A Very Unsettling Thanksgiving

For the first time in recent memory we will be unable to visit our son and his family in Hawaii for Thanksgiving. The quarantine requirements have been lifted if we take and get a negative result on a COVID test. (Something like 90% of the positive results on such tests are false positives.) But it’s a very long flight during which we’d have to be masked in flight and at the airports and it’s more than we can endure. (Even if we assumed the masks were efficacious, which I don’t think they are -- indeed, I think they are counterproductive -- we find them physically uncomfortable.)

Most of us look forward to the holiday spent with family and friends and sharing traditional foods of the season. The autocratic governors in a number of states -- most of whom were caught violating their own lockdown orders when it suited them -- have mandated strict limits on such communal dining. It is doubtful that law enforcement will help them with their latest autocratic overreach. Indeed, several sheriffs have refused outright. I suppose in California if you hang a sign saying “French Laundry” on your door it will serve as a sort of lamb’s blood talisman on your lintels and law enforcement will pass you by. In other states with Democrat governors and anti-Thanksgiving dictates, “Peaceful protest” signs will work as well.

After months of perfectly arbitrary COVID restrictions with claimed but unproven scientific bases, the nation is divided between those whose lives and livelihoods have been upended and want to march on state capitals with pitchforks and sharpened pikes and those who are terrified out of their wits by a virus now largely treatable in those without underlying health problems. The media has uniformly continued its pattern of exaggerating health risks

If it doesn’t involve 11 hours of travel while masked and you want to be with your family, then go. Enjoy it. What’s the point of foregoing living to save yourself from a minor risk of  illness?

And then to make things even more unsettling, there’s the disputed presidential election. At this point, there are so many angles to the story and so many lawsuits, I would only wreck your holiday plans by trying to describe them all and asking you to wend your way through the litigation labyrinth. Others here  have been following the details all this week and I urge you to read those reports if you want more details. Meaning in History summarized the most detailed press account Sidney Powell made this week. While we wait for more litigation details, some general observations seem warranted.

I agree with David Catron that a Biden victory seems implausible in an honest election.  

In the end, to accept Joe Biden as our legitimate Chief Executive, we must believe the voters hammered the Democrats in congressional, state, and local elections, yet decided to elect the “leader” of their party president. We must believe that he dramatically underperformed among minority voters, yet received 10 million more votes than Barack Obama. We must believe that virtually all of the reliable election bellwethers were wrong. We must believe that all of the elections in the swing states were conducted honestly and that the Venezuelan software used to tabulate the votes was secure. All of this beggars belief. Joe Biden may be inaugurated in January, but he certainly wasn’t elected president.

And I find it rather amazing that those who reject the claims that the election machinery (augmenting the usual old-time Democratic fraud in the cities they have destroyed) vulnerabilities were exploited to manipulate the results, ignore that not very long ago the experts were warning of this very thing:

While the security experts, who range in employment from higher education to private companies, claim that none of the “technical vulnerabilities have actually been exploited to alter the outcome of any US election,” more than half of the signatories signed a letter to Congress in June 2017 urging senators and representatives to take action to “minimize election security risks” and sounding the alarm to preserve voter integrity by addressing problems with electronic machines at U.S. polling stations.  (snip)

Lastly, the experts advocate for “robust statistical post-election audits before certification of final results in federal elections,” relying on the knowledge and assistance of technical experts to help complete them. This process and its results, the 2017 letter states, should be publicized.

We have seen just a few of the many affidavits the Trump Team has gathered and plans to file as early as this week, but this one should give you a flavor of how significant the evidence is.  It is by Russell James Ramsland, Jr., the expert who persuaded Texas not to buy the Dominion machines used in the disputed states’ balloting.  He describes the vulnerabilities of the system he and his colleagues observed, as did Dr. Andrew Appel, Princeton Professor of Computer Science, and after explaining them concludes:

Based on the significant anomalies and red flags that we  have observed, we believe there is a significant probability that election results have been manipulated within the Dominion/Premier System in Michigan.

The National Pulse explains with graphs one way such manipulation occurs -- “stuffing the tail.” 

The most startling revelation this week was Sidney Powell’s acknowledgement that the U.S. Army seized in Frankfurt the servers of Scytl (the election software company which, it is claimed, enabled the vote manipulations). The precise way in which this was done, and on whose orders, remains obscure. She has made reference in one tweet to U.S. Code: Title 50. WAR AND NATIONAL DEFENSE. This suggests that covert actions under National Security Emergency powers are underway. I presume the material seized contains both classified and unclassified material which is presently being sorted out for release.

Neither I nor anyone outside the Executive Branch or the Trump legal team is likely to have more information about the justification for the seizure or the present whereabouts of the material though a reasonable guess is FBI headquarters in Quantico, Virginia, or at Defense Intelligence Agency's Headquarters in Anacostia.

That this serious business is underlined by Powell, who says a number of witnesses will need to be placed under the witness protection of the federal government.

I think that among rational people of good intent, the idea that we must have all the evidence and this matter resolved immediately stems from the psychological unease that they feel dealing with uncertainty. Of course we’ve been down this road before. In the Jefferson-Burr battle in 1800 it took Congress 36 votes to decide Jefferson was the winner. More recently, the nation sweated 37 days after Al Gore withdrew his concession and we watched battles over hanging chads and butterfly ballots.

It’s just a thought, but perhaps for once, Congress and state legislatures could get serious about electoral security. In the meantime, relax and enjoy Thanksgiving.

Correction: 36 votes, not 37, to choose Jefferson

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