And Now, Some General Thoughts About the Election
Posted on October 19, 2020 Posted by John Scalzi 90 Comments
And to do it, I’m bringing back the “talking to myself” format. Hello, me!
Hello, you! Who, uhhhh, is also me.
Indeed. So, what are your questions for me about this year’s election?
Well, since you’ve already detailed how you think Trump will do in your own county, any thoughts on how you think he’ll do otherwise?
Sure. I think he’s gonna lose.
You’re sure about that?
Nope! I was almost certain he was going to lose in 2016, and look where we are now. So I have a healthy respect for my being wrong. That said, I feel pretty confident he’s going to lose.
And why is that?
Because this year isn’t 2016, and we are no longer under the illusion a dangerously incompetent and racist con man can’t win. He totally can! And did already, thanks to the intricacies of the electoral college and some good ol’ fashioned foreign interference in our elections. I mean, no one, not even Trump himself, thought he’d win it — and he didn’t want to win it. When he won, it totally fucked up his plans to add a wing to his media empire. But he did win, and now we all know better.
So I think people who have disliked having Trump as president these last four years are taking the election more seriously. They’re voting early, they’re voting down ballot to get rid of his enablers when they can, and they’re aware of the consequences if he stays in office for an additional term. Lots of people, myself included, are not voting for Biden and Democrats as much as they are voting against Trump and the GOP. Which I think is fine — whatever gets people to the polling stations.
But more than that, it seems pretty clear from the polls that Trump is way behind, two weeks from the actual election date.
He was behind in the 2016 polls, too, you know.
I do know. But as others have noted, and in more detail than I will go into here, the 2016 polls were not as wrong as people thought they were in the aftermath. The national polls had Clinton up by a couple of percentage points and a few million votes — and in fact she got more actual votes from actual humans than Trump, by about three million. The polls were not horribly wrong; they were, however, somewhat optimistically read. I don’t think anyone’s being optimistic about poll numbers this year, and they have a rather healthier respect for things like margins of error.
With that said, at this point Biden is polling far better than Clinton was, not only nationally but in “battleground” states, and a few other places besides. I mean, fuck me, Biden is within two points of Trump in Texas, and only .2% ahead in Ohio, which means at the moment it’s a statistical tie here. Trump’s significantly behind in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania polls, and behind but within the margin of error in Florida. He loses any of those states on election night, he’s probably toast. Biden can lose one or two of them and he can probably still win.
Two weeks is still a long time and lots of things can happen (hey, remember the Comey bombshell?) but the point is that Biden is in a much stronger position than Clinton was all the way around, and Trump is both a known (bad) quantity, and is currently not doing anything to help himself in the home stretch. There’s a reason all those Republicans are suddenly trying to put some distance between themselves and the president.
Yeah, hey, what’s up with that, anyway?
Look, no one can see the road ahead better than a boot-licker; they’re kind of at that level. The more sitting Republicans you see peeling off from Trump, the more you know they already think it’s over, because Trump, how to put this, is not forgiving of sudden yet inevitable betrayal. If he does win, there will be retribution. No one in the modern GOP is exactly a profile in political courage, so their abandonment is telling.
Are you worried about election day hijinks at the polls?
I am but less so than I was before.
Why is that?
Because so many Democratic and/or anti-Trump voters have decided to vote early — it’s possible the majority of Biden voters will have their votes in before election day — that if the GOP or Trump tries to fuck with day-of voting, the only people they’re going to hurt is themselves. Trump is a bit of a Bond villain, in that he loves to monologue and the longer he talks the more he reveals his secret plans. Trump made it clear early that he wants to sabotage the electoral process and that he’s not planning to accept results he doesn’t like, and, oh, hey, if actual fucking Nazis want to patrol polling places, well, that’s fine with him. So, yeah, a lot of people seem to have taken that as a hint to get their votes in early. I sure did.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s still likely there will be at least some day-of issues. There will be long lines, I do think at least some homegrown fascists will be about waving their semi-automatics, and there’s a real possibility that at least a couple of states will have their electoral systems hacked because the GOP is bound and determined to make the actual process of democracy in the US as vulnerable as possible. But again, if most people voting against Trump have gotten their votes in by then, then fucking with polling places mostly hurts Trump.
This is a long way of saying: Hey, get your vote in early, okay? In person if you can (the mail is going to be… unreliable), but if you are voting by mail, don’t screw around, put it back into the mail the same day you get it.
Admit it: you’re not gonna be that upset if Trump voters can’t vote.
Well, no, actually I am.
Stop that. Look, here’s the thing: Either you believe that every adult US citizen has the right to vote, or you don’t. And if you do believe that every adult US citizen has the right to vote, then you accept it’s entirely possible that, in a fair election, the majority of voters might not vote the way you want them to. If Trump wins the election fair and square, then, a) oh fuck, but also b) then he’s won the election and that’s how it goes.
Now, the thing is, as it stands today and right now, only one of the two major parties in the US is generally for every adult US citizen voting, and it’s not the Republicans. The GOP has clearly gone out of its way to make it as difficult as possible for many adult US citizens to vote, correlating its largest efforts in areas that are Democratic leaning and/or substantially non-white districts. Anyone who argues otherwise is tendentious and supporting the cause of racism and disenfranchisement. And, you know. Fuck them right in the ear for that.
There would be irony if, in attempting to destroy confidence in the 2020 election, Trump ends up screwing himself and the GOP, and I admit I am not made of such stolid moral timber that if that happens I won’t chortle a bit. But, again: Either you believe that every adult US citizen has the right to vote, or you don’t. If you don’t, we’re not allies, even if we’re voting in the same direction. You’re not substantially different, ethically speaking, than the modern GOP.
What do you think is gonna happen down ballot?
I think it’s more likely than not the Democrats are going to win the Senate and keep the House. And while I would be delighted to have Mitch McConnell lose his seat to Amy McGrath, that seems not particularly likely, so I will settle for him no longer being majority leader, and being treated with the same care and consideration as he treated the Democrats.
GWAAAARGH WHAT ABOUT HUNTER BIDEN AND HIS LAPTOP —
Man, shut the hell up, what’s wrong with you?
Sorry, I was trying to get into the head of a Trump supporter for a minute there.
I mean, I appreciate the effort, and also, when the NY Post reporter who was made to type out that bullshit refused to have his name put on it, that tells you something. Or tells me something, as a former journalist. No one, including the people who are desperately trying to get it into the mainstream news as an “October Surprise,” think it’s anything other than Russian-generated disinformation fed to a useful tool. I do think it’s interesting how frustrated the right is that no one seems to be falling for the obvious bullshit this time around, however.
What’s your thought if Biden wins and Trump doesn’t concede?
What do you mean?
I mean, so what? Show me where in the Constitution of the United States it says that no presidential election is valid unless the loser concedes. My expectation — and again, I’ve been wrong before — is that Biden is going to win by a fairly substantial amount, both in the popular and in the electoral vote. If and when that happens, I think the collapse of GOP support for Trump, which is already happening, will intensify as everyone asks themselves if Trump is actually worth a civil war. Call me optimistic, but I like to think most GOPers would prefer not to have that, especially when the alternative is bland, safe, chummy Joe Biden.
Aside from that, Trump doesn’t actually control the elections, the states do. There’s been talk about some states ignoring the election results and having their GOP-led legislatures assign their electoral votes to Trump no matter what, but — again, I may be overly optimistic — I don’t really see that happening, especially if Biden is way up in the results.
The moral to this story is that it will be really helpful if Biden’s margin is too big to fuck with, so please remember to vote, early if you can.
If Biden wins, then the electors will meet in December, the results will be certified in January and Trump will be out the door on January 20 at 12:01pm regardless of whether he accepts the result or not. So, you know, fuck him if he doesn’t concede. He doesn’t have to. He’ll be just as gone.
Even if he loses, he’ll still have nearly three months to go as president.
Yup, and it would be foolish not to expect some malice between election day and January 20, 2021, because Donald Trump is a horrible shitpile of a human, and also, if he wants Putin to give him asylum, he’s got to wreck as much shit as he can on the way out. I do imagine Biden’s team is already factoring that into the transition period and will hit the ground running on January 20th.
Do you really think he’ll go to Russia?
No. I think he’ll pardon himself as he walks out the White House door on January 20 and announce a new media network by 3pm. But I do think he’s well aware of to whom he owes money, and he’ll be happy to have as much of that forgiven by doing favors with the time he has left to him. Good news, such as it is: He can’t pardon himself from state crimes, and I expect New York State is going to have a nice packet of summons and subpoenas waiting for him at 12:01pm, January 20. I mean, maybe they’ll give him a day at Mar-a-Lago first. I wouldn’t count on it, though.
This idea does not displease you.
Nope. I’d be happy for the rest of the man’s natural life to be one criminal case after another. He deserves no less!
Any last comments?
Yes! Hey, folks, did I mention you should vote? And vote early if you can? In person would be best! But however you do it, get it done as soon as possible. It’s going to matter. Thanks.
Political post, so, you know, Mallet, play nice with each other, I’ve got the BINGO cards out, and so on.
Also, if all you’re going to do with your comment is note how much I hate Trump and how much you look forward to me being sad when he wins, save yourself the effort, as I concede both points. Be more substantive than that, please.
Also, attempting to peddle the Hunter Biden bullshit (particularly the more salacious “allegations”) is gonna get the Mallet. Be smarter than Giuliani and Bannon give you credit for, folks.
My hope is that Trump loses, resigns, and tells Pence to pardon him, and Pence folds his arms. looks Trump in the eye, and says “Go to heck.”
(Also, “Look, no one can see the road ahead better than a boot-licker; they’re kind of at that level.” is another great one-liner.)
Hey, yeah, remember The Comey Letter?
One thing I found out this past week about that whole Constitution thing:
14th Amendment, Section 2:
“Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.”
In plain terms: if you engage in voter suppression, you’re supposed to lose seats in Congress. It’s never ever been enforced–I’m not sure why.
The advantage Trump had in 2016 is that nobody had seen him being President. They’d only seen him as a fictional genius businessman, and they imagined what they wanted to imagine. Now we’ve seen four years of him as president. Oh, how we’ve seen.
Kufat: I like your idea. It’s always fun when the henchmen start claiming they were in Argentina for the whole war.
Another benefit this time around, in a sort of shitty way, are the Repubs who voted for Danger Yam simply because they hated Hillary. With her not in the election, Biden is a fair choice for a lot of them. Or at least…that’s what they’re saying.
And while you were posting this I was walking home from the early polling place here in Reston Virginia where I voted straight Democratic ticket, for the anti-gerrymandering amendment, and for all the bond issues. An hour and a quarter in line, but it’s a beautiful day for it.
I voted by mail. And received confirmation from the Chicago Board of Elections that the ballot was received. Yes, elections are very local. I will watch things other than politics until election night. Then like the nerd that I am, I will probably watch the return coverage.
I get your “so what if he doesn’t concede” rationale–his term ends on January 20 if Biden wins and it would actually be fun to see Secret Service haul him out–but I do worry that there are opportunities for hijinks in the meantime. Let’s say, for example, that the voting is closer than most expect, and Biden wins because he wins PA. Trump says “not so fast, bad things happened in Philadelphia, lots of voter fraud, etc.,” –basically what he’s been saying for months now The legislature in PA is controlled by the GOP. What happens if they decide they need to open an investigation into voter fraud and either don’t send electors to vote or substitute their own set? The only thing the Constitution says about picking electors is “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors. . . ” In theory, at least, that means that the legislature can send anyone they want, including a set of electors that will vote for someone other than the candidate that received the most votes in the state. There’s a decent article in the Atlantic laying out this and other scenarios: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/11/what-if-trump-refuses-concede/616424/.
I very much hope I’m wrong to worry about this. I hope that Biden sweeps the map and that the procession of rats abandoning the SS Trump continues, so that he doesn’t have the kind of support he would need for this kind of chicanery. But very few GOP legislators are willing to openly defy the President (at least until they retire). I don’t see a lot of spine in that group.
“ Biden is within two points of Trump in Texas, and only .2% ahead in Ohio, which means at the moment it’s a statistical tie here. He’s significantly behind in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania polls, and behind but within the margin of error in Florida. He loses any of those states on election night, he’s probably toast. ”
I assume the “He” is referring to the Trumpenfuhrer.
Thanks for calming down my paranoia, John!
Fixed to make less ambiguous.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see him flee to Russia, to escape the state charges if nothing else, with Daddy Putin offering a nice sweet deal to spill anything he hasn’t already spilled. I do also worry, a little, that he might decide to take the burning down the house route too. Fragile white men, when they end up out of a job and facing criminal charges, have been known to go down the murder suicide route. Only with Trump he has nuclear codes and not just a shotgun in the night. It isn’t deep fear, because I’d hope even Trump would be more rational than that, but I’d be lying if I said it isn’t just about within the bounds of possibilities.
The only downside to Trump being voted out of office, is that here in the UK we’ll be left as having the world’s leading vile and mendacious idiot with a bad haircut instead of being able to say “at least he’s not Trump”. Vote him out.
I think Biden would win a fair election quite comfortably but I’m also sure the Elephant’s men will do everything in their power to steal it. So I’m almost counting on the postal votes to be declared void (because of ‘cheating’) and on individual states to declare Trump the winner (because of suspected/reported ‘irregularities’) and on the Supreme Court to rubber-stamp these decisions.
I don’t think I’ve ever hoped to be wrong as badly as I do know but I’m not hopeful.
I still think he TRIES to leverage “I will not make a stink about losing, nor cry Havoc! and let slip the overweight, prodigiously bearded dogs of war, in exchange for pardons not only for federal, but all state crimes.”
The only guy he has to convince is Cuomo. DeSantis would pardon Trump for murdering his daughter (Trump’s OR his). But the only way Cheetolini has leverage is if there’s any possibility of credible challenges to rile up the base. The more the Ds run up the score if they win, the less ability Velveeta Voldemort has to threaten to blow it all up.
So vote like we’re 4 points behind (I wanted to say like we’re ten points behind, but ten points would be demoralizing…4 is the biggest number I could see energizing folks).
I’m in favor of voting and more cat pictures.
a) Love the commentary. Thank you.
2) Wasn’t it Heinlein himself, who once said something along the lines of “… when in doubt, vote against – you can’t go wrong,voting against.”?
Third) Keep up the good work, sir.
Last) Now, please, go back to work on your books – I’m already awaiting your NEXT masterpiece, and I’m profoundly a bastard when I have to wait.
@crypticmirror While true that Nuclear Release Authority in all cases resides with the President and ONLY with the President (even in the case of a first strike) the number of levels between Trump and two guys in a hole in the ground in South Dakota turning keys includes some high ranking folks with access to high level intelligence reports.
It only takes one out of every pair at any level to stop things. I have hope (not certainly, alas) that more than a few would not agree with passing on the Emergency Action Message even at the likely cost of their careers.
Nicely done… Doesn’t ease my concerns for the three months of destruction in his wake… Feeling very dystopic today. May I have another serving of Smudge, please?
Mailed my ballot off over the weekend. So unless Postmaster De Joy’s sabotage includes causing several weeks’ delay in delivery, I’m good.
I think it’ll be close. I would not delude yourself and anyone else into believing any polls. That may have reduced turnout last time and hopefully people will still vote and ignore any poll no matter what it says. But I do not expect voters have much changed their minds as we like to believe. 2020 may have turned some around and yes now they have a good view of the Donald more than they did four years back. Still he needs to face the voters and let us hope for a knockout punch. Now the Senate, phew I do not subscribe to the Democrats taking that back. If they do it’s gonna be close maybe 50-50 split with a tiebreaker. Whatever happens this country is going to be more polarized than ever.
Voting early (and particularly by mail) puts you in the set of votes that Trump has worked hardest to discredit. “Day-of” shenanigans are unlikely to be relevant in comparison.
The elephant in the room here is how unwell Trump is. At this point, he seems so far gone in dementia that he is a prop being used by his family and sycophants to maintain power. Even if he were to win, I doubt he would be able to serve out his term.
Of course, then we would have Pence, which would come with its own set of problems. But I really doubt Pence would have the same kind of support from GOP congresscritters as Trump has had. And Pence has his own set of legal liabilities.
DH and I submitted our votes in an official ballot collection box, and have received confirmation that they were received, so we’ve done what we can at the moment, aside from encouraging all the audio radiance to vote. This year there were a few local issues we buckled down to research, and we did our due diligence. Hawaii is strongly Dem but small, so unless we suddenly develop intercontinental ballistic coconuts and poi pounders, Trump can safely sneer at us.
@stillmorewords: Filing away ‘Danger Yam’ with ‘cockwomble’ and ‘shitgibbon’ and other useful terms for Dear Leader.
I actually just got back from dropping off my ballot at an official ballot box at the library and the line to vote was out the building, across the parking lot, and down the street. And that’s unheard of in my part of the north Atlanta suburbs. In 2016 I voted at about this time and was in and out in less than 20 mins.
My partner is still fairly well convinced that Trump is going to have some kind of health crisis before the end of the year. He’s positive that they’ve got him completely drugged to keep him upright and functioning because there’s no way a 74 year old could get Covid, be hospitalized for it, and then be 100% recovered and symptom free in 2 weeks.
I’m feeling pretty optimistic right now, tbh. Not over confident but reasonably optimistic. I think Biden will win by enough that any shenanigans Trump tries will be pretty quickly dismissed. I am worried about what he can do with his remaining nearly 3 months in office before the inauguration and I’m worried about his cult member followers deciding to riot and burn it all down when they don’t like the results. But there’s nothing i can do about that, other than grit my teeth and get through it, whatever it is.
I mailed my ballot October 5 and the local election office marked it as received on October 7, so I’ve done my voting and even the post office BS can’t mess with it at this point. I am beginning to believe that most people are so locked in at this point that an “October surprise” can’t really work. Nobody seems to be persuaded by the whole Hunter Biden laptop BS. Even the NY Post where it originally appeared is leaking that they don’t really believe it. Trump’s leverage is quickly leaking away and after November 3 there will be a stampede of rats trying to get away from the ship.
You live in a swing state, so your vote is important. (Well, *all* of our votes count for elections other than our presidential votes)
Even though California has more registered Republicans than any other state, their presidential votes don’t count because of our electoral college system. And Presidential candidates know that. Swing states are all that matter.
People can surprise you. Just because the Mango Moron gives the order doesn’t mean that it will be obeyed. Remember Vasily Arkhipov. And Anthony Fauci has been giving his unvarnished opinion to presidents who don’t want to hear it since the 80s. Unlike the presidents, he still has his job.
Whenever I get worried about Trump suddenly deciding to nuke California or something, I remember that as far as I know, the nuclear codes changes every day. The president gets a card with several codes and has to memorize which one is the right code and which ones are dummy codes. Every day.
This means that Trump’s success in launching a nuclear attack is contingent of him (a) understanding these instructions, and (b) bothering to remember something he has never had to use before.
Early voting, in Florida, opened at 0700 today. It runs till Nov.1, if anyone needs to know.
Yes, Florida is a toss-up; but 2000 people voted in the first hour of early voting in my county. All the pictures I saw of the lines were of masked and socially distanced people. A good sign.
Luckily Der Trump has pissed on enough military brass that he will not be able to hole up in the White House, they will dig him out.
It is going to take a hell of an October Surprise to change anything. I do not know anyone who still sits on the fence or will have their minds changed. Don’t sweat it.
Polling is never going to work right again because of changes in how people use phones. We don’t even answer our land line and if our mobiles come up with a number instead of the name of a contact we don’t answer. That kind of thing will forever skew polling.
The big difference this time, besides the orange elephant, is that Biden doesn’t carry the baggage Hillary did, I would lay odds on a Biden blow out.
Voted, mailed, accepted to count here in SoCal.
I think he’ll go off and sulk in Mard-e-Largo if he loses by a lot, with a stack of blank pardons for him and his family. I can’t see him fleeing the country, much as I’d like that, as he’s broke so Saudi/UAE is right out. He could make it out the door with binders full of secrets, but I’m not sure how much the intelligence community lets him see now as they know he’s a catastrophic security risk. Putin doesn’t want him as it’ll be too obvious he’s his puppet if he runs off to Moscow, it’s more likely he gets a polonium milkshake rather than asylum.
He’ll start immediately campaigning for 2024, of course, got to keep the grift and theft from the re-election funds coming. There seems to have been so much theft at so many levels the campaign is running out of funds, from Parscales downwards everyone had their hand in the till. And of course the Trump “presidential*” “library” is another mechanism for theft and money laundering.
He’ll never go to jail (unless Epstein had tapes and Barr hasn’t destroyed them), but will hopefully spend the rest of his life in court cases trying to avoid prison.
I’m hoping the nuclear button is now connected to a flag that pops out with “bang” written on it, as per the Nixonian model, rather than anything more sinister.
Oh, and I think Trump will end up in jail for tax fraud. That is why he is so desperate.
As to Hunter Biden’s laptop, it has been reported that FOX NEWS refused to run the story:
@ Audrey That was my point. While Trump has the power and the legal right to launch 200 Minuteman III missiles at, say, various targets in Iran with no notice, warning, or justification (other than “They’re Iran!”) I suspect even at the very first link the Nuclear Release Chain in the Pentagon, one if not both of those Generals would not “agree” on the validity and therefore not pass the order on.
However, that would, strictly speaking, be a violation of their orders and as it would be a “lawful” order they would be subject to relief and arrest. Forced retirement at the very least.
I still think they refuse to pass the order on. If not them, then by the time the next link is hit, someONE out of the four would balk. With two-person verification at every level other than the pinnacle, even if the odds were only 50/50, you quickly hit a “no”, and I think the odds of a General Officer in the Pentagon knowing the order for what it is, the chance would be more like 99 to 1 against passing it on. The order would die quickly (just hopefully high enough up that ALL the missiles stay in their siloes rather than, say, only half of them).
I am a little annoyed at myself about how deep down I believe everyone should vote.
While early voting: I gave a Trump supporter (in line, indoors) a mask, which he promptly put in his pocket. (We left that location as it seemed unsafe). Then at the next early voting location (where the line was outdoors), I informed a guy in a Trump tshirt that he should grab a jacket or something because they wouldn’t let him vote with the shirt showing (there’s a law against advertising for candidates within a certain distance of the election). He didn’t believe me, at least not until he got turned away at the door, and was kind of a jerk about it.
If I hadn’t given that guy a mask, he would have been turned away once he got to the front of the line, and yet I don’t regret it. I do regret that he could have given covid to everyone at that location. I didn’t need to give the shirt guy a chance to go back while he was still near his car and his friends could have saved his place in line. But apparently I care more about the inherent fairness of voting than I do about all the people being hurt by the current administration. :/
@FTC – unfortunately, vanishingly unlikely that he’ll face criminal prosecution – he’ll claim he relied on his advisor’s recommendations and followed their advice. As he’s demonstrably an idiot, it’ll be impossible to prove intent, which is required for criminal tax fraud. Very likely to be civil penalties and interest galore, though
Slightly more likely is bank fraud – you can bet the tax returns he filed with the IRS and the ones he showed the banks are different, and that’s a slam-dunk from the prosecution point of view, especially if his stubby little fingerprints are all over the edits.
President Cheeto can go off to Mar-A-Lago if he wants, he still has to travel back to NY for the stacks of legal cases and attendant court dates against him. NY certainly has the option of foreclosing on all his assets in NY at least.
The IRS cases are rather more complex. Federal tax audits and any resulting court cases take a long time to resolve and the Cheeto might very well expire before that comes to fruition. Thing is, IRS tax fraud cases are kind of like a glacier. They move slowly but will absolutely fuck up your world beyond redemption once they arrive. Compliance really is your best option. Also, the IRS can take *everything* that Trump has to satisfy the debt. Not sure if NY has that option.
Forgot to add Add. Leslie Reichart to the list. Check out Naval Proceedings for better information, skip the admittedly overblown movie. The Wall Street Journal did a pretty good job of covering the incident at the time too. (Back before it was owned by Rupert Murdoch.)
One thing I’ve been curious about in terms or early voting that I haven’t seen addressed anywhere. In my state–and I presume all the others–the various election boards don’t track HOW I voted, but they do track IF I voted. Are the millions of early votes being cast by people who regularly vote, or are they coming from people who are either newly registered or have been registered but rarely showed up to pull a lever? (I’m assuming how many registered Ds/Rs are voting could also be reported, but making that data available could be interpreted as trying to encourage/discourage one side or the other so I wouldn’t want that data out there.)
@Not the Reddit Chris S.
Strictly speaking, it depends on who signed the tax return. If it’s his signature–and it would have to be for his individual income taxes–then he’s responsible, no matter what advice he got. That’s a lock. The only thing he could do would be to sue his “advisors” in civil court for the bad advice given and hope that they have the equivalent of malpractice insurance. If the Cheeto signed the business tax returns, he’s responsible for those as well but the state/IRS could only go after business assets in the case of business tax returns, not his personal income.
People piss and moan all the time about getting bad tax advice from H&R Block, Liberty, etc. *But it’s the individual’s name and signature on the return.* The IRS doesn’t chase down H&R Block for tax return errors, they chase down the person who signed & whose Social Security Number is on the tax return. People have free will, they don’t HAVE to choose HRB, a CPA, etc. And the space where you sign the tax return is very clear about what you are signing–basically, you are swearing that the tax return is accurate to the best of your knowledge & belief, etc.
The only way that your tax return is not deemed to be your responsibility is if you have been legally declared incompetent…
…which would mean that your conservator, guardian, court-appointed overseer, etc would have to sign the tax return for you, which would mean that they and not you would be on the hook for veracity. Also, you would have to prove mental incompetence *at the time you signed.* Crazy now does not equal crazy then.
I hate Biden. I hate Harris. I think their platform Is Wrong with a capital W.
I like what Trump is doing. I really like a lot of what he’s doing. But the lying? Covoid BS? Ignoring science? In general being a grade A asshole? Turning the CDC from a world class organization to a laughing stock? Did I mention the constant lying?
I already voted, and I went for Biden.
I haz a sad.
I work at an Early Voting site, and the wait has been about two hours all day today – and it is cold and rainy here. Lots of people dropping off mail-in ballots all day too. People are DOGGED, and Illinois is already about as Democrat a state as you can be. My feet are still thawing from greeting and guiding folks, but yay! Democracy!
As an Australian who just learned how easy it would be for your President to start the end of the world, I sincerely hope you’re right about the chain of command. No one person should ever have that much power. :(
I hope you are right, John. But I can never forget Nov 2004.
Thank you, jim. Doing the right thing hurts sometimes.
As much as my heart and brain are overwrought by election stress, there’s still room for a pang of Firefly Loss.
Voted, mailed, the Board of Elections received it.
And I’m going to be a poll worker in Pittsburgh for the first time. Yeah, there’s a chance of getting the Virus and/or getting shot by a Trumper, but fuck it, this is important!
My husband and I voted over the weekend (at home, our states is 100% mail) and walked exactly one mile to the ballot drop box, and exactly one mile back.
We could have driven, but it seemed right to walk, in solidarity with everyone who has to stand in line for hours.
@jim: I’m sorry you’re sad, but think of it this way: you can argue and vote against and write petitions against Biden and Harris and it might change how their platform is implemented. As far as I can tell Trump doesn’t listen to any of us citizens.
My worry is that if Biden does win, there will be a big attempt to brush all of these crimes under the carpet (like Obama did in 2008). We need some sort of ‘truth commission’ and it made clear that those that engaged in corrupt, illegal activities, get no where near our government again.
There’s also the worry about the Supreme Court throwing the election, like they did in 2000, but I wonder if that won’t happen because the GOP would be quite happy for the democrats to take over, so they can spend the next four years blaming the democrats for the complete and utter mess they made of the country? As people seem to have very short memories over who keeps blowing up the deficit and taking away people’s healthcare.
Oh, dear sweet lordy, I hope you are correct in your prognostications, Mr. Scalzi.
I held that thought for one hot minute, and then reminded myself “don’t hope, don’t hope, don’t hope, prepare yourself for the worst, polls lie and the old white men desperately want to cling to power, so don’t hope.”
I would love – LOVE – to be proven wrong. But I daren’t hope that I will be. I’ve voted, my ballot has been received back, but I dare not hope.
I’ve been on a news embargo for over a month now, and expect it to continue at least well into November. It doesn’t entirely block my anxiety, but it reduces it to where it is no longer disabling.
For those talking about watching returns on the evening of November 3, I’d recommend an early bedtime, because all those early absentee and mailed in votes are going to take longer to count than people think. I’m guessing there won’t be even an estimated outcome for at least days after the election, and barring a landslide in one direction or the other, it may not be called definitively for a week or more. I expect to be hunkered down, watching kittens on the interwebs and listening to classical music, until at least Thanksgiving. Or possibly for the rest of my life, if it goes the way I fear.
If it gets to that point, I’m imagining the Danger Yam (thanks!) coming out with a pile of family pardons, but accidentally forgets one for Kush or Eric or one of the others.
I’d be amazed if Ben Sasse doesn’t return to the Senate — the Nebraska Democratic Party is running a write-in candidate against him for reasons. My best hope is that Sasse wins by a plurality, and proves to be smart enough to figure out that most of the voters didn’t want him in the job so maybe he should be willing to compromise with Senate Democrats. (He’s spoken against some of Trump’s nonsense and been scolded on the Official Twitter Account for it, so that’s a good sign.)
Been a mail-in voter for years but this year felt like a good year to take the completed ballot in early to the County Assessor’s office. There was a short wait, but not long enough to be called a line, everyone was in masks, and we were allowed in one person at a time with an employee wiping down surfaces (even ones we didn’t touch) between individuals.From here on out I just get notified of tracking and encourage others to vote.
If he flees the country, I am guessing Saudi Arabia or one of the Gulf states (Qatar, UAE etc.) as they have no extradition treaties with the USA and have benefitted greatly from American arms sales.
He’ll be a guest of some family; they can pay for his keep out of pocket change (how many hamburders can someone eat in a day, eh?).
Heck, even Idi Amin ended his days in Saudi Arabia (after wearing out his welcome in Libya and Iraq).
One of the arguments that people make in favor of a multi-party rather than two-party democracy is that multiple parties are compelled by the numbers to ally, compromise, and horse-trade to get anything done. This I’m told tends to move the center of power to, well, the center.
These days I’m recommending the book “Breaking the Two Party Doom Loop” by Lee Drutman anywhere political arguments are sold. His account of how both major US parties have polarized more and more since the 1950s seems convincing to me. (No, it’s not “those guys have become pure evil” directed toward either side.) I’m not sure his recommendations of how to fix things would work in any way whatsoever, but it’s a starting point for discussions.
[Deleted because this dude’s being a bit of a dick — JS]
Everyone should vote. Not everyone should vote on certain things. I don’t believe we should have large public votes about marriage equality, for example. Or anti-discrimination laws. Or any number of other civil rights issues. In theory, the Bill of Rights and a wise legislative branch solves this problem. In practice, it does not, and even in the “arc of the moral universe” sense thousands or millions of lifetimes end in despair having waited for the right thing to happen.
Louann Miller – That is a parliamentary system, and it doesn’t seem to function any better than a 2-party system. Just look at the UK, Israel, France… the most ideologically extreme fringe parties wind up being the “kingmakers” when the larger parties need them to complete a governing coalition. That ain’t good, either!
I went to the polling place on Tuesday (first day of early voting in Texas). The lines were too long, and I had other obligations, so I didn’t wait. I returned on Thursday to slightly shorter lines, and I had more time, so I waited. I didn’t get a sticker. They had long since run out.
Since voting, I happened to come across a YouTube video from Alex Jones. I watched some of it and my eyes were opened.
I knew about qAnon in general terms, but hearing the details and reading the comments accompanying the video made me realize how deep that rabbit hole goes. And since this particular scandal is supposed to be confirmed by an alleged video on Hunter Biden’s alleged laptop, I’m thinking this is going to to be thorn in this country’s side for years to come. I could even see a defeated Trump becoming one of the main outlets for these conspiracy theories, just as he once was for birtherism.
@itinerantpedant; yes, the officer(s) who breaks the chain would be retired, but it would be the best ever retirement, as the soldier who saved the world from the Brassy Mooncalf.
IMHO, it would be worth it!
Honestly? Works for me. If/when he leaves in 2021, maybe we can talk things out. Certainly I’m not a fan of some of the authoritarian trends on the intersectional left, but I am convinced they are in large part a direct response to Trump’s own fascistic impulses.
Let’s get Joe Biden in the White House, and then we’ll see what happens. Remember that there’s usually a cultural backlash against whatever party holds political power.
I really like these blog posts, which seem like “opinion columns” in disguise. They cut through the equivocation and put things plainly.
John, maybe you should get these into a newspaper or magazine for a wider audience? :-)
Actually, I think a lot of the authoritarian trends in the left is just from human nature.
A lot of strategy you see in some leftists are authoritarian in nature, as it prioritizes winning high office to impose ideas downward; that’s the exact opposite of the grassroots based, bottom up nature of the philosophy that’s being championed. There’s very little recognition of the humanity behind the policy they oppose and they assume far too much that other people are just like them and couldn’t possibly as well as they do and come to different conclusions. They have to be controlled somehow by other entities, and thus they spend most of their time railing at said entities, instead on persuading other voters on their level.
A drop box in a town near me caught fire- possibly arson. Guess I will hand-carry mine to the Vote Center.
What flavor of ice cream did you have today?
Of chains of command and extremists:
Yah, an officer would resign. The same thing happens in traditional media if an owner tries to order an editor to go against journalism ethics, according to a journalism school teacher. Of course columns are not strictly journalism, but when a news-columnist, Gwynne Dyer, had an owner of chain newspapers order all editors in a chain to cancel his column (he had been even-handed about Israel) editors in Canadian cities other than the one where the owner lived quietly kept his column going, although I presume there was no significant monetary gain for them. (As documented in one of Dyer’s collections)
Too bad a lot of social media types, like regular small town gossips, can’t explain the practise of journalism ethics.
By the way, if no newspaper is like Fox News it’s because according to a Fox executive, speaking to a Canadian Washington news bureau, Fox does not represent the A section of a newspaper, but the editorial pages section, and the executive thought the public would know that.
To say that parliaments “get extremist parties as king makers” is sometimes accurate, but sometimes such parasites (as business teacher Peter Drucker termed them) exist in the (world’s only?) two party system too. For example, the U.S. prohibition movement whose members refused to “lift up their eyes” to look at the country as a whole, but instead voted for their local politician on a single issue. The law of unintended consequences included a boost to organized crime and, I suspect, an increase in public cynicism. I mean, one politician publicly drank booze, with the acceptance of his constituents, on the same day he and his fellows democratically voted for prohibition.
I think Robert Heinlein noted that a reform, or extremist, party can get in as a protest vote, but they only last one term. During that time the established party can cut it’s deadwood and pull up it’s socks.
“There’s a reason all those Republicans are suddenly trying to put some distance between themselves and the president.
Yeah, hey, what’s up with that, anyway?”
Something something rats something something sinking ship something something something.
My attitude is not original, but: a day or two before the Inauguration of Biden, I look for Trump to be on a trip outside the US. His private plane will already be abroad. He will not come back. His kids will have already moved all the movable assets they can out of the nation. Preparations will be made to liquidate as much of his US property that can’t be moved as possible as soon as he’s no longer President. He will likely end up in a nation that either has no extradition treaty with the US or whose leader cannot be counted on to honor one. He’ll be looking over his shoulder for the rest of his life, and he’ll be hounded for the rest of his life. As for dragging out lawsuits with high-priced lawyers defending him, who is going to take the cases when it becomes obvious he won’t or can’t pay?
Would a bounty be put on his head? Will a force be sent to snatch him back? Would he be left alone to decline in relative peace?
Well, I can always hope.
Voted this morning at my town hall. No wait and when I left there were 5 people in line. I voted a straight Democratic ticket. I also voted to remove “and Providence Plantations” from our state’s name.
I’m perfectly fine if tRump does not leave the White House on Jan 20, 2021 @ 12:01 PM if Biden is elected.
Biden will still be President and he can lock the doors from the outside and continue his administration.
And re: National Command Authority … in Crimson Tide, Denzel Washington was dead wrong.
Comments closed for the night. They’ll be back up in the morning when I’m awake!
Update: I’m awake! Comments back on.
Note that presidential pardons only extend to federal crimes. They do not extend to state crimes, which are left to the individual states to decide on. (Nor do they extend to civil cases, like the current defamation lawsuit that Barr is trying to intervene in.)
Since Trump is apparently immune to NY indictments so long as he is president, I expect him to skip the Biden inauguration. From a great distance. As he’s been joking about at some of his recent “Herd Immunity Rallies”.
The last time a sitting president did not attend his successor’s inauguration was when Nixon resigned.
Given that only four countries ALLOW Americans into their countries nowadays (and will for the foreseeable future), Trump’s choices for any flight are kinda….limited.
Voted today in person in downtown Dayton. 20 minutes from stepping out of my car I was driving away. Literally the hardest thing about it was dealing with the crappy parking garage (but at least it was free). This was by far easier than voting on an actual election day. I am doing it this way from now on. This may not be everyone else’s experience but it is worth it. Gotta Vote!
Michael, your comments made me think it would be funny if the result of all this horridness was an extended polling session in federal elections and a higher participation rate. I won’t go so far to say the last four years would have been worth it for that result, but it would be swell if that happened.
In response to your caption, I just got back from voting in Texas. Half-hour line in the early poling station in the whitest part of town. Two weeks early. I’m really worried what other stations are experiencing.
Thank you John. I came to the site today specifically because I was hoping for some Scalzi style analysis of the state of the election. I have voted but I am that nervous.
Aside #1: As you stated, the election is conducted at the state level. I live in a very red state and I have personal knowledge that our Republican led Secretary of State office has been working very hard for more than a year (with pandemic thrown in!) to ensure a secure and faultless election. It is reassuring to know that many conservatives believe in fair elections too.
Aside #2: Regarding the “horrible shitpile of a human,” the best analog my wife and I have come up with is a Malice from Lois McMaster Bujold’s “Sharing Knife” series. Somebody needs to teach that man how to die.
Robert Reich just put out a youtube video regarding the 12th amendment, if Trump somehow disqualifies enough state results so that Biden can’t get to 270. Right now, the House is 26-22 in favor of the GOP, with two ties. (one vote per state)
The new House would do that voting 3 days after it is sworn in.
The good news is it won’t take a huge number of changes to flip that 26-22-2 result. Alaska and Montana only have one representative. Michigan and Pennsylvania only need one win each to break their ties, and Florida only needs one flip to go Democrat. (Assuming everything else remains the same… the Dems are expected to gain more House seats).
4% of the world’s population, 20% of the cases and deaths. We should call Cheetolini what he truly is – a mass murderer.
I put a lot of blame on the MSM – trying to be neutral is not being objective in the Trump era.
My state (Massachusetts) is hardly what you’d call a battleground, but I dropped my ballot into the box outside town hall a week ago on my way to the office. [Very few people are there so it’s nice and quiet, no distractions, so when I go into the office once or twice a week I can work in peace. The rest of the time I work from home.]
I checked and it’s already been accepted. I don’t think any of the offices on my ballot were contentious (only 3 of 7 were even contested) but the two ballot questions (a modification of “right to repair” and ranked-choice voting) could be interesting.
Now if I could only find some way to tell Facebook “No, really, I ALREADY VOTED. You don’t need to show me voting information every time I log in!”
Some Constitutional thoughts…
On the question of whether Trump can pardon himself for federal crimes, the correct answer is: nobody knows! It would certainly go to the Supreme Court and even by intentist/textualist principles, I can make a strong argument either way. (Which I will not do here, under the doctrine of ” longissimus, non legi”!)
On the question of what happens if neither candidate receives 270 electoral votes, I don’t see anything in the Constitutional or legislative record that explicitly states whether a candidate needs a majority of the possible votes or a majority of the votes cast. People assume the former, but unless I’ve missed something, they are doing so without written or case law to support that assumption. Again, I could strongly argue either way in the Supreme Court.
But let us hope it doesn’t come to that.
(A minor but related side point — Bush v Gore did NOT hand the presidency to Bush. Under established and proven Constitutional procedures, he was going to be elected President when the Constitutional time limits kicked in. Why the Supremes chose to get involved, nobody knows. Sometimes they have a misguided sense of how effective they are unifying the country. But they didn’t alter the outcome.)
On the question of Trump launching nukes in a fit of pique… not gonna happen. The President’s authority is “required” (but not entirely) to enable the launch, but he doesn’t launch anything. The chain of command starts with the Secretary of Defense, then the Secretaries of each service, and down the line. Almost without exception, those high-level people loathe, despise, and fear Trump — this is been widely reported on. And I don’t mean “fear” the way the Republicans do, fear of retribution, they fear his complete lack of competence and knowledge.
Furthermore, this is a known scenario! Ever since the presidential authority in this area was established, so many decades ago, the military has known that it was a single point of failure, potentially subject to both false positives ( e.g., an insane president) and false negatives ( e.g., a surgical strike that disrupts high level authority enough that there isn’t time to reestablish succession and command before the missiles fall). They’ve planned for that. My God, have a planned for that. They have scenarios up the wazoo! (The ones I know of are pretty terrifying and, even worse, they are based on events that really almost happened.)
We’ve never real-world tested (thank the gods) the false-negative case, but the false-positive case did come up during the Nixon regime, and it played out exactly as it was supposed to.
I’d be a lot more worried about a real Second Civil War (which I think extraordinarily unlikely) than a False Nuclear Strike.
– pax \ Ctein
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I wouldn’t be so sure that another nation like Saudi Arabia will take Trump. Sure Idi Amin spent the remainder of his days in SA but he’d also been filching a nation’s wealth for years and offshoring it, so he actually had actual money and assets. Trump has no money, just massive piles of debt that even his illiquid assets won’t cover. There’s a reason most banks won’t give him a loan anymore. (Deutsch Bank is pretty much the only one that will do business with him at this point. Inexplicably so, considering that they sued him for being behind on payments that he already owed them.) I can see questionable countries taking in rich douchbags. (Michael Jackson anyone?) Trump doesn’t have money and the countries that would actually take him in aren’t known for taking charity cases. Also keep in mind that there’s a difference between extradition treaties and tax treaties. France won’t extradite a pedophile rapist director but they certainly will and do honor their tax treaties and their trade treaties. North Korea has neither with the US (or anyone else for that matter–the Hermit Kingdom indeed) but I don’t see Little Crazy Kim/Little Rocket Man taking him in or Fat Donnie going in the first place. No hamburgers.
Admittedly, the thought of the various legal entities in the US seizing all of Dim Donnie’s assets while he flees penniless to an asylum country is amusing. But that would mean he would have no money… and would have to wait in a refugee camp while waiting for his case to be heard with no end date in sight… sounds familiar somehow. One can only hope cages will be involved. Although finding one of a suitable size could be problematic… maybe just jam him in, like taking a plunger to a particularly problematic toilet clog.
On a related note, no wonder Trump wants to pack the Supreme Court. He has a case that is likely to go before them this spring–the one regarding the tax return information that Deutsch Bank has for Danger Yam and the legal propriety of the House subpoenaing Deutsch for Dim Donnie’s tax fibs. Which begs the question: why didn’t Congress just submit paperwork to the IRS for Danger Yam’s tax returns? They have that legal authority–technically, they can file paperwork and read anyone’s tax returns.
Yes, SCOTUS stepped into Bush v Gore and possibly altered the result by doing so. The majority deliberately stopped the recount in progress, waited several days, and then declared (unsigned!) the case was essentially moot, because by the time they ruled, there wasn’t enough time for a recount.
This is before you take into account the state’s Republican establishment, except Governor Jeb Bush, actively interfering with any recount. And successfully suppressing “felons”, that is, anyone whose name matched some database somewhere, without telling the alleged “felons” ahead of time. And there was the question of why hanging chads were mostly a problem in black-heavy counties.
Steve L@ 4.43:
On the left-hand side of your FB home page where it says “See more”? Click there, select “Town Hall”, and there is an option to shut off voting reminders.
I used it on Saturday after dropping my ballot at the secure box; got confirmation today that my ballot has been accepted.
If by the word “possibly” you mean a one in a thousand chance? Then sure. Otherwise, no. They altered the process but they didn’t alter the result. You are misremembering the timetable — because of the various suits and countersuits going on within Florida and the results of conflicting rulings therein, it had already become impossible to produce a definitive recount by the constitutional deadline, one that the state would certify as complete.
You can blame that on Republican vs. Democratic politics within the state if you like, but it is what it was. As to all the other low crimes and misdemeanors the Florida government committed, you won’t get any argument from me! But none of that goes to the Supreme Court question.
At that point, Florida has two options. They can choose not to send an electoral delegation. In that scenario, Bush has a majority of the votes cast but not 270, which goes back to the constitutional issue I raised, and who knows how that would play out? The other option is that the Florida Legislature — the REPUBLICAN-CONTROLLED legislature — faced with an arguably indeterminate vote count, seats a delegation of their choosing. Which they had clear Constitutional authority to do (see some previous commenters’ here on how legislatures in close-vote states could you jigger the results).
What do you really think the odds are that the Florida Legislature would seat electors who would vote for Gore? What do you really think the odds are that they would leave it to the whims of the Supreme Court to decide an uncertain electoral majority issue, when they had the power to make Bush president without question?
You want to call those “possibilities?” Sure, be my guest — You’re semantically correct. But realistically? Naaaaaaaahhhh.
I’d love it to be otherwise. Oh boy, would I have loved it to be otherwise! I’d have given anything not to get Doubleya in the White House. Unfortunately, it be what it be.
– pax \ Ctein
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I have let the great pumpkin know my Halloween wish is for Trump to lose badly, the senate flip, and then Trump spend the rest of his life in jail for tax evasion and fraud, and then let him live a long life in prison as his empire is stripped bare by fines, penalties, loans, and anything else that comes up. Let him stew in prison while he becomes broke and his name becomes a global embarassment.
My wife and I dropped our ballots off at town hall this afternoon. Turned out we were able to pick up ballots by hand last week and drop them off by hand this week (New Hampshire so no early voting per-se) and avoid any possible postal issues.
Voted blue all the way and will continue to do so until there is a sane conservative party to consider…and I’m not holding my breath. I’d love to see the GOP reconsider their life choices after the November and become a reputable center right party but I’m expecting more likely an explosion of crazy and accusations of fraud, unfairness and just play storming out of the room. Sigh…four years ago I would have told you that our country was becoming a better place and Americans were mostly pretty good people…now I’m no longer so sure.
I had to do some errands today and lo and behold I saw my first local democratic headquarters. Not near me, unfortunately, but it was there. And out of curiosity, I went in and talked with them. I got some ideas about things to look up in my own county and see what I could do there to vote early and help others. Hell, if I can manage (and we got some rules going) I wouldn’t mind driving folks to the polls in my area if need be… as long as they’re in the backseat and wearing a mask, of course.
The main reason I went in was to see what I can do and who I can meet with AFTER the election, because I don’t wanna be the person who does what most do and say “well, I voted. Don’t need to do anything else the next couple of years.” Uh, nope… we definitely need to do stuff.
I’m gonna be looking up non-profits to work with and local democratic offices to see what I can do to help. I stutter when making cold calls, so the phone’s likely out, but I know there are other things to do. Because to steal from Bing Crosby, “I’m dreaming of a [blue Texas]”
“If we lose the House, the Senate, and the White House, they’re going to structurally change the country so it’ll be hard for a Republican to get elected president.”
No, you silly rabbit, GOP made it impossible to trust the GOP. And now we are gonna to do what Jonas Salk did to polio: reduce GOP from active threat to historical footnote.
I heard this news that the California Republican Party put up fake ballot boxes near the official ones, and that they refuse to take them down. And that it’s completely legal for them to act that way.
This is mind-blowing if true. Also some 40% of your voting population being apparently OK with this type of behaviour is mind-blowing. I mean, almost a fifth of our voting population seems to be okay with a party whose leader spent his time in the European Parliament trying to make it illegal to save lives at sea if said lives belonged to refugees, but at least that’s only one fifth…
That’s actually a thing.
The governor and AG ordered them removed but, as you can probably guess, the president and party of “law and order are taking the “we only obey the laws we like” approach.
Someone on ND alerted us to what was going on and others took pictures.
Enter the Trumpists with their both-siderism-based excuses, “Trump (2020-)!” pompom shaking and profoundly ignorant remarks on so-called ballot harvesting.
At this point, I’m as amused at their pathetic tactics as I am disgusted.