Mail Fraud

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

A recent cover of The Week magazine proclaimed “Undermining Democracy. The GOP’s blueprint for nullifying Democratic votes in 2024“.

The article was another installment of the concentrated effort on the Left to convince Americans that voter fraud is essentially nonexistent, just a hoax used by Republicans as an excuse to deny the franchise to underprivileged Americans.

But is it true? Are Republicans using strategies like restricting the number of weeks early voting is allowed, cleaning up outdated voter rolls, and requiring voter ID simply to squelch minority votes?

The Week article didn’t describe one voter who had been even partially hindered from voting. Critics seldom do because such cases are devilishly hard to find.

Any limiting of access is illegal under federal law and the Department of Justice has a large and aggressive enforcement unit. Yet during the eight years of the Obama administration, just four cases were filed under the relevant voting rights section.

Moreover, a 2019 survey of turnout data from all 50 states concluded that voter ID laws, for example, “have no negative effect on registration or turnout“ for any race, gender, party or age groupThe Census Bureau in 2012 reported that blacks nationally had a higher turnout rate than whites.

Mississippi had a higher percentage turnout of black voters than white, unlike Connecticut, New York, or Delaware. Much reviled Georgia’s black turnout percentage was higher than New York’s in 2018 and 2020, all during times when Republicans were being loudly accused of voter suppression. They must be the most inept vote suppressors in history.

The Maricopa County 2020 audit was meant to clear up some of these issues of fraud versus suppression. It was never intended by its sponsors to overturn the election. So all the chortling by its detractors when that didn’t happen is their mistake.

Nevertheless, both sides felt vindicated. One thing for certain is that allegations that voter fraud doesn’t exist were again demolished. Voters voting in multiple counties, mail-in ballots from prior addresses, dead people voting, deleted files and duplicated ballots were all uncovered.

But the commission whiffed on the issue of bulk mail voting. The practice of sending unsolicited ballots by mail to millions of voters is by far the greatest potential threat to election integrity.

Unfortunately, they looked for evidence of mail fraud in the wrong place at the wrong time. The audit was of the accounting process and never really addressed how the ballots were generated in the first place.

Mail-in fraud has caused entire elections to be canceled and major schemes have been busted in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and other states. But any fraud discovered is likely only the tip of the iceberg. Fraud from bulk mail voting/ballot harvesting occurs out of sight and leaves few traces.

Unlike in-person voting, there is no ability to assure the vote is cast independently.  Arizona’s sole safeguard has been the notoriously easy-to-game signature verification process with no ID required.

Normally, a chain of custody violations is considered a major breach by election officials. Here, there is no chain of custody. What could go wrong?

There’s a reason that after Democrats discovered electoral gold in 2016, votes by mail more than doubled in 2020, and just 28% voted in person on election day. Yet as far back as 2005, the bipartisan Carter-Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform advised that “absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud”.

Our sister democracies know that. 74% ban absentee voting entirely for citizens living in the country, 6% have very strict restrictions and another 15% require photo ID to obtain a mail ballot. France and Mexico banned mail-in voting after massive fraud and political intimidation were finally discovered.

America has a serious problem. Our elections do not have and do not deserve, the confidence of a majority of Americans.

The overriding problem is not the lack of access to the ballot. In fact, a plurality of voters believes it is too easy to vote.

It’s not stolen elections or miscounted ballots. It is intentionally flawed election laws that permit massive security leaks, raising the undeniable possibility of widespread cheating.

That, friend, is the true threat to democracy.

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Thomas C. Patterson, MD is a retired Emergency Medicine physician, Arizona state Senator and Arizona Senate Majority Leader in the ’90s. He is a former Chairman, Goldwater Institute.

LUCHA’s Deep Ties to the Left

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA), an Arizona activism group, recently made headlines when activists affiliated with LUCHA followed Sen. Kristen Sinema (D-AZ) into a bathroom, filming her and confronting her about her opposition to the Biden administration’s $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill.

Journalists quickly discovered that LUCHA has accepted over $1 million in donations from the Open Society Foundations, the private foundation of the infamous left-leaning billionaire George Soros, who is no stranger to funding radical left-wing activism.

Because of its Soros ties, many rightly concluded that LUCHA was far less “grassroots” than it claimed, but the organization’s ties to deep-pocketed organizations in Washington, DC, run far deeper than Soros’s funding and extend back a decade.

Center for Popular Democracy

LUCHA and its 501(c)(3) affiliate, the Arizona Center for Empowerment, are both members of and receive substantial funding from the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), a national collaboration of dozens of left-wing organizations that work together to organize voters in support of a wide range of the most radical policies.

From the Green New Deal to race-based reparations, the Center for Popular Democracy has vocally supported almost every left-wing cause and has earned a reputation for loud and disruptive demonstrations.

The incident with Sen. Sinema wasn’t the first-time activists tied to CPD have shamelessly harassed an Arizona senator. In 2018, CPD activists, including CPD’s co-executive director Ana Maria Archilainfamously cornered former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) in an elevator and yelled at him over his support for the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

CPD activists were also recently involved in mobilizing protestors on kayaks to paddle to protest outside the houseboat of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) in Washington, DC. He joined Sen. Sinema in opposing the $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill. The protesters reportedly continued for several days, shouting questions and abuse from their boats, until Manchin finally agreed to meet with them.

Ties to ACORN

Tied closely to the Center for Popular Democracy in the present, LUCHA also has ties to the political swamp that can be traced deep into its past.

In 2011, the Capital Research Center reported that LUCHA was organized as a front group for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).

The scandal-plagued ACORN network disbanded after it lost federal funding in 201o. But many of its state branches immediately reorganized under new names. LUCHA was reportedly one of these groups.

Reports indicate that in 2011, immediately after ACORN dissolved, LUCHA was run by Monica Sandschaeffer, a former Arizona ACORN official. She was one of four ACORN members arrested in 2008 for disrupting a meeting of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors while protesting against Sheriff Joe Arapaio.

In 2007, the FBI investigated the same branch of ACORN for “voter registration fraud of non-citizens” in the city of Phoenix. In 2010, Judicial Watch, a right-leaning watchdog group, obtained records that showed “that ACORN’s employment practices [perpetuated] fraudulent voter registration.” But charges were never filed under the Obama Administration because of technicalities that Judicial Watch called “questionable.”

Living United for a Political Agenda

Since the incident with Sen. Sinema, LUCHA has issued no apology or reprimand. In fact, it has doubled down on its anti-Sinema rhetoric, issuing an official statement titled “We Do What Senator Sinema Doesn’t – Advocate For Arizonans!” The underlying message is clear: “We regret nothing and your dissent will be punished.”

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This article was published on October 13, 2021, and reproduced with permission from Capital Research.

4 Scary Charts Show How Fast the Federal Government is Heading Toward Fiscal Disaster

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes
Every day Americans will ultimately pay the price for the federal government’s recklessness.

The national debt is rapidly closing in on $29 trillion. The federal government now owes an astounding $228,999 per taxpayer. All the while, politicians in Washington, DC are bickering over whether to spend $4.5 trillion more or “just” $1.5 trillion. Yet almost entirely omitted from the debate over the so-called “infrastructure” spending bonanza is the fact that the federal government is already running off a fiscal cliff—as a new analysis makes plain.

The Manhattan Institute’s Brian Riedl recently released his 2021 Chart Book, and it paints a devastating picture of the federal government’s finances. Here are 4 charts that show just how fast it is approaching budgetary disaster.

Image Credit: Brian Riedl, Manhattan Institute

Riedl estimates the trajectory of the national debt even under the rosy assumption that new spending programs are not added. He nonetheless shows that the federal debt will nearly double by 2030.

Image Credit: Brian Riedl, Manhattan Institute

What matters is not just the total debt figure, but how it relates to the overall size of our economy, as measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which reflects how much the US produces in a year. Right now we’re already above a 100 percent debt-to-GDP ratio, which is normally considered a red flag, yet under Biden’s proposed additions to the budget baseline the debt would reach an astounding 250 percent of GDP within 30 years. That’s right: We’d owe 2.5 times more than we make annually.

Image Credit: Brian Riedl, Manhattan Institute

Some progressives like to cite military spending and tax cuts as drivers of the nation’s deficit woes. (And there’s certainly plenty of room for cuts in the defense budget). Yet the reality nonetheless remains that the welfare state’s various entitlement programs are what’s really driving the problem. Riedl shows that the future deficits projected through 2031 are mostly driven by the enormous funds that will be needed to keep Social Security and Medicare from collapsing.

Image Credit: Brian Riedl, Manhattan Institute

No, it is not the GOP’s 2017 tax cuts that are really driving this problem. Yes, the reductions in the corporate tax rate, income tax cuts, and other changes will likely lead to the federal government collecting less revenue than it otherwise would have. Yet that’s a small price to pay for reducing the corporate tax rate’s harsh burden on workers and more generally letting Americans keep more of their own money. And, as Riedl shows, it’s only a marginal contributor to skyrocketing projected deficits.

Many Americans might see these figures and charts and feel their eyes start to glaze over. The federal government’s dismal finances can certainly seem like an abstract or far-away issue. But unless Congress drastically reins in its spending addiction, Americans will feel the consequences in their everyday lives.

In just a matter of years, the annual interest payments on the debt that taxpayers must finance are set to hit $1 trillion. If interest rates even modestly increase, that sum could skyrocket. Right now, even before all this new debt, taxpayers spend $800 million per day just servicing the interest on the national debt. Further progression down this path will ultimately mean massive increases in taxation.

So, too, we will face slower economic growth and lower paychecks as the debt crowds out private sector investment and drags down the economy.

“Deficit spending extracts resources from the real economy and there is no guarantee that the government uses these resources better than the private sector,” Mercatus Center senior fellow Veronique de Rugy told FEE in a previous interview.

Indeed, many studies show that higher debt leads to lower economic growth—aka, lower income growth for everyday Americans.

“We are likely already paying for the heightened debt levels in the form of lower living standards,” de Rugy said. “And we will continue to suffer if we keep this up.”

What’s more, we continue to court a fiscal crisis in the near-to-medium-term future. According to the Peter J. Peterson Foundation, high levels of federal debt mean a “greater risk of a fiscal crisis” that “could further destabilize the U.S. economy and erode confidence in U.S. currency on an international scale.”

So voters should find the trends exposed by Riedl’s revelations deeply concerning. If the federal government doesn’t get its house in order, it is everyday Americans, not politicians, who will ultimately pay the price.

Click here to check out Brian Riedl’s full chartbook and report.

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This article was published on October 16, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from the Foundation for Economic Education.

 

How the Fed’s Easy Money Spurred Today’s Financial Frenzies

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Though the effective federal funds rate remains less than 0.1 percent, the reaction of the markets and financial press as the ten-year Treasury yield crossed the 1.5 percent threshold near the start of the month reminds us just how fragile our economy’s underlying monetary framework has become over the past two decades. Regularly at a minimum of at least 4 percent in the postwar period, ten-year Treasury yields haven’t crossed that threshold in over a decade and were in steady decline from 1992 onward.

This persistently loose monetary policy forces even the most risk-averse portfolio managers to take on equity premiums previously outside their comfort zone—see J.P. Morgan’s 2021 Long-Term Capital Market Assumptions report. This is because beyond the speculation cheap money facilitates among the most risk tolerant of asset managers, persistently low effective federal funds rates and Treasury yields cause yield compression. That is, long stretches of low interest on supposedly “safe” US Treasury securities force investors to “reach for yield,” a euphemism for taking on a higher risk premium by investing in less certain financial instruments or equities because of the lowered rate of return on safer investments. When the majority of market participants do so, however, this diminishes the returns of those exact assets.

In the bond market, for example, the rush for corporate junk bonds causes their price to rise and their yield to therefore fall, thus pushing their rate and the rate on Treasurys closer together. Under pressure to maintain their profitability and promised returns to expectant clients, fund managers no matter their risk tolerance are all forced by necessity in the same direction. This crisis waiting to happen is magnified when inflation is cause for investor concern, when low-yield securities hand investors a negative yield at year’s end when measured in real dollars.

Today’s enormous equity bubble is in no small part a direct result of this phenomenon. With an average cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio (CAPE) across the three major indexes of almost 40—that is, companies on the three major indexes are trading at an average price of forty times their earnings per share as averaged out over the last ten years—it is little wonder that Fed minutes have become arguably the single most important macroeconomic determiner of equity futures. As anyone who follows the particularly overweight tech sector knows, even a small and brief spike in rates or Treasury yields causes the NASDAQ to tumble.

The story is a familiar one. Looking at the past thirty years, we find Fed policy tinkering first creating and then bursting bubbles: keeping rates too low for too long before aggressively jacking them up. Far from “solving” the ups and downs of the business cycle, the so-called great moderation of the 1990s was a result of Alan Greenspan’s overactive monetary policy, unleashing a torrent of cheap money and facilitating takeovers at any hint of trouble. Whether it was a currency crisis in Mexico, a government debt default in Russia, or even the Y2K scare, the answer was always the same: cheaper central bank liquidity. What followed was the dot-com bust and recession.

Even before the so-called boom in busts, the increase since 1980 in financial crises, currency crises, and bubbles, it was several government policies that kick-started the engine of financial innovation, which is wrongly blamed by many in the press and left-leaning academia for this increased economic instability: first by destroying the existing Bretton Woods monetary system through overspending on welfare programs and war, then by capping interest rates paid on bank deposits at a time when inflation meant depositors were losing money on their deposits, this while banks’ traditional revenue source, thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages, was being simultaneously made unprofitable for the same reason. Thus, institutions, depositors, investors, and borrowers were all but pushed into the uncertain waters of increasingly complex financial innovation.

From jumbo CDs to money market mutual funds, securitized mortgages, and derivatives, financial innovation became a fixture of the US economy, rising from just 4.2 percent of GDP in 1970 to 7.4 percent in 2018. In the end, even the government became totally dependent on these products to help finance its own debt and domestic consumer spending—which itself rose from just over 60 percent in 1970 to nearly 70 percent today.

It was Wall Street that acted as a magnet for dollar holdings abroad, which funded the cheap credit, reckless spending, and risky investing that has become so familiar today. Indeed, the real wonder is that the twin pillars of fiscal and current account deficits holding up the roof have held up as long as they have. How long they will continue to do so is anyone’s guess.

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This article was published on October 15, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

The 2020 Election Wasn’t Stolen, It Was Bought By Mark Zuckerberg

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

The true story of how Mark Zuckerberg privatized the government’s voter registration and vote counting for Democrats in 2020.

During the 2020 election, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spent hundreds of millions of dollars to turn out likely Democratic voters. But this wasn’t traditional political spending. He funded a targeted, private takeover of government election operations by nominally non-partisan — but demonstrably ideological — non-profit organizations.

Analysis conducted by our team demonstrates this money significantly increased Joe Biden’s vote margin in key swing states. This unprecedented merger of public election offices with private resources and personnel is an acute threat to our republic and should be the focus of electoral reform efforts moving forward.

The 2020 election wasn’t stolen — it was likely bought by one of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful men pouring his money through legal loopholes.

Partisans Running Local Election Offices

The Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL) and The Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR) passed a staggering $419.5 million of Zuckerberg’s money into local government elections offices, and it came with strings attached. Every CTCL and CEIR grant spelled out in great detail the conditions under which the grant money was to be used.

This is not a matter of Democrats outspending Republicans. Private funding of election administration was virtually unknown in the American political system before the 2020 election.

Big CTCL and CEIR money had nothing to do with traditional campaign finance, lobbying, or other expenses that are related to increasingly expensive modern elections. It had to do with financing the infiltration of election offices at the city and county level by left-wing activists, and using those offices as a platform to implement preferred administrative practices, voting methods, and data-sharing agreements, as well as to launch intensive outreach campaigns in areas heavy with Democratic voters.

For instance, CTCL/CEIR funded self-described “vote navigators” in Wisconsin to “assist voters, potentially at their front doors, to answer questions, assist in ballot curing … and witness absentee ballot signatures,” and a temporary staffing agency affiliated with Stacey Abrams called “Happy Faces” counting the votes amidst the election-night chaos in Fulton County, Georgia.

CTCL demanded the promotion of universal mail-in voting through suspending election laws, extending deadlines that favored mail-in over in-person voting, greatly expanding opportunities for “ballot curing,” expensive bulk mailings, and other lavish “community outreach” programs that were directed by private activists.

CTCL drove the proliferation of unmonitored private dropboxes (which created major chain of custody issues) and opportunities for novel forms of “mail-in ballot electioneering,” allowed for the submission of numerous questionable post-election-day ballots, and created opportunities for illegal ballot harvesting.

CTCL greatly increased funding for temporary staffing and poll workers, which supported the infiltration of election offices by paid Democratic Party activists, coordinated through a complex web of left-leaning non-profit organizations, social media platforms, and social media election influencers.

Staggering Partisan Spending

The amount of additional money these groups poured into elections offices in Democrat-voting areas was truly staggering. To put it in perspective, federal and state matching funds for COVID-19-related election expenses in 2020 totaled $479.5 million. The CTCL and CEIR money totaled $419.5 million. These two private non-profits were responsible for an 85 percent increase in total additional election funding — and that largess was concentrated in a relatively small number of heavily Democratic municipalities.

Although CTCL and CEIR are chartered as non-partisan 501(c)(3) corporations, our research suggests the $419.5 million of CTCL and CEIR spending that took place in 2020 was highly partisan in its distribution and its effects.

Of the 26 grants CTCL provided to cities and counties in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia that were $1 million or larger, 25 went to areas Biden won in 2020. The only county on this list won by Donald Trump (Brown County, Wisconsin) received about $1.1 million—less than 1.3 percent of the $85.5 million that CTCL provided to these top 26 recipients.

But even in Brown County, Wisconsin, where heavily Democrat Green Bay is located, the funding disparities are glaring. The Wisconsin legislature provided roughly $7 per voter to the city of Green Bay to manage its 2020 elections. Rural counties in Wisconsin received approximately $4 per voter.

The CTCL funds boosted Democratic-voting Green Bay resources to $47 per voter, while most rural areas still had the same $4 per voter. Similar funding disparities occurred near Detroit, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Flint, Dallas, Houston, and other cities that received tens of millions of dollars of CTCL money.

Preliminary analysis shows this partisan targeting of CTCL funding was repeated in battleground states across the country. Our first case study, however, examines the effect of CTCL spending on the 2020 election in Texas.

The figure below shows the counties that received CTCL spending ranked by per-capita CTCL spending in Texas. As can easily be seen, the counties with the highest per-capita levels of CTCL spending were Democratic counties.

It should be noted that Tarrant County, which contains Fort Worth, is listed as a Republican county but flipped Democrat in 2020. The DFW exurban Denton and Collin Counties, which are solidly Republican, are not included here because they received no CTCL funding.

Funding and managing elections have always been a government function, not a private one, and for good reason. Private organizations are not subject to the rules for public employees and institutions — they are not required to hold public hearings, cannot be monitored via open-records requests and other mechanisms of administrative and financial transparency, are not subject to the normal checks and balances of the governmental process, and are not accountable to voters if the public disapproves of their actions.

The practical effect of these massive privately manipulated election-office funding disparities was to create a “shadow” election system with a built-in structural bias that systematically favored Democratic voters over Republican voters. The massive influx of funds essentially created a high-powered, concierge-like get-out-the-vote effort for Biden that took place inside the election system, rather than attempting to influence it from the outside.

We call this the injection of structural bias into the 2020 election, and our analysis shows it likely generated enough additional votes for Biden to secure an Electoral College victory in 2020.

How This Money Affected Texas

Although the magnitude and partisan pattern of CTCL and CEIR spending on its face would suggest their efforts harvested a large number of extra Democratic votes, more proof is needed.

We analyzed the likely effects of CTCL and CEIR spending on Biden’s vote margin in 2020 using publicly available data from government reports combined with widely available voter and demographic data. Specifically, we used Bayesian Additive Regression Trees (BART) to “learn” how changes in key election variables impact the change in Biden’s 2020 vote share.

BART is a machine-learning algorithm that is considered a gold standard in making causal inferences. It enables us to avoid mistaking correlation for causation in our estimations.

For each county, we used 1) two-party Hillary Clinton 2016 vote share, 2) turnout percent in 2016, 3) county share of the total state population, 4) geographic location, measured in terms of longitude and latitude, and 5) per-capita CTCL and CEIR spending, to predict changes in Biden’s two-party 2020 vote margin.

The figure below shows the expected impact of per-capita CTCL spending on Biden’s vote total in Texas, according to our model.

The undulating line shows the amount by which Biden’s vote total is expected to change as CTCL’s per-person spending increases. The actual per-capita level of CTCL spending in Texas, represented by the vertical line, is shown to have narrowed Trump’s Texas margin of victory by about 200,000 votes, which, while significant, was not enough to swing Texas into Biden’s electoral vote column.

To put this figure into perspective, however, Ted Cruz’s margin of victory over Beto O’Rourke in Texas’ 2018 Senate race was only 214,921 votes. It is not inconceivable that Democrats would consider a similar effort, were it to take place in 2024, a small price to pay to oust Cruz from his hotly contested Senate seat.

Did Zuck Bucks Flip Wisconsin and Georgia?

Our preliminary results in Georgia and Wisconsin suggest a similar impact on Biden’s vote margin from CTCL spending. And spending in those states was likely large enough and targeted enough to have shifted them into Biden’s column.

This research and analysis project will culminate in the creation of a counterfactual electoral map based on the combined results of our state-by-state analysis. It will reflect how the election results would have looked after the last legal ballot was counted if CTCL and CEIR did not spend their $419.5 million in 2020.

We have good reason to anticipate that the results of our work will show that CTCL and CEIR’s involvement in the 2020 election gave rise to an election that, while free, was not fair. The 2020 election wasn’t stolen — it was likely bought with money poured through legal loopholes.

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This article was published on October 12, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from The Federalist.

Let’s Go Brandon!

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

From the outset, it should be clear that showing disrespect for the President of the United States is not a good thing.  It might be deserved, but it is a sad commentary on the state of things today that it is so openly expressed.

The Left started this and now their guy is subject to ridicule. I can recall walking near the ASU campus a few years ago and seeing multiple Buck Fush bumper stickers. You likely recall them as well. Since the rise of the New Left in the 1960s, politically active youth on the left side of the political spectrum has circled the drain of political discourse and in the mainstream culture as well. It has incrementally gotten worse over the years. It now has morphed into open bullyings, such as the Left’s shameful behavior toward Arizona Democrat Senator Kyrsten Sinema.

There has been a general decline in public verbiage. Language once reserved for the rare occasion when you might drop an artillery round on your foot is now commonplace among hip comedians, rap artists,  the dialogue in movies, and unfortunately, just normal conversation.

And then we had the torrent of epithets thrown at President Trump. Thus, over the past 20 years or so, as our culture rots further and swearing becomes more mainstream, it is not surprising such name-calling is becoming routine.

I didn’t like it then, and I don’t care for it now even though I appreciate the sentiments.

It has nevertheless become a popular chant now at college football games and other venues. It is both unnerving and satisfying for the crowd to get into a rhythmic rendition of F**K Joe Biden. While richly deserved, it still startles the sensibilities of those of us who once had mothers who would not tolerate such behavior.

Then along came an NBC female sports announcer who inadvertently has captured perfectly the temper of the times. While interviewing the winner of a NASCAR race, the crowd burst into their spontaneous frustration with the current President. If you have seen the video,  it is inescapably clear they are shouting F**K Joe Biden in the background during the post-race interview. And of course, the lady reporter pivots while on the air and says to the winner named Brandon, and to the viewing audience, that the crowd is saying “Let’s Go, Brandon!”

There you have it. An open lie promulgated by the press. We are not supposed to believe our own ears. Just like we are supposed to believe that men can have babies and menstruate, that we can spend trillions that won’t cost anything, and that masks will protect you from Covid. “Let’s Go Brandon” has become a rallying cry for those who detest what Joe Biden and what the Democrats are doing to the country all while being sheltered and protected by the dishonest and corrupt media. It is what happens to a party collapsing in the polls because they chose to lock down the economy causing mass unemployment and supply chain chaos, open the borders, leave Americans behind in Afghanistan, print money and bring back inflation, encouraged hundreds of urban riots and a subsequent crime wave, curtailed our basic freedoms of speech and assembly, and the right to make healthcare decisions. The government that can’t deliver the mail on time instead thinks to change the entire climate of the earth. Americans are witnessing and feeling the frightful synergy of radical ideology (a race into socialism) and gross incompetence and extreme dishonesty of those in power, i.e., the Democrats.

Then, at another racing event, the phrase was issued on television by a young man who looks to be maybe 9 or 10 years of age. The announcer knew the code, but because the expression was otherwise benign, he just looked nervously into the camera. The other kids burst into laughter. That is what is so nice about the expression. Even a kid can say it and not get into trouble but we all know what it means.

The Democrats deserve every ounce of the ridicule now being directed at them. They have been arrogant, sanctimonious, and wrong.

They also demand we believe their many lies, while contrary evidence is obviously before us. We are supposed to embrace their alternate reality and if we don’t, we are bad people.

The phrase “Let’s Go Brandon” has become a quick way of identifying your political tribe in this fractured world. You can say it without being offensive, but everyone on the Right side of the political spectrum gets the joke right away. Somehow, the expression seems to encapsulate all the political idiocy of the day, plus the rank dishonesty of many of our leading politicians and the media. And, you can say it without using the F word.

The video of the 9-year-old immediately went viral and multiple websites have popped up selling T-shirts and hats with the “Let’s Go Brandon” invocation.

I recently stopped at a truck stop to use the restroom. I bumped into an elderly man fumbling with his mask. He took it down and said, ” I can’t figure out now when I am supposed to wear the blank thing.” Someone piped up and said, “Let’s Go Brandon”. The whole place erupted in laughter. Everybody got it and everybody endorsed the sentiment.

The Democrats have overstepped and a not-so-quiet rebellion against them has started. Trying to label those who disagree as political terrorists are making it just that much worse for Democrats. It is evident at school board meetings and among airline pilots. People are sick of governmental edicts, especially if they make no sense. If this sentiment continues to grow, the next election cycle will be a powerful rebuke to their ideas and policies. “Let’s Go Brandon!” will be the rallying cry of 2022.

 

 

Social Security COLA for 2022 Biggest since 1982, But Still Won’t Cover Actual Cost of Living Increases for Many Retirees

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

For retirees, 2021 was a nasty year: Red hot inflation and a stingy COLA. In 2022, they might fall behind more slowly.

 

Among the red-hot inflation data released today was the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), which is used to calculate the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for Social Security benefits. The COLA to be applied to Social Security benefits starting in January 2022 is the average year-over-year percentage increase of CPI-W in the third quarter. And today, the September data was released.

For September, the CPI-W soared by 5.9% year-over-year, after having soared by 5.8% in August and by 6.0% in July. The COLA for 2022 will be the average of those three: 5.9%, the highest since 1982:

A COLA of 5.9% might sound good, and there are hopes that this COLA will allow Social Security benefits to keep up with the actual costs of living, and that may be true for some people, depending on how and where they’re situated, but for many, it won’t be enough, and their actual costs of living will continue to outrun the COLA.

The big issue now is rents, and many Social Security recipients who rent, depending on where they live, already faced double-digit rent increases this year. Then there’s gasoline, which jumped on average 42% year-over-year in September, and utility natural gas which jumped on average 21%. Traveling, now that you have time? The CPI for hotels and motels has jumped by 20% and rental cars by 43%.

And forget buying a vehicle, new or used, because those prices have spiked out of reach for any COLA.

The reason the COLA is still relatively low compared to reality on the ground is that housing costs, which account for nearly one-third of the overall CPI, have been artificially repressed by the calculation method.

The CPI for rent rose only 2.4% year-over-year, while actual rents have soared in many cities by 10% or more, and in some by 20% or more….

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Continue reading this article at Wolf Street.

New Reasons to Dislike Hate Crimes

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Hate crimes always seemed like a stupid idea to me. If you are a Jew and your family member is murdered, do you really care that the murderer is a Jew-hater? It goes the same for Blacks, Gays, or any other group. Personally, I would not care what the murderer’s motivation was; I would want them dead regardless. It is not a stretch to understand that people would use the law to expand the notion of a hate crime. That has once again been proposed making it an even better idea to junk the statute.

Hate crime legislation was first proposed in the 99th Congress which lasted from 1985 through 1986. It finally passed overwhelmingly in the House of Representatives in the 101st Congress in 1989 and then did the same in the U.S. Senate that year. George Bush, the elder, signed it into law that year. Just because it was passed with such large numbers and signed by a Republican president did not make it a smart idea.

It was initially passed to collect and publish data on crimes of race, religion, or ethnicity. In 1997, the categories of sexual orientation, gender or disability were introduced as additional categories. They passed and became law in 2009.

The question of motivation is always open to interpretation. As you may remember, a person went into some facilities that were deemed to have sex workers in them, mostly of Asian heritage. Of course, you must believe all Asians are exactly alike even though they could be in the U.S. from more than a dozen countries. When it became evident that the murderer was more interested in their employment orientation than the native heritage of the people he murdered, the press adjusted their storyline to question whether there was now a new category of hate crimes — against sex workers.

“Hate crime legislation has never been about punishing people for their beliefs or speech. Rather, it is about punishing people for their criminal actions.” That is a quote from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) website. Of course, it is about punishing people for their thoughts or words; otherwise, there would not be enhanced penalties for violent crimes because it is perceived that the person who perpetrated the crime does not like Jews or Blacks, or Gays. The hate comes specifically from what they said or what they have been shown to believe. Very few hate crimes have people writing on the chest of the victim that the only good Jew (Black or Gay) is a dead Jew (Black or Gay).

“There is a troubling new expansion of antiscience aggression in the United States. It’s arising from far-right extremism, including some elected members of the US Congress and conservative news outlets that target prominent biological scientists fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.”

That statement by Peter Hotez, MD, Ph.D., Dean National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor University, was made in an article in the Public Library of Science Biology Journal. He calls for hate crime protection for scientists — especially Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Though the article does not cite any physical threats made against various scientists, it does cite where people have questioned their decisions and findings. With the Left, including President Biden, constantly telling us we must listen to the scientists and criticizing anyone who dares to question the advice of the anointed, it does seem it was the logical next step to make it illegal to question “scientific authorities.”

To further justify the rationale of his lofty argument, Professor Hotez compares the people who denounce scientists to you guessed it — Nazis. For good stead, he not only names Hitler, but Mussolini, and throws in Marxists to be inclusive. But there is no mention of the erratic and inconsistent advice offered by the scientists for the past two years; just that one is evil for questioning them.

You are saying to yourself that this idea is from one person in one journal. Don’t bet against the proposal moving forward. This is how Critical Race Theory, ballot harvesting, and other harebrained ideas have moved forward into the mainstream and adopted as the gospel by the Left. After all, that is how we got the idea of hate crimes in the first place. On many college campuses today one can be accused of spewing hate speech by skipping over trigger warnings.

Jumping on the hate crime bandwagon is the National School Boards Association. The organization sent a letter to President Biden asking for federalizing enforcement against parents protesting the actions of school boards across the country. That is despite little to no acts of physical violence against school board members and certainly no cases of parents protesting outside of elected school board members’ homes or following them into bathroom stalls. In the letter they stated, “As these acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials have increased, the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.” It had to come, parents protesting policies regarding the education of their children taken by school boards at public schools is now proposed to be a hate crime.

Is it far behind to consider it a hate crime to criticize the President? Unless, of course, the President is a Republican.

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This article was published on October 10, 2021, in FlashReport, and is reproduced with permission from the author.

A Reflection on Indigenous Peoples Day

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

There’s a much better name for the day, one that captures the true spirit of today’s America

October 11 was Indigenous Peoples Day. It used to be called Columbus Day before it became woke.

Unlike some of my fellow Italians, I don’t have heartburn over the demise of Columbus Day. However, the silly wokeness behind the name change does have me chewing Zantac tablets like they’re M&Ms.

Columbus Day never connected with me for two reasons.

First, Italy didn’t become a nation-state until 1861, or 369 years after Columbus landed in the Caribbean. Therefore, he couldn’t have been Italian. Actually, he was born in the Republic of Genoa, which is famous for Genoa salami. It is not known if he brought salami with him on his voyage.

Second, Columbus sailed on behalf of Spain, or more specifically, on behalf of Hispanics. Hispanics are the people who brought slaves to the present-day Americas before the English did, brought a lot more of them than the English (and Dutch) did and inflicted horrible cruelties on not only African slaves but indigenous peoples.

Hispanic cruelties have been conveniently forgotten during National Hispanic American Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

Likewise, the horrible cruelties inflicted by indigenous peoples on other indigenous peoples have been conveniently forgotten in the naming of Indigenous Peoples Day. It’s as if the Aztecs, Comanche, Sioux, and scores of other indigenous peoples were humanists instead of butchers.

Not forgotten, however, are the cruelties inflicted by so-called white people on slaves and indigenous peoples.

That history should be told, and in fact is told in many of the history books in my personal library. To wit, I just finished a history of Cuba that details what American (and English and Spanish) imperialism and slave-trading had inflicted on the island. Now I’m reading a history of the failure of Reconstruction due to President Andrew Johnson’s racism, written from the perspective of the brilliant African American, Frederick Douglass.

On the other hand, it’s a corruption of history bordering on propaganda (agitprop?) for wokes to whitewash the evil deeds of “non-whites” but not whites, especially when the whitewashing is done for reasons of politics or racial pandering.

“Non-whites” is in quotes because some of the people considered non-white by wokes are actually very white, whiter than this swarthy Italian. Many Hispanics, for example, are as white as Elizabeth Warren or Mitt Romney, especially those who are descendants of the Spanish aristocracy and still hold positions of privilege and power in much of Latin America.

In a further misuse of language for political purposes, the hackneyed label of “person of color” is affixed willy-nilly to Hispanics and even Asians.

Does China President Xi look like a person of color? How about professional golfer Sergio Garcia?

Once the equal rights movement morphed into equal results and expanded beyond African Americans and Native Americans to ersatz races, it was doomed to degenerate into absurdities.

An example is the misuse of the word “minority” to describe all non-whites, including those with considerable wealth, privilege and political power, such as East Indians, who rank at the top in household income in the U.S. At the same time, all so-called whites are seen as privileged, as if the descendants of John D. Rockefeller are no different from a coal miner in W. Virginia.

An exception to the convention is made for white Hispanics, who are considered minorities even though they are white.

Is your head spinning?

By the way, what color is your spinning head? It doesn’t matter to me but does matter to wokes. My color is Sherwin-Williams Cool Beige, 9086.

The misuse of the word “minority” becomes even more confusing in light of the fact that there are so many ethnocultural groups in the United States that none of them is in the majority, statistically speaking. Every ethnocultural group is a minority group, including the scores of groups that are classified as white. For example, the Walloons are both white and minorities. The same for Iranians. Neither of the groups is privileged.

Are you still with me?

Perhaps Indigenous Peoples Day should be renamed Asian Day, given that Asians crossed a land bridge in the Bering Sea and populated what had been an uninhabited continent, not counting the few Polynesians who might have made it across the Pacific before the Asians arrived.

On second thought, that’s a bad idea, in view of the fact that certain empires, nations, and peoples of Asia have been guilty throughout history of slavery, genocide, oppression, injustice, and racism.

What is needed instead is a name that captures the spirit of America today, especially the doublespeak that passes for wokeness. A perfect choice would be Orwell Day.

Groceries Feed Gains in the Everyday Price Index in September

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

The AIER Everyday Price Index increased by 0.6 percent in September, the tenth consecutive month of gain.  Over the last 10 months, the monthly increases have been between 0.4 percent and 1.2 percent, putting the 10-month gain at 7.5 percent or an annualized pace of 9.1 percent. Including the two months prior to the run of increases, the 12-month gain is 7.2 percent, the fastest pace since September 2008.

Food at home (a.k.a. groceries) was the largest contributor to the increase in the Everyday Price Index in September, contributing 24 basis points to the gain. Combined with a 10 basis-point contribution from food away from home (a.k.a.) restaurants, food categories added 34 basis points or about 60 percent of the total monthly rise. Household energy was the other significant contributor to the September increase, adding 11 basis points while motor fuel added 4 basis points.  Combined food and energy categories accounted for 90 percent of the monthly gain in September.

The Everyday Price Index including apparel, a broader measure that includes clothing and shoes, rose 0.7 percent, also the tenth consecutive increase. Over the past year, the Everyday Price Index including apparel is up 6.9 percent, the fifth month in a row above 6 percent. Apparel prices jumped 1.8 percent on a not-seasonally-adjusted basis in September. Apparel prices tend to be volatile on a month-to-month basis, posting six increases and six decreases ranging from -2.2 percent to 2.9 percent over the last 12 months. From a year ago, apparel prices are up 3.4 percent.

The Consumer Price Index, which includes everyday purchases as well as infrequently purchased, big-ticket items and contractually fixed items, rose 0.3 percent on a not-seasonally-adjusted basis in September. Over the past year, the Consumer Price Index is up 5.4 percent.

The Consumer Price Index excluding food and energy rose 0.1 percent for the month (not seasonally adjusted) while the 12-month change came in at 4.0 percent. The 12-month change in the core CPI was just 1.3 percent in February.

After seasonal adjustment, the CPI rose 0.4 percent in September while the core increased 0.2 percent for the month. Within the core, core goods prices were up 0.2 percent in September and are up 7.3 percent from a year ago while core services prices were up 0.2 percent for the month and are up 2.9 percent from a year ago.

Among the notable increases in the core goods category were new vehicles (up 1.3 percent in September and 8.7 percent from a year ago) and household furnishings and supplies (up 1.3 percent for the month and 4.8 percent from a year ago).

Among core services, gainers include motor vehicle insurance (up 2.1 percent and 4.8 percent from a year ago) and owners’ equivalent rent (a.k.a. housing, up 0.4 percent and 2.9 percent from a year ago), while decliners include public transportation (-5.0 percent), lodging away from home (-0.6 percent but up 17.5 percent from a year ago), and auto rentals (-2.9 percent but still up 42.9 percent from a year ago).

Prices for many goods and services in the economy remain distorted by lingering effects from government restrictions on consumers and businesses including shortages, logistical and supply chain issues, and labor problems. As activity returns to normal, supply and demand will adapt and likely lead to slower price increases, but it may take some time before the economy completely returns to normal functioning. Nevertheless, a 1970s-style upward price spiral remains unlikely.

Note: The Everyday Price Index for August is based on incomplete data due to restrictions on data collection by Bureau of Labor Statistics personnel because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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This article was published on October 13, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from AIER, American Institute for Economic Research.