Monday, December 28, 2020

Don't Be This Neighbor

Originally posted on south Arlington, Virginia's Nextdoor.Com's website. I thought I'd share this as a lesson to fellow boomers who are retiring and downsizing in droves right now. We have temporarily downsized from a wonderful home in the Philly suburbs, a veritable arboretum with pond, dozens of mature trees, and on nearly 2 acres of land next to a top-ranked state park. Downsized, that is, into a 2 bedroom walk-up condo in a historic building/community built hurriedly in WWII not far from the Pentagon and without much consideration for good soundproofing. There is no accounting for some people, it seems.

We are delighted to return to Arlington after nearly 30 years, downsizing from a big house in the Philly suburbs. We just moved into a Fairlington Village walk-up condo that we’ve owned and rented out to our son and others since 2011. The previous owner of 10 years is family as well. Unfortunately, our downstairs neighbor isn’t as happy at our return. But it was not unexpected.
iPhone Decibel Meter

He called the police on us. On our first full night as a family of two seniors with a visiting adult son. The same thing he did to our other son, on his first night in the condo, 9, nearly 10 years ago. Even after turning down the sound on an upstairs (loft) TV as he requested. We were watching a Christmas movie that my spouse and son had fallen asleep to. This is the same neighbor I’ve heard practicing his guitar during the work week during previous visits here. The same neighbor who has been caught violating outdoor gas grilling regulations. Don’t be the kind of of neighbor who files false reports to police, especially to enforce unreasonable “noise” standards in a building not known for its sound insulation. It is actually against the law to file false reports. We have long taken mitigation measures to reduce noise out of respect for all our neighbors. Cork-lining underneath our most of our carpeting. Padding at our entrance doorway to avoid sounds of door slamming. Not wearing shoes when we’re in the unit. We’ve now downloaded a decibel meter for our iPhone to keep track of the noise levels. This neighbor has more than a decade of complaining and harassing people in this unit over his absurd noise obsession, and I suspect others. We know because we’ve heard them from almost everyone who has resided in this unit. What a miserable way to live. Life is too short to be so bizarrely obsessed. We’re grateful to our other new neighbors who seem friendly and normal. And we’re still glad to be back. Happy New Year, everyone.

Monday, December 21, 2020

What’s Missing in the 5,500-page “Stimulus Bill?” Election Law Reform

 You might think that Congress threw everything including $600 gold-plated toilets in the soon-to-be-passed $1 trillion Covid Stimulus 3.0 bill. They didn’t reportedly include the toilets, but I’m continuing to read the bill. Stay tuned. If there’s $700 million for the Sudan and $10 million for “gender programs” in Pakistan, there’s gotta be a golden toilet in there somewhere.

But there’s something else they didn’t include, and you would think Republicans, especially Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) would be all over it, given his intense interest and expertise in election law - legislation to clean up our state and local election systems. There has been plenty of time to fashion legislation that incentivizes (carrot and stick) states to restore integrity to our voting process. 

I guess it was lost in the din of buying congressional votes with your money to help people who can really use it - restaurants, small businesses, the travel industry and their employees, among others. There’s nothing quite like watching politicians bribe their colleagues for votes with your money. Lobbyists don’t actually “buy votes,” (illegal) but Senate leaders are masterful at using taxpayer dollars to sway votes from recalcitrant and persuadable colleagues (perfectly legal). 

Despite efforts by Democrats and the media (after screaming fraud, faux Russian collusion, and spending four years undermining the past election) to Jedi mind trick the American public that there’s nothing to see here (“these aren’t the droids you’re looking for”), there is considerable evidence of election law violations, election fraud, and massive irregularities that no court has substantively considered. And this has been going on for many elections. Just never on this scale. 

While I supported President Trump, more important to me is faith in the integrity of our election system. Confidence in our elections not only helps us accept who won, but helps those who lost accept the results. The massive push to “vote by mail,” unseemly seeking political advantage from the China-caused coronavirus, has resulted in the worst executed election in American history. Yes, that’s big talk, and the evidence continues to accumulate. And it is massive.

Despite enactment of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 - which most Republicans opposed - most states have complete failed to properly maintain their voter rolls. Section 8 of the law prescribes how states are supposed to clean up their voter rolls. Most clearly don’t. Early mail voting states like Oregon and Colorado have, mostly, successfully implemented vote by mail precisely because they invest time and dollars to maintain their rolls (to varying degrees of success - still too many dead voters in Colorado, for example). 

Bad voter rolls coupled with unconstitutional intervention by Pennsylvania’s deeply partisan if not corrupt state Supreme Court has undermined confidence in the election in the Commonwealth, and turned it’s elections into banana republic status. The courts - not the legislature, as the US Constitution requires - removed basic procedures proscribed by the state constitution to ensure voter integrity. No signature matches required on mail ballots - signatures were not even required. And changes that appear to violate the state constitution, which require an elaborate constitutional amendment process. 

If I were a Senator, I would have insisted on an amendment that would have provided some $3 billion (perhaps more) to the states (collectively) to clean up their voter rolls, in exchange for a system to certify, via the Federal Election Commission or Federal Election Assistance Commission, any vote by mail system based on compliance. It would encourage “in person” voting or in-person early voting (not more than 14 days prior to official Election Day). It would also outlaw private subsidies of government election systems as we saw on a grand scale in heavily Democratic areas like Philadelphia. 

Since there doesn’t seem to be a constituency for election reform, it didn’t happen; and it wasn’t even tried. But “gender programs” in Pakistan made the cut. 

That’s important. Facebook’s Mark. Zuckerberg and his wife invested well north of $500 million through the Center for Tech and Civic Life to subsidize voter registration, voter early rallies, and official ballot drop boxes in mostly Democratic leaning areas. It is simply wrong to allow politically-motivated private entities and persons to subsidize official election activity - some of it usually reserved for political parties, such as voter registration and “get out the vote” drives. I shouldn’t have to explain why.

The drive to vote by mail not only overwhelmed many local and state election systems, but opened the door to fraud, which is difficult to prove. And many Democratic Party operatives know it. Over my career, I’ve seen what they can do in places like Texas and Louisiana (both states have largely cleaned up their elections over the past 40 years - Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Michigan, not so much), especially with the interesting places that people list as their residence with registration (13 voters with pristine voting participation histories at an empty lot in Baton Rouge, LA) to nursing homes (forged absentee ballots). Just for the record, I’ve been involved in 35 congressional and US Senate campaigns in 25 states over a couple of decades. I know a thing or two because I’ve seen a thing or two.

It’s funny how Democratic Party officials in Congress and our administrative state are eager to regulate everything from the use of synonyms on food labels to light bulbs, but happily want to deregulate our elections. All to increase “voter participation,” and eliminate “voter suppression,” they bleat. Uh huh.

Of course, the latest mantra is that even if there IS evidence (and again, there’s plenty, including here in Georgia), there isn’t enough to change the outcome. Perhaps, but isn’t that beside the point? “Yes, officer, I was driving 40 miles per hour over the speed limit, but it obviously didn’t cause an accident or prove harm to the public.” Try that the next time you’re pulled over, and good luck. Any election law violation disenfranchises legitimate votes and undermines the integrity of our elections. At a minimum, election integrity should go hand in hand with voter access. 

I know of no one who opposes every eligible voter being able to cast a secure vote. But penalty flags should fly when “voter access” comes at the expense of traditional, effective, and important safeguards to prevent illegal votes, or the ability to manufacture them. 

Of course, there is a legitimate role for voting by mail. I have done so in most elections over the past 20 years, since election days often coincided with travel out of the United States on business, and almost always away from my residence in Pennsylvania (I worked long hours at a company headquarters in neighboring New Jersey, when I wasn’t traveling). But I had to request a ballot. I had to provide a reason. And I had to sign the outside the envelope that would be checked against my official signature, just as people voting in person have done in PA for years. When voting in person, you’re required to sign the poll book that matches signatures. 

Some say matching signatures is overly objective; signatures can change over the years. That is not untrue, but it exaggerates. Georgia reduced is machine “match” standard from 40% to 25%. Why?  My signature hasn’t changed noticeably since 1995. Your’s probably hasn’t, either. Of course, illness and other chronic issues can change that. But there are ways to rectify questions when signatures don’t appear to match, or to institute a new “official” signature. How else do you validate mail ballots to ensure integrity, or at least disincentivize cheating? I’m open to suggestions. 

There’s also nothing wrong with allowing mail voters to “cure” their ballots in advance of an election. And there is nothing wrong with counting mail-in votes early so long as those who do aren’t allowed to vote on Election Day, except by a “provisional” ballot that is matched against a request or submitted ballot envelope. It is a crime to vote more than once, and it must be enforced. If people are seeing their votes cast by mail when they didn’t request it, it should be a red flag for election authorities and law enforcement to investigate and prosecute as necessary.

Senator McConnell is the best and most effective Senate majority leader of my lifetime. Maybe this wasn’t the time or place, or he lacked interest and support so close to the heels of a controversial election that is still being investigated and litigated. But will a President-elect Biden* be willing to focus on serious election reform after he benefited from the “issues” of the 2020 contest? I doubt that seriously. Nor will soon-to-be President Kamala Harris allow it. 

Another missed opportunity. But here’s hoping there’s an assertive coalition in Congress, with support from honest election reform organizations (if their are any), that will work to fix things before the next election in 2024. There’s a path forward. Let’s see if anyone in official Washington takes it. 

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Where Are We Now?

 First, apologies for not posting for the past month. I have a reason. I am relocating from Pennsylvania back to Virginia. Protracted home sale negotiations and downsizing into a modest condo from a large single family home, after 18 years of "life," is a very time consuming and stressful challenge. Moving ranks along side the death of a spouse, divorce, and a career change as one of the top most stressful events in life. I think they may be related. 

I hope to resume early in the New Year. I have many observations about our bizarre post-election world that I am eager to share, mostly some perspective on why certain things have, or are, happening. And a few predictions. 

My election predictions turned out pretty well (see my previous posts) - I said it would be a close election and it was (I picked the wrong winner), I predicted a good amount of election fraud and mismanagement in Pennsylvania. Bingo. And I predicted Republicans would pick up US House seats when few others did. I predicted up to a 9 seat gain; they appear to have won 11 with one in the balance (NY's Brindisi v. Tenney). That it has taken so many weeks to count votes in battleground states and districts is more than embarrassing (Florida and Texas had practically no problems); the incompetence and malfeasance are tragic. 

When I get to it, my next post will be on the danger to democracy of the move to deregulated voting by mail. It was mostly a disaster in 2020. Not everywhere, just where it mattered. It interests me that Democrats want to increase regulation of everything except voting. Polling suggests that half of Americans believe election malfeasance occurred on a substantial scale in this election. They are not wrong. And there is plenty of evidence. Here's the latest from Georgia

My last post featured my friend, Dr. Bill Hamilton, a noted author, historian, retired Army intelligence officer, Vietnam veteran, and more. I feature his latest, again, and am honored to have consulted him on it. It outlines the state of play very well from the perspective of a Trump-Pence supporter. Which I was, and remain.

"Central View," by William Hamilton, J.D., Ph.D.

January 6, 2021: Democracy's last stand

There remain two paths to overturning "the election crime of the century;" however, both paths are narrow and will require Republican office holders to show why they are entitled to hold office.

When the Electoral College votes were cast on December 14th, several States were still investigating serious allegations of election fraud. So serious, that some States forwarded alternate slates of Electors to the Electoral College. "Dueling votes."

When 117th Congress convenes in Joint Session on January 6th, Republican House and Senate members have an opportunity to challenge the validity of the Biden-Harris votes in the Electoral College. Such challenges are not new. On January 6th, 2001, and 2005, Democrats tried to overturn the elections of President G.W. Bush. In 2017, Democrats tried the same with President Donald J. Trump.

Meanwhile, the GOP-controlled legislatures in the fraud-laced contested States could call themselves into Special Session to denounce the slates achieved by fraud, and endorse the slates determined to be elected by legal means. But will the GOP-controlled legislatures have the needed political testosterone to do so?

On January 6, 2021, Congress will be composed of members elected on November 3, 2020. Win or lose the runoff election in Georgia, Senators Perdue and Loeffler will be eligible to vote.

At 1:00 p.m. on January 6th, Congress assembles in the House Chamber with Senate President Mike Pence in charge. Starting with Alabama, the votes will be counted and announced. When the process reaches a contested State, a GOP member of the House and a GOP member of the Senate could co-sponsor a Motion challenging the validity of the Electoral College votes. But, without a sponsor from both chambers, the Motion is not in order and fails.

If the Motion is in order and seconded, the Joint Session divides into separate chambers to debate and vote on the Motion. The debate is limited to two hours. If the Motion succeeds, it goes back to the Joint Session for consideration.

The Republican objective would be to disqualify enough Biden-Harris votes so Biden-Harris cannot reach the magic number of 270 valid Electoral College votes. If the Republicans succeed, the Electoral College fails, causing the election of a President and a Vice President to be determined by "contingent election," meaning the House elects the President and the Senate elects a Vice President.

In the House, each State gets one vote. The party with the larger partisan congressional delegation casts the vote, meaning the Republicans cast 26 votes and the Democrats cast 21 votes. Michigan, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania are tied. The Senate, by individual member vote, elects a Vice President.

For Trump-Pence supporters, there is, however, a big problem: Majority Leader Senator McConnell told his caucus not to author or co-author any objections. But strong constitutionalist Senators such as Lee, Cruz, Paul, Cotton, Hawley, Fisher or Tuberville might ignore McConnell and honor their oath to defend the Constitution.

But this observer is not hopeful. I am reminded of British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey who, on the eve of World War I, said: "The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our life-time."

Suggested reading: "How the Electoral College Votes and How the Votes Are Counted," by Mark Strand and Timothy Lang, The Congressional Institute, December 14, 2020. The 12th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and www.270toWin.com.

©2020. William Hamilton.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Presidential Race: More Questions than Answers

 

My friend, Dr. Bill Hamilton, pens a column for newspapers in our shared home state (Oklahoma) and elsewhere called "Central View." Dr. Hamilton is a military historian, former Army infantry officer, Vietnam veteran, pilot, noted author, and was recently inducted into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame. He has a good amount of political campaign and related government experience working for former Gov. Charles Thone (R-NE). He has a very good strategic mind. 

His most recent post (today) was so well crafted I am sharing it here. You can find out more about him and his past columns - many of which have aged very well - here. I will have some additional thoughts about just how unusual it was for Trump to, apparently, lose reelection, while his party gained all sorts of victories in the US House, state row offices, and state legislatures, noted here below. I've never seen that before, and I don't think it's happened since the 19th century. It's worth asking why. 

Some may cringe at references below to the Third Reich. I find them appropriate in this context. 

"If, on November 3rd, legally registered voters turned America into a Socialist-Democrat nation, this writer would just have to live with it. But that did not happen. Instead, the Blue Wave promoted by the MSM made not a ripple.

"By midnight of Election Day, President Trump won reelection by a landslide. Moreover, Republicans remained in control of state legislatures by a 31 to 18 margin. Instead of gaining the MSM-predicted 10-15 seats, the Democrats lost at least ten seats in the U.S. House. America, at its core, remains a center-right nation.

"But, as of this writing, the 2020 presidential election is far from settled. President Trump was winning Wisconsin until 3:42 a.m. the next day when 143,379 Biden votes mysteriously appeared. President Trump won Michigan until the next day at 6:31 a.m. when 134,886 votes mysteriously appeared, 96% for Biden.

"A clue as to how these mathematical impossibilities occurred may have been explained by an intercepted message from Eric Coomer, the balloting software company's chief programmer, who allegedly told Antifa staffers, "Don't worry. Trumps not gonna win. I made f***ing sure of that." Expect Mr. Coomer to have a chance to explain himself -- under oath.

"At present, we do not know which of the 17 currently extant election-fraud cases the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) will find "ripe" for adjudication. For sure, one precedent will be: Gore v. Bush, 531 U.S. 98 (2000).

"Meanwhile, we can make some observations about the methods used by the Left to steal elections which, in the main, are not new. In the 1930s, Dr. Joseph Goebbels saw the advent of radio as an excellent way to propagandize National Socialism to the German-speaking masses.

"But many Germans and Austrians could not afford a radio. No problem. Goebbels ordered the creation of the Volksempfänger (people's receiver). The price: only 76 Reichmarks. Listeners had the choice of two radio stations, both controlled by Dr. Goebbels.

"Do today's social media platforms that censor conservative speech sound familiar? How about "search engines" that lead readers to the liberal interpretation of events and away from the conservative interpretation?

"Journalists who questioned National Socialism were beaten silent by Hitler's Brown Shirts. Does Antifa come to mind? Journalists who touted National Socialism went to the top social events and were given "leaks" promoting the Reich State. Does this sound like the social/media scene in today's Washington?

"Dr. Goebbels seized control of Germany's "Hollywood." His films extolled the virtues of National Socialism and a war-like spirit. Only paintings and sculptures that glorified National Socialism were permitted. Offending statues were toppled. Offending books were burned. Offending University professors were dismissed. Only National Socialist speakers were admitted to university campuses. Does any of this sound familiar?

"Opposition candidates were intimidated into withdrawing from political life. With only the National Socialist candidates on the ballot, elections were simple. The courts were packed with National Socialist judges.

"Today, the Electoral College calendar moves relentlessly forward. Can either presidential candidate have 270 or more votes certified by the December 14th deadline? Will one or more States fail to certify a slate? Will the SCOTUS have to play a decisive role? Will the outcome be decided by Congress? Stay tuned."

©2020. William Hamilton. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

On the 2020 Election: Grateful, Optimistic, and Satisfied

Most of us remember just 4 short years ago. Much of America, from pollsters and especially to the pundit class and Washington insiders, confidently predicted a win by Hillary Clinton. It was heresy, even mock-worthy, to suggest otherwise.

But "otherwise" happened. Much of the left never accepted the results, and the Obama-Biden Administration sicced federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies - a process that began over 3 months prior to the election - to undermine the new President, the transition, and his administration.

Nancy Pelosi famously tweeted that the election was "stolen." Members of the left grabbed their Play-Doe, Crayons, and held screaming sessions to relieve their shock. "Trump Derangement Syndrome" became a thing. And it clearly still exists.

After that election, Emily Lund compiled reactions by 20 Evangelical Christian Leaders to express how they felt. Perhaps the most interesting reaction, in my view, was that of the US Senate Chaplain, Dr. Barry Black. An African American and retired US Army general. His thoughtful response inspired, if not surprised. And now, that reaction may prove helpful to 2020 Trump supporters who face increasing odds that our favored candidate may have lost an election marred with irregularities and outright fraud.

That is a challenge. But Dr. Black in 2016 inspires:

"Donald Trump has been elected president of the United States, and I feel grateful, optimistic, and satisfied.

"I feel grateful because 1 Thessalonians 5:18 admonishes, 'In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God concerning you in Christ Jesus.'

"I feel optimistic because of Romans 8:28: 'in everything, God is working for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purposes.'

"I also feel satisfied because Phillippians 4:12 declares, 'I have learned in every state to feel contentment.' In short, after the election of any president, as a person of faith, I know I have nothing to fear."

Amen. 



Thursday, November 5, 2020

My Experience as a Poll Watcher in a Philly Suburb. Joyous, Quintessentially American

My wife and I had the honor and pleasure on Election Day as serving as poll watchers at our local precinct (Edgmont Township, 1st Precinct, Delaware County, PA). I’m happy to share our experience. 



We took the last shift, 5-8 p.m., and stayed around to watch the process after the polls closed.

We obtained our poll watcher certificates from one of our local Township supervisors and presented them to the judge of elections. She showed us where to sit - right next to her and 2 other election officials who were processing voters, behind plexiglass shields. It was busy, as it had been all day - waits were up to 2.5 hours early in the a.m. It slowed down by 6 p.m., with over 850 people voting in person - very high. And that doesn’t include the early and mail-in or drop-box voters (like me). 

It was a wonderful, community experience. We caught up with neighbors. Nearly everyone voluntarily offered their drivers’ licenses for ID. Everyone wore masks. Everyone was respectful, obedient, and seemed genuinely happy to be there. No agitation, no anger.

No Sharpies were available - only black pens, as prescribed by state election procedures. Paper ballots. Polls workers patiently and carefully explaining the procedures, including specifically how to fill in the boxes for those candidates they supported.. Those who either weren’t on the rolls or were recorded as having requested a mail ballot were immediately offered a provisional ballot. All took them - about 40 in all. 

After casting their ballots, every voter walked to one of 2 machines (with a third available) to run their ballots through a scanner. When the scanner rejected it, a poll worker explained why. Often, it was because they failed, or refused, to cast a ballot for one of the offices. They were offered the chance to vote, or to allow the poll worker to override the machine and count the rest of their ballot. In every case I saw, the voter chose to complete their ballot.

There was one instance where someone unintentionally spoiled their ballot. They were immediately offered a new one. Some brought in their mail ballots, mostly unopened. they were asked to open them to remove the ballots to be disqualified, so they could cast a vote in person, following the law precisely. 

Everyone was civil, friendly, and genuinely happy to be there. People enjoyed the process. Everyone was happy.

When things ended, we watched the elaborate, detailed, and frankly complicated process of packaging all the ballots. Republicans carried my precinct, on Election Day, by a better than 3:1 margin, uniformly, from President to State Representative. I knew right there that this was a truly nationalized election, and that Republicans largely showed up in person.

This is the way I have always experienced and envisioned elections. Voting on one day, in person, next to neighbors and friends. Election Day is special. I immediately regretted my early and previous votes by mail (I often had no choice, due to travel and work). 

This is why I hate vote by mail, the potential for fraud aside. It is a genuine community event, people coming together to cast ballots. No one judging each other. An obvious Biden-Harris supporter (she illegally wore a button into the voting area) dropped by to ask a procedural question. I was happy to answer it. She left, after thanking me. America as it should be.


I have no idea what the politics of our election judge was, nor our poll workers. I don’t care. They followed the rules scrupulously. They gave me faith in the process. I know our township handled this well, and trust the results. For a short while, my faith in America was restored. The process, at least here, worked. Open, transparent, and trustworthy.

Seems to me that parts of Michigan, Wisconsin, and certainly Philadelphia have a lot to learn from my township.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Seven Thoughts About the Election: Not a Good Night for Democrats or Pollsters

 Seven observations about the ongoing election. I'll expound on a couple of these points in later posts.



1) Democrats may win the presidency when all is said and done (remains to be seen), but they have to very disappointed at their failure to run the table, and in fact losing down-ballot races, especially here in PA. The GOP is on track for a net loss of no more than 1 in the US Senate, if that, depending on the Michigan results.
2) About PA: Trump currently leads by more than 640,000 votes, with a reported 1.4 million mail-in ballots to be counted. 275,000 of those are from Philadelphia, another 125,000 or so from Pittsburgh. They would need to break 80-20 for Biden to win. That is highly unlikely since almost 40% of those mail ballots are from Republicans. While the potential for fraud remains high, that margin appears too big for Democrats to cheat their way to a win.
3) House GOP gains. They're at +4 and are poised for an additional +2 or 3 (the 7th, 8th & 17th Districts) in PA, with author and veteran Sean Parnell winning in suburban Pittsburgh. GOP challengers are also currently leading in other states, including VA (Freitas). I can see the GOP gaining as much as 9 or 10 seats. They began the election needing 17 to capture control. Nancy Pelosi and her caucus took a big hit.
4) And don't forget gubernatorial and other statewide offices. Republicans gained +1 with a win by Rep. Greg Gianforte (R) in Montana. And watch the down-ballot races! NC elected a terrific black Republican to Lt. Gov. and three statewide offices on the ballot here in PA are all led by the GOP candidates with 400,000 - 700,000 vote leads. We'll see if all three hold - but I bet the GOP wins at least 2 of them, Tim DeFoor for Auditor General and Stacey Garrity for Treasurer. I so want Heather Heidelbaugh to unseat smarmy partisan Josh Shapiro for Attorney General.
5) It wasn't just the Democrats who will take a net hit; the polling industry and political prognosticators, like my friends Charlie Cook and Larry Sabato, need to rethink their models, methods, and analyses. They both relied too heavily on flawed polling and projections were mostly off at all levels. Frankly, I did better. Maybe I need to go into the business.
6) If Biden/Harris win, Democrats cannot be excited about their 2022 or 2024 prospects with a GOP Senate, emboldened House GOP, and no serious mandate for their agenda. In that scenario, the GOP would be poised to capture the House in 2022 and gain Senate seats. No court-packing, no new states, no tax increases. And no anti-Trump vote to drive Democratic turnout.
7) Last note: Congress needs to step up with serious election reform. While Article 1, Sec. 1 gives state legislatures the responsibility for the manner of elections, there are too many states with too many flawed rules and systems. Congress needs to cough up serious money to help states fix bad voter rolls in exchange for national voting standards that are clear and uniform, especially with regard to mail voting and deadlines. This election does not inspire confidence.
8) One bonus point: watch the Supreme Court, especially with pending cases about late-arriving mail ballots in PA and elsewhere. States have had to set aside all mail ballots that arrive after election day but before their deadline (Friday in PA, next week in IA, NC).
A good place to track federal election results:
REALCLEARPOLITICS.COM
RealClearPolitics - Live Opinion, News, Analysis, Video and Polls

Monday, November 2, 2020

Pennsylvania's Governor Accomplishes What the British Couldn't: Shutting Down a Historic Philly Colonial Restaurant

 One of my family's favorite Philly restaurants, especially for entertaining out of town visitors, is the City Tavern, a historic restaurant on federal property just a short walk away from Independence Hall and Congress Hall.



After accompanying visitors to the Museum of the American Revolution (we're founding members), Congress Hall, or Independence Hall, we would happily conclude our day at the same location that our founders would conclude their days arguing and debating over the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution of the US.
They announced today that they are closing. Immediately. Permanently.
One of my greatest memories is speaking to a group of food technologists and scientists on the second floor, where many of those historic debates took place. Birthdays, catching up with friends, and other special events with family.
Our oldest son would always load up on Yards beer featuring some of our founders on the label to take back home. The food wasn't always great and you can find better meals among Philly's fantastic food scene, but the service and the ambiance were memorable. We always enjoyed our times there.
It is not hard to figure out why they've been forced to shut down. Pennsylvania is the second most stringent "lockdown" state in the nation, behind California and just a notch above Michigan. Governor Wolf is systematically destroying the foodservice industry in Pennsylvania with restrictions on indoor dining, and this historic restaurant is his latest victim. There is nearly zero evidence of COVID spread in restaurants, where property mitigation occurs. Wolf vetoed legislation that would allow restaurants to return to normal levels, with mitigation.
City Tavern, thanks for the memories. RIP
Governor Wolf, the loss of this icon is on you.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Where Things MAY Stand for the Nov. 3rd (and afterwards) Election: A Prediction

 OK, this is where I am at this moment with the Nov. 3rd election. Yes, very close, and here are 10 observations and explanations.



1) If it’s not close, they can’t steal it. It will be close in PA, MN, and NV, and yes, the Democrats will steal those states with widespread voter fraud. They have a certain history of fraud combined with bad voter files in those states (among others). Former Senator Al Franken was elected on vote fraud engineered by the then-Secretary of State, a Democrat, who kept counting and changing the rules until they won. You can look it up.


2) No state has benefited more from Trump’s trade and economic policies than Michigan. They will reward him with 16 electoral votes and a new GOP US Senator, John James. 


3) The first state to watch on election night will be North Carolina. If Trump and US Sen. Thom Tillis both win by at least 100,000 votes, that’s a big tell for the rest of the night. If not, that’s a big tell, too. If the latter, I’ll load my guns and go to bed with one eye open.


4) The other state beside NC to watch is AZ. If it goes “blue,” there goes the Presidency. And maybe the US Senate. See 3) for my response.


5) I really think I may be wrong about Minnesota, due to the traditionally Democratic ‘iron range,’ emanating from Duluth towards most of northeast MN. It is trending red, on steroids.


6) My upset of the night: Jason Lewis (R) unseats Tina Smith in Minnesota’s US Senate race. 


7) Watch the rural vote in NV. I really think Trump may win NV, based on the reporting of the Las Vegas Review Journal’s John Ralston. If it is not close, the Democrats can’t steal it. 


8. If Trump wins PA, which he could, it will because of two reasons: a) massive turnout in the counties outside of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and b) western PA’s fear that Biden will eliminate thousands of new energy jobs in that part of the state. It’s a huge factor. Again, if it is not close, they can’t cheat.


9) Senate prediction: GOP loses maybe 3-4 seats, but picks up 2-3 (AL, MI, MN). Predicting maybe +1 for Democrats in the Senate, but it may take a few weeks given that we’ll have at least one GA runoff, and hopefully not two. But the GOP will GAIN seats in the House - probably not enough to win a majority, but watch OK (+1), PA (+2), NJ (+1, maybe 2), MN (+1), NH (+1), and CA (+2-3) for some serious changes. I don’t even rule out NM for a GOP pickup. They need 17 and will probably fall short.


10) One last point, added after I posted this. Trump lost a lot of senior votes (+65) from the first debate but especially over COVID. It seems that they are “coming home,” and are largely the reason for the closing of the margins, or growing margins, in many states. That will be the key.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

SCOTUS Requires Ballots to be Received by Nov. 3 in WI and VA, but not PA or NC. Why?

 I am not an attorney. I don't play one on TV, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn last night.

But I do pay some attention to election law. Experience in 35 congressional campaigns (House and Senate) over 25 years will focus the mind. I was even nominated by President Clinton to a GOP seat on the Federal Election Commission (that's a story for another post). So, I know a thing or two.
Some of my fellow Pennsylvanians may be perplexed by Supreme Court "stays" and decisions involving various state deadlines for the receipt of mail-in ballots. In Wisconsin, SCOTUS said the ballots must arrive by election day, Same for Virginia, thanks to a clause in Virginia's Constitution (article 1, sec. 7) written by none other than George Mason.
But not Pennsylvania or North Carolina. Why? Twice now, we in Pennsylvania been denied intervention by the Supreme Court to enforce Election day as Nov. 3rd, when all ballots should have arrived in county election bureaus.
That is because Article 1, Sec. 1, paragraph 4 of our wonderful US Constitution gives state legislatures the right to set the time and manner of elections. You can look it up.
Virginia's founders and Wisconsin's legislators have done a far better job than their counterparts in NC and PA on this matter. PA's constitution is so poorly written, and it's election laws so vague, that they give the courts a role in determining election law. No matter that Congress has the ultimate authority to establish "Election Day."
So, blame your local legislators - and I blame mine, St. Sen. Tom Killion, and St. Rep. Chris Quinn - for their failure to fix election law in our state. I get that it wasn't a problem before our execrable Gov. Tom Wolf and Democrats who control our State Supreme Court decided to rewrite state law. It's because they could.
As a result, election day is now Friday, Nov. 6th in PA. That's when you can return by mail your unpostmarked, unsigned ballots to county election bureaus. It's even worse in North Carolina (9 days after the election). The invitation to vote fraud is now wide open in our state, and my two legislators (and others) may lose because of it.
This is an open invitation to election fraud, and in my view, a violation of the 14th Amendment equal protection clause of the Constitution. Like I said, I'm no lawyer. But I know fairness and justice, and we do not have it in PA.
LAW.LIS.VIRGINIA.GOV
Constitution of Virginia - Article I. Bill of Rights

Monday, October 26, 2020

The ACB Confirmation - A Bittersweet Moment, and a Senate Fail

Conservatives like me, and most notably conservative women and working moms everywhere, have every reason to cheer Judge - now Justice - Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation to the US Supreme Court. Those of us who adhere to the traditional role of our judicial system under our brilliant Constitution cheer loudest.

But for me, as a former Senate official who loves and reveres Senate tradition, this is bittersweet. 

Take a look at this photo. What do you see, or more accurately, not see?


You do not see any Democratic Senators in their seats for a Supreme Court confirmation vote. Every previous Supreme Court confirmation vote I've attended or watched, going back to Robert Bork's defeat, featured every Senator attending the vote in person and voting from their seat, standing when called to cast an "aye" or "nay" vote. It is a great Senate tradition, showing great respect for the gravity of their vote.

I was watching C-SPAN, which doesn't scan the entire floor very often, but it appeared that every Republican followed tradition and voted from their desks. 

It has happened every time, including the two most recent confirmations of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. For the first time in recent history, Senate Democrats dissed and disrespected not just this great tradition, but Amy Coney Barrett, working mom and legal scholar. 

This is a sad and notable moment in Senate history. Senate Democrats treated this just like any other vote. This may be one of the worst breakdowns with Senate protocol and tradition since Harry Reid eliminated the filibuster for executive and most judicial nominations. It was Democrats, not Republicans, who made this a sadly partisan exercise. And we are all less for it.

Sure, they were unhappy with the process. They wanted the vote to wait until Joe Biden was elected along with a Senate Democratic Majority (to be determined by you, the voters) so THEY could decide. It was always about the power, not the precedent or the rules, which were clearly, and always, in support of the current Senate Republican majority. That's politics, and they are the rules. The current Congress doesn't expire until the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January, after the November 3rd election.

But one of the great virtues of the Senate has been its respect and adherence to tradition. Thanks to recalcitrant and petulant Senate Democrats - all of them - the Senate's breakdown into an abyss of rank partisanship was obvious, if not complete. It deeply saddens me. 

Oh, sure, smarmy Democratic leader Chuck Schumer blames Republicans for all this. We also know precisely what he would have done if the shoes were on the other foot - he was Majority Leader (shudder) working with a President Hillary Clinton (severe shudder) facing a challenging reelection campaign while filling a vacancy left by, just saying, the departure of Clarence Thomas.

Would Republicans have behaved like Democrats and failed to show respect for tradition and the nominee? We'll never know. But I suspect they would have shown up. They always have. In fact, most Senate Republicans voted for the confirmations for every current sitting Justice nominated by a Democratic President. And Ruth Bader Ginsberg. You can look it up. That is clearly not true for Senate Democrats, going back to Justice Clarence Thomas's nomination. Only the late Justice Antonin Scalia and retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, over the past 40 years, have enjoyed broadly bipartisan votes from a nomination made by a Republican. You can look that up, too. 

You know exactly what he and Senate Democrats would have done. Admit it. As Darth Vader once said, "search your feelings. You know it to be true." 

I hope the Senate finds its way back to sanity. It may be awhile. If ever. 


Sunday, October 25, 2020

Americans Deserve Nice Public Buildings

 Having lived and worked in the Washington, DC area for 23 years (more if you include the almost weekly commutes from Philly for another 16), it is the architecture that differentiates the city's look from almost all others.


The tallest building in the city remains the US Capitol, the most beautiful and impressive edifice in America, bar none. No American building can eclipse it, in more ways than one. Philly used to have a similar rule about any building taller than William Penn's statue atop city hall, but that ended decades ago. I'll leave it to you to judge the results. Meh.
But it was the late US Sen. Patrick Moynihan (D-NY), perhaps the most intellectual and interesting member of the Senate during the 20th century (or, since), who took a special interest in the architecture of federal government buildings, preferring as I did those structures in a classical style.
There are some good examples of this classical look. The US Commerce Department; The General Services Administration; the National Archives and Records Administration; and the Department of Interior. But there was a period of really, really bad architecture. It occurred mostly during the 1970s, and evidence of it remains at L'Enfant Plaza (12th and Independence Ave., SW), and the Department of Justice and FBI headquarters along Pennsylvania Avenue, around 9th Street NW.
The US Department of Agriculture is another story. It is actually two buildings. The smaller Whitten Building, where the Secretary and senior officials work, is very nice; the main building on the south side of Independence Avenue SW was designed by prison architects. Complete with cell blocks called "wings."

Some agencies have moved from horrific buildings to much-improved confines, such as my old employer, the US Department of Transportation, now found in much-improved southeast Washington, a short walk to Nationals Stadium. The FBI has tried the same, but their relocation has been caught up in a regional real estate battle between Virginia and Maryland.
These mostly 70's (some from The Great Depression, such as USDA) buildings are as ugly as hell. A friend from England once called them "tributes to Soviet architecture." Agree.
I'm no architect nor pretend to know anything about it. But the attached article on efforts to revive a more classical style caught my eye and gave me hope. Somewhere, I suspect Sen. Moynihan is smiling.
And yes, if these agencies are going to get new buildings, I'm very open to seeing them constructed in other cities. Especially the Department of Agriculture.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

New Leftist Website Doxxes Trump Contributors

 Allow me to introduce you to a cute little website: https://donaldtrump.watch/

It's a website designed to name, shame, intimidate, and target those who have made reportable contributions to the official Trump-Pence campaign account.
I'm on that website.
As a federal campaign election veteran, I knew full well when I made my two contributions that they would be publicly disclosed. I knew the risk that I was taking in doing so. I was also smart enough to list a Post Office Box as my address.
There are no known such sites designed to name, shame, and target Biden supporters, nor should there be. But please disclose it to me if you find one. I am not interested in targeting Biden supporters. This is a free country (for now, at least), and the Supreme Court has long determined that political contributions are speech protected by the First Amendment.

It doesn't take a Ph.D. to realize the intent. We have seen reports from Kansas City and New Hampshire of warning letters being left on homes of people who have been identified as Trump supporters and warned to make sure their home insurance policies protect them against fire damage.
Don't believe me? Here's a story from National Review: Worth your time. And my friend Matt Schlapp has posted threatening fliers (see photo) distributed in a Kansas City neighborhood to those 'identified' as Trump supporters. You don't have to be a contributor to be a target of threatened violence. You just need a yard sign. And people wonder why so many are "silent Trump supporters."
And people whine about "right-wing" groups threatening violence. Maybe, but the preponderance of evidence seems to point elsewhere.
I'm OK with this. I'm active in politics. I know what it's like to be a target of doxxing and related threats. I'm at peace, trained, and prepared.
It is not the first time this sleazy tactic has been employed. Democratic US Rep. Joaquin Castro doxxed Trump contributors from his home city of San Antonio in 2019. It has become a common tactic of The Left.
This is evil. And sadly, this is where we are in America right now. Do not be intimidated. Be "wise as serpents," because that's what we're up against.