November 28, 2020

America’s Goebbelsian Moment

by Hal Gershowitz

Comments Below

Hopefully, it will turn out to have been only a moment. But don’t count on it.

We’ve seen this moment before when the truth is no longer defined as what factually is, but, rather, as that which is in the best interest of some autocrat or some movement or some regime.

Josef Goebbels was the Reich Minister of Enlightenment and Propaganda in Germany from 1933 to 1945. Goebbels demonstrated that a big lie can be devised, aggressively and loudly repeated, and transformed into an ersatz reality. Goebbels’ thinking was not original, but few, if any, before him had ever elevated raw deceit to such exquisite perfection or devasting effect. He was a gaunt, diminutive man, but a giant among liars.

No, I am not suggesting an equivalency between the Trump Administration and the Third Reich. Our democratic institutions are bigger than undemocratic men, and our institutions will prevail. However, I am suggesting that a big lie is extremely dangerous, especially when perpetrated by little men in high places. When endless lies are used for self-serving political ends, the nation, any nation, is the loser. Words do matter, and when they are carefully chosen for the sole purpose of misinforming, they are no longer simply misspoken errors. They are, instead, calculated and dangerous lies.

When President Trump harangues that he won the election…that the election was rigged…that the Democratic Party and Joe Biden engaged in a devious, well-coordinated national conspiracy to steal the election from the American people, he isn’t merely mistaken. Assuming he is not delusional, he is simply lying. He is engaging in a calculated attempt to do what he is accusing his opponents of doing. He is trying to taint, if not steal, an election he lost. He knows he lost. His campaign knows he lost, and most of the country knows he lost.

He began laying the groundwork for his lie before the election. He warned, with no evidence, of a massive fraud being perpetrated. He wanted no voting by mail despite the pandemic, and he wanted all vote counting to cease on the day of the election. With a straight face, President Trump announced to the nation that the votes cast for him were the legal votes and any votes that showed Biden in the lead were the illegal votes. Before the election began, he proclaimed that the Democrats were plotting to steal the election, that they had rigged it. To prove his point, he produced nothing.

Federal Judge Matthew Brann for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, a conservative Republican, a member of the Federalist Society, and even a National Rifle Association straight shooter heard the Trump case and found, “…this court has been presented with strained legal arguments, without merit (emphasis added) and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence (emphasis added)…“like Frankenstein’s Monster haphazardly stitched together.” This is shameful, especially shameful in a case brought by a lame-duck President determined to hold on to power, contrary to the will of a clear majority of the American people.

Then, Friday, a federal appeals court in Philadelphia unanimously rejected yet another effort to challenge the state’s election results. “Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy. 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,” Judge Stephanos Bibas, a Trump-appointed Republican, wrote for the three-judge panel.

 Trump’s groundless allegations are not merely an attack on our election but on our democracy. Republican officials at the state and federal level have bravely attested to the fairness of the election. President Trump immediately fired those within the purview of his office for daring to speak truth to power, and he has lashed out at honest Republican officials who have attested to the fairness of the election in those battleground states that went for Biden.

Thursday, President Trump held an impromptu press conference to simply trash the election. He based his rather unhinged attack on his contention that there was no way “a candidate like Biden” could have attracted so many voters. It seems not to have occurred to President Trump that a candidate like him could have possibly repelled enough voters to make Biden President. That President Trump would behave this way may be shocking, but it isn’t surprising.

His behavior hasn’t been surprising for a long time; not since he publicly basked in the glory of the most massive inaugural crowd in history, except it wasn’t, or the greatest economic growth in history, except it wasn’t, or the greatest civil rights presidency since Lincoln, except it wasn’t, or his spectacular management of the pandemic, except it wasn’t, or that soon the pandemic would miraculously disappear, except it hasn’t, or that Mexico was paying for his wall, except they weren’t, and that China is paying for the tariffs, except they aren’t, that he is a stable genius, except he isn’t, and that there has been a massive nationwide Democratic Party conspiracy to rig and steal the election, except there hasn’t been.

Josef Goebbels had only a newfangled national radio network and posters, printed material, and rallies attended by a rapt and ready Volk, and brown-shirted enforcers to elevate his lies into the Nazi’s deadly group think. Today, however, politicians and miscreants have Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and an army of bots, trolls, sycophants, naïve followers and, of course, committed believers supercharging, sharing, and amplifying whatever prevarications are being handed down from high up, or up from down low.

Goebbels could have only imagined a day when propagandists like him might have the amplification tools provided by today’s social media platforms with their supercomputer learning machines to diminish the judgment of an entire nation and the other nearly four billion social media users worldwide. Lies cleverly packaged and spread on social media excite users like photons excite electrons.

As the saying goes, lies can travel around the world, while truth is still putting its shoes on. Toxic political lies are like a virus, constantly replicating as they are passed along on social media, in the press, and by unsuspecting conveyers and deliberate provocateurs. The lie virus is always harmful and all too often deadly. Political lies are handmaidens to political corruption, no matter the political party. America has been savaged by two terrible viruses this year, one medical and one political, and we may pay a big price for years to come.

America has largely ditched the thoughtfully published press and the carefully written history text for the flotsam of social media. Dumbing down has become a national pastime. We are inculcating a political class that is not only a product of this diminution of intellectual curiosity and critical thinking but, worse, who are exploiters of the decline. Smarter, devious, and far more articulate political operatives are paying attention. They will study and soon adopt the lessons of this Goebbelsian moment.

History doesn’t really repeat itself. Mankind does. History merely takes note. A study last year of 41,000 Americans conducted by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation found that only 27 percent of Americans under 45 have even a basic knowledge of American history. Philosopher George Santayana vastly understated the problem when he taught that those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. Today, we have a staggering number of Americans who never learned the past in the first place. 

Politicians often stretch the truth in speeches or when answering questions in interviews. However, when they concoct campaigns that are predicated on an immense and terrible lie in order to hold on to power, they have chosen a Goebbelsian path to ignominy. That, sadly, is the path President Trump has chosen for his march into history.

All comments regarding these essays, whether they express agreement, disagreement, or an alternate view, are appreciated and welcome. Comments that do not pertain to the subject of the essay or which are ad hominem references to other commenters are not acceptable and will be deleted.

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35 responses to “America’s Goebbelsian Moment”

  1. Irwin yablans says:

    Yeah, but they did move the capitol to Jerusalem and the stock market hit 30,000
    And we got That last minute Supreme Court pick.
    It’s all good, right?

  2. Steve says:

    Brilliant analysis of why so many well meaning Americans are drinking the Kool Ade. And it’s frightening cost.

  3. Ray Galante says:

    Get rid of this nightmare president 1/25/21. Republicans, wake up; you lost me and many others thru unforgiving weakness.

  4. Steve Prover says:

    Steve: Not only are so very many Americans drinking Trump Kool-aid, but with the palatable drumbeat of Fox News, Breitbart, Newsmax , OAN et al they are practically consuming it intravenously. Need proof? Just read some of the reader comments to these amazing weekly essays.

  5. Steve Prover says:

    Response to Irwin Yablans: Thank You for detailing the Trump administration’s incredible accomplishments without resorting to the usual sarcasm I frequently employ.

  6. LWY says:

    Like you say, Goebbels controlled the press and lied to the public. How is this different than what you read and hear in the NY Times, Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, ABC,NBC, CBS, etc.? Having an election where votes are mailed out to everyone without verifying they are alive and they have a current address and not verifying signatures should never happen again or we will repeat history.

  7. ELIEZAR BENJAMIEN aka Leonard Sherman says:

    Hal why don’t you give it up already in a couple of months president Trump will return to a page in American history after he is gone please let it go you are getting boring after four years of your bashing of Trump How abut this. THE ONLY THING WRONG WITH AMERICA IS THAT THE VAST MAJORITY OF AMERICANS DONT KNOW HOW GREAT AMERICA IS.

  8. Perry Green says:

    Sorry to disagree,if ever there was a Goebbels effort it was the
    mainstream press along with High tech. I have serious doubts
    about who won the election. I cannot justify Biden receiving
    80 million votes far more than a popular Obama did.

    The preponderance of ballots strewn about and voted is
    staggering considering how unenthusiastic his voters were.
    Trump like he said “I am not a politician this is why so many
    people voted for him.
    Trump from the very first day was beat up and reviled along with his first lady constantly while Biden received no scrutiny
    to far worse allegations to his wealth, and years in office.

  9. Stephen Prover says:

    Response to Eleizar/Benjamin: I am going to guess you have been around for a while… Have you never learned the folly of attacking the messenger when the message makes you uncomfortable..?

  10. Michael gong says:

    Absolutely brilliant. Maybe your best yet, and that’s saying something.

  11. Stuart Goldfine says:

    I agree with LWY.

    Unfortunately, the children today are dumbing down, relying on new toys to do their thinking and calculations.

    Not teaching history, geography , mathematics, the arts, and music , or cursive handwriting is pathetic in this day and age.

    Their history seems to begin with Rap music and socialistic teachings in the school. I graduated high school in 1955 and graduated college, but never had any politically motivated teachers or professors. Now they are brainwashing our youth.

  12. Roberta Conner says:

    It is so obvious Trump won by a landslide! It is common sense! There is no way Biden received that many votes! I believe most Biden supporters know that too. Was Casey Anthony responsible for her daughter’s demise????? Was OJ responsible for Nicole’s and Goldman’s death????? Remember the shocked look on their faces when they were found, “Not Guilty”???? I have seen that expression on many faces since Biden was determined to be president-elect.

  13. susan duman says:

    I just opened it, read it, and wanted to praise you from the rooftop.
    What’s been so extraordinary about my Sunday report from you is your desire to remind me of history and advance the context of today.
    I’m a little smarter after each of your essays.
    Thank you.

  14. sdjg says:

    LWY, Perry Green and Roberta Conner — Please show one piece of evidence that Trump won this election, let alone by a landslide. So far, the Trump team has not produced a shred of evidence in court — it is nothing more than hot air – a wild and desperate attempt to gaslight you as Trump has been doing from Day 1 of his Presidency. I am staggered by the number of intelligent people who refuse to disengage from the Trump cult and look at the true facts. As Hal correctly pointed out, a majority of the country had finally had enough of the lies, the hideous cruelty, the trashing of our Constitution and rule of law; they’d had enough of Trump’s enriching himself on the backs of the American taxpayers, of his alliances with the murderous dictators of the world, not to mention the 266K (and climbing) dead Americans due to Trump’s horrendous and tragic mismanaging of this pandemic .

    As for ballot counting, let me repeat my comment from last week on vote counting, which is relevant to the comments that LWY and others have posted – this is my own experience with ballot counting:

    My husband had a friend drop off his ballot at the Post Office — the Post Office required the signature of the person dropping the ballot. Even though my husband had signed the ballot envelope, his signature differed from the one left at the Post Office– we received a letter a few days later from the election Board that my husband’s signature didn’t match and therefore the ballot could not be counted! They needed my husband to send a corrected signature that would match the one they had on file for him.

    This is to say that the election process is vetted and vetted again to make sure that ballots are real before they can be counted. When I submitted my own ballot at the drop off box, I received a text a few days later that everything was legit and that my ballot would be counted.

    The people who vet and count the ballots are on top of their game –we are absolutely confident that the vote-counting in this election has been legitimate. California has processed millions of ballots in this way – there have been no screams of “foul play” here. There is no reason to think that smaller states could not handle the volumes of ballots as well.

  15. Don’t quit Hal. With your help, we need to hope that the Trump Reich will fade away and that our better American leaders will fix what’s wrong so we may truly regain our esteem in the world.

  16. Robert borns says:

    You can’t buy a pack of cigarets without an id,buy booze without an id and on and on. But you can get through the mail a voting ballot and it is counted without any verifiable proof of legitimacy. Which is more important? As usual Hal writes brilliantly and comes up with stats and well thought out opinions. But as does the mainstream media he is placing his emphasis on the trump weak points and not recognizing trumps brilliance. Trump sees America acting like the rich uncle wildly tossing money to his poor relatives and letting them get away with screwing him because every one will love him. During his term he pointed out our terrible foreign policy and worked mostly successfully to change it. His emphasis to improve the job opportunities and wage raises for the working people here by restricting illegal immigration strangely is not recognized by leaders of the black community for example. Sealing the borders to also stop illegal drugs should be a primary recognized goal because there are few families that have not had family members destroyed by drugs. And the sin of lying and exaggeration is acceptible for politicians since we keep electing liars and exaggerators over and over. I think that trump was correct about almost all of his policies and when his foolish mouth is long forgotten he will be recognized by historians as one of America’s greatest presidents. He was certainly the first Jewish black Christian president. Now let’s see your blood boil trump haters and give me a laugh or two.

  17. henry levy says:

    Hal…..What a perfect analogy. You are right on target with comparing the two and the comparison with the environment that Goebbels was greatly responsible for in Nazi Germany. It continues to amaze me that after 33 court defeats there are still so many people out there who don’t understand…..or don’t want to. Good work again on the commentary…,..

    P.S. I agree that the media and others bashed our president from day one. Could it possibly have been because Trump had a history and a reputation to begin with…..and one that he has certainly continued to live up to?

  18. James Fisher says:

    Hal, I have enjoyed your columns immensely for a couple of years now and always marveled at the depth of your knowledge and your ability to perceive the nuances of American politics and describe them so eloquently for your readers.

    I miss the nuance. I miss the objectivity. But I mostly miss the intellectual fairness. All I read in your columns now are seemingly unending, unbridled and vitriolic attacks on a duly-elected president of the United States.

    Thank you for your prior years of balanced, objective mental stimulation. Sadly, in leaving, I am reminded of a famous line from the movie, “As Good as it Gets” when Jack Nicholson dismisses a woman at his door by saying, “Sell crazy someplace else, we’re all stocked up here.”

  19. Peggy Jacobs says:

    Hal, your readers are more rowdy than usual. I enjoy reading other perspectives, but am amazed by the amount of normal, intelligent readers who can’t see that the Emperor has no clothes on. I completely agree with your essay, but feel uneasy that a smarter “Trump” could be in our future. Thankful always for the brilliance of the Constitution. Keep inspiring us.

  20. Nancy Croom says:

    Hal, a friend forwarded your column and it was interesting to read it along with posts from your readers. Regardless of whether allegations of voter fraud by the Trump Campaign will stick or be dismissed by courts, to deny that any degree of voter fraud existed is irresponsible. Our Country should have a zero tolerance policy for voter fraud. The fact that there may have not been “material widespread fraud” should not excuse it. Following is an article about issues in my home state of Nevada. Also many people who showed up to vote and had not, were mistakenly told they had voted and there was no oversight to authenticate signatures on the mail in ballots. We need to look past the “Trumpeteer” some may despise, but do give some credence to the hundreds if not thousands who claim to have first hand knowledge of improprieties. Thanks for you ear.

    ITEM #1: Whenever and however the dust finally settles on the 2020 election, it’s a sure bet that the left will do all it can to obfuscate the record of what led to the contentious aftermath in which we now find ourselves.

    In the telling of Democrats and their left-wing media allies, those who have sounded the alarm over election security — and we at Morning in Nevada PAC have been among the loudest and clearest to do so — are waging a hyper-partisan effort to deny and undermine the genuine election outcome.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. And it’s absolutely vital that those of us who understand this — who know the facts about how Democrats indisputably crippled the security of our election and left our system highly vulnerable to fraud and error — do all we can to set the record straight. Our citizens must be cleared-eyed about what really occurred; otherwise, we’ll be powerless to avoid such disasters in future elections.

    To that end, Morning in Nevada PAC President Adam Laxalt has written a detailed and trenchant op-ed, published in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, that provides a thorough analysis of the havoc Nevada Democrats forced on our state this year. It serves as a point-by-point accounting of how they implemented an unacceptably unsecure voting system, how they remain in denial about the mess they caused, and how they are shamefully trying to place the blame for the current chaos with those who worked the hardest to prevent it.

    Regarding that last point, Laxalt reminds us, to the contrary, that: “Democrats put us here. They could have allowed for a system with both absentee ballots upon request and in-person voting, along with safeguards to ensure election integrity.”

    Yet instead, he explains:

    “[T]hey passed a series of ‘reforms’ during a midnight ‘emergency’ special session that implemented universal mail-in balloting and legalized California-style ballot harvesting. Gov. Steve Sisolak flat-out refused to allow any accountability measures or oversight in the ballot-harvesting process. Our secretary of state, whose office lacks sufficient resources to adequately protect our elections, refused to speak up publicly and acknowledge our state’s inability to handle mail-in balloting securely.

    “We know Nevada has unclean voter rolls. The Review-Journal reported that in the June primary election ‘93,585 undeliverable ballots belonged to voters classified as active in Clark County’s voter rolls.’ We’ve all seen the news stories and videos of mailed ballots piling up around trash cans and at apartment complexes. Dead voters and people who have moved out of state were mailed ballots at Las Vegas addresses, and others were mailed ballots out of state.

    “In Clark County, registrar Joe Gloria used a new machine to verity signatures for mail-in ballots. He inexplicably and unilaterally lowered the signature-matching accuracy standard on this machine used to count ballots to 40 percent — well below the manufacturer’s recommended setting. AI and computer-vision experts have said that once the factory setting on the machine is altered, it takes months of effort from a massive team with the appropriate expertise to get it back to a reliable standard.”

    Laxalt concludes by underscoring why the dismantling of election security is such a grave problem, and is an affront to citizens of all political leanings:

    “Those who voted honestly in this election deserve to know that their votes — not just in the presidential race, but up and down the ballot — were not canceled out or diluted because of fraud or error. All citizens, regardless of party or candidate preferences, deserve to know our election was conducted freely and fairly.”

    You can read the full op-ed here.

    It’s an absolute disgrace that Democrats, through their reckless behavior, have done so much to destroy voters’ confidence in the integrity of this year’s election. And even more so that they’re trying to avoid accountability for their actions.

    We’re here to make sure they don’t get away with it.

    ITEM #2: In case you missed it, you’ll want to check out a recent segment on Fox News, in which Martha MacCallum interviewed Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Victor Joecks, who has been a standout among media members for his excellent coverage of this year’s election debacle.

    In the interview, Joecks discusses an experiment he ran showing that Clark County’s signature-verification “safeguards” were a complete joke.

    This is a critical point. Let’s not forget that officials repeatedly told us not to worry about the security of universal mail-in balloting, as they ensured us that signature verification would guarantee that there could be no fraud.

    Well, so much for that.

    As Joecks explains, he had nine volunteers participate in his experiment, and he details how it all unfolded:

    “I signed their name as it appeared on the ballot. I took a picture and I sent it to them and then they copied my signature onto the ballot return envelope. That’s how it was legal.”

    As Joecks reports, eight of these nine got through — meaning the signature “verification” system had an 89 percent failure rate.

    Simply incredible.

    The underlying problem with all this, as Joecks says, is that:

    “We just simply don’t know how many problems there are. The Clark County Registrar … said they don’t have anyone looking at voter fraud issues. We simply don’t know how widespread the problem is.”

    You can watch the full interview here.

    ITEM #3: As we’ve noted previously, it wasn’t long ago that there was bi-partisan agreement on the steps necessary to promote election integrity.

    In particular, we’ve highlighted the 2005 report of the Commission on Federal Election Reform, which was spearheaded by Democrat former President Jimmy Carter and Republican former Secretary of State James Baker.

    In a must-read op-ed this week, the Daily Signal’s Fred Lucas demonstrates how the Carter-Baker Commission’s recommendations, if implemented, may have prevented the current election mess.

    Lucas writes:

    “They called on states to increase voter ID requirements; to be leery of mail-in voting; to halt ballot harvesting; to maintain voter lists, in part to ensure dead people are promptly removed from them…”

    Yet of course, that advice has been generally ignored.

    Lucas continues:

    “Had Congress and state governments adopted many of the panel’s recommendations, the 2020 postelection mess between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden might have been avoided, said Carter-Baker Commission member Kay C. James, now the president of The Heritage Foundation.

    “‘So many of the problems we’re now hearing about in the aftermath of the 2020 election could have been avoided had states heeded the advice of the Commission on Federal Election Reform,’ she said.”

    Lucas’ piece is very detailed and worth reading in full, which you can do here.

    Sadly, the left has taken what could and should have continued to be an area of broad, bi-partisan agreement and cooperation, and politicized it to no end. They continue to reject the Commission’s recommendations, demean anyone who tries to implement them, and move forward with measures that would completely undermine rather than enhance election security.

    The major problems with this year’s election in Nevada and nationwide are the predictable result … and they’ll only get worse in the future, if we don’t reverse course.


    “In response to the ongoing efforts to expose and correct these serious problems [with this year’s election], some on the left have accused me and others of attempting to ‘disenfranchise’ Nevada voters. It’s not only demonstrably false, it actually completely inverts the truth. An accurate election is one that ensures only real votes count. True disenfranchisement comes with a system that allows fraudulent votes to be counted because it results in legitimate votes counting for less.” ― Morning in Nevada PAC President Adam Laxalt, Las Vegas Review-Journal op-ed

    “Widespread fraud was certainly possible. And the lack of interest by elected officials, by election officials, is simply concerning and, frankly, irresponsible.” ― Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Victor Joecks

    Forward to a Friend!
    Questions? Email

  21. sdjg says:

    Can somebody please explain to me how voter fraud can take place on such a grand scale when Republicans took so many of the House and Senate seats against Democrat opponents. If the ballots were sabotaged in favor of Biden, wouldn’t the entire up and down Democrat candidates have benefited from that as well? It just beggars the imagination that so many votes for Trump could have been changed while leaving votes for the House and Senate candidates intact.

    Nancy Croom, you mention that Joe Gloria used a new machine to verify signatures and that he altered the mechanism to lower the standard for verification. Do you or the author of the article offer any proof that this took place? If this is true, there must be some way to verify that the machine has been altered. Where is the proof? And if this is true, why wasn’t this taken to the courts as evidence of fraud?

    My guess is that voters in Nevada and throughout the country generally turned out in unexpected droves — tsunamis, to vote the malignant Trump family out of office. Why isn’t that a consideration for your PAC as well.

    As I mentioned in my comment — the election board quickly kicked back my husband’s ballot because his signature didn’t match the one on file. (we are in California) The vote counters are honorable people – they worked under extreme duress, and sometimes even at risk to their lives to get these ballots counted fairly.

    Georgia GOP Secy of State Brad Raffensperger resisted outright coercion by Lindsey Graham(witnessed by his aides) to throw out valid votes. Why are you working so hard to play into the Trump gaslight fantasy that serves only to undermine our democracy? The only individuals these scenarios benefit are Trump — and Putin.

  22. Response to Nancy Croom:
    I agree wholeheartedly that some voter fraud exists in every election (as do attempts at voter suppression). However, insisting before, during, and after an election that a widespread conspiracy to rig the election has taken place, without providing a shred of proof of such a widespread conspiracy is irresponsible as is demanding that only votes counted on the day of the election be allowed. No judge who has heard the the Trump campaign’s legal arguments, Republican or Democrat, no public official with responsibility for election integrity, Republican or Democrat, has alleged or demonstrated any material impropriety. The Trump appointed federal official responsible for federal oversight of election security referred to the election as the most secure ever, for which Trump immediately fired him. I have seen no evidence that the election was a massive hoax, nor has any judge, Republican or Democrat, who has heard any of the dozens of cases the President’s lawyers have presented. Nor, apparently, has any judge, Republican or Democrat, found any indication of attempts by Venezuela, Cuba, Castro, Chavez or George Soros to interfere in the election as alleged by former Trump legal team member Sydney Powell. We all can and should support on-going efforts to constantly improve election procedures to assure fairness and accessibility. We should also condemn partisan efforts to impugn the integrity of an election simply because the results did not comport with partisan expectations.

  23. Wendy Gross says:

    Hal, you are not getting boring!!
    Brilliant essay!

    I especially applaud the paragraph about Trump’s behavior and statements that “wasn’t, weren’t , aren’t isn’t and hasn’t been!!

  24. Frank Berman says:

    I have read the essay which is simply a hit piece on Trump. Sorry to say, it is an ad hominem attack on the sitting duly elected president by comparing him to Goebbels. I know that you say you are not doing so, but to even suggest it, then purporting to withdraw it, is in fact, doing precisely that. A short time ago you suggested that Trump voters were seeking “authoritarianism” and when called on it you stated you were NOT doing so. Again, suggesting and then purporting to dismiss it is in fact suggesting it . While that seems to be a favored way to argue a position, when it approaches comparing Trump to Goebbels because he is asserting the rights granted him by our democracy it borders on demagoguery. Indeed, with the sworn evidence that I have read that has been attached to his lawsuits it is revealing more than isolated fraud; and, when the expert affidavit is read it is clear mischief can be done with the Dominion software that was widely and senselessly used

    A word about mail in voting. There was no reason for it. If one feared going to the polls in person due to the pandemic they could do as millions did–REQUEST an absentee ballot. To mail them out to all whether requested or not, with little or no apparent control subverts our democracy. When you have a process that invites ballot harvesting which has been documented to have occurred in certain places by persons seeking to subvert the democratic process, is inviting not only claims, but actual fraud. That is what those who instituted this mail in ‘device” invited, no doubt foresaw, but did not care.

    Those advocates of mail in voting without a request from the voter damaged our confidence in the electoral process and the vote that resulted. They did not care a bit that such a ‘process’ would lead to a lack of confidence in the announced result.

    The result of all this will be a Biden presidency that we should all hope will be successful. The equally important result should be a complete reassessment of the voting procedures, eliminate mail in voting where it has not been requested by the voter, take steps to assure that representatives of all candidates have access to the counting, and other steps that will return us to the critical confidence that our electoral process requires and demands. I hope the evidence that Trump is developing in these lawsuits that you have condemned, quixotic as they may be in changing the result, will lead to that result.


  25. Irwin says:

    Conspiracy theorists comment that “Big events must have big causes.” Rush Limbaugh once said, “Trump never says he believes the conspiracy theories he proposes…he’s just throwing gasoline on the fire and enjoying the flames.”

    Is something truthful or a conspiracy? Ask 3 basic questions:
    1) Is there a rational, non-conspiratorial explanation?
    2) Has the conspiracy theory been held up to scrutiny by experts?
    3) How plausible is this conspiracy, as a practical matter?

    This election was a Big Event on so many fronts. Thus, the need for conspiracy theorists to propose so many of the big causes noted in these comments. The fact that so many Americans were moved to cast their vote should be enough to understand the outcome. Trump, as Rush Limbaugh put it, has been pouring gasoline on a fire labelled “The-Only-Way-I-Lose-The-Election-Is-By-Fraud” for a long time now.

  26. Mike says:

    Hal, suffice it to say, you’re playing to an audience that hates Trump. I’ve noted that in previous posts

    The sad and disappointing thing about your columns over the past several months is that they don’t even bother to consider both sides of the equation.

    For example, I have yet to see any acknowledgement from you or your supporters that we have witnessed massive voter fraud on a scale that could have tipped the election in Biden’s favor.

    Before your readers dismiss this as me having drunk the kool-aid, I invite your readers to check out Dr Kershavarz-Nia. He is acknowledged as one of the foremost authorities on cyber – security. Even the NYT acknowledged his expertise in an unrelated expose a couple of months ago.

    He has been retained by Powell as an expert witness and has stated under oath that there was massive computer fraud in the general election. We also have a Three Star General and several academic experts attesting to the statistical improbabilities associated with the counting of absentee ballots. Never before have we seen five major voting areas in different States simultaneously announce they were going to stop counting votes at the same time – only to discover they kept on counting and produced eye popping results.

    We have numerous issues associated with the destruction of envelopes, the absence of matching signatures, and all sorts of other issues. And now Georgia wants to clear to voting machines which would eliminate the possibility of a through audit.

    Sadly, most legal folks are saying that Trump’s legal team has done an awful job in presenting their arguments. The courts are proving that, but as a dear friend and top attorney has noted, trying to present a cogent case under these time deadlines is tough. But when Rush Limbaugh calls out the efforts of the legal team, you take note. And if Powell flops in Georgia it will further the argument about poor representation and the merits of their cases.

    Where am I going with this? I don’t think anyone can quantitatively the magnitude of the voter fraud we have witnessed. But for you to invoke Goebbels name to criticize or insult those of us who would actually like to know more about how we can eliminate or reduce the incidence of fraud in future elections is unfortunate.

    And on a strictly personal note, one of the things I always I respected about the columns was a sense of balance. Sadly, I don’t know if it is coincidental or not, but with the passing of your partner Stephen Porter, that balance is sorely lacking and missed.

  27. Response to Frank Berman: The comparison I make is to the calculated use of a Big Lie. I call that Goebbelsian. The Trump campaign was charging massive election hoax even before the election, during the election and following the election. The only way Biden could win was by stealing the election, Trump said prior to the election. A succession of Judges, both Democrat and Republican, dozens in all, have found the cases brought by the Trump campaign to be without merit.
    As an aside, I used the mail-in ballot I received in the mail. I brought it to an early-voting site at City Hall. It was checked for my signature on the envelope. I was then able to track the progress of my ballot on line to confirm it had been received, processed and would be counted.
    The isolated problems with Dominion voting machines were quickly identified and were quickly corrected.
    Screaming election fraud, with no evidence of fraud, does not make it fraud. It makes it rather Goebbelsian.

  28. Frank Berman says:

    Hal, thank you for your comment. I appreciate what you have said as well as what you do not deny. I will not comment further on your creation of the word “Goebbelsian” and attaching it to Trump or his lawsuits.
    As to his lawsuits, some involve judges changing the statutory deadlines, which I believe they have no authority to do–its for the legislatures. As to fraud especially in this context, It is difficult to make such a case to the satisfaction of a judge under the pitiless glare of publicity and who is asked to overturn an election. The quantum of proof no doubt necessary for such a result should be and is demanding and certain. To do so in the necessarily collapsed time frame between vote and certification makes it almost impossible. That is one reason I called the lawsuits to overturn the election a hopeless effort. So, taking solace in the rulings of almost all the courts that it has not succeeded does not necessarily mean that fraud has not occurred. It will take extensive congressional investigations and hearings over an extended period of time to make that determination and what to do about it for the next election and thereafter. I hope they do it, regardless of party.

    Your experience with mail in voting is helpful, but anecdotal. The bulk of election officials are no doubt honest and civic minded–it is the others we must condemn. The fact is we have managed for eons of elections to get it right without mail in voting without it being requested by the voter. I hope you join me in seeking and hoping for such an investigation and hearing and a reform that includes its elimination.

  29. Response to Mike:
    As always, I appreciate Mike’s comments as I do those of our regular readers whether or not they agree with the views expressed in these columns. Mike expresses disappointment that I have not addressed or acknowledged massive voter fraud in this election. Grossly general claims of massive voter fraud, without any verifiable evidence of massive voter fraud, leave little to acknowledge. Suffice to say, thus far, no court has seen any evidence presented of massive voter fraud. They have found the charge to be without merit.
    The suggestion that I have equated those who accept Trump’s charges of massive voter Fraud with Goebbels is simply not accurate. I claim that those politicians and their spokesmen who charge massive voter fraud without having evidence of massive voter fraud are engaging in Goebbelsian tactics.
    Finally, I accept that Mike feels that these essays lack a sense of balance since my late writing partner Steve Porter, passed away. But really, Mike, only I and very few others know for how long before Steve tragically passed away, he could no longer contribute to writing these essays.

  30. Jean Broday says:

    I am mostly concerned about the number of people who articulate in great depth their apologies and agreement with Trump I find it frightening.
    People forget that Hitler was freely elected .
    The Congressional winners for the Republicans were freely elected in the same election

    I think your thoughts are beautifully articulated and thoughtfully presented
    Let us survive until January 20th

  31. Good morning. The language herein comparing Republicans to NAZIs is disgusting. Anyone who supports the comparison is disgusting to me. On the left this NAZI language has become so pervasive it shows that reason and comity have been replaced with a pathological hatred of a class of people. The queer thing is the people on the left do not stop to consider that this is the exact mental charade the NAZIs did use to martial the German populace against the Jews. You are doing the SAME thing. On the issue of open borders alone, Americans of all stripes who are nationalist, have a well-founded position for fighting Biden.

  32. Response to Mr. Benninghoff: The essay does not compare Republicans to Nazis. Far from it. It compares chronic political lying with Goebbelsian tactics. The essay also acknowledges those Republicans who have confronted the lies. They are American heroes.

  33. Irwin yablans says:

    To clarify, it was Hitler, not Goebbels who first described the villification of the was Hitler who said “tell the big lie and repeat it until it becomes truth. It was Hitler who advised to forget the intelligentsia and the academics..
    they will never be convinced. Concentrate your efforts on the emotions of the uneducated masses and keep the
    message simple. “Make America Great” comes to mind.
    These words can be easily found in Mein Kampf, a book that should be perused as a cautionary measure.
    goebbels was the functionary,the mechanic, the brilliant implementer of his beloved leader.
    Perhaps the title of this essay should read “Hitlerian”……and it’s not going away soon.

  34. BR says:

    Hal, I’m surprised that you and your many admirers don’t find it unusual that a voter would take the time to vote for Republican senators and congressmen when they have already declared themselves for Bidden on the top of the ballot. Something sounds fishy to me. I cannot believe the average voter would be so inclined.

    • Response to BR: Actually, this column anticipated a disconnect between the top of the ticket and the down-ticket candidates six weeks ago. I believe many voters cast “against” ballots more than they were casting “for” ballots at the top of the ticket. When voters are repelled by a candidate at the top of the ticket, they can still be supportive of their preferred candidates for Congress down-ticket. There is nothing illogical about that. On the other hand, when voters are enthused about a candidate at the top of the ticket, they are more apt to support those of his or her party down-ticket. So, for example, when suburban women turned against Trump as, according to exit polls, they did in this election, they had no problem still supporting their preferred candidates for the House and the Senate. As my earlier column suggested, this was not going to be a coattails election. As I also stated in prior columns, I believe the so-called “defund” movement and urban disorder were going to be costly for Democrats, and, as it turned out, it was…down ticket.

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