Monday, August 01, 2016


Donald Trump says this election won't be on the up-and-up:
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Monday cast doubt on the legitimacy of the November general election, expanding on his long-running theme that the political process is stacked against him.

“I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have to be honest,” Mr. Trump told a rally in Columbus, Ohio.

... Monday’s remarks mark the first time Mr. Trump has suggested the general election is stacked against him. After a post-convention bump for him, recent polls have shown his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton climbing back into the lead after her own convention.
One simple explanation for this is making the rounds: Trump is saying this because he realizes that he's trailing in the polls. He's pre-spinning a possible loss.

I think that's part of what's going on. But there's more.

As Katherine Krueger of Talking Point Memo notes, "rigged election" is a line that's been beta-tested in the last few days by Trump surrogate Roger Stone:
It was a line of attack that longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone pushed on a podcast with Breitbart's Milo Yiannopoulos that was posted online Friday. Stone suggested voter fraud is "widespread" and said if Hillary Clinton wins a state like Florida after polls show Trump in the lead, the election would be "illegitimate."

"If there’s voter fraud, this election will be illegitimate, the election of the winner will be illegitimate, we will have a constitutional crisis, widespread civil disobedience, and the government will no longer be the government," Stone said. He also promised a "bloodbath" if the Democrats attempt to "steal" the election.
TPM's Josh Marshall sees this as an extension of the racism in Trump's campaign, for obvious reasons -- though I think it's more than that, as I'll explain below:
It's true that Republicans have been very disingenuously pushing the 'voter fraud' con for years, especially as the power of minority voting has grown over the last two decades.

... What Republicans politicians have virtually never done was use this canard to lay the groundwork for rejecting the result of a national election. This is Donald Trump, not a normal politician. You should not be surprised if he refuses to accept the result of an electoral defeat or calls on his supporters to resist it.

The other point goes to the raced nature of all voter suppression legislation. They focus overwhelmingly on claims that African-Americans commit rampant vote fraud in "inner cities" and that immigrants, particularly Hispanic immigrants do the same. These are of course two of Trump's main group enemies. Combining the animosity he has already stoked among his followers toward these groups with the claim that they will now try to "steal" the election through fraud is nothing less than striking a match in a gas filled room.
But what's being discussed by Roger Stone goes way beyond the usual racism in voter fraud allegations. Here's some of what was discussed in that podcast:
“I think your audience knows, I think we all know, that in this day and age, a computer can do anything. These voter machines are essentially a computer. Who is to say they could not be rigged?” asked Stone on the topic of voter fraud....

“I have no doubt that after the last election, when Karl Rove, who was George Bush’s campaign manager and a Romney partisan, insisted that ‘no no, your numbers have to be wrong,’ he said on Fox, ‘Romney definitely carried Ohio,’ and the reason he was so certain is because it was bought and paid for,” he claimed. “He knew the fix was supposed to be in. Therefore I can only conclude that sometimes things don’t stay bought, and perhaps Obama came in with a better offer.”

... “Diebold’s top executives and owners of the company are major donors to the Bush’s. Is this a major factor on how George W. Bush quite improbably beat John Kerry? An election that all truths on paper, Kerry should’ve won, and Bush should have lost,” questioned Stone.
Stone is arguing that the Bush family arranged to steal the 2004 election. He hates the Bushes. Trump hates the Bushes. Many on the right now hate the Bushes, in part because they've had fairly good relations with the Clintons in recent years -- recall Bill Clinton and Poppy Bush's joint Haiti relief effort, and Jeb presenting Hillary with a public service award in 2013.

Some of this is an attempt to reach out to Sanders voters. Here's an InfoWars post that went up today:
Having stolen the primary from Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton plans to use every trick in the book to steal the 2016 presidential election from Donald Trump.

Trump has to keep the message front and center that Hillary Clinton is an illegitimate nominee. She exploited a rigged system to claim victory over Sanders by relying on superdelegate insiders who were in the tank for Hillary from day one.

Despite Sanders winning state after state, as Donald Trump said, the fixed system set up by the Democrats “makes it impossible for a guy who wins to win,” due to the corrupting influence of superdelegates.

... Black box voting and illegal aliens being allowed to vote will be the two primary methods via which Hillary tries to steal the election, cautions Jones.

“If you think Hillary’s going to stop at stealing the nomination, if you think she isn’t going to try to steal the general election, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn I want to sell you,” concludes Jones.
That's an obvious allusion to the theory that voter registration problems in Brooklyn prior to the New York primary were an attempt to steal the state from Sanders. (In fact, the voters whose names were removed from the rolls were overwhelmingly Hispanic and over 30 -- two groups not known to be pro-Sanders.)

Jones also interviewed Stone in the past few days, and "fraud" is primarily what they talked about. I've only watched a portion of the interview, which went up on YouTube yesterday, but even the short bit I've watched is insane.

STONE (at 0:44): I mean, if you're a true progressive, you can't possibly vote for Hillary Clinton. She's a crony capitalist and a neocon. She wants to rush off to the next war, hopefully, her financial backer thinks, with Russia.

STONE (at 1:37): I am convinced that they are looking more at the option of stealing it. This isn't going their way. The fact that the Russians will -- or whoever -- is going to continue to drop truth bombs on the American people in the form of their own documents -- Alex, these are like the Watergate tapes.
(Stone seems to be saying that Hillary's "crony capitalist" backers will persuade her to start a war with Russia if she's president simply because the Russians embarrassed her.)
JONES (at 2:43): ... and we've got Reuters going back in polls that Trump was winning and changing 'em, directly out of 1984 with the memory hole or the Soviet Union. I mean, we've got Google delisting him. They are pulling out the stops, Roger.
(The allegation about Reuters, for what it's worth, is here. I'm not sure what the hell he's getting at wuth regard to Google.)
JONES (at 5:15): Every liberal I talk to says they're voting third party or they're voting for Trump, because Hillary stole it. We have real trouble -- this isn't hyperbole -- all over the country, even in Democrat areas, finding people that support Hillary. Now go through super-elite areas? Yeah, there are some Hillary signs. But that's it. Like Tarrytown here in Austin. So it looks like everybody's just been beaten over the head and is scared, but won't say they're voting for Trump, and I think there's a massive -- I know there's a massive -- closeted voter percentage.
(Stone thinks it's 5 to 7 percent.)
STONE (at 6:34): And where will the stealing occur? It'll occur in the big-city machines, where they still have control. I'd watch Chicago...
(Jones responds with a JFK allusion.)
JONES (at 8:01): Every day in the news I see themes that emerge that aren't from the talking points of the social engineers, but are from the people. And I'm watching the calls pour in for the next segment, and almost every one of them talks about martial law, a civil emergency, race war being launched to try to cancel or scuttle the election.
I gave up after that.

Now, obviously, this is ludicrous. Obviously, if Trump actually believes any of this -- and I think he does -- this is as pathetic as the Romney campaign's decision to credit only Republican-leaning polls, but it's that decision on steroids.

On the other hand, while conspiracies like this have kept Republican base voters angry for years, and have frequently gotten them to show up at the polls, we've never had crazy fraud theories being articulated by a major Republican candidate. That gives them legitimacy in GOP voters' minds. That's much more of a call to regard a Democratic victory as illegitimate than we've ever had.

What's going to be the result of that, assuming Clinton wins? It might just be the same result we've always had -- or Red America could go seriously crazy. Trump seems to have a plan to delegitimize democracy in America in a big way. Are we ready for that?


M. Bouffant said...

"I'm not sure what the hell he's getting at with regard to Google."
Jim Hoft is all over this: gmail has been putting Trump e-mails in spam, or altering search results. Guess the concept that Google customizes people's searches has yet to register w/ poor ol' Jim.

BroD said...

So Trump is casting doubt on the legitimacy of the election and a sizeable portion of his most ardent supporters are very well-armed. I don't see how this doesn't result in deadly violence.

jsrtheta said...

This is merely the natural evolution of Republicanism. Republicans never believed Clinton or Obama were legitimately presidents (because: Arkansas, black), and accordingly never showed the least hesitation to try to strip these legally elected presidents of their office. It is more than a little galling, since now they are accusing the Democrats of subverting democracy, while in the past they have never given two shits about the vote. They believe they are due the presidency by the divine right of kings, and fuck the voters. So this is rich.

Trump is already "laying a mattress" as we used to say in the Cook County State's Attorney's Office. That meant talking down your chances (there, at trial) in order to soften the blow of a courtroom defeat. For Trump, this is SOP when defeat looms, and actually is an indicator that he believes he is going to lose. He always sets someone else up for the fall, because nothing is ever, ever his fault.

Stone is as loathsome a character as we have in politics today. He lies purposefully and with gusto. He is such a crooked character he believes everyone else is a complete crook, and therefore anyone who actually believes something is legit is a sucker who deserves to get taken. The man has a tattoo of Nixon on his back, for Christ's sake. (And I'd like to meet the woman who stuck around after she saw that.)

As for Jones, I suspect he's serious. Because I have little doubt he thinks he really does own the Brooklyn Bridge. I'm sure that he has the deed buried in his secret files somewhere. He's enough of a credulous toon to believe his purchase was on the up and up.

As to the Chicago vote, I had to work every election day for years and years. All of us were assigned to cover all precincts and monitor the voting. Of course, we were always tripping over the Assistant Attorneys General, Assistant United States Attorneys, election board officials, poll watchers, watchers from Project LEAP ("Legal Elections in All Precincts"), party judges, candidate volunteers, and, for all I remember, members of the Marine Corps Marching Band. So good luck stealing an election there.

Feud Turgidson said...

Not arguing the point being made here, but I ALSO note that a number of media reports are out there saying Trump and his campaign - meaning Manafort, Stone Black & Associates - are putting the heavy arm on the GOP House and Senate Caucuses to come out loud for Trump on Khhhhhaaaaannnnn! No doubt some will, but what Trump's done is turn the media onto a cheap easy quick soundbite question for every down ballot R candidate federally at least and maybe even wider. Like: for every 2-bit Action News, Breaking News, Noose At Nite station in America looking for local content and flavor to a national story, it's gotta be a Simply Irresistible question!

AllieG said...

Any attempt by the loser (and who else would protest?) the results of an election would be so close as to an attempt to overthrow the government by force and violence (don't think for a minute Al Gore didn't realize this) as to make no never mind. The insurgent could, should and will get a nice cell at Gitmo.

jsrtheta said...

@Feud Turgidson...

I would really hate to dine on the words that follow, but...any House Rep or Senator who doesn't realize that the only response to such arm twisting is to run like hell the other way probably needs a minder suitable for a small child. Trump's attacks on Khan have generated more blowback than anything else I've seen him inspire, and that's saying a lot. Sorry, Judge Curiel, but this is really outrageous.

And any Republican up for re-election who doesn't grasp that is simply asking to open a sole practice of law and have people call him or her "Congressman" our of respect for the former office only, starting on about November 9. Because they are done in Washington.

We're in Joseph Welch country now. We're in "don't even think about running for re-election, go drink yourself to death" territory.

The Koch brothers are celebrating the interest they have made on all the money they withheld from Trump right about now.

jsrtheta said...


Kinda meets the textbook definition of treason, don't it? This is why Madison put the militia clauses in the Constitution, after all.

Gerald Parks said...

"Trump seems to have a plan to delegitimize democracy in America in a big way. Are we ready for that?"

WHAT would one expect from THE Birther-In-Chief?

This dude IS the GOP/Republican Party...not just its leader today ...but THE expression of what it has been since Nov 2008 with the election of Barack Obama as POTUS!

white supremacist ideology is the foundation and source of American racism... here it is in OUR face and our national conversation!

Procopius said...

There is no doubt Roger Stone is a slimy toad, but his comment about Hillary's financial backer (singular), "(Stone seems to be saying that Hillary's "crony capitalist" backers will persuade her to start a war with Russia if she's president simply because the Russians embarrassed her.)" would seem to be based more on what Hillary did as Secretary of State. You should remember that the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Middle Eastern Affairs, Victoria Nuland (aka Mrs. Robert Kagan), left her fingerprints all over the neo-nazi coup that ousted Victor Yanukovich. They've been provoking tension with Russia for years now. This is a major goal for the neocons, who Hillary seems to support. Maybe I'm paranoid, but over the last few years I've come to suspect the neocons and many people in the State Department and possibly some influential people in the Pentagon, have become persuaded that it is possible to fight and win a nuclear war. This was a belief widely held by members of the John Birch Society back in the '50s, and by Curtis LeMay, among other generals.

Unknown said...

"STONE (at 0:44): I mean, if you're a true progressive, you can't possibly vote for Hillary Clinton. She's a crony capitalist and a neocon. She wants to rush off to the next war, hopefully, her financial backer thinks, with Russia."

Don't you hate it when assholes like this are right?

'Niques said...

Have they thought of the possibility that, given their wish to make this election illegitimate, the U.S. would have to negate the entire event . . . leaving Obama as President until all is fixed?

maxk1947 said...

We all know how Olivia used a computer chip to steal Ohio for President Grant, who smothered a Supreme Court Justice before she could reveal the fraud. Wake up, Sheeple, it was all on the TV!

Seriously, can America's voters tell fact from fiction any more?

Steve M. said...

Don't you hate it when assholes like this are right?

I would if they ever were.

Frank Wilhoit said...

Please get the terminology right, it's actually important. Trump isn't delegitimizing democracy; he is delegitimizing the Republic. Trump and his people *are* democracy and that is why he and they and it are bad things. Democracy is exactly the tyranny of the majority, neither less nor more; the great difficulty, as we are seeing, is in determining who the majority are. But if you do not have the supremacy of one faction who are structrually unaccountable, then you do not have democracy, you have something else, and you had best call it by its name, if it has one.

The Republic is a structure of institutions that is unable to take account of factions. If factions matter, then you don't have a republic, you have something else, and you had best call it by its name, if it has one. (Also, too, if factions matter, then you are in sh1t up to your eyelids and you are never getting out.)

The temptation to use words carelessly is reinforced by the fact that, in this time and place, upper-case-'R'epublicans are the lower-case-'d'emocrats, and upper-case-'D'emocrats are the lower-case-'r'epublicans. But it is still necessary to rise above propaganda and disinformation and say what one means. There is nothing pedantic about this, it comes to whether one wishes to be understood or not. If you're not saying what you mean, then what the Hell are you saying?

Knight of Nothing said...

@Unknown - noted crony capitalist and neocon hawk Noam Chomsky disagrees.

Steve M. said...

Please get the terminology right, it's actually important. Trump isn't delegitimizing democracy; he is delegitimizing the Republic. Trump and his people *are* democracy

If they're outvoted and then claim, violently, that they weren't? No, they're not democracy.

Philo Vaihinger said...

Thank Bernie and his supporters for months of shouting about the corrupt process and the rigged system, validating the very same subversive and menacing claims that Trump has constantly bellowed over his entire campaign.

This stuff is every bit as real a threat to our republic as the more pointed, consistent, and systematic refusals of legitimacy by the right and the left were to the Weimar Republic.

Frank Wilhoit said...

Yeah, they are. Because how do you determine who the majority are? Who were the "Silent Majority"? Who were the "Moral Majority"? I will tell you: they were factions. Factions who pretended to be supermajorities; factions who tried to take advantage of the collapse of lower-case-'r'epublican institutions, in order to punch above their weight. Were they, at any time, actual numerical majorities, measurable by some meaningful method? No one knows, and it doesn't matter, and here is why.

Reagan's people invested their identity into a propaganda of supermajority. The working definition of a supermajority is "enough so that anyone else can be completely shut out, both as a matter of practicality and as a matter of conscience". From that standpoint, it does not really matter what numerical threshold you pick: 70%, 99%, 50.0000001% . The history of the past thirty-seven years is the history of that propaganda. Note well that it is a lower-case-'d'emocratic propaganda. But, like any propaganda, it is absolutely resistant to any pragmatic constraints, such as institutions, Constitutions, or objective reality.

Once propaganda like this has been allowed to arise, YOU. ARE. DONE. Your polity has failed. The problem today is not that we have a toxic faction in a position to bid for power. The problem is that the polity has been divided into factions that cannot coexist or communicate. Blame where due: the division was deliberately created by one faction and this was a historical crime without parallel; but that doesn't even matter any more. What matters is that the situation is irretrievable by any incremental means.

Steve M. said...

Between them, "Moral Majority" Reagan and "Silent Majority" Nixon won four presidential elections. Each won a 49-state landslide. The problem wasn't that those factions claimed a majority status they didn't have. The problem was that there actually were voting majorities for these candidates.

Trump, so far, has won precisely zero elections. If he wins this one, it won't be because a faction "punched above its weight" -- it will be because we underestimated the size of the population that either belonged to that faction or didn't regard it as a threat and thus allied with it.

jsrtheta said...

@Roger,...Yes, you are paranoid.

Glennis said...

It's also interesting to see that Trump is actively trying to erode the image of public institutions by his bizarre criticism of Fire Marshals who regulate his events. He is trying to cast doubt on the integrity and impartiality of public safety officials. Talk about the mythological accusations of BLM for supposed hate-speak against police - you wouldn't believe some of the language I read in the comments section at the Columbus Dispatch. This is far worse - it's the candidate himself telling his followers "You can't trust our public safety officials."

KenRight said...

You say "delegitimatize democracy."
Is that democracy similar to a system which produced a phony Obama refusing to prosecute the Cheney-Bush war criminal team --who then proceeded to use that retained respectability (until Trump removed it) to super-diss Obama for "losing" Iraq---a diss Obama however preferred to setting in motion a prosecution which would then have precluded his droning campaign of myriad innocents killed, his helping Saudi destroy Yemen and probably his (failed) surge in Afghanistan?
Yes, the Elite Demopubs stand together and the anti-Elites keep rocking the boat and the Corrupt Center is not holding.