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Fri Nov 20, 2020, 07:57 PM

Friday Talking Points -- The Keystone Koup

This isn't just the Keystone Kops, it's now a full-on Keystone Koup attempt. Before we get to any of it, however, we have to pause to wish Joseph Robinette Biden Junior a happy 78th birthday. Many happy returns, Joe!

Biden is now several steps closer to being sworn in as America's next president in less than nine weeks, as state after state certifies that Biden did indeed beat Donald Trump. Georgia did so today, and several other important states are slated to do so on Monday. By December 8th, all states will have done so and appointed their electors to the Electoral College.

Georgia officially going for Biden means, of course, that there is no viable route for Trump to get to the 270 votes needed to win the Electoral College. The head of the General Services Administration (Keystone Division) has so far refused to sign an "ascertainment" verifying Biden's win, however, and just issued her first post-election tweet. We are not making this up -- here is what Emily Murphy tweeted:

Dcccf Rex zzz. @#z@smaan anaNN

This, of course, prompted much hilarity online, with the best response being: "Dcccf Rex zzz come in. This is Covfefe. Do you copy?"

Democrats everywhere breathed a giant sigh of relief early in the week, as most of Donald Trump's legal team quit in embarrassment, and then Rudy Giuliani immediately announced he would now be in charge of Donald Trump's legal efforts to overthrow a presidential election. Previously, there might have been some small, tiny, infinitesimal chance that one or another of these cases might have changed something, but with Rudy in charge, that tiny speck of an iota of a smidgeon disappeared into the void. Indeed, it's impossible to comment on Rudy's antics without using the words "beclowned," or, alternatively, "clown car."

To top his previous appearance -- from a landscaping company's parking lot, next to a sex shop and a crematorium -- Rudy gave a 90-plus-minute press conference yesterday and quite literally started to melt down in front of the cameras. Rudy is now the mayor of Keystone, apparently. Trump's own official YouTube page streamed the presser live, complete with the following exchange (assumably from the people filming it for them):

"Can they hear us on the stream? I guess not."

"I don't think so..."

"You see fuckin' Rudy's hair dye dripping down his face?"

Yes, Rudy was literally melting down. But that wasn't even the craziest part. The truly nutso-cuckoo part was all of the wild-eyed tin-foil-hattery coming out of Rudy's mouth. Chris Krebs, former (more on that in a minute) director of the federal election Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, tweeted in response to Rudy's meltdown: "That press conference was the most dangerous 1hr 45 minutes of television in American history. And possibly the craziest."

There's really no "possibly" about it anymore... Rudy's driving Trump's crazy train right over the cliff, as the world watches in amazement.

Earlier in the week, Rudy had beclowned himself in his first courtroom appearance in three decades, where he admitted to a level of ignorance that stunned everyone in the courtroom, including the judge.

This is why, as we said, Democrats everywhere are incredibly relieved to hear that Rudy's in charge of things, because it absolutely guarantees the total failure of all of these pathetic efforts at conspiracy-mongering disguised as court cases. It'd be like putting Mr. Bean in charge of D-Day, to put it mildly.

But even though Rudy is leading his clown show, this really isn't funny at all. This is a naked attempt to steal an election, led by the president of the United States. Which is about as serious as it gets, really.

Consider the following:

Trump henchman Lindsey Graham tried to convince Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to find some sneaky way to just throw out tens of thousands of votes, so that Trump could "win" Georgia.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has now overturned the only legal case Trump has so far won, which changed the rules for ballot observers so they could stand closer. This is a moot point, because the counting is over, but the highest state court handed Trump a loss anyway, making his post-election legal record a perfect zero.

Chris Krebs, the top election security officer, tweeted during the week, to rebut all the conspiracy theories out there: "59 election security experts all agree, 'in every case of which we are aware, these claims either have been unsubstantiated or are technically incoherent.'"

So Trump fired him, by tweet (of course):

The recent statement by Chris Krebs on the security of the 2020 Election was highly inaccurate, in that there were massive improprieties and fraud -- including dead people voting, Poll Watchers not allowed into polling locations, "glitches" in the voting machines which changed votes from Trump to Biden, late voting, and many more. Therefore, effective immediately, Chris Krebs has been terminated as Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

None of what Trump claimed is true, of course. In fact, Team Trump still has yet to produce any evidence of widespread fraud to anyone. One look at what they've claimed in court showed how pathetic their attempts to date have been:

Let's say for the sake of argument, though, that every allegation of dead people voting being made by the Trump campaign in Pennsylvania and Georgia is accurate, including [two specific allegations that have already been proven false].

In total, the campaign would have proved that 0.00004 percent of votes in Pennsylvania and 0.00008 percent of ballots in Georgia were cast illegally. This would neither be fraud significant enough to overturn the results nor fraud robust enough to suggest any systemic effort to throw the race.

And yet, that's all they're even arguing in court. Because this widespread fraud they love to claim is everywhere just does not exist outside of their own warped imagination.

Even Fox News is now pointing this out. After Rudy's meltdown presser, a Fox reporter summed it up thusly: "That was certainly a colorful news conference from Rudy Giuliani, but it was light on facts. So much of what he said was simply not true, or has already been thrown out in court." Even Tucker Carlson isn't buying it anymore. Carlson invited Sidney Powell, one of Trump's top lawyers, to appear on his show to present all her evidence, and here's what happened, according to Carlson:

What [Sidney] Powell was describing would amount to the single greatest crime in American history. Millions of votes stolen in a day. Democracy destroyed. The end of our centuries-old system of self-government, not a small thing.... We took Sidney Powell seriously, we have no intention of fighting her, we've always respected her work. We simply wanted to see the details. How could you not want to see them?

So we invited Sidney Powell on this show. We would have given her the whole hour. We would have given her the entire week, actually, and listened quietly the whole time. But she never sent us any evidence despite a lot of requests, polite requests, not a page. When we kept pressing she got angry and told us to stop contacting her. When we checked with others around the Trump campaign, people in positions of authority, they told us Powell has never given them any evidence either, nor did she provide any today at the press conference.... She never demonstrated that a single actual vote was moved illegitimately by software from one candidate to another.

If Trump has lost Tucker Carlson, things must be going pretty badly for him, obviously.

Because they know they're not going to win in the vote count, Trump is now exploring other ways to steal the election. Today, he is hosting all the top Michigan GOP legislators in an effort to talk them into overturning the will of the people and just handing the state to Trump instead. This would be illegal and unconstitutional, but Trump does not care about such trifles.

Mitt Romney released a statement in response that didn't exactly mince words:

Having failed to make even a plausible case of widespread fraud or conspiracy before any court of law, the President has now resorted to overt pressure on state and local officials to subvert the will of the people and overturn the election. It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic act by a sitting American President.

White House spokesliar Kayleigh McEnany tried some Oscar-worthy spin today, trying to explain that this meeting could not possibly have anything to do with the election: "This is not an advocacy meeting. There will be no one from the campaign there. [President Donald Trump] routinely meets with lawmakers from all across the country." Nothin' to see here... just a routine meeting, folks. How stupid does she really think we are?

Pretty stupid, it seems. She also claimed that Trump "was never given an orderly transition of power," which is also just not true. Here's none other than Donald Trump himself, from his inauguration speech: "Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent."

Oh, and one more piece of criminal stupidity to add to the pile: Trump's new top coronavirus advisor tweeted, in response to the governor of Michigan (who has already been the target of a kidnapping/murder scheme) instituting more coronavirus restrictions: "The only way this stops is if people rise up. You get what you accept. #FreedomMatters #StepUp." He later claimed he was shocked -- shocked! -- that anyone would read "rise up" as an incitement to violence.

Speaking of violence, Trump has reportedly asked his military leaders if lobbing a few missiles at Iran's nuclear facilities would be possible. They (thankfully) talked him out of such a move... for now, at least.

At least in that instance, Trump showed interest in doing something (even something catastrophic) that's part of the job of president. It's really the only such instance since the election. He might even skip an upcoming G-20 summit meeting (the White House "will not say whether Trump will participate," less than two days from the start of the virtual summit).

Trump is utterly ignoring the worst wave of the pandemic, as well. America could see a whopping 200,000 new cases today alone, and the daily death count is likely to top 2,000 again either today or some time next week. People are dying out there in droves, and Trump not only doesn't care, he is still blocking Joe Biden (who does care) from speaking to any of the official government pandemic response team. Which, according to one report from CNN, is nothing short of sour grapes:

[President] Trump told an ally that he knows he lost, but that he is delaying the transition process and is aggressively trying to sow doubt about the election results in order to get back at Democrats for questioning the legitimacy of his own election in 2016, especially with the Russia investigation.

In other words, we've got a petulant Keystone President in charge of a clown-car Keystone Koup. January 20th can't get here fast enough, folks.

Before we get to the Democrats, we have to say that we really wish we could give an award to the secretary of state of Georgia, but since he is a Republican, he just doesn't qualify. Even so, he deserves acclaim from Democrats for standing up for the truth. If he hadn't said anything, we would never have known about Lindsey Graham trying to strongarm him into tossing out tens of thousands of ballots, just for starters.

But what really earned him our praise was when Brad Raffensperger pointed out something that few people had realized about the vote count in Georgia -- that Trump had essentially shot himself in the foot:

Democrat Joe Biden won the state by 14,000 votes. Trump has refused to concede the election to Biden and has made unfounded accusations of voter fraud.

Raffensperger, a Republican, ordered a recount. But he also told Atlanta ABC affiliate WSB that the president hurt his own cause by discouraging mail-in voting, which he portrayed as a "scam."

Raffensperger told the station that 24,000 Republican voters who voted absentee in the primary did not vote in the general election.

"Those 24,000 people did not vote in the fall," Raffensperger said. "They did not vote absentee because they were told by the president, 'Don't vote absentee. It's not secure.' But then they did not come out and vote in person."

"He actually depressed, suppressed his own voting base," he added.

As Raffensperger pointed out, Trump could easily have won the state by 10,000 votes if those people had indeed voted for Trump. But Trump told them not to, so they didn't.

That kind of honesty in the Republican Party right now is rare as hen's teeth, sad to say. Which is why it deserves some plaudits.

Democrats, as a whole, had kind of a quiet week. Barack Obama's new book is out, so he's been popping up all over television. Joe Biden (happy birthday again, Joe!) is quietly and competently putting together his White House team, although he hasn't announced any top-level or cabinet nominations yet. So far, Biden has taken the tack of letting Trump's tantrum burn itself out, but sooner or later he's probably going to have to directly challenge the Trump administration in court if he ever wants the official transition process to begin. Biden's patience appears to be running out, so we'll have to see how this goes next week.

But we've decided to give the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award to Nancy Pelosi, who was confirmed by her party to be the incoming speaker once again. She has not explicitly said so, but she has been hinting for a long time (since about this time, two years ago) that this will be her last stint as speaker. The Democrats' House leaders are all of an advanced age (to put it politely), so everyone knows that some fresh young blood is going to be necessary to move the party into the future. But for the next two years, at least, Nancy Pelosi will get to work with a Democratic president once again.

Of course, the Senate is still up in the air, so it remains to be seen how effective this will be. But whether the Senate stays Republican or flips, Nancy Pelosi will continue to be one of the strongest speakers the House has seen in the last 50 years or so. And that's worth celebrating all on its own.

[Congratulate Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on her official contact page, to let her know you appreciate her efforts.]

California Governor Gavin Newsom really stepped in it this week. He got caught at a birthday party gathering right after "throwing an emergency brake" on California's reopening. The state, like many such states (even those with Republican governors), is reinstituting pandemic restrictions to combat the third wave.

Which means getting together with a dozen friends to schmooze at a birthday party is exactly the wrong thing to do, at exactly the wrong time. But this story goes from bad to worse...

Worse: it was at a hoity-toity elite restaurant.

Worst: the birthday party was for a lobbyist.

The "optics" (as political folks say) were terrible. The complete lack of leadership was (dare we say it) downright Trumpian. And that's about the worst insult we can think of.

For not immediately realizing what a monumentally stupid idea this was, California's Gavin Newsom gets this week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week. Next time, maybe take 10 seconds to think about what the public might say, Gavin? Just a suggestion....

[Contact California Governor Gavin Newsom on his official state contact page, to let him know what you think of his actions.]

Volume 597 (11/20/20)

Quick program note: there will be no Friday Talking Points column next week, because it will be the day after Thanksgiving.

As for this week, we are largely punting our talking points section. What's wrong out there is so patently obvious that we just don't think Democrats need any advice this time around to let the public know.

Instead, we're going to run the beginning and the ending of a recent column by Michael Gerson, who used to be George W. Bush's head speechwriter. A man who knows something about the creation of talking points, in other words.

The following column was far more scathing (and far better written) on one particular subject than we could ever hope to be, which is why we're running it in lieu of our talking points this week. Remember when Republicans could summon up a believable sense of moral outrage? It wasn't that long ago, really.

President Trump will be remembered for many things. For the audacity of his mendacity. For his ready recourse to prejudice. For his savant's ability to rile and ride social resentment. For his welcoming of right-wing crackpots into the Republican coalition. For his elevation of self-love into a populist cause. For his brutal but bumbling use of force against protesters. For his routinization of self-dealing and political corruption. For his utter lack of public spirit and graciousness, even to the very end. And, to be fair, for the remarkable achievement of winning more than 73 million votes without an appealing message, without significant achievements and without a discernible agenda for the future.

But though Trump will be remembered for all these things, he will be judged for one thing above all: When the pandemic came and hundreds of thousands of Americans died, he didn't give a damn.

How do we know this? It is not easy to read a man's heart. But it is easier to detect that organ's absence. Trump is not only refusing to provide leadership during a rapidly mounting health crisis; he is also sabotaging the ability of the incoming Biden administration to cooperate with leaders at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and other government agencies. By disrupting the presidential transition during an unfolding COVID-19 disaster, Trump is engaging in American history's most deadly sulk.

. . .

In this cramped and selfish view of the world, every COVID-19 victim who is highlighted by the media is perceived by the president as an attack on himself. And the public expression of sympathy on his own part would be self-sabotage, an admission of failure. So when Trump recovered from the disease, he did not say, as former New Jersey governor Chris Christie did in a similar situation, "I should have worn a mask." Instead, Trump pronounced himself "immune," held dangerous, largely mask-less political rallies and used his own rapid recovery to play down the seriousness of the disease.

Recovery from COVID did not change Trump's perspective, and neither has electoral loss. The president is apparently too busy moping, golfing, fuming and lying to assume leadership during a spiraling health challenge. He has roused only enough interest to take personal credit for a prospective vaccine. Once again, Trump does not seem to regard COVID-19 as a threat to the country requiring responsible action. He sees the pandemic as an attack on his person, to be downplayed or denied. This is egotism, turned cruel and deadly.

The country will not be delivered by appealing to Trump's better angels, who fled in disgust long ago. It might help if elected Republicans stopped ignoring and enabling Trump's lethal tantrum. But the hours until noon, Jan. 20, still move too slowly.

Chris Weigant blogs at: ChrisWeigant.com
Follow Chris on Twitter: ChrisWeigant
Full archives of FTP columns: FridayTalkingPoints.com

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Reply Friday Talking Points -- The Keystone Koup (Original post)
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Response to ChrisWeigant (Original post)

Fri Nov 20, 2020, 08:04 PM

1. Dear Chris,

You had me at "nutso-cuckoo".

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Response to ChrisWeigant (Original post)

Fri Nov 20, 2020, 08:23 PM

2. K&R nt

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Response to ChrisWeigant (Original post)

Fri Nov 20, 2020, 08:27 PM

3. Dear Chris,

I just celebrated my 25th anniversary with my lovely, long suffering wife. However, if you can cook, I will marry you.

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