From the delusional raging narcissist-in-chief to the delusional neoliberal (Update #4)

Updates

  1. Originally published, November 19, 2020, 10:43 am.

  2. November 20, 2020, 12:04 pm:

    • In an earlier issue (quoting an earlier issue), I wrote,

      From the previous issue:

      What is Donald Trump up to, really? Really, we don’t know. Fred Hiatt outlines three possibilities.[1] Personally, I just think Trump is batshit crazy, which most resembles Hiatt’s scenario #3, but I don’t know either. His scenario #1 is essentially the electoral college manipulation[2] I’ve been talking about, which I think could draw in armed militia groups.[3] At this point, scenario #1 is probably—only probably—the least likely, but Hiatt doesn’t rule it out,[4] and I think really, he’s right not to. Scenario #2 looks a lot like the parallel government idea that Jonathan Freedland put forth.[5] This, too, could draw in the militia groups.[6]

      It now appears that Donald Trump is very much pursuing Fred Hiatt’s scenario #1 as Republicans pressed the Wayne County (Michigan) Board of Elections to not certify election results. The Board initially deadlocked but later ratified the outcome.[7]

      A New York Times report, that Robert Costa linked to in the above tweet, suggests that Lindsey Graham is pursuing a similar strategy in his contacts with state elections officials.[8]

      To put it mildly, the effort is falling short.[9] But it’s making a lot of noise that amplifies Trump’s sense of grievance—all those yard signs and flags that say “Stop The Bullshit” and “Drain The Swamp” come to mind—setting up scenario #2.[10]

      This was the basis of the blog post I wrote that frankly scares the shit out of me, entitled, “Dual sovereignty in the not-quite post-Trump era.”

      Washington Post reporting now confirms beyond a reasonable doubt[11] that Fred Hiatt’s scenario #1,[12] involving an attempt to manipulate the electoral college process,[13] is now fully in play. It appears highly unlikely to succeed.[14] But also as noted, it sets up scenario #2,[15] the “government-in-exile”/media network scenario that challenges the legitimacy of a Joe Biden presidency,[16] even as judge after judge rejects Donald Trump’s claims, even as election board after election board certifies election results.[17] Because conspiracy theories are easy, especially when large numbers of people feel wronged by traditional authority.[18]

  3. November 21, 2020, 11:12 am:

  4. November 21, 2020, 10:31 pm:

    • A federal judge has dismissed the Trump campaign’s attempt, spearheaded by a doddering Rudy Giuliani,[19] to throw out the Pennsylvania vote—yes, all 6 million ballots.[20]


Transition

The story of Donald Trump’s refusal to concede and of a denial of the reality that he has lost the election that he fruitlessly and frivolously pursues in the courts, all while laying the groundwork for an alternative reality “government-in-exile” media network,[21] has shifted, at least for the moment, to the spectacle of an aging Rudy Giuliani, who has apparently forgotten how to plead in court, making an ass of himself in arguing those claims in a federal court in Pennsylvania.[22] It’s not a pretty picture but Robin Givhan points out that Giuliani’s aura arises largely from his performance as New York City mayor in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, and that the rest of the picture has never been so nice.[23]

We should not, however, lose sight of the larger picture, which includes the possibility of that “government in exile.” My blog post on this topic yesterday (November 18) honestly sent chills down my spine. It’s a possibility that is all too possibly all too close to fruition.

Speaking of delusional figures, there’s the incoming Joe Biden, who imagines absurdly that Republicans will come to their senses once they grapple with the reality that he has won the election.[24] But Biden, who even in a pandemic, when millions have lost their jobs and the health insurance attached to those jobs,[25] opposes Medicare For All,[26] persists in neoliberal dogma, and George Monbiot argues that the failure to learn the lessons of Barack Obama’s dogmatic failures paves the way for an even more dangerous, that is, less incompetent and more intelligent, version of Trump to arise in 2024.[27]

If you think the country is in a crisis, whether due to Donald Trump’s antics, or due to the COVID-19 pandemic, or due to anything else, then you should value leadership that faces reality. This seems not to be an option.

And if your defense of Biden against that charge is that “[p]olitics is the art of the possible,”[28] then you echo my formerly favorite professor’s defense of a government that commits war crimes and you suggest that preservation of the political system is of greater importance than human life. You might want to think about your priorities there.

Robin Givhan, “Rudy Giuliani is a mess,” Washington Post, November 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/11/18/rudy-giuliani-is-mess/

George Monbiot, “Monster Makers,” November 18, 2020, https://www.monbiot.com/2020/11/18/monster-makers/

Philip Rucker, Amy Gardner, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump uses power of presidency to try to overturn the election and stay in office,” Washington Post, November 19, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-uses-power-of-presidency-to-try-to-overturn-the-election-and-stay-in-office/2020/11/19/bc89caa6-2a9f-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html

Jon Swaine, “In scathing opinion, federal judge dismisses Trump campaign lawsuit in Pennsylvania,” Washington Post, November 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/us-judge-dismisses-trump-campaign-lawsuit-in-pa/2020/11/21/cc097fbe-2c50-11eb-9b14-ad872157ebc9_story.html


  1. [1]Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html
  2. [2]Max Boot, “What if Trump loses but insists he won?” Washington Post, July 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/06/what-if-trump-loses-insists-he-won/; Rosa Brooks, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Washington Post, September 3, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/09/03/trump-stay-in-office/; Marjorie Cohn, “Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits Are the Tip of the Iceberg in His Refusal to Concede,” Truthout, November 11, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-frivolous-lawsuits-are-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-in-his-refusal-to-concede/; Eric Lach, “What Happens if Donald Trump Fights the Election Results?” New Yorker, August 21, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/campaign-chronicles/what-happens-if-donald-trump-fights-the-election-results; Robert McCartney, “Here’s one way Trump could try to steal the election, voting experts say,” Washington Post, August 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/heres-one-way-trump-could-try-to-steal-the-election-voting-experts-say/2020/08/16/b5bf0c2a-de66-11ea-b205-ff838e15a9a6_story.html; Timothy E. Wirth and Tom Rogers, “How Trump Could Lose the Election—And Still Remain President,” Newsweek, July 3, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/how-trump-could-lose-election-still-remain-president-opinion-1513975
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Bloody November,” Not Housebroken, October 13, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/08/bloody-november/; David Benfell, “Donald Trump’s ‘brown shirts,’” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/30/donald-trumps-brown-shirts/; David Benfell, “The very scary way to four more years,” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/25/the-very-scary-way-to-four-more-years/; David Benfell, “Epistemology in the present U.S. political crisis,” Not Housebroken, November 14, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/12/epistemology-in-the-present-u-s-political-crisis/
  4. [4]Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html
  5. [5]Jonathan Freedland, “This is no conventional coup. Trump is paving the way for a ‘virtual Confederacy,'” Guardian, November 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/13/trump-coup-virtual-confederacy-race-legal-trumpian
  6. [6]David Benfell, “The pandemic’s fall surge in Allegheny County,” Irregular Bullshit, November 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/11/15/the-pandemics-fall-surge-in-allegheny-county/
  7. [7]Kayla Ruble and Tom Hamburger, “Board in key Michigan county fails, then agrees, to certify vote totals by deadline,” Washington Post, November 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/michigan-vote-canvassing-board/2020/11/17/12141222-287c-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html
  8. [8]Stephanie Saul, “Lindsey Graham’s Long-Shot Mission to Unravel the Election Results,” New York Times, November 17, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/17/us/politics/lindsey-graham-georgia-trump-biden.html
  9. [9]Aaron Blake, “Trump lawyers suffer embarrassing rebukes from judges over voter fraud claims,” Washington Post, November 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/11/11/trump-lawyers-suffer-embarrassing-rebukes-judges-over-voter-fraud-claims/; Marjorie Cohn, “Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits Are the Tip of the Iceberg in His Refusal to Concede,” Truthout, November 11, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-frivolous-lawsuits-are-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-in-his-refusal-to-concede/; Pam Fessler, “Led By Giuliani, Trump Campaign Effort To Stop Certification Falters In Pennsylvania,” National Public Radio, November 17, 2020, https://www.npr.org/2020/11/17/936027693/led-by-giuliani-trump-campaign-effort-to-stop-certification-falters-in-pennsylvaJonathan Freedland, “This is no conventional coup. Trump is paving the way for a ‘virtual Confederacy,'” Guardian, November 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/13/trump-coup-virtual-confederacy-race-legal-trumpian; Kayla Ruble and Tom Hamburger, “Board in key Michigan county fails, then agrees, to certify vote totals by deadline,” Washington Post, November 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/michigan-vote-canvassing-board/2020/11/17/12141222-287c-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html
  10. [10]David Benfell, “Pittsburgh should be ashamed but isn’t, really, and that’s a problem,” Irregular Bullshit, November 18, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/11/17/pittsburgh-should-be-ashamed-but-isnt-really-and-thats-a-problem/
  11. [11]Philip Rucker, Amy Gardner, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump uses power of presidency to try to overturn the election and stay in office,” Washington Post, November 19, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-uses-power-of-presidency-to-try-to-overturn-the-election-and-stay-in-office/2020/11/19/bc89caa6-2a9f-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html
  12. [12]Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html
  13. [13]Max Boot, “What if Trump loses but insists he won?” Washington Post, July 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/06/what-if-trump-loses-insists-he-won/; Rosa Brooks, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Washington Post, September 3, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/09/03/trump-stay-in-office/; Marjorie Cohn, “Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits Are the Tip of the Iceberg in His Refusal to Concede,” Truthout, November 11, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-frivolous-lawsuits-are-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-in-his-refusal-to-concede/; Eric Lach, “What Happens if Donald Trump Fights the Election Results?” New Yorker, August 21, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/campaign-chronicles/what-happens-if-donald-trump-fights-the-election-results; Robert McCartney, “Here’s one way Trump could try to steal the election, voting experts say,” Washington Post, August 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/heres-one-way-trump-could-try-to-steal-the-election-voting-experts-say/2020/08/16/b5bf0c2a-de66-11ea-b205-ff838e15a9a6_story.html; Timothy E. Wirth and Tom Rogers, “How Trump Could Lose the Election—And Still Remain President,” Newsweek, July 3, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/how-trump-could-lose-election-still-remain-president-opinion-1513975
  14. [14]Philip Rucker, Amy Gardner, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump uses power of presidency to try to overturn the election and stay in office,” Washington Post, November 19, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-uses-power-of-presidency-to-try-to-overturn-the-election-and-stay-in-office/2020/11/19/bc89caa6-2a9f-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html
  15. [15]Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html
  16. [16]Mike Allen, “Trump eyes digital media empire to take on Fox News,” Axios, November 12, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-fox-news-digital-media-competitor-25afddee-144d-4820-8ed4-9eb0ffa42420.html; Jonathan Freedland, “This is no conventional coup. Trump is paving the way for a ‘virtual Confederacy,'” Guardian, November 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/13/trump-coup-virtual-confederacy-race-legal-trumpian
  17. [17]Philip Rucker, Amy Gardner, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump uses power of presidency to try to overturn the election and stay in office,” Washington Post, November 19, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-uses-power-of-presidency-to-try-to-overturn-the-election-and-stay-in-office/2020/11/19/bc89caa6-2a9f-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html
  18. [18]David Benfell, “The pandemic and a crisis of illegitimate authority,” Not Housebroken, May 14, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/05/12/the-pandemic-and-a-crisis-of-illegitimate-authority/; Jason Togyer, “Fear and Loathing in the Time of Coronavirus,” Columbia Journalism Review, March 25, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/special_report/mckeesport-year-of-fear-covid-19-pandemic.php; Jason Togyer, “How Facebook has undermined communal conversation in McKeesport,” Columbia Journalism Review, June 18, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/special_report/year-of-fear-chapter-19-facebook-undermined-conversation-in-mckeesport.php
  19. [19]Pam Fessler, “Led By Giuliani, Trump Campaign Effort To Stop Certification Falters In Pennsylvania,” National Public Radio, November 17, 2020, https://www.npr.org/2020/11/17/936027693/led-by-giuliani-trump-campaign-effort-to-stop-certification-falters-in-pennsylva; Josh Gerstein, “Trump campaign revises Pennsylvania suit, again,” Politico, November 18, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/18/trump-pennsylvania-election-lawsuit-437996; Robin Givhan, “Rudy Giuliani is a mess,” Washington Post, November 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/11/18/rudy-giuliani-is-mess/; Paula Reed Ward, “Federal judge to consider whether to dismiss case filed by Trump campaign in Pa.,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 17, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/federal-judge-to-consider-whether-to-dismiss-case-filed-by-trump-campaign-in-pa/
  20. [20]Jon Swaine, “In scathing opinion, federal judge dismisses Trump campaign lawsuit in Pennsylvania,” Washington Post, November 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/us-judge-dismisses-trump-campaign-lawsuit-in-pa/2020/11/21/cc097fbe-2c50-11eb-9b14-ad872157ebc9_story.html
  21. [21]Mike Allen, “Trump eyes digital media empire to take on Fox News,” Axios, November 12, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-fox-news-digital-media-competitor-25afddee-144d-4820-8ed4-9eb0ffa42420.html; Aaron Blake, “Trump lawyers suffer embarrassing rebukes from judges over voter fraud claims,” Washington Post, November 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/11/11/trump-lawyers-suffer-embarrassing-rebukes-judges-over-voter-fraud-claims/; Mark Bray, “Trump’s Baseless Fraud Accusations Are Already Sparking Far Right Violence,” Truthout, November 9, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-baseless-fraud-accusations-are-already-sparking-far-right-violence/; Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, “Trump team eyes legal, political Hail Marys as options for comeback fade,” Politico, November 6, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/06/trump-legal-political-lawsuit-election-434786; Marjorie Cohn, “Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits Are the Tip of the Iceberg in His Refusal to Concede,” Truthout, November 11, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-frivolous-lawsuits-are-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-in-his-refusal-to-concede/; Deb Erdley, “State lawmakers call for creation of a panel to investigate, audit election,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 10, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/regional/state-lawmakers-call-for-creation-of-a-panel-to-investigate-audit-election/; Jonathan Freedland, “This is no conventional coup. Trump is paving the way for a ‘virtual Confederacy,'” Guardian, November 13, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/13/trump-coup-virtual-confederacy-race-legal-trumpian; Fred Hiatt, “Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wants-to-overturn-the-results-of-a-free-and-fair-election-theres-a-word-for-that/2020/11/13/cb94b77e-25b6-11eb-952e-0c475972cfc0_story.html; Marissa J. Lang et al., “After thousands of Trump supporters rally in D.C., violence erupts when night falls,” Washington Post, November 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2020/11/14/million-maga-march-dc-protests/; David Nakamura, “Trump’s bid to discredit election raises fear that he will undermine a smooth transfer of power,” Washington Post, November 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-concession-transition-power/2020/11/07/2b4cf640-20e4-11eb-b532-05c751cd5dc2_story.html; Kayla Ruble and Tom Hamburger, “Board in key Michigan county fails, then agrees, to certify vote totals by deadline,” Washington Post, November 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/michigan-vote-canvassing-board/2020/11/17/12141222-287c-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html; Stephanie Saul, “Lindsey Graham’s Long-Shot Mission to Unravel the Election Results,” New York Times, November 17, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/17/us/politics/lindsey-graham-georgia-trump-biden.html
  22. [22]Pam Fessler, “Led By Giuliani, Trump Campaign Effort To Stop Certification Falters In Pennsylvania,” National Public Radio, November 17, 2020, https://www.npr.org/2020/11/17/936027693/led-by-giuliani-trump-campaign-effort-to-stop-certification-falters-in-pennsylva; Josh Gerstein, “Trump campaign revises Pennsylvania suit, again,” Politico, November 18, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/18/trump-pennsylvania-election-lawsuit-437996; Robin Givhan, “Rudy Giuliani is a mess,” Washington Post, November 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/11/18/rudy-giuliani-is-mess/; Paula Reed Ward, “Federal judge to consider whether to dismiss case filed by Trump campaign in Pa.,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 17, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/federal-judge-to-consider-whether-to-dismiss-case-filed-by-trump-campaign-in-pa/
  23. [23]Robin Givhan, “Rudy Giuliani is a mess,” Washington Post, November 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/11/18/rudy-giuliani-is-mess/
  24. [24]Eric Bradner and Gregory Krieg, “Joe Biden predicts a post-Trump ‘epiphany’ for Republicans,” CNN, May 14, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/14/politics/joe-biden-republicans-trump-epiphany/index.html; Moira Donegan, “What does Biden have in common with Trump? Delusional nostalgia,” Guardian, June 21, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/21/joe-biden-trump-sexism-delusional-nostalgia; Matt Ford, “Someone Please Tell Joe Biden That Bipartisanship Is Dead,” New Republic, June 12, 2019, https://newrepublic.com/article/154183/someone-please-tell-joe-biden-bipartisanship-dead; Paul Waldman, “Joe Biden still hasn’t learned the lessons of the Obama presidency,” Washington Post, December 6, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/12/06/joe-biden-still-hasnt-learned-lessons-obama-presidency/
  25. [25]Kim Hart, “The coronavirus economy will devastate those who can least afford it,” Axios, March 23, 2020, https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-economy-layoffs-children-families-bad-d588cc93-ff26-4031-8be8-5654cce05a15.html; Heather Long, “Over 10 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in March as economy collapsed,” Washington Post, April 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/02/jobless-march-coronavirus/; Heather Long, “Jobless rate soared to 14.7% in April as U.S. shed 20.5 million jobs amid coronavirus pandemic,” Washington Post, May 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/05/08/april-2020-jobs-report/; Eric Morath, Harriet Torry, and Gwynn Guilford, “A Second Round of Coronavirus Layoffs Has Begun. Few Are Safe,” Wall Street Journal, April 14, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-second-round-of-coronavirus-layoffs-has-begun-no-one-is-safe-11586872387; Andy Sullivan and Brad Brooks, “‘The government is failing us’: Laid-off Americans struggle in coronavirus crisis,” Reuters, May 7, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-05-07/coronavirus-weekly-jobless-unemployment-numbers
  26. [26]Tim Marchman, “Joe Biden: It Would Be an Insult to My Dead Son for Everyone to Have Healthcare,” Vice, August 27, 2019, https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/vb5d7y/joe-biden-medicare-for-all-would-be-an-insult-to-my-dead-son; Marina Pitofsky, “Biden cites delays, cost when asked about Medicare for All veto,” Hill, March 10, 2020, https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/486749-biden-cites-delays-cost-when-asked-about-medicare-for-all-veto
  27. [27]George Monbiot, “Monster Makers,” November 18, 2020, https://www.monbiot.com/2020/11/18/monster-makers/
  28. [28]Otto von Bismarck, quoted in John Bartlett, ed., Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, 17th ed. (New York: Little, Brown, 2002), 502.

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