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      A lot of mistakes come from assuming rationality means “thinks the same way I do” rather than “reasons from premises I might not share.” Left than 1/1000 economists predicted the financial collapse, because they reasoned from assumptions like “the market is self-correcting” or “housing prices never go down.” (Sometimes both at the same time, which is rarely […]
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Day Four of the January 6 House Committee Hearings

In all of our lives, we have encountered people who were absolutely determined to get their way, to win, in the way that they define winning. I saw it as a boy, on the playground, or playing board games with someone who would try to do everything to nullify anything that you accomplished to enhance your chance to win.

“The dice hit the end of the board,” “The Spinner landed so close to the line that we should have a do-over,” “Your foot was on the line, you were out of bounds.” You ask other players what they saw, and they thought that you were in bounds, but he keeps complaining, and demanding that the play not count.

Later on, you might see it in a business office. Or in the courtroom, or a corporate boardroom. Or earlier, if you are in some college organization. Then, if you are active in politics, you might experience it with volunteer organizations, or political groups. Some want power more than others, some of that group will not relent until they get their way; and if not, they quit, and try to ruin the organization, and damage the reputations of their foes.

You always have to deal with the fact that other people have different sets of priorities, and that some people will do anything to win. It is frustrating and enervating to deal with them. Sometimes, those in the position to officiate the dispute, get worn down, and let the relentless person win. I remember some argument on the playground, where one boy simply insisted he was right, despite many disagreeing. Finally, some other boy said, “Let the baby have his bottle.” I had never heard that, but I understood what he meant. So we gave in in that matter, because it didn’t matter that much, we just wanted to have a good game.

I don’t know if these kids always grow up to be that way as adults, whether these are indeed the Republicans of the last half-century. People who simply refuse to lose, or to not get their way every time. We see them all over the Republican landscape: bully boys, or sometimes bully girls, who push, and demand, and complain, and threaten, in escalating efforts to get what they want, every single time.

So we have Donald Trump, who is the most extreme example of someone who was taught that the word was full of winners and losers, and he was never going to lose. And who surrounded himself with people who would help him win. And so it was probably inevitable that Trump would never accept that he lost an election, he would twist reality until he would “win.”

He said he won easily. He and his gang said that if the vote count showed that the opponent won, it was completely due to fraud. Illegal immigrants voted, dead people. Mules carried in boxes of ballots. He spouts endless lies. Trump lies more fluently than anyone I have ever seen, it has become completely natural to him.

The bottom line for him and his allies were one of these two things: Create enough chaos and uproar that there would be no certification, and so the matter would end up with the state delegations, where the Republicans would absolutely win, their side being about winning, no ethics or facts. Or if they could get it to the Supreme Court, they would hand them the victory. Just get it to one of those two entities.

And Trump never stopped. Day after day, he and Giuliani and others kept saying that he won, and kept making phone calls to secretaries of state and other officials who would perhaps let him have his way, either because they were loyalists to him, or because they were worn down, or because they had been threatened with real violence. Just give in. And at all ages, and all walks of life, some do. Trump knows that. And people fear the mafia.

So we’ve got at least 40% of Republicans, by polling, believing that Trump won the election. 147 House Republicans, well over half of them, refused to certify the election results in favor of Biden And nothing said in the House Committee hearing today, is going to get them to change their minds.

Today’s hearing was very powerful in showing honorable people: Speaker of the Arizona House Rusty Bowers, Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger and his deputy Gabriel Sterling in Georgia, all of whom are Republicans, who probably all voted for Trump; all of whom are absolutely certain that the counts from their state were accurate; and who stood up against Trump’s calls, which started out urging, then as these officials denied his lies, became belligerent and threatening, just like gangsters and the mafia always do.

Like all these hearings, the importance goes past what happened, it is about the present, and the future. Trump will never change, and his very large cult of followers, many of whom have political power, will never stop pushing and demanding and threatening, until they get what they want, every time.

“I won by at least 400,000 votes. All I need is 11,000 votes, give me a break.” That is what Trump said to Secretary of State Raffensberger. “We could take over your whole country, but we only want a few provinces, and then we’ll stop,” is another version of that.

We are lucky that there were a few people who stood by their oath of service, because most Republicans do not. And as they supplant the other ones, how do the elections get protected?

Republicans, in their multifaceted efforts to win an election that they lost convincingly, tried another tactic, to make up slates of fraudulent electors, who would clam to be the legitimate electors, and vote for Trump in the electoral college. And if this were strongly disputed, Republicans would say, as John Eastman did, that because there were two slates of electors, this shows that there was a dispute, so another body must decide, the election cannot be certified.

Any device to win, anything to keep the electoral votes from being certified. It is almost amazing that they didn’t get it; they got it in 2000, they get it in state legislatures; and who knows what Russia and Cambridge Analytics did in 2016, but it never came out

This isn’t just a fascinating and frightening story about the past, it is the harbinger of the immediate future. This is what they do, and will assuredly do. We even see current Republican primaries turn into battles over certifying the vote results. I wonder what will happen this November, when Democrats win various House, Senate and Gubernatorial races. We can be sure that many of them will be contested with charges of voter fraud. That is part of the goal, and also to intimidate election officials like Wandrea (Shaye) Moss, who movingly testified as to how she has been threatened so much that she fears for her life, as does her mother Ruby Freeman, in her own moving testimony.

This is evil. And watching the hearings today again felt like watching a powerful theatre play, in this case, Ibsen’s “The Enemy of the People.” Something selfish and then evil grows and grows, and turns into violence and death. Seeing and hearing about it on an individual level is so much more powerful than anything we could have read about in the abstract. We can hope that many people are still watching these hearings, and will better understand what has been going on in this country, and vote based upon it. I hope the video of the hearing is replayed widely, and not just today.