Are Americans Inherently Dishonest?

With his most reliable enabler these days, Attorney General Bill Barr

The President seems to think so…

Including some of his own hand-picked appointees…

Back when the President started talking about the “evils” of mail-in ballots, his story was mostly that “millions of mail-in ballots will be printed by foreign countries”, and then sold on street corners by young toughs presumably to anyone who might like to vote a couple of times. So the accusations the President made were primarily against “foreign” actors, with Americans just abetting them.

Over time, that’s escalated. To a new level of paranoia. To the point at which Attorney General Bill Barr suggested this week that mail-in ballot fraud might be accomplished as simply as “paying off a postman, here’s a few hundred dollars, give me some of your ballots”.

Really? Do we, as Americans, really believe our fellow Americans: postal workers, are bought off that easily on that huge a scale? (Also, if that’s so very possible, why wouldn’t poll workers also have a price? So wouldn’t in person voting be easy to corrupt too?)

Part of the confusion comes from the conflation by Trump and his compadre of cheating vs. trying to win an election. As if they’re one and the same, if you oppose Trump.

Cheating is criminal. Democrats trying to win an election is not. That’s what they’re supposed to be doing.

Yet Trump’s begun amplifying a message that verges on saying trying to win an election against him must and will be criminal.

Meaning he’s ramping up accusations against his fellow Americans of being deeply corrupt. (Could it be because he lies and cheats so much he assumes everyone else does too?) And since he’s America’s president, that means he’s assaulting the integrity of his fellow countrymen and his own constituents. As well as asking his supporters to “hate thy neighbors”.

Which is actually one of the big reasons his accusations are so ridiculous. Not only because mail-in ballots go through many verification checks; many more than in-person ballots, but also to believe that for voter fraud to occur on the scale he and his attorney general are asserting, many, many Americans would have to be very, very corrupt. We just don’t see that. We know a lot of people who love Trump, and a lot who hate him. All of whom are eager to vote and get their voice heard. We don’t know anyone who’s itching to get their hands on a second ballot. COVID-19 is making it tricky enough just to cast their one vote safely this year. With a lot of planning involved in many cases.

But let’s say we’re naive. How about FBI director Christopher Wray telling Congress that Russia is very actively interfering already in this year’s Presidential election, mostly in an attempt to discredit Joe Biden. Which then Trump yelled at him about on Twitter, calling the FBI “Comey/Mueller inspired“, and saying it’s actually China that’s the threat. And they’re for Biden. (Which we’re not sure about, because we believe while China perceives Trump as unpredictable, they also perceive him as weak. Which is part of the reason Russia likes him too.) For Trump, it’s all about being able to win by himself, without the help of mother Russia.

Here’s a clip of Wray talking about that:

FBI Director Christopher Wray (click on the photo to watch)

Trump wasn’t quite as harsh on his CDC Director Robert Redfield. Suggesting Redfield didn’t understand a question when at a hearing he insisted that masks–at least in the short term–would be more effective in preventing COVID-19 than a vaccine. Here’s that clip that makes it pretty clear–no matter what backpedaling and story-changing may occur in the future–there was no misunderstanding:

CDC Director, Robert Redfield

Of course, AG Barr tried to come to Trump’s rescue here too. Calling mask-wearing mandates the “greatest intrusion on civil liberties” in U.S. history “other than slavery”. Which is one of the most offensive if not outright racist statements we’ve ever heard. Although might’ve been topped by another Barr statement, in which he said Black people killed by police are used by Black Lives Matter “as props to achieve a much broader political agenda.” Adding “They’re not interested in Black lives, they’re interested in props.” How about maybe they’re trying to get Americans to change and act differently after seeing those stark reminders of systemic racism? No? So they’re just more cheating Americans too…?

Big happenings related to voting also in Pennsylvania, and we’re not just talking about Joe Biden doing his Town Hall/debate preview in Scranton, Pennsylvania last night.

Earlier in the day, in an extraordinary ruling, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court determined ballots cast by mail in that state would still be counted up to 3 days after Election Day, so long as they were postmarked by Election Day. Which means lots of votes in that state probably won’t be counted by election night. Which both serves to make the election fairer, because it should compensate for any damage caused by attempts by Trump and his new postmaster general to break the United States Postal Service right before this extremely vital election, but also gives Trump some fuel to allege foul play if the late-counted votes go against him. In a state that’s almost sure to be most crucial for both Trump and Biden to win.

One other very important thing the Pennsylvania Supreme Court did in our view, which isn’t getting much coverage is require that any poll monitor be from the same county in which the polling place they are monitoring is located. That should at least help in a significant way to preventing people from shipping halfway across the state, or even from out of state, and intimidating people waiting in line.

Biden’s forum on CNN, was made up of a far less confrontational crowd than President Trump endured a few days earlier. Biden did fine. And really seemed to connect with people on a human level, as he always does, and Trump doesn’t. There were some Biden-trademark long digressions, and some places where he was a bit scattered. But solid overall. We’re looking forward to the first debate, which’ll take place on the 29th.

The only note we’d have for Biden is that he talks around the concept of leadership when he discusses a lot of different topics, but he almost never actually uses the word “leadership”. It’s OK. Use it. Especially if you want to paint a stark picture of what you’ve got and Trump doesn’t.

And this last thing is a small thing, but we wonder why Biden’s making a parallel between Park Ave. and Scranton, PA as a comparison between Trump and him. When the only street Trump ever talks about in New York, –and talks about a lot, as in “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?”–is 5th Avenue. That’s where Trump Tower is.

Joe Biden at CNN Town Hall in Pennsylvania