Trump is Still Plotting a Possible Coup

            Late last month I wrote that there was a strong chance–I called it 50-50—that Donald Trump would engineer a “self coup” in order to remain in power despite having lost the election.             The president is a desperate cornered rat. Once he leaves office, he becomes vulnerable to several criminal investigations. By far, the one he has to worry about the most is being conducted by the Manhattan district attorney into his corrupt business practices, charges that could not be discharged by a presidential pardon if Joe Biden were to issue one. “[Trump] could spend the rest of his life in prison,” I wrote, “unless he declares martial law and becomes America’s first dictator.”             I acknowledged that Trump “doesn’t have the support of the military—but he doesn’t need it.” Instead of a Latin American-style military coup, I said, “his would be a ‘police coup’ carried out by the numerous local police departments whose unions endorsed him for reelection,…
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In a Crisis, a Compromise Solution Is Worse Than No Solution at All

            The raging argument on the left between progressives who argue for radical change and centrists who advocate incrementalism is hardly new. Nearly a century ago, progressive titan and Wisconsin governor Robert La Follette and FDR were often at loggerheads over the same question. Roosevelt, La Follette complained, was too quick to compromise with reactionaries. FDR insisted that “half a loaf is better than no bread.” While that might seem intuitively obvious, La Follette had a ready reply. “Half a loaf, as a rule, dulls the appetite, and destroys the keenness of interest in attaining the full loaf.” That can be dangerous. The average adult male requires approximately 2500 calories of nutrition per day. 1250 is better than 0, but 1250 is still malnutrition that would eventually kill him. Even in a long-running crisis, the sustained agitation necessary to pressure the political classes into granting concessions doesn’t usually occur before people’s suffering has become acute. If the powers that be…
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Will the Media’s Newfound Stridency Continue under Biden? No.

            “In his first rally since losing the election last month, President Trump continued to spout conspiracy theories about voter fraud, falsely claiming that he had defeated President-elect Joe Biden.” That was the lede of a news story in the December 5thWashington Post.             The Associated Press took a similar tack. “President Donald Trump flooded his first postelection political rally with debunked conspiracy theories and audacious falsehoods Saturday as he claimed victory in an election he decisively lost,” began the wire service’s coverage.             You’ll find similarly opinionated news coverage about Donald Trump in almost every issue of many major newspapers over the last several years. It’s easy to see why many of the president’s supporters don’t trust the mainstream news media to be fair to conservatives.             You may long for a return to the days when too many reporters played the role of government stenographers, striving for a neutral tone while dutifully regurgitating the most ridiculous nonsense spewing…
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Why Didn’t the Xenophobe-in-Chief Close the Borders?

            The COVID-19 pandemic was a crisis tailormade for a xenophobe like Donald Trump. The coronavirus provided an ideal opportunity to turn the president’s biggest liability in early 2020 — the nativist bigotry that went so far as to lock babies in cages and then lose hundreds of them, and elicited disgust even among some of his supporters — into a strength. Trump’s inexplicable failure to knock this easy pitch out of the ballpark is my biggest single explanation for why he lost the election to a singularly lackluster opponent.             My report card for Trump’s handling of COVID-19 after lockdowns began in late March is more nuanced than that of most people who share my political leanings. Give the president his due. It’s not like he didn’t do anything. He hired Dr. Anthony Fauci. He didn’t fire him (though he thought about it). Aside from obnoxious tweets and dumb remarks at rallies, Trump mostly got out of the way…
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December Will Be Very Dangerous

            It’s too early to celebrate, back-to-brunch Democrats.             Liberal voters are counting Biden’s corporatist cabinet picks. But we still don’t know for sure that Trump will let them hatch. There’s still a significant chance — I would put it at 50-50 — that the “outgoing” president will engineer a coup d’état in order to remain in power.             Democratic-aligned media outlets are promulgating wishful thinking. They’re crowing about a routine, peaceful transfer of power. They’re making fun of the Trump campaign’s losses in court challenges to the election results and making light of the president’s hope that faithless electors will trigger the 12th Amendment scenario by causing Biden to fall short of 270. The mainstream pundit class points to the bureaucracy’s granting of access to Biden’s transition team and to excerpts from a recent Trump interview as evidence that he has accepted defeat. (In fact, Trump said that if the electoral college votes for Biden, they will have “made…
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Hey, Joe! These Are Our Demands

            Progressives and other leftists promise/threaten to pressure/take to the streets to make demands of Joe Biden if/when he falls short of our expectations. We on the left don’t want to be one of those bad bosses who tell you your work isn’t good enough but never say what they expect from you in the first place, so you’re reduced to fumbling around in the dark.             Because there isn’t a political party or other formation that can credibly speak for a broad base of the American left, and because the left is divided between work-from-inside AOC-Bernie types and street-level activists, no one has defined a clear metric to judge the Biden Administration’s personnel, policy and legislative actions. As we saw under Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, vague demands foment the unaccountability that allows Democrats to wiggle away and take us for granted.             We need a clear set of demands.           I think our demands should look something like…
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Why Democrats Lost and Will Keep Losing Elections

            Why, Democrats have been asking, do so many poor white people vote for a Republican Party that doesn’t care about or do anything for them? The most common reply is: Democrats are snobby coastal elites who talk down to them. Classic example, courtesy of Obama: “They [voters in the Rust Belt] get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”             Democrats know their arrogance pisses off the working-class whites they need to win national elections. Yet they persist. Every day sees some op-ed Ivy-educated columnist opining that voting for Trump means you’re a Klansman and another DNC-fed talking head pontificating about the masklessness at the president’s rallies with the bloated tone of a Roman tribune announcing stunning news that no one had ever heard before.             Now the Democrats are at it again, setting the stage for yet…
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Trump Tees Up a New Type of Coup: In Plain Sight

            Donald Trump revolutionized political campaigning. It was by accident. Because he was too lazy to prepare for or memorize a stump speech, he ad-libbed his rallies; TV networks gave him $2 billion worth of free airtime because something he said might prove newsworthy. Because he was cheap, he made appearances at any random dump that would have him for free; he used the money he saved on big data research that paid off handsomely.             Now the president is attempting to revolutionize the art of the coup d’état.             Leaders of broad-based movements who want to overthrow an existing government usually agitate for revolution in plain sight. The activism of a popular front attracts new recruits.             A coup is the opposite of a revolution. Unlike revolutionaries, who need the masses to succeed, coup plotters require secrecy. A coup is usually carried out by a very small group of insiders. Coup schemers are not interested in, or have concluded…
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Both Parties Lost the Election. Now the Real Trouble Begins.

            My liberal friends are relieved. I am terrified.             Democratic voters got what they wanted last Saturday: the electoral defeat of Donald Trump. By this time next year if not sooner, Joe Biden’s win will look like a Pyrrhic victory.             Rather than pushing an affirmative platform of policy proposals, Biden’s entire campaign boiled down to opposition to Trump. This is the first time that a purely negative campaign has unseated an incumbent president.             I was skeptical of Biden’s decision to target disaffected anti-Trump Republican swing voters rather than shore up the progressive base, but it worked. That’s why he won personally, yet didn’t have coattails in the House (where Dems lost seats), Senate or state races. Many Republican voters, tired of Trump’s tweets and disgusted by his COVID buffoonery, voted straight red except for crossing party lines for President-elect Biden.             Going forward, there are several reasons to be scared.             First: Trump isn’t gone. He isn’t…
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Previewing a Biden Presidency: Dementia, Impotence, Collapse

            At this writing two days after the election, Joe Biden appears to be six electoral votes away from winning the presidency. The Trump campaign has requested a recount in Wisconsin. Republicans are suing in Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Nevada to demand the right to observe vote counts and challenge absentee and COVID-related mail-in ballots. Recounts rarely change the outcome of an election, and never do so when the margin is significant, which it is in Wisconsin. The filing is a doomed Hail Mary pass—a delaying tactic at best. Trump’s fading hopes remain, as I have written previously, with the obscure 12th Amendment to the United States Constitution. If legal challenges prevent another state from certifying its results to the electoral college by the December 14th deadline, the incoming House of Representatives votes by state delegation for the new president. Most states are Republican so Trump would win. With Biden a single state away from legitimately declaring victory, however,…
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