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The US 2020 Presidential Election

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  • TopHatter
    I wouldn't 'do a coup' with Milley, Trump says of top U.S. general

    WASHINGTON, July 15 (Reuters) - Former President Donald Trump on Thursday slammed the top U.S. general he had appointed after allegations in a new book that senior uniformed military leaders were deeply concerned about the potential for a coup after the November election and had discussed a plan to resign.

    According to excerpts obtained by CNN from the upcoming book "I Alone Can Fix It," written by two Washington Post journalists, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley and other senior U.S. military leaders discussed resigning in the event they received orders they considered illegal or dangerous.

    "I never threatened, or spoke about, to anyone, a coup of our Government ... If I was going to do a coup, one of the last people I would want to do it with is General Mark Milley," Trump said in a statement.

    U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, had privately acknowledged concerns that Trump might attempt to draw in the military to quash dissent, as fears about Trump's potential misuse of the Insurrection Act mounted.

    A planned, orderly resignation by the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had not been previously reported.

    Reuters could not independently confirm the account by the Post reporters and Milley's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    The publisher of the book declined to provide excerpts and did not confirm or deny the veracity of the CNN account.

    Trump selected Milley for the top military position in 2018, despite then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis favoring the chief of the Air Force for the position.

    Mattis resigned as defense secretary in 2018 over policy differences and since then Trump has branded him "the world's most overrated general."

    "(Milley) got his job only because the world's most overrated general, James Mattis, could not stand him, had no respect for him, and would not recommend him," Trump said in the statement.

    Milley and Trump's relationship deteriorated last year after the U.S. military officer publicly apologized for joining the president as he walked from the White House to a nearby church for a photo opportunity after authorities cleared the way of protesters using tear gas and rubber bullets.

    I love the "...but IF I was going to do it..." part.

    ​​​​​​​Translation: "I would've been totally fine with violating the Constitution six ways from Sunday if it meant a second term for me"

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  • TopHatter
    Originally posted by astralis View Post
    i'd like to see this confirmed first, but really now, is this that much of a stretch?
    No, it's not a stretch at all. A powerful Soviet/Russian trait is the ability and patience to play the long game.

    A man like Donald Trump was tailor-made for their intelligence services to monitor as a useful asset, unwitting or not.

    Their psych profile on him is both dead-on accurate and also fertile ground for Russian agencies to exploit: “impulsive, mentally unstable and unbalanced individual who suffers from an inferiority complex” and they played him like a fiddle. Quite easily, in fact.

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  • astralis
    i'd like to see this confirmed first, but really now, is this that much of a stretch?

    Kremlin papers appear to show Putin’s plot to put Trump in White House

    Exclusive: Documents suggest Russia launched secret multi-agency effort to interfere in US democracy

    Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. The documents appear to confirm the Kremlin possessescompromising materialon Trump. Photograph: Evan Vucci/APLuke Harding, Julian Borger and Dan SabbaghThu 15 Jul 2021 06.00 EDT Vladimir Putin personally authorised a secret spy agency operation to support a “mentally unstable” Donald Trump in the 2016 US presidential election during a closed session of Russia’s national security council, according to what are assessed to be leaked Kremlin documents.

    The key meeting took place on 22 January 2016, the papers suggest, with the Russian president, his spy chiefs and senior ministers all present.

    They agreed a Trump White House would help secure Moscow’s strategic objectives, among them “social turmoil” in the US and a weakening of the American president’s negotiating position.

    Russia’s three spy agencies were ordered to find practical ways to support Trump, in a decree appearing to bear Putin’s signature.

    By this point Trump was the frontrunner in the Republican party’s nomination race. A report prepared by Putin’s expert department recommended Moscow use “all possible force” to ensure a Trump victory.

    Western intelligence agencies are understood to have been aware of the documents for some months and to have carefully examined them. The papers, seen by the Guardian, seem to represent a serious and highly unusual leak from within the Kremlin.

    The Guardian has shown the documents to independent experts who say they appear to be genuine. Incidental details come across as accurate. The overall tone and thrust is said to be consistent with Kremlin security thinking.
    Vladimir Putin holds a meeting with permanent members of the security council on 22 January 2016 at the Kremlin. Photograph: Alexei Nikolsky/Russian presidential press service/TASS
    The Kremlin responded dismissively. Putin’s spokesman Dmitri Peskov said the idea that Russian leaders had met and agreed to support Trump in at the meeting in early 2016 was “a great pulp fiction” when contacted by the Guardian on Thursday morning.

    The report – “No 32-04 \ vd” – is classified as secret. It says Trump is the “most promising candidate” from the Kremlin’s point of view. The word in Russian is perspektivny.

    There is a brief psychological assessment of Trump, who is described as an “impulsive, mentally unstable and unbalanced individual who suffers from an inferiority complex”.

    There is also apparent confirmation that the Kremlin possesses kompromat, or potentially compromising material, on the future president, collected – the document says – from Trump’s earlier “non-official visits to Russian Federation territory”.

    The paper refers to “certain events” that happened during Trump’s trips to Moscow. Security council members are invited to find details in appendix five, at paragraph five, the document states. It is unclear what the appendix contains.

    “It is acutely necessary to use all possible force to facilitate his [Trump’s] election to the post of US president,” the paper says.
    This extract from a secret Kremlin document gives details of the Russian operation to help an impulsive and ‘mentally unstable’ Donald Trump to become US president
    This would help bring about Russia’s favoured “theoretical political scenario”. A Trump win “will definitely lead to the destabilisation of the US’s sociopolitical system” and see hidden discontent burst into the open, it predicts.
    The Kremlin summit

    There is no doubt that the meeting in January 2016 took place – and that it was convened inside the Kremlin.

    An official photo of the occasion shows Putin at the head of the table, seated beneath a Russian Federation flag and a two-headed golden eagle. Russia’s then prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, attended, together with the veteran foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov.

    Also present were Sergei Shoigu, the defence minister in charge of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency; Mikhail Fradkov, the then chief of Russia’s SVR foreign intelligence service; and Alexander Bortnikov, the boss of the FSB spy agency.Nikolai Patrushev, the FSB’s former director, attended too as security council secretary.

    According to a press release, the discussion covered the economy and Moldova.

    The document seen by the Guardian suggests the security council’s real, covert purpose was to discuss the confidential proposals drawn up by the president’s analytical service in response to US sanctions against Moscow.
    Donald Trump after winning the Florida state primary in West Palm Beach, Florida, in March 2016. A report prepared by Putin’s expert department recommended Moscow use ‘all possible force’ to ensure a Trump presidential victory. Photograph: Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images
    The author appears to be Vladimir Symonenko, the senior official in charge of the Kremlin’s expert department – which provides Putin with analytical material and reports, some of them based on foreign intelligence.

    The papers indicate that on 14 January 2016 Symonenko circulated a three-page executive summary of his team’s conclusions and recommendations.

    In a signed order two days later, Putin instructed the then chief of his foreign policy directorate, Alexander Manzhosin, to convene a closed briefing of the national security council.

    Its purpose was to further study the document, the order says. Manzhosin was given a deadline of five days to make arrangements.

    What was said inside the second-floor Kremlin senate building room is unknown. But the president and his intelligence officials appear to have signed off on a multi-agency plan to interfere in US democracy, framed in terms of justified self-defence.

    Various measures are cited that the Kremlin might adopt in response to what it sees as hostile acts from Washington. The paper lays out several American weaknesses. These include a “deepening political gulf between left and right”, the US’s “media-information” space, and an anti-establishment mood under President Barack Obama.
    The ‘special part’ of a secret Kremlin document setting out measures to cause turmoil and division in America
    The paper does not name Hillary Clinton, Trump’s 2016 rival. It does suggest employing media resources to undermine leading US political figures.

    There are paragraphs on how Russia might insert “media viruses” into American public life, which could become self-sustaining and self-replicating. These would alter mass consciousness, especially in certain groups, it says.

    After the meeting, according to a separate leaked document, Putin issued a decree setting up a new and secret interdepartmental commission. Its urgent task was to realise the goals set out in the “special part” of document No 32-04 \ vd.

    Members of the new working body were stated to include Shoigu, Fradkov and Bortnikov. Shoigu was named commission chair. The decree – ukaz in Russian – said the group should take practical steps against the US as soon as possible. These were justified on national security grounds and in accordance with a 2010 federal law, 390-FZ, which allows the council to formulate state policy on security matters.

    According to the document, each spy agency was given a role. The defence minister was instructed to coordinate the work of subdivisions and services. Shoigu was also responsible for collecting and systematising necessary information and for “preparing measures to act on the information environment of the object” – a command, it seems, to hack sensitive American cyber-targets identified by the SVR.
    Vladimir Putin in 2016. The Russian president has repeatedly denied accusations of interfering in western democracy Photograph: Sputnik/Reuters
    The SVR was told to gather additional information to support the commission’s activities. The FSB was assigned counter-intelligence. Putin approved the apparent document, dated 22 January 2016, which his chancellery stamped.

    The measures were effective immediately on Putin’s signature, the decree says. The spy chiefs were given just over a week to come back with concrete ideas, to be submitted by 1 February.

    Written in bureaucratic language, the papers appear to offer an unprecedented glimpse into the usually hidden world of Russian government decision-making.

    Putin has repeatedly denied accusations of interfering in western democracy. The documents seem to contradict this claim. They suggest the president, his spy officers and senior ministers were all intimately involved in one of the most important and audacious espionage operations of the 21st century: a plot to help put the “mentally unstable” Trump in the White House.

    The papers appear to set out a route map for what actually happened in 2016.

    A matter of weeks after the security council meeting, GRU hackers raided the servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and subsequently released thousands of private emails in an attempt to hurt Clinton’s election campaign.
    Hillary Clinton at the Democratic party’s convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in July 2016. GRU hackers released thousands of private emails in an attempt to hurt Clinton’s election campaign. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
    The report seen by the Guardian features details redolent of Russian intelligence work, diplomatic sources say. The thumbnail sketch of Trump’s personality is characteristic of Kremlin spy agency analysis, which places great emphasis on building up a profile of individuals using both real and cod psychology.

    Moscow would gain most from a Republican victory, the paper states. This could lead to a “social explosion” that would in turn weaken the US president, it says. There were international benefits from a Trump win, it stresses. Putin would be able in clandestine fashion to dominate any US-Russia bilateral talks, to deconstruct the White House’s negotiating position, and to pursue bold foreign policy initiatives on Russia’s behalf, it says.

    Other parts of the multi-page report deal with non-Trump themes. It says sanctions imposed by the US after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea have contributed to domestic tensions. The Kremlin should seek alternative ways of attracting liquidity into the Russian economy, it concludes.

    The document recommends the reorientation of trade and hydrocarbon exports towards China. Moscow’s focus should be to influence the US and its satellite countries, it says, so they drop sanctions altogether or soften them.
    ‘Spell-binding’ documents

    Andrei Soldatov, an expert on Russia’s spy agencies and author of The Red Web, said the leaked material “reflects reality”. “It’s consistent with the procedures of the security services and the security council,” he said. “Decisions are always made like that, with advisers providing information to the president and a chain of command.”

    He added: “The Kremlin micromanages most of these operations. Putin has made it clear to his spies since at least 2015 that nothing can be done independently from him. There is no room for independent action.” Putin decided to release stolen DNC emails following a security council meeting in April 2016, Soldatov said, citing his own sources.

    Sir Andrew Wood, the UK’s former ambassador in Moscow and an associate fellow at the Chatham House thinktank, described the documents as “spell-binding”. “They reflect the sort of discussion and recommendations you would expect. There is a complete misunderstanding of the US and China. They are written for a person [Putin] who can’t believe he got anything wrong.”

    Wood added: “There is no sense Russia might have made a mistake by invading Ukraine. The report is fully in line with the sort of thing I would expect in 2016, and even more so now. There is a good deal of paranoia. They believe the US is responsible for everything. This view is deeply dug into the soul of Russia’s leaders.”

    Trump did not respond to a request for comment.

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  • TopHatter
    Judge grills lawyers on thin election fraud claims at Michigan hearing on possible sanctions

    (CNN)A judge in Michigan pinned down lawyers in a marathon video court hearing Monday on whether they had done due diligence before filing election fraud claims in federal court in November. The grilling came in a hearing over whether the Trump-supporting lawyers should be penalized -- with the possible consequence of losing their law licenses -- following their lawsuit to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

    Much of the six-hour hearing hinged on Judge Linda Parker's line-by-line questioning about broad claims the lawyers had made alleging fraud and about sworn statements they had submitted to court from supposed witnesses speculating about ballot malfeasance, sometimes based on second- and third-hand chatter.

    Ultimately the hearing became a painstaking recounting of the thinness of the claims supporting election fraud, and it came as former President Donald Trump has continued to repeat lies about the election's result and, in recent days, has rallied fellow Republicans around his claims.

    Several state and national officials have verified the security of the 2020 presidential election and the integrity of its result: that Trump lost multiple swing states, including Michigan.The judge on Monday repeatedly asked how much work the lawyers had done to verify the fraud claims.

    In response, several argued that they did not need to do that, if the witnesses believed that what they were saying was true. Fact-finding could be done during the course of the lawsuit, the attorneys who filed it argued.

    At one point, Parker, sitting in the Eastern District of Michigan, asked the nine lawyers who took part in bringing the lawsuit if they had ever followed up to learn if any of their so-called witnessed actually saw a vote being changed.

    No one responded. "Let the record reflect," Parker responded, noting their silence."There has to be a minimal belief on the part of counsel that these ... are rooted in fact," Parker said. "Every lawyer has a duty" to do minimal research to verify evidence presented in court, the judge added.

    Releasing the Kraken
    Dozens of lawsuits after Trump's election loss pushed unfounded claims of fraud, seeking overturn Joe Biden's win.

    The lawsuits -- and especially the case in Michigan -- were an early, major attempt by Trump to claim the presidential election result in November was illegitimate. His team and supporters -- at times represented by right-wing personalities Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani and others -- lost all of their attempts in court to gain traction on voter fraud.

    More than a dozen lawyers appeared at the hearing Monday after the judge scheduled it to determine whether they had brought a frivolous case or made false claims. Possible consequences of the judge making that determination or referring the matter for further disciplinary proceedings include the attorneys losing their ability to practice law.

    The lawyers, including Powell and Lin Wood, had branded their effort as releasing "the Kraken," named after a mythical sea monster.

    In court Monday, the Kraken team argued they had put together a "pattern" of statements from supposed witnesses that backed the possibility of ballot fraud.

    "I would submit, your honor, it's not fantastical," attorney Julia Haller told the judge, defending one witness affidavit that was filled with speculative phrases about a couple dropping off plastic bags with the US Postal Service in Plymouth, Michigan. The affidavit included phrases such as "it was as if" and "what could be in those bags," and the witness, Matt Ciantar, noted that he believed the scene "looked odd," without providing further information.

    Haller called it a "true affidavit." "It would be what he believes to be true," she added.

    "This is pure speculation. All right, moving on," the judge responded.

    Powell, one of the most well-known attorneys in the bunch, spoke little. When she did speak at length at the end of the proceeding, she said she took full responsibility for the filings in the case and felt a duty to the country to file 2020 election fraud lawsuits.

    Messaging vs. legal work
    A decision on whether the attorneys should be sanctioned is unlikely to come for at least two weeks, after the judge gave each one another round to make their arguments, in writing.
    A lawyer for the city of Detroit argued that the lawsuit was solely meant to spread lies about the election: "This lawsuit has been used to delegitimize the presidency of Joe Biden," attorney David Fink said in court.

    The city, as well as the state of Michigan, had asked the court to sanction the lawyers who brought the case.

    "This was, from the beginning to the end, an attempt to get a message out that was extrajudicial. We could not find a basis in law from what they were trying to do," Fink said earlier in the hearing. "What they filed" in the case "was an embarrassment to the legal profession."

    Howard Kleinhendler, who was an architect of the fraud lawsuit alongside Powell, said he rejected "categorically" that it was a publicity stunt for Trump.

    The judge, during the hearing, also pressed the attorneys to explain why they believed a court could intervene in the election weeks after the vote, instead of using the typical process of recounts -- and why they didn't dismiss the lawsuit after the vote had been certified by the state and by Congress.

    The answers often wavered, with the Kraken-attorney team suggesting they believed they could have supplanted an Electoral College slate headed to Congress, and that they believed they had a right to contest the election in court.

    At times, Powell, Haller and others asked the court for more opportunities to gather evidence and question the witnesses they had presented in court as believing there had been fraud.

    Defending them on Monday, an attorney for the Kraken team pointed to Bush v. Gore, the 2000 Supreme Court case that stopped recounts, certifying George W. Bush's win of the presidency, as reason Trump's supporters could try to set aside vote counts through the courts.

    Lin Wood distances himself from Kraken
    During the hearing, Wood, a longtime celebrity lawyer who's become a right-wing personality in recent years, appeared to turn against his colleagues, distancing himself from their work when he spoke to the judge.

    Wood said he wasn't involved and didn't explicitly agree to help with the Michigan election fraud suit. His name was on the lawsuit because other Trump-supporting lawyers had included it, he said in court Monday.

    "I do not specifically recall being asked about the Michigan complaint, but I generally indicated to Sidney Powell ... I would be willing and available to help her," Wood said. "My skills apparently were never needed, so I didn't have any involvement."Several times during the hearing, Wood attempted to speak over others, including the judge, to defend himself.

    At one point, the court reporter who was transcribing the hearing raised her voice to cut him off, saying she couldn't capture the words spoken at the hearing with so much talking out of school.

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  • TopHatter
    GOP Pols Forced to Admit the ‘Big Lie’ Is BS During Farcical Texas Showdown

    Republican lawmakers were forced to admit they have not seen any evidence of widespread election fraud during a Saturday showdown in the Texas State House over restrictive “election integrity” measures being taken up in a special session called by Gov. Greg Abbott.

    Abbott previously pushed an election security bill but it was blocked in late May by a Democratic walkout that denied Republicans the quorum they needed for a vote. Undeterred, Abbott announced his intention to call a special session so the bills, S.B. 1 in the Senate and H.B. 3 in the House, could be rammed through. (Some Texas Dems are urging colleagues to pursue a similar strategy this time around.) What Abbott is looking to achieve, among other things, is a ban on 24-hour and drive-through voting, implementing strict new voter ID requirements for mail-in ballots, a prohibition on absentee ballot applications from being sent out proactively, and an expansion of the authority granted to partisan poll watchers.

    But in the Senate hearing on Saturday, GOP Sen. Bryan Hughes, committee chair and author of S.B. 1, admitted to Sen. Royce West, a Democrat, that Republicans had not done, nor were they aware of, any studies analyzing the disparate impacts of voting restrictions on people of color.

    The exchange followed an admission by Hughes to Democratic State Sen. JosÚ MenÚndez that he hadn’t spoken with any outside advocacy groups such as the NAACP about how the bill could affect minority voters. There are “some minorities who are Republicans who support the bill,” Hughes noted in response to a subsequent question.

    Sen. Borris Miles, a Democrat representing Houston, pointed out to Hughes that organized voter fraud simply does not exist on a significant scale.

    “What are we really trying to fix here?” he asked.

    Hughes was unable to provide examples of any fraud associated with drive-through voting. He was also at a loss when asked about voter fraud linked to ballot dropboxes, saying, “I think most people agree that putting an important document like a ballot in the hands of an election worker is a lot better than dropping it in some slot overnight unprotected, not knowing what's going to happen to it, I mean, I feel pretty strongly about that.”

    As for his proposed ban on 24-hour voting, Hughes said he had not heard of any fraud cases related to the practice during the 2020 presidential election.

    “I know that we heard testimony that there was difficulty getting election workers and poll watchers, but I don’t know that [there was] evidence of fraud,” said Hughes.

    Keith Ingram, director of the Elections Division at the Texas Secretary of State’s Office, echoed Hughes’ admission that drive-thru and 24-hour polling places had not been an issue.

    “I don’t think we have any evidence of actual fraud,” he said. “There are discrepancies that resulted because of the failure to check the machines...on a continual basis throughout the voting process. So, there were problems involved with it, but nothing that we’ve seen rises to [the level of] fraud.”

    Jonathan White, division chief of the Texas Attorney General’s Election Integrity Division, testified that his office’s main concern was related to anyone “coming between” a voter and the ballot box and attempting to influence their vote. This, he said, tends to involve campaign workers (and occasionally the candidates themselves), and “vulnerable” voters, such as the elderly. At the moment, the Texas AG has voter fraud cases pending in state court against 44 individual defendants, according to White—only one of which is related to the 2020 election. (It is important to note that White’s boss, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, is presently being prosecuted on felony securities fraud charges.)

    “Don’t get me wrong, we shouldn’t have fraud at all,” Sen. West pressed White, questioning his description of “massive” voter fraud in the state. “But if someone is saying that the building’s on fire, trying to scare people... In the state of Texas, we have 44 defendants. And we had—what was the number in this last election?—over 11 million people to vote.”

    That’s a rate of .0004 percent, West noted.


    Back in reality, the Texas GOP has exactly diddly shit worth of evidence of significant voter fraud. Same thing everywhere else. No evidence, no significant fraud, and these are Republicans admitting this.

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  • TopHatter
    We Still Won’t Admit Why So Many People Believe the Big Lie

    How could so many Americans believe in “the Big Lie?” We see the numbers and we shake our heads. Poll after poll shows that one third of all of us believe the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. Even though the matter has been adjudicated in scores of courts. Even though not a single scintilla of evidence exists that the election was anything but fair.

    Six months after the attack on the Capitol triggered by that lie, commentators, political scientists, and families around the dinner table still struggle to come to grips with perverse reality. It is natural to want to understand how we got here. The fate of our democracy turns on not just what our electorate believes but why they believe it. Why are a third of us such gullible rubes?

    It’s a question serious enough that it deserves a straight answer, even if that answer makes us uncomfortable. And I warn you, dear reader, the answer will make you uncomfortable. So, if you are tender-minded or sensitive to self-criticism, or a credulous stooge yourself, this might be a good time to stop reading.

    Because even the most modest amount of analysis and introspection will reveal that buying into the nonsense peddled by the former president and his clown college of cronies is not an aberration, not due to some momentary lapse on the part of the American electorate. We were raised on lies—including many lies that are much, much bigger than the big one that troubles us today.

    That’s the problem. We are as a society—and by “we” I mean virtually all of us on the planet —brought up to believe howling absurdities, ridiculous impossibilities, and insupportable malarkey from our very first moments on Earth. We have massive lie-delivery systems that are the core institutions of our society. And we have created cultural barriers to even questioning those fabrications which are most deserving of skeptical scrutiny. For example, we regularly label as sacred those ideas that are least able to stand up to scrutiny. (Heck, we have folks in our society who can’t even handle the idea that the history we teach our kids might actually be based on what happened, you know, back in the past.)

    Our parents lie to us. Our churches, synagogues, and mosques lie to us. Our schools lie to us. Hollywood lies to us. Madison Avenue lies to us. The media lies to us. Our leaders lie to us. Our friends lie to us. (They do. Going to the gym couldn’t hurt.)

    What is more the lies they offer are not always big lies (e.g. Buying a particular brand of beer will not make you more attractive) while some are just gross oversimplifications (e.g. The Founding Fathers did a lot of good... but they were not the figures carved out of marble we were sold for years). Some have a seed of truth within them but are gross distortions (e.g. Columbus did not discover America). And some of the time we invite the lies because they open the door to enjoyment (e.g. Keto? All the bacon I can eat? I’m in).

    But one of the key reasons we buy into so many small lies is that we have been force fed so many big ones. I mean really big ones. I mean ones that make the current Big Lie look like one of those low-calorie snacks that is actually a high-calorie treat shrunk to a smaller size and repackaged.

    The original big lies are so big that if you are like most people some of them are ingrained in your identity, they are who you are. They come from religions and heritage. They are cooked into the primal soup of our minds. Many of them have been around for longer than many of the “facts” we have and as such are so covered in the dust of history and tradition that they appear to be as substantial as what is true. Indeed, some have a timeworn patina that makes them seem almost more important than that which is verifiable or even knowable.

    Social science research gives a variety of reasons for why we are inclined to believe “alternative facts.” (Studies show a person is “quick to share a political article on social media if it supports their beliefs, but is more likely to fact check a story if it doesn’t.” We tend to vote for what we want to be true or what our friends believe. According to Peter Ditto, a social psychologist at the University of California, “our wishes, hopes, fears and motivations often tip the scales to make us more likely to accept something as true if it supports what we want to believe.” That said, another reason is often cited for our willingness to buy into the bullshit we are being fed. According to a 2019 University of Regina study, “People who believe false headlines tended to be the people (who) didn’t think carefully, regardless of whether those headlines aligned with their ideology.” So, one way or another, we fall for fake news because it’s easier for us, socially or intellectually.

    Many of these lies were created out of necessity. Life is finite. (OK, I’m sorry. It is. Take a deep breath if you need to and then continue reading.) If we don’t come up with a good story about what happens after it ends or why we are here we will all go mad. So we make up preposterous stories about magic people in the sky and then immediately say that we cannot question those stories, that “faith” in them is more important than knowledge of what is real. Why? Because they will not stand up to scrutiny.

    When challenged, the defenders of these original big lies say the truth is unknowable. Good try. Hard to argue with that. We don’t know there is not an omniscient rule-maker beyond the clouds or a heaven filled with virgins to give pleasure to the faithful so how can you question it? But of course, selling what is unknowable as a truth is one of the most important categories of lies we encounter in life. Indeed, it is the foundation of much of (speculation-based and often hooey-ridden) human philosophy. And it works.

    According to a 2011 poll from the Associated Press, nearly eight out of 10 Americans believe in the existence of angels and a 2015 poll showed 72 percent of Americans believe in Heaven and 58 percent believe in the existence of Hell. A 2019 YouGov poll showed that almost half of all Americans believe in demons and ghosts… and 13 percent believe in vampires. (Note: Over half of Republicans believe in demons, whereas only 37 percent of Democrats do. How far is it from there to a similar percentage of Trump voters, according to an Economist/YouGov poll, believing that the Hillary Clinton campaign was a hotbed of “pedophilia, human trafficking and satanic ritual abuse?”)

    There are other big lies, of course. Some are related to the religious lies—like the divine right of kings or the lie that the clergy somehow are more in touch with truth than, say, scientists who actually devote their lives to studying the truth. Some come from political leaders. For example, the lie that to die in war is glorious is one that has done irreparable damage for eons. It has been disproven for thousands of years and yet remains so essential to getting young men and women to give up their lives to serve the ambitions of the rich and powerful that it endures. You know many of the other lies that have lived for centuries—about the superiority of races or genders or nationalities, about patriotism, about comforting ideas like that everything is for the best or things work out in the end. It’s not. They don’t. Read a book.

    We dress these lies up in protective cloaks. You will burn in Hell for all eternity if you don’t believe one set of lies. You are betraying your country if you don’t believe in the merits of a particular war. Don’t question your elders. If a teacher says it it must be true. Priests and rabbis and imams are tighter with the Alleged Almighty than you. (Do you capitalize the “a” in alleged when you are using it to question the existence of a God?)

    All these lies are aided and abetted by the fact that simply believing in what you are told to believe is much easier than actually figuring out the truth. What is more, if your family and friends believe in a lie, challenging that lie might make you an outcast, might alienate those with whom you have or wish to have a bond. With the advent of social media, where like-minded friends become “editors” and select the news their followers see, lies spread among audiences inclined to believe and thereby endorse them. We live in an age of media “echo-systems”, ecosystems that reinforce disinformation spreading it from dubious sources like QAnon to Facebook to TV propaganda networks to you.

    And of course, when lots and lots of people adhere to a lie it is seemingly validated. And to help that along for millennia, the purveyors of lies have made it clear that not believing those lies makes one an other, apart, the enemy, an infidel. It’s not just wrong to question these big lies, by doing so you actually side with evil, with the enemy. We have created a world divided and left bloody by the differences between the lies to which different groups of people adhere.

    Which brings us back to today and to our own Big Lie of the moment. (Although I would argue Trump is responsible for two big lies at least—the other being that the pandemic was not serious, that science was not necessary to combat it.) When that lie is preached from the pulpit, propagated by elders and friends and neighbors, pumped up on your favorite quasi-news network and rejected by your enemies—by the other—of course you cling to it as though it were, well, gospel. That’s what you have been taught to do all your life.

    We have the Big Lie because we have so many big lies. We have the Big Lie because many of the most powerful institutions in our society teach lies and condemn critical thinking. And herein we get to the central problem of our democracy. If we are to have a government of the people—and that is for the moment, an open question, I am afraid—and those people thrive on lies, follow liars, reject the search for truth, fear science and history and math, don’t want to do the work required to figure out what is really happening around them—then we will have an irreparably fucked-up government.

    We have known this is a special challenge of democracy and good governance since the Enlightenment. It’s just a bit of a sensitive subject. It calls more than just the ugliness and ignorance of Trumpism into question. Rather it notes that Trump is just like generations of other demagogues who sought to profit from the easy appeal of deception for the intellectually lazy, lock-step indoctrinated masses. Trump, like so many others since time immemorial, peddles lies because he knows people are buying, he knows lies are easy and the truth is hard.

    "Lies are easy and the Truth is hard"

    No wonder so many people admire and defend Donald Trump

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  • GVChamp
    Originally posted by statquo View Post
    Here’s an honest question to any election deniers that I haven’t seen asked.

    Why is it so hard to believe that Joe Biden didn’t win fairly? Or is it just “well Democrats did it to Trump with Russia Collusion in 2016, so we’re just doing it too”. Like is it just a troll? I’m being dead serious.
    To the average election denier: because the opinion-setters say so, and it's not super hard to convince the average person of anything once you convince them that you are on their side. People believe all sorts of stupid shit. Also vaccines are gonna get us!

    Leave a comment:

  • zraver
    Originally posted by statquo View Post
    Here’s an honest question to any election deniers that I haven’t seen asked.

    Why is it so hard to believe that Joe Biden didn’t win fairly? Or is it just “well Democrats did it to Trump with Russia Collusion in 2016, so we’re just doing it too”. Like is it just a troll? I’m being dead serious.
    Position 1. 5 states violated the Constitution and gave control of the elections to judicial or executive branch officers. This is a factually true statement. Did Joe win? Probably, even if you take out GA, AZ, and any 1 other Biden still wins. Trump would have needed to win 4 of the 5. The violations however are concerning, executive and judicial officers should not have control of elections, rules should be known, not subject to sudden change without input of the voters representatives evenly applied and without favor. This is my position.

    Position 2. Pos1 plus there were irregularities such as the Atlanta convention center, observers being kept out of visual range, screens to shield the activities of vote counters from legal observers etc. This is where real distrust starts to get into the mix. Why keep people back? Why put up screens, why the changing stories in Atlanta? Election officials have been charged for this post election cycle and states are moving to keep it from happening again. People here begin to distrust the results and you start hearing Trump won.

    Position 3. This is where I think Trump is, there was massive fraud and an organized conspiracy to defraud the voter. None of the court cases has been able to substantiate these claims.

    Evidence that 2020 was weird

    Trump's party gained seats in the House, Trump won the bell weathers, and garnered more votes than he did on his first election, increased the GOP share of the minority vote etc.
    The active suppression of Biden's negative press (Hunter) by big tech, the pandemic et al etc.

    Leave a comment:

  • statquo
    Here’s an honest question to any election deniers that I haven’t seen asked.

    Why is it so hard to believe that Joe Biden didn’t win fairly? Or is it just “well Democrats did it to Trump with Russia Collusion in 2016, so we’re just doing it too”. Like is it just a troll? I’m being dead serious.

    Leave a comment:

  • TopHatter
    Rudy Giuliani falsely assured Trump 'there is no question' the Constitution gave Pence 'the authority not to certify' the 2020 election, new book says

    Rudy Giuliani repeatedly but falsely assured former President Donald Trump that then-Vice President Mike Pence had the power to overturn the 2020 election in the days leading up to January 6, according to a new book.

    A lengthy excerpt of author Michael Wolff's forthcoming book "Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency" published Monday in New York Magazine detailed the White House's moment-by-moment reaction to the January 6 insurrection. Wolff is the author of two other books, "Fire & Fury" and "Siege," about the Trump White House.

    By January 6, according to Wolff, many core administration officials and White House staffers had left or largely distanced themselves from the action, leaving only a small circle of aides who were still involved in Trump's day-to-day activities and, with the White House counsel's office largely checked out, leaving Giuliani as Trump's main legal confidante.

    Giuliani, according to Wolff, "was drinking heavily and in a constant state of excitation, often almost incoherent in his agitation and mania" in the lead-up to the deadly riot, obsessed with the idea that Pence could somehow preclude Congress from affirming President Joe Biden's election victory.

    "There is no question, none at all, that the VP can do this. That's a fact. The Constitution gives him the authority not to certify. It goes back to the state legislatures," Giuliani said continuously on the phone to Trump and anyone else who would listen, according to Wolff.

    In reality, Congress does not "certify" slates of electoral votes, but counts and affirms the Electoral College votes submitted by states. There is no constitutional or legal avenue for the vice president, who only performs a ceremonial role, to categorically reject slates of electors or "send back" electoral certificates to states for further review, as Trump has repeatedly suggested.

    On Thursday, a New York court suspended Giuliani's license to practice law in the state for two years, making him the first attorney to experience professional consequences for perpetuating lies about fraud in the 2020 election.

    The court found "uncontroverted evidence" that Giuliani had "communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large" in lodging unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud while representing Trump.

    Giuliani pushed false and unfounded claims of fraud in Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania in both official legislative hearings and in the media, in addition to misrepresenting the nature of the Trump campaign's federal court litigation in Pennsylvania.

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  • TopHatter
    The People Still Going To Trump Rallies Are Committed To Trump's Fantasy: "He’s Our True President"

    WELLINGTON, Ohio — When Rep. Jim Jordan took the stage at Donald Trump’s first post-presidential rally, he trumpeted the former president’s possible 2024 election bid. And then someone screamed “2021!”

    The fantasy that Trump could reclaim the White House later this year (some named August 2021 as the time) was a common theme among the droves of attendees at the “Save America” rally Saturday in Wellington, Ohio.

    It’s not going to happen, and explanations for why it could are rooted in lies and misinformation. But some people think he never stopped being president.

    “Honestly I think he won,” Anita Lee, 45, who happened to be visiting from St. Louis, Missouri, told BuzzFeed News. “He’s our true president and I don’t think he’s eligible in 2024.”

    Most Trump supporters came in their usual form: Red hats boasting “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” paired with a pro-Trump t-shirt (or anti-Biden one) and some representation of the American flag. But in 2021, after the president and his allies have consistently championed unsubstantiated voter fraud, there’s a new crowd favorite — t-shirts that say “Trump Won.”

    Pam Niner, 65, traveled more than an hour from Centerburg, Ohio to her third Trump rally after one in Circleville, Ohio last year and another in Delaware, Ohio during the 2016 election. And while she’s eager to hear him announce a bid for 2024, she’s convinced Trump didn’t lose the last election.

    “I know he won,” Niner told BuzzFeed News, her oversized “TRUMP WON” shirt nearly reaching her knees. “There’s so much evidence out there it was stolen,” she said before admitting only one thing could convince her otherwise. “Jesus Christ would have to come down and tell me that Biden won before I would ever believe it.”

    Robert Clegg, 47, said “of course” when asked if he thought Trump won the election. He hasn’t thought about Trump as a 2024 candidate. Instead, he told BuzzFeed News, “I’m hoping he gets back in there before'' and added “with the overturning of the election.”

    A May Ipsos/Reuters poll showed more than half of Republicans think the election was rigged and 53% of Republicans think Trump is the actual president. But the statistics alone don’t show how intense those beliefs are for such a large segment of the electorate. The rallying cry “Trump won” erupted several times Saturday and the attacks on President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have become more visceral.

    London Roche, 26, and several of his friends wore white t-shirts with black letters that read “BIDEN SUCKS KAMALA SWALLOWS” on the front and “FUCK JOE & THE HOE” on the back. They said they paid $25 for the shirts but it’s unclear if they bought them from the man who was selling the same t-shirts outside the venue.

    “I just want to show support for our real President Donald Trump,” Roche said. “We all know he won the election.”

    The rally’s speakers consistently raised false allegations of widespread voter fraud from the stage, including Trump, who began raising doubt about the election results last November and has continued making unfounded claims ever since.

    “We won the election twice,” Trump said to the crowd. “And it's possible we'll have to win it a third time.”

    Some speakers who addressed the audience parroted the same rhetoric. Douglas Frank, a math teacher in the state, gave an exhaustive presentation of his 2020 election results analysis involving algorithms he claims prove the election was stolen. The exhibition included graphs and charts that were projected on two big screens flanking the stage. Frank earned a pants-on-fire rating from Politifact, a fact-checking website, in April for the same analysis. The Michigan state Senate’s new report on the 2020 election specifically faulted Frank for analysis that is “not sound for several reasons.”

    Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene also chimed in with false claims that Democrats pilfered the election when she took the stage.

    “President Trump is my president, too,” Greene said. “And he should be our president right now but the dirty, rotten Democrats stole the election.”

    About 400 feet away, Catherine Mehalic, 58, stood on one of the many food truck lines and speculated on what she sees as Trump’s best way back to office. She didn't say when.

    “I think the audit is gonna take all of it down,” she told BuzzFeed News, referring to one of the non-binding audits Republicans in several states are running to try and prove something about the election. “It’s gonna expose what exactly happened. Everybody knows he won.” And then again with more emphasis, “Everybody knows he won.”

    Trump won 8% more total votes than Biden in Ohio and flipped Lorain County, where the event was held. A plane, paid for by Senate candidate Jane Timken, circled the fairgrounds with a sign “OHIO IS TRUMP COUNTRY.”

    Just one person out of nearly two dozen people BuzzFeed News interviewed at the rally said they understood Biden won the election. Barry Clodwick said he watched the polls on Election Day “to make sure nothing went wrong” but ultimately was disappointed with what he understood to be the results.

    “Unfortunately, Joe Biden won,” he said.

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  • TopHatter
    Former Attorney General Bill Barr on Trump's election fraud claims: "It was all bullshit"

    Former Attorney General William Barr bluntly dismissed some of former President Donald Trump's election fraud allegations as "bulls***" in new interviews published Sunday in the Atlantic.

    “My attitude was: It was put-up or shut-up time,” Barr recalled at one point. “If there was evidence of fraud, I had no motive to suppress it. But my suspicion all the way along was that there was nothing there. It was all bulls***.”

    The comment was part of multiple interviews Barr did this spring with ABC News' Jonathan Karl, who wrote the Atlantic article describing Barr’s break with Trump in the aftermath of the 2020 election.

    Trump lost that election to now-President Biden, but had sought to overthrow the will of the voters by pushing a mix of conspiracy theories and outright falsehoods claiming he had actually won key states. Trump was clearly hoping that Barr’s Justice Department would help him in the effort. Barr had been widely seen as a Trump loyalist, and the attorney general had drawn widespread criticism for his rollout of the Mueller report.

    But Barr instead publicly undermined Trump’s false allegations of voter fraud. In a December 2020 interview with the Associated Press, Barr said “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”

    Trump and his allies had been pushing a number of discredited claims, including one that voting machines were switching votes from Trump to Biden. (“We realized from the beginning it was just bulls***,” Barr told the Atlantic of the idea that voting machines were changing votes.)

    In the Atlantic, Barr said then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had been encouraging him to speak out about the election. “Bill, I look around, and you are the only person who can do it,” McConnell reportedly told Barr.

    Trump was apparently livid with Barr for his comments to the AP.

    “How the f*** could you do this to me? Why did you say it?” Trump told Barr in a White House meeting, according to the Atlantic.

    “Because it’s true,” Barr responded.

    “You must hate Trump. You must hate Trump,” Trump continued.

    In the tense White House meeting, Trump reportedly confronted Barr with a litany of complaints, ranging from falsehoods about the election results to how the Justice Department conducted itself during the campaign.

    About two weeks later, Trump tweeted out Barr’s resignation letter, of which a substantial portion was dedicated to praising the president.

    “Just had a very nice meeting with Attorney General Bill Barr at the White House. Our relationship has been a very good one, he has done an outstanding job!” Trump tweeted. “As per letter, Bill will be leaving just before Christmas to spend the holidays with his family.”

    Never let facts get in the way of a good grift

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  • TopHatter
    Originally posted by statquo View Post
    This was interesting. They just flat out lied to Trump over troops numbers.
    That's what you do with a special needs toddler when he throws yet another temper tantrum and demands the sun, moon and stars:

    "Yes honey, Mommy will get you the sun, the moon and all the stars. You just sit right there and behave yourself like a good little boy. Here's some Sharpies and an NHC map of the Southeastern United States, you have fun now, ok?"

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  • Albany Rifles
    That whole story can be wrapped up in oneword....MacGregor. If that sack of shit is involved it's shady as hell, unethical and immoral.

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  • TopHatter
    Originally posted by statquo View Post
    [Note: In response to a request for comment, Powell said in an emailed statement to Axios: “I will not publicly discuss my private meetings with the President of the United States. I believe those meetings are privileged and confidential under executive privilege and under rules of the legal profession. I would caution the readers to view mainstream media reports of any such conversations with a high degree of discernment and a healthy dose of skepticism.”]
    Translation: It's true. Every last word of this is true: The President of the United States, amazingly successful businessman and Fighter for the Common Man, surrounds himself with batshit crazy bottom feeders, churning up an endless sea of garbage.

    The article is dead wrong about one thing though:

    It was remarkable that the presidency had deteriorated to such an extent that this fight in the Oval Office between senior White House officials and radical conspiracists was even taking place.
    A. There's utterly nothing remarkable about this occurring amongst Donald Trump's circle of advisors.
    B. His presidency never deteriorated, it was already at this point on Day One.

    Trump expressed skepticism at various points about Powell's theories, but he said, "At least she’s out there fighting."
    And that's all that matters to Trump or his die hard base of followers: "Fighting". It doesn't matter if the fight is worth fighting for, if the fight makes a goddamn bit of sense, if fighting is so utterly counter-productive that cutting off your nose to spite your face would be an improvement....all that matters is that He FIGHTS. jfc....

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