Indiana County and ‘the b.s. of infinite possibility’

Post-election celebration, Philadelphia, November 2020. Photo: The Guardian

Election 2020

 “… And finally, it’s the bullshit of infinite possibility. These bullshitters cover their unwillingness to act under the guise of unending inquiry: We can’t do anything because we don’t yet know everything.”

  — fake-news man Jon Stewart, final monologue,  The Daily Show, Comedy Central, August 7, 2015

 

By David Loomis

INDIANA – Jon Stewart’s vintage pre-Trump peroration continues to enlighten a dark moment: One Republican U.S. senator, for example, has been moved to call the outgoing president’s unhinged distractions a  “s— show.” Meanwhile, the show has dumped a load on Pennsylvania, staining the president’s Republican allies – including some in Indiana County – who shovel it rather than censure it.

To review this past week’s blizzard of post-election b.s.:

Twice the U.S. Supreme Court has denied Donald Trump’s attempts to trash the Nov. 3 election. On Tuesday the high court dismissed his Pennsylvania-based appeal in one 18-word sentence — no dissents, no recusals.

On Friday, the loser lost again when the Supremes rejected a Trumped-up Texas attempt (led by the state’s federally indicted attorney general and probable candidate for presidential-pardon) to demand that four other states – including Pennsylvania – overturn their election results. (“Butt out” read the headline in The New York Times.) The loss extended Trump’s high-court losing streak to 0-for-2.

That’s on top of his 1-for-50-something box score in various state and federal courts since he lost the Nov. 3 election. The courthouse losses were not close calls.

Judges considering team Trump’s legal antics have been “scathing” or “blistering” in their rulings. “Nonsense dressed up in statistical jargon is still nonsense” was PolitiFact’s euphemistic analysis of the b.s. Texas gambit.

 

ONE REVEALING STRATEGY of team Trump’s legal fight is that they keep the president’s lies about voter fraud largely out of court.  

In one recent Pennsylvania case, for example, team Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani alleged “widespread, nationwide voter fraud” in an opening statement. But under questioning from the federal judge demanding evidence, he backed off. “This is not a fraud case,” Giuliani weaved.

An encouraging element of Trump’s legal tirades is that the judiciary is a branch of government where his trademark falsehoods can get you jail time. And violation of the American Bar Association’s code of professional ethics could cost an attorney’s license. 

So now more than a thousand attorneys are encouraged to ask whether Trump’s b.s. legal arguments and repeated rejections in court should be sanctioned for violating professional ethics and for filing frivolous lawsuits. Interestingly, Republicans, usually eager to restrict injured Americans’ access to civil courts, are arguing that the loser-in-chief deserves to exhaust all legal avenues – to infinity, apparently — before surrendering.

 

THIS IS THE ARGUMENT advanced by state Rep. Jim Struzzi, R-Indiana, in explaining his signature on a Dec. 4 letter from more than 60 state lawmakers to the state’s congressional delegation seeking to overturn the state’s Electoral College votes. In a Dec. 7 email, Struzzi said his signature was a “clerical error.”

State Rep. Jim Struzzi, R-Indiana, July 2020. Local activist Tammy Curry cuts ribbon, White Township, Pa. Photo: Anthony Frazier.

“I didn’t support the letter and did not want my signature included,” Struzzi wrote.

Good. That appeared to put him in the company of U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., a recipient of the Dec. 4 letter and the commonwealth’s top elected Republican. Mr. Toomey rebuked the president for baiting the state’s GOP lawmakers into writing the letter to subvert the will of the voters – including the voters who elected those same state lawmakers.

But Struzzi extended his remarks in a Dec. 8 Indiana Gazette story. 

“I do support continuing any lawsuits and court actions to assure that all legal votes were counted accurately,”  Struzzi said.

(Update: Struzzi performed the same two-step in the Trumped-up Texas case tossed by the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday. He didn’t sign an amicus brief in support of the Texas grab, he said, but he backed it nevertheless. “While the brief lacks my signature, it has my support,” he wrote constituents in a Dec. 11 email.)

This is a variation on Jon Stewart’s b.s. “of infinite possibility”: In virtually every one of the scores of lawsuits brought by Trump to overturn his loss in the 2020 election, he lost. Bigly. Yet, in Mr. Struzzi’s view, there is always another Hail Mary lawsuit for Trump’s legal team to litigate.

State Sen. Joe Pittman, R-Indiana, downtown rally, May 2020. Photo by Fred Kipp.

State Sen. Joe Pittman, R-Pa., who did sign the Dec. 4 letter to disenfranchise Pennsylvania voters, offered a variation on the “infinite possibility” theme.

“At the end of the day, when there are disputes over the electors, it is left to Congress to resolve those disputes,” Pittman told The Gazette. “My problem is … how our courts and the governor have twisted our current election laws.”

The courts have resolved the disputes, times 50. The election results have been certified. The chances of the congressional coup attempt endorsed by Mr. Pittman are about 1 in a quadrillion. Far more important issues are pressing.

 

Rep. Struzzi and Sen. Pittman are providing political oxygen for team Trump’s b.s. of infinite possibility.

Fox News, for example, now reports that Trump’s mouthpiece promises that Supreme Court dismissal of the Texas lawsuit against Pennsylvania won’t end the election fight.

“The people of this country are entitled to a hearing on this,” Giuliani said. 

__________

David Loomis, Ph.D., emeritus professor of journalism at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, is editor of The HawkEye.

The HawkEye invites comments on this and other issues of community interest. Email doloomis@iup.edu or click on the “contact us” drop-down menu, above.

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