Joshua Holland

Your tax-dollars at work: Barr's Justice Department busted for helping Trump delegitimize absentee ballots

On Thursday, the US Attorney's office in central Pennsylvania released a highly unusual statement. "Since Monday," it read, "FBI personnel working together with the Pennsylvania State Police have conducted numerous interviews and recovered and reviewed certain physical evidence. Election officials in Luzerne County have been cooperative. At this point we can confirm that a small number of military ballots were discarded.  Investigators have recovered nine ballots at this time.  Some of those ballots can be attributed to specific voters and some cannot. All nine ballots were cast for presidential candidate Donald Trump."

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Here's the real reason Trump is being so open about his plot to steal the election

Donald Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses in November should alarm every American. "You know that I have been complaining very strongly about the ballots,” he said on Wednesday. “Get rid of the ballots and you'll have a very peaceful — there won't be a transfer frankly. There'll be a continuation.” It was Stalin-esque.

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Joe Biden is being cagey on expanding the Court. Is that the right play?

Joe Biden is an instinctive institutionalist. In the past, he has opposed killing the filibuster and expanding the Court in response to the theft of what should be Merrick Garland's seat. But he has left himself some room to maneuver on the filibuster, at least, telling The New York Times last year that “it’s going to depend on how obstreperous [Senate Republicans] become." According to The Times, he "noted that he has historically supported the filibuster and was optimistic he could find common ground with Republicans. 'But I think you’re going to just have to take a look at it.'”

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The future of RGB's seat will likely hinge on control of the Senate

Donald Trump may push Senate Republicans to try to jam a Supreme Court nominee through before the election, but I think it's more likely that he'll opt to run on the vacancy given that it's an issue that could bring Republicans who don't like him back into the fold. It would be better for him than running against the Democratic backlash that would follow a hasty confirmation before the election. And Senate Majority Mitch McConnell would also be hard-pressed to usher through a confirmation in that brief period, and he has vulnerable members who need to be home campaigning.

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How the 2020 election could go relatively smoothly — and deliver Trump a resounding defeat

There are always dark warnings coming from the fringes that an incumbent president may refuse to honor the results of a losing election and pull off some sort of coup to remain in power. But with Donald Trump, such concerns are mainstream, and for good reason. Claiming widespread fraud, Trump rejected the results of the popular vote when he won the White House in 2016. His former consigliere, Michael Cohen, has said that he doesn't believe that Trump would leave peacefully if he loses. Trump has been preemptively lying about absentee balloting being rife with fraud for months, and just last week, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany laid the groundwork to claim that ballots counted after November 3 aren't "fair," telling Fox News that determining the outcome on Election Night is "how the system is supposed to work."

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If you believe in science then you should worry a lot about Trump rushing out a vaccine for the election

If you believe in science and have respect for the expert opinion of immunologists and clinicians, then you should be quite worried about Trump exerting political pressure on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve a vaccine for Covid-19 quickly, for political purposes, before it has been proven safe and effective. It is, after all, scientists who have been sounding the alarm over precisely this scenario.

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This key metric is looking very good for Joe Biden's chances in November

There has been some chatter--embraced by the Trump campaign and its allies in the conservative press--suggesting that the head-to-head polls are missing "shy" Trump voters--people who support him but are wary of telling a pollster that they do for fear of social opprobrium.

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The presidential race really could end up as a tie — we should prepare for that now

I don't want to add to anyone's stress, so let me preface this by saying that according to modeling by both FiveThirtyEight and The Economist, the likelihood of an Electoral College tie is less than one percent. But this is 2020, a crackpot reality TV star who barely speaks English remains competitive in the presidential race and clouds of mosquitoes are killing cows and horses in Louisiana. If any year is going to throw us an anxiety-inducing curveball that threatens to rip the country apart, this one seems like a strong candidate.

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Woodward: Trump's former spy chief thought he was psychotic

Obviously, politicians aren't always honest. They spin, and sometimes lie outright. But Donald Trump, who once told reporters that his supporters had gotten soaked waiting for him in the rain on a day when there was no precipitation in the area, is in a league of his own. Through July 9, The Washington Post had tallied 20,055 "false or misleading claims" Trump had made in his 1,267 days in office, which averages out to just under 16 per day. That isn't easy to do.

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Trump's lies cost tens of thousands of American lives--and Bob Woodward has the proof on tape

It is not news that Donald Trump downplayed the severity of Covid-19 for an extended period of time, calling it a "hoax" and blaming Democrats and the media for exaggerating the seriousness of the pandemic to hurt him politically. But we live in a hyperpolarized country with a balkanized media environment, and that makes it incredibly significant that veteran journalist Bob Woodward captured Trump saying as much himself, explicitly, on tape.

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Trump calling fallen soldiers 'losers' and 'suckers' is a story about his character that probably won't hurt him

Many of Donald Trump's opponents are certain that reports that he had referred to fallen troops as "losers" and "suckers"-- and was befuddled by the idea that they would fight for anything other than their own interests--will finally open up some Republican eyes and cost Trump in the polls.

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Republicans are running on a 'big lie' about American cities and it's getting people killed

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a modest influx of New Yorkers to my town, which is located about 90 miles Northwest of the city. My new next-door neighbors just moved up from Brooklyn this month. As one of them told me the other day, they made the move because they are now able to work remotely, and it made sense to get out of the city because they could rent an entire three-bedroom house for less than they had been paying for a cramped two-bedroom apartment.

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The GOP's early convention strategy makes no sense unless there really are millions of 'shy' Trump supporters

Last week, Republicans panned the Democrats for portraying the United States in 2020 in unrealistically bleak terms. This week, they kicked off their own convention with a series of speakers who warned that if Joe Biden, a moderate, were elected, the country would be reduced to a smoldering dystopia with violent mobs streaming out from burning, syringe-strewn cities to roam the suburban wastelands wreaking havoc on upstanding (white) Americans.

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Trump just teed up an 'October surprise' that's doomed to fail

On Sunday, Donald Trump held a press conference to announce a "therapeutic breakthrough" that was anything but. Trump said that his FDA had issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for antibody-rich plasma to treat Covid-19 patients, and claimed that he had overcome resistance from members of the "deep state" embedded at the agency to deliver it. Scientists were quick to point out that while plasma therapy has shown promise in some patients, its efficacy hasn't been established in controlled trials and added that the authorization would have limited impact anyway given that tens of thousands of patients have already received the treatment.

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Trump would be losing this race in a big way even if there were no pandemic

If you're hoping that a decisive win against Donald Trump and GOP candidates down the ballot would force a reckoning for the Republican Party, you'd likely be disappointed if that outcome comes to pass in November. His base, conspiratorial crackpots and white nationalists, would tell themselves that he was done in by the Deep State and a flood of illegal votes by undocumented immigrants. But more mainstream Republicans would also blame a big loss on factors other than Trump's corruption, bigotry and narcissism. The conventional wisdom would likely coalesce around the idea that the Covid-19 pandemic, and its ensuing economic meltdown, doomed Trump's otherwise strong chances of re-election.

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This one simple trick can foil Trump's scheme to steal a second term

A small silver lining in this fraught moment in history is that Donald Trump and his cabal aren't at all subtle.

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Trump won't win by doubling-down on his racist appeals but the right's open bigotry comes at a cost

In 1981, Lee Atwater, the notorious Republican operative, famously explained why his party developed coded dog-whistles to appeal to white America's racial grievances and cultural anxieties:

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Joe Biden may be uniquely positioned to fascist-proof the presidency

Joe Biden is not the kind of candidate one would expect to be a transformational president if he's elected in November. But there's one area where he would be uniquely positioned to be just that, and it's a vitally important one.

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How Democrats turned the tables in the funding fight as the GOP falls to pieces

Since the Tea Party wave of 2010, Congress has for the most part only been able to pass major spending bills through brinkmanship. Only as the government has careened toward an imminent shutdown or debt default have the two parties been able to work out last-minute deals to avert disaster.

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The media are poised to help Trump sow chaos around the election

You don't need to be a clairvoyant to see what's coming. Donald Trump is undermining the postal service. He lies constantly about mail-in balloting being ripe for fraud. He's encouraging his voters to vote in-person, and they appear to be listening.

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The conservative legal establishment lays down a red line for Donald Trump

When Steven Calabresi, the influential and very conservative co-founder of the Federalist Society, argued that Donald Trump's clunky trial balloon about possibly postponing the election was "fascistic" and "grounds for the president’s immediate impeachment again by the House of Representatives and his removal from office by the Senate," he was ostensibly telling Trump to back off. But while he was sending a message to Trump, and his Republican allies on The Hill, a more important audience for his op-ed may have been the sprawling conservative legal community. Calabresi, a godfather of sorts to the movement, signaled to conservative lawyers and legal advocacy groups that while they may mire the count with ballot challenges and other litigation, they must not back Trump's play if he veers outside the lines delineated by the Constitution.

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Senate Republicans are being mugged by reality

Here's some harsh reality. In three days, 25 million Americans will lose the enhanced unemployment benefits that have been keeping them afloat. Even though tens of millions are out of work, The Financial Times reports that job openings are still 20 percent below normal. As many as 40 million may face eviction in the coming months.

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The conservative media are killing Trump's campaign

Even close allies of Donald Trump are flummoxed about why he hadn't grasped earlier in the Covid-19 pandemic that it was in his own best interests to "at least pantomime[] a sense of command over the crisis or convey[] compassion for the millions of Americans impacted by it," according to The Washington Post. 

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Trump behaves like an adult for several minutes — and pundits cheer his ‘shift in tone’

Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

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Poll finds a majority of Americans approve of 'cancel culture'

With campaigns in a pandemic-induced limbo and a historically stable season of presidential polling, Politico's Ryan Lizza  needed something to write about and commissioned Morning Consult to ask some questions about "cancel culture." In the resulting piece, Lizza writes that Americans are "tun[ing] into 'cancel culture'--and don't like what they see."

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Harvard public health experts call for reopening schools and then explain why we should not do that

On Monday, The Boston Globe published an odd and irresponsible piece titled, "Listen to the science and reopen schools." The op-ed, authored by four professors from the Harvard School of Public Health, ostensibly seeks to get politics out of this discussion, but in doing so the authors distort the existing debate and give those who refuse to "listen to the science" valuable ammunition to use against those who are guided by it.

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Trump is trying to rig the election right before our eyes

Donald Trump's disapproval rate in FiveThirtyEight's average has only dropped below 50 percent on a handful of days during his first term, and that was before almost 150,000 mostly avoidable deaths resulted from the pandemic. He can't win by persuading voters that he deserves another term or by turning out his dwindling base. But everyone knows he won't go down without a fight. Suppressing the anti-Trump vote is his best hope of clinging to power.

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Impeach him again

Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

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'Cancel culture' is a reactionary fraud and liberals need to stop falling for it

I hesitate to even write about the silly debate over "cancel culture" while the Trump regime is actively working to suppress multiple books critical of the president*--going so far as throwing Michael Cohen in prison in the midst of a pandemic for moving ahead with his tell-all--and while unidentified paramilitaries kidnap Americans suspected of protesting on the streets of Portland and elsewhere. With police across the country violently suppressing dissent, it's almost surreal that we're even talking about "Twitter mobs" and private companies firing people for expressing their opinions in a country with at-will employment.

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There's a fundamental disconnect at the heart of Trump's flailing campaign

If Trump sneaks into a second term, it will be a result of voter suppression and intimidation, disinformation and various forms of ratfucking. It won't be because Trump persuaded voters that he's competent and deserves four more years in office. He's running a historically terrible campaign.

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Wild poll out of Texas finds Black Lives Matter more popular than the NRA in the Lone Star State

I'm a strong believer in paying attention to the polling averages rather than obsessing over individual polls, but rules are meant to be broken and a survey released on Sunday by The Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas, Tyler has some internal numbers that are worth digging into. So with the caveat that it's a single poll that's subject to error and offers only a snapshot in time, let's take a peek under the hood.

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