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."


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 - 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.