Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Governance

 As the Biden team assembles, I note a complete cultural difference between the previous administration and the coming administration, and it centers on a theory of governance.

Government is a bureaucratic function. While we may or may not elect the policy creators for any given level of government, local to federal, we do not elect the vast majority of those who will do the work of that office.  Those workers have individual and group accountability to the higher authority of the US and State Constitutions that they work under, as well as county and municipal laws and regulations.  Between the elected officials and the working mass of the government is a bridge group: political appointees.

Political appointees in the executive branch serve at the will of their elected supervisor.  This is not only the Secretary of State, but the Deputy Secretary of State, the several Undersecretaries of State, and their assistant undersecretaries and so on.  Who one chooses to fill these vacancies, and even if one chooses to fill these vacancies is perhaps the best way to evaluate a president's political philosophy.

President Trump chose Rex Tillerson and Mike Pompeo as his secretaries of state. The first was the CEO of Exxon-Mobil, with no prior government experience. This signaled that US corporate and energy sector concerns would dominate the priorities of the US Government.  In Mike Pompeo, President Trump picked a "Tea Party" member of the Republican National Committee, an army tank corps veteran who had served as a member of the House of Representatives from a conservative, 85% white republican district in Kansas.  He served on energy, commerce committees, and intelligence committees.  He was a primary voice in the Republican partisan Benghazi investigations' prolonged attacks on Hillary Clinton.  For this, he was elevated to Secretary of State, reaffirming that energy would drive foreign policy, but also that partisan muck raking and supporting the anti-Hillary agenda would be empowered and rewarded.

Neither of Trump's picks had foreign policy experience or expertise. So it is not surprising that among the 6 Undersecretaries of State, the two that are still vacant at this point are the Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs and the Undersecretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights.  These two classic core duties of the American Foreign Service in the Department of State were not priorities for Trump or his appointees and they - and everything they are meant to do - withered on the vine for four years. 

Even more mind-boggling is the broad nepotism of family members in the White House. When loyalty matters more than knowledge, you wind up with incompetence.  Take, for example, the much heralded Trump peace plan for Israel. Suddenly, you have Jared Kushner reading books like he is cramming for an exam before writing a term paper drawing conclusions from his own echo-chamber and passing it off as policy. It was dead before it started because of the deep lack of experience and understanding of the situation on the ground that was meant to be solved.  

Diplomacy and international affairs is messier than that, and must take into account not just what one person thinks is best but what all actors think is best.  The result is not a sermon, but a prolonged process of compromise.  As a result, the Trump team found that they could only make deals with dictators - the UAE, Bahrain and the Sudan - and were not able to solve real social and political questions such as the complex hopes and circumstance of the Palestinian  people.  Lucky for them, there are plenty of dictators in the Middle East to have some success in that mode.

Biden is signaling his deep faith in experience and expertise.  None of his first 8 cabinet level appointees has held elected office.  Each of them have a life's work of directly relevant government experience in the line of promotion to the position that they have been given.  Where they have second and third level appointments to make under themselves, we can expect to see that trend continue.

Whereas in the Trump administration mid-level managers in State, Defense and Intelligence repeatedly had their work devalued, ignored or even demonized as "unelected anonymous deep state actors," Biden understands that the work of governance is not obedience to the highest leader.  Governance is the mustering of all levels of government work to support the political goals of the elected officials while simultaneously maintaining the good work and momentum of the government as a whole - most of which is the same under Democratic or Republican leadership.

I warmly welcome the return of the dignity of our civil servants, and of our military and intelligence specialists.  I am encouraged that the full measure of our government offices will be filled with knowledge and experience representing the depth and diversity of the American people. 

I welcome the return of governance as the political philosophy of the White House.

Monday, November 23, 2020

AntiSemitism in the GA Senate Race? Rabbi Heller speaks

With two Jews in the GA Senate runoff, it was inevitable that the ugly side of politics would try to use AntiSemitism as an accusation or a tool.  In fact, both are happening.  In both cases, accusation and tool, it is the Republican campaigns that are using the topic.  Republican candidate Perdue's campaign used images of Jewish Democratic Osoff with elongated noses as a tool (later retracted and denied).  Republican Jewish candidate Loeffler is accusing her Christian opponent Warnock of being an anti-Israel extremist as an accusation.  Both are ugly, reprehensible and false.  The idea that they can be a team is even more astounding.

The following is from Rabbi Joshua Heller, Senior Rabbi of Congregation B'nai Torah in the Atlanta region since 2004:

Friends,

 I was going to sit this one out, but the level of lashon hara got to the point where I felt I motivated to weigh in.  This conversation reminds me of people complaining about the rabbi's sermon over kiddush, when it turns out they are only reflecting on what they heard second hand because they were napping through the original delivery.

To call Rev. Warnock a "vicious anti-semite"  is simply mistaken.  Rev. Warnock (and the members of his clergy team) have deep partnerships and decades-long collaboration. with the Jewish community here, long before any discussion of political office, and he hosted the USCJ convention at his church in 2017.  I've only met him a few times, but I'm friendly with a number of members of his team, and these are not Jew-haters.

Rev. Warnock clearly has a particular agenda he wants to bring to DC.  Based on your political leanings, you might agree or disagree,  but Israel is not a big part of his agenda either way.  He's said a lot of things about Israel, some more supportive, some clearly problematic (if you comb through any of our sermons over the last 5 years, you'd find something to disagree with).  Both he (and Ossoff, who also got J Street's endorsement, but harder to call him an anti-semite because he is Jewish, I guess) are to the left of where I would prefer them to be on Israel, but Warnock came to the AIPAC convention this past year  with a desire to learn and build bridges.  Even if his change of heart was just a matter of knowing where his bread is buttered, comparing him to the squad is like confusing "Yesh Atid"  with "The Joint List." 

We're all happy to overlook the anti-semitism on our side of the aisle.   Just to stir the pot further- there are a lot of accusations of anti-semitism to go around, there are candidates in this race who have put out ads portraying their Jewish opponents with elongated noses, (though to be fair I think Perdue is not anti-semite, I think he just has anti-semites on his team).  and another who has endorsed the clearly anti-semitic QAnon conspiracy theories.  

There are no perfect candidates in these races. There are no "pareve" choices here.  Just be careful throwing around the accusations of anti-semitism.

 As a side note- what's going on in Georgia is insane.  Gabriel Sterling, the state official who supervised the elections, and his boss, Raffensberger are as Republican as they come, and I think if there were a judgement call in Trumps favor in their power to decide,  they might have have made it,  but they would not let their preference override their commitment to truth and law, and Sterling in particular is facing constant death threats as a result.

                                                   - Rabbi Joshua Heller    Nov. 23, 2020.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Election Law and Election Order

"Law and Order" means following the law in an orderly way.  It is time for election law to bring things to a close.

The text on my phone from the Trump campaign this morning reads "Biden did NOT win!"

Sadly, it is clear now that the President does not share my commitment to law and order in the good administration of both voter law and judicial review. While I strongly spoke in support of the President's right to pursue legal cases to prove his point, the time has come to stop supporting his denial of the election, and to condemn those who continue to enable his destructive delusions of victory.

Tomorrow, November 23, 2020, Michigan and Pennsylvania will certify their election results, joining AZ and GA. This will close the door to any further legitimate legal path for President Trump to contest the election. Every meaningful court case to this point has failed, with repeated judicial rulings clearly spelling out that it is both lack of evidence and spurious interpretations of the law that led to those conclusions.  Certifications have been done by Republicans and Democrats. Presiding judges have been both Republicans and Democrats.  The accusations are false.  Truth has spoken.

What happened is simple:  in the context of pandemic, and with the benefit of experience of the primary season, most local electoral jurisdictions deliberately and proactively increased access of registered voters to exercise their right to vote.  This was done through rule changes for all registered voters, and were different in different counties - as is their right.  At the same time, both the Trump and Biden campaigns hit the ground with massive voter registration campaigns and urged their voters to vote differently: Trump in person and Biden by mail.  As a previous post delineated ("When we will know"), most states required counting in-person ballots first, and mail-in ballots second.  This resulted in the "red mirage" of an initial lead by Trump, followed up with a slow and unavoidable counting of mail-in ballots which went more for Biden.  Simple, understandable, and predictable.  No allegation of fraud by "late ballot dumps" makes sense, compared to the simple truth. No evidence of such behavior has been brought to court in any state, despite the ranting press conferences by the Giuliani team.  The election was honest and open.

Trump's surrogates keep talking about the 72 million voters for Trump: "more than has ever been cast for any sitting President" as if that mattered. They believed that their rallies and ground game had brought forward millions of voters who didn't show up in the polls and the early night numbers seemed to validate that bias.  But the Democrats, without rallies, had been doing the same - and much more successfully.  Bidens 78-79 million votes blew the top off the system, and confirmed the national polling of the past year: Trump had only a 42 percent approval rating.  Most people did not want him back.

Trump lost the election, and it is not a surprise.  His approval rating for the past year has remained below the historical threshold for re-election in the last hundred years. The agita in the nation rallied voter turnout on all sides. As a result, we got a huge statistical sample, and it played out truly.

As of this morning, Trump is still sending emails and texts fundraising for his private unspecified PAC: "Save America" with the title "Biden did NOT win!!"  

Save America, indeed.  


Friday, November 20, 2020

Certifiably finished this Monday, November 23.

 

After a truly insane press conference by Rudy Giulliani yesterday, people are asking if there is any way that those efforts might be successful.  The short answer is "no."

State laws mandated the elections on Nov. 3 as the process to determine Electors.  The more we look at it, the less even theoretical possibility there is for a last saving throw by the Trump lawyers to get 37 "rogue electors" appointed or to stop 3 states from certifying any electors at all.

Trump is running out of time if his intention is were to truly disrupt legal certifications in key states:

  • Georgia (16) just certified for Biden, and the Governor is mandated to sign in the next 24 hours.  Stay tuned for that tomorrow.  
  • Pennsylvania  (20)  must certify by this Monday, November 23. [Democrat Governor signs the paper]
  • Michigan (16) must certify by this Monday, November 23.  [Democrat Governor signs the paper]
  • Arizona (11) must certify by the following Monday, November 30
  • Wisconsin (10) and Nevada (6) must certify by December 1.

We will have sufficient certification on Monday, since AZ, WI and NV only add up to 27.

There is zero chance that PA and MI will not certify their results on Monday.  That, with Georgia, puts the Electoral college out of reach for Trump - even with all his ridiculous shenanigans. Those certifications create a fact set on the ground, which were the basis for the Supreme Court's ruling for Bush v. Gore 538 U.S. 98 (2000).  State certifications are final.



On Fri, Nov 20, 2020 at 9:12 AM Rabbi Tobin wrote:
Correct.  He is hyping a money making machine based on the “fight.” 

The only play for the white house would be trying to convince 37 Electoral College votes worth of states to become paralyzed and not name their electors by December 9, leaving Biden with less than 270 (regardless of what Trump has).  In that rarified and highly improbable case, it would be thrown into the House. The House would give it to Trump. There is a nearly zero % chance - certainly less than a 3-5% chance.

What does 36 Electoral College votes look like?

Wisconsin 10
Michigan 16
Georgia 16
Nevada 6
Arizona 11
Pennsylvania 20

It would be political suicide for the individual state legislators to overturn the votes of their own state.  Could Trump sway/bribe/convince some people?  Sure.  Can he convince a majority of legislators in 3 states on this list to either not name electors, or appoint contrary electors?

Naming electors is an executive function of election officials, not legislators. So one slate will definitely get named.  The only “hope” would be to get the legislature to appoint a contrary list.  Will that happen in 3 states?

Absolutely not.  It won’t happen.  And he knows it.

This is about money, creating a narrative of slander and doubt against Biden and all Democrats, and positioning himself to lead a loyal fringe into the future.

RT

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Trump's Play is Brilliant

It is now clear exactly what President Trump is doing, and it is very, very smart.  It is also morally and ethically wrong, breaking democratic principles and values for personal ambition.  Here is what he is doing, and why.  

Every outgoing president in American history worries about his legacy.  This, plus a love of country, usually combines to create a certain amount of dignity and grace towards the democratic process that has removed him, whether as a one term or a two term president. In the case of Donald J Trump, we are witnessing an opposite outcome from the same motivation. He is absolutely focused on his legacy and the future. 

Joe Biden wrongly floated recently that blocking a smooth transition of power would tarnish President Trump's legacy.  Sadly, the president-elect misunderstands what President Trump is doing.

President Trump has never seen the world through the lens of history.  Making America Great Again was always about putting him in power.  America is great, when he is in power.  Policy doesn't matter. It is easy to make a list of Trump policies which blatantly contradict classical Conservative beliefs.  Rather he shapes the present narrative and action items to a picture of the future that is based on his personal ambition. He looks forward, which diminishes the importance of accuracy in the present or lessons from the past.

He knows that he has lost.  Yes, he was shocked the morning of November 4, and he had a hard time coming to terms with that undeniably fact.  But everything he has done since then has been simply positioning himself for future power.

1) The lawsuits are a vehicle to raise money to pay off debt. The email and text machine is grinding forward relentlessly.  40% of the funds go to the Trump election campaign and the RNC, which have bills and debt from the failed election to pay off. The lawsuits and the chicanery about "we won," "We will win," "This will not stand" and more is a boon to them to be able to continue to fundraise for that election even after it is done. 

2) The lawsuits are even more-so a vehicle to raise money for Trump's unlimited and unspecified future political activity out of office.  60% of the funds being raised, according to the solicitations' fine print, are going directly to a new PAC, started by the Trumps, called Save America.  This PAC is not connected to any lawsuits or the Republican National Committee.  It is a pure political slush fund for the President and stays under his control after he leaves office.

3) Trump is actively devaluing his competition and propping up his next media investment through his Twitter account.  I have previously predicted that he will buy One America or Newsmax as a platform for his voice once out of office, remaining a thorn in the RNC's side for the indefinite future.  His move in that direction is brilliant right now, with dozens of tweets explicitly telling his followers to leave Fox and watch those two far-right networks, which have been republishing his conspiracy propaganda with great enthusiasm.  Previously far out fringe networks have gained millions of followers at his behest in the last two weeks.  This is a play to drive his base, and curiosity onlookers, to a media platform that he will control - and perhaps own and profit from - moving forward.

4) He is creating a narrative for a future run for re-election, either for him or Ivanka.  Donald Jr. is a distant second choice to his sister.  The election was stolen and illegitimate will need no proof on his new network with his "always Trump" followers.

5) He is "cleaning up" his unfinished business, all in ways that will harm the next president while making him look great in a future narrative to reclaim the White House.

  • First, he is pulling troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq faster than the military feels is prudent.  He fired his defense secretary last week (who does that after losing the election?), after the secretary sent a scathing memo against such a pull out.  Trump promised he would bring the troops home and end the endless wars.  If he leaves the troops in the theater of engagement, he loses a strong talking point for the future.  
  • Second, this past week he opened up most of the Alaskan coastline east of Prudhoe Bay to long term energy company contracts for drilling and exploration.  By claiming energy independence based on non-renewable sources, it is inevitable that the independence will be short lived.  If Biden is not successful at broad renewable energy, and simultaneously restricts drilling in those areas, Trump has a powerful talking point for the future.  
  • Third, he seriously considered a military strike on the Iranian nuclear program in the past week. The Iranian policy, for all its machismo, has failed miserably under Trump.  Iran has rapidly escalated its potential military nuclear research in all areas since Trump pulled out of the multinational Iran Nuclear deal.  If Trump could blow up those advances on the way out the door, he would be able to claim that his policies were successful. Wiser heads seem to have prevailed, due to the risk of broad regional instability that would be provoked by an act of war 7 weeks before leaving office.

So here is the plan:

Hype election fraud as the mechanism to raise millions of dollars to retire debt and fight forward after leaving office.

Move his base to a less expensive media outlet, capable of takeover and monetization after leaving office.

Close off all loose ends of former promises, especially military and energy related, while creating untenable facts on the ground for the next president.

So, no. Do not expect that the president will concede the election at any stage of his game before leaving office.  His fundraising power would immediately cease, and his future resources would dry up.  He has serious work to do, and the "chaos" is his oil well to live off.

And there is nothing you can do to stop him, unless you are one of the people being suckered into another donation to "save the election" that will be re-directed into his own private war chest for the future. 

Monday, November 16, 2020

Competent Governance on Day One

Q:  Why do you support Joe Biden?

A:  Competent governance on day one.

That was my answer to every survey and challenge I received for the past year and a half.

It is no secret that I supported Joe Biden since the first day he announced he was running for President a year and a half ago.  I was on his team through the dreadful Iowa and New Hampshire primaries when the pundits declared him done, and have continued ever since. Why?

My answer has been the same:  President Trump is gutting the effective management of the Federal Government and Joe Biden will effectively repair good governance on day one. 

And now, here we are.  January 20th will come - it would seem - with no transitional support from the outgoing administration.  At this time I fully expect that President Trump will continue down the litigious rabbit hole of election denial and accusation to the bitter end.  

There is no rational reason for the lawsuits today, so there is no rational reason to believe that he will stop at "reasonable" moments of clarity in the weeks ahead. There are such moments, and they will come and go by like Burma-Shave signs on the highway in a forgotten age:  state certifications (before Dec 1), naming of electors (December 8), voting by electors (December 14), or even the counting of electoral college ballots and the proclamation of Joe Biden as President elect in the Congress (Jan 6). No, none of these deadlines are likely to stop the man who sued his casinos and hotels into the ground from doing the same with the Federal Government.

And then, on January 20th, we will get Joe Biden.  Experienced, calm, professional Joe Biden. He knows exactly how to convene a cabinet and oversee their work.  He knows how to handle the situation room in the white house, and where the bathrooms are.  There will be no lost time gearing up and training someone for a job that almost no one knows how to do before they start.  

So no, I am not worried about the transition because I honestly don't believe that there is anything that Donald Trump has to offer Joe Biden that would be even theoretically helpful.  Yes, blocking intelligence briefings is obnoxious.  It could even be dangerous.  But is there anything that Trump has on a hidden back burner that the new President will have to deal with on day one?  Highly unlikely.

I believe in the power of good government, good diplomacy, and national and international economic policies.  Joe is trained and ready.  And, quite frankly, thank God.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

My Post Election Letter in 2016.... and now.

In the wake of the clear victory of Joe Biden in the national election for President on November 3, 2020, President Trump has adamantly pursued the theory that he in fact won the election.  As a deeply invested citizen, I find that response profoundly disappointing.  

Even as I have publicly supported the President's right to pursue legal explorations about all aspects of the election, I nevertheless believe personally that the entire enterprise is baseless and sure to fail.  It is contrary to the baseline reality that we have an amazing political system whose power emanates from the local election authorities - meaning the people.  Across the nation, regardless of party, it is our most civic minded people who volunteer and work to create our elections.  

Sadly, the result is conflict at a time when we should be affirming our great democracy and the power of the people to set the course of our nation for the future.

I copy below, for your interest, my response to President Trump's surprising victory in 2016.  My thoughts are affirmed today, and my conclusions are unchanged:

1) The election is an affirmation of our democracy, and even in a divided country it marks a swing back towards the middle.  It is part of a new "middle" after Obama on the one side and Trump on the other.

2) The Jewish people remain divided as we were 4 years ago.  While support of PM Netanyahu's politics regarding Iran and the Palestinians was a prime point for the Trump campaign, it did not move the needle in the Jewish vote. Similarly, the growth of antisemitism and the sad reality of multiple murderous attacks on Jews in the last four years domestically did not change party allegiance or voting patterns.

3) The answer to our divide remains community and activism.  Stick around. Get involved. Pursue your beliefs passionately and work for tangible change.  In a time of CORONA restrictions this may seem difficult, but it is still worth the effort for all of us.  Attend services. Join a committee. Attend a class.  We are open and active for everyone and look forward to the days ahead for our synagogue.




Dear Friends,
 
In the day following the most startling election since Truman-Dewey, America has had much to think about.  I would like to reflect briefly on the import of the moment, and the path forward for all of us.

For Clinton supporters who saw the election as a referendum on pluralism, globalism and (most importantly) women's dignity, the surprise loss shatters not just political ideals but wounds a sense of identity and security. The loss is personal and devastating in a way most elections are not.  How can healing be afforded in the presence of such a loss, when the cause of the loss stands to hold such power? It is frightening, frustrating or even maddening.

For Trump supporters prior to victory, they often felt ridiculed or degraded. There were called racists and bigots. In NJ, where they were a minority, the affirmation of national victory is sweet.  How can someone surprised by sudden validation have compassion for those who are so pained by the very same result?
 
First, I believe that this is a natural part of the fabric of American culture.  There have been rapid and unprecedented changes in liberal social norms in the country over the past decade and, much like the stock market, it is not surprising that a “correction” might occur. Social change takes time, and it comes with forward, backwards, and sideways developments.  That process is understandable, no matter our individual views in the moment. I believe the historic trends towards social liberalism will continue, but not unabated. Those who wish to advance and protect that trend will now need to work hard again as if the gains of the past 50 years had not occurred. Those who think those developments are not positive, will now have the opportunity to influence policy in a way they have not had in many years. But the arc of History is forward.
 
Second, as both Secretary Clinton and President Obama have said in their own ways, this is an affirmation of the democratic process.  The change in policy and vision between Obama and Trump will be dramatic, to be sure.  But in most countries such a shift would come from violence or oppression.  Here, it occurred on a peaceful election day, unmarred by intimidation or injustice. Those who came to vote were counted, and the result is just. As Americans, the obligation is to support or oppose the President as a participating citizen. It is a noble and important role, whether your party is in power, or you are the loyal opposition. Just as those who said Obama was not their president were wrong, so those who say Trump is not their president are wrong. The election was decided by people who got off the couch, went out of their homes, and did something.  The future will be decided the same way.
 
Third, the Jewish People are divided.  Know that in a typical election 2/3 of the Jews vote Democratic and 1/3 vote Republican.  In this election, due to the issues of civil rights, immigration and others, it seems more like 75% to 20%, with 5% choosing other options.  But that is 1/5th of our people voting for Trump and 3/4's of our people in the category of loss at this time.  How do we care for everyone?  We have significant internal differences regarding social norms, family structures, economic policy, national security, immigration, how best to support Israel, and what our relationships with other people and religions should be. These differences are as deep as those we saw in this election campaign. Yet they do not destroy us.
 
The answer is community.  Week after week we join together in synagogue for Shabbat, holidays, Torah study or fellowship.  We accept our differences, sometimes teasing and laughing, sometimes ardently engaging the topics, and sometimes politely avoiding them. We have a common bond, and noble ideals in our religion that we share.  And these core beliefs define us not as people who are right and wrong, but as a people who holds many paths to truth and justice and experience of God.Our variety as a people is part of our integrity and our strength, and it is called upon today – whether you “won” or “lost” in the election.  

The other answer is activism.  Now is the time to commit to engagement in our synagogue community, our local community and our nation as participating citizens. These are the places where America is experienced and you can have the most profound impact. We are all united by a common commitment to civil liberties and tikkun olam - justice for all and care for the disadvantaged among us. Think globally, and act locally together.
 
In common love of America, I wish you well, I hope to see you in shul.
 
Rabbi Robert L. Tobin

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Trump's Gambit to the Presidency

Executive Summary: PA certifies on Nov. 23rd, which should end any doubt. SCOTUS appeals follow, which should fail. Trump is left only with a nuclear option at that point.... which, while unlikely, does leave him a path to the Presidency.

-----------------------

Have you asked yourself, "What do they think they are doing?!"   If there is any path open to the presidency, you can expect that he will pursue it to the end.  While I do not believe that any of these paths will be productive, I do expect that he will go down these roads in any event.

1)    Local lawsuits to overturn votes in his favor prior to state certification;

2)    SCOTUS appeals to overturn results, after certification;

3)    Appeals directly to Republican State Legislatures to appoint electors contrary to their state's certification, after losing before SCOTUS.

All 3 of those options would need to be concluded prior to Dec 8, as the electors must submit their votes by Dec 9.  

State Certification Dates

As of Nov. 10, the Trump administration's GSA office is refusing to sign a statement of Ascertainment. The formal statement recognizes the apparent results of an election and allows the peaceful transfer of power to have a leisurely period of preparation.  There is no legal mandate for the GSA to ascertain, and in Gore/Bush it did not do so until after the final ruling of the SCOTUS.

Key to the GSA's legitimate delay are the individual certification dates of the many states.  Prior to a state's certification of its own results, and the resultant naming of electors, the GSA can theoretically determine that there is not an absolutely clear victor.  Once certification occurs, it is nearly impossible to overturn it or ignore it.

Here are all the states' certification dates, but I include here for you the most contested states.  These are their real deadlines.  Again, as in the main election, Biden needs 3 or 4 of these to win.

State                           Winner                    Date                                Who Certifies (Party)

Georgia                        Biden                    11/20/2020                        Sec. of State (R)

Michigan                     Biden                    11/23/2020                        State Board of Canvassers (split)

Pennsylvania               Biden                    11/23/2020                        Secretary of the Commonwealth (D)

North Carolina            Trump                    11/24/2020                        State Board of Elections (D)

Arizona                        Biden                    11/30/2020                        Sec. of State (D)

Nevada                        Biden                    12/01/2020                        NV supreme ct & Sec of State (R)

Wisconsin                    Biden                    12/01/2020                        Chair of Elections Commission (split)

Just for fun, assuming that all of the current outcomes hold up, here is the actual timeline of certification and the Electoral College vote tallies to win 270.  Sadly, the deadlines lead all the way up to the Constitutional deadline.  Basically, whenever CA certifies, Biden will be the certified President-Elect.

Date "prior to"State(s)BidenTrump
Swing States
Nov 5DE30
Nov 10LA, SD, OK,318
Nov 10VT, VA1918
Nov 11SC, WY,1930
Nov 13MS1936
Nov 17FL1965
Nov 18MA3065
Nov 18AR,3075
Nov 20ND, GA4678Georgia
Nov 23KY, ME, MI, PA, UT8593Pennsylvania
Nov 24DC, IN, MN, NM, NC, OH103137North Carolina
Nov 25AK, AL,103149
Nov 30AZ, CO, MN, NE, IA124162Arizona
Dec 1KS, NV, WI140168Nevada
Dec 3CT, OR, WA, TX, WV166211
Dec 4IL186211
Dec 7NY215211
Dec 8NJ, MD, MO239221DEADLINE
Dec 11CA294221
No DateHI298221
No DateNH302221
No DateRI306221
No DateTN306232

SCOTUS Challenges

These would have to be done prior to Dec. 8, if they hope to have a last minute victory in the Supreme Court, as all electors must vote in the Electoral college by December 9, 2020 after which there is nothing anyone can do, even the SCOTUS.  SCOTUS was very concerned in 2000 that the State certification be respected. Barring widespread systemic manipulation, it is hard to see them overturning any certified result.


The Final Gambit:  Competing Electors.

Should the Trump lawsuits and challenges fail to overturn the elections prior to certification, I fully expect that they will lobby the state legislatures to appoint Republican electors to represent their states.  This will also fail, as the local elected officials would be overturning the outcome of their own constituents. But if they choose to do it...

Ultimately the Trump game is aimed at sowing enough doubt about fraud to convince the Republican held State Legislatures in PA, AZ and GA to appoint a second slate of electors.  This is a devastating blow to electoral legitimacy, but could be brutally effective.  Here's why.

If there are two sets of electors for any given state, the NEW Congress would vote by state delegations which electors to accept. At this point, Republicans would win in both houses of Congress and Trump/Pence would be re-elected.  If the Democrats win both seats in the Senate, current VP Pence would cast the deciding vote and he would elect himself VP.  

If the Senate and the House do not agree on the slates, it would certainly go to the Supreme Court, which would probably accept the slate appointed by state legislatures (my guess), and Trump would be re-elected President.  

Should SCOTUS leave it in Congresses' hands, those states that are deadlocked would lose their EC votes. Assuming that this would entail PA, GA, and AZ, that is 47 votes taken away from Biden.  The EC would stand at 258-232, with neither candidate achieving a majority of 270. The congress would then vote, by state delegations, and President Trump and VP Pence would again be elected President/VP of the United States.

In all scenarios with competing electors from those three states, Trump is re-elected.

That is Trump's best hope.  It is not impossible, but the outcomes for the country are virtually unthinkable.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Getting it All Right - "I Told You So"

 It is not often that I say "I told you so," but the amount of hype around this election during the mundane process of counting ballots has been ridiculous.  The election is roughly panning out exactly as predicted, and following major trends that were already in place last February.  When all is said and done, the Biden electoral college map will be largely unremarkable to historians, despite the rancor on the right.

To refresh:

1)    My post on February 28, when all the candidates were in play, correctly predicted the consolidation of the Democratic Party behind Joe Biden as the best centrist candidate to defeat President Trump.

2)  My post on March 23 correctly analyzed the Wisconsin race, and in exactly which counties and districts the victory over Trump would have to take place.

3) My post on April 2 correctly theorized that Ohio would go Republican and lose, putting Ohio on the losing side for a Republican for the first time since 1960 and JFK.

4) My post on October 12 correctly stated that we would know on Wednesday morning after the election if Joe had won in any of AZ, FL, GA or NC and that we would therefore know that he had won the election.  We had results from AZ Wed that held up comfortably all week.

5) My post on October 19 correctly pointed out that the polling had missed, and was missing again, the extent of the Trump electorate - both existing supporters and first time voters that would arise.

6) My post on Monday, November 2 drilled deeper down into the likely delay in PA and set the safe margin of victory for Biden at 50,000 votes.  When the counting is done it looks like he will be almost exactly at that point, or a little above.

Here is the map that I published a week before the election:



Exactly right, including ME (2) and NE (2).


So no, I have not been panicking and I have not been agitated this week.  It is sad to see all of the insanity out there, but for those of you who have been following me for the past year on this topic, it has been nice to have you with me on the bus of calm and peaceful democracy.

Enjoy the counting as the obvious slowly is accepted by the rest of the world, day by day.  All in all, a pretty boring and predictable election.

Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Welcoming the Lawsuits

As our President has made tremendous accusations of widespread conspiracy and fraud against the election process, I have a simple answer:  Bring forward the evidence in every court of law you wish.  I welcome it sincerely, because I care about the integrity of our elections above all else.

The electoral process is more important than any person, candidate, party or position.

Bring the evidence, which I welcome in court.  Get to the bottom of every credible accusation of fraud.  Not in the media, nor in the political spin rooms of cable t.v.  Bring it forward, and let the legal system decide.

In the meantime, not every accusation is worthy of being covered in the news.  Allowing anyone, without evidence, to use the pulpit of their office to manipulate the media into covering accusations without evidence is unacceptable.

The news is not required to cover everything anyone says.  They have an ethical responsibility to screen what they hear for evidence and plausibility.  Cover the possible and the plausible, when it exists.  The rest is unworthy of our attention.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

"There's Got to be a Morning After"

NOTE: By 9:15 a.m. this morning it is clear that the mail in and urban reporting in WI and MI now have Biden ahead, and with AZ that is enough for a Biden win. Basically, the writing is on the wall - PA won't matter - and Biden will be the next president.

------------------

This morning, November 4, 2020, we are waking to learn that we have not quite yet received the results necessary to call the Presidential election, but "DON'T PANIC!"  We will know very soon the initial results, and those results will hold up.

Remember, my earlier posts said that AZ, GA, NC, and FL are the key states, and that if Biden wins one of them he will be president.

FL    Trump
NC    Trump

GA    Too close to call, and likely to recount.

AZ    Clearly leaning to Biden.

To stick to my guns, that means Biden will be president.

Now, the "stress" the nation is feeling is from two reasons.  First, WI, MI and PA - as predicted - are taking a long time to count their ballots.  Remember, I wrote that IF Trump sweeps the other 4, this would take a long time.

WI looks to be done today, and to be for Biden
AZ looks to be done today, and to be for Biden.

Then Biden needs MI, or PA - both of which Trump is currently leading, but whose major urban centers (Biden strongholds)  have plenty of votes left to secure him a victory in one or both of those states.

The main problem is that President Trump, not suprisingly, went on TV at 2 in the morning and litterally gave the most unhelpful speech possible:  1) He said that vote counting should continue where he is behind; 2) He said any further counting where he is winning should stop.  Who does that? He repeated his accusations of conspiracy and theft, and declared that he had already won.

Unfortunately for the President, not only is science real, so is math.  Based only upon the ballots already received, the election will probably be decided against him.  

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Today, I Voted.

Voting is still relatively new for humans. But we have come a long way, and today I helped to make the world a better place.  

Well-organized human civilizations are only 6,500 or so years old.  Athenian democracy, which allowed the privileged male citizenry to vote for leaders, began about 2,600 years ago.  The Iroquois, in western New York, developed a democracy of men and women in the 1400's but western colonial rule overcame them. So, the world's most impactful democratic invention had to wait until 1776, and eventually 1789 for the US Constitution. Most of Europe, and much of the world, has followed suit.  The US, however, could not really be called a fully functioning democracy until all races and genders were allowed the vote, in 1870 and 1920, respectively.  The civil rights movement and the voting rights act in the 1960's expanded the protection of the right to vote in the face of systemic disenfranchisement.  

So, in the history of civilization, a functioning democracy is only 100/6500 years old, or 1.54% of human history. And even in those 100 years, there has been need for much progress.  Yes, voting is very new.

We should not be surprised that there is agitation around elections, or that there are people who want to use power to diminish their opponents' power in the ballot box.  After all, we are still fairly primitive when it comes to this.  We are learning how to stop them.

So today, I voted.  I voted in a state without significant controversy, and with known outcomes.  I also made phone calls to states where the outcomes were less clear.  And over the past year, in my private time and life, I have campaigned, and donated and recruited others to advance my hopes for our country and the world. It was all quiet and civilized.  But after all of that effort, nothing mattered except that I voted.

I did not stop anyone else from voting.  I didn't not fear that anyone else was voting.  I do not think that anyone out there is trying to steal my vote.  And I don't think that people will come to burn down my town because of the results of the vote.

The overwhelming majority of Americans today did what I did.  They quietly, peacefully and sincerely responded to the past actions of our government and the future hopes offered by the candidates and they voted.  The world is forever changed as a result.

Yes, we are still very new at this, we humans. But today was a good day.

Monday, November 2, 2020

When Will We Know, take 2


Only Panic a Little Bit

Most of this post takes for granted that you have already read my earlier post, "Don't Panic!"  Please read that post first.  Since last we visited the timing of November 3, 2020, we have learned a few things.  Whether you are voting for Trump or Biden, there is only a slight reason to believe that we won't know the results by Wednesday at the latest.

What has remained the same:

My earlier post determined that FL, AZ, OH, GA and NC are the key states to watch on election night. If Biden wins any one, he will most likely win the Presidency.  Clarity from this group should come early. Nevertheless, the scope and pace of mail in ballots has become more clear and will affect the timing of those states' results. We will know a lot on Tuesday night, and probably everything we need on Wednesday. 

Here is our starting point based on current polling (11/1/20):


Any ONE of the toss ups is a win for Biden.  Trump needs to win all 6 to earn a second term in office. PA is the biggest problem as far as timing.

When will we know the first five?  Here is a good guess at the order.  Again, green highlight indicates a state with extensive prior mail in experience:

State    # of mail ballots  # of returned ballots  Polling %       Start Counting  Finish Counting

GA        1.78 million        1.22 million                Tie                     Nov 3 early        Nov 3 late

AZ        3.3 million            2.3 million                Biden +2            Nov 3 early        Nov 3 very late

FL         6.0 million           4.65 million               Biden +2            Now                   Nov 4 late

OH        3.16 million        2.9 million                 Trump +2            Now                  Nov 6 early

NC         1.45 million        .94 million                 Tie                       Now                  Nov 6 early

[Math geeks: what is the probability of winning at least 1 time in 5 coin flips/50-50 chances? 

P(w¯)=1P(w)=1/2, where P(w) is the probability of winning one game.

Therefore, the probability of winning at least one state is 11/32=31/32., or 96.875%]

SUMMARY OF THESE FIVE: 

  • Biden is ahead or tied in polling in 4/5 of the toss up states, and only needs one to win.
  • GA will announce first. They don't accept late ballots.  We will hear from them election night.
  • AZ will announce second.  While they have nearly 3 million to count, they can start early.
  • FL should announce third. FL has a delay in Pensacola of an hour, and but has been able to "pre-process" ballots, preparing them for the scanning machines/tabulation in advance.  They do have 6 million ballots to scan, so it could take a solid 24 hours to clarify the situation.
  • North Carolina and OH accepts ballots that arrive after Nov 3., and therefore  may not have a result before Friday if they are truly close.  
  • OH already has all but 200,000 ballots back, and they can pre-process them. We should hear from OH before NC.

My Best Guesses of the Five:

If they are all toss ups, there is a 75% probability of Biden winning at least AZ or GA, and a 96.875% chance of him winning at least one of the first 5.  Biden will know right away that he is in the cat bird seat in the first 24hrs of counting, and the narrative during recounts and lawsuits will be in Biden's favor for the remainder of the certification process.

What could cause a LONG delay, or will it?

The real stickler is PA.  If President Trump does win all five (a 3.125% chance), we will need to watch PA - and it will be a mess.

Just over 3 million mail in ballots were requested in PA, and 2.4 million have been returned already. PA doesn't allow opening of the outer envelope before tomorrow morning, and they have at least 2.7 million paper ballots to process.  That will take time, but should be done by the end of the day Wednesday, IMHO.  

By a previous split vote of 4-4, the SCOTUS has allowed PA to count ballots postmarked by 11/3, and received by 11/6. However, that is against PA statutes.  Assuming that about 2.7 million will be received on time, there will be easily over 100,000 received "late" which will likely be thrown out by SCOTUS+Justice Barrett (5-4) in the lawsuits following.  That actually makes it easier to count PA earlier, as the early numbers will in time become the final numbers.  Expect that whole process to take at least a week or two as arguments are made before the court.

As I wrote in a previous post, we can expect Biden to lose a net loss of about 50,000 votes when those "late" ballots are disallowed.  If Trump is ahead, or within 50,000 votes of Biden without the postmarks in PA, he will win the election, but we won't be finally told that until the SCOTUS meets.

We will know by on Friday what the margin is in PA, and therefore be able to guess at the ultimate outcome.

The Bottom Line if they are all 50-50.

  1. Election night:    GA & AZ                                 75% chance Biden has won.
  2. Wednesday:        FL                                             87.5% chance Biden has won.  
  3. Thursday:           OH                                             93.75% chance Biden has won.
  4. Friday:                NC & PA (50k or not)               96.875% chance Biden has won.

Remember, any one for Biden, and he wins.

Personally, I won't believe FL or GA until I see it, so the +2 Biden there is not very convincing.