Notes on Trump 63 – Collapse of anti-Trump GOP

It is more than two months since the “insurrection”. Many things still up in the air but some have landed so an update is overdue.

  1. I expected SCOTUS to hear some cases on unlawful changes to election rules. I was wrong about that. SCOTUS just refused to hear the last of the Trump campaign disputes (Wisconsin).

That has lots of implications which have not yet landed, so I won’t start analysis now.

  1. Trump’s recent speech confirmed his complete domination of the GOP with much the same orientation as before plus a focus on making it harder to vote in battleground States where GOP still controls the legislature but lost to Biden. Effects of that campaign and Federal legislation still have not landed.
  2. As I expected anti-Trump opposition within GOP has basically fizzled. A large majority of GOP Senators and a majority of GOP in House of Representatives oppose Trump but they won’t fight and Trump will. So the GOP will become a right wing populist party led by Trumpists with a large, militant and angry mass base and substantial representation in Congress.

The calibre of Trump’s opponents in the GOP is well illustrated by the fact that they want to use Trump’s brand to raise funds for defending GOP incumbents against Trumpist challengers:

https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/542210-trump-ramps-up-battle-with-republican-leadership

That is a significant change to the US political system the results of which will become more clear after the 2022 primaries.

  1. Another significant change is the full commitment of Democrats to batshit craziness. It is now compulsory to believe that Trump incited an insurrection to overturn the last elections. Not one single Democrat in the House or Senate voted against that. The results of that, and of the efforts at media censorship, are also still up in the air.

In particular there is not yet any indication that the question of who decided not to protect the Capitol from an openly planned break in by militia groups will become an issue.

  1. There is still a race between vaccination and the new strains of covid-19 both in Europe and North America. Rest of the world still not likely to get vaccine quickly enough. Likely outcome still looks like at least several years of a new endemic disease. Less likelihood of hospital systems actually collapsing in developed countries but they are still trying to open up far faster than is justified by the levels of vaccination. Effect of that on US politics still up in the air along with general impact of new administration.

covid-19 – The next strain

As noted in previous post, the UK and USA are both engaged in a race to vaccinate as many people as possible before their hospital systems get overwhelmed by the more infectious strains of covid-19 that are now becoming dominant worldwide.

Both are in dire straits and taking extraordinary and risky measures such as prolonging the interval between the two doses required and hoping to be able to catch up using different vaccines for a second dose if necessary.

In the UK they do at least seem to now be fully aware of the situation and starting to lockdown seriously.

Europe is in a similar mess and all the developed countries are competing for emergency supplies ahead of the poorer countries that need them even more desperately.

My impression is that the US public is still not aware that they could be facing double the current numbers of deaths following Biden’s plan for 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days and that this period could be the very worst part of the pandemic rather than the tail end currently expected.

There are reports sounding the alarm but I have not yet seen signs of the new administration taking even the sort of lockdown measures now belatedly taken in the UK.

Here for example is a current alarm sounded by a member of Biden’s covid-19 transition team, so the US government presumably does know:

27/01/2021 8:47 PM AEDT | Updated 28/01/2021 9:11 AM AEDT

Infectious Disease Expert Warns Next 6 To 14 Weeks May Be ‘Darkest’ Of COVID-19 Pandemic

By Lee Moran

Infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm said Tuesday that he fears the United States is about to enter its “darkest weeks” of the coronavirus pandemic yet.

The director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, who served on President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board during the presidential transition, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that there could be another potential explosion in new cases if mutated, more contagious variants of the virus take hold nationwide.

“We’re down now to 150,000 cases a day, which seems down,” he continued. “Remember when 70,000 or 32,000 cases a day seemed high? And if this variant takes off here in North America like it has throughout Europe, I think we could be seeing numbers much, much higher than we’ve had to date.”

Osterholm said an eruption in the number of infections could hinder the work of COVID-19 vaccines.

“We just won’t have enough out in time,” he said. “If we vaccinate everybody that the government has said the vaccine will be available for through April, that’s only about 12% of the U.S. population. This variant could do a great deal of harm in that time.”

“We’ll have to wait and see,” he concluded. “I sure hope it doesn’t happen, but if it does it’s going to be a long few weeks ahead of us.”

Osterholm echoed those fears on MSNBC, telling anchor Stephanie Ruhle on Tuesday that “the very worst of the pandemic is yet before us,” citing the “enormous challenge” of the new variants. (Watch the clip below.)

“I’m not at all optimistic,” he said.

The coronavirus has now killed more than 425,000 people nationwide. There have been 100 million confirmed cases around the globe, with more than a quarter of them (upwards of 25.4 million) in the United States.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/michael-osterholm-warning-coronavirus-pandemic_n_60112bc5c5b6b8719d888159

Here’s a very recent New York Times oped:

The New Virus Variants Make the Next 6 Weeks Crucial

By Ezra Klein
Opinion Columnist

Jan. 28, 2021

I hope, in the end, that this article reads as alarmism. I hope that a year from now it’s a piece people point to as an overreaction. I hope.

Coronavirus cases are falling. Vaccination numbers are rising. We are already jabbing more than a million people a day, which means President Biden’s initial goal of 100 million vaccinations in 100 days was far too conservative. In California, where I live, Governor Gavin Newsom lifted the statewide stay-at-home order. It feels like dawn is breaking.

And that is what makes this moment dangerous. The B.1.1.7 variant of coronavirus, first seen in Britain, and now spreading throughout Europe, appears to be 30 to 70 percent more contagious, and it may be more lethal, too. It hit Britain like a truck, sending daily confirmed deaths per million people from about six per million in early December to more than 18 per million today. The situation in Portugal is even more dire. Daily confirmed deaths have shot from about seven deaths per million in early December, to more than 24 per million now. Denmark is doing genomic sequencing of every positive coronavirus case, and it says cases involving the new variant are growing by 70 percent each week.

“What we need to do right now is to plan for the worst case scenario,” Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told me. “And when I say ‘worst case,’ I’m potentially talking about the most likely case. Let’s not wait until we wrap the car around the tree to start pumping the brakes.”

America is doing embarrassingly little genomic testing, but even the paltry surveillance that is being conducted has confirmed epidemiologists’ fears: B.1.1.7 is here, too. And there’s evidence of another super-contagious strain developing in California. It will take some weeks or even months for these new strains to become dominant, but virologists tell me there is every reason to believe they will. The results could be catastrophic, with hundreds of thousands dying before vaccinations neutralize the threat.

This is the part of the horror film where a happy ending seems in sight, but it is obvious, to those paying attention, that the monster is not dead, and that the worst may be yet to come. We cannot let ourselves be taken by surprise.

Paul Romer, the Nobel laureate economist, told me to think about it this way: The coming months are a race between three variables. There is the contagiousness of the virus itself. There are the measures we take to make it harder for the virus to spread, from lockdowns to masking. And there is the proportion of the country with protection against the virus, either because they’ve already caught it or because they’ve been vaccinated. If contagiousness is rising fast (and it is), then the measures we take to stop the spread or the measures we take to immunize the population need to strengthen faster. Romer’s modeling suggests that if we continue on our current path, delivering one million vaccinations a day and growing fatigued of lockdowns and masks, more than 300,000 could die in the coming months.

But calamity at that scale is a choice, not an inevitability. And so I’ve been asking health experts the same question: If you knew, with 100 percent certainty, that the coronavirus would be 50 percent more contagious six weeks from now, what would you recommend we do differently?

The most immediate danger is that optimism and exhaustion will overwhelm our common sense, and we will reopen just as the new strains are quietly building momentum. “Just in the last week or 10 days,” says Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, “a lot of state officials are looking at data of numbers coming down and asking me, ‘When can I reopen my restaurants to 75 percent? Bars have been closed for months, can I reopen bars now?’ It is true things are coming down but we are at a very high level. This is not the time to start letting up. This is the time to hunker down for what is likely to be a very difficult two or three months.”

With that introduction, one might expect the rest of the article to be explaining the need for prompt and drastic lockdowns, using whatever it takes, up to and including martial law.

Instead, it continues by assuming agreement against lockdown and pretending that testing provides some magic solution:

Let’s agree that total lockdown is the most ruinous of all options, and the one we’d like to use least. We have tools we could deploy to avoid it, but we’d need to start quickly. One is rapid, at-home testing. The technology exists to produce tens of millions of cheap, at-home antigen test strips each day. These strips are highly accurate during the period that matters most — when we are infected and contagious. Used widely, they’d let all of us check, daily, if we were potentially infected, so we could then isolate and avoid infecting others. “This is a public health issue and if we don’t empower the public to deal with it we won’t be able to defeat it,” Michael Mina, an epidemiologist at Harvard, told me.

The problem here is the Food and Drug Administration. They have been disastrously slow in approving these tests and have held them to a standard more appropriate to doctor’s offices than home testing.

I was going to write about the absurdity of pretending that cheaper and less accurate tests could be a substitute for lockdowns rather than a minor supplement when that idea was suggested here in a link to a podcast advocating them. But it did not seem worth the effort. It still doesn’t. Blaming the FDA for not being able to do it fast enough won’t work either.

Quite simply the oped takes it for granted that the only known effective measure is out of the question and proposes nothing but wishful thinking.

Some back of the envelope calculations in support of this from Paul Romer indicate the problem.

https://mobile.twitter.com/paulmromer/status/1355049460225765378

Despite having a Nobel Prize in Economics, Paul Romer is by no means stupid. Yet he looks for solutions by tripling the vaccination rate and doing lots of testing and contact tracing (without any optimism). Apparently locking down hard enough just isn’t worth analysing in the USA as they cannot do it any more than India or Indonesia could (but China, Vietnam, New Zealand and Australia did).

The likely extent of the disasters elsewhere are difficult to estimate in many places that lag behind the more developed countries where people came in contact with the virus more quickly. They have much less capacity for their health systems to cope when the levels of infection do catch up.

The lockdown just announced in Western Australia lockdown for the whole city of Perth and nearby is lucky for Australia:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-31/covid-quarantine-hotel-worker-tests-positive-in-perth-wa/13106968

There are certain to be ongoing leaks of the new strains from quarantine facilities.

Most people want to do whatever it takes to suppress them immediately rather than risk community transmission exploding as it is doing elsewhere.

The ruling class wants to take that risk. As far as I can make out this is sheer irrationality on their part. Naturally they put their asset values ahead of other people’s lives. There are bound to be sectional interests, like tourism, airlines and hospitality that could reasonably imagine that they would actually benefit from taking more risk. But all the evidence shows that the risks they loudly campaign for do more damage to the economy as a whole than the costs of not taking those risks – and therefore damage the overall interests of the ruling class as a whole.

The problem is that most “business leaders” here do not make any independent analysis. In most of the world it is simply not possible to avoid community transmission so “opinion leaders” on behalf of the ruling class are attempting to optimize the situation for their asset values without having that option. The “business community” here mostly looks to the same opinion leaders from North America and Europe rather than thinking for themselves about their own interests.

In Australia, like New Zealand, it is quite possible to avoid another wave but becoming more difficult with the new strains that are more infectious and will therefore escape more easily from quarantine and isolation facilities that were able to more successfully contain less infectious variants. Once they have escaped they are more likely to overwhelm contact tracing quickly.

Fortunately WA is in the middle of an election campaign. The government has responded in the same way that South Australia did when it wrongly believed a case of community transmission was from a more infectious strain. That over reaction in SA was an entirely necessary reaction in WA where they are reasonably certain that it is in fact a more infectious strain. They will be accused of doing it to pander to voters in an election. But whether that is the case or not it will make it much harder for the pressures from the Commonwealth Government, the media and “business” to intimidate other State governments from doing what has to be done.

So there is a still a good chance Australia could reach herd immunity through vaccination without going through another wave like Victoria’s, let alone anything as bad is happening in Europe and North America. It just depends on how incompetent they are.

It really is “touch and go” since, as I mentioned on December 2, we were then only half way through the emergency declared in the middle of last March. That was 8.5 months of the way through. Another 8.5 months would take till mid-August this year.

Although there is still talk of completing vaccination in Australia by October it looks increasingly unlikely that there could be herd immunity by then, let alone before September. As predicted, Europe and North America will not be exporting much in the way of vaccine supplies until they have dealt with the collapse of their hospital systems. That is likely to take all year by which time the disasters elsewhere will certainly be higher priority than Australia.

So apart from importing small amounts, Australia will be relying on its own new manufacturing facilities that were started late for AstraZeneca (and possibly others). Significant volumes may start to be available to the general public in April but will take many months to cover everyone who wants to be vaccinated. The small amounts imported earlier will be useful to help maintain isolation of quarantine and health workers in the frontlines. That will further reduce the risks of another wave before herd immunity, but will have negligible impact on reaching herd immunity.

There is currently no reason to expect that complete vaccination with relatively inefficient vaccines will result in herd immunity this year. However it could still result in an end to the State of Emergency before October. With a large proportion vaccinated subsequent clusters and outbreaks would be relatively easy to contain by contact tracing (in more or less the manner that the vicious liars opposing emergency restrictions now pretend is the case already). We would then just have the “normal” risks of just another endemic infectious disease until the whole world achieves herd immunity. That could be done quite quickly with rational international cooperation but there seems little chance of that so it looks more likely to take years with major disasters still unfolding in many places.

The problem the USA faces is that they already have huge numbers that are close to overwhelming hospital systems and the vaccine will not have much impact in the first few months when more than 80% of the population remain susceptible compared with the impact of new more infectious strains. That is not the situation in Australia.

No doubt Australia will keep selfishly demanding priority vaccination ahead of places that desperately need it. No doubt the Australian manufacturing plants will not give priority to saving lives in neighbours like Indonesia but it is safe to assume European and North American plants will eventually join China, Russia and India in supplying developing countries rather than diverting urgently needed supplies to countries like Australia whether the Australian government complains or not.

Notes on Trump 62 – covid-19 and Biden

Biden got more votes than Trump largely because of Trump’s catstrophically bad leadership on covid-19.

Trump was very good at provoking enough insanity from deranged liberals that he looked like getting a second term simply based on being hated by deranged people rather than having actually delivered anything.

The Democrats were so hopeless that despite running against a Trump who could be blamed for many of the 400,000 deaths they nearly lost in the Electoral College and there are serious doubts as to whether their victory was lawful.

The Biden administration has just released a 200 page strategy for covid-19:

Click to access National-Strategy-for-the-COVID-19-Response-and-Pandemic-Preparedness.pdf

I have only skimmed the first half. I could not bear to even skim the second half which had chapters on “equity” and “US leadership” plus the full text of Executive Orders to implement the strategy.

As far as I can see the strategy document adequately highlights the fact that the current wave is spreading uncontrolled across the USA and will get worse, with hospital systems already starting to be overwhelmed. That is better than Trump and a necessary preliminary to having a strategy.

But I did not notice any plausible strategy. As with Trump the focus is largely on the vaccine. Various measures are proposed to accelerate delivery but I did not notice any that could achieve even a parabolic acceleration, let alone catch up with exponential infection. For example great stress is placed on delivering 6 doses from each vial originally intended to ensure 5 doses with allowance for wastage. That is merely an insignificant blip, not even a plan for constant linear, let alone parabolic acceleration.

The target of 100 million doses in 100 days is comparable to the current level of bungled delivery (900,000 per day). Proportional to population it is substantially slower than what the UK is currently delivering. That is probably realistic and reflects how disfunctional the US health system is. If achieved it could substantially reduce mortality both by protecting many of the most vulnerable and by keeping most of the health and aged care workforce functioning so that staff sick, dead or in quarantine are not the main bottleneck on health and aged care.

But I did not see any calculation suggesting that vaccination of less than 1 in 6 Americans could avoid continued exponential increase resulting from the more infectious strains becoming dominant with the current levels of shutdown. Continuing at that rate would take more than a year to reach herd immunity if it was not reached by infection first.

Instead of plans to tighten lockdowns what I did see was a goal to open up kindergartens and schools within the same 100 days and focus on “testing” to open up rather than immediate mobilization for more severe lockdowns.

In other countries that opened schools too early so as to get parents back to work too early, the pretense that children do not transmit infection has been dropped and schools are being closed as an emergency measure to help keep hospitals open.

The USA is still headed in the same direction as Trump, the opposite to what is needed. So is the UK and so is most of Europe.

A worse disaster can be expected in most of the developing world. Hopefully they may get enough vaccines to protect their relatively small healthcare workforce. But they won’t receive vaccines before Europe and North America so herd immunity will take much more than 1 year with no realistic prospect of overtaking the exponential growth of new strains.

On December 2 I wrote:

This is not just a half baked, but rather a quarter baked article on the current situation with covid-19.

My guess is that Australia is about half way through the state of emergency that began in mid-March.

Current indications are that a vaccine will start to be available here from about March or April, with full availability and likely herd immunity by the end of next year.

That should mean Australia goes to the back of the queue for vaccination. There is currently no urgent need here and major disasters elsewhere, so it should take much longer than the end of next year to vaccinate Australia.

But its far more likely the poorer countries that are likely to eventually get hit very hard will come last and Australia will be in the middle. I would be surprised if the production plants in Europe and North America divert supplies from the disaster unfolding around them until they have that under control. So the initial vaccinations here could also be later than March and April.

Anyway there is plenty of time before next March to analyse the recent news re vaccines.

A lot more information will be available in a few weeks so I am not attempting to analyse this further now. The disasters in Europe and North America are still unfolding and far worse is to come in the rest of the world, but it will be a lot easier to analyse in a few weeks than it is right now.

I am just dashing this off quarter baked because I expect to be paying more attention to US politics over the next few weeks.

https://c21stleft.com/2020/12/02/covid-19-quarter-baked-half-time/


A few weeks later there is no doubt a lot more information available. But I am still focussed on US politics and have not caught up on covid-19.

We are still in the silly season and a lot of things are up in the air and have not yet landed – both for US politics and covid-19 (of my three main topics last year, only Brexit has “landed”, with the expected whimper not bang).

As far as I am aware covid-19 has developed pretty much as I expected. But the new virus strains could make things considerably worse than I was expecting. Anyway here’s another “quarter baked” update.

The UK hospital system has now been in crisis for several weeks. The explosion in case numbers was inevitable due to catastrophic government failure (worse than in USA) but it has been confirmed that new virus strains are indeed significantly more infectious and are pretty certain to spread worldwide.

Report 42 – Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 Lineage B.1.1.7 in England: insights from linking epidemiological and genetic data
https://www.imperial.ac.uk/mrc-global-infectious-disease-analysis/covid-19/report-42-sars-cov-2-variant/

That is not an unexpected development. Natural selection favours survival of those viral strains that are more infectious.

Unexpectedly there is now preliminary data from the UK indicating that the strains expected to become dominant worldwide are also more deadly. Natural selection does not usually favour survival of viral strains that kill their hosts more quickly since dead people spread infection less than when alive. It is suggested that the mechanism which makes some new strains more infectious is stronger attachment between the virus spikes and host cells, which results in both a higher viral load that is more infectious and a more intense immune system response that is the main cause of death.

It is tempting to speculate that greater mortality could instead simply be due to collapse of the UK hospital system with government announcements naturally preferring to blame nature. But there is no doubt the preliminary data is based on serious statistical analysis by authoritative sources, not from Public Relations spokespeople.

Here is some commentary from outside experts followed by link to the technical paper that was just released:

expert reaction to suggestion made in Downing Street press conference that the new UK variant may be linked to higher mortality than the old variant (NERVTAG paper also now published)

I am not competent to evaluate any of this, but it seems likely to be important.

Both the US and UK are engaged in a race to vaccinate as many people as possible as fast as possible to get their hospital systems back under control.

That seems to me an inherently implausible strategy. We know that the new strains still grow exponentially under the levels of lockdown imposed so far. A plausible strategy would move immediately to a severe enough level of lockdown to actually stop transmission despite the greater infectiousness. That would require only really essential workers allowed out of their homes to work on delivering food, electricity and other essential supplies and services direct to households (as in Wuhan).

We also know that the rate of manufacture and delivery of vaccines cannot grow exponentially as vaccinations do not produce more vaccinations in the way that infections produce more infections. Extreme acceleration of vaccination can only be parabolic, like the acceleration due to gravity, not exponential, like a “viral” epidemic or a nuclear “chain reaction”.

Of course it is possible that even a constant linear delivery of vaccinations could reach herd immunity before the virus infects everybody. But it is very much a short term race with unfavourable odds.

The emergency already justified “emergency use” authorizations without the length of studies usually required and accelerated parallel development of manufacturing facilities. There are health as well as financial risks in both. These are now compouded by lengthening the period between initial and follow up doses so as to maximize short term numbers and permitting use of untested combinations of different vaccines for first and second doses when supplies of the vaccines initially available (mRNA) cannot keep up and manufacturing plants for others (eg AstraZenaca) do come on stream.

One risk already visible is that those for whom vaccination is most urgent – frontline health and quarantine workers – are also the most aware of the risks and about a quarter of healthcare workers in the UK are already hesitant about getting vaccinated.

That will presumably be met by media campaigns and lots of reassuring pronouncements by authorities that could induce actual panic given the perceived trustworthiness of authorities and the media.

Another risk strikes me that I have not read any technical papers about. Partially vaccinated people could be an ideal breeding ground for new strains that are harder to get rid of. My understanding is that people given a course of antibiotics are required to complete the full course to avoid the survival of those more resistant bugs that were not completely killed off by the initial dose.

I gather the effects of triggering the immune reaction are sufficiently unpleasant (nausea, fever, headaches etc in a small but not negligible proportion) that the dominant reason for two doses is to reduce that impact. Indeed recent evidence from Norway suggests that enough frail elderly people are getting killed by the effect of the vaccine to make it possible that the more frail residents of aged care facilities are better off just relying on the vaccination of staff, visitors and other residents rather than getting vaccinated themselves.

If the severity of those effects is the main reason for two doses, it seems possible not enough attention would be paid to the danger of breeding new strains by delaying a second dose in an emergency situation where there really is desperation to outrace collapse of the hospital system. I would of course not be capable of becoming competent to make that judgment.

So far the level of blithering incompetence in Australia has been less fatal than elsewhere. It remains to be seen whether Australian governments will act quickly enough to prevent the new strains escaping from quarantine. I have no way to judge whether they will or won’t. So far they have not. But things are already desperate enough elsewhere that it is reasonable to expect that they will.

I am not commenting on the dispute about whether AstraZeneva should be paused in Australia because it is unlikely to deliver herd immunity. As far as I know the simple fact is that mRNA plants in Europe and North America are not going to deliver supplies needed in a race to save their hospital systems to countries that are worse off, let alone countries that are better off, no matter how selfishly the Australian government demands it and how high it bids up the price. My impression is that even Paul Kelly makes more sense than the competent virologists who started and then backed away from that dispute. That unfavourable impression of competent virologists is not an endorsement of Paul Kelly. But it does strengthen my lack of confidence that people who should know what they are talking about actually do.

Notes on Trump 61 Splodey Heads Splode

I don’t have time to write an analysis.

This official explanation from twitter speaks for itself and needs no comment.

Overview

On January 8, 2021, President Donald J. Trump tweeted:

“The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”

Shortly thereafter, the President tweeted:

“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”

Due to the ongoing tensions in the United States, and an uptick in the global conversation in regards to the people who violently stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, these two Tweets must be read in the context of broader events in the country and the ways in which the President’s statements can be mobilized by different audiences, including to incite violence, as well as in the context of the pattern of behavior from this account in recent weeks. After assessing the language in these Tweets against our Glorification of Violence policy, we have determined that these Tweets are in violation of the Glorification of Violence Policy and the user @realDonaldTrump should be immediately permanently suspended from the service.

Assessment

We assessed the two Tweets referenced above under our Glorification of Violence policy, which aims to prevent the glorification of violence that could inspire others to replicate violent acts and determined that they were highly likely to encourage and inspire people to replicate the criminal acts that took place at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

This determination is based on a number of factors, including:

President Trump’s statement that he will not be attending the Inauguration is being received by a number of his supporters as further confirmation that the election was not legitimate and is seen as him disavowing his previous claim made via two Tweets (1, 2) by his Deputy Chief of Staff, Dan Scavino, that there would be an “orderly transition” on January 20th.

The second Tweet may also serve as encouragement to those potentially considering violent acts that the Inauguration would be a “safe” target, as he will not be attending.

The use of the words “American Patriots” to describe some of his supporters is also being interpreted as support for those committing violent acts at the US Capitol.

The mention of his supporters having a “GIANT VOICE long into the future” and that “They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!” is being interpreted as further indication that President Trump does not plan to facilitate an “orderly transition” and instead that he plans to continue to support, empower, and shield those who believe he won the election.

Plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021.

As such, our determination is that the two Tweets above are likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on January 6, 2021, and that there are multiple indicators that they are being received and understood as encouragement to do so.

@Twitter
Twitter Inc.

‎@Twitter‎ verified

Your official source for what’s happening.

https://blog.twitter.com/en_us/topics/company/2020/suspension.html

If that had been written as a parody it would have been unconvincing.

But its real.

Of course Trump announced that his own platform will be rolled out shortly.

But Google took a more serious step. It won’t distribute apps for other platforms unless they meet its requirements for enforcing “better moderation”. (In Australia they would have said “safety”).

Since they have a near monopoly with semi-locked phones it could actually take a few days of email forwarding for most people who care to learn how to download and install apps from other sources such as those listed here:

https://forum.f-droid.org/t/known-repositories/721

The next logical step would be to suppress access to material that “glorifies violence” by preventing normal URLs from working through the normal DNS.

That could take weeks rather than days for people to learn how to configure access to alternate DNS services for the “dark web”.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_DNS_root

It would be more significant by assisting NSA et al to keep closer tab on that smaller subset of people using the “dark web”.

Further escalation would involve actually shutting down server access at high bandwidth colocation sites.

So far they have not even been able to shutdown “Library Genesis” and “Sci-Hub” on the public DNS:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library_Genesis
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sci-Hub
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5832410/#

The resilience of the networks behind those sites was massively hardened during the explosion of scientific collaboration bypassing commercial publishers resulting from covid-19.

Now of course Google, NSA et al are thoroughly aware of and indeed contributors to all of that.

It would certainly be possible to shut everything down in an emergency. What’s missing is the ability to just make peoople disappear. That is far simpler, quicker and more effective. No actual fascist regime tries to impose such breathtaking levels of censorship as that being announced without being able to rely on just locking people up.

Meanwhile the main effect is just to drive people into narrower circles that can be more easily monitored – eg if they end up imagining that the Tor encrypted networks funded by the US Navy are some sort of way to avoid US government surveillance.

But the side effect is far more important.

Raising the general level of paranoia is certainly “likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on January 6, 2021”.

Suppressing that is likely to inspire some actual “domestic terrorism”.

Is that the aim?

Possibly for some. But my guess is the corporate liberals have just lost the plot.

Some Republicans really are stupid enough to imagine they could survive the primaries in two years by prohibiting Trump from running for public office.

If just 17 GOP Senators join the Democrats in impeaching Trump in order to impose that penalty, we would be in quite an extraordinary situation. Not worth analysing unless it actually happens. I have no way to guess whether there are that many who are that desperate and stupid.

But it is certainly plausible that there will be enough Democrats to start the impeachment process. They already did “the Russia thing” and they already impeached Trump once. What harm would they see in helping to intensify the fight that Trump has already unleashed in the opposing party?

So everything possible is being done to increase the relevance, support and enthusiasm of a large mass based right wing party with both a substantial Congressional representation and a militant extra-Parliamentary wing.

Moreover the complete desertion of basic democratic principles by Trump’s opponents forces others to unite with Trumpists on the simple issue of whether we want to be told what we are allowed to think and say by corproate liberals (who Trump calls the “radical socialist, Marxist left”).

I honestly cannot guess what the people at Twitter who signed themselves “Your official source for what’s happening” think will now happen.

My guess is it will be a lot easier to get along with the Trumpists in a united front than with that lot.

See also my comments of January 4 and 9:
https://c21stleft.com/2020/12/18/notes-on-trump-59-biden-joins-the-trump-campaign/#comment-4322
https://c21stleft.com/2020/12/18/notes-on-trump-59-biden-joins-the-trump-campaign/#comment-4332

Notes on Trump 60 – Georgia and Serendipity

With 98% of the votes counted, the outcome in Georgia is no longer “unknowable”.

Democrats ahead in both Senate races and most uncounted votes are from Atlanta so it is reasonable to assume that Democrats will have control of the Senate.

That largely insulates the Biden administration from threats of government shutdown and blocking of administrative and judicial appointments. That gives them less excuse for their inability to do anything useful.

It also gives Trump less leverage within Congress as he would have less scope to swing the 60 vote majority currently required for legislation (although it also increases the likelihood of that rule being abolished).

However Trump’s main relevance is still as leader of an oppositional mass based party that will be confronting its opponents in the Republican primaries (and many State legislatures) over the next two years as well as confronting a corrupt administration that cannot blame its opponents for its inability to do anything useful.

If SCOTUS did eventually declare both President and Vice President positions vacant there would be a smooth transfer within the same Democrat administration – either to Pelosi or, in the unlikely event of that being declared unconstitutional, to Biden’s Secretary of State, Blinken who can now be rapidly confirmed. But the Senate would then become deadlocked at 50-50 since Harris would no longer be Presiding officer with a casting vote.

Either replacement Democrat President might then have great difficulty getting their nominee for Vice President or any other position confirmed by the Senate and even getting funds to avoid government shutdowns.

Serendipitously that potential outcome might make it easier for SCOTUS to bite the bullet. As well as doing its duty to maintain the basics of bourgeois democracy by nullifying unlawful election results, it would avoid having overturned the popular vote and facilitated better conditions for a political solution to the absurdities left over from an eighteenth century constitution.

In “Notes on Trump 56 – Serendipity” I wrote:

“With no mandate, and no funds from the Senate, President Pelosi would have to agree with both parties and the States on the necessity for constitutional changes to enable fresh elections. I may return to that sheer fantasy speculation later.”

That fantasy would be a lot less dangerous than a right wing populist party pitted against a corrupt regime.

Tomorrow’s posturing in the joint session of both Houses will only be the start of a serious mobilization about electoral fraud mixed together with some seriously crazy conspiracy theories.

At present it still looks like we are stuck with the more dangerous situation.

Either way things would be a lot better if there was a revolutionary democratic left force openly hostile to both sides.

covid-19 Gold Standard again

As expected the weekly “Gold Standard” lottery in NSW has won a prize.

Tolerating non-zero “mystery cases” to avoid lockdowns was welcomed by the Federal government and its health advisors as “textbook” performance in Victoria to avoid lockdown.

With the media clamouring against lockdown the Victorian government delayed and attempted a limited local lockdown instead.

Naturally that failed. You cannot confine a pandemic to parts of a major city while people are still allowed to go to work.

Odd that anyone ever thought it possible. New Zealand’s success was because it went immediately into lockdown at the first case of community transmission and stayed there until the last.

But people do only learn from experience.

South Australia did learn from Victoria’s experience and locked down promptly.

The Federal and media campaign against Victoria’s lockdown was so intensive that it successfully avoided any attention being paid to the major blunder that led to it being so prolonged. That was not the (hardly unusual) blundering with Hotel Quarantine but the failure to act promptly and decisively as soon as “mystery cases” developed.

So NSW never did learn the lesson and is now repeating Victoria’s mistakes.

They got away without lockdowns despite having a small amount of community transmission and this weekly “risk management” lottery was held up as a shining example that contact tracing could make lockdown unnecessary.

Now that NSW has 30 cases in one day it is reluctantly and slowly moving towards a Greater Sydney lockdown.

But first it has to exhaust every other alternative.

They are following Victoria’s abysmally stupid example of first trying to lockdown a few suburbs.

Who knows, it might work.

But why would anybody be stupid enough to risk it?

Other States are also taking a risk by only declaring the Northern suburbs of Sydney a hotspot.

They should send a clear message by restricting travel from NSW and then limiting that to Greater Sydney once NSW has established controls protecting regional NSW and especially border regions with other States from any outbreaks in Greater Sydney.

Just after I drafted the above I heard Victoria closing border to all of Greater Sydney.

Unlike NSW there is no pretense that this might conceivably end by Wednesday.

Victoria’s expectation is that there will be more clusters outside the Northern beaches area of Sydney.

Victorian Chief Health Officer just gave clear explanation of why.

Did learn from experience. NSW did not. How could they with the Federal government and its health advisors praising their “gold standard” approach?

Notes on Trump 59 – Biden joins the Trump campaign

The media’s campaign to convince Republicans the election was rigged against them has been spectacularly successful.

Overall trust in elections has plummeted among Republicans: Prior to the election, 66 percent of GOP voters said they had at least some trust in the U.S. election system. In the latest poll, that dropped to 33 percent. Democratic trust, meanwhile, jumped from 63 percent to 83 percent.

Tracking Trust in the Fairness of U.S. Elections – Morning Consult

Simply by asserting that allegaions are “baseless” and “without evidence” in almost every paragraph, the media has been able to halve the number of Republicans who have any trust in the U.S. election system. Increasing the proportion of Democrats who trust it by a third is not much compensation.

Now President elect Joe Biden is joining in the campaign:

Joe Biden : (09:12)
Even more stunning, 17 Republican Attorneys General, and 126 Republican members of the Congress, actually, they actually signed onto a lawsuit filed by the state of Texas. That lawsuit asked the United States Supreme Court to reject the certified vote counts in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. This legal maneuver was an effort by elected officials and one group of states to try to get the Supreme Court to wipe out the votes of more than 20 million Americans in other states. And to hand the presidency to a candidate who lost the Electoral College, lost the popular vote, and lost each and every one of the states whose votes they were trying to reverse.

Joe Biden : (10:04)
It’s a position so extreme, we’ve never seen it before. And position that refused to respect the will of the people, refused to respect the rule of law, and refused to honor our Constitution. Thankfully, a unanimous Supreme Court immediately and completely rejected this effort. The Court sent a clear signal to President Trump that they would be no part of an unprecedented assault on our democracy.

https://www.rev.com/blog/transcripts/joe-biden-speech-after-electoral-college-vote-transcript-december-14

That sends exactly the same two clear messages that the media has been repeating:

  1. The USA will now have a government that treats going to its courts to dispute election results as an attack by enemies of the people – exactly like every country that has rigged elections.
  2. Thankfully, the courts can be relied on to defend the government from such outrageous attacks by enemies of the people.

Can Biden succeed in halving again the number of Republicans who still have some trust in US elections so that only 1 in 6 Republicans remain trusting? Will he feel successful if he increases the numbers of Democrats with some trust by another one third?

He can certainly try!

It would be hard for anyone who does not support his government to fail to grasp this clear message that they will have to fight.

What remains to be seen is how many who oppose Trump will join in.

Trump makes it harder for people to oppose this attack on the basic principles of democracy. Biden is doing his very best to make it easier. Anyone who cops this shit from the government will cop anything.

I thought it would be extremely difficult for the Democrats to top the stupidity of having spent years claiming that the President of the USA was a Kremlin stooge.

I was wrong. Its easy and they are likely to become even more unhinged as the inevitable results of their efforts bear fruit.

Presumably they really do believe the conservative majority on SCOTUS is on their side.

So how are they going to cope if that turns out to be wrong? What if the same courts that refused to issue emergency orders without testing the evidence end up holding trials to consider the evidence? Obviously the media will continue to simply denounce that as an “unprecedented assault on our democracy” and insisting there is no evidence. Will repeating that again be helpful?

And what do they expect, and what does SCOTUS expect would happen if courts did simply refuse to consider election disputes as demanded by the President elect.

Are they going to find it easier to govern a country where more than half the voters don’t trust the election results, or the courts?

Not a problem. In the same speech where Biden denounced a majority of Republican voters for their “unprecedented assault on democracy” he also said:

Joe Biden : (12:32)
You know, in this battle for the soul of America, democracy prevailed. We the people voted, faith in our institutions held, the integrity of our elections remains intact. And now it’s time to turn the page as we’ve done throughout our history, to unite, to heal.
That soothing message is bound to work out well. Can’t you just feel the uniting, the healing…

Notes on Trump 58 – SCOTUS goes slow


I added this comment to Notes 57:

SCOTUS has just dismissed Texas for lack of standing to dispute elections in other States.

That was the weakest point. Texas claimed it had an interest because of dilution of Texas votes in Senate where Vice President chosen unlawfully has casting vote.

I thought SCOTUS would take the case because otherwise they are stuck with multiple separate cases wading their way through the lower State and Federal courts.

But combined with dismissal of [emergency injunction in] Kelly v Pennsylvania this does indicate any eventual judgments will be well after Biden takes office, contrary to my expectation.

Unusually, it seems the “experts” were right. Not unusually, I was wrong.

Click to access 121120zr_p860.pdf

No idea what happens next, as I wasn’t expecting this.

Thinking about it, my assumptions now are as follows.

Certainly nothing dramatic happens before December 14 so Biden and Harris become President and Vice President elect.

I just read the Texas reply filings and it seems they were serious about wanting the State Legislatures to be able to appoint replacement electors and actually have Trump declared winner on December.

That was never going to happen and I took it as purely an ambit claim with the intention of throwing it to the House instead by just restraining the votes so that total required would remain 270 and Biden/Harris would have less than that. But perhaps State Legislatures really was the plan, which was doomed.

They also seriously tried to defend a statistical analysis rather mildly described as “nonsense” by defendants.

It was actually “completely idiotic” rather than merely “nonsense”, as clearly explained here:

More on Statistical Stupidity at SCOTUS

I also now think it is also highly unlikely that anything much will happen by January 6 or by inauguration day on January 20.

Another factor is that there were still only 126 (of 196) Republican Representatives signed on as friends of the court in a second attempt a day after the first 100. That suggests a serious likelihood that throwing it to the House would still result in Biden winning in the House (with Vice President Pence winning in the Senate). Representatives in “purple” swing States are often “moderates” to avoid alienating other voters. There could easily be enough Republicans in enough State delegations who could either vote against Trump or simply abstain so that their State delegation votes for the candidate that had the larger popular vote. Only 1 or 2 State delegations would need to swing or abstain.

The issues will end up going to trial at some point but it seems unlikely that SCOTUS intends to expedite anything at all. One case that blocked Federal trials on the substance for Pennsylvania was already listed has a response due December 28 to proceed normally:

https://www.supremecourt.gov/search.aspx?filename=/docket/docketfiles/html/public/20-740.html

Any eventual declarations that the elections were conducted unlawfully in enough States could still result in removal of Biden and Harris from office. Equally it could just not.

It isn’t over but I was expecting lots of drama this week and I am not expecting that now.

How things develop with lots of people believing the election was rigged and a woeful Biden Presidency remains to be seen.

I still expect a mass based right wing party led by Trump with both a parliamentary and extra parliamentary wing.

Even if a majority of GOP representatives reject Trump, most won’t be likely to survive the primaries in 2 years.

Notes on Trump 57 – Safe Harbour

Today is December 8 in Washington. Celebrated by lots of media reports as marking the end of the wave of law suits challenging the 2020 Presidential election results. Experts say (again) that it’s all over now because the certified results are now final and conclusive.

In other news today:

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he’s suing Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin directly in the U.S. Supreme Court, accusing the battleground states of exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to illegally enact last-minute changes to mail-in voting rules.

Paxton, an outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump, claims the states “flooded their people with unlawful ballot applications and ballots” and ignored rules for how mail-in ballots were to be counted, according to a press release announcing the litigation. The allegations echo those made by Trump and his allies in dozens of lawsuits filed in the same swing states following President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory.
“These flaws cumulatively preclude knowing who legitimately won the 2020 election and threaten to cloud all future elections,” Texas said in a motion seeking high court approval to file the suit. “Taken together, these flaws affect an outcome determinative numbers of popular votes in a group of States that cast outcome-determinative numbers of electoral votes.”The suit comes on the “safe harbor” deadline for states to certify their slates of electors but before the Electoral College meets on Dec. 14. Paxton, who is seeking an order that would block electors from the four states from participating, requested an expedited briefing schedule requiring the defendant states to file briefs on Wednesday and oral arguments to be heard on Friday. If the court fails to act before the electors vote, “a grave cloud will hang over not only the presidency but also the republic,” he said.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-12-08/texas-says-challenging-election-results-in-u-s-supreme-court

Here is the Texas press release with link to the actual filing:

https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/news/releases/ag-paxton-sues-battleground-states-unconstitutional-changes-2020-election-laws


That 154 page filing is not yet listed on the docket of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).

Meanwhile in further news today, here is the response, just filed at SCOTUS, to petition disputing election in Pennsylvania election:

Click to access 20201208090425848_20A98%20Response%20in%20Opposition%20efile.pdf

Opens with:

Petitioners ask this Court to undertake one of the most dramatic, disruptive invocations of judicial power in the history of the Republic. No court has ever issued an order nullifying a governor’s certification of presidential election results. And for good reason: “Once the door is opened to judicial invalidation of presidential election results, it will be awfully hard to close that door again. . . . The loss of public trust in our constitutional order resulting from the exercise of this kind of judicial power would be incalculable.” Order, Wis. Voters All. v. Wis. Elections Comm’n, No. 2020AP1930-OA, at 3 (Wis. Dec. 4, 2020) (Hagedorn, J., concurring).”

That is EXACTLY the ludicrous media bleating I quoted from the 4-3 judgment in Wisconsin in Notes 56:

https://c21stleft.com/2020/12/07/notes-on-trump-56-serendipity-and-scotus/

But this time the menacing undertone is made explicit:

They make that request without any acknowledgment of the staggering upheaval, turmoil, and acrimony it would unleash. In issuing equitable relief, this Court rightly seeks to avoid inflaming social disorder. So to say that the public interest militates against Petitioners would be a grave understatement. Their suit is nothing less than an affront to constitutional democracy. It should meet a swift and decisive end.

…[many pages of obscurantist lawyerisms with no suitable media quotes]…

Finally, granting an injunction would sow chaos and confusion across the Nation while inflaming baseless concerns about electoral impropriety and ensnaring the Judiciary in partisan strife. This case reaches the Court against the backdrop of
unfounded claims—which have been repeatedly rejected by state and federal courts— that wrongly impugn the integrity of the democratic process and aim to cast doubt on the legitimacy of its outcome. Given that context, the Court should not plunge itself into a firestorm by issuing the first ever judicial order decertifying the results of a presidential election.

This banana republic intimidation is clearly designed as fuel for the media campaign rather than at convincing SCOTUS. There is nothing in the 52 pages that a media report could even attempt to convey other than the intimidation.

SCOTUS docket 20A98 Kelly v Pennsylvania is available here:

https://www.supremecourt.gov/search.aspx?filename=/docket/docketfiles/html/public/20a98.html

On December 6 the due date for a response to the application (20A98) was brought forward by Justice Alito to Tuesday, December 8, by 9 a.m.

Originally due following day. Brought forward to “safe harbour” date so theoretically an order could be issued the same day

Coincidentally my Notes 56 about the implications of “safe harbour” day – “Serendipity and SCOTUS”, was also on December 6 at around 2230 AEST. Well before change of date Washington time. It explained why I expect an order issued after “safe harbour” to have more impact.

Here are four articles from others speculating about the original date, its relation to the “safe harbour” date and the switched date:
https://redstate.com/shipwreckedcrew/2020/12/07/is-justice-alitos-date-switch-intended-to-head-off-a-constitutional-confrontation-with-the-house-n290554

If the date was brought forward in the hope that the respondents might raise some issue regarding “safe harbour” so that SCOTUS could justify a pronouncement about it, the respondents did not do so.

Here is the media’s talking points on the date having been moved forward.

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/experts-doubt-supreme-court-intervention-safe-harbor-deadline/story?id=74583089

“Experts” all agree that “safe harbour” deadline today sets the results in stone. Actually it only prevents Congress, not SCOTUS from overturning State returns. The experts are also convinced that SCOTUS won’t intervene at all, before or after today. There’s no sign of them even thinking about the issues I raised as to WHY the Republicans might prefer delays until after today and why they have not even filed cases for Wisconsin and Michigan at SCOTUS so far.

It doesn’t make sense for these experts to be saying what they are saying if they don’t actually believe their own delusions. If they were rational they would be at least preparing public opinion for the “possibility” that SCOTUS might “outrageously” intervene. But they are so wrapped up in their Trump Derangement Syndrome that they really are quite confident that a Supreme Court with 6 conservative and 3 liberal justices is about to do what they want.

I’m no “expert” so I’m not as certain as they are. But I would be surprised if these experts were not wrong – as usual.

While staying up waiting for this response I had another look at the links provided in Notes 49 concerning whether Pelosi could end up as President:

https://c21stleft.com/2020/10/05/notes-on-trump-49-and-the-winner-is-president-pelosi-or-president-pompeo/

As far as I can see the majority of the House withdrawing from the joint sitting on January 6 would still leave Pence presiding over a joint sitting together with Republican House members. Kicking Pence and the Senators out of the House chamber would not change the constitutional provision that the Electoral College vote count would be completed at that sitting and the result announced by Pence.

Then if no candidate had 270 votes the Senate would presumably elect Pence as Vice-President. Perhaps not, if some Republicans prefer Harris but that seems unlikely. Then the Vice-President elect would become President if the House had not picked a President when the current term expires on January 20.

Nevertheless the Democrats could claim that Pelosi had become President by insisting that:

  1. The majority of the House refusing to participate in the joint session they are required to participate in by law prevented it completing the count and therefore there is no basis for either the House to choose the President or the Senate to choose the Vice President, so both positions became vacant on January 20 and the Speaker of the House became acting President (until the deadlock is resolved).
  2. The Democrat Senators refusing to attend the Senate session they are required to attend by law prevented a two-thirds quorum and so prevented the Senate choosing the Vice-President by an absolute majority of votes.

SCOTUS could decide not to rule on such a political dispute.

But with both Pence and Pelosi purporting to take oaths of office as President by January 20 SCOTUS would end up having to decide.

The quicker the fat lady at SCOTUS sings the fewer people would get killed while shouting at each other.

At present more people are dying from covid-19 EVERY DAY than were killed on 911. So life has become cheap in the USA and SCOTUS could just let things drag on. I doubt it.

Since there is in fact no mood for civil war both sides would end up accepting the SCOTUS decision, as would the armed forces, including the Praetorian Guard.

Whatever SCOTUS decided would still be untenable as either House could deny funds to the Executive in a situation where they don’t accept the outcome.

Eventually I still think they would need to agree, together with the States, on a constitutional amendment for fresh elections.

Whatever they do, Trump will still be leading a large mass based right wing populist party.

Notes on Trump 56 – Serendipity and SCOTUS

What can the Supreme Court of the United States do to minimize bloodshed about a disputed election when half the population already regards each other as enemies?

Contrary to media fantasies it cannot just join the chant of “nothing to see here”. But it isn’t easy to see what could avoid inflaming the situation.

My guess is that full bench of SCOTUS will grant a stay or an injunction preventing completion of at least the Pennsylvania election.

This would be seen as vindicating Trump. So more of the justices would have to write detailed opinions than for a usual stay. That could result in some delay but is unlikely to change the impact.

Emergency appeals: Stay requests

Meanwhile I expect the Court will have quite a bit of other work to do before the December 14 Electoral College vote so the stay/injunction could effectively settle the issue for PA by preventing any PA votes in the Electoral College pending a final decision.

That might not stop Democrat Electors certified by Democrat Governors from forwarding their votes to be counted by the Electoral College before a session of both Houses on January 6. But it would stop Vice President Pence in charge of the session from counting them.

It would also stop the PA legislature from choosing Republican replacements. As the lower court that made the original order to delay completion agreed, the Republican plaintiffs request for that “relief” would be an “untenable” result of the (Republican) legislature having ignored the PA Constitutional provisions explicitly restricting absentee voting when it legislated unlimited postal voting. Such an outcome would also be “untenable” for other battleground States for more political reasons.

SCOTUS simply cancelling enough postal votes to reverse the outcome in any State would be even more untenable. Due process obviously precludes doing that since the postal votes were cast in reliance on the laws enforced at the time of the election.

The Purcell principle: A presumption against last-minute changes to election procedures

As the lower court noted, there are other options available to a court of equity. Delay to avoid an “untenable” outcome is an obvious example of a wise court impartially doing equity.

Due process and election administration

The least untenable options to either accept or nullify the election in each of the States where it was not conducted lawfully are to decide that the issue has become moot (as the State courts have tried to do to accept the results, and as SCOTUS could more successfully do to nullify them since it gets the last say as to what is or is not yet moot).

Avoiding an untenable result might be done most smoothly by preventing completion to enable weighty deliberations that will be concluded sometime after December 14 (perhaps including the initiation of some “forensic audits” as demanded by Trump).

Meanwhile, delaying PA completion until after December 14 would be a neat response to the Supreme Court of PA having refused to hear the case on the due process grounds that the Republican plaintiffs had delayed complaining about the unconstitutional legislation for a year until after losing an election (having previously ruled that they would have no standing to complain before the election!).

That would leave SCOTUS free to rule either way after considering the implications of other cases.

We are now almost at the “safe habour” deadline after which Congress is required to accept the credentials of any Elector votes certified by the Executive (Governor) of each State, unless both Houses separately object.

Serendipitously, after that deadline, December 8, it becomes unambiguously clear that ALL the 538 certified Electors have been “appointed” so the total number of votes required on December 15 to elect a President and Vice-President at the joint sitting on January 6 is 270.

If some of the certifications had been nullified before “safe harbour” it could be argued that Biden still had a majority of the votes of the appointed Electors.

If however sometime between “safe harbour” and the Electors meeting on December 15 (separately in each State) it becomes necessary for SCOTUS to decide whether a lawful election was in fact held in one or more States then it would also be necessary to issue emergency orders to preserve the status quo by ensuring that no purported votes from such purported Electors could be cast, transmitted or received until a decision about their status.

Serendipitously, that would also avoid the possibility of any State Legislature appointing Electors itself since it had chosen the method of election by the people and that had not yet been nullified by any Court holding that a lawful election had not been held and the appointments were therefore nullified. So there are no vacancies to be filled by the State Legislatures.

I think that could be the way a SCOTUS dominated by conservative strict textualists could deal with the problem that the plain text of the Constitution and legislation would otherwise clearly produce the “untenable” situation of SCOTUS appearing to do Trump’s bidding by allowing Republican legislatures to pick the Electors that were rejected by a majority of voters in their States.

I am not a lawyer, let alone an expert on US electoral and constitutional law, entwined with the history, politics and judicial personalities of the United States. But that’s my best guess. There are of course a vast array of other options available.

Only two more battleground States (other than Nevada) need to be prevented from voting on December 14 to throw the election to the House of Representatives voting by State delegations.

Starting with PA might be considered sufficient to discourage future rigging. But it could also just be a first step that gets people used to the idea that the media does not decide whether an election was conducted lawfully.

I cannot predict how far SCOTUS will go but Wisconsin and Michigan strike me as the most likely to accompany PA if SCOTUS needs to deprive Biden of a majority in the Electoral College with minimal bloodshed. Nevada only has 6 votes so there would still need to be two other States as well as PA. Arizona and Georgia had Republican administrations counting the votes. It is a lot more plausible that elections were rigged against Trump in Democrat run cities like Detroit MI and Milwaukee WI (as well as Philadelphia PA).

Here for example is what a 4-3 majority of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin just came up with:

“Once the door is opened to judicial invalidation of presidential election results, it will be awfully hard to close that door again. This is a dangerous path we are being asked to tread. The loss of public trust in our constitutional order resulting from the exercise of this kind of judicial power would be incalculable.”

Click to access 2020AP1930-OAfinal-12-4-20.pdf

Not only is there “nothing to see here” but it is “dangerous” that a candidate for President has disputed whether an election was conducted lawfully by petitioning a Court. That is pretty much EXACTLY what the media has been bleating continuously.

If SCOTUS did accept that Banana Republic judicial logic, the “loss of public trust” in the “constitutional order” would be a lot more “incalculable” than the rather mild dissent from the Chief Justice and two others of that court:

“It is critical that voting in Wisconsin elections not only be fair, but that the public also perceives voting as having been fairly conducted.

This is the third time that a case filed in this court raised allegations about purely legal questions that concern Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) conduct during the November 3, 2020, presidential election.4 This is the third time that a majority of this court has turned its back on pleas from the public to address a matter of statewide concern that requires a declaration of what the statutes require for absentee voting. I dissent and write separately because I have concluded that the court has not met its institutional responsibilities by repeatedly refusing to address legal issues presented in all three cases.”

Although mild, that “I dissent” was not the more customary “I respectfully dissent”.

If that refusal of institutional responsiility gets past the US Court of Appeal for the Seventh Circuit I would expect Barrett J, supervising that circuit for SCOTUS to issue an emergency order with an equanimity bordering on enthusiasm.

There is a slightly menacing undertone in the Supreme Court of Wisconsin majority adoption of Democrat warnings about a “dangerous path”. If Democrats were not so wimpish about the right to bear arms it might be hinting at “incalculable” civil unrest.

More plausibly “loss of public trust” in the “constitutional order” could result in the House of Representatives majority claiming to act on behalf of the majority of voters defending against a judicial blow against an election that everyone has been repeatedly told was entirely free and fair by every TV network.

Lots of interesting things could then happen in early January since the House of Representatives majority has powers over the credentials of its own members and could prevent any President or Vice-President being elected before the current term expires on January 20.

Serendipitously that could end up with President Pelosi since as Speaker of the House she is next in the line of succession of officers of the United States legislated in accordance with the Constitution (followed by Secretary of State Pompeo) as mentioned in Notes 48. SCOTUS could avoid any suspicion of being motivated by animus against the Democrats when they reject the inevitable Republican claims that Pompeo should be next in line because the Secretary of State is an officer of the United States Executive whereas the Speaker of the House is only an officer of the House.

With no mandate, no funds from the Senate, and no confirmed cabinet officers, President Pelosi would have to agree with both parties and the States on the necessity for constitutional changes to enable fresh elections as soon as possible after ending martial law to deal with the overwhelming of US hospitals by covid-19. I may return to that sheer fantasy speculation later.

I’ll also leave Michigan and the actual facts about excluding observers while rigging votes till later.