Was There Really Election Fraud?

              Recently our friend John Lott posted a paper on SSRN which found significant statistical anomalies in county-level vote numbers around Atlanta and Philadelphia. His paper was then mentioned by Trump as ‘proof’ that the election was a ‘fraud.’

              The moment this happened, my friends in Gun-control Nation and other liberal groups started screaming and yelling because they tend to become apoplectic anyway whenever anyone mentions John Lott by name.

              Before I get into an analysis of John’s argument about voting in GA and PA, let me first say that I happen to find much of John’s research on guns to be important and based on original data which he has developed outside of the usual CDC and other open-source data that everyone else uses when they do research on guns.

              By 1990, a majority of Americans believed that access to a gun, particularly a handgun, made you safe. John Lott published his book which claimed that more guns meant less crime in 1998. I cover this issue in detail in an op-ed published by The Hill, and blaming John’s scholarship for the reason we suffer from 125,000 gun injuries every year is not only wrong intellectually speaking, but when other scholars use John’s work as a foil for their failure to engage in productive gun-violence research, it’s beneath contempt. Anyway, back to the election ‘fraud.’

              John’s paper compares absentee vote totals for counties outside of Atlanta and Philadelphia to the urban, city counties themselves. The latter counties are where voting ‘fraud’ through the flimflamming of absentee ballots occurred in 2020, no allegation of voting irregularities was made in 2016.

              What John found was that Trump’s absentee vote totals were significantly less in 2020 than in 2016, pointing to the possibility that absentee ballots for Trump were discarded or otherwise not counted at all. John didn’t find a similar disparity in absentee vote totals for 2016, nor did he find that the gap between Trump and Biden absentee votes was caused by more Democratic absentee votes, because his study controlled for in-person voting on both sides.

              While the alleged vote-counting irregularities were somewhat different in Pennsylvania, John found the same decline in absentee ballots for Trump when he compared totals for 2020 versus county totals for 2016. The drop in Trump’s absentee strength in Pennsylvania was not as significant as it was in Georgia, but the numbers of ‘missing’ GOP ballots were still large enough to tilt the state back towards the blue team.

              If the issue of election ‘fraud’ was just confined to these two states, I might be willing to buy John’s argument without raising any concerns. But this same argument is used by the Trump campaign to explain why every crucial ‘battleground’ state went from red to blue and gave Biden a victory he didn’t deserve.

              That being the case, how come we don’t hear anything about election ‘fraud’ in a swing state like Florida, which the GOP carried in 2016 and 2020, but lost in 2012? God knows Florida has enough inner-city precincts in cities like Jacksonville and Orlando to put together a nice, vote-theft plan. But there’s another problem with John’s theory about absentee GOP ballots going into the trash can as well.

              In Georgia, Trump got 2,089,104 votes in 2016. In 2020 his vote total was 2,461,854, an increase of 17.8%. Hillary got 1,877,963 votes in 2016, Joe got 2,473,633 last year, an increase of 31.7%.  In Pennsylvania, Trump went from 2,970,733 to 3,377,674, an increase of 13.6%. Meanwhile, the blue vote in Pennsylvania went from 2,962,441 to 3,458,229, an increase of 16.7%. Putting numbers from both states together, the GOP increased its votes by 15.4%, from 2016 to 2020, the Democrats increased their statewide vote by 22.5% over the same four years,

              Trump keeps saying that no sitting President ever received 74 million votes in a re-election campaign. Indeed, the increase from 2016 was an impressive 17.4%. Meanwhile, on the blue side, the national vote went up by 23.4%.  As we say on the street corner, who’s zoomin’ who?

              Trump’s TV lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, claims he has ‘proof’ that Joe’s victory was a ‘national conspiracy” involving officials in at least 10 swing states.

              Want to believe Rudy? Go right ahead.

Where’s MAGA Going? Nowhere.

              I spent a few minutes yesterday listening the three AM-radio shock jocks who have been at the forefront of Trump’s attempt to stay in office past January 20, 2021. These three guys have been screaming about the vote ‘fraud’ every day for the last three months.

              The morning show that I get is a guy named Jim Polito, who used to be a reporter for the Boston Herald tabloid but was fired in 2008 for sexual harassment. That was before the #MeToo movement appeared, so whatever he did to get canned, he must have been quite a jerk.

              The mid-day show of course is Rush, or what’s left of him, that is. And the afternoon show is a guy named Howie Carr, who tries to out-Rush Rush in terms of racism, appeals to stupidity and outright lying about everything.

              The Polito show featured a discussion about – ready? – sports. Why didn’t the Patriots make the NFL playoffs – that was the topic at hand.  An alt-right radio broadcast talking about sports? 

              The topic on Rush’s show was a real humdinger. The guy sitting in for Rush talked about how there is a ‘peaceful counter-revolution’ going on against the establishment which now consists of both the Democrats and the GOP. Both of these groups are trying to tear down everything that was built over the last four years. I guess he was referring to the Mexican wall.

              The Howie Carr show was devoted to a discussion about the difference between ‘consulting’ experts as opposed to letting experts tell us what we should do. The expert in question was Anthony Fauci, of course, whose views on the pandemic needed to be considered as long as ‘the people’ then decide how to protect themselves from a virus which is killing more than 1,000 folks every day. Three cheers for the people.

              So, this is where the alt-right finds itself after four years of slavishly supporting and promoting a guy who happened last month to lose his chance to hang around for another four years. And if the alt-right hot-air balloon could so quickly go pfft! and disappear, the question we need to answer is this: Who says the alt-right, or the MAGA movement, or whatever you want to call those schmucks was ever anything more than Trump shooting his mouth off along with some help from a few media friends?

              Oh, before I forget, Trump’s dwindling bevy of supporters also includes a few attorneys who have just signed on to yet another lawsuit seeking to disenfranchise the more than 81 million people who voted for Kamala and Joe. The suit is being brought by maybe the dumbest member of Congress, Louis Gohmert (R-TX) but it’s the handiwork of none other than Sydney ‘Kraken’ Powell, who will no doubt become a regular fixture on one of the Fox talk-shows next year.

              This is who now represents the sitting President of the United States in the media and the courts: For the media, we have AM-radio shock jocks who are giving their listeners the latest and greatest inside dope on the NFL. For the lawyers we have a bunch of legal nobodies including two attorneys whose ‘law firm’ actually consists of the lobby of a condo where you can rent a mailbox.

              And then there’s Trump’s political allies who are still convinced that the election was a ‘fraud.’ Yesterday when Congressman Gohmert was asked by an AM-radio shock jock to explain how and why none of the more than 40 lawsuits filed against the election results had worked, he said, “Well, we just have to keep trying to find one judge in the entire United States who is willing to support the Constitution.” He actually made that statement in public, okay?

              The truth is that the alt-right is being kept in business by the attention paid to it by the mainstream media. So the question for 2021 is this: How do we stop the liberal media from continuing to pretend that Trump and his MAGA represents anything at all?

What Trump Never Figured Out.

              So after spending a weekend pretending he wasn’t going to sign a bill that he had to sign, Trump signed it and now will have to figure out a way to keep himself in the spotlight for another four weeks.

              Whether he knows it or not, and I suspect he doesn’t know it because he’s actually dumb as shit, Trump’s failed attempt to set himself up as a new and independent political force reflects a unique way in which American democracy differs from every other democratic system in the West, a difference having to do with the relationship of the Chief Executive to the party under whose label he is elected every four years.

              Leaving aside Scandinavia, we are the only Western country which is not a parliamentary democracy, which means we have three separate but equal governmental branches – executive, legislative, judiciary – whereas in every other democratic system there are only two. In Great Britain, France, Italy, Germany, etc., the Prime Minister is the leader of the political party which controls the parliament, in the United States the chief executive may be a member of the party which holds power in the legislature, then again, he may not.

              This basic lesson in how our government is structured is usually taught in the 6th grade. The school curriculum is obviously different in Alabama, because the Senator-elect, Tommy Tuberville, thinks that our three branches of government are the President, the Senate and the House.

              Tuberville is one of a handful of Senate and House members who are considering an attempt to reverse the results of the Presidential election on January 6th. This is the day that Congress certifies the results of voting last November, but if both chambers refuse to endorse the vote, the election for President goes to the House of Representatives based on one vote for each state. Since this would give the GOP a majority of votes, Joe would be out, and Trump would be in.

              Before leaving for Mar-a-Lago last week, Trump held meetings in the White House to plan this long-shot attempt to renew his White House lease. Who showed up for those meetings? His TV lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, the other crazy lawyer Sidney Powell, and Alan Dershowitz, who was a frequent customer at Jeffrey Epstein’s massage.

              Trump can only remain in office for another term if the entire GOP plus a few disaffected Democrats come to his aid, and yet he couldn’t convince a single, political leader from either side to get involved in these shenanigans at all.

I have some gun-nut friends who are really pissed off at what they claim is the ‘failure’ of the GOP to defend Trump. But the point is that Trump’s relationship with the party that nominated him for President in 2016 has always been ambivalent at best. And this ambivalence is right now coming home to roost with Trump signing a Covid-19 relief bill which yesterday he called a ‘disgrace.’

Not only are we the only Western democracy with three ‘separate but equal’ branches of government, we are also the one democracy that hasn’t been threatened or overthrown by an assault either from the Left or the Right. Since the beginning of the 20th Century, we are the only Western democracy that hasn’t been threatened or overthrown by a military putsch, a mass popular uprising, a legislative expression of no-confidence or a general strike.

Since 1920 there has only been one election (1968) where parties other than the Democrats and Republicans received more than 10% of the total vote. What is really remarkable about our system is how two parties, whose political stances can best be described as center-left and center-right, so totally and completely control how political strategies work out. And by the way, at the end of Joe’s first term, since 1960 each party will have controlled the White House for 32 years.

If Trump had understood any of this, we might be putting up with him until 2024. Thank God he’s as dumb as he is.

Can Trump Win Re-Election On January 6th?

What’s Trump really trying to do this week by refusing to sign the Covid-19 relief bill? Assuming that he’s got the ability to think any political issue through, here’s my two cents – take it to the bank or not.

Trump’s not trying to wreck the GOP. He’s also not trying to cozy up to Biden so that the next President will not appoint an Attorney General who will try to lock up Trump in a facility that won’t look anything like the Mar-a-Lago resort. I’ve heard both those theories and as far as I’m concerned, it’s fake news on both sides.

What Trump is trying to do is put together some kind of movement that will get him re-elected by the House of Representatives on January 6th. And don’t think for one minute that this strategy is so far-fetched, because it happens to be how Thomas Jefferson became the President of the United States.

The reason that the House elected the President in 1800 was because the original electoral vote gave Jefferson and Aaron Burr 73 votes each. Prior to the passage of the 12th Amendment in 1804, the Constitution’s Article II, Section 1, Clause 3 defined the election procedure which required that electors cast votes for 2 individuals without specifying who would be President and who would be Vice President.

The issue of deciding between Jefferson and Burr was complicated by the fact that another slate of candidates had also received 65 electoral votes and these votes would be up for grabs when the House met to determine who would be the third President of the United States. The Jefferson-Burr slate was known as the Republican, the other slate headed by the incumbent President, John Adams, was known as the Federalist group.

The division between these two groups who weren’t yet political parties in the formal sense, first appeared when the Constitution was debated and written at the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention in 1787, then sent to the states in 1789 and along with the Bill of Rights, ratified in 1791.

The division was between proponents of a strong, centralized national government who called themselves Federalists, as opposed to proponents, calling themselves Republicans, who wanted political power held and administered by the individual states. The Federalist approach was more popular in the northern, urbanized states, the Republicans tended to represent the concerns of landed planters – slaveholders in the South and small, landowning farmers in both the North and the South.

The Federalist’s demand for a strong, centralized government was largely the work of Alexander Hamilton, who as first Treasury Secretary promoted the idea of a national bank. Hamilton was convinced that a country that was largely agrarian-based would never have enough money to pay the costs of military defense; he was also convinced that the back-country farmers were basically a bunch of uneducated dopes. In other words, the basic division between an urban, financial, and mercantile ‘elite’ versus the ‘average common man’ was as evident in the 1800 election as it was evident this past year.

There was, however, one difference, which is why Trump’s attempt to get himself re-elected in the House of Representatives on January 6th is going to fail. Even though it took the House Republicans 36 separate votes to finally sway someone to vote for Jefferson instead of Burr, there was never any talk about election ‘fraud.’ And from the beginning of the 2020 campaign, the election ‘fraud’ strategy was never going to work.

Why not? Because there was no election fraud. How could there be any credible proof of a ‘crooked’ election when the attorney who went before the Supreme Court to argue this case cited as her ‘proof’ a podcast by a blogger who has been told to repay more than $25 grand in donations illegally received on her website? [Thanks Paula.]

Come to think of it, skimming donations from websites seems to have become SOP for members of Trump’s gang. I guess the only reason that Trump didn’t pardon Steve Bannon was because Stevie-boy has only been charged, not yet convicted of stealing a million bucks..

If we’re lucky, Trump won’t come back to DC next year. He’ll sit in Florida and rant to himself.

This column was written after I read Sean Wilentz’s very good book, The Rise of American Democracy. I thank Eric Foner for recommending it.

How Do Americans Get Their News?

              The last time a Presidential election occurred during the kind of crisis currently facing the country was in 1932. I’m not saying it was as bad now as it was back then. In 1932, we had no banking system, no industrial output, millions of dispossessed people moving around from place to place. But if you look at the 1932 election versus what happened this year, it’s hard not to see some parallels between the two events.

              First and foremost, the incumbent President, Herbert Hoover, never really admitted that the situation was all that bad. The day after the stock market crashed, Hoover went on the radio and said, “The fundamental business of the country is on a sound and prosperous basis.” He retained this positive attitude throughout the campaign, minimized the degree to which government should intervene in economic affairs, and lost the 1932 election by 472 electoral votes to 59 EV’s.

              Trump only lost this year’s election by 74 EV’s and 4.37% of the popular vote. But his approach to the pandemic is remarkably similar to how Hoover responded to the Great Depression – downplaying the severity of the crisis, pushing this phony, private-enterprise solution known as ‘Warp Speed,’ avoiding any discussion about public health measures that would have minimized the Covid-19 spread.

              I notice that every time Joe introduces a new member of the Cabinet or someone who will play a high-level role, the nominee always ties his/her agenda to a plan or program designed to mitigate the pandemic’s effects. Joe himself has promised to re-open the schools and get the vaccine into at least 100 million distribution centers in his first 100 days.

              Franklin Roosevelt was the first President to consciously promote a ‘hundred-day’ program after taking the oath. Joe is basically doing the same thing. He’s also promised to undo all those phony executive orders issued by Trump in his first hundred days.

              So, Joe goes down to Georgia on Tuesday to do his thing. And the best the alt-right can come up with is another round of kvetching about Joe’s son. It turns out, by the way, that Jared Kushner is also under investigation but that’s okay, he’s just a son-in-law, not a son.

              After Barack gave that ass-kicking speech at the 2004 Convention, he started planning a Presidential campaign for 2008. The first thing he and Axelrod did was take a few bucks from Penny Pritzker and do a survey of which publications were most frequently read by Americans in order to get their news. Don’t forget that 2008 was pre-social media days.

              It turned out that the most popular way Americans learned about the world was by reading the tabloids like The National Enquirer while they stood on the supermarket line. I’m afraid the national media on both sides of the political divide has increasingly become no different than somewhat classier versions of those rags.

              To show you how badly asinine political reportage has become, I keep seeing national surveys which find that a ‘majority’ of Republican voters believe that the election was a ‘fraud.’ The GOP-minded media proclaims these results to be true, the alt-left media (Politico, Guardian) state that such polls show a “dramatic decline in Republican voters’ faith in the system.”

              To its credit, The (failing) New York Times tried to sort these polls out to determine whether the folks who believe the election was rigged really believe such an idea or are just pissed off because their guy lost. On balance, these polls seem to indicate a little of both, but that’s the usual way that the NYT reports everything – gotta hear from both sides. What they should do is go back and run the same survey in 6 months when Trump will be gone and forgotten, and the GOP has to start ramping up their political narratives for 2022.

              That’s right folks. We’re only 6 months away from the early beginnings of the next election cycle which thanks God will give all the political tabloids their next chance to promote themselves.  God Bless the U.S. House of Representatives and the fact that every House member has to stand for election every two years.