Questions Are Easy; Proof Is Hard

To the consternation of many for whom their ideological view relies on the ability to raise questions and be taken seriously, even though the only basis for their claims is their own belief system, the presumption of regularity keeps rearing its nasty head. I know, you don’t want to give the benefit to people you hate, whomever that might be, but that nasty presumption just won’t go away. This election, with spiraling claims of “biblical” voter fraud, is either over or just beginning.

Sidney Powell may be persona non grata as of the end of business Sunday, but she’s made a great many “shocking” claims, with evidence always a day or two away. To many, this is more than sufficient to raise questions.

To clarify: I do not know if there was widespread voter fraud, and neither do you. There may have been, and that may yet be seen (in time or too late). There may have been and that may never be seen (it could have been hidden well, or Trump’s team may lack the required evidence).

Seems entirely reasonable on its face, much like I don’t know if space aliens walk among us, and neither do you. But this time, the question is different. This time, the question is raised by the person holding the right honorable position of President of the United States of America. Surely it has to be taken seriously when the president raises the question?

As an aside, it’s curious that a stable genius holding the most powerful position in the world was outsmarted and outgunned at every turn, claiming to be victim-in-chief to appeal to the emotions of his adoring and heartbroken fans. So very sad to see the president reduced to such weakness and helplessness.

This is where the presumption of regularity demonstrates both its vitality and necessity. Even the president needs to have some evidence to raise a question that the election did not proceed in its ordinary and normal fashion. His own party’s state officials say it went fine. His own federal staff said it went fine, which put Chris Krebs on the unemployment line. Even the dreaded Federalist Society judge was unmoved. This, of course, proves to believers that they’re all on the Soros payroll, because why else would they be so wrong?

There are always some platitudes that come to mind when people prefer to believe in outliers, black swan events, to justify why they see them while the masses, those poor sheep or lemmings, according to your preferred animal, march blindly off a cliff to their demise. And, indeed, it’s always possible that something horrible happened, something far outside the norm and was done with such skill as to defy detection.

But a society cannot function when every move can be stopped dead in its tracks by claims of voter fraud or space aliens. The nation is an ongoing entity. It can’t be put on hold while every claim of malfeasance is given the investigation someone demands, or believes is due, just because the specter is raised.

This is why we have a process, with actual time frames, to enable the peaceful transition of power that has stood as a hallmark of our democracy for as long as there was a president familiar with such details as governance, law and constitution, and a disinclination to be a shameless and flagrant liar because he is who he is, a vulgar, amoral, deceitful, ignoramus. Oh, we can add “weak” to the list of foibles, if that’s what he insists.

But, you reply, you still haven’t faced the big question, Greenfield. “I do not know if there was widespread voter fraud, and neither do you.” What if the election was stolen? What’s the answer, Greenfield?

There is an answer, and it’s not only clear but necessary. There was no widespread voter fraud unless and until competent evidence proves there was widespread voter fraud.* This isn’t an argument about tactical advantages or excuses, about when it would be best to show one’s hand or when to protect the identities of the witnesses. Conclusory claims aren’t evidence. Don’t tell us there was voter fraud. Show us. Show us the evidence.

There have been a few attempts made to at least put some meat on the bones of claimed fraud, and they’ve not merely been debunked, but proven an embarrassment. Some might even say a “national embarrassment.” Is it possible they have really strong evidence, beautiful evidence, but they’re just not letting anyone know yet because they’re playing 8D chess? And if only the evil judges let them have their day in court, their trial on the evidence where they can tell the American people how this election has been stolen from the weak victim president, we will finally see? Can we not believe long enough to let this play out so we know whether or not there was widespread voter fraud?

We know. The presumption of regularity tells us that the election proceeded normally and properly unless and until there is evidence to prove otherwise. If there was evidence, show it. If there was good evidence, show it. If you don’t show it, you’ve got nothing but empty complaints, whining and open questions. The presumption of regularity answers those questions. The answer is no.

*Some will share things they’re read or heard, even internalizing that they somehow personally divined it from the ether, raising what they believe to be serious issues with the election. The Trump Dream Team, inter alia, have filed complaints in 34 cases nationwide. These complaints are required to include allegations of fact to show a plausible claim to the relief requested. If you believe with all your heart and soul that there is some secret damning evidence, but it’s never appeared in any complaint, any allegation of fact, and never come before a court for determination, it doesn’t exist. Let it go.

47 thoughts on “Questions Are Easy; Proof Is Hard

  1. Jeffrey M Gamso

    And so, the Rumsfeld Koan:

    As we know,
    There are known knowns.
    There are things we know we know.
    We also know
    There are known unknowns.
    That is to say
    We know there are some things
    We do not know.
    But there are also unknown unknowns,
    The ones we don’t know.

    1. SHG Post author

      Much as Rumsfeld was right, and unfortunately ridiculed for this, this has more to do with general decision-making than normal functioning of government where the presumption of regularity comes into play. I don’t think it’s applicable here.

  2. Richard Kopf


    A long time ago in dog years and not an insubstantial time in people years (1984), an old woman was paid a lot of money by Wendy’s to merely ask on national TV, “Where’s the beef?” That rhetorical point is a rule to live by even if your mind has not been warped by law school.

    All the best,


    1. SHG Post author

      That was the right question in ’84, but I have serious doubts that it’s the right question for ’20. We see a great many people, including some whose minds were twisted by a legal education, who seem unable to distinguish between conclusions and facts. Maybe the better question today is “what’s beef?” before we can figure out where it is.

      1. Kathryn M Kase

        Scott, your question gets to the heart of this threshold evidentiary issue, which neither the President’s counsel nor some of his supporters appear to understand. And maybe the nuances of that are accessible only to those who have litigated motions to dismiss in federal court or clerked for Article III judges. Which may mean that our MAGA friends may hear us say that there are more things in law (and heaven and Earth), than are dreamt of in their election philosophy.

        1. SHG Post author

          The inability to grasp the difference between a conclusory assertion and a factual assertion seems to be an epidemic over the past few years. That the president’s counsel and supporters don’t get it is neither surprising nor limited to their tribe.

        2. Jeffrey M Gamso

          “Which may mean that our MAGA friends may hear us say that there are more things in law (and heaven and Earth), than are dreamt of in their election philosophy.”

          Or, perhaps, fewer things. The fevered imagination of the conspiracists, needing no grasp on reality, can find multitudes where reliance on fact is too damn limiting.

      2. Richard Kopf


        You and I must have gone to the same law school.* Quibble over any principle with which you basically agree but your pal propounds it. It’s a game best played at a bar where money changes hands.

        All the best.


        * Certainly not an Ivy.

  3. Jim in Monroe

    …filed complaints in 34 cases. And you think there is no evidence? Only the courts need to see the evidence. If the media saw it, they would debunk it no matter how valid. But even the average layperson can see the anomalies and know something is amiss. So let this continue to the end. To deny the President his day in court would be a travesty, no matter how many so called experts say it was free and fair. And to say the fraud would not have affected the outcome is disingenuous. It’s not about the quantity.

    1. SHG Post author

      Well, someone had to make the usual excuses, so why not you? And no, the president is no more entitled to “his day in court” when he’s got nothing than anyone else, no matter how handsome you find him.

    2. angrychiatty

      I don’t believe you. I think you are pretending to be a mindless Trump supporter who is totally clueless and who does not understand a word Scott wrote, just as a joke.

  4. Jim in Monroe

    Excuses? Doesn’t any of the anomalies make you wonder? Picked up seats in the house. Retained every Sentate seat. And yet Biden won? Vote counts in counties exceed voter registration.
    And my favorite are the graphs you can see here: [Ed. Note: Links deleted per rules. Nutjobs are not exempt from the rules.]

    1. SHG Post author

      I see you’ve raised questions. Did you skim the title? Also, use the reply button if you feel compelled to squander my bandwidth with nonsense. You’re special, but not that special.

      Edit: Trashed your next comment because you didn’t use the reply button and are just repeating yourself. It was stupid the first time. It doesn’t get better with repetition.

      1. Jim in Monroe

        OK. I used the reply button. Better? Your refusal to answer a simple question tells me all I need to know. You won’t believe the proof when it is shown. Thanks for playing.

  5. miketrials

    “Excuses? Doesn’t any of the anomalies make you wonder?”
    Anomalies? The only anomaly I can see, my 20/20 here being a gift from my undergrad years where the dead vote early and often, is why the Dems, in an effusion of kindness led by the gone-but-not forgotten Kenyan-in-Chief, spent so much time and effort zeroing in on Poor Little Donald, but let go all of the other 6 Senate seats they were sure to win, most particularly Moscow Yertle’s, a gifted enough House seats to keep Nancy up at night. Yup, an anomaly, or at least a question or twelve. Are the Dems a real political party, or just a bunch of garden club wannabees? Where the hell is Mare Daley when you really need him? Can’t anybody here play this game?

    If you are going to march in total lockstep with the other good little Commies (special traffic lanes for the nomenklatura coming soon to a street near you), then you and the rest of the Rs need to heed the SHG corollary to the words of wisdom from Uncle Joe. Quantity — or lack thereof — has a quality all its own.

      1. Skink

        It took some time to find the Hotel’s secret decoder ring. It was in JB’s suite. As always, the work was done in the bar and with rum. It won’t work with anything else because we got the ring from Barbados in a trade for mashed potatoes.

        The ring broke, but before it did, the only message was “imadopeimadopeimaSJdope” and referenced a hat.

      2. Scott Spencer

        It is comments like todays that make me want to pay you for the privilege of reading the trashed comments for just one week.

        Would scotch work? Maybe some maple bacon donuts?

      3. John Barleycorn

        It is under the piano bench or with the banjo picks behind the bar in the drawer next to the coffee pot where it belongs.

        I am taking my extended winter bender early this year.

        The hemlocks are not impressed thus far with my strategy, but I have not taken the time to sharpen the saw chains yet.

        So we will see what they have to say in a week or so after I get around to finding the files.

        Speaking of which, you ought to buy yourself a new keyboard before the snow flies….

        Could be a long winter!

    1. angrychiatty

      Because the comments on this site are moderated, when you spend a lot of time reading this site you start to think that most people (not all) sort of get it, most people are reasonable, rational, and decent communicators, and there are just differences of opinions.

      Then Scott lets a comment like this through, and you are forced to remember just how crazy and stupid so many people are.

  6. Ross

    Show the evidence? They are waiting to present it to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land! Why waste it on the lower courts, where the opponents can refute it? H/T to some moron who twitted something like that yesterday, and made me laugh out loud for an extended period. And, thanks to you, SHG, for highlighting the incredibly stupid twits that are better than most comedians.

    WRT “Biblical voter fraud”, I would think the statute of limitations would prevent bringing up something that happened 2,000 years ago. I’ll show myself out.

    1. SHG Post author

      To be fair, both tribes indulge in the “who can come up with the most absurd excuse” game. Today, the win goes to Trump. Tomorrow is another day.

  7. abwman

    At the risk of being zinged: Proof is hard. It requires evidence. Although sworn affidavits are a form of evidence at this stage of a civil proceeding, in this instance proving a case will require more than that. But evidence doesn’t show up on the doorstep. That’s why we have discovery. For a fair process to play itself out, in proceedings seeking preliminary relief, expedited discovery is generally permitted before a judicial ruling (especially when the issue raised involves evidence plainly controlled by the other party). To be sure, an assertion that “aliens have landed” would not get you to discovery, but that is not what we have here. Affidavits describing improprieties or statistical anomalies should be sufficient to get to the discovery stage unless a judge rules they are patently unreliable. Calling for “proof” without providing for discovery is not what I expect to hear from lawyers who believe in fair process.

    1. SHG Post author

      A complaint has to allege facts sufficient to establish a plausible cause of action to make it to discovery. A complaint that raises questions rather than facts dies a painful, brutal death.

      1. abwman

        Sure, factual allegations are required, and they must be sufficient to create a plausible claim, with facts, but not conclusory assertions (and certainly not questions), assumed to be true. If Trump lawyers (or any other lawyers) can’t get by that hurdle, the action should be tossed. But based on what I’ve read about some of the affidavits Trump lawyers have presented, which are described as alleging facts about improprieties and software malfunctions (which must be assumed true for this purpose), the low bar for stating a cause of action sufficient to move to expedited discovery may be satisfied, and no “proof” should be required until that occurs.

        1. SHG Post author

          Instead of wasting my bandwidth with this horseshit about stuff you read about the cases, read the complaints, affidavits and decisions. You don’t get to come here to make people stupider just because that’s good enough for you.

        2. Skink

          No, and stop it. These are injunction cases. Injunctions are exceptional, so rarely granted. Early discovery is not “generally” allowed; it’s rarely allowed. Pleading isn’t according to the general rule, which is the limit to your discussion, and the usual insurmountable hurdle is providing sufficient evidence, in the first instance, of a likelihood of success on the eventual merits. In these cases, that likelihood is reversal of the result in the state.

          That you don’t know what you’re talking about is obvious to anyone with experience, even minimal, to injunction claims. At last count, the Hotel has 312,913 lawyers with that experience.

  8. JD

    The thing about Biblical filings is that it involves all things Biblical, such as Ecclesiastes 10:19.

    To save everyone a google search, it says something about feasts are made for laughter, wine makes you merry, and money makes the world go round.

  9. Jake

    Scott, in your professional opinion, is it unethical to file frivolous cases? Should any member of the Trump legal dream team be sanctioned?

    1. SHG Post author

      What part of this post gave you reason to think this was the perfect opportunity to ask me for an ethics opinion?

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