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Trump 232
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Political Wire logo Schumer’s Election Regrets
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Trump Knows He Lost
Trump Has Raised $150 Million to Appeal Election
Murkowski Calls on Trump to Concede

Appeals Court Slaps Down Trump

Q: How many legs would a donkey have if you called the tail a leg? A: Four. Calling the tail a leg doesn't make it a leg. On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit tossed out yet another of Donald Trump's attempts to overturn the election. In a scathing 21-page opinion, Judge Stephanos Bibas, who was appointed to the court by Trump, wrote: "Charges of unfairness are serious, but calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here." Bibas was joined by both of the other two judges (also Republican appointees), in the 3-0 decision.

Trump may appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which would be a foolish thing to do. But with Trump and TV lawyer Rudy Giuliani calling the shots, the more foolish, the better. There is no reason to believe SCOTUS will decide any differently than the appeals court did, since saying: "I saw it on the Internet" is not proof. It will be very embarrassing if there is a 9-0 decision against the President, with his three appointees voting against him. Such a decision would allow Joe Biden to say: "Trump asked the Supreme Court to decide if the election was fair and the Court ruled 9-0 that it was." That would be grossly misleading, but most people aren't following all the details.

Specifically, the lawsuit is about whether Giuliani can fix and refile a defective lawsuit that alleges that some Pennsylvania counties around Philadelphia allowed voters to cure invalid absentee ballots but counties in the "Alabama" part of the state did not. Trump's solution: Throw out the election results. In reality, even if the Supreme Court took the case, the best outcome Trump might get is for the case to be returned to the district court and be refiled slightly differently, but with no better chance of success than the first time.

Oh, as long as we are on the subject of Republicans being slapped down by the courts, on Saturday the Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out a case objecting to the use of no-excuse absentee voting in the Keystone State. These cases keep a-comin', but they are going nowhere.

On Fox News yesterday, Trump said: "The problem is it's hard to get it to the Supreme Court." Actually, he can appeal the decision of the Third Circuit or the Pennsylvania Supreme Court if he wants to. Maybe the Court won't take either case, but he is free to try if he wants to. The real problem is that neither case has a chance to win, and time is running out. (V)

Biden's Lead in Wisconsin Grows by 87 Votes

Donald Trump's campaign paid $3 million (upfront) for a recount of Dane and Milwaukee Counties. The recount of over 800,000 votes was completed yesterday. Joe Biden picked up a net of 87 votes as a result. That is roughly -$34,500 per vote. Not a great return on investment, but when you are desperate, you do stuff like that. The final Wisconsin result is scheduled to be certified tomorrow. Biden won by over 20,000 votes. However, the three Republicans on the board of canvassers could object; we will know tomorrow if they do.

Also on the subject of certification, Arizona will certify its results today at 11 a.m. Joe Biden won the state by about 10,500 votes. Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D), Gov. Doug Ducey (R-AZ), AG Mark Brnovich (R), and state Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Brutinel will all be present when the results are officially certified. With the Republican governor and Republican AG present, when Trump claims the results are fraudulent, he will get some pushback from the state's top Republicans. (V)

Biden Breaks a Record

But not in a good way. Getting over 80 million votes and counting was a major achievement, of course, but another record Joe Biden set was being elected president by winning the smallest number of counties ever for a winner. The counting is still not complete, but it looks like Biden will win just 509 of the 3,143 counties and county equivalents. That's just 16% of them. What it shows is those 80 million Democratic voters are largely clustered in very small but very densely populated geographical areas. Biden won 91 of the 100 most populous counties. He didn't do so well in the wide open spaces, but then again, buffalo don't vote. Biden did win 223 congressional districts, most of which are located in cities and suburban areas, where most of the people live. Here is the preliminary map by county:

County-level electoral map

By way of contrast, Barack Obama won 689 counties in 2012, which is the second smallest number ever for a winner. Hillary Clinton carried 472 counties, but she lost. Bill Clinton twice won over 1,500 counties.

On the other hand, Biden's 509 counties account for 70% of the nation's economic activity. The 2,634 counties Donald Trump won are pretty empty and account for only 30% of the country's economic output. A large soybean field really isn't worth that much compared to what goes on in an office building in Philadelphia, Chicago, or Los Angeles.

Democrats have a built-in disadvantage in the House, and that's before you factor in gerrymandering. If you pack 50 or 60 million people into 500 or so counties, they win those counties by huge margins, but there aren't enough Democrats left in the other counties to win many of them. The result is that millions of Democratic votes are wasted by running up 70, 80, even 90% margins in some places when 51% would do just fine.

The map above underscores the deep divide between white, rural, low-productivity workers who support Trump and the more diverse, urban, high-productivity workers who support Biden. Biden can try to bridge the divide, but most things that might help require congressional approval, and that is not likely to be forthcoming unless the Democrats can win the two Georgia Senate runoffs. (V)

Biden's Top Five Challenges

To say that Joe Biden will be taking over at a difficult time is a bit of an understatement. He knows more about how the U.S. government works than just about anyone on the planet, having served in the Senate for 30 years and as vice president for 8 years. Still, the challenges he will face are enormous, including these:

  • Fighting the pandemic: This is clearly #1. So far, 13 million Americans have been infected and 260,000 have died, with the daily death toll up 60% from 2 weeks ago and still rising. Biden has said he will ask the governors to impose mask mandates, but that is up to them. His biggest challenge is deciding which vaccine(s) to use and coordinating their distribution. If he is successful, that could mark his presidency as a success; otherwise, not so much.

  • Fixing the economy: The unemployment rate is down to 6.9%, far lower than the 14.7% in April. Still, economists are concerned about a double-dip recession. The problem is that until a vaccine is widely available, more restrictions will be needed, including closing many businesses, and thus pushing the unemployment numbers up. Will Congress step up and provide help to businesses and individuals? Don't count on it, as Republicans in the Senate suddenly rediscover their inner deficit hawks. Governing by executive order is not terribly effective, but that is probably all Biden has to work with.

  • Polarization: The country hasn't been this divided after an election since 1860. Donald Trump continues to stoke the fires of resentment and is not about to stop on Jan. 20. A recent poll shows that 80% of Republicans and 45% of independents believe that Biden's win was not legitimate. The 73 million people who voted for Trump are not going to be mollified by anything Biden says or does. Biden promised to unify the country, but when the other party is doing everything it can to increase the divide, he has an unsolvable problem on his hands.

  • Congress: The best case for the Democrats is 224 seats in the House and 50 seats in the Senate. Under those conditions, Biden might be able to govern. But with only 49 or 48 seats in the Senate, it's going to be much harder. After all, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocked the Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland for 8 months and then rammed the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett through a week before the election—and paid no price at all for this. In fact, he was reelected by 19 points, his second-biggest margin in seven elections. Is he going to be in a mood to cooperate with Biden or will his biggest legislative goal be to make Biden a one-term president? The question answers itself.

  • Defining his presidency: Why did Biden run for president? Perhaps it was because: (1) it was his turn and (2) to get rid of Donald Trump. Is there anything else? Will he be able to give his presidency a coherent meaning? Will he be able to raise the national morale?

Then there is the small stuff, like preventing the Democratic Party from fracturing and trying to avoid massive losses in the House in 2022. By 2023, when Biden will probably announce that he is heading back to Delaware in Jan. 2025, he may wonder why he wanted the job in the first place. (V)

Supreme Court to Hear Census Case Today

Art. I, Sec. 2, Clause 3 of the Constitution begins:

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.

So, the Constitution requires an enumeration of the whole number of free persons every 10 years. The part about the 3/5 got scotched by the Thirteen Amendment, but the part about the whole number of free persons is still there. Note that it doesn't say "whole number of voters" or "whole number of U.S. citizens," or anything like that. Just "free persons," which since the Thirteenth Amendment means all persons.

Donald Trump is not a known constitutional scholar and managed to misread "free persons" as "U.S. citizens," so he doesn't want to count noncitizens for the purpose of reapportioning the House of Representatives. This would just so happen to give more political power to largely white states with few immigrants, but that's purely an accident, of course.

Today the Supreme Court will start its process of determining what a "free person" is as it will hold oral arguments on a case brought by 20 states and others that would require the Census Bureau to count all inhabitants of each state, not only citizens. This has been the government's practice for well over 200 years. Two appeals courts have already upheld that view. Now it is the Supreme Court's turn to decide this once and for all.

If the Supreme Court overturns the appeals courts, it would be up to Joe Biden's secretary of commerce to deal with it. One obvious problem is that the census didn't ask about citizenship status (because the Supreme Court said it couldn't). So the Trump administration has guessed how many undocumented immigrants there are in each state and subtracted that from the count. If the originalists on the Court want to give Trump a win here, it will be interesting to see how they interpret "enumeration" as being the same as "wild guess made by some bureaucrat."

Trump is required by law to advise Congress on the census by Jan. 10, 2021, so there are plenty of known unknowns here. First, what happens if the Court doesn't render a decision by then? Second, what happens if the Census Bureau is unable to produce its report to the President by Jan. 10? Third, what happens if the President sends Congress some made-up numbers and one chamber sends them back saying: "No thanks. Please give us the real numbers,"? In case you don't have a calculator app handy, Jan. 10 is only 10 days from Jan. 20, when stuff will change. Getting the wheels of government to turn in 10 days might not be so easy, so it is pretty hard to predict now how this will end. (V)

House Results Are Nearly Complete Now

As of today, 431 of the 435 House races have been called, with Democrats winning 222 and Republicans winning 209. Four races are still not yet called, but the Democrats already have enough wins to control the House, albeit with a much smaller caucus than they have now. Democrats lost 12 of their own seats but picked off open Republican seats in three districts, for net of -9 so far. Republicans knocked off Democrats in 12 districts, picked up one Libertarian seat, but lost three of their own seats for a net of +10 so far. Here are the seats that changed parties:

District PVI Incumbent Winner
CA-21 D+5 TJ Cox (D) David Valadao (R)
CA-39 Even Gil Cisneros (D) Young Kim (R)
CA-48 R+4 Harley Rouda (D) Michelle Steel (R)
FL-26 D+6 Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D) Carlos Giménez (R)
FL-27 D+5 Donna Shalala (D) Maria Elvira Salazar (R)
GA-07 R+9 Open (Rob Woodall, R) Carolyn Bourdeaux (D)
IA-01 D+1 Abby Finkenauer (D) Ashley Hinson (R)
MI-03 R+6 Open (Justin Amash, L) Peter Meijer (R)
MN-07 R+12 Collin Peterson (D) Michelle Fischbach (R)
NM-02 R+6 Xochitl Torres-Small (D) Yvette Herrell (R)
NY-11 D+3 Max Rose (D) Nicole Malliotakis (R)
NC-02 R+7 Open (George Holding, R) Deborah Ross (D)
NC-06 R+9 Open (Mark Walker, R) Kathy Manning (D)
OK-05 R+10 Kendra Horn (D) Stephanie Bice (R)
SC-01 R+10 Joe Cunningham (D) Nancy Mace (R)
UT-04 R+13 Ben McAdams (D) Burgess Owens (R)

It was a poor showing for the blue team (see below). Not a single sitting Republican went down to defeat (so far). The Democrats lost some seats in deep red districts that they managed to win in 2018, so losing them again was not a huge surprise. But they also lost five D+ districts where they had an incumbent running. When the partisan tilt is on your side and you have an incumbent, you are supposed to win. It didn't happen everywhere.

The following races are too close to call or are subject to a runoff:

District PVI Incumbent Notes
CA-25 Even Mike Garcia (R) Garcia leads Christy Smith (D) by 405 votes
IA-02 D+1 Open (David Loebsack, D) Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R) leads Rita Hart (D) by 6 votes
LA-05 R+15 Open (Ralph Abraham, R) Both candidates in the Dec. 5 runoff are Republicans
NY-22 R+6 Anthony Brindisi (D) Brindisi leads Claudia Tenney (R) by 22 votes

In the best case, the Democrats could pick up three more seats, but CA-25 doesn't look good for the blue team. Like the North Carolina Senate race, this was case of someone shooting himself/herself in the...foot. Democrat Katie Hill, who is bisexual, knocked off a Republican in 2018. In 2019, a right-wing website charged that she was having an affair with her male legislative director and also published nude photos of her with another woman (probably supplied by her ex-husband). Hill was forced to resign and Mike Garcia won the ensuing special election.

Realistically, the Democrats will have between 222 and 224 seats in the new House, depending on the final results in IA-02 and NY-22. If Miller-Meeks wins her race by six votes, the next time someone says: "My vote doesn't matter," it might be helpful to bring up the fact that a seat in Congress was recently decided by six votes. (V)

Republicans Came Back to Life in California

California was the state that gave Donald Trump his worst shellacking, with him losing by over 5 million votes. But the once moribund California Republican Party showed signs of life again. In CA-21, CA-39, and CA-48, seats that Democrats flipped in 2018 reflipped back to the GOP this year. In addition when the dust settles, CA-25 may well be a fourth Republican pickup. And the victories came in a high-turnout presidential election year, when Democrats normally do well.

In addition, the Republican Party once again became the second biggest party in terms of voter registration, beating out the old number 2: "Decline to state." To top that off, voters rejected a business tax, rent control, reinstatement of affirmative action, and a measure to classify gig workers (like Uber drivers and task rabbits) as employees rather than as independent contractors. It was the best showing for California Republicans in a decade. The Golden State is not about to become Texas, but it should be a warning to Democrats not to take the state for granted. (V)

Why Did the Democrats Do So Badly in House Races?

There have been dozens of reasons why the Democrats lost a dozen House seats and counting. These include:

  • All Democrats were tainted by "The Squad"
  • "Defund the police"
  • Squishy centrists talked only to suburban housewives
  • Republicans did even better with noncollege whites than last time

But David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report has a different explanation: The Republicans wised up to the idea that you can't win every district with an old white man. Every district the Republicans flipped was won by a woman or a minority man. When you run candidates who look like the district, you generally do better.

But there were other factors, too. Trump got millions of unlikely voters to the polls and while they were there, they voted a straight Republican ticket. In addition, some of those affluent suburbanites are still Republicans at heart. They just don't like Trump, so there was quite a bit of ticket splitting. So the combination of the candidates who were a better fit to the district than usual, the low-propensity Trump voters, and the Trump-hating suburban Republicans did the trick.

Another explanation is that the Republicans hammered Democrats on being socialists and hating the police and the Democrats didn't fight back at all. In all their ads, Democrats never mentioned the police at all. In part this was because expressing support for the police would have enraged many Black voters. So they didn't say anything and were hit over the head by "defund the police" and had no answer. They could have campaigned on "reform the police," but they didn't.

One hopeful sign for the Democrats is that while the president's party usually takes a drubbing in the midterms, turnout is generally terrible. Since it is the college-educated professionals who tend to vote in the midterms, and they have become Democrats, maybe the usual rules won't apply in 2022. (V)

The Senate Will Be Plunged into Uncertainty for Weeks Next Year

The two Georgia Senate runoffs on Jan. 5 are expected to be close, which means recounts and more recounts. After that, perhaps recounts? Who knows? The results may not even be known by Inauguration Day, which is sure to plunge the Senate into uncertainty at the start of the new term, potentially for weeks until both elections are certified.

Here is what we know for sure. The term of Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) ends on Jan. 3, 2021. The term of Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) ends on Jan. 3, 2023, or when a successor is certified, whichever comes first. Starting Jan. 3, 2021, and until the race between Perdue and Jon Ossoff is certified, the Senate will have 51 Republicans, 46 Democrats, and two independents who caucus with the Democrats. David Perdue will join the ranks of the unemployed on Jan. 3. The rest is uncertain.

Normally, the first thing a new Senate does is approve an organizing resolution, which specifies how many Democrats and how many Republicans are on each committee and who is the chair. Since it is not yet known which party will control the chamber—and that might not be known until mid-January—the Senate will be paralyzed for weeks. In practice, that means the committees will stay in their current form way beyond Jan. 3. This creates a problem, because three of the chairmen are retiring from the Senate. Consequently, those committees (Agriculture, Budget, and HELP) cannot meet or function in any way.

This means these committees can't vet any of Joe Biden's cabinet or other nominees. Traditionally, the president-elect submits nominations to the Senate in early January so the committees can get a head start and then have the full Senate approve them in the afternoon of Jan. 20. Early approval is especially important for national security positions. In an extreme example, if the United States is attacked at noon on Jan. 20 the new president might decide to respond with nuclear weapons. In that case, the military officer holding the nuclear football would unquestionably hand it to the new president, who would open it to get the nuclear codes. He would then issue the attack order to the secretary of defense, who would then relay the order to the Joint Chiefs. But what if there is no secretary of defense? Ooops.

To make things more complicated, the Republicans have a rule that rotates chairs/ranking members every 6 years. Nine committees will get a new top Republican next year, which will set off a game of musical chairs. For example, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) will leave the Finance Committee to take over the top Republican slot at the Judiciary Committee, displacing Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who will take over for the retiring Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) on the Budget Committee. None of that can even begin until there is an organizing resolution. There are also implications for which staffers go where. In short, things could be chaotic until the Georgia runoffs are settled. (V)

Is Democracy Safe Now?

It looks like the guy who won the presidential election will be inaugurated on schedule on Jan. 20 and the guy who didn't win will leave. He will rant and rave about being cheated, but he will go. So democracy triumphed? Yes, but it was an extremely close call and next time around we might not be so lucky.

To start with, if 44,000 votes had gone differently in Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin, it would have been a nailbiter in three states and there's no telling what might have happened. What if Georgia had been counted four times and Joe Biden won twice by a couple of hundred votes and Donald Trump won twice by a couple of hundred votes? After all, George W. Bush beat Al Gore by only 537 votes in Florida in 2000. In any event, a would-be president-for-life now has a script for overthrowing the next election. It's all worked out now, ready to be applied. Here are main chapters in The Election Thief's Handbook:

  • Convince your voters that the election was stolen: If the candidate is the only one who thinks he won, stealing the election won't work. The candidate first needs to work his base up into a frenzy and convince them the election was stolen. Some nominal reason is needed, and this time it was the "red mirage" and consequent "blue shift." Because the Republican-controlled state legislatures in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania refused to allow absentee ballots to be counted as they arrived, it was easy to claim that ballots that showed up after Election Day must have been fake. Then it was easy to stoke outrage in the Republican base. Every would-be demagogue surely took note of this.

  • Make sure state and local officials are loyal: A handful of officials count and certify the vote in key states. Probably fewer than 10. Secretaries of state are responsible for adding up county tallies. They also have some authority for setting the rules for accepting/rejecting ballots. For example, if a signature has a problem, is the voter given a chance to cure it? A friendly secretary of state can provide a lot of assistance by setting up policies that work in your favor. These could involve what to do with late-arriving ballots, ballots with no or an unreadable postmark, etc. Then there are the people on the state canvassing board. Normally, the process for accepting the results is pro forma, but if a couple of your players refuse to accept the results, that opens other possibilities. If need be, massive pressure can be applied to elected and appointed officials to encourage them to produce the result you want.

  • Have the state legislatures name the electors: The Constitution gives the legislatures the authority to determine how the electors are chosen. In all states, they have passed laws saying an election will be held to determine which slate of electors gets to cast the electoral votes. Can the legislature take back that power by simply announcing that the election was flawed so it will just name the electors directly? So far, none of them have tried, but there is always a first time.

  • Appeal to the courts: The losing candidate is sure to ask the courts for help. This year that didn't work, but suppose the results were closer or some of the errors in counting were more serious. What would happen then? For example, what if the secretary of state of some state decides to expand absentee voting without the legislature approving that. Would that be grounds to discard all the absentee ballots that came in under the new rule? Justice Brett Kavanaugh basically said as much in October. What if there is a dispute over the conditions under which felons can vote? What if a state legislature decides to ignore the election and picks its own electors? Ultimately, all it takes is five votes on the Supreme Court to make any decision stick.

  • The last chance: Congress: What if the governor of a state sends off a batch of electoral votes and the state legislature sends off a different batch? It is up to Congress to figure out what to do. If one party controls Congress, it can create a commission with, say, 8 of its members and 7 from the other party to figure it out and then vote on it. Its decision can override everything. If the Republicans can hold the Senate and win the House in 2022, they will potentially be in a position to pick the president in 2024 no matter what else happens that year.

In short, if one party is willing to pull out all stops to win, democracy be damned, there are various places pressure can be applied to make it happen. The system is far weaker than everyone had assumed until this year. All it takes is a close election and a small number of players in the right places to simply force the result to be what the people in power want.

With that said, the fact is that the system did work this year, even with Donald Trump and his enablers throwing every wrench into the works that they could come up with. Furthermore, the entire social contract on which democracy is based is the notion that "even if I don't agree with the outcome of this election, I'll have an opportunity to help change things in the next election." The very first time that an election is turned into a charade, that contract will be broken, and those whose votes have been pushed aside will react very badly. There will be riots, and widespread defiance of the "elected" government, and states might even try to secede. The president who stole the election would find himself or herself with vastly less "hard" power than any president in the last century, and with virtually no "soft" power. So while it is wise to be mindful and watchful when it comes to worst-case scenarios, one should not overstate the chances of those scenarios coming to pass. (V)

Can the Democrats Win Again in 2024?

The 2024 election is right around the corner, so Ronald Brownstein, always an astute observer of politics, has started to look at it. To begin, Joe Biden's commanding lead in the popular vote and narrow victory in the Electoral College is likely to be the new normal. One area where the Democrats are clearly in trouble is the Midwest. Barack Obama won Indiana in 2008; it's off the table now. Iowa used to be a swing state; it's pretty red now. Ohio and Missouri were once bellwethers; now they are solidly Republican. While Biden eked out a win in Wisconsin, it could be the next to go. Michigan and Pennsylvania might stay blue a little longer because they are dominated by big cities, but Biden may be the last Democrat who can appeal to blue-collar workers in the Midwest. There are real questions about whether any Democrat who is not an older white man with blue-collar roots can win in the Midwest in the future.

The Democrats could make that up if they can swamp the Republicans in the suburban counties around Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, and Detroit. Early signs are somewhat encouraging for them, but that is a work in progress.

An analysis by the Daily Yonder, which tracks rural concerns, divides counties into seven categories on population density. Trump improved his margin in the two least-populated categories and Biden did better than Hillary Clinton in the two densest categories. In the middle, Biden did better than Clinton in smaller cities while Trump won the suburbs of smaller cities. A number of analysts have noted that Democrats often do well in the smaller cities, even in red states, so that is probably something they ought to work on.

If the Midwest is drifting away from the Democrats unless there is an older white man heading the ticket, the Party is going to be forced to look south. Their salvation could be the suburbs around Phoenix, Tucson, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and Raleigh. Florida is still in play as well, but they have to do better with Latinos there.

However, there is another factor that is very slowly going to strangle the Republicans: demographic change. A few percent of their elderly 2020 voters—how shall we put this gently?—will not participate in the 2024 election. And a few million current 14-17 year-olds will, and they skew heavily Democratic. However, young voters have a poor voting record, so it could take until 2028 before the effect really kicks in.

The 2020 election was a standoff. It could be called the "Antietam election," after the 1862 Civil War battle in which 22,700 soldiers were killed, wounded, or missing, but neither side scored a decisive victory. In 2020, the Democrats won the White House but the Republicans did well in Senate, House, and state legislative races. It is likely that 2024 could be another Antietam election unless Biden somehow brings a lot of blue-collar men into the tent or else the Democrats continue to win over suburban voters. (V)

Build That Wall!

It's not as long as the Great Wall of China, but the Great Wall of Trump (GWOT) is getting longer all the time. While Donald Trump is spending his remaining days in office out of the office playing golf, builders in southern Arizona are blowing up the Peloncillo Mountains to build a $41-million-per-mile wall in inhospitable territory that is too rugged for anyone to cross, even without a wall. Trump's goal is to get 450 miles of new wall construction built during his term. About 400 miles have been completed so far, but only 25 miles of that is in areas that previously had no barrier. The rest is just upgrading previous parts of the border that had fencing, dilapidated walls, or just vehicle barriers. The builders are under pressure to work as fast as they can before Joe Biden is inaugurated, since he is likely to halt wall construction once he is president.

The whole project is getting mixed reviews on the ground. Fifth-generation cattleman and lifelong Republican Bill McDonald, who lives there, said: "Wildlife corridors, the archaeology, and history, that's all being blasted to oblivion or destroyed already. Tragedy is the word I use to describe it." Diana Hadley, whose family ranch includes much of the Guadalupe Canyon, where wall construction is ongoing, said: "This isn't just heartbreaking but totally pointless" (because the natural barrier deterred everyone from crossing it). On the other hand, Belva Klump said: "All I can say about the wall is that I'd like to see more of it." Her grandson, Timmothy Klump, seconded her by saying: "The wall is a common-sense thing that improves our security and keeps my cows from wandering into Mexico." Indeed, $41 million per mile is a small price to pay so that diners in New York steakhouses won't be eating meat produced from Mexican grass.

One thing that has slowed construction is the fact that much of the border land is privately owned. Even ranchers who are pro-wall tend to be pro-wall-on-someone-else's-land-but-not-on-my-land. This year alone, the administration has filed 117 new lawsuits against landowners to survey, seize, or begin construction on private land. It will be easy for the Biden administration to simply concede defeat on all these suits, thus de facto ending construction on private land. Still, in the next 8 weeks, some sections of the wall will be built and it is doubtful that Biden will go to the effort and expense of tearing any of it down. So Trump may get his mini-monument after all. (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Nov29 Sunday Mailbag
Nov28 Saturday Q&A
Nov27 Trump Says He'll Leave if He Loses the Electoral College
Nov27 How Long to Go from the White House to the Big House?
Nov27 Trump Complicates Things in Georgia
Nov27 Trump Foreign Policy More a Wrong Turn Than a Real Change in Direction
Nov27 The Last Gasp of Anti-Trans Politics?
Nov27 The Biden Cabinet: Secretary of Commerce
Nov27 The Thanksgiving Angle
Nov26 Biden Hits 80 Million Votes
Nov26 Biden Rules Out Having Sanders and Warren in the Cabinet
Nov26 Jaime Harrison Is the Frontrunner for DNC Chairman
Nov26 Trump Pardons Michael Flynn
Nov26 Should Trump Be Prosecuted?
Nov26 Another Theory about Why the Polls Were Wrong
Nov26 Money Can Buy Ads, but Not Love
Nov26 How to Run a Proper Election
Nov26 All Hail to the Gerrymander
Nov25 Pennsylvania and Nevada Have Now Certified Their Election Results
Nov25 Here's What Biden's Transition Team Will Now Get
Nov25 People Are Pissed
Nov25 Trump is Salting the Earth as He Retreats
Nov25 Trump Is Also Making Life Difficult for Republicans
Nov25 Trump's Base Strategy Failed
Nov25 Charles Koch Has an Admission: I Screwed Up
Nov25 Loeffler is Attacking Warnock's Sermons
Nov25 Democrats Are Going to Have to Deal with a Much Smaller House Majority
Nov25 Virginia Gubernatorial Race Is On
Nov24 Trump Allows Transition to Go Forward
Nov24 Biden Unveils More of His Team
Nov24 The Biden Cabinet: Secretary of Agriculture
Nov24 Harris Could Hamstring McConnell
Nov24 California Senate News, Part I
Nov24 California Senate News, Part II
Nov24 Now That's a Useful Poll
Nov23 The Window for Trump Is Closing
Nov23 Senate Republicans Signal That Biden Can Pick His Own Cabinet
Nov23 Ten Things Biden Can Do without Senate Approval
Nov23 Many Republicans Believe that Trump Was Cheated Out of Victory
Nov23 Parler Has Become the Hot New Destination for the MAGA Set
Nov23 Democrats' Latino Problem is Bigger than Just Florida and Texas
Nov23 The Cabinet Is Leaking
Nov23 Do the Republicans Have a Small-State Advantage in the Electoral College?
Nov23 What's Next for Trump?
Nov23 Squad, Meet the Anti-Squad
Nov23 Loeffler Is Quarantining
Nov23 Mark Walker Will Run for Burr's Senate Seat in 2022
Nov22 Sunday Mailbag
Nov21 Saturday Q&A
Nov20 Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures