Hard Looks

I think Biden will win. I also think the problem in this election is not the polling industry getting it wrong, it’s the fact that this many Americans took a hard look at Trump and determined “yeah, I want four more years of that”

Ben Rhodes, 8:30 a.m. Wednesday

This week’s featured post is “Sitting With the Weirdness“.

This week everybody was talking about the election

Most of what I have to say about the election is in the featured post: This was a genuinely weird election that doesn’t fit anybody’s model. I think if we force-fit it into our prior beliefs, we’ll miss a chance to learn something.

While I am relieved that Trump will be out in January (and he will be), I’m disappointed to learn that 70 million Americans would be happy to keep marching towards fascism. Paul Waldman made that point at more length:

If Biden becomes president, as it looks like he will, we can let out a sigh of relief. At least the daily horrors emanating from the Trump administration will cease, and at least we won’t have to care what Trump himself is thinking and tweeting from hour to hour.

But if you believed Biden when he so often responded to some new misdeed by pleading, “This is not who we are. We’re better than this,” you were wrong. This is who we are. We are not better than this. And we won’t be for a long time to come, if ever.

To no one’s surprise, Trump is not going gracefully. Rather than conceding, he has launched a barrage of baseless lawsuits, for the purpose of creating enough delay and fog to allow Republican legislatures in states like Pennsylvania to award him their electoral votes in defiance of the electorate.

Again and again, for example, Trump has been claiming that Republicans were not allowed to observe vote counting. This is just false.

There have been no reports of systematic irregularities with poll watchers anywhere in the US. There is no evidence supporting the President’s claims that GOP poll watchers were shut out of the process, and Trump’s campaign still hasn’t backed up this broad claim in court.

CNN has reporters across the country following developments at polling places on Election Day and the ongoing vote-counting process, and saw nothing resembling Trump’s allegations.

Ezra Klein points out that if this were happening in a third-world country, we’d have no trouble calling it an attempted coup.

That this coup probably will not work — that it is being carried out farcically, erratically, ineffectively — does not mean it is not happening, or that it will not have consequences. … This is, to borrow Hungarian sociologist Bálint Magyar’s framework, “an autocratic attempt.” That’s the stage in the transition toward autocracy in which the would-be autocrat is trying to sever his power from electoral check. If he’s successful, autocratic breakthrough follows, and then autocratic consolidation occurs. In this case, the would-be autocrat stands little chance of being successful. But he will not entirely fail, either. What Trump is trying to form is something akin to an autocracy-in-exile, an alternative America in which he is the rightful leader, and he — and the public he claims to represent — has been robbed of power by corrupt elites.

He will not keep Biden from taking office. But he will make it much harder for Republicans to cooperate with the new administration. To do so, they will have to leave the Trump alternate reality, and so be seen as disloyal by the Trump base.

So far, thank God, none of Trump’s inflammatory lies have led to violence.

Fox News has had a split personality this week: The daytime journalists are playing it fairly straight, reporting Trump’s accusations of vote-counting fraud while clearly stating they have seen no evidence to support those claims. Meanwhile, the nightshift propagandists have been all but called for an uprising.

Trump’s shenanigans are already monkey-wrenching the transition.

This week, all eyes are on the Trump-appointed General Services Administration administrator, Emily W. Murphy, to recognize Joe Biden as the president-elect and release funds to the Biden transition team through a process called ascertainment. This would mark the first formal acknowledgment from the Trump administration that Biden has in fact won the election, and would unlock access to national security tools to streamline background checks and additional funds to pay for training and incoming staff.But nearly 48 hours after the race was called by numerous news organizations, Murphy has not yet signed off. A GSA spokesperson declined to provide a specific timeline for when ascertainment would take place, a clear signal the agency won’t get ahead of the President.

Best meme I’ve seen:

and the virus is truly out of control now

Remember how everybody was going to quit talking about “Covid, Covid, Covid” after the election? I don’t think so.

Cases had been rising since a mid-September low of around 25K new infections per day. But this week showed an abrupt rise: We’ve now had five consecutive days over 100K. Deaths always lag cases by about a month, but we also had five consecutive days over 1,000 deaths, after getting down to about 700 per day in mid-October. It’s a reasonable guess that by next month we’ll be hitting 2,000 deaths in a day.

But there is good news on the vaccine front: Pfizer reports that its vaccine is 90% effective — far higher than previously expected. That’s from an interim analysis of its Phase 3 trials, which are not finished. The company plans to ask the FDA for emergency use authorization in about two weeks.

That doesn’t mean you can get vaccinated by Thanksgiving. Production and distribution is still a huge logistical problem. But it is good news.

The Onion captures the absurdity of anti-mask protests: “Anti-Jacketers Rally Outside Burlington Coat Factory To Protest Liberal Cold Weather Conspiracy“.

and we have to think about what happens next

One big decision that has to happen in the next few months: Should federal prosecutors enforce the laws that Trump and his minions have been violating? Or should the new administration declare bygones in hopes of bringing the country together?

I’m firmly in the enforce-the-law camp. It’s still debatable whether President Ford’s decision to pardon Nixon was correct, but that was a very different situation: Nixon had resigned after Republican senators told him they could no longer defend him. In other words, he was in disgrace and would never make a comeback. Also, he was seen as an anomaly. Post-pardon, we could implement reforms to keep his abuses from happening again, and otherwise stop thinking about him.

But Trump still has his party behind him and has admitted nothing. If the facts against him are never presented to a court, he will claim that all the accusations against him were political. And he’ll be back in 2024.

I’m also hearing a lot of talk about dialog with the 70 million Trump voters, to find out who they are and what they want. I’m not very optimistic about that dialog, though, because I don’t see any indication that they want to talk to or understand us.

After 2016, there was a small industry of books about rural whites and Southern Evangelicals. News organizations sent a steady stream of reporters to hang out in diners in Ohio and Indiana to find out how the locals viewed the world.

Does anybody expect Fox or NewsMax reporters to start hanging with black women in Atlanta? Is Barrio Elegy going to rise up the bestseller lists? Will Liberty University researchers study the folks who frequent public libraries and science museums? I don’t think so. They don’t want a dialog, and until they do, I don’t see much hope for one.

and you also might be interested in …

Puerto Rico passed a referendum in favor of statehood. There is no precedent in American history for governing this many people as a territory for this long. Statehood would be a no-brainer but for two considerations: Republicans don’t want to admit a state that will probably vote Democratic, and white supremacists don’t want a state full of brown people who speak Spanish.

If these were English-speaking white people with Republican sensibilities, they’d have been a state a long time ago.

With a Democrat in the White House, the budget deficit will be back on center stage. For four years, it was like the debt never existed, but now it will become an existential threat to the nation again.

and let’s close with something delightfully nasty

I usually keep politics out of the closings, but this one is hilarious. (And yes, I know they misspelled Führer.) A clip from the last-days-of-Hitler movie Downfall has had its German subtitles replaced by Trump-loses-the-election lines. I’ve seen this clip labeled Donfall.

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  • Dale  On November 9, 2020 at 1:37 pm

    Pardoning Nixon was a mistake. While Republicans did not support him the lesson they learned was not that lawlessness is bad, but all they have to do in order to win is to support their guy.

    Then Iran Contra came and they did the same. Except this time they stood by their man. And they were not punished. And then Bush outed spies for political reasons, and purged the DoJ… and Republicans stood by him and were not punished.

    Should we be surprised that when consequences are only for democrats that Republicans escalate their lawlessness? I am not.

  • Jacqueline (Bonin) Gargiulo  On November 9, 2020 at 4:47 pm

    Just can across this…


    I’m also have at the power dynamics involved. Interesting discussion on Hidden Brain with the author of The Power Paradox. It covered a good amount of ground, but I feel it didn’t delve enough into the covert social operations of entrenched power.

  • Eric L  On November 13, 2020 at 1:39 pm

    “After 2016, there was a small industry of books about rural whites and Southern Evangelicals. News organizations sent a steady stream of reporters to hang out in diners in Ohio and Indiana to find out how the locals viewed the world.

    Does anybody expect Fox or NewsMax reporters to start hanging with black women in Atlanta?”

    Not much point in talking to the people who vote Republican in every election to find out why they voted for Trump in particular. But this election season has emphasized to me how out-of-touch I am with a growing share of the non-white population, and that I need to update my media diet accordingly. For starters I wasn’t expecting Biden’s come-from-behind primary victory delivered by black voters, and no amount of reading current thinking on race would have prepared me to expect that. But what’s crazier to me is that Trump basically split the Mexican-American vote in Texas border counties where Clinton won handily. That’s incomprehensible to me that after the last four years we would see such a shift among Latino voters toward Trump rather than away. I would like to see reporters talking to those Trump voters, because I’d like to know what’s going on and I clearly don’t.

    • Jacqueline (Bonin) Gargiulo  On November 13, 2020 at 3:01 pm

      I am awaiting such analysis as well. I have heard, and having lived in Miami totally get, that the anti- “socialism” message resonated with the Cuban, Venezuelan and other South American populations there based on their experience of what I call Fascist derived “socialism”. That’s also my issue with the Fascist derived Communism of Russia. It resonates with folks from their experiential context which leaves them less open to the democratic version, which is how it is working elsewhere and how Marx actually theorized it.


  • By Lost Villages | The Weekly Sift on November 23, 2020 at 12:16 pm

    […] continues to spread out of control, with new records being set just about every day. Two weeks ago I […]

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