There’s no shortage of nincompoops buying into the legitimacy of the Biden presidency and the bullshit narrative about “an insurrection” at the U.S. Capitol building on January 6th. I’m sure they’re quite content in their ignorance — they refuse to even consider the evidence available regarding the lack of ballot integrity in Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Texas, and elsewhere, and they continue to pretend the January 6th debacle was a real threat to our democracy, rather than a largely peaceful group of wide-eyed goofballs who were mostly waved through the barricades by the Capitol Police.
One of the best summaries I’ve read about the attitudes of those who feel disenfranchised by the 2020 election is this series of tweets by the of the MartyrMade podcast, Darryl Cooper. His tweets are also discussed here by Tyler O’Neil. It is Cooper’s “general theory” on the perspective of “Boomer tier” Trump supporters, as he calls them. Last year’s fraudulent election was only the culmination of events going back to the investigation of Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. The whole thread is interesting, but you must get past a little “soft cover” at the start that might have been intended to distract the speech police at Twitter. I’ll try to summarize here:
The intelligence community spied on the Trump campaign in 2016, and that’s a major transgression! The DNC was involved too, actually paying for fabricated evidence. James Comey falsely denied any knowledge of that fact. John Brennan and Adam Schiff also lied shamelessly in this affair.
By the time Trump supporters realized all the noise was fake, they naively expected justice to be served. But no, and so their faith in certain institutions was shaken.
The gaslighting continued, and the whole thing consumed energy and had a chilling effect on participation in the Trump Administration. This was an active kind of subversion crossing “all institutional boundaries”.
The participation of the press was the poison icing on the cake. The press is now viewed by much of the country as a propaganda arm of “The Regime”.
Many aren’t sure whether the election was fixed, but if it was, they know they’d be lied to about it.
Voting procedures in many jurisdictions were changed using COVID as a pretext.
The press smoke-screened the Biden, Inc. scandals, including evidence of pay-for-play and incredibly lurid information on Hunter Biden’s laptop. Instead, the press played-up gossip about Trump.
Trump people rightly felt betrayed by the very institutions they’ve always trusted, but they voted in record numbers, and we’re not convinced all were counted.
“But when the four critical swing states went dark at midnight, they knew.”
Conspiracy theories abounded, but media and tech shut down discussion of real anomalies. Had the election gone Trump’s way, they would have cried foul!
The courts were handcuffed by fear of political violence and retribution.
I agree with substantially all of Cooper’s thread. Our experience since Donald Trump became an active politician has been disillusioning in several respects: it has shown how flimsy our constitutional rights and our republic are when the wrong actors come to dominate certain institutions. It also shows how malleable are the “facts” that we are asked to accept by these actors. We are seemingly helpless to defend the rule of law, the Constitution, and social norms when an intransigent minority decides it can simply ignore them. This is how tyranny is borne.
Election integrity is not an outlandish objective. Neither is demanding fair treatment of diverse viewpoints from social media, Big Tech, and educational institutions. And neither is it outlandish to demand safe communities and adequate police protection; that our borders be enforced; that our public health officials speak honestly about risks; and that we should never, under any circumstances, be judged, punished, or rewarded based on the color of our skin. These are just a few of the things we must demand, and never take “no” for an answer.
Cartman is awesome! Haha! But really, that kind of reaction to the dominant social media platforms is well deserved, especially given their recent behavior. Listen to this: my wife’s church held a service of hymns and prayer for “healing the nation” on Tuesday. The church’s IT administrator posted an advance notice about the service on the church’s Facebook wall. There was nothing overtly political about the notice or the service itself. Nevertheless, somehow FB deemed the notice subversive and blocked it! We are not dealing with decent or reasonable people here. They are pigs, and we don’t have to do business with them.
A number of years ago, a woman told me FB was “the Devil!” She was very good natured and I laughed at the time. But there are many reasons for people to wean themselves from social media, or at least from certain platforms. The web abounds with testimony on lives improved by quitting FB, for example, and there are forums for those who’ve quit or would like to. There’s also plenty of practical advice on “how to leave”, so there is definitely some interest in getting out.
Ditching FB offers a certain freedom: you can eliminate the compulsion to check your news feed and escape those feelings of obligation to “like” or comment on certain posts. These are distractions that many can do without. No more efforts to “unsee” expressions of foot fetish narcissism! Free of the pathetic virtue signals that seem to dominate the space. And quitting might be especially nice if you’re keen on cutting ties with certain “frenemies”. Almost all of us have had a few. This study found that quitting FB results in less time online (surprise!) and more time with family and friends (pre-COVID lockdowns, of course). It also found that quitting leads to less political polarization! Imagine that!
There’s no question that FB helped me make new friends and reconnect with old ones. It also led to overdue severing of ties with a few toxic individuals. I know I’m likely to lose contact with people I truly like, and that’s too bad, but in most cases I must leave it up to them to stay in touch (read on). Obviously, there are many ways to stay in contact with friends you really want to keep.
As for politics (and seemingly every aspect of life has been politicized), now is a very good time to quit FB if you believe in free expression, the value of diverse opinion, and a free marketplace of ideas. FB doesn’t want that. As the episode at my wife’s church demonstrates, FB has been brazenly selective in suppressing opinion, like other prominent social media platforms. It was obvious well before the presidential election, and it has become intolerable since.
How To Defacebook
There are voices that counsel patience with the tech giants. They recommend a strategy of diversification across platforms, without necessarily quitting any of them. I can understand why certain people might prefer that route. It’s well nigh impossible to migrate an extended family to another platform, for example. However, juggling several accounts can be a problem of time management. And for me, this all boils down to a matter of disgust. It’s time to stick it to FB.
This rest of this post offers some practical advice on quitting FB and more thoughts on how and why I’m doing it. This will also appear on some speech-friendly platforms, so if you see it there and you haven’t quit FB, do it! You’re already halfway there.
The first decision is whether to quit outright or deactivate. Many don’t have the fortitude to stay away if they merely deactivate, and maybe they just need a break. For others, FB has earned an enmity that can only be satisfied by leaving for good. Count me among the latter.
You should reclaim all of your data before you quit: you can download it to a zip file, which will include all of your photos, chats, “About” information, your friends’ birthdays, etc… While it’s been claimed that shutting your account will cleanse Facebook of all your data, that’s not entirely the case. For example, your friends might still retain chats in which you participated. In fact, I’m not convinced all of your data isn’t permanently in FB’s possession, if not the NSA’s, but we might never know.
You should also change your login credentials on other online accounts linked to FB. You should be able to identify some or maybe all of those by looking at the password section in “Settings”. I’m not sure whether scrolling though and checking all the apps listed in Settings will help — it didn’t help me identify anything that the password section did not.
It’s a good idea to keep Messenger up for a while in case any of your friends want to inquire or find a way to stay in touch. That’s fine, but to really rid yourself of FB, you must part with Messenger eventually. Of course, you’ll lose Instagram and WhatsApp when you quit FB. I don’t use those, so it won’t be a problem for me.
Then there are the “I’m Going To Quit!” status updates, sometimes laced with sadness or anger. I haven’t found those particularly appealing in the past… I’ve often wondered if they were merely ploys to get attention. But things have changed. I will add this post to my wall and leave it there for a few days. My *noble* intent is to help others quit, and to do my small part to foster a more competitive social media environment. Another way to communicate your departure would be to use Messenger to inform selected friends, but that’s more work. And by the way, in anticipation of my stop date, I’ve been culling my friends list more aggressively than ever.
Once you pull the trigger and click “Delete”, your account will remain active for a few days. Don’t be a sucker. Delete the app on your phone. Wait it out. Forget about it!
Again, there was never a better time to dump FB. Beyond any emotionally corrosive aspects of social media, the last straw should be the selective censorship of political views, shadow bans, outright bans, and deletion of groups. Lately, it’s been like witnessing the early transition from Weimar to the Third Reich. We can only hope the full transition will remain unfulfilled.
For a company protected from liability under Section 230 of the Telecommunications Act, FB’s refusal to respect First Amendment rights and to abide diversity of opinion is shocking. Don’t tell me about fact checking! Facebook fact checkers are politically motivated hacks, and the new “oversight board” is not likely to help you and me. The presumption underlying Section 230 is that these platforms are not publishers, but having abandoned all pretense of impartiality, they should not be entitled to immunity. Moreover, they have tremendous market power, and they are colluding in an effort to consolidate political power and protect their dominant market position.
Big Tech, and not just FB, has been flagrant in this hypocrisy. These firms have deplatformed individuals who’ve questioned the legitimacy of the presidential election, and there is plenty to question. But they refuse to censor Antifa and BLM rioters, antisemites, state terrorists, and genocidal tyrants from around the world, including the Chinese Communist Party. More recently, FB and other platforms have condemned supporters of President Trump, as if that support was equivalent to endorsing those who stormed the Capital on June 6th. And even if it were, would an objective arbiter not also condemn leftist violence? How about equal condemnation of the Antifa and BLM rioters who ravaged American cities throughout last summer? Or those who rioted at the time of Trump’s inauguration?
The social media platforms won’t do that. FB is bad, but Twitter is probably the worst of them all. I quit using Google years ago due to privacy concerns, but also because it became obvious to me that it’s search results are heavily biased. Amazon pulled the rug out from under Parler, and I will quit using Amazon when my Prime membership is up for renewal unless Jeff Bezos starts singing a different tune by then. These companies are anticompetitive, but there are other ways to buy online, and there is plenty of other video programming.
The power of Big Tech is not absolute. Remember, there are alternatives if you choose to quit or diversify: check out MeWe, Clouthub, Rumble (video hosting), Gab, Signal, and Telegram, for example (see this interesting story on the latter two). And Parler, of course, if it manages to find a new hosting service or wins some kind of emergency relief against Amazon.
Message me for my contact information or my identity on other platforms, or you can always find my ruminations at SacredCowChips.net. You can even share them on FB (if they’ll let you), at the risk of alienating your “woke” friends! So long.
Now why would I say such a thing? Well, 1) the presidential election was rife with fraud, as many of us feared would be the case (and see here); 2) the supposed winner, Joe “The Plagiarist” Biden, is a figurehead, and he will remain in the White House only as long as he toes the line set down by the Left; and 3) the figurehead is badly compromised by Chinese and other foreign influence: Chairman Xi Jinping of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is undoubtedly pleased that such a pliant American president will be taking office.
Those who deny the fraud that took place in the election keep insisting “there’s no evidence!” In fact, there is ample evidence to convince any fair-minded person that massive fraud took place across a number of states (see here, here, here and here). We knew that massive adoption of mail-in ballots was an invitation to fraud. There are many hundreds of affidavits (yes, they constitute evidence) stating that Republican election officials and poll watchers were obstructed in their attempts to observe the counting process on and after Election Day, and worse. There is video evidence of activities coincident with late-night lockouts of Republican poll watchers and outrageous, instant jumps in Biden’s vote totals. There is definitive evidence of process “shortcuts” in several states that led to a large number of unverified ballots. These shortcuts were often taken in contravention of state law. There were failed chains of custody for thousands of ballots across several states. There were dead and out-of-state voters. There were irregularities associated with vote tabulations by Dominion machines. There are hand recounts in a few counties that demonstrate miscounting of ballots. And of course, there was a willful effort to suppress this information by the news media, and outright censorship of this information by social media platforms.
No matter what has or will happen in the courts, state legislatures, or Congress, a large share of the voting public believes there was fraud in this election. In fact, a significant share of democrats believe the election was stolen from President Trump! The fraud goes beyond the electoral process as well. Polls show a substantial number of Biden voters would not have voted for him had they known about the escapades of Hunter Biden and Joe’s role as the family cash cow. The mainstream media and social media platforms also deliberately suppressed the information about Hunter Biden’s pay-for-play scandal prior to the election. And that came after months of avoiding any real scrutiny of Biden’s policy agenda and his fitness as a candidate. Instead, the media asked Joe tough questions about his favorite ice cream.
Not your president? The Hunter Biden saga creates doubt about who Joe Biden is likely to serve as President. To whom is Joe beholden for “taking care” of “the big guy’s” family? How about Hunter’s deals in the Ukraine and Russia? How heavily was the CCP involved in Hunter’s business ventures? How much is Joe compromised by these unfortunate ties? What kind of compromises might it be worth to Joe to avoid further exposure? Should the Biden Administration overlook the plight of the Uhygers? Turn the cheek on Hong Kong? Sacrifice Taiwan? Allow Chinese technology to be embedded in U.S. communications hardware? Cede international rights in the South China Sea? Perhaps Joe will be Chairman Xi’s President. And perhaps others hold cards, such as the hostile Iranian regime. Not our president.
Finally, if you *think* you voted for Joe as president, be aware that he is, even now, a doddering figurehead, a puppet of the Left whose strings might well be clipped when he demonstrates even a hint of incapacity. It might not be long. Perhaps the Left will adopt Hunter’s imbroglio as an excuse to take Joe down. It seems more than a little suspicious that the media, post-election, has finally begun to talk about Hunter’s miscues and Joe’s “possible” involvement.
But even if Joe remains in the Oval Office through a first term, just who will be in charge? Joe? No, he is captive to the interests that helped put him there. We might just as well call him “Any-Way-the-Wind-Blows Joe”. Angela Davis, former VP of the Communist Party USA, said during the primaries that she supported Biden because he:
“… can be most effectively pressured into allowing more space for the evolving anti-racist movement.”
Well, Joe better not compromise with anyone or accept any policy that Angela Davis deems “racist”.
Let’s consider a few influences expected to be paramount in pulling Joe’s strings: Barack Obama, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Julian Castro, and Black Lives Matter. Bernie Sanders will also loom large, and of course Kamala Harris will be there to push the leftist agenda, and she’ll be waiting in the wings when Joe loses his tentative grip on the reins of the progressive machine. Joe better not resist these forces: he can be manipulated, and if he strays from the path, he and his presidency can be cancelled.
If you are a member of the Marxist wing of the coalition, you might have him just where you want him. If you are a member of the CCP, then he might be your president. But he is not the president of the disenfranchised voters whose majority was outstripped by the mailed ballot fraud. And if you are a centrist Democrat, you should awaken to the reality of the hard-left movement with which you’ve joined forces. Do not accept it as a legitimate governing force. No, Joe Biden will not be your president.
As I’ve noted in the past, apologists willing to look past Joe Biden’s domestic and foreign controllers and the fraudulent election are not to be trusted. Indeed, they have been willing to look past Biden’s personal status as a fraud, from his many lies about his family to his admitted plagiarism, to his denial of sexual aggression toward female staffers. In summary, I can’t put it any better than Newt Gingrich does here:
“… I have no interest in legitimizing the father of a son who Chinese Communist Party members boast about buying. Nor do I have any interest in pretending that the current result is legitimate or honorable. It is simply the final stroke of a four-year establishment-media power grab. It has been perpetrated by people who have broken the law, cheated the country of information, and smeared those of us who believe in America over China, history over revisionism, and the liberal ideal of free expression over cancel culture.”
Like many others, I strongly suspect widespread ballot fraud in the presidential election, as well as miscounting due to software problems in certain jurisdictions. I therefore fully support the legal challenges and recounts now getting underway. However, there is one indicator of fraud, now widely cited by Republicans, in which I have no confidence as applied. It’s a statistical tool based on Benford’s Law, which can serve as a signal of voter fraud. I mentioned it briefly in my last post. At the risk of getting ahead of myself, here’s what I said then:
“… Benford’s Law … is a “forensic” test of fraud based on statistical theory, but I do not trust the form in which it’s been invoked thus far. Violations have been cited in several counties over the past few days. However, a violation of this law obviously doesn’t constitute direct evidence of fraud, and the test is a reliable indicator only when the number of voters in different precincts vary by orders of magnitude (there must be a mix of [numbers in the] 10s, 100s, 1,000s, 10,000s). With precinct sizes, that is often not the case. There is a more reliable form of Bedford’s law, but I have not seen its application to any results in this election.“
The last link above is to a paper by Walter Mebane of the University of Michigan. I’ll refer to his work below, including some post-election tests he’s conducted.
Benford’s Law holds that many collections of numbers encountered in nature or human affairs (populations of ant colonies, accounting data) will have a large proportion of leading digits that are low numbers. For example, the number 1 will tend to appear as the leading digit about 30% of the time; the number 2 will be the leading digit about 18% of the time, while the number 9 will be the leading digit less than 5% of the time. The broader the range of the numbers, the more accurately they will conform to Benford’s Law. As I stated above, a range of numbers covering several orders of magnitude will approximate Benford’s Law fairly well, while a range confined to a single order of magnitude generally won’t conform unless its distribution is extremely skewed toward the low end of the range.
What does that have to do with election fraud? If the number of votes across different voting precincts cover several orders of magnitude (for example, single digits, 10s, 100s, and 1,000s), they should conform to Benford’s Law. The distribution of first digits across precincts should look a lot like the chart above. If they don’t conform, it’s an indication that votes may have been altered or added. That’s because Benford’s Law tends to break down when an independent process leads to additive changes to the original numbers (rather than multiplicative changes, such as population growth).
So again, there have been claims that several cities had presidential voting patterns suggesting violations of Benford’s Law for Joe Biden, but not for Donald Trump and other candidates. These were Milwaukee, WI, Chicago, IL, and Allegheny County, PA. Subsequently I saw similar claims about other cities and counties, such as Fulton County, GA.
The chart below shows the results for Milwaukee. I show only three of the candidates’ distributions of first digits, but the other candidates, who garnered relatively few votes, look much like the one on the far right. The chart shows that Joe Biden’s distribution looks nothing like Benford’s Law would suggest, while Trump’s does. The assertion is that Biden’s pattern is a sign of fraudulent voting.
The problem with these claims is that the size of the precincts and variations in votes across wards might not support the validity of Benford’s Law. I looked at the 327 election wards in the City of Milwaukee, which range in size from just a few voters to several thousand, but most have less than 1,000 voters. The average turnout of registered voters across wards was over 78%, and the average number of ballots cast per ward was 757. Biden received almost 80% of the votes in Milwaukee, or about 595 per ward; Trump received an average of 148.
(I should note that in seven wards there were controversial, post-election upward adjustments in the number of registered voters, where voter turnout had originally been calculated as greater than 100%. Needless to say, that is rather suspicious. However, I disclose now that the data were collected after these adjustments were made.)
What’s important in the application of Benford’s Law is the distribution of votes across wards. Biden’s distribution of votes across wards in Milwaukee was concentrated between 186 and 1,196 (the middle 90% of his distribution of ward votes), and again, centered at 595. For Trump, 90% of his ward vote totals were between 14 and 412. It should be no surprise that a large share of Biden’s vote totals would have leading digits of 4, 5, and 6, while Trump had lower leading digits. So the charts of leading digits for Milwaukee are really artifacts of the narrow distributions of ward votes for these candidates. Broader distributions covering several orders of magnitude would provide first-digit analysis more capable of indicating fraud, if it occurred.
The other Benford-type test of fraud mentioned above is based on the second digit of vote totals, and it is not sensitive to the width of the vote distributions. The typical pattern of second digits is much less pronounced than first digits, but there is still a smooth decline from smaller to larger second digits. I found the two charts below on the Golden Age of Gaia site, of all places. They contrast the frequency of second digits from the Biden and Trump vote totals by precinct for ballots in Allegheny County, PA. The usual pattern of second digits is plotted along the orange line, but whoever prepared these charts mislabelled the horizontal axes (they should run from zero to nine).
Joe Biden’s frequencies are irregular, with significant differences for some values of the second digit. Trump’s pattern is more typical. However, I learned today that Walter Mebane had performed a few second-digit tests on Allegheny County and Milwaukee. He calculates an overall test statistic for the full set of second-digit values and finds the statistics for those counties to be within a certain reasonable range, or at least he felt they could be explained by other factors.
Visually, however, there is a sharp contrast between the Biden and Trump charts. And the data has been in flux, so it’s not clear that the charts correspond to exactly the same data tested by Mebane.
In the end, these tests offer no real guidance in this case. All tests of this kind offer circumstantial evidence, at best, and they are invalid under some circumstances. As Mebane said in his 2006 paper:
“… to prevent election fraud, appropriate practices need to be used while the election is being conducted. Insecure or opaque voting technology or election administration procedures should not be used. The election environment should not foment chaos and confusion. Not only should elections be secure and fair, but everyone should know they are secure and fair.“
Chaos and confusion…. yes, that sounds about like the 2020 election environment. Mebane is obviously aware of the limitations of the statistics in which he specializes. Nevertheless, these tests are broadly used in a variety of applications. Crazy results raise suspicions, but sometimes they are not the best leads in pursuing claims of election fraud. There are plenty of other red flags in the present case. The states now in dispute are close, and most of those votes will be subject to recount anyway.
Since Saturday I’ve heard people in the media refer to “President-Elect Biden”, and I heard “President Biden” in one instance. He is neither, at least not yet. If and when the results of the election are certified in enough states to give Biden 270+ electoral votes, my attitude will be “Que Sera, Sera“. We can then move on to other challenges. But we aren’t there yet. Much remains to be settled in several states, and whether there is a change in the outcome of the presidential election might not be as important as cleaning up the mess that’s become of our election system.
Here’s a little primer on the signs of election fraud from the BBC. Several of those signs appear very much like what we see now. The list of red flags arising from the results of this election is long, and the denials from authorities in charge of the process in various jurisdictions look increasingly suspicious. We have turnout greater than the number of registered voters in several areas, dead voters, out-of-state voters, poll observers who were refused entry or held at impractical distances, late-night suspension of counts resuming after observers departed, ballot arrivals with no chain of custody, a huge number of Biden ballots with no votes for down-ballot candidates and few cases of the same for Trump. If you hadn’t guessed, the down-ballot discrepancy smacks of vote manufacturing. The sheer volume of last day “provisional” ballots is suggestive of ballot harvesting activity. And there are a number of other irregularities. A retired auditor/blogger compiled a nice list of red flags several days ago. This update is even better.)
As Jonathan Turley notes, as Americans we should welcome reviews of close elections. It would be a travesty to ignore these strong indications of fraud. Doing so would disenfranchise millions of voters, destroy confidence in our democratic system, and reward aberrant behavior. And for readers of this blog who might be aghast that we’re unwilling to simply absolve election authorities and other helpers who managed to produce or allow these red flags, the simple fact of the matter is we don’t trust them, and we don’t trust you either!
No, we do not trust authorities who tell us to ignore the kinds of obvious red flags that have arisen in this election. Election fraud has a long history in many of the jurisdictions now in dispute. This is just one form of the corruption endemic to one-party rule in many of these localities. No one is accountable and rules can be broken with the support of the local party machine. These are mini-swamps, and they should be drained.
The media is of course a giant swamp of its own, refusing to acknowledge or report on the very real warning signs of fraud. This is not journalism, and sadly, those who would contemplate violating the code are victims of intimidation. The very act of pronouncing Joe Biden the “President-Elect” at this stage is bad enough as an assertion of power. In addition, we have social media platforms censoring those who would call attention to obvious signs of fraud. This is an authoritarian play. It goes without saying that we do not trust the media, who are doing their best to game these challenges out of existence. Not gonna happen.
And neither do we trust those who would burn our cities, or forgive those who do; who would keep lists of those with whom they disagree and suggest reeducation; who would engage in eliminationist rhetoric; who would unfairly accuse opponents of racism, despite the racism and anti-semitism in their own ranks; who for years years would parrot false claims of Russian collusion, attempting to invalidate the last election; who would ignore the Biden family history of influence peddling and lies! And who would insist that the media’s proclamation of a winner in this election is beyond question. If that’s who you are, you are in the swamp. You’re either naive or evil. No, we don’t trust you.
The recent changes in election rules, ostensibly due to COVID, produced a chaotic situation many foresaw. I view the overwhelming support for these changes on the Left as wholly opportunistic. It created ample opportunities for fraud, and not only in the mini-swamps. Now, the presumed outcome, no matter how likely or how much you might like it, is no excuse for failing to adjudicate very real disputes, investigate or audit irregularities, and recount votes where state law or the courts demand it.
One reservation I have about the claims of fraud has to do with so-called violations of Benford’s Law. It is a “forensic” test of fraud based on statistical theory, but I do not trust the form in which it’s been invoked thus far. Violations have been cited in several counties over the past few days. However, a violation of this law obviously doesn’t constitute direct evidence of fraud, and the test is a reliable indicator only when the number of voters in different precincts vary by order of magnitude (there must be a mix of 10s, 100s, 1,000s, 10,000s). With precinct sizes, that is often not the case. There is a more reliable form of Bedford’s law, but I have not seen its application to any results in this election.
One last point that might be of interest: a reasonable scenario would leave the electoral college tied at 269. This would involve Trump taking NC and AK, while AZ, GA, and WI flip to Trump with MI and PA remaining in Biden’s column. The election would then be decided in the House of Representatives. However, the outcome there is not based on a straight vote. Instead, there is a single vote for each state delegation. As it turns out, Republicans hold the advantage there, despite their minority membership in the House.
There are several gigantic problems with foggy Joe’s idea: first, it’s not within a president’s power to impose a nationwide lockdown, as the chorus of experts reminded us last spring when Trump mentioned it. Second, the evidence suggests that lockdowns don’t work to eliminate the virus; they delay its spread at best. Third, as we’ve witnessed, lockdowns themselves have enormous public health consequences, leading to a variety of severe maladies, despondency, and excess non-COVID deaths. That’s simply unacceptable. Finally, the economic damage imposed by lockdowns is horrific and often permanent. We’re talking about destroying the independent livelihoods of people. Permanently! Lockdowns are especially hard on those at the bottom of the economic ladder, who are disproportionately minorities. That’s so obvious, and yet very difficult for elites to gather in.
Measures like those Biden contemplates are major assaults on our liberty. And the thing is, if any of it comes to pass, the restrictions might never go away. We’ll be asked to do this every flu season, or perhaps permanently to protect each other from “germs”. This is an authoritarian move, one that we should all resist, even if you’re freaked out by the virus. The best way to resist right now is to vote for Donald Trump.
And please, don’t give me any bullshit about our “responsibility” to lock down, and how mandatory masks are necessary to protect the vulnerable. Is poverty now a “responsibility”? The most highly vulnerable can be protected without masks, and maybe better. Beyond that, people must be free to determine their own level of risk tolerance, just as they have for millennia with respect to a broad spectrum of serious risks, pathogens or otherwise. That’s a dimension of freedom about which no one should be so cavalier.
As a “practical” libertarian, my primary test for any candidate for public office is whether he or she supports less government dominance over private decisions than the status quo. When it comes to Joe Biden and his pack of ventriloquists, the answer is a resounding NO! That should clinch it, right? Probably, but Donald Trump is more complicated….
I’ve always viewed Trump as a corporatist at heart, one who, as a private businessman, didn’t give a thought to free market integrity when he saw rent-seeking opportunities. Now, as a public servant, his laudable desire to “get things done” can also manifest to the advantage of cronyists, which he probably thinks is no big deal. Unfortunately, that is often the way of government, as the Biden family knows all too well. On balance, however, Trump generally stands against big government, as some of the points below will demonstrate.
Trump’s spoken “stream of consciousness” can be maddening. He tends to be inarticulate in discussing policy issues, but at times I enjoy hearing him wonder aloud about policy; at other times, it sounds like an exercise in self-rationalization. He seldom prevaricates when his mind is made up, however.
Not that Biden is such a great orator. He needs cheat sheets, and his cadence and pitch often sound like a weak, repeating loop. In fairness, however, he manages to break it up a bit with an occasional “C’mon, man!”, or “Here’s the deal.”
I have mixed feelings about Trump’s bumptiousness. For example, his verbal treatment of leftists is usually well-deserved and entertaining. Then there are his jokes and sarcasm, for which one apparently must have an ear. He can amuse me, but then he can grate on me. There are times when he’s far too defensive. He tweets just a bit too much. But he talks like a tough, New York working man, which is basically in his DNA. He keeps an insane schedule, and I believe this is true: nobody works harder.
With that mixed bag, I’ll now get on to policy:
Deregulation: Trump has sought to reduce federal regulation and has succeeded to an impressive extent, eliminating about five old regulations for every new federal rule-making. This ranges from rolling back the EPA’s authority to regulate certain “waters” under the Clean Water Act, to liberalized future mileage standards on car manufacturers, to ending destructive efforts to enforce so-called net neutrality. By minimizing opportunities for over-reach by federal regulators, resources can be conserved and managed more efficiently, paving the way for greater productivity and lower costs.
And now, look! Trump has signed a new executive order making federal workers employees-at-will! Yes, let’s “deconstruct the administrative state”. And another new executive order prohibits critical race theory training both in the federal bureaucracy and by federal contractors. End the ridiculous struggle sessions!
Judicial Appointments: Bravo! Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, and over 200 federal judges have been placed on the bench by Trump in a single term. I like constitutional originalism and I believe a “living constitution” is a corrupt judicial philosophy. The founding document is as relevant today as it was at its original drafting and at the time of every amendment. I think Trump understands this.
Corporate Taxes: Trump’s reductions in corporate tax rates have promoted economic growth and higher labor income. In 2017, I noted that labor shares the burden of the corporate income tax, so a reversal of those cuts would be counterproductive for labor and capital.
At the same time, the 2017 tax package was a mixed blessing for many so-called “pass-through” businesses (proprietors, partnerships, and S corporations). It wasn’t exactly a simplification, nor was it uniformly a tax cut.
Individual Income Taxes: Rates were reduced for many taxpayers, but not for all, and taxes were certainly not simplified in a meaningful way. The link in the last paragraph provides a few more details.
I am not a big fan of Trump’s proposed payroll tax cut. Such a temporary move will not be of any direct help to those who are unemployed, and it’s unlikely to stimulate much spending from those who are employed. Moreover, without significant reform, payroll tax cuts will directly accelerate the coming insolvency of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds.
Nonetheless, I believe permanent tax cuts are stimulative to the economy in ways that increased government spending is not: they improve incentives for effort, capital investment, and innovation, thus increasing the nation’s productive capacity. Trump seems to agree.
Upward Mobility: Here’s Joel Kotkin on the gains enjoyed by minorities under the Trump Administration. The credit goes to strong private economic growth, pre-pandemic, as opposed to government aid programs.
Foreign Policy: Peace in the Middle East is shaping up as a real possibility under the Abraham Accords. While the issue of coexisting, sovereign Palestinian and Zionist homelands remains unsettled, it now seems achievable. Progress like this has eluded diplomatic efforts for well over five decades, and Trump deserves a peace prize for getting this far with it.
Iran is a thorn, and the regime is a terrorist actor. I support a tough approach with respect to the ayatollahs, which a Trump has delivered. He’s also pushed for troop withdrawals in various parts of the world. He has moved U.S. troops out of Germany and into Poland, where they represent a greater deterrent to Russian expansionism. Trump has pushed our NATO allies to take responsibility for more of their own defense needs, all to the better. Trump has successfully managed North Korean intransigence, though it is an ongoing problem. We are at odds with the leadership in mainland China, but the regime is adversarial, expansionist, and genocidal, so I believe it’s best to take a tough approach with them. At the UN, some of our international “partners” have successfully manipulated the organization in ways that make continued participation by the U.S. of questionable value. Like me, Trump is no fan of UN governance as it is currently practiced.
Gun Rights: Trump is far more likely to stand for Second Amendment rights than Joe Biden. Especially now, given the riots in many cities and calls to “defund police”, it is vitally important that people have a means of self-defense. See this excellent piece by David E. Bernstein on that point.
National Defense: a pure public good; I’m sympathetic to the argument that much of our “defense capital” has deteriorated. Therefore, Trump’s effort to rebuild was overdue. The improved deterrent value of these assets reduces the chance they will ever have to be used against adversaries. Of course, this investment makes budget balance a much more difficult proposition, but a strong national defense is a priority, as long as we avoid the role of the world’s policeman.
Energy Policy: The Trump Administration has made efforts to encourage U.S. energy independence with a series of deregulatory moves. This has succeeded to the extent the U.S. is now a net energy exporter. At the same time, Trump has sought to eliminate subsidies for wasteful renewable energy projects. Unfortunately, ethanol is still favored by energy policy, which might reflect Trump’s desire to assuage the farm lobby.
COVID-19 Response: As I’ve written several times, in the midst of a distracting and fraudulent impeachment attempt, Trump took swift action to halt inbound flights from China. He marshaled resources to obtain PPE, equipment, and extra hospital space in hot spots, and he kick-started the rapid development of vaccines. He followed the advice of his sometimes fickle medical experts early in the pandemic, which was not always a good thing. In general, his policy stance honored federalist principles by allowing lower levels of government to address local pandemic conditions on appropriate terms. If the pandemic has you in economic straits, you probably have your governor or local officials to thank. As for the most recent efforts to pass federal COVID relief, Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats have insisted on loading up the legislation with non-COVID spending provisions. They have otherwise refused to negotiate pre-election, as if to blame the delay on Trump.
Immigration: My libertarian leanings often put me at odds with nationalists, but I do believe in national sovereignty and the obligation of the federal government to control our borders. Trump is obviously on board with that. My qualms with the border wall are its cost and the availability of cheaper alternatives leveraging technological surveillance. I might differ with Trump in my belief in liberalizing legal immigration. I more strongly differ with his opposition to granting permanent legal residency to so-called Dreamers, individuals who arrived in the U.S. as minors with parents who entered illegally. However, Trump did offer a legal path to citizenship for Dreamers in exchange for funding of the border wall, a deal refused by congressional Democrats.
Health Care: No more penalty (tax?) to enforce the individual mandate, and the mandate itself is likely to be struck down by the Supreme Court as beyond legislative intent. Trump also oversaw a liberalization of insurance offerings and competition by authorizing short-term coverage of up to a year and enabling small businesses to pool their employees with others in order to obtain better rates, among other reforms. Trump seems to have deferred work on a full-fledged plan to replace the Affordable Care Act because there’s been little chance of an acceptable deal with congressional Democrats. That’s unfortunate, but I count it as a concession to political reality.
Foreign Trade: I’m generally a free-trader, so I’m not wholeheartedly behind Trump’s approach to trade. However, our trade deals of the past have hardly constituted “free trade” in action, so tough negotiation has its place. It’s also true that foreign governments regularly apply tariffs and subsidize their home industries to place them at a competitive advantage vis-a-vis the U.S. As the COVID pandemic has shown, there are valid national security arguments to be made for protecting domestic industries. But make no mistake: ultimately consumers pay the price of tariffs and quotas on foreign goods. I cut Trump some slack here, but this is an area about which I have concerns.
Executive Action: Barack Obama boasted that he had a pen and a phone, his euphemism for exercising authority over the executive branch within the scope of existing law. Trump is taking full advantage of his authority when he deems it necessary. It’s unfortunate that legislation must be so general as to allow significant leeway for executive-branch interpretation and rule-making. But there are times when the proper boundaries for these executive actions are debatable.
Presidents have increasingly pressed their authority to extremes over the years, and sometimes Trump seems eager to push the limits. Part of this is born out of his frustration with the legislative process, but I’m uncomfortable with the notion of unchecked executive authority.
Of course I’ll vote for Trump! I had greater misgivings about voting for him in 2016, when I couldn’t be sure what we’d get once he took office. After all, his politics had been all over the map over preceding decades. But in many ways I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I’m much more confident now that he is our best presidential bet for peace, prosperity, and liberty.
Joe Biden is a weak figurehead, a one-time moderate faltering over a coalition of leftists. If you wonder why Nancy Pelosi floated legislation to establish a committee on “presidential capacity,” don’t think so much about her loathing for Donald Trump; think about poor Joe Biden. He might be shunted aside just as soon as the power grab isn’t too obvious. They know well how Barack Obama famously said, “Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to f*ck things up.” But whether Joe Biden is in control of anything, think about who he stands with:
The Violent Left: Marxist Antifa and Marxist BLM; opposed to law and order; burning cities; spewing eliminationist rhetoric; hissing n*g**r at black cops;
Police Defunders: won’t acknowledge good policing is needed more than ever, especially in minority communities;
Critical Race Theorists: a Marxist front whereby every word and action is viewed in the context of racial bias and victimization; they want reparations; on your knees.
The Scientistic: who labor under the delusion that “science” should guide all administrative and political decisions. Or someone’s version of science. The very idea is antithetical to the scientific domain, which deals only with falsifiable hypotheses. Few matters of value can be addressed using the tools of science exclusively, nor can they address matters of ethics.
Fear Mongers: would rule by precaution; risks are always worth exaggerating to existential proportions;
Lockdown Tyrants: refuse to acknowledge the steep public health costs of lockdowns; stripping individual liberties indefinitely, including the right to contract, free practice of religion, and assembly;
Insurrectionists: who fabricated a Russian collusion hoax to subvert the 2016 election, and later to overthrow a sitting president;
Gun Confiscators: they will if we let them;
Abortionists: would use federal tax dollars to fund the murder of millions of babies late into pregnancy, primarily black babies;
Taxers: won’t stop with punitive taxes on the wealthy and employers; it’s just not easy to milk high earners in a way that’s sufficient to pay for the fiscal debauchery demanded by the Biden-Harris constituency. Joe says he will raise taxes by $3.4 trillion.
Spenders: $2 trillion of new federal education outlays, including universal pre-K and free community college; the Green New Deal (see below). After all, the democrats are the party that can’t tell the difference between a cut in spending and a reduction in spending growth. If you think Trump is a big spender, their plans are astonishing;
Green New Dealers: would spend trillions to restrict energy choices, transfer U.S. wealth overseas in the name of international carbon reduction, and reduce our standard of living;
Redistributionists: would tax job creators not simply for the benefit of supporting the needy, but for anyone regardless of need (see UBI); this extends to plans to bail out blue states and cities with insolvent public employee pension funds;
Interventionists: would regulate all phases of life, including straws, sugary drinks, and your fireplace; they will burden private initiative; create artificial, politically-favored winners skilled at manipulating regulatory rules for competitive reasons; and create losers who are typically too small to handle the burden;
Medical Socialists: will strip your private health insurance, dictate the care you may receive, fix prices, and regulate physicians and other providers. You’ll love the care abroad, if you can afford to get out when your sick.
Public School Monopolists: poorly performing, beholden to teachers’ unions, unresponsive to taxpayers and often parents; they would happily revoke school choice;
Federal Suburb Rezoners: demanding low-income housing in every community;
Court Packers: to destroy the independent judiciary;
Iran Apologists: give them cash on the tarmac, let them develop their “peaceful” nuclear program; alienate the rest of the Middle East;
I could go on and on, but Harris-Biden voters should get a strong taste of their compatriots from the list above. It reflects the overriding prescriptive, bullying, and sometimes violent nature of the Left. They’d have you think all material goods can be free. Presto! They presume to have the knowledge and wisdom to plan the economy and your life better than you, Better than free markets and free people. What they’ll need is a lot of magic, or it won’t go well. You’ll get poverty and tears. I’m not sure Joe has the desire or the wherewithal to rein in his coalition of idiots.
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: allegations of the White House’s “poor leadership” and preparedness for COVID-19 (C19) are a matter of selective memory. At the link above, I “graded” Trump’s pandemic job performance through May. Among other things, I said:
“Many have criticized the Trump Administration for not being ‘ready’ for a pandemic. I assign no grade on that basis because absolutely no one was ready, at least not in the West, so there is no sound premise for judgement. I also view the very general charge that Trump did not provide “leadership” as code for either ‘I don’t like him’, or ‘he refused to impose more authoritarian measures’, like a full-scale nationwide lockdown. Such is the over-prescriptive instinct of the Left.”
The President of the United States does not have the constitutional authority to impose a national lockdown, though Trump himself seemed confused at times as to whether he had that power. However, on this basis at least, the ad nauseam denigration of his “leadership” is vapid. At this point, the course of the pandemic in the U.S. is less severe than in several other industrialized countries who didn’t even have Andrew Cuomo around to exacerbate the toll, and it’s still not as deadly in per capita terms as the Asian Flu of 1957-58.
Who exactly was “ready” for C19? Perhaps critics are thinking of South Korea, or parts of South Asia. Those countries might have been “ready” to the extent that they had significant prior exposure to SARS viruses. There was already some degree of immunological protection. Those countries also were exposed to an earlier genetic variant of C19 that was much less severe than the strain that hit most of the western world. These are hardly reasons to blame Trump for a lack of “readiness”.
A related charge I hear all the time is that Trump “ignored the advice of medical experts“, or that he “ignored the science“. Presumably, those “experts” include the darling of the Prescriptive Class, Dr. Anthony Fauci. On February 28, Dr Fauci said:
“Right now, at this moment, there’s no need to change anything you’re doing on a day by day basis.“
Likewise, Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control, said the following on February 27:
“The risk to the American public is low. We have an aggressive containment strategy that really has worked up to this time, 15 cases in the United States. Until the last case that we just had in Sacramento we hadn’t had a new case in two weeks.”
Then there is the World Health Organization, whichdownplayed the virus in January and February, and giving a convincing impression that it servied as a mouthpiece for the CCP.
In fact, the American people were badly harmed by wrongheaded decisions made by the “experts” at the CDC in January and February, when the agency insisted that testing could not proceed until a test of their own design was ready. Then, the first version it approved was discovered to be flawed! This set the testing effort back by well over a month, a delay that proved critical. It’s no exaggeration to say this bureaucratic overreach denied the whole country, and Trump, the information needed to properly assess the spread of the virus.
But let’s think about actual policy once it became clear that the virus was getting to be a serious matter in parts of the U.S. Here’s another excerpt from my post in May:
“Trump cannot be accused of ignoring expert advice through the episode. He was obviously on-board with Fauci, Dr. Deborah Birx, Dr. Robert Redfield, and other health care advisors on the ‘15 Days to Slow the Spread‘ guidelines issued on March 16. His messaging wavered during those 15 days, expressing a desire to fully reopen the nation by Easter, which Vice President Michael Pence later described as “aspirational”. Before the end of March, however, Trump went along with a 30-day extension of the guidelines. Finally, by mid-April, the White House released guidelines for ‘Opening Up America Again‘, which was a collaboration between Trump’s health care experts and the economic team. Trump agreed that the timeline for reopening should be governed by ‘the data’.”
We should give Trump credit for shutting down flights into the U.S. from China, where the virus originated, late in January. That was an undeniably prescient move. Let’s also not forget that the original intent of the “15 Days” was to prevent hospitals and other medical resources from being overwhelmed. Today, the data show a strong seasonal tendency to the spread of the virus, but medical resources are not close to being overwhelmed, our ability to treat the virus has vastly improved, and its consequences are much less deadly than in the spring. That’s good progress, whatever the President’s detractors may say.
More than anything else, what Trump’s COVID critics fail to understand is that the executive leader of a republic is not possessed of monarchical powers. And in the U.S., the Constitution provides an additional layer of sovereignty for member states of the Union, a manifestation of the federalist principals without which the Union would not have been possible. The 15-day guidelines produced by the White House, and the guidelines for reopening, were consistent with this framework. The states have adapted their own policies to actual conditions and, if their leaders haven’t worn out their goodwill among voters, internal political realities. Those adaptations were often bad from my perspective, or even tyrannical, but sometimes good. That is exactly how our federalist system was designed to work.
Joe Biden has claimed that he and Barack Obama had left Donald Trump with a “booming” economy to start his term in office. Of course, if he had anything to do with economic performance during the Obama Administration, it may have been his oversight of the mismanaged and ineffective “shovel-ready” stimulus program of 2009, For his sake, one might hope (and suspect) his oversight was nominal. In any case, his characterization of the Obama economy is not really accurate, as this editorial at Issues and Insights demonstrates. I could argue with a few of their points, but the thrust of it is correct. The economy weakened in 2015 and 2016, and expectations were for continued slow growth or possibly a recession in 2017 or after. At that point, many economists thought the aging expansion might be on its last legs. But economic growth exceeded expectations after Trump took office. As for job growth, economists predicted relatively sluggish growth in 2017-2019, but actual job growth exceeded those projections by more than three times.
Finally, Biden’s assertion that “Trump caused the recession” was laughable, especially when the punchline is his willingness to “shut down the economy“! He insists “I would listen to the scientists”, presumably the same knuckleheads who don’t understand the public health tradeoffs between the pandemic itself and lockdown risks (and who don’t understand the Constitution). Biden might not understand that the President lacks constitutional powers to demand a nationwide shutdown. Trump was quite sensibly persuaded to leave non-pharmaceutical interventions in the hands of the private sector as well as state and local governments, with guidance from federal health authorities. That some state and local leaders instituted draconian policies, which were largely ineffective and often damaging. was and is a terrible misfortune. The more sensible approach is to protect the most vulnerable and allow others to gauge their own risks, as we always have in earlier pandemics.
In advanced civilizations the period loosely called Alexandrian is usually associated with flexible morals, perfunctory religion, populist standards and cosmopolitan tastes, feminism, exotic cults, and the rapid turnover of high and low fads---in short, a falling away (which is all that decadence means) from the strictness of traditional rules, embodied in character and inforced from within. -- Jacques Barzun