New Book Shows Top U.S. General Comparing Trump Supporters To Nazis Seeking A ‘Coup’

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Anyone who looked at the events of 2020 and projected a coup attempt onto Donald Trump has no place in senior government leadership, let alone a Dairy Queen serving Blizzards.

What better way to know the U.S. military is compromised—aside from racially extremist training and leftist propaganda videos—than when its top officer ignores widespread violence from one political faction while calling isolated violence from another a “coup”?

CNN, an outlet we know from sinking ratings is having an identity crisis post-Trump, published a preview last week of a new book titled “I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year,” by Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker. The 2,300-word piece declares as follows about Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley.

The book recounts how for the first time in modern US history the nation’s top military officer, whose role is to advise the president, was preparing for a showdown with the commander in chief because he feared a coup attempt after Trump lost the November election …The authors explain Milley’s growing concerns that personnel moves that put Trump acolytes in positions of power at the Pentagon after the November 2020 election, including the firing of Defense Secretary Mark Esper and the resignation of Attorney General William Barr, were the sign of something sinister to come.

I am sure these Pulitzer-Prize winning writers might even strike up a film deal with their 592-page Trump Derangement Syndrome manual. Anyone who looked at the events of 2020 and projected a coup attempt onto Donald Trump has no place in senior government leadership, let alone a Dairy Queen serving Blizzards.

“They may try, but they’re not going to f-cking succeed,” Milley is quoted as telling his deputies, according to Leonnig and Rucker. “You can’t do this without the military. You can’t do this without the CIA and the FBI. We’re the guys with the guns.” He also reportedly told his aides, “This is a Reichstag moment. The gospel of the Führer.”

Yes, this is Milley juxtaposing elected oversight of the U.S. military with the government of Adolf Hitler. What sound military leadership and strategic guidance can a general provide if he has determined that the president of the United States is comparable to a dictator who killed approximately 6 million people?

Let’s not forget who Milley is. This is the same left-wing media darling who said unironically in congressional testimony that “white rage” was behind the Capitol breach, deflecting on the military’s relationship with critical race theory (CRT). “White rage” was coined in Emory University professor Carol Anderson’s 2016 book “White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide” as “the operational function of white supremacy” that “undermine[s] African American achievement and advancement.”

Let that sink in. The highest-ranking and most senior official in the U.S. military not only believes in white privilege but also that such privilege could lead to the president coordinating a coup upon losing the election. Notwithstanding that the breach began 20 minutes before Trump even finished speaking that Wednesday afternoon, it is vital that we clarify one fact.

January 6 was not an insurrection, nor a coup. According to eyewitnesses and visual evidence such as live streamed videos, the Capitol breach was a riot perpetrated by a small minority of a large crowd of mostly peaceful demonstrators.

Whereas the Capitol breach was a largely disorganized meandering of MAGA-hat flag-wavers taking pictures in Democrat offices, a coup is an attempt to violently overthrow the government. No serious person can say, based on the available evidence, that the individuals in the Capitol that day aimed to destroy our republic, or even to harm public officials. The only person purposefully killed that day was an unarmed civilian shot by security forces. Jan. 6 was a stupid stunt, not a coup.

Milley’s characterization of this event, according to the book, tells a different story. Speaking to senior leaders in preparation for President Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, he once more compared his fellow countrymen to Nazis.

“Here’s the deal guys: These guys are Nazis,” he said, “they’re boogaloo boys, they’re Proud Boys. These are the same people we fought in World War II. We’re going to put a ring of steel around this city and the Nazis aren’t getting in.”

They put a ring of steel around the city alright. It took six months for the government to take down the metal fencing around the Capitol, and the left still mendaciously seeks a 9/11-style commission. The FBI claimed to strike gold when they confiscated a riot suspect’s LEGO set three weeks ago.

It’s long past time to tell it like it is. The U.S. military, illustrated by Milley’s testimony likening national security threats from China and Russia to “climate change” and “infrastructure,” has mangled priorities. Milley is a symptom of institutional decay. 

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This article was published on July 19, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from The Federalist.

While the Fed Fiddles, the Dollar Burns: Dollar’s Purchasing Power Plunged at Fastest Pace since 1982

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Defying economists’ expectations for sixth month in a row, inflation heats up instead of easing off. And it’s a lot worse than it seems.

The Consumer Price Index jumped 0.9% in June from May, after having jumped 0.6% in May, and 0.8% in April – all of them the steepest month-to-month jumps since 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics today. The CPI without the volatile food and energy components (“core CPI”) jumped by 0.8% for the month and by 9.5% for the past three months annualized, the red-hottest “core CPI” since June 1982.

The CPI tracks the loss of the purchasing power of the consumer dollar – everything denominated in dollars for consumers, including what they can buy with their labor – and this dollar has dropped at a rate of 10.7% over the past three months annualized, the fastest drop since June 1982

Loss of purchasing power is “permanent,” as the chart shows.

There is nothing “transitory” or “temporary” about the loss of purchasing power as the chart above shows. Only a period of deflation can reverse some of the drop in purchasing power, which is a rare event in the US and happened only a few quarters over my lifetime, including for several months in 2008 – that little notch in the chart above.

The only aspect of inflation or the loss of purchasing power of the dollar that is temporary is the speed with which it progresses, faster or slower, from month to month.

Actual home price spikes v. charade of CPI for housing.

Housing costs – rent and homeownership costs – are included in the CPI as services and account for about one-third of the overall CPI. It’s the biggie, but it barely moves despite surging housing costs.

The rent component of CPI (“rent of primary residence”), weighing 7.7% in the overall CPI has been ticking up every month this year at a constant 0.2%, including in June, and is up only 1.9% year-over-year.

The homeownership component (“Owners’ equivalent rent of residences”), weighing 23.7% in the overall CPI, rose 0.5% in June and only a stunningly low 2.3% year-over-year, even as home prices have exploded, no matter how they’re measured.

The median price of all types of existing homes in the US, as tracked by the National Association of Realtors, spiked by a record 24% compared to a year ago.

The Case-Shiller Home Price Index, which measures the price changes over time for the same house and is, therefore, an appropriate measure of house price inflation, spiked by 14.6% year-over-year, the red-hottest increase in the data going back to 1987 (purple line). This contrasts with the languid CPI for homeownership (red line):

The reason the CPI’s homeownership component doesn’t track this rampant home-price inflation, and thereby the loss of the dollar’s purchasing power with regards to homes, is because it doesn’t track it. It is survey-based, and tracks what homeowners think their home might rent for – hence its name, “owners’ equivalent rent of residences.” It is a measure of rent, as imagined by the homeowner…..

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Continue reading this article published July 13, 2021 at  Wolf Street.

Defend the Line

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Conservatives still have much more to lose

There’s a tendency on the right to assume that we have basically lost. The left controls the media, the universities, and the pulpit. They even managed to turn public health—previously the most boring and staid element of state power—into an ideological instrument.  

They hold the Megaphone. Their civil rights-based approach to power does an end run around democratic institutions by bringing an ever-expanding circle of behaviors and identities under the shield of protected classes. The seemingly preposterous Kendian principle that we must impose new racial discrimination to cure past racial discrimination is gradually becoming the new common sense.

It is necessary however to consider what the left has still not succeeded in seizing or destroying, not so much because we have been so resolute in defending it but because they are still getting around to it. “Look what they are doing to us this time!” has been the lame rallying cry of the Right since the 1950s or so. We need to ringfence our existing territory so we aren’t taken by surprise in the next five years when we get outflanked.

For instance, though it sounds picayune, the left is actively seeking to override the ancient principle that local communities ought to have some say over what goes on there. Zoning laws are notorious eye-glazers, but leftists are using them as a lever and cudgel. Arguing that restrictions on what can be built are a vestige of redlining, Jim Crow, and ultimately slave-catching, and asserting that “ZIP code is destiny,” leftists in states like Minnesota, Washington, and California either have or are desperately trying to establish state laws that override local zoning. Getting rid of single-family only zoning restrictions in the name of affordability, racial justice, and environmental sustainability is in fact an effort to impose density on local communities, and urbanify the political complexion of suburbs and exurbs.

This effort will raise the costs of the classic American dream of having a private house with a yard and a two-car garage. It will encourage everyone to live near mass transit, in quadruplex apartments, and discourage large families. It is a backdoor strategy to end what leftists call American apartheid, the supposed legacy of racial segregation that persists in residential demographics…..

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Continue reading this article, published July 12, 2021 at American Mindset.

Fitch: Low River Levels Likely To Increase Arizona Water Bills

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

The expected water cuts from the Colorado River as a result of the Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) will likely mean higher water utility rates, according to Fitch Ratings.

The U.S. Congress passed the DCP in 2019 to protect water levels in Lake Powell and Lake Mead which provide water to Colorado River basin states. Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, and Mexico entered into the DCP, which mandates how water cuts will occur when the lakes drop to certain levels, called tiers.

The agreement was sealed because public agencies, eight major private corporations, and non-governmental organizations(NGOs) contributed tens of millions of dollars to leave water in the lake for conservation projects and to provide aid to Pinal County farmers, who would be the hardest hit by reductions.

The DCP included a new water level for extra protection, “Tier Zero.” If the water level dips below 1090 feet above sea level, reductions are made to leave water in the lake. Lake Mead has been in Tier Zero. A tier 1 shortage occurs when the lake drops to 1075 feet above sea level.

Water volume at Lake Mead, the Lower Colorado Basin’s principal reservoir serving Arizona, as well as Nevada and California, has fallen to historically low levels due to the drought throughout the west. As of April 26, Lake Powell was down to 35% full, while Lake Mead was down to 38 percent.

Fitch Ratings predicts that the drought will cause a tier 1 reduction in water allocation for 2022 when shortage levels are announced in August as part of the US Bureau of Reclamation water study. In addition, Fitch expects further water delivery reductions over the next several years, which will result in increased delivery rates to customers to counterbalance lower sales volumes.

According to the DCP, Arizona is required to take reductions of about 18% of its allocation in a tier 1 shortage. The largest cuts under the DCP will be absorbed by the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, which transports water via the Central Arizona Project (CAP) to three counties in central and southern Arizona under long-term contracts with strong purchasers.

The tier 1 shortage will reduce water to the Central Arizona Project by 320,000 acre-feet, enough water to supply 1.2 million individuals for a year. These reductions will affect farmers first because they have low priority rights for river supplies. Municipalities and tribes are considered a higher priority and are unlikely to see any early reductions to supply. However, they will still be subjected to higher prices.

The largest purchasers of CAP water include Tucson, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Gilbert, Mesa, and Peoria. CAP participants have been taking more water at lower prices and storing it in anticipation of cuts to guard against price increases.

Regional wholesale and retail purchasers of CAP water will likely rely on other supply sources, such as groundwater or stored water reserves, and/or pass on the CAP rate increases to users to eventually pressure rate flexibility.

Ted Cooke, general manager of CAP, said in a briefing led by state water leaders that the reductions would not harm most citizens and businesses.

“We have a plan. It’s called the Drought Contingency Plan, and we’re implementing that plan,” Cooke said. “This is a day we knew would come at some point and we’ve been preparing for this moment for at least a couple of decades.”

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This article was published on July 6, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from  The Center Square.

The Adverse Economic Consequences of “Basic Income”

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

When I first looked at the issue of “basic income,” back in 2013, my gut reaction was deep skepticism.

That’s because I feared many people would drop out of the labor force if they could live off government handouts (as illustrated by this Wizard-of-Id parody).

It’s true that the current amalgamation of welfare programs also discourages work and creates dependency, but a government-provided basic income could make a bad situation worse.

Especially if politicians didn’t get rid of other redistribution programs (a very realistic concern).

That being said, what’s the evidence, either pro or con?

There was an experiment in Finland, which poured cold water on the concept.

And now we have some U.S.-focused research. Four economists from the University of Chicago (Mikhail Golosov, Michael Graber, Magne Mogstad, and David Novgorodsky) investigated this topic in a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Here’s a description of their methodology, which used lottery winnings as a proxy for the effect of government handouts.

How do Americans respond to idiosyncratic and exogenous changes in household wealth and unearned income? Economists and policymakers are keenly interested in this question…the earnings responses to such shocks are important…to assess the effects of public policy such as…universal basic income. However, giving a credible answer to this question has proven difficult…We analyze a wide range of individual and household responses to lottery winnings and explore the economic implications of these responses for a number of key questions…our analyses are based on a population-level panel data set which is constructed by combining the universe of worker tax records with third-party-reported lottery winnings.

And here are some of their results.

We find that Americans respond to an exogenous increase in household wealth by significantly reducing their employment and labor earnings. For an extra 100 dollars in wealth, households reduce their annual earnings by approximately 2.3 dollars on average… the introduction of a UBI will have a large effect on earnings and tax rates. For example, even if one abstracts from any disincentive effects from higher taxes that are needed to finance this transfer program, each dollar of UBI will reduce total earnings by at least 52 cents.

At the risk of understatement, this data should be the death knell for this bad idea.

Especially when you consider the impact of the higher tax rates that would be necessary to fund the basic income.

As illustrated by Figure 5.1 from the study, tax-financed handouts would be bad news for America’s economy.

Further, Swiss voters overwhelmingly rejected a referendum for basic income back in 2016 (perhaps my speech in Switzerland convinced a few people?).

Interestingly, Joe Biden expressed skepticism about the idea back in 2017, but he obviously has had a change of heart, given his current support for big, per-child handouts.

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This article was published on July 8, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from AIER, American Institute for Economic Research.

The ATF’s Latest Proposed Regulation Could Make 40 Million Gun Owners Felons Overnight

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

This is a conspicuous confiscation of power, and it’s precisely what America’s founding fathers strove to avoid through the establishment of checks and balances.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has published a notice outlining their plans to update regulations on stabilizing braces.

Originally developed to help those with disabilities shoot comfortably, stabilizing braces have become a popular firearm accessory used to legally adapt AR-style pistols into guns that can be shot from the shoulder, like the highly regulated short-barreled rifle.

According to the ATF, stabilizing braces will now have to conform to a set of stringent guidelines to be considered legal. If they don’t meet those standards, they—and the gun to which they’re attached—will automatically become regulated as a rifle under the National Firearms Act.

This isn’t the first time the ATF or the DOJ have attempted to regulate this popular accessory. A similar reclassification was proposed back in December, but it was shot down due to uproar from lawmakers and the firearm community. However, after pistol-braced firearms were used in two recent, high-profile mass shootings, the ATF has circled back to the issue and seems more motivated than ever.

Immediate Pushback

After the ATF notice was published, more than 130 representatives penned a letter to the agency and called upon the bureau to withdraw the rule, stating that the “proposed guidance is alarming and jeopardizes the rights of law-abiding gun owners.”

Most importantly, the lawmakers reminded the ATF that for the last decade, it had asserted that there were legitimate uses for stabilizing braces, as the accessory was designed to aid disabled gun owners who enjoy recreational shooting.

“Should this guidance go into effect,” they wrote, “a disabled combat veteran who has chosen the best stabilizing brace for their disability is now a felon.”

In response, the ATF claimed that this new classification won’t impact braces designed to help those with disabilities. However, their proposed point-based worksheet of stabilizing brace criteria fails to make this clear for gun owners.

Intentionally Complicated?

At 52 pages, the intricate proposal is so lengthy and establishes such specific requirements that law-abiding citizens will have no idea if their firearm is still legal.

“Certain prerequisites,” the proposal reads, such as weapon weight and the overall length, “will be applied to determine if the firearm will even be considered as a possible pistol or immediately determined to be a rifle.”

Furthermore, “design factors that are more likely to demonstrate a manufacturer’s … intent to produce a ‘short-barreled rifle’ and market it as a ‘braced pistol’ accrue more points than those that reveal less evidence.”

A stabilizing brace that has accumulated too many points based on these criteria will be deemed a rifle, and therefore unlawful. Not only is this formula complicated, but there seems to be another hitch.

“The new factoring system,” remarks the NRA-ILA, “seems designed to ensure that few, if any, firearms can meet the criteria.”

Therefore, by classifying these braced pistols as Short Barreled Rifles, one of the most highly regulated guns on the market, the federal government is forcing 10-40 million law-abiding gun owners to surrender, destroy, or register their legal firearms … or face felony charges.

Avoiding Centralized Power

Essentially, the ATF is able to add rules and reclassify weapons without holding a single vote in Congress. As a result, this significant assault on the Second Amendment will not receive its due process.

This is a conspicuous confiscation of power, and it’s precisely what America’s founding fathers strove to avoid through the establishment of checks and balances.

The Constitution’s authors designed the United States government as three separate branches: the legislative, judicial, and executive. The legislative creates laws, the judicial determines their constitutionality, and the executive implements them.

In certain scenarios, each branch has the power to override the others and ensure that no branch of government is able to hold too much centralized power.

Unfortunately, through its unilateral proposal that would impact tens of millions of US gun owners, the ATF is violating the Separation of Powers designed by the Constitution to limit government overreach and protect individual rights.

A Timeless Warning

In Federalist No. 48, James Madison warned that “the accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

This is exactly what is happening today.

This stealth power grab should concern all Americans, even if they are outside the immediately-impacted gun community.

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This article was published on July 12, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from FEE, Foundation for Economic Education

Going Postal: How the Left Will Use Vote by Mail to Federalize Elections

Estimated Reading Time: 12 minutes

In the lead up to 2020, big philanthropy and progressive Democrats teamed up to make mail-in ballots the new normal.

If anyone thinks the flood of mail-in ballots the country witnessed in 2020 was just a one-off fluke, they haven’t been paying attention.

Vote by mail is the future of American democracy, with all the accompanying opportunities for ballot harvesting, mail fraud, and deceit—at least if the left has its way. This was evident in the failed For the People Act (H.R. 1/S. 1), the Democrat’s vision for federalizing U.S. elections into a top-down nightmare that undermines voter I.D. laws and forces every state to adopt automatic and same-day voter registration, voting rights for felons, no-excuse absentee balloting, mandatory early voting, and taxpayer funding for political campaigns. If that weren’t enough, it would violate free speech rights by forcibly disclosing nonprofits’ donors and imposing state legislatures with redistricting committees for every state—committees that are more accountable to special interests than the American public.

Don’t celebrate H.R. 1’s demise just yet. The worst of its provisions are also in its successor, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act (H.R. 4). The left isn’t done trying to radically transform the United States just yet, and it’ll use vote by mail to do it.

My colleagues and I have studied the left’s involvement in pushing mail-in voting in the 2020 election since the mischief began in November. We’ve uncovered a vast network of professional activists, wealthy foundations, Democratic mega-donors, and political operatives who conspired to flood America with mail-in ballots and turn the election against President Donald Trump.

Creating an Election Nightmare

In an all-mail election, the state sends ballots to every registered voter. Oregon has been conducting all-mail elections since the mid-1990s using a system of “ballot secrecy envelopes” that obscure the voter’s identity while allowing him to track the ballot’s status after returning it via mail or a polling station. Four more states have since adopted permanent all-mail elections, and 18 others allow local jurisdictions to hold all-mail elections. Currently, 16 states allow absentee voting with a valid excuse, and 34 states have no-excuse absentee voting.

Some locales have clearly figured it out. But hastily imposing their model on an unready nation created a comedy of errors almost everywhere else in 2020:

More than 49,000 people received incorrect ballots in Franklin County, Ohio.
A vote-by-mail drop box was set on fire in Los Angeles.
A mayoral candidate was arrested for and charged with committing voter fraud with absentee ballots in Carrollton, Texas.
And 100,000 New Yorkers received absentee ballots with incorrect names and addresses.

Mail-in ballots have significantly higher rejection rates than ballots cast in-person, with the highest being 4.5 percent rejected in 2008. That can be the difference between victory and defeat. Nearly 28,000 mail-in ballots were rejected in Florida’s 2016 election, where Trump’s margin of victory was 112,000 votes. Obama won Florida in 2012 by 74,000 votes, when 24,000 ballots were rejected. Mail-in ballot rejection rates averaged 1 percent nationwide in 2016 and 1.4 percent in 2018, perhaps 10 times higher than in-person rates, usually because they arrived too late to count or had mismatching signatures.

NPR reports that 550,000 mail-in ballots were disqualified in the 2020 primaries alone, much more than in 2016. Yet rejection rates averaged just 0.7 percent nationwide in the 2020 general election. Why were they suddenly so low? Either tens of millions of voters voting by mail (many for the first time) miraculously submitted flawless ballots, elections officials didn’t perform their due diligence, or the rejection rate was pushed down by an extraordinarily high number of “cured” ballots (fixing mistakes such as a forgotten signature), which is allowed in 19 states, including North Carolina, Georgia, and Arizona. If the answer is either of the last two, vote-by-mail’s “success” in 2020 is hardly something to be celebrated.

Until recently, mail-in voting was just as controversial among liberals as conservatives, not least because it hurts turnout among Democratic constituencies. A 2016 ACLU study found that “younger and racial and ethnic minority voters casting VBM [vote-by-mail] ballots were at least twice as likely as older and white voters to have their VBM ballot rejected.” That same study concluded that voters under 30 made up 9.2 percent of all vote-by-mail voters, but accounted for almost 31 percent of rejected mail-in ballots. Liberal journalists railed against high mail-in ballot rejection rates for “disproportionately affect[ing] minorities” in 2018.

Former President JimThen there’s the potential for fraud, which is why most European Union countries long ago banned “postal voting.” my Carter’s own bipartisan commission in 2005 concluded that mail-in ballots presented the “largest source of potential voter fraud” of any voting system.

Democrats were deeply divided over the trustworthiness of mail-in ballots as recently as the 2008 election, when the Obama campaign voiced its “real deep concerns” about the security of mail-in ballots in the Florida Democratic primary, which Hillary Clinton won by some 294,000 votes. Obama questioning whether the system was “fraud-proof” on national television.

Simply put, it isn’t that mail-in ballots can’t work anywhere, just that they don’t work everywhere. That was 2020’s big experiment: entrusting the election to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), the institution that routinely delivers you your neighbor’s mail. Let’s not forget that USPS warned last July that it might not be able to deliver ballots on time.

Yet the Washington Post ran a slew of op-eds calling for expanding voting by mail since COVID-19 quarantines began in early March 2020. An ACLU director declared in the New York Times that “voting by mail will save the 2020 election.” The Atlantic even conjectured that voting by mail could stop election “interference” by Republicans who might otherwise create a Trump dictatorship.

What changed? The coronavirus—and the itching need to defeat President Trump by whatever means necessary—ultimately overcame whatever concerns the left had over mail-in voting. Mail-in voting presented a powerful, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to federalize elections and cement the left’s control over America. So they went all in on radically changing our republic—and it almost worked.

Making Vote-by-Mail Permanent

But some on the left had been pushing for vote by mail for years. Meet the National Vote at Home Coalition (NVHC) and its 501(c)(3) arm, National Vote At Home Institute, a pair of advocacy groups formed in 2017 to push all-mail elections nationwide. From the start, the effort was heavily supported by the National Association of Letter Carriers, the postal service union, which co-founded NVHC and hosted its kick-off event at the union’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. The event was attended by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden (D.)—who was elected in the country’s first-ever all-mail federal election—and Oregon Secretary of State Phil Keisling. Keisling, who is now board chairman for NVHC, illustrated the future of voting and automatic voter registration:

Imagine a state where voters never have to show a photo ID; wait in voting lines; leave home or work early to get to their designated polling place; or worry about bad weather, traffic jams, finding parking or public transportation, or arranging childcare.

AVR’s [automatic voter registration] underlying policy premise is identical to vote-at home’s; if the government knows you’re a citizen, you become a registered voter [emphasis added].

The majority of the 501(c)(4) NVHC’s funding comes from the Letter Carriers union, other AFL-CIO unions, and liberal billionaire Pierre Omidyar’s Democracy Fund Voice. The (c)(3) institute is bankrolled by various AFL-CIO unions, the Letter Carriers union, Arabella Advisors’ Hopewell Fund and New Venture Fund, and the foundation of liberal mega-donor Stephen Silberstein. Silberstein is a NVHC board member, National Popular Vote board member, and part of the Democracy Alliance.

Early on NVHC targeted state ballot initiatives, beginning with vote by mail in South Dakota in 2018 (it failed to make the ballot), Hawaii in 2019 (passed), and automatic voter registration in Michigan in 2018 (passed). Soon it would expand its scope to the federal level after hiring a new director, Amber McReynolds.

Amber McReynolds: The New Face of Soft Totalitarianism

McReynolds is a professional activist and leading figure in the left’s fight to transform American elections. She started registering voters in Iowa in the 2004 election with the New Voters Project, part of a vast network of activist groups called the Public Interest Network. The most famous of these groups are the Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), which date back to the 1960s. A Colorado native, she was hired by the Denver Elections Commission in 2005, rising to deputy director in 2007 and finally elections director in 2011. She was given the city’s “rising star” award in 2012 by the Democratic mayor for overseeing the creation of Denver’s ballot-tracking and electronic petition-gathering software.

Critically, she pushed for and oversaw Colorado’s adoption of all-mail voting in 2013, reportedly downplaying the threat of illegal voting in her testimony before the state legislature by claiming ignorance of the term: “I’m not sure, to be honest, what is an illegal vote. . . . What does that mean?” By 2018, McReynolds was considered one of the state’s political up-and-comers and a likely candidate for challenging its Republican secretary of State, Wayne K. Williams.

She opted instead to join NVHC and take her plans for vote by mail nationwide. Under McReynolds, NVHC released its first national vote-by-mail proposal in mid-2020, “catapulting” this small organization into the center of the left’s scheme to use COVID-19 to transform the 2020 election.

McReynolds is often hailed as a nonpartisan, reform-minded moderate. She’s listed on the website of the National Association of Nonpartisan Reformers and was featured in Governing Magazine’s 2018 Top Public Officials of the Year.

But NVHC is closely connected to left-wing groups ranging from the ACLU to Rock the Vote. McReynolds herself also spoke at the Democracy Alliance’s Fall 2018 conference, the biggest Who’s Who of the elite left. This writer has interviewed a former elected city and county of Denver election commissioner who knew McReynolds during her years with the city (and who wishes to remain anonymous). In the commissioner’s words, McReynolds is “smart, power-driven,” and the “new face of soft totalitarianism.” Far from being nonpartisan, she couldn’t be further to the political left. One senior Trump administration appointee and elections expert told me that McReynolds is a “vote-by-mail fanatic” whose meteoric rise perfectly coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic.

That became obvious after Time released its infamous article “The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election.” At the heart of that “conspiracy unfolding behind the scenes” was Michael Podhorzer, a senior AFL-CIO advisor and Democratic operative who organized a legion of activist groups and big foundations to use COVID-19 “relief funds” to pump up voter registration, push mail-in voting, and supplement mail ballots with private dropboxes to help Joe Biden win the 2020 election.

McReynolds and NVHC led the conspiracy’s mail-in voting crusade, supplying secretaries of state with drop box locations and encouraging mail-in ballots in 37 states and the District of Columbia. NVHC even published a 60-page report pushing DeKalb County, Georgia—an Atlanta suburb that received $4 million in “Zuck Bucks” and gave Biden 300,000 votes—to “create a modern, lean vote-by-mail program.” California also hired McReynolds to consult on expanding its vote-by-mail plans in May 2020.

While Time tried to spin the cabal as “bipartisan,” in reality it was as left-wing—and partisan—as could be.

In March, Wisconsin journalists revealed that a NVHC staffer and Democratic operative, Michael Spitzer-Rubinstein, practically ran Green Bay’s election as the city’s “de facto elections administrator,” with access to its absentee ballots days before the election.

Spitzer-Rubinstein had access to four of the five keys to the ballroom where early ballots were stored and counted, and he even asked the city clerk to “cure” problematic absentee ballots. Green Bay “went rogue” under NVHC, in the words of the Brown County clerk. Green Bay also received $1.1 million, Wisconsin’s third-largest grant, from the Mark Zuckerberg–funded Center for Technology and Civic Life.

Where else did NVHC taint local elections in 2020? Does it plan to have representatives in the Spitzer-Rubinstein mold in every major elections office in 2024? Short of a government inquiry, we may never know.

For her services McReynolds, President Biden nominated her to the U.S. Postal Service where she was touted as an “independent,” not a Democrat, and for good reason: By law the USPS governing board may have no more than five members from the same political party. Confirming her as an independent frees up President Biden to appoint another Democrat and grants her vast power as the deciding vote on future mail-in voting and election integrity decisions.

And that’s after McReynolds “covered up her connections to radical left-wing groups [by] scrubbing affiliations from her own organization’s website,” according to the conservative American Accountability Foundation.

As if to prove their point, since her confirmation McReynolds has signed an open letter critical of Arizona’s ongoing 2020 election audit alongside 19 other liberal groups and individuals. She has also attacked Republican “disinformation” as the “biggest election security issue we face” and called for federalizing elections to stop it: “We need to think about some federal standards because it’s easy for bad actors to spread the wrong information because the rules vary so much by state.”

But switching America to mail-in voting requires a serious change in infrastructure. For that, the left needed the NVHC to ensure that the coming flood of mail-in ballots would defeat Trump. They needed the support of Big Philanthropy.

Mark Zuckerberg: Laying the Groundwork for Vote by Mail

In a free and fair election, ballots are traceable from the time they’re filled out until they’re counted. Drop boxes threaten that chain by bypassing the Postal Service altogether and entrusting absentee ballots with a private third party. They also encourage ballot harvesting by partisan interests and raise the risk of fraudsters using private collection bins to return illegal ballots. Chain of custody is still missing for 400,000 absentee ballots delivered via drop box in Georgia alone.

To pay for so many drop boxes, the activists turned to Facebook founder and billionaire Mark Zuckerberg. In fall 2020, he funneled $350 million into a small Chicago nonprofit, the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL), which repackaged the funds as COVID-19 “relief” grants to thousands of local elections offices that would supposedly go underfunded in the election—despite receiving $400 million from the federal government through the CARES Act.

To date, my colleagues and I have traced $112 million in “Zuck bucks” flowing to nine critical states: Texas, Virginia, North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Nevada.

CTCL has claimed that its funds were distributed on a nonpartisan basis. In reality, “Zuck bucks” favored big, Democratic cities that pumped out enough votes for Biden to clinch contested states. In Pennsylvania, for instance, CTCL grants to counties Biden won averaged $3.11 per capita and just $0.57 in counties Trump won. In Arizona, CRCL grants provided a staggering $5.83 per capita in counties Biden won versus $1.29 in counties Trump won.

In June, Todd Shepherd, chief investigative reporter for the Pennsylvania Broad & Liberty, published an email chain revealing early contact between CTCL, a councilwoman in Delaware County (a Philadelphia suburb), and a Democratic get-out-the-vote strategist. Shepherd has also discovered evidence that Democratic counties neighboring Philly were given early invitations to apply for multi-million-dollar CTCL grants, well before the rest of the right-leaning state.

CTCL’s funds were supposed to aid in voting during the COVID-19 pandemic, yet a recent letter from House Republicans points out that less than 1 percent of its funds went to personal protective equipment (PPE). What CTCL’s “Zuck bucks” did pay for was the infrastructure required to unleash an unprecedented flood of mail-in ballots.

Public records requests reveal that nearly $6.5 million of Philadelphia’s $10 million grant funded “mail-in and absentee” processing equipment, 15 “secure dropboxes” scattered around the city, and postage (presumably for mail-in ballots). A $1.4 million grant to Fairfax County, Virginia—which contains close to a quarter of the state’s population and 18 percent of all Biden’s statewide votes—also paid for vote-by-mail equipment, temporary staffing, and “voting materials other than in English.” Alarmingly, the county’s CTCL-provided spending report also leaves room for “non-partisan voter education”—what does that entail and where was it used?

In Wisconsin, a former elections clerk told reporter John Solomon that CTCL grants to Green Bay caused the city to effectively “take over” county election functions. CTCL itself worked “primarily with our five major Democratic base cities,” breaking processes across the key battleground state. “As we got closer to the November election,” she said, “we found out that this outside group had come in and was basically trying to redo our forms and documents that we use statewide. And these people were from out of state and had no business doing that.”

In short, Big Philanthropy had its way with the 2020 election, to the left’s delight. National Public Radio even credits “private money from Facebook’s CEO” with “sav[ing] the 2020 election.” Faced with a private takeover of our elections, the same set of radicals who once cried “eat the rich” and “abolish billionaires” simply yawned. Yet the greatest irony is that, for all the left’s newfound love of mail-in voting, its sudden emphasis on drop boxes is a vote of no confidence in the Postal Service’s ability to competently manage so many mail-in ballots.

CTCL’s meddling prompted dozens of states to ban private funding of elections, but the damage is done. Racine, Wisconsin, recently purchased a $250,000 “mobile voting precinct” using CTCL funds. How much money will Zuckerberg or others like him spend influencing the 2024 election?

Page Gardner: Soliciting Absentee Ballots

Voters in many states were assailed with partially pre-filled absentee ballot requests in the months leading up to Election Day. The requests came from a pair of shadowy nonprofits: the Center for Voter Information (CVI) and the Voter Participation Center (VPC), “sister” groups formed in 2003 by former Bill Clinton presidential campaign staffer and operative Page Gardner.

Gardner’s groups take advantage of IRS rules allowing nonprofits to engage in nonpartisan voter registration to target the “New American Majority,” which they define as “young people, people of color and unmarried women”—a group that gave more than 60 percent of its votes for Biden in 2020.

The nonprofits are hardly “nonpartisan”—CVI, the network’s 501(c)(4), spent $583,000 directly aiding Biden—but it’s their support for voting by mail that should concern conservatives. Unlike the Right, the left is all in on funding groups that do nothing more than voter registration.

Gardner’s groups claim they registered more than 1.5 million new voters and generated 4.8 million vote-by-mail applications in 2020 alone.

Many of these absentee ballot applications were faulty, listing the wrong jurisdictions. In Virginia, mailing applications mislabeled for the City of Fairfax were sent to residents of neighboring Fairfax County. But for all the ballots faults, they were clearly sent for one purpose: flood key states with tens of millions of mail-in ballots.

One Virginia polling place worker who wishes to remain anonymous sent me a copy of an envelope (archived here) mailed to him by CVI prior to the election containing an absentee ballot request, but the return address (3125 W. Cary St. #305, Richmond, VA) is a UPS store, not CVI’s office in Washington, D.C. He has found similar envelopes in eight other states—Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada, Ohio, Wisconsin, North Carolina, New Mexico, and Missouri—with return addresses for UPS stores.

What happened to the absentee ballot requests that bounced back to CVI’s UPS boxes? Could they have been used to generate a universe of registered but nonresponsive voters? Given the multitude of reports from across the country of voters who tried to vote on Election Day and were told that they couldn’t cast a ballot because they had already voted, it raises serious questions about tax-exempt nonprofits exploiting IRS rules to swing elections for their political allies.

The Future of Elections Isn’t So Grim

There’s little doubt that left-wing operatives would love to make every future election mimic 2020. But it doesn’t have to end that way.

Despite high hopes among many Democrats, new studies show that mail-in ballots had a smaller than expected effect on turnout and did not dramatically help the Democratic Party. What they did change was how Americans voted—opening the door to the kind of ballot harvesting and fraud that characterize countries like Venezuela.

The left’s dependence on so many CTCL-funded drop boxes also suggests that vote by mail won’t plague the future in the 15-plus states (and counting) that have already banned private funding of elections, and likely others. Without drop boxes, the effectiveness of mail-in ballots will entirely depend on the U.S. Postal Service—the 18th century institution that’s been utterly outcompeted by private industry and may be privatized by a future Republican administration. With its present difficulties, it’s a safe bet that running elections will never be USPS’s top priority. As one elections expert recently told me, “If you want to screw up voter I.D., put the DMV in charge of it. If you want to screw up voting, put the Postal Service in charge of it.”

Is the left prepared to hang its future on that? In an age of reliable two-day delivery, will Americans ever support elections that take 5–7 days to transit their ballots each way and upwards of 15 days to certify? The more America moves forward, the more America’s left looks backward.

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This article was published on July 9, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from Capital Research.

 

What Portion Of The “American Rescue Plan” of 2021 Was Devoted To Funding The Police?

Estimated Reading Time: < 1 minute

Correct Answer?
0%, nothing , zero, zilch, nada

At two recent White House press conferences, Biden Press Secretary Jen Psaki declared that Republicans defunded the police because they did not vote for the “American Rescue Plan” of 2021. This law, which was passed by Democrats without any Republican votes, does not mention “police,” “law enforcement,” or any synonym for these words. Instead, it enacts $1.86 trillion in deficit spending mainly devoted to social welfare programs and bailouts for state and local governments and private union pension funds. Psaki argued that the cities could use some of the bailout money for police. However, nothing in the law requires this, and at least 13 major Democrat-run cities have reduced funding for their police.

Note: This brief article is presented as a question to the readers. After clicking on the ‘This Article’ link below, click the arrow (<) on the left of the question twice to access the above title – What Portion Of The “American Rescue Plan” of 2021 Was Devoted To Funding The Police?

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This article was published on July 7, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from JUST FACTS Daily.

Americans See the Raging Mania: “Bad Time to Buy a Home” & “Good Time to Sell a Home” Sentiments Spike to WTF Record

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

If these sentiments become reality over time, it’s going to be a sea change for demand and supply at these crazy prices.

So just briefly: This explains some of the dynamics we have seen in the housing market recently, with mortgage applications, sales of existing homes, and sales of new single-family houses dropping for months even as investors have piled into the market and as inventories have started to rise.

Fannie Mae has been conducting its National Housing Survey monthly since 2010, one of the data collection efforts to come out of the Housing Bust. The survey covers a range of housing-related topics. And in its survey for June – conducted between June 1 and June 24 and released on Wednesday – there are record trend changes in consumers attitudes about whether it’s “a good time to buy a home,” or “a bad time to buy a home,” or “good time to sell a home,” or “a bad time to sell a home.” And you know what’s coming.

The percentage who said that it was a “bad time to buy a home” spiked over the past three months from record to record and in June hit 64%. Consumers cited home prices as the predominant reason.

A record-low 32% of the respondents said that it was still a good time to buy a home, while the percentage of fence-sitters who didn’t know dropped to 4%.

“While all surveyed segments have expressed greater negativity toward homebuying over the last few months, renters who say they are planning to buy a home in the next few years have demonstrated an even steeper decline in homebuying sentiment than homeowners,” according to Fannie Mae’s press release.

“It’s likely that affordability concerns are more greatly affecting those who aspire to be first-time homeowners than other consumer segments who have already established homeownership,” the report said.

But it’s a great time to sell a home…..

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Continue reading this article at Wolf Street.

Modern-Day Martyr: Meet The Self-Made Billionaire Who Is Sacrificing It All For God

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

In Western universities and board rooms, souls are cheap. But Jimmy Lai’s is not.

 

In Hong Kong right now, Jimmy Lai is sacrificing all — his fortune and possibly his life — for his God, his fellow man, and for freedom.

Lai is a billionaire, although he wasn’t always one. Born two years before the Communists defeated the nationalists in China’s civil war, his father fled and his mother was sent to a labor camp when he was a young child. Carrying bags for train passengers and getting by as a street vendor, he first tasted freedom when a man from British Hong Kong gave him a bar of chocolate.

Lai is a British citizen, although he wasn’t always one. Having seen a glimpse of prosperity and freedom, he chased it to the then-free British island colony, stowing away aboard a ship when he was just 12 years old and working on the floor of a clothing factory.

Lai is a Catholic, although he wasn’t always one. He met the faith through his wife, a pious woman he accompanied to church, where he heard the homilies of Cardinal Joseph Zen and in 1997 was baptized into the church by the same great man.

Today Lai is in a prison cell in Hong Kong, and the Communist dictatorship has once again seized one of his life’s works, shutting down his newspaper. But of all that has changed since he was a young boy, persecution by the communists has remained a constant. If you stand by your faith, in China there’s no way around it. “I have a soul,” he said in early 2019, and so the truth lives in him.

“No one can say we didn’t fight… Prison life is the pinnacle of my life. I am completely at peace.”

Lai’s path to success in Hong Kong began on the floor of a garment factory. He rose quickly, eventually joining management. He saved his money, invested in the stock market, and used the profits to buy a factory and start making clothing for middle-class consumers.

After the June 4, 1989, Tiananmen Square massacre, where peaceful pro-democracy protesters were trapped, shrouded in darkness, and run over and gunned down by tanks, Lai sacrificed his stake in his mainland business by printing and selling pro-democracy shirts and starting a tabloid magazine that covered scandal and corruption in the party.

Undeterred by his loss, and still a very wealthy man, Lai channeled his time and fortune toward fighting their evil, enduring arrest, persecution, fire bombings, car attacks, and intimidation for it. Last week he was arrested again, and his and his company’s finances seized under the auspices of China’s new “national security law.”

Stories of his self-made riches and pro-democracy bravery dot corporate media, but unless you dig into the columns of those who’d met him, or read Christian news sources, you might miss what actually drives and fortifies him in the face of a vast and relentless enemy. You’d miss why a serial entrepreneur who has spent his life building and creating is willing to give it all, and you’d miss the truth behind why.

“The Communists,” he told Economic Strategy Institute President Clyde Berkowitz, “think they can buy and or intimidate everyone off, create their own reality, and write their own history. Effectively, they assume the role of God. They are kind of a religion or an anti-religion.”

‘They have initiation into the party as a kind of baptism. They have self-criticism as a kind of confession of sins, re-education as a kind of penance, and elevation to hero of the party as a kind of sainthood. And, of course, at least Mao [Zedong] has a kind of everlasting life as a photo smiling down on Tiananmen Square and as an embalmed corpse in a casket in the square.’

‘But the party and its members do not have souls. In fact, they are dead men walking, because the truth is not in them.’

“Life,” he told the Catholic Napa Institute in an October interview, “is more than just bread; life has a greater meaning.”

He’s right, and a lot of Christians understand this on its face, but what makes Lai different from a lot of us is while it’s easy to nod and to agree, it’s entirely another to act. We read Christ’s command to sell all of our possessions and follow him, and a lot of us give of our time and our money, some very generously, but how many give it all?

We know that the martyrs and saints suffered and for their courage on earth are saved. We might hope and pray to have their courage if ever put to the test, but until we are we never truly know if we will — so many don’t. We know that suffering has a purpose, that it sharpens and tests our characters, and that it should be offered up to God, but have you ever tried? It can be done, but it is very, very difficult to lift up your heart while your body and mind drag you back down to the temporal things torturing them.

“Here is my body, take it!” the Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen preached on Good Friday, 1979. “Here is my soul, my will, my energy, my strength, my poverty, my wealth — all that I have. It is yours, take it! Consecrate it! Offer it! Offer it to the Heavenly Father with yourself, in order that he, looking down on this great sacrifice, may see only you, his beloved Son, in whom he is well pleased. Transmute the poor bread of my life into your life; thrill the wine of my wasted life into your divine Spirit; unite my broken heart with your Heart; change my cross into a crucifix.”

“If you believe in the Lord,” Lai told the Napa Institute, “if you believe that all suffering has a reason, and the Lord is suffering with me, it will definitely define the person I am becoming so I am at peace with it.”

“I am what I am. I am what I believe. I cannot change it. And if I can’t change it, I have to accept my fate with praise.”

But how many actually do? How many American leaders, how many corporate businessmen, do just that? How many executives at Disney and Nike, the NBA and Blizzard Entertainment, in Apple and Hollywood do just that? Maybe no other alive.

Instead, how many of them bow before a thieving, lying, murderous godless slave state in exchange for access to growing markets? How many colleges and universities bow to that state’s every wish and every spy in exchange for paying full tuition into their already bloated coffers? How much do they make? “What is and should be,” Prestowitz asks, “the price of these souls?”

In Western universities and board rooms, souls are cheap. But Lai’s is not. “What separates Jimmy Lai,” a friend in corporate consulting wrote me, “from many of this era’s modern-day princes is that he deeply cares about something beyond his own money, power and status.”

“This is just living my life,” he told the BBC this spring, sitting in his mansion in northern Hong Kong. “But if I’m in jail I’m living my life meaningfully.”

“But you must fear some things,” reporter Danny Vincent asked. “For your family, for Hong Kong, for your loved ones.”

“Yes,” he replied, shuddering, his lip quivering and tears suddenly in his eyes. “You’re right. I do have fear.”

As with courage, sacrifice, and pain, it’s easy to say we have what it will take. Going to church on Sunday or giving what amounts to a rounding error to some social justice cause is fine, but is it enough? Is it remotely enough? How many of our Western elites know in their hearts that if they died in their sleep tonight, no one could say they gave it all for God?

So a lot of media accounts weren’t wrong, they just got it half right. Jimmy Lai, a man born in poverty, who became a billionaire, who became a Christian, who became a Catholic, who became a freedom fighter, might die this time, next time, or the time after that, imprisoned and penniless. But when he is weighed and measured, he will not be found wanting. And for that, when Jimmy Lai dies he will die a very wealthy man indeed.

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This article was published on July 1, 2021 and is reprinted with permission from The Federalist.