The Cyber Ninjas Clown Car Empties

Michael Siegel

Michael Siegel is an astronomer living in Pennsylvania. He blogs at his own site, and has written a novel.

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42 Responses

  1. Philip H says:

    Overall a good take, but you forgot about the part where this is now a “model” for other states – most notably Texas and Pennsylvania. Texas amuses me since Trump won there.Report

    • Texas will be auditing four counties that Trump lost (which must be fraud. hotbeds; how could he lose anywhere?), with the same intent of disrupting their election process, intimidating their officials, and gathering data towards the state’s next round of vote suppression.Report

  2. Michael Cain says:

    I have been saying for some time that the best end game for the Ninjas would be no report and slink away. Since that wasn’t really an option, the next best would be a report that says their hand count agrees with the county’s count to within human-judgement ballots (damaged, malmarked, etc) and no admissible evidence of fraud, then slink away. That seems to be the route they’ve taken: a few hundred ballots difference in the count (and notably without, so far, any release of the standards they used for damaged or malmarked ballots), plus a number of “might be” and “could be” procedural problems.

    I doubt they’ll be able to slink away. At a minimum, I expect Maricopa County will sue over the $6M cost of replacing voting machines. The Ninjas knew, or should have known, that they weren’t FEC-certified to have possession of the machines, breaking the required chain of custody, and that the likely outcome was the machines would have to be replaced. It’s possible that the DOJ will file charges for breaking the chain of custody on the ballots themselves.

    Here in Colorado, the Mesa County clerk is a Stop the Steal nut and is in (I think) serious trouble for having violated chain of custody rules regarding the voting machines there. The Secretary of State has declared them unusable. The county commissioners there have relieved her of all her election responsibilities and appointed a replacement (a former Secretary of State) back in August. There is a statewide general election this year and we are well into the period of hard procedural deadlines. I assume those have been handled by the usual staff. Suits and counter-suits have been filed. The next court hearing is on Sep 30.Report

  3. Chip Daniels says:

    The end result is that the Big Lie has taken root deep in the Republican Party.

    In January we came within two or three individual decisions from having a legal and fair election overthrown. The Republicans have been methodically purging all of those dissenters and replacing them with loyal apparatchiks who will do as they are told.

    Our democracy is still in peril.Report

    • Philip H in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      Agreed. And while the counts have been essentially validated, no one paying any attention to the Ninjas should have expected this to be the end since they are still questioning the practices even with good numbers.

      This was never about election security.Report

      • Michael Cain in reply to Philip H says:

        I would be willing to make a modest wager that they have nothing admissible in court against the practices, either. It’s all hypotheticals, or in some cases a matter of “the officials should do X, despite it being illegal under state and/or federal law”.

        Anecdata… Yesterday they told the state senate that there were perhaps as many as 10,000 people who should have been removed from the registration rolls. The Maricopa side-commentary pointed out that their list could most likely be accounted for by duplicate names and typographic errors, based on a population of 7M. Some years back, here in Colorado, the then (Republican) Secretary of State came up with 4,000 names (from somewhere) and demanded the county clerks remove them from the registration system post-haste. Instead the clerks worked their way through the list following their usual procedures. Of the 4,000, all but four were duplicate names and/or typos. Those four had all been registered by one overzealous DMV clerk, and none of them had voted.Report

  4. Dark Matter says:

    RE: Trump
    After you hit “demented” territory you don’t go back.

    This reminds me, a lot, of dealing with one of my ex-relatives. You wonder “how much does he know” and “what does he think”? It kind of makes sense from some point if you rewrite only this law of reality. And “how can he think X, when he clearly thinks Y, and if you think Y you can’t think X.”

    Most of that is us flinching away from the reality of mental illness.

    He believes the election was stolen because he wants to believe it. This doesn’t mean he’s always going to behave like it was stolen. On some level it might make you think that he’s obviously lying.

    It’s impossible to step inside his head because 1+1 isn’t 2 in there.Report

    • And still he’s the front-runner for the 2024 GOP nomination!Report

      • Dark Matter in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        He burned down his election chances on the way out.

        He’d be more dangerous if he weren’t mentally ill. If he were just lying all the time. If he didn’t really believe.

        It’s easy to lose sight of that.Report

        • He could quite possibly be elected under the vote suppression and election rigging laws emerging from GOP-controlled legislatures, e.g. the Georgia legislature being able to take over the Fulton County vote count if it goes too heavily Democratic.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Schilling says:

            He did, and could still, come within a razor thin margin of being elected, even without the new voter suppression bills.

            And the Republican voting base is eagerly elevating a crop of imitators who will behave exactly the same.

            The threat to our democracy isn’t past, its still ongoing.Report

            • InMD in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              I think Trump would still beat any D primary candidate from last time except Biden. However his wannabe’s don’t strike me as capable of capturing the same je ne sais quoi. They’re too conscientious about what they’re trying to do and will screw it up. To be Trump you’ve got to legit be willing to eat 5 big macs a day. Even DeSantis won’t do that.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to InMD says:

                I think I agree.

                On top of that, there were a lot of “only works once” weapons deployed to get Trump that won’t work a second time.

                “Children in cages!”Report

              • InMD in reply to Jaybird says:

                Yea but I also think there were a lot of ‘only works once’ circumstances in 2016. I think the reality of Trump ended up being exhausting even for many of the people who voted for him.

                The real problem is that Democrats struggle to go all in on normal people. It keeps them vulnerable to being edged by pretty dysfunctional Republicans.

                Like it’s obvious to me that a whole bunch of candidates should not have been in that primary. Thank God for Jim Clyburn. Of course the price has been making one of those very candidates who had no business being there VP and that may still bite us all in the ass.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to InMD says:

                The real problem is that Democrats struggle to go all in on normal people.

                I would argue the opposite. After you go all in on normal people, on a regular basis, you leave no “this time we’re serious” space.

                There is always a temptation to label your political rival as not just wrong but dangerously evil, or even EVIL.

                So Kavanaugh pulls multiple rape accusations (facts not needed), Romney gets accused to being a Nazi, and that leaves no space to get more serious with Trump.Report

              • InMD in reply to Dark Matter says:

                I meant in terms of their own candidates.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Yep, when politicians are viewed as the worst characters their side has to offer, regardless of whether or not it’s deserved, it lets the worst elements in the door.Report

              • InMD in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                This is still a misread of my comment. I’m saying Democrats struggle to go all in supporting their most electable politicians. It isn’t about how they characterize Republicans.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to InMD says:

                Ah. Yeah, that’s a problem. Now we’re also in BSDI territory, witness how the GOP is handling Trump and the other alternative reality types.Report

              • InMD in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Yea but the whole point of what I was saying is that I think for a host of reasons a bad choice plays out as a much bigger electoral liability for Democrats. The Republican base has accepted entertainment acts as legitimate leaders in a way I still don’t believe the broader D coalition and the people open to voting D have.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to InMD says:

                There isn’t any scenario by which the 2024 election is a landslide for the Dems. No matter who the candidates are on either side, the Republicans can bank on a floor of around 40% of the electorate.

                In any realistic scenario the Trumpists will hold the majority of statehouses, very likely the Senate, possibly the House, and the SCOTUS.

                And they have loudly told us they will not accept the legitimacy of any election they lose.

                The threat to American democracy is still ongoing.Report

            • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              Expanding every action to it’s maximal emotional value, i.e. the police shooting someone is “genocide”, results in much sound and fury but it’s not great for evaluations.

              RE: “Vote suppression”
              The Supremes looked at this and decided something that effected less than one percent of the electorate wasn’t a big deal.

              On the other hand, trying to overturn an election? That is a big deal.

              Yes, his base continues to love him for that in their alternative reality, but I find it very hard to think he didn’t burn down his rep with the independents and the sane GOP.

              RE: within a razor thin margin of being elected,

              Subtract his personality and imho there’s a strong argument that he deserved to be re-elected.

              He nominated great judges, he brought focus on China’s misbehavior, he didn’t start any wars, he created regulatory reform, in the middle of a pandemic he lit a fire under the FDA and also didn’t use it as an excuse to expand the government. Before the pandemic he expanded what “full employment” looked like.

              And then having lost a close election, he started a riot, refused to concede, and has made it obvious that it’s not an act and it’s not Team Blue exaggerating.

              I’m reasonably far to the Right and I can’t vote for him. That’s not even a close call. Presumably he’s lost everyone to my Left as well as a lot of the sane GOP.

              If he runs next election he’ll get crushed. Only about 20% of the country is delusional, that’s not enough.Report

              • J_A in reply to Dark Matter says:

                If he runs next election he’ll get crushed. Only about 20% of the country is delusional, that’s not enough.

                If it were only 20%, then why doesn’t the “sane GOP” just cut him loose ? It’s well know that McConnell, for instance, doesn’t like Trump. But he won’t do anything that can be interpreted as anti-Trump. Nor would anyone else. They almost kicked Liz Cheney from the party for saying that Trump lost the election, for fishing sake.

                Either Dems represent 75% of the electorate, or the delusionals are way more than 20%, or the “sane GOP” has decided that Trumpism is the way of the future.

                Because I do not see much daylight between the delusionals and the Republican Party as a wholeReport

              • Dark Matter in reply to J_A says:

                The math doesn’t work that way.

                The delusionals have enough votes to primary people and swing elections. Largely there’s not much point in standing up to them.

                So they get to be a core constituent for a while.

                That’s not the same thing as this being an electoral advantage in a general presidential election.

                They are to the GOP what BLM are to the Dems. They can be indulged on the fringes but Team Blue as a whole doesn’t really believe that dismantling the police is a viable option.Report

              • In many states, the delusionals also have enough votes to prevent any useful public response to Covid. But all the deaths aside, I guess there’s not much point in standing up to them.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                We are standing up to them, unfortunately what’s needed is… what… forcing them to do what we want? Also unfortunately, what’s needed is more time.

                We run into this every time we have a new vaccine rolled out.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

                You yourself are the perfect example of what I have been saying repeatedly.

                You are not delusional, and see clearly that the Republican Party has embraced the big lie, and that the Trumpists would eagerly use violence to overthrow an election if they could.

                And yet, it just isn’t alarming to you, and if not for that minor incident Mrs. Lincoln, you would vote them him.

                This is how all tyrannies come to power.

                In almost every case, there is only a small core of hard core activists, but they bank on the large majority who will willingly look the other way and offer only the faintest protests.Report

              • InMD in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I’m a lot less worried about violence than I am politicization of what should be administrative/ministerial electoral processes.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                You’re a true believer in Team Blue.

                Tyranny is always going to break out unless your side wins. It’s always a death camps will be set up crisis if Team Blue loses. Court Packing is needed because the other side can’t be trusted. It’s absolutely needed to have Team Blue run things, people will die if they don’t.

                That mindset is a problem for Democracy because if you’re serious then we shouldn’t be having elections.

                Yes, we had a riot at the capital. What stands out is how rare that is, before that I could have pointed out that for all the hysteria our body count was zero.

                If my city burns, odds are it will be because the cops killed someone and Team Blue is running amuck and burning stuff down. You know, again. It will happen because people have been lied to about genocide and how often this sort of thing happens.

                I’m sure I’ll hear “you need to understand” and how this doesn’t really mean something. And it totally shouldn’t damn all of Team Blue who will continue their policy of indulging this sort of thing.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Yes, we had a riot where they came within inches of murdering members of Congress and yes the President demanded that the Governor hold a special election, and yes the President demanded that the Georgia Secretary of State “find the votes” and yes the Vice President considered whether or not to dismiss the votes in the Electoral College and yes a large majority of the Republican Party voters have refused to accept the legitimacy of the outcome and yes they have since driven out all those who refused to participate in the overthrow of a free election but, nevertheless, um, wait, where was I going with this?Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                yes the President demanded that the Georgia Secretary of State “find the votes”

                A big reason why he’s not electable any more.

                and yes the Vice President considered whether or not to dismiss the votes in the Electoral College

                I’m pretty sure that was Trump with Pence taking the other side, and ditto again.

                and yes a large majority of the Republican Party voters have refused to accept the legitimacy of the outcome

                Why, we haven’t seen that since Bush v Gore.

                In a close election, it takes a while for people to settle down. Trump has certainly made that worse.

                um, wait, where was I going with this?

                Where you’re trying to go is we’re just inches away from Tyranny, so it’s absolutely necessary to back Team Blue all the way, even if they want to pack the Supreme Court, manufacture new pseudo-states, and otherwise dismantle Democracy.

                The way to bet is Team Blue doesn’t actually do any of those things, and Team Red lives with Trump going down in flames in 2024 after a crushing defeat.

                And then you’ll be back to claiming the GOP is about to go full Na.zi any minute now so it’s absolutely needed to back Team Blue.Report

              • In a close election, it takes a while for people to settle down. Trump has certainly made that worse.

                It wasn’t close. That’s another MAGA lie, and repeating it isn’t standing up to them.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Was 2016 a close election? I’d thought for 4 years we’d decided that it was extremely close.

                Trump in 2016 won 304 to 227. So HRC was “close” with 227. That’s fine, the electoral college exaggerates these things.

                In 2020, Trump got 232 votes (Biden 306).

                So while you’re not exactly wrong, there’s a disconnect to listening how HRC was very close for 4 years and now we’ve decided that Trump doing better than she did isn’t close at all.Report

              • HRC wasn’t close in the EC; she lost badly. Trump’s “biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan” was a lie, but what do you expect from a pathological liar? Obama won in 2012 with 332, and by 5 million popular votes, but that has the reputation of being close, because the right-wing media is loud and shameless.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

                These responses only boil down to “He can’t do it again” which first, implicitly admits the premise that the Trumpists are opposed to democracy, and second, is demonstrably false in that Trump is entirely electable, and Trumpism is in fact the established government in a majority of states.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                These responses only boil down to “He can’t do it again”

                I think he’s made himself poisonous to everyone outside of his base. IMHO he’d be very fortunate to match Dukakis, and we might see him break Mondale’s record.

                and Trumpism is in fact the established government in a majority of states.

                This is like saying anti-abortion or pro-guns is the established gov in a majority of the states. Those are serious components of a major party so that party needs to take their views into account and needs to virtue signal to them.

                the premise that the Trumpists are opposed to democracy

                We’re in weird territory here. I think they’d say something like they want free and fair elections but deny that’s what happened. It’s like asking a believer of God if they’re in favor of the truth.

                As long as what they really want is a fair election, I’m fine “making the election more secure”, i.e. virtue signaling that the vote is secure. I’m not fine with having the process approved by a Team Red State Congress when their state may have voted Blue.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

                You seem to be unwilling to take the 90% of Republicans who still support Trump at their word or see them for who they insist they really are.

                There is no evidence whatsoever for the assertion that any elected Republican is “virtue signalling” as opposed to “really believing”.Report

              • Philip H in reply to Chip Daniels says:


                He’s still in the place that a lot of movement conservatives were in 2016 – Trump can’t possibly win, so we will humor his supporters until we all vote for a “real” Republican. As you no doubt recall, Trump won the nomination on a plurality.

                And Dark – Mitch McConnell, all the Trumpist governors, and most statewide republican office holders want to keep and consolidate conservative white male power. That’s it. That’s their whole game. They have been telling us this for almost 5 decades, and moving lock stock and barrel toward that goal. Trump helps them achieve that goal. So they will tolerate and enable him so long as that remains the case. They view his toxicity as an asset since it means he will deliver votes. Unless and until he is actually indicted and convicted of multiple felonies he’s not going anywhere.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                the 90% of Republicans who still support Trump

                From the polls I’ve seen, about 50 million people believe the great lie. Something like half to two thirds of the GOP (depending on poll) think Biden is doing a poor job and would prefer to have Trump in there.

                Biden has turned the border into a mess and is trying to spend $5T on progressive dreams. The virus has surged back. Half to two thirds should be 90 plus percent.

                Even THAT isn’t the same thing as “would vote for him now”, and I see no polls that even touch that. If you claim “90%” then you’re listening to Team Blue sources whose job is to keep Blue spun up or you’ve set the bar so high that it’s not passable.

                Trump owns something like 40% of the GDP, call it a third to two thirds. That’s enough to lead and shut down a disunified never trump who doesn’t have a reason to stand up to him. It’s nowhere close enough to get elected if he’s poisonous to everyone but his base. He used to hold rallies that attracted tens or hundreds of thousands, those same rallies now attract dozens or a few hundred.

                We’re now at a point where liberals are using Trump like they’ve been using “racism” for years. It’s a good rally point and something to oppose.Report

              • Philip H in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Donald Trump is revered in Mississippi and in much of the south. Fresh Trump 2024 flags fly within a mile of my house. None of Mississippi’s Republican leadership – including both our senators and our three Republican congressman will say publicly that Joe Biden won. It is an article of faith here that he will run in 2024 and the only way he will loose is if democrats steal the election again.

                You underestimate these people at your own peril.Report