Was the 2020 Election Stolen?

Fraud

I’ve talked with friends who sincerely believe that this past election was stolen.

I wrote this post up in the hopes it serves as a reference for friends who want to discuss Election Fraud — the most proximate cause of January 6 Capitol Hill Riot.

Under Oath
Under Oath

1) Not Under Oath

The first thing you have to do is distinguish between different types of evidence.

Rudolf Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and others made many claims during press conferences but many of the claims and evidence provided were not presented in a court of law where testimony would need to be made under oath and subject to cross-examination.

Sidney Powell

When Sidney Powell did make claims in court, her cases fell apart.

Sidney Powell
Sidney Powell

Sidney Powell describes on source code-named “Spyder” in court filings as a former “Military Intelligence expert and filed a claim that he was an expert witness:

I was an electronic intelligence analyst under 305th Military Intelligence with experience gathering SAM missile system electronic intelligence. I have extensive experience as a white hat hacker used by some of the top election specialists in the world.

But upon further scrutiny, it was revealed that her “expert” never completed his entry-level training for the 305th Military Intelligence Battalion over 15 years ago.

He served in the Army for almost 10 years, but worked as an auto mechanic.

Merit admits that he hasn’t read the document carefully, even though he swore that his name was true.

Sidney Powell has not won a single election-fraud-related court case, but does that really matter to her if her books and other merchandise sell well?

I Cannot Tell a Lie
I Cannot Tell a Lie

2) A lie can travel around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes:

The claims of fraud were widely circulated on Fox News and Social Networks but the retractions didn’t get as much attention.

3) Tucker Carlson says he’s open to evidence of UFOs, but Sidney Powell hasn’t provided any evidence to back her claims.

Tucker Carlson
Tucker Carlson

If you go to ~ minute 6 of Tucker’s nightly video address, he critiques Sidney Powell for her refusal to provide him with any evidence.

Tucker said that he is more open to diverse evidence than most television shows, even evidence of UFOs.

4) Tucker offered Sidney Powell a week’s worth of Prime-time coverage if she would first provide evidence.

If Powell was legit, she should jump at the chance to share her evidence with the Fox News audience; and of course a blockbuster scoop like Powell’s would be a big ratings win for Fox. Assuming the material is true, this would have been a win-win.

5) If Tucker Carlson is lying about his offer, all Sidney Powell would have to do is post evidence to Twitter and call his bluff, asking him to make good on his earlier offer of Prime-time coverage.

It seems implausible that Powell wouldn’t take Tucker up on his offer because Tucker was lying about the offer.  If this was a bluff, and Tucker was actually unwilling to have her on his show, Powell easily could have called the bluff.

All Powell would have needed to do is post evidence on Twitter and publicly asked Tucker to make good on his earlier invitation.

6) People unconsciously accept a lie as true if repeated often enough.

  • If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it is true.
  • If you want people to believe something, repeat it often.
  • Whether it is true or false, lies become perceived as truth with repeated exposure.   🙂

7) A Public Relations Case for “Fraud”, not a Legal one

Trump, Powell, and Giuliani repeatedly claimed fraud in the their public statements, but failed to back it up in the courts, making their campaign more of a public relations campaign than a legal one.

Rudolph Giuliani
Rudolph Giuliani
Foto: Alan Santos/PR
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

8) Giuliani disputed minor rules in court, but didn’t allege Fraud.

It is puzzling that Giuliani brought such minor claims in his Pennsylvania lawsuits. He sued people and counties that weren’t even responsible for the actions he was protesting.  And in a case involving Lancaster County (where I live) the actions to throw out ballots that he was protesting likely helped Trump.

  • In one case he complained that voters in Lancaster County hadn’t been allowed to correct mistakes they made in their mail-in ballots. Voters in Lancaster County who had forgotten to put a secrecy envelope around the envelope containing their ballot had their ballots rejected. But this isn’t an example of widespread fraud. It’s and example of a minor way in which Lancaster County handled mail-in ballots that most likely helped the Trump campaign because Biden voters were disproportionally likely to vote by mail.  Disqualifying mail-in ballots, rather than allowing them to be fixed, like Lancaster County did, most likely helped Republicans because mailin voters were more likely to vote Democratic.  Though a few Republicans were caught up in the fray, the actions Lancaster County took likely helped Republicans.
  • My view is that Giuliani was just trying to file lawsuits to “make some noise“, whether or not they showed evidence of substantial fraud.

It is even more puzzling that he admitted that he wasn’t alleging “fraud”.

Though the campaign has made a number of general allegations about voter fraud and alleged improprieties with how Pennsylvania’s votes were counted, the campaign did not provide any specific evidence of voter fraud in the lawsuit, and Giuliani specifically said during a hearing, “This is not a fraud case.”

Justice is blind
Justice is blind
Mitalivshanbhag1810338
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license

9) Trump’s legal team filed at least 60 lawsuits and lost all but 1.

The one case that they did win didn’t gain them any votes, only moving their election observers from 12 feet to 6ft 1

10) Claim: Trump’s poll watchers were denied access to observe the election counting.

“In Pennsylvania, Democrats have gone to the state Supreme Court to try and ban our election observers,” Trump declared Thursday evening, adding, “They don’t want anybody watching them as they count the ballots.”

This is untrue, as there is zero evidence of Democrats attempting to ban Republican representatives from observing the counting of votes.

The president is seemingly referring to a case adjudicated Thursday morning in which the Trump campaign was requesting closer observation of the ballot canvassing process in Pennsylvania, but legitimate poll watchers were never systemically barred from any location.

Later in the article:

U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond (a President George W. Bush appointee) denied the request after Trump’s lawyers admitted that observers had been admitted to the facility.

Key Background:

During his press conference Thursday, Trump also claimed that his campaign had been “denied access to observe any counting in Detroit.” Referencing the TCF Center in downtown Detroit, Trump alleged, “one major hub” had “covered up the windows with large pieces of cardboard” so they could “protect, and block, the counting area. They didn’t want anybody seeing the counting.” While cardboard was placed over portions of the glass because workers inside claimed they felt intimidated by the protesters gathered outside, at least 134 Republican poll challengers were already inside the vote-counting area. (There were 134 counting boards set up, and each party was allowed one poll watcher per board.) On Wednesday, according to the Detroit Free Press, both Democratic and Republican poll watchers were prohibited from entering the center because the number of challengers already observing the process had reached a mandated capacity related to the coronavirus pandemic. By Wednesday afternoon, more than 225 Republican poll watchers were “roaming the room and observing the process—almost double the number of challengers who were supposed to be there.”

Dominion Voting Systems
Dominion Voting Systems

11) Claim: Dominion Machines swapped votes

The claim about Dominion voting machines is the only claim I’ve heard that could have had a big enough impact to be significant if the facts were true.

  • As I mentioned in a previous point, it is one thing to make a claim in a press release or television appearance and another thing to present your evidence in court. Point #1 shows that Sidney Powell based her claims on unreliable sources when she did argue her point in court.
  • Point # 3, 4, and 5 show that she was unwilling to provide any evidence to Tucker Carlson, even with the offer of a week’s worth of primetime coverage.
  • Rudolf Giuliani and the Trump campaign backed away from her claims.
  • You don’t need to distract yourself with all the talk about the electronic voting systems being hacked if you pay attention to the paper ballots that are printed when the voters make their choices.
Paper Ballots
An electronic voting machines that produces a paper receipt from Election Services

The Bottom Line: Paper Ballot Audit

Every vote using Dominion machines was printed on a paper ballot.

We don’t have to rely on the electronic machine tally. We can just count the paper ballots which the voter printed when they made their choices.

The paper ballot count matched the electronic count in Georgia to within a margin of error of:

  • 0.0099% ( or 496 votes out of 5 million)

They audited the Georgia results 3 times.

12) State Assemblies heard expert testimony that corroborated the Dominion claim

My cousin from Canada sent me a couple emails about the election. One was about Sidney Powell and another was about an impression that Sidney Powell’s evidence was being presented to the Arizona state legislature. (i.e. “under oath”)

I had told my cousin that there is a difference between press conferences and events where the statements are make under oath and subject to cross examination.

He sent me a link to a video that purported to be a session of the Arizona Legislature. It was not.

It was basically a press conference with some members of the Arizona Legislature designed to look like a meeting of the legislature. The video was titled “LIVE: Arizona State Legislature Holds Public Hearing on 2020 Election” and it got nearly 2 million views.

  • This was grossly misleading:
  • It was not an official hearing
  • Witnesses were not under oath.
  • They had no opposition. Everyone there agreed with the party line.
  • There was no cross-examination.
  • The event was held at a hotel, rather in the state legislature.
  • This was a glorified press conference dressed up as a quasi-official forum

2 million people viewed this video and I think it likely that many were misinformed.

Exhibition Match
Exhibition Match

13) Giuliani held many of these quasi-official events. If anything was rigged, it was these fake “hearings”

Giuliani held many events like this around the county giving the impression that these were official events with the traditional standards of a hearing.

Giuliani is like the boxing promoter who goes around the country putting on a public show, boasting about how great his boxer is and holding exhibition matches with friendly opponents.

Many of his television viewers don’t realize that the event is not a real adversarial event.

His record against any real opponent is 1-59, and that one case he won isn’t anything to brag about.

14) Those alleging fraud have not been able to back up their claims

Maybe they’ll listen to Lindsay Graham?

“They said there’s 66,000 people in Georgia under 18 voted. How many people believe that? I asked, “Give me 10,” and hadn’t got one. They said 8,000 felons in prison in Arizona voted. Give me 10. I hadn’t got one… There’s problems in every election. I don’t buy this. Enough’s enough. We’ve got to end it.”

Federalist Society logo
Federalist Society

14) The 59 court losses have been fairly judged.

If the President had actually been the victim of election fraud on the scale we’ve never seen, you would expect that judges appointed by other Republicans and judges Trump himself appointed to agree with him that substantial fraud occurred at least once.

But Bibas, 51, is not just another judge on another court. He is a Trump appointee on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, with jurisdiction over Pennsylvania and two other states. A former member of the conservative Federalist Society, Bibas was appointed in 2017, one of 53 appellate judges the president has put on the federal bench since he took office, more than any other president since Jimmy Carter.

Bibas is not the only Republican-appointed federal judge to dismiss Trump’s claims of rampant voting fraud and tabulation irregularities. Steven Grimberg of the Northern District of Georgia and several other Republican-appointed judges, have ruled against the president.

ESS Election Systems
ESS Election Systems

15) Dominion Machines in were not even used in Philadelphia.

Dominon voter machines could not have been used to commit fraud in Philadlephia if they were not used there.

Philadelphia used machines purchased from a competitor to Dominion, Election Systems Software of Omaha, Nebraska.

You can read more about this in an earlier post I wrote.

Why file the Bookvar case involving a minor dispute over 2 votes (one from Lancaster County) that didn’t even involve fraud if you’re not even filing a case allaging a much larger fraud in Philadelphia involving Dominion machines?

If Philadelphia was really lying about not using Dominion machines it should be very easy to prove.

16) Claim: They stopped counting the votes late in the evening.

It is common for some counties to stop counting late in the night.

Is the fact that many CVS stores are scheduled to close at the time suspicious?

Catch-22
Catch-22

17) Claim: There were suspicious late night ballot “dumps”

If mailin ballots are being counted through the night, you’d expect them to report the results when they finish a batch.

Mail-in ballots had a higher percentage of Biden votes because Trump discouraged his voters from voting by mail and Biden voters who  were cautious about Covid were more likely to vote by mail.  I know the Epic Times treats this as an unexplained event, but it is not.  There is nothing suspicious about it.

Anyone who knows much about the election would not be surprised when the counties that chose to continue counting mail-in ballots returned ballot totals early in the morning.

This complaint also seems to be a catch-22. Your damned if you stop counting and you’re damned if you continue counting.

18) Claim: Many of these late night dumps heavily favored Biden.

Everyone knew that the mail-in ballots would trend Democratic and the in-person votes trend Republican. This was because the Democrats were more cautious about Covid-19 and Trump discouraged Republicans from voting by mail

It should be no surprise that the mail-in votes tilted Democratic.

Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania

19) It is suspicious that Pennsylvania Mail-in Votes came in several days after election day.

Republicans could have allowed the Pennsylvania mail-in ballots to be counted earlier.

States like Florida were able to report there results election night because their election rules allow the counting of mailing ballots to begin before election day.  2

Pennsylvania Republicans resisted legislation which would have allowed the counting of mail-in ballots before election day..

This had the advantage for Republicans that the vote tally would favor Republicans early, with Democrats only catching up as the mail-in ballots were counted.

Here’s a report from Oct 26 that described the Pennsylvania’s situation as a known issue:

The underlying problem is a state law barring election officials from even starting to process, let alone count, mail-in ballots before Election Day. County election officials have begged the legislature to allow them before Nov. 3 to begin sorting and verifying mail-in ballots. As it is, they expect to spend much of Election Day opening envelopes, break to tally results from in-person voting, then get back to counting absentee votes. Statements from state officials that most votes will be counted by the weekend after Election Day are not reassuring, given that Mr. Trump has already indicated he will spin reporting delays as evidence of fraud.

20) There was a one in quadrillion chance that Biden won all the swing states that he did.

This ridiculous claim was filed by the Texas attorney general’s Supreme Court filing and it rests on a statistical calculation that has no basis in reality.

To summarize:

a) In the 2016 election, which had much lower mail-in voting, votes for Republicans and Democrats were much more evenly distributed.

b) In the 2020 election, in which there is record high mail-in voting, and in which Democrats are much more likely to vote by mail and Republicans in person, the results are less randomly distributed.

Pretend you don’t know about the mail-in voting that causes the vote distribution to vary and act surprised that mailin ballots caused the distribution of votes to be different.

Calculate a naive statistical calculation about the likelihood that a large chunk of votes would trend in a partisan manner.

Tombstone
Did dead people vote?

21) Claim: It is easy to vote under a dead person’s name

a) Absentee Ballots are not sent out unless they were requested.
b) Applications for ballots are sent out only to registered voters.
b) You have to apply for a ballot using a person’s Social Security Number or Driver’s License Number
c) You have to have access to their postal mailbox on the day the ballot arrives.
d) You have to lie when the system responds that the person is already dead and sign a letter saying that they are still alive.
e) You have to hope that the bipartisan group of people at your polling place (which includes local Republican citizens) will blindly accept your application to override the system and vote under the name of someone in their community who has died and was flagged as dead by the system.
f) You have to be willing to spend up to 19 years in prison if you get caught
g) There are many Republicans who would love to prosecute a Democrat for voter fraud

22) There are hundreds of accusations of dead people voting every year.

The small number of people who have tried got caught:

a) In Pennsylvania, Bruce Bartman, a 70-year-old from Delaware County, Pennsylvania, has been charged with voter fraud.
b) He pretended to be his dead mom to vote for President Donald Trump in the 2020 election and registered his dead mother-in-law to vote, prosecutors said
"Dead Voter" is Still Alive
“Dead Voter” is Still Alive!

Majority of “Dead Voters” still Alive.

e) Many of those allegedly dead voters were mistakenly marked as “dead”

Two People with the Same Name and Birth Year

  • In a country as big as the US, you are going to find false matches – somebody born in January 1940 voted in Michigan in the election, and there was somebody born somewhere else in the US in January 1940 who has the same name and is now dead. This will happen a lot in a country as big as the US (328 million people), and particularly with common names.

Son with Same Name and Address as Deceased Father

f) Some of the “dead voters” were actually legal voters with the same name and address as the deceased person, such as sons with the same name as their father who were living at the same address and who were using a ballot meant for their father (sr.) instead of (jr.).
g) There are many Republicans who would like to catch Democrats who are voting using a dead person’s identity.
h) Donald Trump’s campaign raised over $1 billion dollars. His campaign has the resources and interest in catching dead voters and filing election lawsuits.
i) Proving that a dead person has voted should be easy if it is so widespread.
j) Donald Trump filed at least 60 election lawsuits, but it has not won a single case proving that a significant number of dead people voted for Biden.
k) You would think that among all the Republicans that wanted Trump to win, one of them would have been able to supply him with the evidence that he would need to win a single voter fraud court case.
l) Bruce Bartman, the Pennsylvania voter who committed voter fraud, did not vote for Biden.

23) Claim: People voted in the Arizona election who didn’t live there.

Amy Rose, who votes absentee and claims Henderson, Nevada as her home, with her son. (Courtesy Photo)
Amy Rose, who votes absentee and claims Henderson, Nevada as her home, with her son. (Courtesy Photo)

Anyone who has actually been involved in elections knows that every year people who live out of state vote.

These include military members, missionaries, Americans doing business in other countries. There are a lot of different reasons why a citizen would legally be allowed to vote in a state where they do not live. My brother is an American citizen living in Canada and he legally cast his vote in the Pennsylvania election because that is where he previously resided.

Here’s an article published in the Military Times about how military spouse votes were challenged in Nevada:

To at least one military spouse whose residences of Henderson, Nevada, and Davis, California, are listed — with their specific nine-digit ZIP codes (exact addresses are not included) — finding herself and her husband, an Air Force major, on the list was “shocking.”
To see my integrity challenged, along with other members of the military to be challenged in this way, it is a shock. And to be potentially disenfranchised because of these actions, that’s not OK,” said Amy Rose, who votes absentee and claims Henderson as her home while the couple is stationed in California.

Rose found her locations on the list after a copy of the letter, sent by Weir Law Group on behalf of the Trump campaign, as well as the list, were published on Twitter by Riley Snyder, a reporter with the Nevada Independent.

The list contains two people who lived in Henderson, Nevada, and now live in Davis, California, in the 95618 zip code, with the 6104 addition — the code that indicates a specific delivery route belonging to the couple.

“We put two and two together and realized, ‘Yeah, Wow.’ It’s shocking to see ourselves there,” Rose said.

A lot of the claims you hear from the Trump campaign that sounded glaring, fall apart under scrutiny, but the truth has a hard time catching up with the lies. ( But I shouldn’t use the word “lies” because I’m not sure that in every instance the Trump campaign understood what the truth was.)

24) If the Election Fraud was so big, the evidence should be plentiful.

President Trump has argued that he won in a landslide, despite results that suggest that he lost the popular vote by ~7 million votes. If he is arguing that he won by as much as he lost, he’s got to show a swing of ~14 million votes.

Given how much fraud President Trump is alleging, you would think proving fraud should be easy.

He should not be making claims about dead people, out of state voting, or minor rule discrepancies.

And he should be providing evidence.

25) Why only fraud in the Presidential Race?

The first thing is to ask yourself is “Which election?

  • There were elections a the local level, for County Commissioner.
  • There were elections at the State Level for Congresspeople and Senators.
  • There were elections at the National Level for Congresspeople and Senators.

If there was election fraud, it appears as the people who committed fraud forgot to change the results for any of these other races because I don’t hear about widespread fraud in these races. In fact, Republicans did well in many of the down ballot races, picking up seats at the Federal level in Congress and only later losing the Senate.

If someone were to commit fraud, why would they go to the trouble of filling out ballots in a way which would reduce Democrat’s majority in Congress and force them to win both seats in the Georgia runoff, just too have the prospects of having the weakest possible Senate majority (50-50)?

It just doesn’t make sense.


  1. fact check

  2. I don’t know the details of when they start, and whether it is the actual counting or just taking out of the envelopes and verifying the ballot’s authenticity.

Did Philadelphia Use Dominion Voting Machines in the 2020 Election?

ExprerssVote Voting Machine

Philadelphia City Hall
Philadelphia City Hall


My friend Dale heard rumors that President Trump would have won Pennsylvania if Dominion Voter Machines had not swapped votes for Joe Biden in Philadelphia.    I researched the claims and found them to be unfounded:

No, Philadelphia did not use Dominion Voting Systems in 2020.

CLAIM: Video provides data-supported evidence that the election technology firm Dominion Voting Systems committed election fraud by transferring vote ratios between precincts in Philadelphia.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Dominion technology isn’t used in Philadelphia’s elections, so the company had no part in tabulating votes there. Despite a flurry of false claims about election results in battleground states like Pennsylvania, there’s no evidence of widespread fraud or irregularities in the 2020 election.

THE FACTS: A video claiming to be a “smoking gun” exposing Dominion’s election fraud in Philadelphia is easily debunked: Pennsylvania’s largest city doesn’t even use Dominion software in its elections.

That’s according to city election commission spokesman Nick Custodio, who confirmed to The Associated Press in an email that Philadelphia’s voting system vendor is the Omaha, Nebraska-based Election Systems and Software LLC.

It is also confirmed by Dominion, which explains among a series of fact-checks on its website that it does not “even operate in some of the contested districts, including Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Dane County, WI.”

 

But how can we trust the city of Philadelphia to tell the truth?

ExprerssVote Voting Machine
ESS ExprerssVote Voting Machine

You don’t have to trust the city. Philadelphia’s purchase of  machines from ESS, a competitor to Dominion, was widely publicized at the time.

Summary:

  • Machines were purchased from a competitor, Election Systems Software of Omaha, Nebraska.
  • The purchase of these machines was widely publicized at the time.
  • One of the requirements of the contract was that the new machines produce a paper audit trail that can be compared with the electronic tally.

1) Why were new machines purchased?

In 2016, the election results were contested: Four in five Pennsylvania voters use machines that lack an auditable paper trial.

2016 Green Party candidate sued Pennsylvania because she “accused Pennsylvania of violating the constitutional rights of voters because its voting machines were susceptible to hacking and barriers to a recount were pervasive.

 

2) The replacement of the old machines was widely publicized:

In April of last year, the Department of State told counties that they should pick new voting systems with a voter-verifiable paper record by the end of 2019.

The administration of Gov. Tom Wolf committed to having new machines in place by 2020 after settling a lawsuit brought by 2016 Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. The case targeted Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin for their voting systems’ susceptibility to hacking and for barriers to recounts.

Other voters exiting the Temple Brith Achim Synagogue polling location in Upper Merion weren’t quite as animated over the switch from push-button machines to scannable paper ballots filled out by hand.

“It’s even it’s better now that you actually get a confirmation ticket that your vote was cast. We never got that before,” said Tykia Turner.

How does an auditable paper trail work?

  • When a citizen votes, the machine they use prints out a paper receipt that the voter can verify reflects their voting choices.
  • This paper receipt is then used in the event of a recount.
  • We can verify whether the voting machine’s tally is accurate by counting the paper receipts and comparing it with the electronic tally.

 

Aren’t you glad that we were able to recount the 2020 election votes using a paper trail?

If this election had been like 2016, and all we would have had to go on was the electronic totals.  It would have been much more difficult to verify that the results were accurate.

 

In Georgia: Paper Ballots Matched Dominion Electronic Results

Hand counts of paper ballots can have an element of human error, but in Georgia, where Dominion was actually used, in an election of 5 million votes, the hand-count matched the electronic tally to within:

President Trump’s “Peaceful Transfer of Power” “Bluff”

Saddam Hussein Shotgun

Is Trump bluffing, like Saddam, to project an image of strength?

 

 

Press Conference: September 23, 2020

President Trump made news recently for declining to agree to a “peaceful transfer of power.

Mr. President, real quickly: Win, lose, or draw in this election, will you commit here, today, for a peaceful transferal of power after the election? And there has been rioting in Louisville. There’s been rioting in many cities across this country — red and — your so-called red and blue states. Will you commit to making sure that there is a peaceful transferal of power after the election?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we’re going to have to see what happens. You know that. I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots. And the ballots are a disaster. And — and —

Q I understand that, but people are rioting. Do you commit to making sure that —

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, I know. I know. Yeah, no, we want —

Q — there’s a peaceful transferal of power?

THE PRESIDENT: We want to have — get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very trans- — we’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly; there’ll be a continuation.

The ballots are out of control. You know it. And you know who knows it better than —

Q No, sir. I don’t know that.

THE PRESIDENT: — anybody else? The Democrats know it better than anybody else.

Never Admit Weakness or Consider Defeat

The President’s sympathizers explain away his words by imagining a situation comparable to Saddam Hussein’s bluff with Weapons of Mass Destruction: Whereas Saddam Hussein could never admit he didn’t possess Weapons of Mass Destruction, out of need to project an image of strength, President Trump must never entertain the possibility of losing.

Here’s a description of UN Weapons Inspector Hans Blix’s assessment:

Blix provides a number of potential answers, ranging from Saddam’s pride, to the argument this essay advances—that he hoped to retain the threat of WMD in his weakened state. Only with the perception that he possessed unconventional weaponry could he be protected from his enemies such as Iranian Shi’a, Israel, and the Kurd

Bluffing led to disaster

We all know what disaster resulted from Saddam’s miscalculation and his need to maintain his pride..

What Motivates Trump:

In addition to his pride, Trump needs narcissist supply and the fears post-Presidency lawsuits. As a narcissist, he will provoke chaos without limit, seeing chaos as a bargaining chip in his bid to secure himself either:

  1. a continuation of Presidential term
  2. some post-presidential arrangement that avoids accountability and loss of face and  narcissistic supply.

Any post-presidency scenario that does not provide him with sufficient attention and a cushion to his ego will be seen by the President as unacceptable.

Like former Illinois Governor, Rod Blagojevich, the President is a transactional man who expects to get something in exchange for the power he’s been entrusted with.

Don’t “joke about bombs at the Airport” or bluff about WMD

Its a well know that one should not joke about bombs while you’re at the airport.  Likewise, you shouldn’t bluff about the peaceful transfer power in an election season.  The risk of this sort of brinkmanship is that it spirals beyond anyone’s control.

The Banana Republic Option: State Legislatures Overule

There is also a possibility that all this talk about fraud could provide cover for state legislatures to overrule the popular vote in their state, prompting Congress at a national level to cast votes on a 1 voter per state basis, which favors Republicans and would lead to a Trump second term.

Naked Quotations

FDR in 1933


As a history major and creator of a contextual citation system, I’ve come to the realization how many famous quotations are passed down without access to the surrounding context.

Quotes Divorced from their Context

He’s a quote from FDR that we do have the context for:  (click blue arrows)

the only thing we have to fear is fear itself

But go to any of the major quote websites and see how many quotes have been divorced from their original context.

For lack of a better term, I call these “naked quotations“.

These show up in journalism and on Wikipedia where we frequently have to settle for the citation of a naked quote.

Ted Nelson
Ted Nelson

Back to Ted Nelson’s Original Vision

As part of an effort to build the trust of our readers, I encourage authors to live to a higher standard by fully citing sources and providing their readers with context.

Ted Nelson’s original vision for hypertext kept quotes connected to their sources with two-way links.

My CiteIt.net project is a rather hackish way of getting back what was lost with the web, towards Ted’s original vision.

US could have a digital currency in 12-18 months.

US Dollar - Bitcoin

A Digital Currency is Being Openly Discussed

I think many people underestimate how quickly a digital currency could become a reality in the US (and possibly Canada). Some of the following stories are a few months old but taken together, they present a strong case that a digital currency could become a reality much more quickly than people are aware of.

The Prediction: A Digital Dollar (Pontentially) in 12-18 months

Sheila Bair, former chairman of the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp

Transcript:  (June 26, 2020)

I’ve been a big big advocate of digital currency central bank-backed or issued digital currency that actually could be distributed directly to households in times of stress

Give them cash you know don’t give them more debt and find what technology will allow you today to have a transmission mechanism that goes directly into households and obviously congress needs to authorize that there need to be very tight controls around it

but nonetheless in a situation like that we’ve seen how the government and the IRS on the fiscal side has struggled to get EIP funds to households those payments notwithstanding some of the problems and transmitting the payments have done a lot of good for the economy

and so but having some type of automatic stabilizer where cash could actually be distributed through digital wallets which are fairly easy to set up right now right into households that would be so much more efficient than pumping all this money into financial markets and seeing this giant chasm right between you know what’s going on the stock and bond markets and what’s going on with main street

Sheila, the digital currency idea is super interesting because there’s a real concern that the US is behind especially compared with other countries notably china are you concerned about that race to create a digital currency

Well I am I think you know we are privileged to have the world’s global reserve currency I don’t see that changing anytime soon but I do think one of the undercurrents of what china is doing at least especially in developed countries that have unstable currencies is to uh default to the renminbi you know as the currency of choice that they’re using their own countries through their central bank’s digital currency

So yeah I think that’s exactly what’s going on I think we need to wake up to it we shouldn’t be too complacent about our leadership position I think you know or the strength of our system the strength of our fed and its independence and its integrity I think will always give us the edge but we need to effectively use this technology domestically I think it’s insurgently needed but we should also think about how the dollar is used throughout the world.

The other thing nice about digital currency if it’s cryptocurrency if it’s traded on a distributed ledger you have a much better audit trail of transactions so from a law enforcement perspective kind of there’s an urban legend that somehow it’s it makes uh illicit transactions easier actually makes it harder because with the central bank issued or back digital currency you can actually trace the transactions where that that digital money is going through the distributed ledger so from a law enforcement perspective it also has huge advantages

But we do need to be very aware of what’s going on in other countries and the real risk of that is posed to us if we don’t effectively

leverage what you know what is is happening now I mean

I think between in 12 and 18 months we could probably have a system of digital currency if people really put their mind to it and again it needs to be authorized by congress uh but the fed I know has been looking at it for a while and I think we need to accelerate that.

How will the US roll out a Digital Dollar?

(Tim’s speculative prediction)

  • Suppose a future stimulus check is rolled out. Instead of receiving a check for $1,200, you will be told to log into a new account at the federal reserve to claim your stimulus money, which can be connected to an app on your phone.
  • Unlike traditional bank accounts, the fed could say that the fed account has an interest rate of negative 4 percent. The longer you keep it in the bank, the more it depreciates.
  • This gives you an incentive to spend the money to stimulate the economy.
  • They could even set an expiry date on the stimulus money — requiring it to be spent in the next two months.

Refunds on Failing Banks:

From their stock prices, it appears that investors are not optimistic about the prospects of many small and regional banks. Warren Buffett’s company sold stakes in Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and Wells Fargo. Simultaneously, Warren Buffet, or likely someone who works for him, paid $500 million for a stake in Barak Gold Mining.

If the small and regional banks start to fail, will the Federal Reserve follow the same bailout approach as 2008?

No Cash Refunds:

No Cash Refunds
No Cash Refunds

If you purchase a ticket to a business like Hershey Park and later, for some reason, ask for a refund, the Amusement Park will likely not give you cash.

Most likely, they will give you a coupon to visit one of the company’s businesses at a later date.

This same “no cash refunds” policy will likely apply to FDIC insured banks.
 
Unlike 2008, the Federal Reserve will not try to save many of the smaller and regional banks. Rather, the FDIC will likely direct depositors’ refunds to new accounts at the Fed that use new digital dollars.
 

Programmable Money:

The fact that digital currency can be made programmable has both advantages and disadvantages.  The government could give people in one part of the country a different interest rate in response to local conditions.  They could also give different interest rates to individuals. They might also be able to incentivize (or disincentivize) purchases in certain sectors by designating particular stimulus dollars to be spent for qualifying purchase types.
 

Digital dollars would likely also be programmable in and of themselves, allowing for instant tax payments at the point of sale. Tax refunds and rebates could be instant, too.

And attempts to purchase a restricted item — like, say, a firearm without proper background clearance — could be automatically denied.

In many ways, programmable digital money would be a fantasy come true for economists. This is because economists believe economies are driven by human behavior, and human behavior is driven by incentives, and all kinds of incentives could be built into digital money.

Imagine, for example, a maximum limit on the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of home mortgages, designed to prevent future housing bubbles.

If such limits were programmed into the digital currency, as a form of “smart contract,” the transaction would not go through for a loan amount deemed too large.

Economists, political leaders, and central bank officials could then use the “smart contract” feature of digital dollars to tweak or massage incentives in all sorts of ways.

For example, fossil fuel use might be embedded with a higher VAT (value-added tax) surcharge than green energy use. Buying sugary cereal might create a small debit, whereas buying broccoli creates a small credit. And so on.

In addition to the above, all transactions would be instantly available for review, or easily aggregated into “big data” analysis patterns. This would give the Federal Reserve unprecedented new levels of visibility into the current state of the economy.

Why go digital?

The US is afraid that China already has the lead with its digital currency. The Chinese digital currency is already in the pilot phase, with the goal to roll it out before the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The US wants to maintain its relevance and status as the reserve currency.

A digital dollar:

  • helps the fed fight deflation by allowing the Fed to reduce the usage of cash, and thereby enact negative interest rates for money that is in the bank.
  • gives the government additional surveillance power over its citizens,
    • the government can already find out a lot about your finances, but a digital dollar would give them access to every transaction in realtime.
  • allows the US Financial System (pricing of commodity contracts, etc) to maintain its supremacy
  • allows the US to protect its status as the world’s reserve currency, which
    • gives the US the ability to borrow money at lower rates than other countries
    • gives the US the ability to use the financial system to punish its rivals (like Iran, China, Russia, etc)
  • is potentially more inclusive of those who currently lack a bank account and couple reduces the costs of cashing checks, overdraft charges.
  • increased cost-saving through efficiency.
  • transfers would be faster, happening immediately instead of taking days to clear.
 

Articles describing the Digital Dollar.

Senator Tom Cotton
  1. In the Senate Banking Committee, Senator Tom Cotton said:
    • “The U.S. needs a digital dollar…The U.S. dollar has to keep earning that place in the global payments system. (video: 1 hr 08 min)
  2. In June, Sheila Bair, former head of the FDIC said the US could have a digital currency system within 12 – 18 months.
  3. VISA says that they aim to become the preferred network for Digital Currency wallets.
VISA Digital Currency
VISA Digital Currency

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Read More Articles)

  • What is debatable:
    • whether the technological capabilities are accurately represented
    • what powers the government should, or will want to claim
    • what the public’s political reception will be, especially for the programmable digital currency elements
    • whether some of the potential excesses will be held in check at first, but whether the bigger power grabs come later once the technology has become ubiquitous.

Questions for Discussion:

If the US adopts a digital currency, how will this affect decentralized cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin? Will digital currencies with capped-money supplies like Bitcoin increase in value because they provide a freer alternative to digital dollars or will governments outlaw them and suppress their use?
 

What should we do?

Assuming a digital currency is likely to happen in the next year or two, is there anything that citizens should do in anticipation or response?
 

Updates:

 

Investment Portfolios: Diversification Strategies



(filmed Feb 7, 2020)

Summary of Counter-correlation Strategies:

Chris Cole of Artimis Capital (the person being interviewed)  argues that most investors and pension funds are historically illiterate and use portfolios based on models of the last 40-years of market data, rather than longer-term market conditions going back to the 1920s.

Investment Eras:

  • Secular Decline (1929-1946)
  • Secular Rebirth (1947-1963)
  • Secular Stagnation (1964-1983)
  • Secular Boom (1984-2007)

Most people would be surprised to learn that most of the stock market growth of a 60/40 fund in the last 90 years occurred in the 1983-2007 era of Secular Boom.

90% of the returns of a 60-40 stock-bond portfolio came from the 22 years between ’84 and 2007.
Just 22 years drove 90% of the gains of that portfolio over 90 years.

The Limits of “Traditional” Portfolios:

Cole argues that approaches we think of as “traditional” have done well in the recent Secular Boom, but would not have done as well in other market environments:

  • 60/40 stock/bond fund: bonds don’t counterbalance a portfolio as well under zero interest rates.
  • “buy the dip”: would have gone bankrupt 3 times in the past 90 years

Proposals for Other Market Conditions.

In bear-markets, one doesn’t know whether to expect inflation or deflation, so Cole advises that investors carry exposure to each possibility.

Although Cole is selling a proprietary asset class he calls “Long Volatility” (beware of how Cole is making his money), one does not to purchase his services to learn from his thesis.

Three of the 4 asset classes can be purchased through generic mutual funds or ETFs:

  1. TIPS (Treasury Inflation protected securities)
  2. Commodities – bought through an ETF
  3. Gold –  bought through an ETF or other arrangement
  4. Long Volatility – (available to sophisticated investors) ** disregard

What is your attitude to these first three asset types as a complement to traditional stocks and bonds?

An asset class doesn’t have to generate a long-term appreciation to be beneficial if it is negatively or less-correlated with other assets.  In fact, the example Cole uses actually loses money overall individually but is beneficial in counter-balancing the portfolio.

  1. TIPS have some upside under inflation but do not risk the same losses as stocks.
  2. Commodities Index: have the potential to hedge against inflation of commodities covered by the index
  3. Gold: My Dad doesn’t see any place for Gold other than jewelry.  I note that gold is (historically) less correlated with stocks and could reduce the overall volatility of a portfolio.
    • Faith in the stability of the fiat US Dollar: It was only in 1971 (7 years before I was born) that the US went off the gold standard and if you look worldwide support for gold as a monetary hedge is greater in places that have had the most government malfeasance and economic turmoil. From what I’ve heard, disdain for gold as a financial hedge is only common in places like Western Europe, the US, and Canada, which have had better governance (historically).  The quality of US governance is shows signs of deterioration, making confidence in the government’s fiscal restraint less certain.

History:

In Cole’s paper — The Allegory of the Hawk and Serpent — he describes the different investment eras since the 1929 stock market crash:

Investment returns were heavily influenced by what era the investor was in:

Beginning in the early 1980s, a self-reinforcing serpent of favorable demographics (the baby boomers) and declining interest rates (falling from 19% in 1981 to nearly 0% today) drove asset prices higher and higher.

Baby boomers saving for retirement meant more money flowed into stocks, bonds, and real estate, driving up prices. At the same time, interest rates were decreasing, causing individuals and companies to take on more debt, some of which were used to buy those same assets, further increasing prices.

Today, the situation looks quite different. The first wave of boomers began retiring in 2017. Over the next decade, more boomers will sell their serpent assets (stocks, bonds and real estate) to fund their retirement. On the interest rate side, it’s anyone’s guess where rates will go from here. We do know that they are at historic lows already.

Growth Assets:

Serpent assets include those assets which perform well in periods of growth such as

  1. stocks,
  2. bonds and
  3. real estate.

As these periods go on, they can become corrupted by greed as either fiat devaluation and/or debt expansion replace fundamentals. If left unchecked, this is ouroboros, where the serpent of growth eventually devours its own tail.

Stagnation/Depression Assets:

Hawk assets are those which do well in periods of decline or stagnation:

  1. gold,
  2. long volatility/tail risk, and  (Chris Cole is selling a strategy for this to more sophisticated investors)
  3. commodity trend following.

Diversified Portfolios:

A number of portfolios attempt to implement diversity between assets in a way that can better weather a variety of market conditions:

1.  All-Weather (Ray Dalio: founder of Bridgewater hedge fund)

2. Golden Butterfly

3. Paul Merriman’s Vanguard

Fund Symbol Aggressive Moderate Conservative
Vanguard 500 Index Admiral Shares VFIAX 11% 6% 4%
Vanguard Value Index Admiral Shares VVIAX 11% 7% 5%
Vanguard Tax-Managed Small-Cap Admiral Shares VTMSX 11% 7% 4%
Vanguard Small-Cap Value Index Admiral Share VSIAX 12% 7% 5%
Vanguard Real Estate Index Admiral VGSLX 5% 3% 2%
Vanguard Developed Markets Index Admiral Shares VTMGX 9% 6% 3%
Vanguard International Value VTRIX 18% 10% 7%
Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-US Small-Cap Index Admiral VFSAX 9% 5% 4%
Vanguard Emerging Mkts Stock Index Admiral Shares VEMAX 9% 6% 4%
Vanguard Global Ex-US Real Estate Index Admiral Shares VGRLX 5% 3% 2%
Short-Term Government Bond Index Admiral Shares VSBSX 0% 12% 18%
Intermediate-Term Government Bond Index Admiral Shares VSIGX 0% 20% 30%
Short-Term Inflation-Protected Securities Index Admiral Shares VTAPX 0% 8% 12%

 

4. The Dragon Portfolio   (Chris Cole’s Sample portfolio)

According to Artemis’s research, the optimal portfolio from 1929 to 2019 was:

  • Domestic Equity (24%)
  • Fixed Income/Bonds (18%)
  • Active Long Volatility (21%)  (Chris Cole’s paid fund)
  • Commodity Trend Following (18%)
  • Physical Gold (19%).

The “Dragon” shares the commodity and gold asset classes and adds a “volatility” asset class.

Active Long Volatility: Sophisticated Investors

Implementing the “Active Long Volatility” is more difficult than other asset classes and likely is only possible for sophisticated high-net-worth investors.

Vanguard Dragon Proposal

There is a conversation on the (Vanguard) Bobble Heads forum the proposes the following instead:

Market-Timing & Portfolio Reallocation

Buying into the type of counter-cyclical assets may risk buying at market highs.
Commodities do not appear to at quite the same highs as Gold.

 

What will Democrats have to pay Trump to leave?


Rod Blagojevich
Rod Blagojevich

How do Transactional People Think?

After Barack Obama was elected President, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich had the power to appoint Obama’s successor to the senate.

Being a “transactional” sort of guy, Governor Blagojevich, wanted to use what he had to maximize his own interests.

I got this thing and it’s  f****  “golden”:

FBI agents recorded  Blagojevich conversing with an adviser:

I’ve got this thing and it’s fucking golden and I’m just not giving it up for fucking nothing

Blagojevich was seeking:

  • a salary for himself and ($250,000-$300,000)
  • a position on a corporate board for his wife (~$150,000/year)
  • campaign funds, with cash upfront
  • a cabinet post or ambassadorship

Pardoned by Trump:

After he was impeached by the Illinois Senate, he was indicted and convicted in Federal Court and sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Blagojevich was unrepentant and protested his innocence, serving 8 of those 14 years, before being pardoned by President Trump.

What will Trump want in exchange for him leaving office?

Now it is still possible for Trump to fairly win the upcoming election.  But if he doesn’t win legitimately, will he go quietly?

I assume that Trump does not intend to give up the Presidency for “nothing” if he loses and that a lot of the choices he makes are about strengthening his hand and developing a narrative.

How much will Democrats be willing to pay, in money and otherwise, to have Trump leave office?  And what will be Trump’s ask?  Here’s my guess:

Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore

What will Trump ask?

  • Legal absolution: scuttle all the sealed indictments and future court cases against him.
  • Stop damaging disclosures: If not already public, silence unfriendly attention regarding tax returns, etc.
  • Financial Bailout/fleecing   His hotels and golf properties haven’t done well financially lately.   I don’t know the state of his financial need, but he seems to take pride in finding creative ways to fleece the taxpayer.  Expect financial demands.
  • Honor: recognition of his status as a great President.  Maybe a monument, naming rights to a building, etc.
  • Attention: Trump would likely want to host his own show or own his own network.  He needs to see a future for himself after the presidency.
  • Nepotism: Donald wants his family name to remain relevant so he may want some benefit, particularly for Ivanka, his favorite child.
  • Victimhood: Trump will need an excuse for why he didn’t get a second term both for himself and his supporters.  If defeated, like Blagojevich, he can not admit it.  The only way he will agree to relinquish power is under the condition that he can still insist that he was a victim and the election was rigged.

What will Trump Threaten?

The basic idea to keep in mind is that Trump is less concerned about the peaceful transfer of power than the Democrats are.  Trump has an affinity for chaos and that he will use that as leverage.

What do you think?

Everyone expects that Joe Biden will concede if he loses.

But if Trump loses but not in a big way, will he readily accept defeat?

If not, what will Trump ask and what will he threaten?

 

P.S.  Why is it that this sort of politician seems to have a thing for having a full head of hair?