Monday, November 09, 2020

51 People In And Around The White House Have Tested Positive For SARS-CoV-2 In Six Weeks; Trump, Feeling Emasculated, Refuses To Allow Transition & Fires Defense Secretary By Tweet

The Trump White House is experiencing its third outbreak of SARS-CoV-2. On Sunday, legal advisor David Bossie tested positive and today, HUD Secretary Ben Carson got the bad news. A total of 51 people in and around the White House have contracted the virus in the last six weeks.

Carson was one of several hundred attendees at last Tuesday's election night party, an event at which White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, knowing he tested positive (but keeping it a secret), mingled among the crowd without a mask. Almost none of the guests wore masks, including Carson, a former doctor and member of the coronavirus task force, who was so seduced by Trump's lies, he couldn't follow basic public health guidelines.

Trump is also making sure the General Services Administration refuses to sign a letter allowing Joe Biden's transition team to officially begin work this week. This is standard post-election practice. The GSA has also done Trump's personal bidding in the past, engaging in several likely illegal activities.

The US's first Orange-American president was feeling impotent this morning, so he fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper via tweet. Back in late March, Esper was a loyal sycophant, praising Trump's "bold leadership" in "uniting the American people to defeat" the coronavirus, but he had displeased Dear Leader recently by refusing to agree the US military should be sent to assault peaceful protesters. He also believed US military bases should no longer be named after treasonous generals who joined another country to wage war against the US.

Bossie is currently in charge of Trump's legal efforts to contest the election results. But he is not a lawyer. . . . So that should go well.

Ezra Klein, Vox, November 7, 2020:

The Trump administration's current strategy is to go to court to try and get votes for Biden ruled illegitimate . . . One of his legal advisers said, "We're waiting for the United States Supreme Court — of which the President has nominated three justices — to step in and do something. And hopefully Amy Coney Barrett will come through."

If that fails, and it will, Mark Levin, one of the nation's most popular conservative radio hosts, is explicitly calling on Republican legislatures to reject the election results and seat Donald Trump as president anyway. . . .

This [confusing, but immersive, alternative reality in which the election has been stolen from Trump] is, to borrow Hungarian sociologist Bálint Magyar's framework, "an autocratic attempt." That's the stage in the transition toward autocracy in which the would-be autocrat is trying to sever his power from electoral check. If he's successful, autocratic breakthrough follows, and then autocratic consolidation occurs. In this case, the would-be autocrat stands little chance of being successful. But he will not entirely fail, either. What Trump is trying to form is something akin to an autocracy-in-exile, an alternative America in which he is the rightful leader, and he — and the public he claims to represent — has been robbed of power by corrupt elites. . . .

Members of the Trump family are explicitly, repeatedly, trying to make the acceptance of their conspiracies a litmus test for ambitious Republicans. And it is working. To read elected Republicans today . . . is to read a careful, cowardly double-speak. Politician after politician is signaling, as Vice President Mike Pence did, solidarity with the president, while not quite endorsing his conspiracies. Of course every legal vote should be counted. Of course allegations of fraud should be addressed. But that is not what the president is demanding — he is demanding the votes against him be ruled illegal — and they know it.

What we are not seeing, in any way, is a wholesale rejection on the right of Trump's effort to delegitimize the election.

Also: If you search "loser" on Twitter, Donald Trump is currently the first result. Last Friday, he whined that Twitter was "out of control" because it was enforcing its policies against misleading or blatantly incorrect information.

* * *

Jonathan V. Last, The Bulwark, November 9, 2020:

Why is Donald Trump refusing to concede the election?

That's the wrong question.

The right question is:

Why would Donald Trump concede the election? How would concession benefit him?

There are a few reasons why losing presidential candidates concede defeat:

*   They feel obligated to the truth.

*   They don't want to damage their party's future prospects.
*   They are patriots who want the best for America.
*   They have nothing to gain from refusing to concede.

None of these apply to Donald Trump. And the last bit is exactly the opposite: Trump has a great deal to gain in this moment. By refusing to concede he is binding the Republican party more tightly to himself and consolidating his hold on it—even though he will be out of power.

By refusing to concede, Trump is establishing yet another loyalty test for Republicans, yet another gangland initiation rite. And so far, Republicans are lining up to demonstrate just how loyal they can be.

Kevin McCarthy is now the second-highest ranking elected Republican and he is all-in on the idea that the election has been stolen:

Lindsey Graham is an old friend of Joe Biden's and was one of the Republicans who could have helped his party move on from Donald Trump. He just won his reelection and has nothing to fear from voters for six years.

Tim Scott is "the future of the Republican party" and all he can do is dog-whistle and try to avoid saying anything that might be taken the wrong way by Trump supporters:

What's happening here is that these Republicans are terrified of their own voters. (We talked about this on Friday.) But the effect of them lining up behind Trump is going to make it even harder for them to break from him in the future . . .

Had elected Republicans come out and said what they actually believe, then it would have been Trump's word against the entire world. He would have held on to a big chunk of his base—after all, it is a personality cult—but the median Republican voter might have been willing to accept reality and move on. . . .

Instead, the Vichy Republicans are making Trump more powerful and increasing his hold over their party. They're getting more gang ink to mark their devotion.

In the next week or two someone is going to conduct a poll asking Republicans who they think won the 2020 presidential election. I'd probably set the line at 35 percent saying it was Trump.

And then I'd take the over.

You'd think the clarity of the election results would be the perfect cover for these Republicans to severe ties with the Trump Trainwreck and leave him to flounder in his own reality while doing his best to stay out of prison. Why they remain so desperate to chain themselves to a sinking ship is hard to understand. They must think every one of Trump's supporters will stay with him to the bitter end, but that never happens (not with Trump or anyone else). There must be tens of millions of people who voted for Trump but are not full-fledged death cult members.

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