Donald Trump is the champion of losing elections and also losing in court.
Technically, one of his legal challenges should have won by accident by now.
Happy post-Thanksgiving hangover my habibis. By now, we are all entering into the workweek and are wondering how well we are really digesting the food we ate on Thursday, and also maybe the leftovers we ate on Friday, and then again on Saturday, and then weighed risking on Sunday (I weighed the risk and ate leftovers on Sunday and will do the same tonight because only God can judge me).
Normally, the week of Thanksgiving is pretty boring news-wise, and that is especially true during an election year; it’s usually filled with musings about what the incoming Administration is planning or re-planning. President-elect Joe Biden, of course, is in a different place: He is one of only three candidates in the modern era to knock out an incumbent, but he is also only the second candidate in the modern era to knock out an incumbent who had unquestionably been in office for one term. Lots of others (H.W. Bush, Ford) had a predecessor of the same Party, so Donald Trump’s loss looks somewhat unique, and that even takes into account Jimmy Carter’s “somewhat unique” win in 1976.
In the same way that his loss (and presidency) was unique, Trump’s losses in court have also been one-of-a-kind: Trump’s team has - almost admirably - found whole new and intrepid ways to embarrass themselves in Federal Court. To that end, I want to spend a heavy amount of time on the Third Circuit’s smackdown of the Trump Campaign’s election challenges. It is now commonly accepted that Trump’s legal team is losing repeatedly in court, but I think the actual extent and severity of these losses isn’t being communicated by the media.
The Third Circuit’s opinion is only 21 pages, which means if you sit down with a cup of coffee and a free hour, you can read it on your own. In fact, it is pretty great even without the cup of coffee, but in case you don’t have that free time, the opening paragraph of the decision is a doozy (doozie?):
Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy. Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here.
Beyond the first graf, the opinion goes into detail about the history of voting by mail, and even includes a rudimentary sample of a ballot in the text. And then it methodically knocks down the Trump Campaign’s claims one by one. Ultimately, the claims of impropriety fail at every turn, and the Third Circuit goes over each of them: Trump’s claims that his supporters were not allowed to observe vote-counting is patently false; his claim that ballots switched hands is patently false; and his claim that there was any amount of fraud (i.e., stuffed ballots for Biden arriving from Philadelphia) is not supported at all by reality, which completely negates the Trump Campaign’s ultimate request: Throw out the election results and let electors choose the President. The Court sums up the farce with this paragraph:
As discussed, the Campaign cannot win this lawsuit. It conceded that it is not alleging election fraud. It has already raised and lost most of these state-law issues, and it cannot relitigate them here. It cites no federal authority regulating poll watchers or notice and cure. It alleges no specific discrimination. And it does not contest that it lacks standing under the Elections and Electors Clauses. These claims cannot succeed.
The decision thoroughly lays out that the Trump Campaign’s legal strategy is basically the same as throwing your fists at the air: It may get you lots of attention, but in the end you really can’t win, because you are all alone, throwing your fists in the air like a crazy person.
The obvious question is then, why pursue these claims at all? I think a really tempting answer should not overlooked, which is something that Trumpcast coined as “Trump’s Razor,” meaning that the simplest, dumbest, and Trumpiest explanation for any given crisis is usually the most accurate: Donald Trump lost the election and he wants his lawyers to pretend that he won to satisfy his own ego.
On the other hand, some people (even me) might say that Trump is playing the long game: He wants his supporters to question the election enough to start his own TV network and ride the, “The 2020 Election was Fraudulent,” train right into the center-stage at a GOP debate in 2023, with his legion of supporters following him.
But, in this instance, I’m tempted to go with Trump’s Razor: The Donald operates a lot like a mob boss (or maybe an aspiring mob boss) and assumes that because he did a nice thing for someone they will do a nice thing for him in return: Trump has deduced that because he appointed a judge to a life-long position they will help him out and give him the presidency.
This brings us back to the Third Circuit’s opinion: Remember when I said it was a legal smackdown? That smackdown was given by Stephanos Bibas, who was nominated to his position on the Third Circuit by none other than President Donald J. Trump. And if you don’t think that’s the best part, here is the only other thing that could possibly beat it: Signing on to the decision was the Chief Judge of the Third Circuit, D. Brooks Smith. In Federal Courts, the most senior justice gets the pick on what decisions he or she wants to write; here, Smith actively punted a case to a justice who was below him. In other words, Smith and Co. purposefully allowed a Trump-appointed judge to write an opinion that nuked Trump’s election claims, and they did so to send a clear and explicit message: These claims of fraud have no basis in reality, and even a Trump-appointed judge isn’t afraid to say it.
Diego Maradona was a heavily flawed individual, but also simultaneously the greatest soccer player of all time; he is a fitting metaphor for our current age. The New York Times has the obituary.
ProPublica has an insane report on how medical debt collectors run the local government in a small Kansas town.
Given Die Hard’s official categorization as a Christmas Movie, it made me think two things:
Die Hard is a great movie, but it is true that its ties to Christmas are more strained than other Christmas movies.
What are the other really good movies that are only tangentially related to Christmas?
A strong contender here is Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, which features a pre-Iron Man Robert Downey, Jr., roaming around Los Angeles with Val Kilmer. It is a pretty classic L.A. crime/comedy story with a Christmas twist thrown in. So then, is it a Christmas movie? I’m not sure, but it was fun re-watching it.
The Holidays are coming my habibis, so be ready for fewer jackals, but more presents.