DEATH OF DEMOCRACY, A HISTORY AND PERSONAL JOURNEY

For last month’s newsletter, I submitted the first of a two part series.  The first part featured two trending concerns: the death of personal liberty and the death of money.  This second part of the series focuses on the third trending concern, the death of democracy.   To be blunt, the topic could just be called election fraud, because that’s what this article is about.  Without honest and reliable voting, democracy does not exist. 
 
Election fraud has been a concern of all political parties for quite some time.  Democrats complained bitterly about the results of the 2000 election.  Legislation called the Help America Vote Act, or HAVA, was passed in 2002 in response to their complaints, most of which fell under the rubric of voter suppression.  This legislation offered Federal aid and guidelines to states to encourage them to upgrade to electronic voting systems.  A key provision was that a permanent paper record of all elections would be produced by the machines to ensure the votes could be audited. 
 
Democrats were back complaining after the 2004 elections.  In the 2005 joint session of Congress to certify the electors, Senator Barbara Boxer and Representative Stephanie Tubbs, D-Ohio, objected to Bush’s Ohio votes.  That caused the chambers to leave their joint session and debate separately for two hours. Neither chamber voted against certification [1], but House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) praised Boxer and Tubbs for bringing up the objection.  She said, “Today we are witnessing Democracy at work.”  John Conyers, the Democrat Congressman from Detroit, was one of 31 members of the House who voted not to count the 20 Electoral College votes from Ohio. Conyers wrote a book citing his Party’s claims of election fraud called ”What Went Wrong in Ohio: The Conyers Report on the 2004 Presidential Election.”  I read the book in 2005.  I believe a copy is still somewhere in my house. 
 
The conversion of America’s voting system from paper to electronic did not go well, like most federal programs.  Critics complained that the funds were misappropriated, giving contractors too much money for building handicap accessibility and leaving too little for upgrades to electronic systems.  The electronic systems purchased were foreign produced or cobbled together from off the shelf software.  Many counties did not meet the deadlines for conversion specified in HAVA.  As states scrambled to comply, security was not the highest priority.
 
During the Obama years, Democrats were sufficiently satisfied with election results.  The Federal government did not make voting systems a priority as states quietly went about changing over their systems and refining their procedures to comply with HAVA mandates and guidelines.  The U.S. Constitution, after all, gave state legislators the right to determine the time, manner and place for federal elections.  Republicans seemed to be satisfied working at the state level.  However, after Trump was elected in 2016, the Democrat criticisms began again.  The Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, asked for recounts in several states.  Republicans complained that Stein was secretly acting on behalf of the Democrat candidate, Hillary Clinton.  In early 2017, at least six House Democrats objected to the Electoral College: McGovern, Raskin, Jayapal, Barbara Lee, Jackson Lee and Maxine Waters.[2] 
 
During the Trump administration, enough time had passed since HAVA for the technology of some of the voting systems to become outdated, and for enough data to be collected to take a serious look at the systems on a national basis. There was growing concern.  It became apparent to many observers that machines had been purchased by various county boards of election whose officials for the most part lacked the expertise needed for the analysis and selection of modern data collection systems.  Numerous articles and studies were published indicating that the machines were insecure and could be hacked physically or remotely. 
 
In 2020, both Democrats and Republicans were concerned about the integrity of the upcoming election. It is well known that Donald Trump sounded the alarm on numerous occasions, primarily about the ad hoc procedures being developed for mail in ballots due to the coronavirus “crisis”.  In August of 2020, Hillary Clinton stated, “it is imperative that Biden does not concede the election no matter what the vote tallies are” [3].   The election did not go well. This was not a surprise.
 
The Republican objections to the 2020 election encompass six issues:

  1. insecure voting machines
  2. restrictions on the ability of poll watchers to do their job.
  3. alleged illegal acts by election officials and poll workers who closed the polls in the early morning hours of November 4th around 3:00am on false pretexts, sending the poll observers home.  When official counting resumed during normal business hours on November 4th, large leads for Trump had become leads had suddenly become leads for Biden.  
  4. Data analysis showing statistical impossibility for the vote tallies to occur as they did when they did.
  5. Error and fraud inherent in the new procedures for mail in ballots that were created because of the Coronavirus epidemic.
  6. Violations of law in creating these new procedures, specifically Article II of the U.S. Constitution.

 
On November 4th, I was called by a friend of mine, a graduate from the University of Chicago with a degree in economics and a successful hedge fund manager.  Highly agitated, he gave me a convincing case for the 4th objection listed above.  Sophisticated statistical analysis convinced him that the vote count in Philadelphia was fraudulent.  I had already been reading about other mathematicians who were making the same case, so it didn’t take much for me to believe him.  Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito had already issued Philadelphia an order to segregate ballots which had been handled in violation of the law.  This order was ignored. 
 
Eager for answers, I started looking for any information available.  I knew there was a group in Ohio whose members were strong supporters of Trump, so I went to their website, and I’ve been following it since early November.  I am not going to attempt to explain the six issues of doubt I listed above, but I am going to provide the two sources where you can read the explanations for yourself.  The Trump supporter’s website is www.wethepeopleconvention.org.  Day after day, week after week, they have been laying out a case that the election had been stolen.  There is a massive archive of videos and articles archives on this website just about the 2020 election.  The evolution of thought from late fall to now of these people is also interesting. 
 
The best summary of the events before, during and after the election from someone who was on the inside of Trump’s team is at www.deepcapture.com. This blog, written by self styled libertarian Patrick Byrne, lists the posts necessary to read on the opening page.  It is important you read all of them, and soon, because it may be soon taken down.   One of the posts incorporates a New York Times video and editorial which illustrates the non-partisan concern over voting machines just after 2017.  Patrick Byrne makes it a point to tell his readers to watch the video in its entirety. 
 
I know it is hard to swallow the idea that some massive conspiracy could pull something like this off.  Articles have been written about how ridiculously hard this would be.  These articles are false.  In one of his blogs, Patrick Byrne says something like, “go to any college and ask a political science professor how you can steal an election and he will tell you, ‘all you have to do is capture the votes of six metropolitan counties in six key swing states’”.  According to the Trump team narrative, this is in fact what happened. 
 
One of the strongest influences towards me believing that this fraud occurred is the massive gaslighting by the conventional media outlets and the Democrat Party.  Many times they mention “false claims”, “without evidence”, etc.  This can’t be true by any stretch of the English language.  In the first place, there are dozens of affidavits sworn by people under penalty of perjury who allege to have seen election fraud.  There are computer experts who have offered to show how to unequivocally prove or disprove whether ballots were fraudulent.  There are many data experts and mathematics PHDs who can show certain patterns of vote totals in this election which are impossible.  The media could use terms like “alleged fraud” or “without credible evidence”, which would be somewhat more truthful, but they don’t.  They just claim the evidence was never provided, which is on its face a lie.  They could say it is bad evidence, but not that there is no evidence.  They simply don’t want the people to hear the case for a fraudulent election.  The Democrats call the Republicans traitors and insurrectionists for using the same Constitutional procedures to certify the electors in a joint session of Congress that they themselves utilized many times before.  As usual, the hypocrisy of both political parties is appalling and almost laughable.
 
Let me repeat what I said in my article last month.  This is not about Trump.  Trump did one thing right in his last year in office.  He let the laboratory of states devise their own plans to combat the Coronavirus pandemic instead of trying to impose a federal dictatorship as Biden is prepared to do.  Other than that, many of Trump’s decisions in 2020 were abysmal.  He was disorganized and unprepared for another term.  I believe he would been a lesser evil than Biden, but there is no way to know for sure. 
 
This is about the one essential thing needed to preserving self-government, which is arguably the finest achievement of humans, and that is the right to vote in a representative form of government.  We need to learn everything we can about the current process and make our voices heard.  Right now, the Democrats are ready to push another bill through Congress that will fundamentally change the character of our Republic.  It is a disastrous bill, but it is so important to Joe Biden it is House Bill 1.  It is not an easy thing to do, but Libertarians have got to be serious and active in preserving the integrity of the vote.    We know that Republicans and Democrats can’t be entrusted with any thing of value.   
   
[1] http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2005/roll007.xml.
[2] https://www.cnn.com/2017/01/06/politics/electoral-college-vote-count-objections/index.html
[3] https://www.newsmax.com/politics/concede-election-democrat-hypocrisy/2020/11/08/id/996002/.

John Stewart, Member At-Large, Franklin County Libertarian Party

THE DEATH OF LIBERTY, MONEY AND DEMOCRACY

It’s time for Libertarians to be serious.  While libertarian philosophy has had some success, such as more realistic and rational drug laws and enforcement, there are three macro trends converging in 2021 that can take us far in the wrong direction.  It may take decades, or even lifetimes, to fix the damage.

On the surface, personal liberty in the United States seems reasonably healthy, but there are termites in the foundation.  2021 is the year that foundation could crumble.  The problems have been going on for 20 years.  Most older libertarians are very aware of the damage to liberty that occurred after September 11th, 2001.  We remember the Patriot Act, thousands of pages appearing before Congress within days of the attacks, which had already been written and sitting in a vault before being brought to Congress for a vote.  It was passed overwhelmingly on short notice with no time available for it to even be read, let alone discussed, by members of Congress.  The citizens ability to travel was severely curtailed.  Vestiges of the policies implemented remain to this day, and none of the policy infrastructure has been reversed.  There are financial controls associated with the Patriot Act that are available to severely restrict the ability of the American citizen to transfer wealth outside the country.  Medical tyranny has replaced common sense health care and threatens to restrict our freedom to a much greater extent.  Vaccinations are not being forced on grown adults at the moment, but it is easy to envision a turn of events to that result.  Few people are asking hard questions about vaccines that were developed in less than a year for a virus that has never been isolated.  We have never created vaccines for Ebola, SARS or HIV, viruses that have also never been isolated (and in the case of HIV, there is serious controversy over where such a virus even exists).  The push toward vaccination can also severely curtail our freedom of movement.  The recently amended quarantine act of Canada states that anyone coming into Canada will have to be examined/tested by quarantine officers and also must accept any proposed treatment from them.  If anyone refuses to be screened they can be arrested and detained without warrant.    The rise of socialist sentiment in this country has been attacking another foundation of personal liberty, private property.  A recent article in the socialist magazine, The Jacobin, called for an end to all inherited wealth.  Articles such as these are wildly popular.  Subscriptions to The Jacobin have been one of the fastest growing of any publication.  Small business has been severely damaged by Covid lockdown policies.  Small business is another foundation of personal freedom being destroyed, yet barely a tear is being shed for the destruction of life savings for these small business owners. It is not just the liberty of the business owners at stake.  The jobs they provide are also the foundation of financial freedom for the individuals that work for them.

There are many more attacks on personal liberty any one of us could list.  Each of these attacks could be the subject of an article all by itself.  But, let me move on to the next trend coming to a head in 2021, the death of money.

The national debt is around $80 Trillion Dollars, with other worldwide sovereign debt approaching $300 Trillion.  None of the figures for the debt mentioned above include promises not on the books, such as social security and other government financed retirement programs.  These figures do not include personal debt or corporate debt.  The reason the U.S. government and other sovereign nations have a debt is because they spend more every year than they receive in tax revenue.  So, when the Trump administration signs off on a corona virus relief bill, it is not sending the taxpayer’s money back to them.  That money has already been committed.  Some people like to say that it is money borrowed from China.  That’s not exactly true either.  The Chinese government stopped investing in U.S. treasuries over the last couple of years.   So, where does the money come from?  Well, some of it is debt owed to real people who have loaned their savings to governments in order to protect their retirement and inheritance for their children in what they thought was a safe place.  The Chinese government still owns bonds that it purchased years ago.  It is still hoping its investment is safe and will be returned.  It is still receiving interest on this debt.  However, most experts realize all this debt can never be repaid.  There will have to be a default or a restructuring.  It is difficult for the U.S. Government to find people to borrow from these days.  So where does the new money for things such as Corona Virus relief come from?  We all know.  It is simply created by entries in a computer.  So, what is the real value of this money that has nothing behind it and doesn’t represent the accumulated savings from the real labor of real people?  That’s a good question.

This is one of the reasons so many millennials and the generations after them have turned so to socialism, whether they are consciously aware of it or not.   They have been told social security will not be there for them.  They are vaguely aware that hyper-inflation is a distinct possibility.  The only option to pay back this debt is by devaluing the dollar by creating more of them out of “thin air”.  If money is that easy to create, why not just create enough to give everyone a universal basic income and a living wage?  That’s another good question.

The problem with this line of thinking, as I see it, is that money is a measure of value.  Up to now, we have had 7.5 billion people determining every day the value of goods and services.  This is the fundamental basis of a free market economy: price discovery.  If the government gives you money, it will determine what is the value of your labor and the goods and services you produce. It will be a tyranny of a few elites, not the independent and free choice of the masses.  The death of money is the death of freedom.

The final macro trend, the death of democracy, is being played out as we speak.  If the recent Presidential election does not make you doubt whether elections are free and honest, you haven’t been paying attention.  You haven’t been doing your homework.  This is something maybe I will be allowed to write about next month, but just understand this.  If the will of the few can manipulate the vote to over ride the will of the majority, there is no democracy.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is just about Trump.  It isn’t.  There is more at stake in the events unfolding this month than you can possibly  imagine.

John StewartMember At-Large, FCLP

Moving from “It’s Complicated” to “It’s Manageable” on 2A

“We have to do something”, “There ought to be a law” and “It’s complicated”; these are clichés that by their actions people are applying to the massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. As far as the first one goes, we have far too many instances of applying the wrong solution to a problem and making it worse instead of better. As far as the second, you don’t hear that cliché much anymore; probably for the same reason. “It’s complicated” – now there is a statement that is certainly true in this case, but if you listen to enough ideas (there are plenty of them out there), and think logically about how to apply them while still respecting the 2nd Amendment and our civil liberties, the path becomes clear and the complicated becomes manageable.

The first time I ever shot a rifle, I was about ten or eleven years old. I wasn’t a Boy Scout, at least not literally. This was at church camp! No thought about killing anything crossed my mind. It was all about target practice. It was a lot of fun, just getting better at it. I’ve shot more bullets as ten and eleven year old than I have as an adult.

So why not ban assault weapons? Most of you know the answer to this, so I won’t spend much time on it. The bottom line is, you ask anyone who advocates banning assault weapons to define an assault weapon, and the answer will generally be that it’s a gun that looks mean and scary. The A in AR-15 doesn’t even stand for assault. It stands for Armalite, the original designer of the AR-15. Basically, the AR-15, now manufactured by Colt, is a rifle that is lightweight because it uses lighter alloys. The legal version of the Semi-Automatic AR-15 shoots one bullet for each pull of the trigger. The main reason it has become the most popular rifle is because it is light weight and accurate. Banning the AR-15 would be banning a weapon that most people would find effective, and is pretty much like banning the modern rifle.

Let’s talk first about the 2nd Amendment. One talk show host pointed out the irony that many of his liberal friends who consider Donald Trump an autocrat who could easily become a tyrant, yet they want a gun ban. That is precisely when someone should NOT want a gun ban. The primary reason for the 2nd Amendment is a check on government. If you only look at the second half of the 2nd Amendment, and take it literally, you would think that there is no reasonable regulation on weapons. However, the first part of the 2nd Amendment makes it clear that the purpose behind the Amendment is a check on tyrannical government. “Well-Regulated” implies that the Amendment is not meant for violent anarchists that want to destroy all government. It implies responsibility in gun ownership, and the ability to replace a bad government with a good government. However, you can’t infringe on the right of gun ownership to the point where a tyrannical government can preserve itself at the expense of life and liberty of its opponents. We have a scary government right now. We should be very concerned about preserving this freedom because of that fact.

We live in scary times as well. That is the reason we have gun violence; the guns aren’t the reason. If you take away the means of self-protection, you leave a vulnerable population defenseless. This is not the time for emotional and illogical regulations on gun ownership. “Those calling for gun control have little interest in taking real steps to promote public safety and well-being”, said Dean Rieck, Executive Director of the Buckeye Firearms Association, “Instead, they use gun control as a political hammer to … organizations like ours. It’s a disingenuous tactic to do fundraising, but they are doing nothing at all to address real-world problems.”

One “real-world problem” is that “Gun Free Zones” simply invite killers to attack. Killers tend to avoid locations where it is made known that armed personnel are present. Are there any reasonable steps that can be created to protect our children in school? There has been a lot of talk centered on big, expensive government programs that involve police officers, security guards and physical barriers similar to public airports. We may not have any choice but to go this route if we don’t change some of the fundamental issues in our society, but there are a lot of problems with it. For one, it definitely does not seem like a good environment to educate children about civil liberty and a free society. However, Florida has already announced a $500 Million program. We will see this approach tested. Maybe we’ll get used to it.

The second problem is worse: debt. Our state governments are generally in precarious financial position. Our public schools are in worse position. The Federal government is in debt more than at any time in history. This has to be funded at the local level, which means additional property taxes or a drastic cut back in educational opportunities and extracurricular activities. What we are faced with in our very large public school systems is just becoming day care prison for children that provides very weak educational opportunities.

There is another way if a school district and state are willing to embrace self-reliance and individual responsibility. A second talk show host educated us on the fact that First Responder, a term first used by Jimmy Carter, is a misnomer. The real First Responders are those who are already on the scene. Studies have shown that it takes a minimum of four minutes for law enforcement to arrive on the scene of a crime. One of the students of Stoneman Douglas said that his coach, who died in the shooting, would have confronted the gunman had he been able to carry his firearm to school. It has been shown that harm is greatly mitigated when permit holders are allowed to carry concealed firearms in schools.

Many states have been very successful taking this approach. Argyle School Independent School District in Texas decided in 2014 to allow highly trained members of their teachers and staff to carry guns on campus to prevent mass shootings. Sheriff Paul Cairney described the process on MSNBC after the Stoneman shootings. “At Argyle, everyone is a volunteer; no one is forced to carry a weapon. The volunteer has to be approved by the principle. Next, the sheriff conducts a one on one interview with the applicant to determine their mental ability and motivation to carry out the task. Finally, the volunteer gets a psychological evaluation, the same one given to sheriff’s deputies. After passing those checks, the volunteer moves on to 3-5 days of very intense formal weapons training.” The Tom Woods podcast episode 1101 interviews novelist and former firearms instructor Larry Correia, who does a great job explaining the success of similar programs in his home state of Utah.

Ohio also has regulations which allow a school district to authorize teachers to carry weapons. Again, from Dean Reick, “the fact is, gun owners ARE doing something. We’ve been doing something for years.” One program featured on their website, “FASTER Saves Lives” is the obvious example. FASTER provides educators with intensive violence response and trauma first aid training. Classes are provided at no cost to schools, funded through private donations. To date, more than 1,300 teachers and staff from 225 districts across 12 states have received this training, including educators in 76 of Ohio’s 88 counties. Up to 400 additional educators are set to go through training in 2018.” At one point it looked like Governor Kasich was leaning in this direction. It might be a ruse. A politician who thinks they are the only adult in the room is a pretty scary person.

Maybe Washington can do a few things to placate the anti-gun proponents, but it is not promising. Trump asked a logical question. Why are handguns restricted to 21-year-olds but an 18-year-old can buy a rifle like the one that was used in Parkland? Unfortunately, I think he probably has the logic backwards. I believe Trump is implying that any weapon should be restricted for purchase only to 21-year-olds. Someone should ask him right back, why should someone’s 18-year-old daughter, trained in firearm use, who has a restraining order against an abusive ex-boyfriend, not be able to defend herself with a handgun? If Washington passes a law that makes room for younger people to use and train with a weapon, even if they don’t own it, with ability of the parent or guardian to allow them to borrow their weapon, and with shooting ranges allowing weapons to be rented, it may be OK. I’m not sure you should hold your breath. It would be better to get on the phone and call your representatives.

As much as possible, we should leave Washington and the state capitol out of it. This is a problem that should be dealt with on a local basis. If the security of the school where your kids go is not satisfactory, you must find another school or gather parents together who will insist that the current one changes its policies. Find a smaller school where teachers know the students better. Lobby to break up the big school districts. Stoneman Douglas High School has over 3,100 students, a massive school where it would be easy for a disturbed youth to fall through the cracks and go off the deep end. Private schools and home schools where there the teachers and administrators know their students should be much more available. These mass shootings never seem to happen in a private school, and they obviously don’t happen in an on-line school. We need to lobby for a change in the tax laws so that parents can deduct the money spent on private schooling from their local taxes, thereby encouraging the growth and development of small private schools. Private schools are not restricted by separation of church and state. Religious instruction seems to be sorely needed in our country.

This conversation needs to go beyond guns to answer the question of what we are about as a nation and how we lost our way. The same questions need to be asked and answered about our educational system. Another talk show host mentioned the fact that all the first day news coverage of the Parkland shooting spoke about how Nikolas Jacob Cruz was probably the victim of bullying, and grew up in a very troubled young life. Then, that description was dropped because it didn’t fit the media narrative. Why can’t we make changes in curriculum that would encourage and develop understanding and compassion? There is a terrible shortage of trained social workers in this country. Classes in Social Work could pave the way for a job and career, and have the added benefit of teaching the students the scientific causes and cures of destructive behavior. How about other classes that encourage self-respect and actualization in students? Why do we as a nation believe in self-defense? The actor Richard Dreyfus is deeply disturbed by the elimination of civics curriculum in schools. He has formed a non-profit organization called The Dreyfuss Initiative to push for change, and he makes a tremendous case for why this should be done. (See his Ted Talk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACYXYaLp6KE ).

Fixing this problem is complicated. There is no easy solution, no one size fits all solution, but there are several good ones. You probably won’t find many of them in Washington. The federal government is one institution that has not earned the right to interfere in this issue. That is also true for our state government, but, unfortunately, state laws can interfere with doing the right thing at the local level so some laws may have to be changed. The educational system needs to be transformed. An industrial age bureaucratic educational system does not work today. At the same time, some curriculum, such as civics, were abandoned and need to be restored. Let’s roll up our sleeves and start the change from the ground up.

More at http://americanactionnews.com/articles/sheriff-who-allows-teachers-to-pack-heat-mops-the-floor-with-msnbc-host#4cBxU5tgEJmpt9Xa.99

John Stewart, Member At-Large
Franklin County Libertarian Executive Committee