Most outlets even turned away from a presser where Trump falsely claimed victory.

Still, one after another paranoid hoax — a red wagon pulling camera equipment, an alleged sticky note, former senior Administration officials sprinting away from cameras — has been floated and taken as credible long enough to make it appear like Trump’s manic claims of fraud and those of his conspiratorial followers might have merit.

The press has done a good job demanding proof, and dismantling the claims by showing what would be necessary for proof one by one. GOP officials are adopting one of two stances — either admitting there is no proof, or stating that before Trump claims fraud he has to provide it (even while giving air to some of the claims that have been debunked) — that may eventually bring us to closure.

Still, the press is chasing every one of these claims without caveating that this delay was intentionally caused by the GOP, Trump telegraphed he’d be using this strategy even before the election, and all evidence suggests that when the counting is done Joe Biden will have a solid victory in the Electoral College and a far bigger one in the popular vote.

In any other election, we’d be pestering Biden to learn who will be Attorney General and who will be Secretary of State, but instead we’re still chasing Donny’s distractions.

Still, it is an improvement. It will likely get us through this period, possibly even before any of Trump’s supporters succeed at unleashing violence (though a handful have been trying).

I wonder what it would have taken to accomplish this far earlier in the presidency, before Trump used it to undermine a very damning Russian investigation, before he used it to successfully beat back impeachment, before he used it to undermine any response to COVID, and before Trump used it in an effort to criminalize Joe Biden. We need to think about this because the right wing has gotten this manic hoax-chasing into its bloodstream, and for far too many of these hoaxes, the press just ignores the claims rather than shows how a basic adherence to truth will debunk them.

We need to find a way to better debunk and ignore this guy, otherwise he will become a dangerous martyr doing further damage to this country.

Steve Bannon and His Competent Lawyers Part Ways

It has been hard to understand Steve Bannon’s desperate efforts to sell a Hunter Biden conspiracy in recent weeks outside the context of a pardon audition. He is already charged with fraud for diverting funds donated to build a wall to his own pocketbook. And there’s a lot about the Hunter Biden story that reeks of fraud, if not serving as an Agent of a Foreign Power.

Then, last night, he said that Anthony Fauci and Chris Wray should be beheaded and have their heads put on pikes outside the White House as a warning. He got banned permanently from Twitter as a result.

If you consider the fact that the investigation — led by the FBI — into Bannon’s charged fraud is ongoing, that comes off as a threat to someone involved in his case (though is probably not why he made the comment). Roger Stone did far less and got a gag placed on him while he was out on bail.

Today, William Burck, the very competent lawyer who shepherded Bannon through a whole lot of evolving testimony in the Mueller investigation sent a letter saying they’re going to withdraw from the case.

On behalf of Defendant Stephen Bannon, we write respectfully to request an adjournment of the status conference currently scheduled for Monday, November 9 at 1:00 p.m. Mr. Bannon is in the process of retaining new counsel, and Quinn Emanuel intends to move to withdraw. As a result, Mr. Bannon respectfully requests that the status conference in this matter be adjourned for three weeks so that he may formally retain new counsel.

We have conferred with counsel for the government and for Defendants Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato, and Timothy Shea, all of whom consent to an adjournment. This is the second request Mr. Bannon has made for an adjournment of this status conference.

This could be nothing more than Quinn Emanuel’s unwillingness to represent someone who engages in such action. Or, there may be a larger underlying strategic dispute, one that might extend to how Bannon might audition for a pardon.

But when Mike Flynn took a similar step over a year ago, it didn’t work out the way he hoped.

Congratulations, America! Welcome President-Elect and VP-Elect Biden and Harris!

[Rayne and Marcy tag-teaming here: around 4:25 AM ET, Clayton County, GA, home of John Lewis, put Biden in the lead in the New Deep South of Georgia and with it the likely winner of GA and the race.]

~ ~ ~

The wait is finally over. We have a new president-elect.

Congratulations, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris!

Share your sentiments in comments.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1: Just before 9:00 AM, Biden went up over 5,000 in PA, with the expectation that he will get a disproportionate number of what’s left. It’s done. He won, and still may match Trump’s 306 EVs from 2016.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-2 — 2:45 PM ET —

— Signs and portents

— The FAA established a No-Fly Zone above Joe Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware as of mid-afternoon on November 4; this appears to be normal procedure for presidential candidates for a limited period of time. Today the Secret Service ramped up its level of protective detail around Biden, though Biden does not yet have the same level as president-elect or the president.

— People are dancing in the streets in Philadelphia; they’ve been at it since very early this morning.

— A lot of the punditry are complaining about the media’s restraint, refusing to call Pennsylvania for Biden. The threshold appears to be 35,000 votes or 0.05% of  the vote, though, when an automatic recount would be triggered. If the vote count for Biden clears that benchmark then the media will move to call PA and the entire race. (I am not certain about the threshold number or percentage — if you see confirmation somewhere, please share in comments. Thanks.)

— Rick Santorum pleaded for liberals to go easy on the right-wing…


Yeah, no.

— Lindsey Graham is already back on his shit as is McConnell. They must have passed around a memo inside the GOP Senate caucus that austerity is where its at now that they’ve wrecked the future with their goddamned massive tax cut.

— Georgia’s secretary of state (yes, he’s a Republican) has already said a recount will be launched. Except there’s no automatic recount; the candidate has to request one. And the deadline for curing ballots isn’t until this evening. What a partisan crock of shit. This is exactly the crap Stacey Abrams had to face.

— Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania:

Biden 3,311,673 49.5%
Trump 3,298,011 49.3

~drumming fingers~

The wait goes on.

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