Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Got Paranoia? Everywhere Except Pennsylvania

I Was Proved Fucking Right department:

HARRISBURG (KDKA) — For months, there has been talk swirling that if Joe Biden wins Pennsylvania, Republicans in the state legislature could bypass the popular vote and appoint electors who are favorable to President Trump....

On Friday, State Senate majority leader Jake Corman said Republicans will honor the wishes of the voters.

“Our role is to monitor the process, our role is to provide oversight and call out questions where they might need asked, but certainly want to stay with the tradition of the popular vote winner getting the electors,” Senator Corman said.

Corman says the vote is certified by the state and the governor appoints the electors.

He says the legislature will follow the law. (KDKA TV Pittsburgh)

Yes, some Republicans in the General Assembly are calling for a "legislative audit" of the election results to be completed before secretary of state Book—some sources say it's a "bipartisan call"

but they don't seem able to name any of the non-Republicans involved in the move, and others reporting the same occasion disagree:

HARRISBURG — Republican calls for audits of the election have intensified in Harrisburg, with House Speaker Bryan Cutler on Monday proposing a “checklist” of laws and procedures appropriately followed and Rep. Dawn Keefer on Tuesday seeking involvement of a legislative committee with investigative powers.

A spokesman for House Democrats, meanwhile, called Keefer’s move “.... a pathetic, partisan and desperate attempt to cloud people’s vision with more baseless claims for which there is no evidence whatsoever. There is no shame in losing an election, but there ought to be great shame in trying to subvert normal democratic processes on which this nation was founded.” (Lehigh Valley Morning Call)

They might like it to be bipartisan, but that doesn't seem to be happening. Whatever they may decide to do, though, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar will have certified the list of 20 Joe Biden electors who were elected on 3 November and Governor Tom Wolf will have sent it on to the United States Senate by 14 December, as required by US and state law, and that's it. There will be no attempts to nullify the election or switch the electors or otherwise, and that's that. They may have managed to fool Barton Gellman and the editors of The Atlantic, for a delirious moment, but it was all bluff, from the start.

And I suppose we can even say who it was aimed at: Pennsylvania's rural Republican voters, clinging to their gods and guns, courted from roadside breakfast spot to roadside breakfast spot by The New York Times, and led for the last four years into the belief they ruled the world. A Dolchstoßlegende is being created for these guys and their fellows across the country, but maybe especially in PA, and for the particular benefit of the stalwart Republicans of the General Assembly, who want it understood that they weren't the traitors who allowed Biden and Harris to take office against the express demand of Pennsylvania's rural Republican voters, no way.

And heedless of the damage they're causing, of course, in goosing the atmosphere of fear and distrust among the armed citizenry at a time that feels really close to real conflict.

By the way, on Trump's lawsuit against the state of Pennsylvania:

Little glitch, all the voter fraud we can find comes from where they voted Republican.

I'm more and more convinced, anyway, that it's all bluff, from start to finish, among the politicians, at the federal level as well, where congresscritters are essentially doing the same, building up that backstab myth, at a vaguer level, as meat for their next campaigns.

Trump himself, naturally, is just being Trump. Not just that he can't stand it being said that he's a loser, but that he always thinks, or gets somebody to think, of a more attractive explanation:

He too, merely wants everybody to understand that it wasn't his fault. Hence, what Digby says:

He's trying to walk away unscathed. He'd like a deal to keep him out of jail and forgiveness on the Deutsche debt and IRS cheating, and a way to continue having some income and keep living large, and maybe get married again.

And get some revenge on which he's been holding back, now that the election is over, for instance on the hack defense secretary Mark Esper (for disrespectfully suggesting the emperor doesn't have the right to set troops on protesting citizens in Lafayette Square back in June), and presumably he'll be firing FBI director Christopher Wray for his inexplicable failure to jail Andrew McCabe and Peter Strzok ("What do you mean they didn't commit any crimes, what kind of weak-ass excuse is that?"), as has been widely reported, and conceivably CIA director Gina Haspel. 

But there could be much more sinister things afoot as well, with which Trump might have very little or nothing to do. One spooky thing is that (according to CNN) there are more upheavals at the Pentagon, seemingly aimed at installing Trump loyalists: undersecretary of defense for policy James Anderson has quit or been fired, to be replaced by "the official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy" an Islamophobe nutcase who couldn't get Senate confirmation for the job, General Anthony Tata—

In several tweets from 2018, Tata said that Islam was the "most oppressive violent religion I know of" and claimed former President Barack Obama was a "terrorist leader" who did more to harm the US "and help Islamic countries than any president in history."

—and he's also spun conspiracy theories against Obamas CIA director John O. Brennan. Undersecretary of defense for intelligence Joseph Kernan is also out, being replaced by the abominable Ezra Cohen-Watnick and

Kash Patel will be the chief of staff to [new defense secretary Christopher] Miller, according to an administration official and a US defense official. Patel, who most recently served as senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council, is a controversial figure who previously worked under Republican Rep. Devin Nunes on the House Intelligence Committee. He was among the names mentioned during the House impeachment inquiry's investigation into the administration's decision to delay military aid to Ukraine last year.
Patel has a "very close" working relationship with Miller, the administration official said.

And another Nunes confederate, per Fred Kaplan at Slate, at the National Security Agency:

More serious is a move, reported in Tuesday’s Washington Post, to make Michael Ellis—senior director for intelligence on the National Security Council and a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes, Trump’s most loyal servant on the House Intelligence Committee—the general counsel of the National Security Agency. This was done at the insistence of the White House, over the objections of the NSA director, Gen. Paul Nakasone, who preferred to promote a professional staffer instead.

That's a civil service position, Kaplan explains,  not a political one, so he'll be there after 20 January, and can't be fired without cause, though he can be transferred to a different post. That's a clue to me that Kaplan may be overstating the case when he says Trump is trying to build a "deep state" in the national security and it's somebody else from the shadow paranoid world where Nunes has been operating and who knows who else—names I don't even want to speculate on. NSA is the signals intelligence agency with the capacity to illegally monitor the communications of American citizens, as it did during the Nixon and Bush II administrations. More likely that there's some "burrowing" going on, of a deep state for the post-Trump world, and it doesn't bode at all well, but it doesn't bode Trump retaining power—rather people who have been calling the actual shots as he distracts us with his buffoonery.

Perhaps some similar explanation applies to Billy Barr, clinging to this dreadful job he'll lose in ten weeks regardless, seemingly in terror of getting fired, and doing every idiotic thing Trump asks him to do, most recently inviting federal prosecutors all around the country to start looking for cases of voter fraud in spite of DOJ policy against launching investigations of an election before the election results are certified, and in spite of the fact that every lead they've followed so far as been fruitless—"So far, they have gone 0 for 6," writes the Washington Post, and just in the past hour one of Lindsey-Woolsy's cases bit the dust:

A Pennsylvania postal worker whose claims have been cited by top Republicans as potential evidence of widespread voting irregularities admitted to U.S. Postal Service investigators that he fabricated the allegations, according to three officials briefed on the investigation and a statement from a House congressional committee.

Richard Hopkins’s claim that a postmaster in Erie, Pa., instructed postal workers to backdate ballots mailed after Election Day was cited by Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) in a letter to the Justice Department calling for a federal investigation. Attorney General William P. Barr subsequently authorized federal prosecutors to open probes into credible allegations of voting irregularities and fraud, a reversal of long-standing Justice Department policy.

But on Monday, Hopkins, 32, told investigators from the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General that the allegations were not true, and he signed an affidavit recanting his claims, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe an ongoing investigation. Democrats on the House Oversight Committee tweeted late Tuesday that the “whistleblower completely RECANTED.”

Very funny, but keep your eyes open for who gets fired at DOJ, and who gets hired over the next couple of months. You might think they'd already gutted Justice the way they have State—it's what I'd have thought—but burrowing people is exactly what Barr does, with his Federalist Society judges, and who knows. You could have a little coup without involving the outgoing or the incoming president.

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