Keeping the Voter Fraud Flames Burning

This time in the CA recall.

As I feared would be the case, Republican politicians and media allies are adopting an ongoing strategy of claiming voter fraud beyond their claims about the 2020 presidential election.

Now it is Larry Elder, a Republican running to replace California Governor Gavin Newsom should he be recalled.

Via CNN: Larry Elder baselessly raises possibility of election ‘shenanigans’ in California recall

“What I believe is that no matter what they do — and I believe that there might very well be shenanigans, as it were in the 2020 election — no matter what they do, so many Californians are angry about what’s going on” that he will win anyway, Elder said, citing anger around crime, homelessness and quality of public education.

[…]

Elder — echoing claims made by Trump during and after the 2020 election, as well as comments about the California race from right-wing media — has started to question the possible election results, telling supporters that his campaign is ready and willing to file lawsuits and pointing them to a campaign website portal that allows people to report possible issues.

“We have a voter integrity board all set up – most of these are lawyers,” Elder said Wednesday. “So, when people hear things, they contact us. We’re going to file lawsuits in a timely fashion.”

This is irresponsible and cynical.

And this message is being proclaimed in right-wing media as well, as Philip Bump reports in WaPo:

“It’s probably rigged,” Trump said of the recall campaign in an interview on the far-right cable network Newmax on Tuesday. “The one thing they’re good at is rigging elections, so I predict it’s a rigged election. Let’s see how it turns out.”

The same message was offered that day on Newsmax’s competitor Fox News.

“The only thing that will save Gavin Newsom is voter fraud,” commentator Tomi Lahren said. “So as they say: stay woke. Pay attention to the voter fraud going on in California because it’s going to have big consequences not only for that state, but for upcoming elections.”

The bottom line is that if enough people start to lose confidence in the electoral process, our democracy will fall apart. Lack of trust in elections will lead to further deep distrust of government. And when citizens don’t trust eletions to mediate political differences they often turn to alternative ways to resolve disputes, which include violence. Further, if elections aren’t seen as legitimate that will encourage officeholders to attempt extralegal and authoritarian actions on behalf of “their” people and those people will often support such moves because, after all, there is no fairness otherwise, right?

All of that sounds dramatic, but it is nonetheless of serious concern. GOP politicians and the pundits who support them may think of all of this as just some short term game to win attention, but serious and significant long-term damage is being done.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2021, Democracy, Donald Trump, Elections, US Politics, Voting
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. drj says:

    GOP politicians and the pundits who support them may think of all of this as just some short term game to win attention, but serious and significant long-term damage is being done.

    It’s not “damage” if your actions have the consequences that you intended them to have.

    As you note:

    Further, if elections aren’t seen as legitimate that will encourage officeholders to attempt extralegal and authoritarian actions on behalf of “their” people and those people will often support such moves because, after all, there is no fairness otherwise, right?

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  2. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The bottom line is that if enough people start to lose confidence in the electoral process, our democracy will fall apart. Lack of trust in elections will lead to further deep distrust of government.

    It’s way more nefarious than that. This is not an abstract, “might-lead-to”, situation. What we are actually seeing today is that the “Big Lie” is used by Republican Legislatures to enact laws allowing them to subvert the will of the people. And when that happens, likely in the next election cycle, everyone will respond with a shrug and a “meh.”
    Democracy is crumbling before our collectively closed eyes.

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  3. @drj:

    It’s not “damage” if your actions have the consequences that you intended them to have.

    Well, if I hit your car with a baseball bat so as to dent it, I am causing damage even though that is my intent, yes?

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  4. @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I am not going to argue with your assessment.

    The reality is that this tactic is what led to violence on 1/6.

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  5. drj says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I responded to your juxtaposition of “short term game” and “serious and significant long-term damage,” which quite clearly (te me, at least) implied that the long-term damage was unintended.

    By contrast, I think that the GOP is out to end American democracy as we know it.

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  6. Cynthia Trefethen says:

    George Soros has backed Newsom’s recall response campaign to the tune of $1,000,000. You better believe there will be election fraud if California’s election laws, mail in ballot systems and vote adjudication and tabulation “machines” have not been replaced or eliminated since the 2020 election, it is an absolute given. Voter confidence will NOT be restored until full forensic audits of the 2020 election are performed in every state.

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  7. @drj: I think some of them want to actively subvert democracy and others simply don’t care about the consequences of their actions.

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  8. @Cynthia Trefethen: You might want to step back and consider what the relative significance of $1 million would be in this contest. See, here from back in May or this story from the start of last month.

    While $1 million sounds like a lot of money (and it is) it is hardly the sign of anything nefarious in and of itself.

    You also might want to step back and consider why is it you think Soros is some kind of bogeyman.

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  9. Barbara Carson says:

    We all believe in voter fraud, and it was proven over and over last year. The media tried it’s best to ignore it, like they did all the riots, that were meant to distract us. The fact is Gavin Newsome is a disgrace, and so is all of the Democrats running CA. into the ground. Look around homeless drug addicts are left to do as they please as they are handed a free needle and kicked back to the curb. Stop blaming this all on the GOP, believe me they are not much better, but the Democrats hold the whole west coast. In every one of these states the cities have become filthy war zones. I would say they all are a fail.

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  10. Long Time Listener says:

    Two questions:

    Who is George Soros? Why should I care about him?
    Please define ‘full forensic audit’? To what standard? Who conducts it? Who pays for it?
    Why is “machines” in “all quotes”?
    Who is buried in Grant’s Tomb?

    Ok- that was 3 questions

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  11. grumpy realist says:

    @Cynthia Trefethen: Right. Give me evidence that you’re not going to whine “I wuz Robbed!” when it comes to any vote that you lose, no matter how many “protections” are involved.

    Do you understand the concept of democracy? It’s that the loser accepts the result of the election.

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  12. mattbernius says:

    @Barbara Carson:

    We all believe in voter fraud, and it was proven over and over last year.

    If it was proven over and over again last year, then I am sure you can actually link to examples of that proof.

    In fact, all we have seen to date is countless claims of voter fraud that fall apart under scrutiny in the courts. For exaple:

    https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-factcheck-courts-election/fact-check-courts-have-dismissed-multiple-lawsuits-of-alleged-electoral-fraud-presented-by-trump-campaign-idUSKBN2AF1G1

    Or

    https://thehill.com/opinion/judiciary/563556-courts-crack-down-on-the-kraken-lawyers

    Otherwise, you are making a baseless claim. Which should surprise us from a weirdo commenter/sockpuppet who pops up out of no where to issue conservate media talking points.

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  13. Kathy says:

    Well, the trolls are out in force today.

    The GOP is copying King Manuel Andres’ playbook: they win all elections, unless the Democrats commit fraud.

    That’s also the full Stalin.

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  14. mattbernius says:

    @Cynthia Trefethen:

    Voter confidence will NOT be restored until full forensic audits of the 2020 election are performed in every state.

    Shorter and more accurate translation — I only believe in democracy when my side is guaranteed to win every election because the other side has to be cheating. That’s what real patriots believe!

    The founding fathers you claim to love would be oh so proud of you.

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  15. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Cynthia Trefethen:

    Oh no! A million dollars? Did you never see Austin Powers? Where are you from, Arkansas? This is California, Cynthia. You know what a million dollars is in California? Not enough money to buy the empty lot next to my house in Silver Lake.

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  16. Jay L Gischer says:

    I’m very curious about what the process is that leads to these commenters whom use handles that we’ve never seen before, adamantly advocating right wing talking points. So, are they paid agents, part of a shadow campaign, either by Republicans, or by foreign powers? Or are they regular commenters, afraid to front these comments under their own names?

    I’m guessing it’s the former, and that this is a way for them to get their message out that runs fairly cheap.

    If I say I think there’s a fair probability it’s the Russian information warfare campaign in action, does that make me a conspiracy theory kook?

    Or maybe it’s just that Larry Elder hired some folks to amplify his message?

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  17. Jay L Gischer says:

    So help me, when I read “George Soros dropped a million dollars because of the fraud”, I thought, “Good for him, he’s got a very long track record of democracy promotion”

    Bear in mind that a lot of that promotion was in countries behind the Iron Curtain. I’m sure there’s plenty of former KGB folks who can’t stand the guy.

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  18. Teve says:

    @Jay L Gischer: there’s definitely Russian efforts behind election fuckery. You see it on Twitter with the 8-digiters. IDK what the official term for them is, but there’s a lot of accounts on Twitter in the last few years that end in 8 digits like FreedomPatriot87943259 and lots of them are “Americans” with Russianesque language tics.

    “I am from the Arkansas and am loving our President Donald Trump who is very large Patriot”

    Etc. The 8 digits are suspected to be some kind of databasing identifier.

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  19. Scott says:

    I know it’s pointless but you got to push back anyway.

    There was not election fraud and very little voter fraud. Yes, those are two different things.

    Don’t know the numbers but, anecdotally, I keep seeing the very few cases of voter fraud actually committed by Trump supporters.

    “Forensic auditing” is a buzz term tossed around with no real meaning.

    Voter confidence is a disinformation creation pushed from above by far right media and politicians.

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  20. Gustopher says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Are my brothers part of a Russian information campaign? They spout shit like this all the time.

    There are lots of people who believe this bullshit and will spread it for free. I suspect this post popped up on some news aggregator or someone posted it to the comments in some well travelled right wing blog.

    You have to go back a few levels before you find the Russians. The information warfare campaign is being aided and abetted by local lunatics who fall for it and proselytize.

    But when the mainstream Republican Party is indistinguishable from the Russian information warfare campaign, when the Republicans have taken it and run with it. It’s hard to say this particular comment was by anything other than a Freedom Loving Patriot.

    (My brothers are part of a Russian information warfare campaign — dupes)

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  21. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Gustopher: So, the question in my mind now is whether your brothers would come on this site or other sites where they aren’t regulars, and drop comments like this, and wander off, perhaps thinking, “mission accomplished!” That’s very noteworthy behavior.

    It’s not that I don’t think American citizens would never believe this. It’s how and when they show up to spout this that gets me wondering. Oh and where did your brothers get these ideas from? I mean, they are likely to say, “I saw it on the internet” right?

    So, OTB isn’t that great a target for such a campaign, but it might be judged good enough, or maybe folks are getting paid by the comment, and so they just spam it out everywhere they can.

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  22. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Gustopher:

    Are my brothers part of a Russian information campaign? They spout shit like this all the time.

    They’re probably not wittingly so, but yes, your brothers are part of a Russian misinformation campaign.

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  23. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: On the other hand, Soros DOES make both a convenient and effective boogey man for the right. And I doubt that your attempt at contextualizing the matter convinced her because…
    well SOROS, of course.

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  24. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Well, Soros is a Jeeeeew, dontcha know.

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  25. Scott says:

    @Gustopher: @Jay L Gischer: The terms once used were “fellow traveler” or “useful idiot”. This country is filled to the brim with useful idiots.

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  26. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I’m very curious about what the process is that leads to these commenters whom use handles that we’ve never seen before, adamantly advocating right wing talking points. So, are they paid agents, part of a shadow campaign, either by Republicans, or by foreign powers? Or are they regular commenters, afraid to front these comments under their own names?

    Some might be paid, I suppose, but someone like @keef thinks he’s owning the libs, oblivious to the fact that he’s become the Rudy Giuliani of comments. @JKB is desperate to be taken seriously, but always falls short. Mostly though I think it’s cult members performing a religious obligation to testify. Testify and run away, run away!

    It’s the running away that’s so revealing. If you can’t defend your position it’s because your position is crap, and if you run away without even trying it’s because you know you’ve got nothing.

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  27. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I’m very curious about what the process is that leads to these commenters whom use handles that we’ve never seen before, adamantly advocating right wing talking points.

    Both @DrJoyner and @OTBTweets automatically post the titles of anything posted here to Twitter along with a link to the article. People on twitter have watch lists set up for various phrases (likely “voter fraud” in this case). They see the post and come here to leave comments because representation makes their side seem more mainstream (not saying this is their conscious plan, but a lot of people intuitively are aware of this).

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  28. @Michael Reynolds:

    Did you never see Austin Powers?

    That was actually what came to mind to me when I read the comment as well.

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Oh, I have no illusions.

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  29. Teve says:

    The last number I saw was that Newsom and allies had raised $72 million to oppose the recall. One Meelyon Dollars is a drop in the bucket, but, as Michael points out, it Is a Jewish drop. 😛

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  30. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Michael Reynolds: It’s not actually @JKB or @Keef I’m talking about. They are known people, with points of view, and understandable motivations. (Not all of which I agree with, of course). I’ve had an interesting conversation with @JKB, for instance.

    No, it’s the names I’ve never seen before nor will again that get me wondering just what is going on. One cannot have any conversation with them, much less an interesting one.

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  31. grumpy realist says:

    @Jay L Gischer: What’s the chance that they’re 14 year old boys doing it for the lulz?

    (One reason I think we should get rid of technology, or at least ban access to it for anyone who demonstrates they don’t know how to use it wisely. Maybe if these twits were to spend 12 hours a day weeding corn they’d be a little more respectful of the duty to communicate on the internet sanely.)

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  32. Gustopher says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    So, the question in my mind now is whether your brothers would come on this site or other sites where they aren’t regulars, and drop comments like this, and wander off, perhaps thinking, “mission accomplished!” That’s very noteworthy behavior.

    Yes they would.

    Mix in a bit of trolling behavior, misinformation and nihilism, and they would do it just for shits and giggles, and then start believing it.

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  33. Stormy Dragon says:

    Anyone who thinks $1 million is no big deal, feel free to give it to me, and I will be very impressed by it. =)

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  34. Pete S says:

    @Jay L Gischer:
    Sorry, I disagree about the paid agent part. I get the feeling most of these clowns could easily be conned into looking stupid for free or even paying for the privilege……

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  35. Gustopher says:

    @grumpy realist: My brothers are in their 50s.

    I see no reason to believe it would be my brothers (grammar is way too good), but I think we shouldn’t assume people grow out of it.

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  36. CSK says:

    @Teve:
    “…President Donald Trump who is very large Patriot.”

    Actually, that sounds like Trump himself, who’s always “looking at things strongly” or eating “beautiful” chocolate cake or celebrating the fact that “Americans are proudly saying Merry Christmas again.”

    That guy employs the weirdest fucking locutions I’ve ever heard or read.

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  37. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I believe that word is spelled “Joooo.”

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  38. Joe says:

    The fact is Gavin Newsome is a disgrace, and so is all of the Democrats running CA. into the ground.

    @Teve: Differing from a Russian locution, Barbara assertion is a failure of subject verb agreement that belies a certain unfamiliarity with standard English.

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  39. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Teve:

    Etc. The 8 digits are suspected to be some kind of databasing identifier.

    If you try to create a twitter account with a name that’s already used, Twitter offers you a default name with a random number attached. The accounts like that mean they accepted the proposed name instead of trying to come up with one that’s not used.

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  40. Teve says:

    @Stormy Dragon: there’s a huge disproportion of those 8 digit handles that seem to be malicious, misinformation, etc.

    So I played around with making fake accounts on Twitter and I discovered something. If you make a new Twitter account via Facebook, or Apple, or Google, or an email address, it would let you choose handles close to those preexisting ones. But! If you used only an SMS code sent to a phone number to verify your account, Twitter would assign you a handle with your name plus 8 text digits.

    I suspect the easiest thing to do, for Eastern Bloc haxxors, is to get unallocated blocks of cell #s. Easier than making third-party accounts for every Twitter account you want.

    But I’m just speculating.

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  41. Teve says:

    @Joe: and Barbara misspelled Newsom, and got the apostrophe wrong in “its”, and didn’t properly punctuate “Look around homeless drug addicts are left to do as they please”. Definitely some linguistic weirdness.

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  42. CSK says:

    @Teve:
    That’s the way the MAGAs over at Lucianne.com roll: semi-literate.

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  43. Joe says:

    @Teve: Agreed. I would be willing to let certain errors go because we all make them. That was the one that really stuck out to me, though.

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  44. Teve says:

    @Joe: pffft. I don’t make any error’s.

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  45. @Teve:

    and Barbara misspelled Newsom

    To be fair, I type “Newsome” all the time.

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  46. Kathy says:

    @Teve:

    If a trumpbot tweets, does it throw a tantrum?

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  47. Beth says:

    The question I have rattling around in my head is, when does this all turn to sustained violence? It seems to me that the Right (in a large and general sense) has already accepted that voter fraud and election* fraud is not only a real thing, but the ONLY reason that Democrats (again, in a large and general sense) win elections. For example, I’m sure it’s accepted truth that Democrats only “control” large cities through payoffs and fraud. So, I think we’re past that point.

    The Republicans have also spent the last 40 odd years pushing hard that there is this narrative that Democrats ONLY want to make life hard for “real people”. I think that’s gone far enough around the bend that they’ve actually lost control of that. I don’t think McConnell is exactly a true believer, but he’s old AF and about to be replaced by the likes of Boebert, Gaetz and MGT. Personally, I guess that we’re about to see a further refinement of Republican office holders to an even Righter degree in the next election.

    Really, in my mind, the only thing left is for them to start the actual sustained violence. In both Jan 6 and the various Bundy rebellions, they walk up to the line, see that they can walk over it with impunity and then get scared and run back. There isn’t really any consequences for them. What, two or three of their fellow travelers die or go to jail? It doesn’t seem like consequences. No one at Fox, or OAN, or any Republican party office holders have had anything happen to them. All they’ve learned is they can push harder next time.

    I accidentally wrote electron fraud and that made me chuckle)

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  48. gVOR08 says:

    This is irresponsible and cynical.

    That was unnecessary, Dr. T. You’d already said he was a Republican.

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  49. Jax says:

    Hey, do you guys remember the crazy Vermont lady that used to show up and bulk copy/paste all her gripes about how da gubmint was out ta git her? What the heck was her name, I’m gonna go see if her website’s still up and if she’s still crazy. I need some entertainment.

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  50. Teve says:

    @Jax: Barb in the boonies?

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  51. Jax says:

    @Teve: No, I think she was in Hawaii, wasn’t she? I was calling her Lavagirl in my head, but now that you said Barb in the Boonies, that’s right. I’ve been googling the other gal….she’s like the perennial Independent candidate for offices, I think, but I’m not hitting on the right name yet. Maybe it wasn’t Vermont?

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  52. Jax says:

    @Teve: Remember the horrible formatting on her cut and pastes? Gawd, that was painful to read.

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  53. Kurtz says:

    @Teve:

    The 8 digits are suspected to be some kind of databasing identifier.

    Yeah, I hadn’t read anything about that but for a while now, everytime I saw a username with a bunch of digits I checked the join date. And it was almost always recent.

    To me, regardless of anything else associated with account activity, that raised a red flag for me.

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  54. Jax says:

    @Teve: Cris Ericson. And yeppppp, still crazy. 😛 She mad cuz she got banned on Twitter.

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  55. CSK says:

    Oh, Lawd, I remember Cris Ericson. She’s the United States Marijuana Party candidate.

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  56. Jax says:

    @CSK: Apparently she’s trying to join Trump’s lawsuit on Twitter, she’s certain she lost to the Dems, same as him, because she lost access to Twitter.

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  57. Jax says:

    @CSK: Her formatting on her court documents is as whacky as it was here. I mean, even the free office programs are pretty easy to set the formatting, how does that even HAPPEN?!

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  58. Teve says:

    @Jax: to be honest, I don’t remember any formatting issue, because when someone’s below a certain quality threshold, I just skip their posts. It’s not a very strict threshold, that net just catches a few like JKB, keef, Pearce, and three or four others. I keep coming back here because the level of commentary is so good.

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  59. Teve says:

    @Jax: my memory is terrible and I can’t keep sites separate in my head. On the creationist site we surveil there’s a new commenter who goes by TAMMY LEE HAYNES and every time I think about that I chortle.

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  60. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Joe: Meh, not so much, I don’t think. We have fair numbers of native born ‘Murkans out here who’s just the sort that make that mistake.

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  61. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Teve:

    there’s a huge disproportion of those 8 digit handles that seem to be malicious, misinformation, etc.

    Oh I agree. Because counts being made by an automated program are the ones most likely to accept the Twitter generated account name rather than trying others until finding an unused one.

    I’m just pointing out the random numbers are being created by Twitter itself, not being assigned by some external source for “it’s a dbref” purposes and the comment I was responding to suggested.

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  62. Ken_L says:

    This thread is a textbook case of the way a shrewd troll can derail a discussion so that even intelligent people end up spending more time discussing the trolling than they devote to the issue of substance. Which of course makes the troll very happy.

    Steven is not being “dramatic”, he’s given an accurate description of the Trump Republican strategy to make America a “fake democracy” like Singapore, i.e. one where elections continue to be held but only one party can win. The leaders of the party have pulled off a remarkable achievement, successfully convincing more than 40% of Americans that their way of life is under threat and only Trump Republicans can save the nation. The means they use to do it are immaterial, since they believe that “liberals” have been resorting to the worst kind of corruption and criminality for decades.

    The historical parallels to this propaganda triumph can be found in countries experiencing profound economic hardship or societal breakdown, causing a widespread loss of confidence in democratic principles and institutions. To watch it happening in the most powerful nation in history, which is also one of the wealthiest, is both puzzling and terrifying.

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  63. charon says:

    @Ken_L:

    The historical parallels to this propaganda triumph can be found in countries experiencing profound economic hardship or societal breakdown, causing a widespread loss of confidence in democratic principles and institutions. To watch it happening in the most powerful nation in history, which is also one of the wealthiest, is both puzzling and terrifying.

    It’s because religion. They know their sort of religiousity is obsolescent, they see that the younger the age cohort the less religious or likely to be observant.

    The answer: Create an entrenched Christian theocracy like the Republic of Gilead, they are desperate to do this, driven by fear.

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  64. grumpy realist says:

    @Ken_L: It does come down to the government being able to deliver, however. People will put up with a heck of a lot of not-so-democratic behaviour in their ruling system if they have good lives, food on the table, and hope for the future.

    It’s when it looks like the government can’t deliver on one or more of the above that the natives get restless. Given that the major schtick of a Trumpian government is to grab as much loot as possible and to fawn on the ego of Trump, I get the feeling that the result isn’t going to be Singapore; it’s going to be Revolutionary France.

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  65. @charon:

    It’s because religion.

    It’s almost certainly more because of race than it is religion.

    Religion is definitely a factor, but I am not sure in the way that it is often discussed in the comment section. There are religious people in the Democratic Party, so to tag this as all about religion is just an oversimplification. (Again: most Americans are religious, so “religion” alone does not explain what we are seeing).

    I know I have noted this several times of late, and many may think I am doing so to defend the religion or because of some personal belief. People would be wrong on the former and correct on the latter. The personal belief driving me is the belief that if I see a clear analytical error being made by the commentariat that I am duty-bound to point it out.

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  66. @charon:

    The answer: Create an entrenched Christian theocracy like the Republic of Gilead, they are desperate to do this, driven by fear.

    BTW, I thought The Handmaid’s Tale was an excellent novel and the handful of episodes I watch of the TV program on an international flight once were well done (I never got around to finishing it). But, no, Gilead is not the goal here. The goal is about maintaining the racial hierarchy that has been the dominant one for most of our history.

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  67. Christine says:

    @Teve: I am a long time follower and rare commenter. I’ve wondered if regular commenters would view my posts as ‘trolling’. I come come back for the great writing and views. I am always thinking why couldn’t I have come up with that reasoning? Y’all are impressive.

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  68. Matt Bernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The goal is about maintaining the racial hierarchy that has been the dominant one for most of our history.

    I think this is right and can be expanded to maintaining other traditional hierarchies, including gender and sexual orientation too.

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