Friday, November 13, 2020

End Games

(By D-Jay)

Looking at our current political situation and trying to figure out where it is all going, I’m reminded of those immortal words of Yogi Berra, "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future."

Yes, Joe Biden definitely won the election – decisively.  With the loser being one Donald J. Trump, however, it’s never as simple as that, now is it?

It’s pretty obvious that our mafioso-in-chief is terrified that once out of office he’ll soon be headed for a new home where the color of the jumpsuits will match his fake tan – orange. 

His psychologist niece, Mary, has also been telling us that it’s impossible for his fragile, ultra-narcissistic little ego to ever face up to a loss, admit a failure or even accept responsibility for a mistake.  The self-created world Donald inhabits in his head is one in which his resounding electoral defeat could not possibly be true.

And so, he sets about trying force reality to somehow match the illusion his gut tells him simply must be true. He and his minions pull a host of fantasies, alternate “facts” and wild-eyed scenarios from their posteriors, throw them against the wall and hope something sticks.

In a normal world this whole exercise would be nothing but pathetic and sad.

But the world we have now is anything but normal. Trump may be delusional, but so was Nero, and that didn’t work out so well for Rome, now did it?  

So was Hitler, but, like Trump, he had the malignant charisma of a born autocrat.  With that one tool he turned one of the world’s most advanced nations to the dark side, took over most of Europe and killed millions of people before his enterprise was finally crushed beneath the treads of Russian, American and British tanks.

With this cheery image in mind, let’s take a look at what team Trump has been up to in the days since the election and see if we can figure out what exactly it is they are trying to accomplish. 

As Yogi said, after all, “You can observe a lot by watching.”

We watch him – the man more in love with the sound of his own voice and seeing himself on TV than anyone in presidential history - say nothing at all in public for a full ten days after the election – and then utter not a word on that overriding issue.  MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell insists that this silence is his concession speech – at least as much of one as we will ever get from Trump.  Is he right?  Does it mean Trump actually does know that he has lost and is just going through the motions with all the other stuff?  Or does it just mean he is so pissed off that his advisors are trying to keep him as far away as possible from a camera or microphone?   

We watch him tweet out endless iterations of, “I WON!  I WAS ROBBED!  IT WAS RIGGED!” day and night in bold-face capital letters.  Has Trump convinced himself this is true, or is it all just part of a huge grift?  Rumor has it that he has also been having some problems with FOX News…evidently for not being sycophantic enough.  Is he trying to set the table for starting his own rival network?  If there’s money to be made, you can’t rule it out.

We watch him launch endless lawsuits alleging voter fraud, none of which present the slightest shred of evidence, and all of which are soon laughed out of court by the judge.  Does he seriously think this is going to have the slightest impact on any actual vote counts?  Is he trying to run out the clock and make it impossible for some of the battleground states he lost to certify their votes on time, thereby opening up the dubious possibility of Republican state legislatures overturning the will of their voters and submitting their own set of electors?  Or is he just lashing out as part of his Olympian-size temper tantrum?    

We watch him decapitate the Defense Department leadership and install a bunch of unqualified toadies in their place.  Genuinely scared by this one, we wonder WTF he is up to and watch for more signs.  Is he actually planning some sort of traditional, tanks in the streets, bombers in the air, coup d’etat?  Is he hoping to have flunkies in place who will obey illegal orders to use the regular military to put down the massive protests that can be expected if he can find a way to steal the election?  Or is he just being petulant and settling scores with people in his administration who have “slighted” him (i.e. telling something like the truth in public or not giving him sufficient adulation?)

We watch him refuse to cooperate in any way with a smooth transition of power, and go so far as to order everyone in government not to help the Biden transition team in any way…or even to look for a new post-1/20 job for themselves.  Does he really think that he has any serious chance of staying in power past that date?  Is he petulantly trying to punish the country for not choosing to coronate him as president for life?  Or is he just being a jerk? 

We watch him make use of his campaign data to send out shameless appeals for cash to help him fight a “stolen” election – the vast majority of which will be used for no such purpose, but to pay off his campaign debt and fund a new PAC (with handsome sums to somehow end up in Donald’s own pockets, one can surmise.)  Is he seriously trying to contest the election, or is he just trying to make a buck while he can?  Is he at all aware of how much damage his over-the-top, and patently false, rhetoric is doing to American democracy?  Does he care?  Is the whole thing basically a grift?

We watch with true horror the way the rest of the Republican Party has, with few exceptions, fallen into line behind Trump in his “stolen election” fake narrative and unpatriotic, profoundly un-American obstructionism.  Do they understand at all what our country is supposed to stand for and how much damage they are doing to it?  Do they care?  Have they literally sold their souls to the devil?  Are they just living in mortal fear of presidential temper tantrums? Or that the spoiled brat-in-chief will take his marbles and go home…without getting his fans psyched up for the Georgia run-offs?  After all, they have nothing to do with HIM.

We watch for him to do something – anything – to try and combat the unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and increasingly, deaths and…nothing. For that we have to turn to the incoming Biden team…which Trump & Co. won’t even recognize as their duly elected successors.

We could go on, but I think you get the picture.

Which brings us back to two questions.  Where is it going?  What does it all mean? 

Everything Trump and his team are doing smacks of authoritarianism and risks undermining the basic fabric of democracy in America – and around the world – for years to come. 

Perhaps forever.

But how far will they actually be able to take it?

Have any of them actually shown the planning capabilities needed to pull off a real coup d’etat?  And even if any such people are there, could they possibly succeed with Trump being the one calling the shots? 

The court cases and recounts seem poised to go nowhere.  Even with the Supreme Court being packed with Trump appointees, if he doesn’t give them something remotely plausible to work with, will they rule in his favor?

As for the state legislatures submitting their own electors, there is a federal law that the system used for this has to be put in place before the election, and many key states have their own laws on the books specifically prohibiting this sort of action.

Trump and the people around him seem to be much better at breaking things and causing trouble than actually getting anything done.  Hopefully this would include staging a coup or stealing an election. 

Rather than proceeding with some well-crafted master plan, another view is that Trump is panicking, flailing around, picking up on one thing then another…and another…and another, all the while shouting out orders he expects to be followed at every step along the way…but with little or no systematic follow-through.

Based on this, it can be expected that President-elect Biden will become our next President as scheduled on January 20th, but that real damage has been done to our democratic system.  He – and we - will have a real mess to deal with for years to come.

Am I sure about this?

Hell no.  As always - hope for the best, prepare for the worst!

After all, like Yogi said, “It ain’t over till it’s over!”



Anonymous said...

The comparison to Hitler is more apt than you know. Hitler was a drug addict, getting an endless supply of happy pills from a doctor named Morrell. Hitler was also surprisingly lazy, there are people who say that he rarely did any actual work, he liked playing the role of head of state but didn't really have the focus to govern the country. Same as Trump.

Anonymous said...

It is beginning to look as though Trump is waking up to a new situation. His fixers have not come through for him. Something went wrong and the skull is too thick. But the facts, which are numbers of votes.... just like ratings, are in. And he is known to watch ratings.

The exact things he said in the 2 am press conference on election night seem to have disappeared from the NYT website, but he sounded astonished that he couldn’t declare victory and confused by this new turn of events.

Easy to imagine that the desperation is not so quiet inside the White House these days.

It ain’t over until the fat man leaves. But the longer he stays, the longer he is forced to face his defeat.

It’s anyone’s guess how much more damage he’ll do on his way out.

Tom said...

You can bet the smarter aspiring autocrats in the GOP are watching this unfold and making notes on how to do it properly...

gadfly said...

A more famous and woefully apt Yogi Berra quote, in this case, is: "It ain't over 'till its over."

Anonymous said...


You must be right about that. The creep toward authoritarianism has been successful because they are careful opportunists. Always learning from experience.

Anonymous said...

To finish my thought regarding those aspiring autocrats.

I wonder who’s waiting in the wings, vying for their time on stage.

It’s clear by now that the backers of the production are still ready to go on. Without Trump.

Anonymous said...

Gents - We don’t know how the Presidential election will play out (well, be pretty much know)... How about some discussion on the GA senate races? That is a real interesting situation, and it may be just as important as the high office. Can the Dems really win both? Is it a long shot? Are we likely to get just one? I’ve been to GA many many times, to city and rural areas, and I an surprised as heck that we did so well this time.

snug.bug said...

I think the Republican strategists wanted Trump to lose. That will stimulate the Trumpists to vote in the midterms in 2022. Then they can blame all Trump's mess on Biden, just as they blamed all of W's mess on Clinton and Obama, and then they bring the antichrist in for 2024 to take control.

I think the Democratic strategists want to lose the Senate runoffs in Georgia. That way they can blame the Republicans when Biden fails to accomplish what he never intended to accomplish in the first place.

margie said...

Wow, you take the mantel of cynicism away from Joseph.
Let's just set fire to everything and everyone and go back to the caves and start from hunter gatherer times.

gavan said...

TomDispatch has it right. Republican fascism is still the driving ethos of half the country. These dangerous, clueless idiots, these frightened, belligerent fools, still believe in their victory, to be had with violence if necessary. They're not going away.

Anonymous said...

Let's not get distracted by what Mitch McConnell(!) calls the overly "precipitous" pull-out of U.S. troops from already thoroughly destabilized, devastated and death-strewn Afghanistan and Iraq. Instead, have you paid attention to the flurry of recent newspaper articles, in both the elite U.S. press and in Israel, posing the rhetorical question "Is Trump going to bomb Iran or not?" Could it be that Jared, on behalf of his tribe, has promised poppa-in-law that there's still a chance for the real PTB to work their magic (in Congress, major media and the courts) to save poppa from destruction -- if he would just "kill a big bunch of Muslims" and do it ASAP?

I can almost hear Jared's not-so-subtle whisper in the Orange Oaf's good ear:

"There's still a chance for you to avoid being the first one-term president of the 21st Century, Donald. Remember what happened to Daddy Bush when he refused to invade Bagdad! Junior Bush, on the other hand, followed orders and we repaid him with a second term. Oh, and don't forget those not-yet-expired statutes of limitation either!"