Monday, August 31, 2020

Antifa's "Coming Out" Party in the US - Seattle, 1999. They've Come A Long Way.

 I haven't encountered much violence in my life. But, I have. As a news editor in Henryetta, Oklahoma (The Daily Free-Lance) in the mid-1970s, I used to ride along with Oklahoma Highway Patrol officers on my day off (Monday). Quite the experience. The speed traps were always fun, but that's not what this is about.

My first encounter with violence was when I was invited to join state troopers on a manhunt for 3 escaped prisoners from the state penitentiary in McAlester, about an hour away (by vehicle). We found one of the prisoners with a bullet to his head in a shack near Coalton, Oklahoma. Coalton doesn't really exist anymore (it's near Dewar), whose hay day was during a brief 1920's coal boom when it's population approached 10,000, for a very short time.
It's amazing what nature can do to a dead body on a hot August afternoon. I'll leave it at that. I took photos for the state police (one of which they let me use for my newspaper the next morning).
But my second experience with "violence" was in the city of Seattle in 1999. The World Trade Organization (WTO). You know, the same city that had a "summer of love," or a "block party," known as CHAZ (Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone) just this summer. At least 2 people were killed, including a teenager.
In 1999, my then-employer, the National Food Processors Association, sent me to lobby at the WTO meeting (I was the Executive VP for Government Affairs & Communications). We were advocating for sound science on food policy issues. But I would spend most of my time in my hotel room (a Hotel W, as memory serves), since the anarchists showed up to violently riot and destroy businesses throughout downtown Seattle, with little resistance from the surprised and unprepared local police. The WTO proceedings were largely canceled.
I personally encountered one numbskull who got in my face and shouted something unintelligible. I shoved him to the ground. He ran away.
These folks were called "anarchists" back then, notable for their black attire, masks (ahead of their time!), and notable spray-painted "A" with a circle drawn around it. You know the thing.
This was Antifa's coming out party in the US, even though they've been around, internationally, for decades.
So, imagine my disappointment to hear a friend of mine (OK, more of an acquaintance), Hugh Hewitt, on his nationally syndicated radio show (AM1260 for you folks in DC, 6-9 a.m.), say that what happened in DC last Thursday was some organic local event of local activists.
Naivete on steroids. This is a well organized, international, well funded, and well-trained cabal that knows exactly what it is doing. Blogger and former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino, who attended the President's acceptance speech at the White House on Thursday, reported in detail his experience with the mob as he exited the White House event, including seeing a few of them at his expensive downtown Washington hotel the next morning.
This is a trained, well-funded, violent, and organized mob. They have been planning and training for this, for years (since Seattle in 1999). Spend some time learning what Bongino and Sen. Rand Paul experienced. And they are closely associated with Black Lives Matter and other Marxist organizations.
You should educate yourself. Start here. Pay attention. Prepare accordingly. These folks have cleverly covered their tracks, but stay tuned. They're not finished. Not even close. Neither, I suspect, is the Departments of Justice and Treasury. Follow the money.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Politicization of Sports: The Culture War Has Moved to Stadiums and Arenas

I have seen only one survey on the topic, but the increasing politicization of professional sports is apparently turning off a lot of fans. Players with multi-million dollar contracts are using their sports platforms to advance "social justice" agendas.

That survey, conducted in 2018 by pollster and friend John McLaughlin for the Media Research Center noted this:

"The survey found that when watching live sports or entertainment shows on television, 74 percent of likely voters said they are 'trying to get away from politics and do not want to be bombarded with partisan political messages,' and 43 percent said they were less likely to watch live sports and entertainment shows because they have become too political." 

I am the 43 percent.

Players, like anyone else, have the right to use their platforms most any way they want. But are there other, malevolent, foreign forces at work? Sports have long been one of the great unifiers of society. People on "The Left" and "The Right" cheer together here in Philly whenever one of their sports teams scores, or wins. Players aren't seen or judged by the color of the skin but the content of their talent and character on (and, frequently, off) the playing field.

Jason Whitlock is the co-owner of a new sports website, "Outkick," along with Clay Travis, that is giving voice to those of us who are turned off by these political outbursts and the destruction of sports culture. And it's affected every major professional league, including the NHL. I found bizarre the demands of something called the Hockey Diversity Alliance, a collective of a handful of well-paid current and former players "of color." They want to change the "blue line" to the "black line," at least temporarily. They want players to wear "blackout" practice jerseys during warmups. Never mind that the legendary Willie O'Ree, the first Black to play in the NHL, has been quietly but effectively working positively, for many years, with strong NHL support, to attract minorities into the sport, as has about every NHL team in its community (the Washington Capitals have done a great deal in DC). Really?

Whitlock recently delivered a speech (August 19) on this politicization that I highly recommend. From the speech:
"Yes, America is a shining example of sports’ transformative power. The games we play, the games at the center of our social behavior, combine with our founding principles to enhance the American experience. America’s enemies know this, which is why the culture war has moved to our arenas and stadiums. Sports are now in the same crosshairs as our Founding Fathers, under attack for past racial sins and unappreciated for their vital role in cultivating racial unity."

Fortunately, thanks to play being largely suspended from March until recently, I'm conditioned to watch and do other things and will continue to. And I suspect that I'm not alone.

The Studies Pile Up: Many Trump Voters Are Not Disclosing Support to Pollsters

Many of us have been pretty critical of the integrity, quality, and especially the analysis of public opinion polling regarding political campaigns at the national and state levels. Polls affiliated with universities and colleges seem to be especially ineptly conducted and analyzed. Polls are snapshots in time and are clearly not predictive, but that's not how they're often treated.

The problems I see with many (not all) political polls include focusing on "registered voters" instead of "likely voters" (a third or more of registered voters do not typically show up); underweighting self-identified Republicans (often at around 23%, versus what should be closer to 30%), overweighting Democrats (should be around 33%), and most notably, underweighting seniors - those over 65. This latter group comprises about 13% of the population, but in the 2016 election, composed closer to 20% of the electorate, including around 25% in some bellwether states, such as Wisconsin. It is Trump's strongest demographic. Determining the demographic and partisan composition of the electorate is a tricky business, for sure.

Pollsters today face enormous challenges. The "refusal rate" to participate in phone polling has breached 90%, and his highest among self-identified Republicans and conservatives. There are legal restrictions on calling mobile phones. And too few have mastered the science around online polling. The pioneers are figuring out a way to blend all three. Polling is very expensive and corners are sometimes cut.
But we're now seeing several studies - done by Scott Rasmussen, his former firm, Rasmussen Reports and others (as outlined here on John Solomon's superb news site, have done work on this, as did authors
Salena Zito
and Brian Todd after the 2016 election ("The Great Revolt," the best post-election analysis) -- that there are a substantial number of voters who will not disclose their support for Trump to phone pollsters. This is called by some, "social desirability bias."

Zito and Todd reported in "The Great Revolt" that about 34% of Trump voters in 2016 didn't tell anyone of their support; Solomon's reporting on Rasmussen's work echoes that. Other studies put the number closer to between 11-15%. Regardless, that is significant.
I saw evidence of this in 1990 when I did some work with the Jesse Helms campaign in NC. Sen. Helms trailed in almost every poll that year against popular Charlotte Mayor and Democratic nominee, Harvey Gantt. Yet, on election day, Helms won by about 100,000 votes. Helms was "politically incorrect" in the tony cities of Raleigh, Charlotte, and elsewhere, excoriated by much of the state's leading news media (especially the Raleigh News-Observer) but loved in "the Piedmont."

So, here's another one, this one published by Bloomberg, hardly a pro-Trump news organization. Interesting stuff.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Justice Investigates 4 Governors Who Sent COVID-positive Patients Back into Nursing Homes.

This is great news. The wheels of truth and justice often are slow to wake and late to the party. But when Justice finally shows up, it is often "game over."

The Department of Justice is now investigating the policies and the decisions by four badly-led states - New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and Pennsylvania - that have resulted in a disproportionate number of COVID deaths among residents of nursing homes and other long term care perspectives.

Here in Pennsylvania, 7,624 people have tragically died from COVID. As of August 26, 5,155 of those deaths - 68 percent of all COVID deaths have occurred in long-term care facilities. The vast majority were 75 years of age or older - among our most vulnerable citizens. Most had cormidities.

How did that happen? The governors and health secretaries of those states ignored guidelines from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services - part of the US Dept. of Health and Human Services - and ordered COVID-positive long-term care facility residents back into facilities that were unprepared. The associations representing these facilities strongly opposed the policy. I have posted on all these facts, with documentation, previously.

Here in Pennsylvania, they actually had a plan to deal with this circumstance. It was ignored. Worse, Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine rescued her mother from a nursing home and placed her in a hotel while she forced COVID-positive patients into nursing homes across the state.

Now, you might think that the commonwealth's attorney general, Josh Shapiro, would investigate the actions of the governor and his health secretary that contributed to over 5,000 deaths, again in violation of federal guidelines. You would be wrong. AG Shapiro, fresh off a defeat at the Supreme Court when he tried to sue "Little Sisters of the Poor" over their exercise of religious freedom, chose to focus his sites on the long-term care facilities that Governor Wolf and Secretary Levine victimized.

God bless Attorney General Bill Barr and the Department of Justice for stepping in to investigate and, hopefully, hold these states accountable for the egregious policies and decisions that have resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of vulnerable senior citizens.

Let's hope this investigation will be completed before a Democratic president can - and will - shut it down. These are very bad people and they need to be held to account. The families of these 5,155 victims, at least in Pennsylvania, deserve no less.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Julie Kelly is Right: The Democratic Party is Unwell


Julie Kelly is one of those social media friends of mine I've interacted with but never met. I hope to someday.

She's a Chicago-based writer who just published what I think is her first book, "Disloyal Opposition - How the Never Trump Right Tried and Failed to Take Down a President."

You can tell by the title where she sits on the political spectrum. She's very pro-Trump and, a time or two, we've locked horns on Twitter, mostly over certain US Senators I like but she doesn't, but I respect her work.
I haven't shared her work here to date but this post today on a blog, American Greatness, really struck home with me. It struck a chord. There is a bizarre obsession I've seen with many Facebook and other friends (most of them in Washington, DC or California, no surprise) who, well, obsess over everything Trump says and does. He endorses Hydroxchloriquine? IT DOESN'T WORK AND IT IS POISON, they say (53 clinical trials and 40+ years of experience say otherwise, but nevermind). And COVID isn't China's fault, but ALL TRUMP'S FAULT, no matter evidence, incontrovertible, to the contrary.
You know the thing. People are so obsessed with Trump the person, his personality, and odd perceptions of him (all aesthetics, mind you) that they automatically take a position opposite his no matter what. As a reminder, I was very anti-Trump in 2016 but reluctantly voted for him over Hillary Clinton. I'm glad that I did. And I will vote for him again in 2020 after all his Administration has accomplished and what I know a Biden Administration will try to do, God forbid.
I am not a mental health professional, but I think there is something seriously wrong with the negative obsession over Donald Trump. Trump Derangement Syndrome, I'm convinced, will make its way, eventually, into the annals of psychiatry. It should. I don't remember most Republicans behaving that way to Barack Obama, although I know a few did. The fact is, the vast majority of conservatives and Republicans accepted the election results of 2008 and 2012. Much of the media and many Democrats have never accepted the 2016 election, and have done their damndest to undermind and overturn it.
Julie's column follows. Some of you have already stopped reading. And I know why.
The Democratic Party is Unwell
The only cure for what ails the Democrats is for voters to turn them out of office so they get the nice long rehab they need.
By Julie Kelly • August 20, 2020
A healthy political party—just like a healthy individual—has certain traits and habits that nourish overall wellness. A diversity of interests, a sense of humor, a curious mind, a measured temperament, and an occasional endorphin-release from physical activity are just a few things that contribute to the fitness of a human being. The same kind of characteristics should be found on a collective scale in a thriving, muscular, and stable political party.
None of those qualities, however, can be detected in the present-day Democratic Party.
For all the squawking about Donald Trump’s alleged unfitness for office and insistence that the Republican Party is populated with zombie-like Trump cultists, in reality, it is the Democratic Party that needs an extended stay at a detox facility to cleanse its sickly mind and body.
The party’s ailments have been on full display this week. Look no further than the freakish music video that closed out the first night of the Democratic National Convention. Billy Porter, a gay black Broadway star, and geriatric Steven Stills of Crosby, Stills, and Nash teamed up to remake Stills’ 1966 classic, “For What It’s Worth.”
The video was a performative display of the party’s schizophrenia: A white ’60s counterculture icon and a Dracula-costumed POC LGBTQ activist offering an inharmonious version of a Vietnam-era tune as the official anthem for the candidacy of a feeble establishment codger and his unaccomplished cackling sidekick quickly shredding their faux moderate fa├žade in fealty to the party’s lunatic fringe of America-hating nihilists.
Days of (More) Rage
Somebody call a doctor.
The Democratic Party is not well. Joe Biden is neither mentally nor physically healthy enough to run the country, yet the party remains in denial. Biden’s conduct should raise all sorts of red flags but party stalwarts are hellbent on dragging him across the finish line in November in an almost cruel act of selfishness.
While Democrats willfully ignore Biden’s fragility, the party is fixated on every move, utterance, and tweet from Donald Trump in a way that any mental health professional would diagnose as obsessive.
Their rage often is expressed in alarming public outbursts. From tearing up a State of the Union address to threatening to “impeach the motherfucker” and calling for “unrest in the streets” against Trump supporters, the Democratic Party is controlled by emotionally unstable people who behave more like mad stalkers than rational adults.
They have one hallucination after another. For three years, Democrats rocked back and forth wrapped in a collusion straightjacket mumbling about the Russians(!) and lighting candles for Special Counsel Robert Mueller. One Democratic leader made up phone conversations between Trump and the Ukrainian president; one presidential candidate pretends to be Native American.
Now, metal mailboxes disappear before their very eyes.
Even the party’s aristocracy is ailing. Why exactly are the Obamas so angry? Barack Obama continues to escape any culpability for the rampant corruption that occurred on his watch, not the least of which was using the sweeping powers of the federal government to target his political foes both before and after the 2016 election. Michelle Obama recorded her dark convention message from their 30-acre, $12 million estate in Martha’s Vineyard. The pair signed a joint book deal for $65 million and a $50 million gig with Netflix.
I suppose Trump’s dismantling of Obama’s legacy might sting a bit, but it hardly justifies the doomsday scenarios both Obamas presented to the American people this week.
Yes, Mrs. Obama, many people believe this election will have serious consequences for America’s future but it has nothing to do with climate change or Trump’s tweets and everything to do with the threat posed by a lawless Democratic Party intent on tearing out the underpinnings of the country.
Normal People Don’t Act This Way
But it’s not just the big party names who need sedation. The rank-and-file are just as disturbed.
On a lovely summer Sunday last weekend, a large group of “protestors” gathered outside the North Carolina home of the U.S. postmaster to harass Louis DeJoy for his purported scheme to make the postal service unmanageable before the election. (Yes, that’s a joke.) Some agitators held signs that read “Protect Our Boys in Blue!” referring not to police officers but to mailmen.
That’s not how normal people spend a Sunday afternoon. Hounding public officials and their families, however, has become political chic in the Trump era. On a Sunday in July, crackpot Democrats congregated in the Virginia neighborhood where Chad Wolf, acting director of the Department of Homeland Security, lives with his family. The agitators were furious over Wolf’s comment to enforce federal law in unruly cities such as Portland.
The rank-and-file Democrats are as much to blame for the toxic political climate as the news media or party leadership. They are the people banging on the doors of the Supreme Court, forcing their kids to attend Black Lives Matters marches, and posting Adam Schiff’s latest absurd conspiracy theory on their Facebook pages. Trump-hating Democrats are like junkies; they need a daily fix from the Washington Post and Rachel Maddow just to get through the day.
Teachers’ unions are a perfect example. Most schools were preparing plans to reopen this fall—until the Bad Orange Man weighed in. “Trump’s aggressive, often bellicose demands for reopening classrooms helped to harden the views of many educators that it would be unsafe—and give their powerful unions fodder to demand stronger safety measures or to resist efforts to physically reopen,” the New York Times reported August 13. “As the president has pushed for schools to reopen, key constituencies—parents and educators—have largely moved in the other direction.”
Now, think about that. The president correctly concluded that tens of millions of children must return to in-person classrooms after five months of isolation and irreversible educational setbacks but grown adults are so consumed with partisan rage that they instead choose to sacrifice the well-being of our kids to score political points against him.
Not healthy, not compassionate, and not sane.
“These People Are Insane”
Healthy people thrive on good habits and routine; unhealthy people sow chaos for themselves and for others. The Democratic Party is the home of monument-destroyers, Magnificent Mile looters, urban center occupiers, cop abusers, and thugs of all ages.
Democratic leaders are enablers of this mob-like behavior; in fact, they want more. Lawmakers pledge to defund local police, dismantle border patrols, and empty the prisons. If those promises are kept, the country as we know it will be gone for good. Democrat-run big cities are already disintegrating in rapid fashion due to failed leadership and policies; expect to see it in a small city or suburb near you if they get control in November.
The whole of the Democratic Party should be in a rubber room not anywhere near the levers of power. The only cure for what ails the Democratic Party is for voters to turn them out of office so they get the nice long rehab they need. As Trump said Thursday about the opposition party, “There was a certain sense of sanity 4 years ago. These people are insane.”

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Survey: People Overestimate Risk of Death from COVID

You've probably experienced it. If you go on a "fast walk" or especially a run on an off-road trail, outdoors, and you're not wearing a face covering, you've seen people scamper off the trail quickly to adorn their masks - even face shields - to protect themselves, from you. It makes those of us who don't (can't) wear masks while working out alone feel like lepers. Talk about social distancing.

Some trails and parks are worse than others. My local Ridley Creek State Park (Edgmont Township, Delaware County, SE Pennsylvania), with its mostly 12-foot wide paved trail, is chock full of such fearful people. Most skew older and may have chronic conditions, and I respect that. And it's not like I'm breaking the law by not wearing a mask while working out alone (or on a walk with my better half). Our Governor's punitive mask mandate only requires wearing a mask outdoors when you cannot "consistently socially distance" (you know, the 6 feet apart thing). I have no problem keeping away from people (even without a pandemic). And just for the record, I strictly adhere to the mask and social distancing mandates.
I always just shake my head at the obsessively fearful in pity (but respectfully). I cannot imagine living with such fear, even as someone who is about to turn 64. My faith teaches me otherwise - there are 200 incidences in the Good Book where we are told "do not fear," "fear not," or "do not be afraid." But I also know they are not alone.
In fact, thanks to the panic porn shoved in our faces by a malign media, it's very easy to fall into the fear trap. There's a new book written about it Matt Margolis, "Airborne," which I've just downloaded on Kindle. He outlines the whole sordid array of malevolence and irresponsible reporting by major media on the COVID issue. And former New York Times reporter and author Alex Berenson has a fascinating Twitter feed (@AlexBerenson) that you should follow if you're on that Thunderdome of a social media outlet.
"The survey found Americans believed people aged 55 and older made up more than half, 57.7 percent, of total coronavirus deaths.
"Those 55 and older actually made up more than 90 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S.
"Researchers also found that Americans believed people aged 44 and younger made up about 30 percent of total coronavirus deaths when the actual figure was just less than 3 percent."
My takeaway: People are not educating themselves properly about the China Virus.

Friday, August 21, 2020

President Pelosi? It Could Happen

An interesting perspective from an editorial in the New York Sun about the prospect of a . . . wait for it. . . President Nancy Pelosi.
Theoretically, it could happen, especially if one or both parties are successful in their efforts to undermine the election, which is on clear display from efforts to promote a clearly phony US Post Office scandal. Consider as well that every one of the battleground states, save Arizona, are under the control of Secretaries of States who are loyal Democrats. And a few of my friends will remember what happened to former US Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) and his reelection in 2008, who won on election day, but lost to future Senator Al Franken once the Democratic Secretary of State got involved. 
Read it for yourself, and I’ll look forward to hearing from legal and constitutional experts here for their perspective. From my perspective, I think the Supreme Court would likely force the US House to act well in advance of January 20, 2021, to prevent this.
And remember, if the House were forced to vote on who the next President would be (the Senate picks the Vice President, who could become acting President until the presidency is decided, instead of Nancy Pelosi), the votes are by state, not by individual members – the partisan composition of the state’s entire House delegation will decide the vote for that state. You can read about the 20th Amendment here, which was written, passed, and ratified during the Great Depression
One more wrinkle. The new Congress will be sworn in around January 3rd, so the election results will decide the composition of the House and Senate for the next congress, in advance of any vote for Vice President or President, which would not need to occur until the new presidential term begins at noon on January 20, 2021. Your vote for Senator and Representative on November 3rd may matter more than you know. 

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Pennsylvania Needs A New Attorney General

I first met Josh Shapiro many years ago when he was a relatively new member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, at a Phillies game, via his political supporters at the powerful and politically-connected Philly law firm, Stradley & Ronan. He's a nice guy - smart, approachable, articulate, talented, and very, VERY ambitious.
He would move on to serve on the Montgomery County Council (one of the large suburban counties outside of Philadelphia), and in 2016, was elected as our commonwealth's Attorney General. He's running for reelection this year, and as we all know, being an "AG" means being an "aspiring governor." The Commonwealth's worst kept secret is that he is running for Governor in 2022 when incumbent Tom Wolf's second term expires and, thankfully, he cannot run for reelection (he likely would not win if he could; he's that bad). And Shapiro undoubtedly has visions of bigger things.
Sadly, he would be no improvement over the arrogant, incompetent, and deeply leftist Wolf. In fact, he could be worse.
Shapiro got off to a great start when he expertly managed the investigation into a scandal of child abuse by several bad Catholic priests in our state. But it didn't take long for him to go off the rails.
He decided to become the lead plaintiff (along with NJ's awful attorney general) against a Catholic order of nuns, the Little Sisters of the Poor, when they refused to pay to fund contraceptives as part of their health care plan since it violates their religious beliefs. Fortunately, the Supreme Court ruled against him. Religious freedom is clearly not part of his agenda.
Then, as the coronavirus ravaged Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf and his incompetent Health Secretary shoved COVID-positive nursing home patients back into ill-prepared facilities over their objections, resulting in thousands of deaths (over 60 percent of our COVID deaths occurred among those over age 75 in long term care facilities, including nearly 80 percent in my county). You would think that the AG would investigate the state's handling of this tragic and fatal action.
You would be wrong. Shapiro focused his guns not on the failed and fatal decisions of the Governor and his Health Secretary, but the nursing homes into which COVID positive patients were forced into, in clear violation of federal guidelines.
If there was ever an example of the need for legislation that PROHIBITS attorneys general from running for other offices. at least without resigning, it would be Josh Shapiro. He is part of a very failed if not malign corps of Democratic officials who sit atop our state's highest offices. We deserve better.
Fortunately, Pennsylvanians will have an opportunity to vote for "better" this fall, and I'll be voting for Pittsburgh attorney Heather Heidelbaugh, the GOP nominee facing Shapiro. What a vast improvement she would be.
Thanks to my friend Matt Brouillette for introducing her to me via his superb podcast, "Brews and Views," a few months ago. She is worthy of our support.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Why Do Both Verizon Fios AND Comcast Xfinity Internet Services Suck?

 Honest question. How many of you who rely on internet service subscribe to more than one service?

I don’t mean having cellular as a back up to your internet service for your Android or Apple devices. I mean paying for both Xfinity/Comcast AND Verizon Fios so you can count on internet service throughout your day.

I am in that mode now. I switched from Comcast to Fios in November last year when Comcast lied to me, repeatedly, about recovery times from a tornado that swept through our area last Halloween. After 7 days of no service and false promises, I switched. 

And then, it took Fios almost a week, after a false start, to get going.

It worked well for awhile, and Fios is a slightly cheaper and a better deal (no long term contract). But after several months of good service, the recent “tropical storm” has interrupted my service every day for two weeks. Verizon not only can’t fix it, but resents my requests for service. Big companies really suck at customer service, it seems.

So, I signed up for Comcast again, without yet canceling Fios. But my Comcast service went out again tonight.  I signed back into Fios, and presto! Internet! For now.

What a sad state of affairs (yes, I know that this is a first world problem) that we have no reliable internet service. At least where I live. Here in the Philly suburbs. 

If anyone has a good alternative, I’m all ears. I have too many trees to rely on satellite service, like HughesNet or Dish. Maybe I should reach out to Elon Musk for suggestions.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Sudden Leftist Love for. . . The US Postal Service

One of the most amazing aspects of the “Vote By Mail” debate, other than its sheer and bizarre polarization, is the sudden, dramatic, if not bizarre love for the US Postal Service. At least by many on The Left. Where have they been all these years?

Someone I know opined recently that she was willing to “volunteer” to help process mail-in ballots. It’s like voting by mail is a religious crusade, leading us to nirvana, or some utopia replete with rainbow-pooping unicorns. Maybe for her or other like-minded “critical theory” and related “woke” adherents. I wish them well in their alternative universe. A big “thank you” to America’s colleges and universities. Not.

Suddenly, these bunch of Americans, well-meaning I’m sure, are worried about Louis DeJoy’s leadership. You know, the Trump-nominated head of the USPS. 

Disclosure: I know Louis DeJoy. He’s a Trustee at Elon University, one of my son’s alma mater, and also a board member for The Fund for American Studies, a fabulous DC intern-focused organization I was actively involved with for more than two decades, chairing one of its “Board of Visitors.” Mr. DeJoy is a wealthy and very successful businessman in the logistics industry. Strikes me as someone well qualified to tackle the long-standing challenges of the USPS. And he is, resulting in the inevitable controversy that swirls today. If fixing the USPS was easy or popular it would have been done decades ago. 

Thing is, the USPS has been a financial and managerial mess for many years, and has struggled mightily to transition from it’s legendary 18th century snail mail model to our new digital world. Whenever I visit my local post office, my mind always harkens back to the movie “Men In Black.” I mean no disrespect, but those of you who’ve seen the movie (or it’s sequels) know what I’m talking about. 

Peter Mihalick, a former GOP Hill staffer, pens a great piece below that puts things involving the USPS in some perspective. It’s a short and informative post, rooted in reality. Linked and pasted below. 

Americans are Annoyed With Going To the Post Office and for Good Reason

By Peter Mihalick for

Ever since I joined the ranks of Congressional staff back in 2012, the USPS has had issues – lack of funding for capital programs, an unfunded mandate for employee pensions, and increased utilization of email and other package delivery services.  So, blaming President Trump for the decades of neglect and incompetent management is incorrect and another case of ignoring the facts in favor of a political view.  A skeptic view of the USPS being able to handle increased and timely delivery of mail-in ballots is healthy and not unfounded.  The New York Times claiming otherwise is fake news.

The fact is President Trump has little to do with the current situation the USPS finds itself in today. The Task Force on the United States Postal System concluded in 2018, “the USPS has been losing money for more than a decade and is on an unsustainable financial path. The USPS is forecast to lose tens of billions of dollars over the next decade.”  The USPS cannot afford to risk losing its best client – Amazon - by raise the price on packages.  Additionally, Amazon receives priority for its packages which negatively impacts the prompt delivery of regular, first class mail.

After receiving $10 billion in loans the CARES Act earlier this year, the USPS is back again with hands outstretched begging for another $25 billion. Democrats are making the case that if Republicans fail to bail out the post office, they are responsible for suppressing the votes of minorities – which is simply false. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) claimed a few months ago the $25 billion was necessary to end “the Treasury’s blockade of the $10 billion loan authorized in the CARES Act,” yet Treasury released those funds on July 29, 2020.  Of course, liberal Democrats were not satisfied and have found a new culture war argument to make.

Unfortunately, the media is parroting left-wing talking points which push the narrative that President Trump is tilting the election in his direction by pointing to problems with USPS. The New York Times reported on July 31, 2020, Democrats “are warning that a huge wave of ballots could overwhelm mail carriers unless the Postal Service, in financial difficulty for years, receives emergency funding that Republicans are blocking during negotiations over another pandemic relief bill.” The USPS just received a cash infusion of $10 billion, yet that does not seem to be enough for Democrats. The additional $25 billion included in Speaker Pelosi’s wishlist bill will not magically fix all the well documented systematic problems with the post office and put USPS on the road to solvency.

Amazon finds themselves in the middle of this debate because they benefit from a below-market rate for the delivery of their packages. They are advocating for a postal bailout while opposing the reforms necessary to keep USPS viable for the long term. The New York Times reported on May 6, 2020, “A coalition of online retailers backed by Amazon began a seven-figure advertising blitz on Wednesday opposing President Trump’s demand that the beleaguered United States Postal Service ratchet up its package delivery rates to avoid bankruptcy amid the coronavirus crisis, its top lobbyist said.” They're pumping $2 million into the campaign which will be well worth it to protect the current beneficial rate structure. Amazon is claiming the coronavirus pandemic has led to a sharp drop in revenue and mail volume, yet Amazon’s online sales and profits are increasing.

Another reason Amazon is advocating for additional funding for USPS is because their packages are prioritized at the expense at regular, every day, first class mail. The Portland Press Herald in Maine reported on July 21, 2020, “the delivery of first-class and priority mail is being intentionally delayed so that letter carriers can prioritize the delivery of Amazon packages, according to letter carriers at the Portland post office and an official complaint lodged with the Office of Inspector General.” Maybe the Democrats should blame Amazon, not President Trump, if there are problems this fall with slow returns of mail-in ballots.

These problems existed before President Trump and will exist long after he leaves the office of the presidency. Don’t believe the fake news media when they use the excuse of voting rights to push for $25 billion more of your tax dollars to throw at the mismanaged cash black hole that is the U.S. Postal Service.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

The Case for Presidential Debates - Now More Than Ever

Debates are one of the great traditions of American elections. Having been involved in some 35 congressional elections in 25 states over my 43-year career, I've been involved in dozens of them. I negotiated debate formats with opposing campaigns and media organizations. I prepped and peppered candidates with issues and questions. And I even played a Democratic opponent for one incumbent US Senator's debate prep session (that was fun). 

Americans value debates. Since the 1980 election, between 37 million (Dole vs. Clinton) and 80 million (Reagan vs. Carter) Americans have tuned into presidential debates. Americans like to contrast and compare candidates and see their options contrasted before their eyes. This election's Democratic primary debates drew upwards of 20 million eyes, at least on one occasion.

There haven't always been debates. In 1972, incumbent President Richard Nixon famously refused to give a platform to his anti-war Democratic challenger, US Sen. George McGovern (D-SD). Nixon's campaign did not want to give McGovern, whom he consistently led by double-digits in nearly every poll throughout an election that was never in doubt. Nixon carried every state but one - even McGovern's home state.  

But debates aren't just for voters. Candidates use them - or not - to advance strategic and tactical objectives. My friend, Mark Strand, President of the Congressional Institute, penned a terrific Facebook post recently outlining debate objectives over the years. 

"Reagan had to demonstrate that he was not a warmonger, which he did in his 1980 debate with Carter, and this made Americans much more comfortable with him as President. He also had to demonstrate that he was not senile in a second debate after flubbing an answer against Mondale. Clinton needed to show he had the foreign policy credentials to compete with the greatly experienced President George H.W. Bush. George W. Bush needed to demonstrate he was a competent governor and more than just a President's son against Al Gore. Obama introduced himself to the American public with his successful debates against Hillary Clinton, and then strong performances against McCain. Obama, however, badly needed a better second and third debate (along with a little help from Candy Crowley) after being dramatically outclassed by Romney in their first debate."
 A recent Rasmussen Reports poll says that 38% of Americans polled think Democratic candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden has dementia, including 20% of Democrats (48% percent disagree). (Rasmussen was one of the most prescient pollsters in 2016, with its somewhat unique blend of online and phone polling of likely voters, and deserves to be taken very seriously). 

So you think that the Biden campaign and his supporters would want him to debate Trump to demonstrate that he's not in the grips of cognitive decline, and reinforce his calm, approachable demeanor. But you would be wrong. Former Bill Clinton press secretary Joe Lockhart - who also handled the NFL's PR from 2016-18 (how did that work out?) - along with the New York Times' Elizabeth Drew are aggressively advocating for Biden not to participate in debates. Why? Because "Trump lies," exclaimed Lockhart. Drew, who was a debate moderator in past years, says basically that debates don't really tell us anything, and they're nothing more than quip contests and wrestling matches. Expect more of these trial balloons in days and weeks ahead.

Fortunately, Veep Biden's wife, Dr. Jill Biden, says Joe will debate. Good for her. But we'll see.

The Wall Street Journal expertly opined on the need for Joe Biden to participate in debates this fall:
"...Mr. Biden would take office at age 78, becoming the oldest President in history on Day 1. Mr. Trump is all but calling him senile, and Mr. Biden’s verbal stumbles and memory lapses were obvious in the Democratic primaries. How about when Mr. Biden mistakenly referred to Britain’s leader as Margaret Thatcher, who resigned in 1990? Or when he boasted of working on the Paris climate deal with Deng Xiaoping, who died in 1997?
The public deserves to see how well Mr. Biden holds up under debate pressure while hearing his answers to pointed questions about his policy proposals. If he ducks debates, voters will have every right to conclude that his handlers are trying to protect him from doubts about his cognitive capacity.
If the debates seem too much like an endless succession of sound bites, that’s an argument for changing their format and pushing for longer and deeper answers, not axing them—especially not in 2020. Mr. Biden portrays Mr. Trump as a bumbling incompetent, a racist, and a liar. If he believes that, he should be willing to repeat his accusations face to face."
So let's hope the Commission on Presidential Debates' plans for three debates in October - the 7th, the 15th, and the 22nd - go forward as proposed. President Trump has called for a fourth debate, but that's unlikely to happen. Whether they will or not may depend less on the candidates or the Commission, but the universities that are pegged to host - if they wriggle out of the debates over phony concerns over COVID, we know the fix is in, and that will be the approach one or more will take, under pressure. If I were a Biden operative strongly opposed to putting my enfeebled candidate on stage against a voracious Trump, that's how I'd orchestrate it. 

Biden pays a price, in my opinion, if he is perceived as ducking debates. It will confirm people's worst fears, especially if he continues to stumble in his basement media interviews, as he did again today

More importantly, we as voters deserve to know whether at age 78 - close to the age where cognitive decline is a reality in most Americans - he is mentally (and physically) up to the world's most demanding job. Remember, too, that Joe has a history of aneurysms, but not recently. 

If there was ever an election where debates were really important, it is this one.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

The Case Against "Vote By Mail," A Prescription for Disaster

"Vote by mail" is the latest mantra from a great many Democrats and even Republicans like US Senator Mitt Romney. House Democrats in May - their contribution to the $3 trillion stimulus bill passed that month - included $3.6 billion to implement vote by mail systems in states.

It does appear to work in some states, such as Colorado and Oregon. One of our sons lives in Colorado and receives his ballots at home and votes by mail, or can drop it off at one of their "secure" nearby locations. Few, if anyone, complains about election fraud in those and four other states because they've invested heavily in their voting infrastructure, including the integrity of their voter rolls.

This is not to be confused with "absentee ballots" or voting early. I have voted consistently by absentee here in Pennsylvania since moving here in 2002. I was always out of state on election day. With absentee voting, an active, registered voter requests a ballot mailed to his or her home. They cast their ballot, follow all the instructions, and place it in the mail or deliver it in person. You have to sign the outside of the envelope (not the ballot, obviously) so your signature can be compared to the one on file. 

That's not how "vote by mail" works. The election board just mails the ballot to the address on file, whether you asked for the ballot or not, or even whether you live at that address. There are plenty of stories about people receiving multiple ballots at their homes. And then there were some 16 million mail-in ballots that went missing in the last two elections.

Here's the reality - most states do a terrible job of keeping their voter rolls up to date. The 1993 Voter Registration Act requires states to take certain measures to make sure ineligible voters - people who have died, relocated, or are otherwise ineligible - are removed, along with those who haven't voted in two consecutive elections and failed to respond to mail requests to confirm their voting address. Those with active drivers licenses generally cannot be removed from voter rolls.

Take, for example, Los Angeles County, California, home to millions of voters. They let their rolls become so polluted with ineligible voters that the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) and Judicial Watch filed suit. They settled and the county agreed to remove 1.5 million inactive voters from their roles, consistent with federal law. I'd say that's enough to influence an election. Unfortunately, White House Press Secretary Kayley McEnany wasn't up to date recently on the machinations in that county and claimed that 112 percent of the eligible population was registered (no longer true).  

And don't get me started on the number of media reports from places like Chicago and Philadelphia with scores of dead people who have been voting from the grave for years, if not decades. And they are far from the only cities. Even Denver

It kind of lends credence to something the late, great Governor of New Jersey, Democrat Brendan Byrne, once said: "I want to be buried in Hudson County so that I can remain active in politics.”

California also permits something that most states have outlawed - ballot harvesting. A congressional election was overturned in North Carolina's 9th Congressional district in 2016 when a sleazy political consultant, McCrae Dowless, who had worked for both parties in previous years engaged in illegal ballot harvesting on behalf of his GOP client, Mark Harris. That means someone can legally collect ballots and turn them into local election officials on behalf of voters. Only my spouse can turn in my "vote by mail" ballot here in Pennsylvania. California Democrats legalized it in time for the 2018 elections and used it to help defeat at least 5 GOP Members of Congress (the GOP recaptured one of those seats, the one held by disgraced former Rep. Katie Hill, whose seat is now held by newly-elected GOP Rep. Mike Garcia).

Ballot harvesting is an invitation to voter fraud and disenfranchisement. A ballot delivered to your home today can arrive at the same time as someone who just happens to show up at your door and "offers" to collect your ballot and return it to election officials and wait while you cast your ballot. Or maybe answer questions, or help you pick the "right" candidates. Or maybe just throw away your ballot if you're suspected as voting "wrong." Oh, and the union representing US Postal Service carriers have endorsed Democratic nominee-presumptive Joe Biden. That inspires confidence.

This WSJ op-ed (linked and pasted below) gives one example of how opportunities for fraud exist. But it is worse than that - voters can be disenfranchised. Due to "issues" at the USPS these days, people in Philadelphia are not getting their mail. Or having their mail picked up. And these are mostly Democrats. 

Both my county here in Pennsylvania (Delaware, population 560,000) and much of the rest of the state and, of course, New York took WEEKS to count votes from recent primary elections due to the 1) closing of some polling locations and 2) a bigger-than-expected volume of votes by mail. I voted by absentee. I hope my vote counted. I'm not certain, although I did get an acknowledgment that the county received my ballot. I should know better - I've personally been involved in elections with active voter fraud, in northeast Texas (fraudulently forging signatures of nursing home residents and casting ballots on their behalf) and Louisiana (13 actives registered at an empty lot). Don't tell me it doesn't exist. I know it does.

And I have the opportunity to cheat this November. While I'll be voting where I live - either in Virginia, where I have 2nd residence, or Pennsylvania, where I live now (and am still trying to sell my house), I remain on voter rolls in both states. I've notified both states that I am a Pennsylvania voter, but I remain on Virginia's rolls, and continue to get mail there about voting "absentee."

I'll be voting in person this November 3rd (at one location OR the other). So should you. There is no evidence, says the CDC, that voting in person (at least in Wisconsin) causes spikes in COVID inspections. More here: 

Bottom line: Vote by mail is a prescription for the erosion of confidence in our election, and an invitation to disaster. It must be rejected.