Harsh Your Mellow Monday: Brace Yourself, Confirmed Priors Are A’Comin’
Harsh Your Mellow Monday returns to deal with election analysis that only confirms your priors, voter fraud or lack there of, and Alex Trebek.
Now that we have the fireworks and victory speech out of the way, it is time to take stock and measure of the two year odyssey that was Election 2020. But first, a piece of in-house business.
So, if your question was “why no Harsh Your Mellow Mondays the last few months?” Well, I have an answer for you.
By its very nature, doing a posting every Monday under such a title is going to lean towards the negative, the sarcastic, the occasionally cathartically rhetorical romping over serious issues for giggles. With the tenor of the presidential campaign, and the really dark ugliness that was coming along with it, it just didn’t feel right to pile on. Not that there was any illusion the bonfire of election year vanity wouldn’t burn just as bright without this particular log on it, but sometimes we must do the small things to live with our own selves. To the point, this time last weekend several draft posts were being outlined, including one in case of social unrest and violence we saw periodically all summer broke out Tuesday night. Thankfully, that piece can be File 13'd for now, at least.
So now that the Republic will indeed stand a while longer, the time is right to get back work. And, my word, are the fields of unjustified mellows on various things ripe for harvesting. Let’s get after it.
The Election Lessons Of Confirming All Your Priors Correct
The question then: in life what do you do with new information?
Right now, the analysis of the 2020 election is in full swing. The fun part of data and statistics is you can make a pretty enough chart to make those numbers tell whatever story you want. Thus, there will be a bunch of folks who just take what happened over the last week and the almost 2 years of 2020 Election Cycle and distill it down to whatever their drink of choice was anyway.
But that is affirmation, not information.
I’ll start with myself. I was wrong about a whole heaping lot of things in this election. Way back before he even got in the race, I thought Joe Biden running was not a good idea on multiple levels. I thought he would have a hard time winning, I thought he would be divisive to his party, I thought he would struggle to make headway and keep up.
I was wrong on a lot of that. In one of those history rhymes sort of ways, Biden’s path had a few similarities to Trump 2016. All the faults, flaws, and gaffes of Ol’ Joe were muddled down and rendered mostly irrelevant by the faults, flaws, and issues of his opponent President Donald J. Trump. Just as charges of corruption, greed, and sexual scandals of Trump just didn’t stick well coming from the Clinton political machine that had plenty of all three in the mortar mix of its own power foundation, Joe Biden’s rank political normalness went from liability to asset against an increasingly Trumpian Donald Trump. Like with Hillary in 2016, the deciding factor turned out to be putting down the disliked opponent far above anything about the candidate who was serving as the vehicle to do so.
The first presidential debate this year really showed a dynamic that was at play far more than usual politics and policies. The bar had been set so low by Team Trump with relentless attacks that all Joe Biden had to do was survive on stage without drooling or falling over and he would chalk up a win. President Trump ranting and raving for 90 minutes while Joe was Joe only further highlighted that months and years of buildup of Trump the invincible didn’t even make it past a string of “c’mon, man” and “here’s the deal” parries from Biden. It was so bad even most die-hard Trump supporters, if not saying so out loud, sensed the president was too far off the map and needed to reel it back in. He did so in the second debate, showing that even his, the densest of bubbles, could be pierced with the reality of bad reviews. That debate was a push, which when you are trailing like Donald Trump was, you lost.
But then we get the actual data of the election results, and things really get complicated. Joe Biden won this election, and when they are done tallying everything, he will have an EC victory close to what Trump did or better, with millions more votes and a wider margin. The Biden/Harris ticket will enter the White House with the highest vote total in American history. So clearly, they have a mandate, right?
It’s complicated. To his credit, and whatever else you think of President Trump, he frankly shocked politicos and pollsters and turned out more voters than he did in 2016. Millions more. There is no trophy for second place, but election analysis is going to be chewing on the fact that a wounded, underdog, highly divisive president in Donald J. Trump surpassed the vaunted Obama vote totals as well and received the second most votes ever in an American presidential election. Folks who thought Trump 2016 with 63 million votes was a fluke are going to have to reckon with 71 million Trump voters in 2020 and what the implications and lessons of that might be.
To be clear, there is limited value in the “understand X voters at Y diner in Z location” type anecdotal think pieces that fill plenty of content but don’t really mean anything, let alone change anything. But sober thought should be put into the fact that when a political constituency loses an election they are not going to magically disappear. Especially one that grew by 8 million votes in defeat against almost all predictions. The victorious Democratic Party will now be looking to how a candidate whose aspirations were left for dead after Iowa managed to turn out record numbers of voters.
Here’s the part folks might want to focus on in that analysis: A lot of those answers have to do with Donald Trump…but not all of them, and maybe not nearly as many as folks think right now. Donald Trump didn’t lead anyone anywhere they didn’t already want to go, and anyone thinking the effects of the last four years will just simmer down now are fooling themselves.
As we consume the fire hose of election recaps, reax, and postmortems, it will be important to discern who and what outlets are actually working through the data and events as they are and happened, and who is just churning the same old, same old and picking the parts that fit their respective narratives. The former will be worth spending time on, while the latter will once again be shocked and shaken by the unexpected results of 2022, since whatever they might be, they will be unprepared for them.
The victory of Donald Trump in 2016 proved to some that Trumpian Populism was the future. His loss will prove to those same folks Trumpian Populism is the future.
The Blue Wave of 2018 proved to some the need for the Democratic party to be more progressive in candidates and policy. The lack of a Blue Wave in 2020 will prove to those same folks the Democratic party needs to be more progressive in candidates and policy.
Here, you can play along at home:
The [insert prior here] proved that [insert preferred example of said prior here]. The lack of [insert same prior here] in 2020 means [insert wildest dream outcome here].
Fun, ain’t it?
But discerning of the times we live in, it is not.
Briefly, About Election Fraud, Or Lack Thereof
Some of you might need to sit down for this part.
Voter fraud is not why Donald Trump lost the 2020 Election.
Oh, there will be instances of it, as there always is. Some out of malice, a few will possibly prove criminal, and a bunch of bad stuff that is the byproduct of incompetence. Here’s what we need to do: ignore what people are saying — especially in social media — and look at what they are doing. And the Trump administration is not doing anything to show they can prove what they are saying:
Republicans have made claims of election irregularities in five states where President-elect Joe Biden leads in the vote count, alleging in lawsuits and public statements that election officials did not follow proper procedures while counting ballots in Tuesday’s election.
So far, they have gone 0 for 5.
Since Election Day, President Trump has repeatedly claimed that a broad conspiracy of misdeeds — apparently committed in both Republican and Democratic states — had cost him the election.
“I WON THE ELECTION, GOT 71,000,000 LEGAL VOTES,” Trump tweeted on Saturday, after returning to the White House from his Virginia golf course. “BAD THINGS HAPPENED WHICH OUR OBSERVERS WERE NOT ALLOWED TO SEE.” Trump’s campaign has encouraged donors to contribute to a legal-defense fund so he can fight the cases in court.
But in the lawsuits themselves, even Trump’s campaign and allies do not allege widespread fraud or an election-changing conspiracy.
Instead, GOP groups have largely focused on smaller-bore complaints in an effort to delay the counting of ballots or claims that would affect a small fraction of votes, at best.
And, even then, they have largely lost in court.
The reason: Judges have said the Republicans did not provide evidence to back up their assertions — just speculation, rumors or hearsay. Or in one case, hearsay written on a sticky note.
The result has been a flurry of filings that Trump has cited as a reason to avoid conceding defeat — but, so far, have done nothing to prevent the defeat itself.
Two court cases in Pennsylvania that the president “won” weren’t exactly putting down wide-ranging conspiracies of fraud at all, with one ruling that observers could be closer to the count and the other where SCOTUS Justice Alito ordered the state to segregate ballots that had already been segregated.
In Michigan, the much discussed “software issue” turned out to be human error, and only affected the reported numbers of votes, not the actual official vote count itself.
Here’s the thing though: folks who really believe there to be a widespread conspiracy are going to latch onto every story and instance of proof and bore in on the minute instances while ignoring the entire picture. If you want to strap up and crusade against election fraud, I’m all with you. Every single instance of malicious fiddling to our election should be prosecuted with great prejudice. Of course, there are bad actors out there doing illegal things. There is also plenty of good, old fashioned incompetence. But what you don’t have is enough of either to explain the still-growing margin of Joe Biden’s victory.
A few hundred votes, or even a few thousand to extrapolate out for the record number of ballots, still isn’t the tens of thousands the president would need to change the results. It’s done. He’s lost. He lost fairly.
As for those complaining about the vote counting in Democratic strongholds like Detroit, Atlanta, and Philadelphia, let’s just have a grown folk talk about that right quick:
The same goes as before, if there is illegal activity let’s prosecute the hell out of it.
If you are a Republican political strategist and your hopes rest on places that you don’t even bother to try and compete in, you’re an idiot.
Questionable vote counting in Philly and Wayne County, MI will be a lot like violence in Chicago: a really handy talking point on social media for the right to go “whatabout them over there” that they will do absolutely nothing in real life about until they need to whip it out again in a future argument. The hypocrisy of “Democrat run cities” will be the shield to block all attacks of actually caring about those places, except when it suits them. Nice little doom loop going there, blaming a one-party rule system in those areas that — while rightly deserving criticism — they also need to stay as it is lest they have to actually do anything about it themselves and start shouldering the blame for urban issues that have been so since there were cities to have such issues in.
When you play competitive sports, you understand as a player that certain places are going to officiate the game differently. Changed strike zones and “home cooking” ref’ing when you’re at the other team’s place is part of game. You can whine and cry about the bad call at the end of the game all you want, but if you let it come down to needing a call to go your way at the end, there were legion things that you did wrong to leave it to chance in the first place. Winners adapt and figure it out. If you want to win a national election, figure out how to win nationally.
Donald Trump lost states in the rust belt he won in 2016, flipped states against him like Arizona, and let states a Republican hasn’t lost in a generation, like Georgia, slip away. You want to blame someone, it starts — and ends — with Donald Trump.
Presented Without Further Comment
[HM4] Meanwhile…The Answer is This Sucks
A year that has seemed to take far more than it gave, has taken TV legend Alex Trebek:
Jeopardy and its timeslot partner Wheel of Fortune were just an institution in my family. He hosted Jeopardy for 36 years, and since I turned 40 this year that means for as long as I can remember Alex Trebek was on a TV screen darn near every weekday. When you grow up in a house with two educators as parents, getting the answers blurted out first and correct was an accomplishment in the Donaldson household. My late Aunt June who lived right beside us Up Yonder was even more religious about it. If you were mid-sentence or whatever come ten minutes to 7pm EST that’s just too bad cause Aunt June was going to start walking to her house, having time for one more cigarette on the way, and be ready to shout at the TV for 30 minutes.
Thing about Jeopardy, though, there is no denying the cultural value of 36 years of an unmeasurable amount of information downloaded into folks’ homes long before the internet did so, and the modern information age did nothing to slow down the experience of Alex being the coolest guy in the room as everyone else in the country scrambled to try and think of the questions to the answers. What a great experience it was. Rest in Peace, Alex Trebek, and thank you.
Originally published at https://ordinary-times.com on November 9, 2020.