Friday, December 11, 2020

Byron York: Time to Move On, With an Investigation or Two

Thoughtful conservative Byron York of the Washington Examiner says Trump is done and it's time to move on, but there should be investigations in a few aspects of the 2020 elections:

TIME FOR TRUMP TO STOP. President Trump's defenders have pointed out many times, correctly, that he has every right to pursue legal challenges to election results in states he lost narrowly. Going to court is not staging a coup or plotting to destroy democracy, as some of Trump's adversaries have charged. It is the way people, even the president of the United States, pursue claims in the system. So, even though many of the cases brought by Trump and his allies have been far-fetched, and he has lost nearly all of them, there was no great harm in bringing them.

But the time has come to end it. Monday is the day electors meet in the states to cast Electoral College votes for president. The states have already certified the results of their elections; the total is 306 electoral votes for Joe Biden and 232 for Trump. None of the president's challenges has resulted in a change in any of those state totals, and he would need that to happen in not one, not two, but three states — say, Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania — in order to win. Instead, Biden will win the presidency with 306 votes, unless a "faithless elector" or two makes his winning total slightly smaller. (Remember in 2016, when some desperate Democrats hoped droves of electors committed to Trump would abandon that commitment? It didn't work.)

On Friday evening, the Supreme Court rejected the president's last big challenge, the lawsuit filed by the state of Texas against Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. There was no way in the world the court, at the behest of one state, would throw out election results in four other states. There was no basis on which to do it, it was not called for by the Constitution, and it would have set a terrible precedent that would surely plague our politics in years to come. In the end, the justices decided not to take the case at all. Only two, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, said the court should have taken the case, but even they said they "would not grant other relief" and expressed "no view on any other issue." With that, Trump's hope of the nation's highest court stopping certification of the election died.

Recently, some people around the president have suggested that the deadline for settling the election, once thought to be Monday, is really much later than that. Perhaps it is Jan. 6, 2021, when Congress is scheduled to certify the results of the Electoral College. Top Trump campaign aide Jason Miller recently tweeted that Monday "isn't necessarily the end date" of the process. "All about January 6 when the new Congress tallies up the electoral votes," Miller said. But there is no case currently in the courts that could possibly lead to the switching of enough electoral votes to reelect the president.

That's not to say Republicans have not uncovered serious problems with the way some states conducted their elections. To take one example, as the Trump legal team has pointed out, the actions of ballot counters at the State Farm Arena in Fulton County, Georgia, on election night are suspicious and need investigation. The official explanation of events has changed, and there should be a trustworthy accounting of what happened. There are questionable events in other states that need to be pursued as well. By whom? It seems unlikely many in the press will be interested. Perhaps a conservative philanthropist could endow an Institute for the Study of the 2020 Election. Seriously — elections leave an enormous trail of data that can take a long time to analyze. Given the questions surrounding this election, especially involving the exponential increase in voting by mail, it is important that the data be scrutinized, if only for the purpose of preserving public trust in the nation's institutions.

Beyond that, there is one serious issue that needs to be resolved in a case from Pennsylvania. There, the state Supreme Court essentially created election law, a task the Constitution gives to the state legislatures when it extended the deadline for receipt of mail-in ballots in direct contradiction of state law. The Supreme Court needs to resolve the question of election boards or courts essentially making election laws in states around the country.

In the big picture, the election results were not terribly surprising. Trump had a lot of good luck in 2016 and a lot of bad luck in 2020. He faced terrible headwinds all year. Also, in 2016, he won by narrowly winning a few key states. In 2020, he lost by narrowly losing in a few key states. The result was not outside the range of reasonable probability — especially after Trump endured four years of 24/7 beating from the resistance, NeverTrumpers, elements inside his own government, and many of the nation's largest media organizations.

That, in the end, was the real election interference, and Trump supporters have every reason to be angry for a long time. The effort to remove the president from office began before he even took office. An alliance of Trump antagonists in federal law enforcement, intelligence, and the media sought to undermine him from the first moment. From the slick maneuver to publicize the slanders of the Steele dossier to the effort to nail Gen. Michael Flynn to James Comey's game of assuring Trump he was not under investigation while leaving the public impression that he was, and then, to the yearslong Mueller investigation, in which the special counsel discovered early on that the collusion accusation could not be confirmed yet allowed the investigation to go on and on — through all that, Trump faced unprecedented efforts to cripple his presidency and make sure he would not be reelected. In late 2019, House Democrats even impeached the president specifically in hopes that it would weaken him so much that he could not have a second term.

So, of course, Republicans are upset at what has happened. Despite it all, Trump accomplished an enormous number of things — in terms of achievements, his was certainly the most impressive Republican presidency since Ronald Reagan. But the voters' mood, fueled by a frenzied media, turned against him. Now, after the Supreme Court decision, he can no longer sustain challenges to that verdict. It's time to move on.

I shouldn't have copied so much, but there it is. 

The Pennsylvania investigation sounds like a good idea and I hope it happens.

Of course when Obama was elected in 2008, one of the first things Mitch McConnell said was that his top job was seeing that Obama was a one-term president. He failed miserably. 

I think York underestimates what a miserable, cruel, thoughtless person so many people learned that Trump was, a clear racist, and how plain dumb (bleach¿) and unempathetic he showed himself to be over the course of the pandemic. Trump clearly earned his defeat, and denying reality is the only way he can now live with himself. Four more years of him would have truly endangered this country like no time since the 1860s, and brought fascism from rolling in to our coasts to our streets and homes.  

I don't care how much money Trump has and how much adulation some people give him. He is a pathetic man trapped in a dishonest, pathetic world, too ill-intentioned to care about, except to keep a fire extinguisher nearby and hose him down from time to time until all those Big Macs finally get to him.

Just now he showed ego and disruption are his only remaining goals, and perhaps were all along:


IanR said...

Being UK based, l'm curious to understand the enormous number of achievements achieved by Trump that York cites. From this side of the pond, Trump was a disaster dressed up as a laughing stock. We have our own buffoon in charge over here so these characteristics are easy to spot.

David Appell said...

I don't get it either, Ian. One thing Trump supporters usually cite here are his cuts in regulations. He had a policy of cutting two regulations for every one that was instituted (or something like that), and cut many whole sale, but I don't see this as an accomplishment, as many were environmental setbacks, allowing more pollution, opening up vast, protected, beautiful areas to oil and gas drilling, doing away with regulations that protected workers, even in one case I recall protecting discrimination against women, minorities, and LBTQ+. It's like he did these things out of cruelty and spite, and of course he was obsessed with undoing anything Obama had done. (But he never undid Obamacare!, his major target.)

I read about BJ and the mess the UK is in at the moment and it's hard to believe you (collectively) willingly did this to yourselves. Would Brexit pass if it were up for a vote today, knowing what everyone has seen by now?

J. D. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J. D. said...

Being UK based, l'm curious to understand the enormous number of achievements achieved by Trump that York cites. From this side of the pond, Trump was a disaster dressed up as a laughing stock.

It's basically all spin IMO. The Washington Examiner is a conservative publication and the author is very pro Trump. You will note that nothing is Trump's fault according to him. It's all those pesky Democrats.
The suggestion that Republicans have found serious problems with the conduct of the election is wrong and pointing the finger at poll counters in one particular location to substantiate that claim is despicable. The Republican authorities in charge of the count in that location have said there was no such problem. If there were significant known problems they would have provided credible evidence by now.

David in Cal said...

J.D. - I'm tired of listing Trump's significant accomplishments. The Trump haters automatically deny them. Anyhow, here are some particularly impressive ones:

Trump negotiated peace agreements between Israel and FOUR Arab neighbors. There had not been an agreement with even ONE Arab neighbor in many years.

Trump's economic policies produced the longest economic expansion EVER.

His policies produced the lowest unemployment for Blacks and Hispanics EVER.

These are remarkable achievements.


IanR said...

Thank you to both David and J. D. for taking time to explain. I find the situation in the US both fascinating and frightening. But I don't think Trump's or the Republican's move to crony capitalism and authoritarian rule is restricted to the US. Boris has instigated a milder form here in the UK but that is just the start. There are sensible capatialists who see the benefit of working within a regulatory system but there is also a dangerous breed that thrive on chaotic anarchy.
Would a new referendum give a different Brexit result? Possibly but by no means certain. On this matter we are as divided as the US. Unfortunately, I fear we will learn our lesson the hard way and in a relatively short time realise what a huge mistake we made.

J. D. said...

We've discussed the negotiating peace between countries who were never at war in other discussions but anyway...

America is a democratic country which requires a peaceful and orderly transfer of power.
The day after the 2016 election Hillary Clinton conceded and said “Donald Trump is going to be our president we owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.”
The Obama administration then did their utmost to assist the new administration, just as the George W. Bush administration had in 2008. In fact Bush insisted on briefing Obama personally on key issues.
Compare that to the mess now with Trump still holding rallies and pushing lies about election fraud. It still could erupt into violence and as Trump is a narcissistic sociopath he would probably relish that scenario.
You can spin his achiements any way you like but this could be America's worst nightmare. This should not be happening and it just confirms why the majority always believed his election could turn into a disaster.
And all this is occurring whilst several thousand Americans are dying every day from a disease he's helped to spread.

IanR said...

Any assessment of Trump's presidency needs to consider failures as well as successes. This article seems a fair summary albeit only from what I've read from a distance.

David in Cal said...

J.D. - the peace agreements are indeed important, because:

1. They facilitate additional contact between Israel and these countries. More contact means better understanding and more friendship.

2. They set an example for other Arab countries to make peace with Israel.

3. The Arab League no longer requires that peace cannot come without settling the Palestinian situation. That means the Palestinians can no longer hold up peace agreements between Israel and other Arab countries. The loss of this leverage will probably lead to a real peace between Israel and the Palestinians, if Biden doesn't blow it.

4. Peace is contagious. Trump also negotiated a peace agreement between Serbia and Kosovo. In 16 years, neither Bush nor Obama did anything like this.


Thomas said...

DiC, the carrot for the arab states was to be able to buy more advanced weapons from USA. It's not about peace, it's about strenghtening the alliance against Iran.

When you say peace with the Palestinians, I assume you mean US style peace: force te Palestinians to accept being forced into reservations just like happened to native Americans. Israel is not and has never been interested in anything like a just peace. They want the land and as long as no one stops them they are taking it piece by piece. The difference is the Israelis aren't quite as genocidal so there are a lot more Palestinians for them to deal with.

David in Cal said...

David - there is a flaw in Byron York's article. He admits that investigations are needed, but they're not going to happen. Will President Biden demand full investigations of the questionable aspects of the election? That's what's needed to restore confidence in the electoral system. IMO that's the last thing Mr. Biden will do. He'd be concerned that investigations would embarrass some of his allies. Making an unholy fuss may be the only way that Republicans can induce the needed investigations to take place.

Thomas - Palestinian children are brought up to hate Israel and to want its destruction. Years ago Israel offered Arafat a 2 state solution. He responded with increased terrorism. Palestinians who favor peace with Israel are killed. The Palestinian leadership doesn't want peace. War keeps them in power.


Entropic man said...

David in Cal

"Will President Biden demand full investigations of the questionable aspects of the election? "

A sensible new POTUS would order nothing and let the Justice Department do it's job.If there is prima facie evidence of crimes, then it is up to them to investigate. If there is not, then why order government resources wasted on wild goose chases?

You remind me of the Republicans in Northern Ireland who demand inquiries into events forty years ago in the Troubles. They are not interested in justice, whatever that means in a de facto civil war; they just want to gain political advantage.

J. D. said...

Will President Biden demand full investigations of the questionable aspects of the election?

I'm quite sure it's at the top of Biden's list to investigate how poll workers in Georgia managed to smuggle two suitcases full of counterfeit votes into a hall full of people and hide them in plain sight only to sneak them out and scan them in front of a Republican election official.

I think maybe first they should investigate how poll workers were subjected to intorable working conditions and their lives put at risk by people who have lost contact with reality.

David in Cal said...

EM - Prima facie may be used as an adjective meaning "sufficient to establish a fact or raise a presumption unless disproved or rebutted."

That's a high standard. Suppose Republican poll watchers were kicked out for a period of time, or suppose an incredibly high percentage of the populace voted. These are sufficient to raise a reasonable suspicion, but they're not strong enough to be considered "prima facie" evidence.

Your response and J.D.'s confirms to me that the Biden Administration probably will not conduct a thorough investigation. When that happens, Democrats will not object.


J. D. said...

their lives put at risk by people who have lost contact with reality.

As an example, here is Guilianis star witness in Michigan telling the Washington Post why she wasn't self quarantining after Guliani had tested covid positive,

“I would take it seriously if it came from Trump, because Trump cares about American lives,” she said referring to the man who held indoor rallies with thousands of people crammed together during a pandemic. She went on to say that if television networks friendly to Trump such as One America News or Newsmax “told me to go get tested, I would do it.”

I can't think why a judge might have ruled that she was an unreliable witness.

Thomas said...

DiC, try reading some more objective description of the conflict. Of course Palestinian children aren't fond of the Israeli ockupation army blowing up houses and evicting people, settlers throwing rocks and cutting down olive orchards etc. Who would be under similar circumstances? I find the racism among Jewish children more shocking, a view encouraged in many private Israeli schools.

Read the fine print about those offers of a "two state solution". It mostly resembled the South African homelands, an independent state in name only.

USA is in essence financing the ockupation and illegal settlements with their massive support to Israel. Trump may be a bit more blatant, but there really is very little difference between the US parties here.

Layzej said...

“A sensible new POTUS would order nothing and let the Justice Department do it's job.If there is prima facie evidence of crimes, then it is up to them to investigate. If there is not, then why order government resources wasted on wild goose chases?“

Trump already ordered such a wild goose chase and after four years came up with goose eggs. That seems to have proved nothing. Could further goose hunts possibly help?

There is no level of proof sufficient to convince a trumpist of reality.

Entropic man said...

David in Cal

Perhaps Biden should investigate intimidation of poll counters by Republican poll watchers and death threats to Republican election officials by extremists on their own side?

I'd also like to know why the BBC reported that Republican officials in Georgia ran a system which required voters in Democrat districts to queue for 11 hours to vote.IIRC voted suppression is illegal.

Turn over the stone in hopes of finding blue worms and a lot of red worms will crawl out.

David Appell said...

David in Cal wrote:
Trump's economic policies produced the longest economic expansion EVER.
His policies produced the lowest unemployment for Blacks and Hispanics EVER.

David, the economy IS IN THE TOILET.

What are you talking about????

David Appell said...

David, yes, I doubt Biden will call for investigations into the election, but I think that's for a lack of evidence.

I looked more into the situation with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. They ruled that mail-in ballots could be accepted up to three days after election day, due, they wrote, to the pandemic and USPS delays. This is the same consideration PA regularly gives military ballots. A case challenging this decision was filed before the US Supreme Court, and defeated 4-4. (Amy Coney Barrett had not yet been appointed to the Court.)

So this issue has had its day in court. I don't see what further investigation is needed.

David Appell said...

The Atlantic has an article today claiming that the real state electoral problems are likely elsewhere (but places Trump won, so he won't call for investigation there (David, ahem)):

"Trump Is Looking for Fraud in All the Wrong Places: The defeated president tried to sow doubts about Georgia and other swing states that laboriously upgraded their voting systems, while safe red states keep using antiquated equipment,"

"False claims that voting machines were “rigged” to change or delete votes—accepted by a disturbingly large percentage of Trump supporters—are harmful for obvious reasons: They wrongly undermine confidence in the democratic process, and have spurred harassment and threats aimed at election officials and poll workers. But they also give the public a wildly distorted picture of election cybersecurity, ignoring states with real security problems to address while perversely sowing doubts about states that have followed all the best expert advice."

David in Cal said...

David - you know I'm talking about the economy before the pandemic.

EM - yes, I would like the Biden Administration to investigate Republican fraud as well as Democratic fraud. As a voter, I want the elections to be as fraud-free as humanly possible.


David Appell said...

David - you know I'm talking about the economy before the pandemic

Yes, I do. But I don't understand why Trump is responsible for only some of the economy during his term, but not all of it. All other presidents, most notably GW Bush, were responsible for all of it. There were certainly things Trump could have strongly pushed for that would have ameliorated some of the pandemic's economic damage, like longer and wider relief, like other countries did, but he did not, and did not push Congress to do so. If ever large economic relief was needed, it was this year, and America can afford the debt, with interest rates being so low.

Trump can't get responsibility for the good without taking responsibility for the bad.

And anyway, Obama's economic expansion was far longer than Trump's.

David in Cal said...

Trump can't get responsibility for the good without taking responsibility for the bad.

I agree.

Layzej said...

“ They ruled that mail-in ballots could be accepted up to three days after election day, due, they wrote, to the pandemic and USPS delays.”

Trump took every measure to cripple the usps specifically to cause delays for mail in ballots. That is real tangible fraud. -