Friday, November 30, 2012

Remembering Richard Wilkins

I’ve been traveling since a couple of days before Thanksgiving, with only sporadic computer access and writing time. I don’t usually check email on my phone, but Wednesday morning I sort of accidentally did that and was shocked to find an email letting me know of the death of a friend and fellow warrior.
Where to start? Back in 1996 Richard Wilkins was a professor of Constitutional Law at BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School (one of the first graduates of the school to come back to teach). He often worked on law cases concerning how international law affects our Constitution and warned about the trend toward allowing international law to trump our sovereignty. I’m not sure of the exact reasons, but he felt the need that year to travel to a UN conference in Istanbul. He was concerned about what he was hearing there and took the opportunity to speak.
He told me that he spoke about the Proclamation on theFamily, issued shortly before that by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to which he was a devout member (as I am). At the time it came out, the issues in the Proclamation were such standard doctrine to us that he said he wondered at the reasoning. Since that time, he says he sees it as prophetic; every line in it is challenged in the world today. But in 1996 he happened to take a brochure of the Proclamation with him and had it in his pocket. When he shared those ideas, the opponents to the family (the previous speakers) hissed their disapproval, but the room at large gave him a standing ovation. They came up to him afterward to thank him for speaking what so many of them believed, and they formed long-standing alliances to work toward protecting the natural family from the international onslaught.
Richard formed the World Family Policy Forum, an annual workshop of international interest in protecting the family, which continued for a number of years in various places around the world. (I believe he worked in association with Alan Carlson of the World Family Policy Institute.) He also founded Defend Marriage, which became a project of United Families International. Around 2006 he took a sabbatical from the law school to found the Doha Family Policy Institute. This was to be a three-year project, but as it neared an end, he decided to retire from teaching and stay on in Qatar indefinitely.
I expected that to continue until he was ready to retire, but last spring he suddenly announced that his position had been Qatarized, and he would be returning home. I didn’t know what that meant until I asked him in person in April. The Doha Institute was a project of the Sheika (essentially the first lady) of Qatar, and she chose to convert his position to an appointment to a Qatari citizen. It happens. He was disappointed but not terribly surprised. But he was not hopeful that the Institute could do as much worldwide good without experienced guidance. One of the things he was able to accomplish was setting plans in place for the 2014 Year of the Family celebration. I understand they will honor him there with a moment of silence.
Looking at it now, I think it was a blessing that he got to return home for a relatively relaxing half year surrounded by family. No one could have predicted there was so little time left. The morning after Thanksgiving he suffered a sudden massive heart failure. Extraordinary efforts were spent for three days, trying to revive him, but he finally passed Monday evening, November 26, with family around.
For friends reading this in Utah, funeral services will be held at 11:00am this Saturday, December 1st, at the LDS Chapel at 2445 North 650 East, Provo, UT 84604. There will be a viewing at the same location this Friday evening from 5:00 PM-8:00 PM and this Saturday morning from 9:00 AM-10:30 AM. I’m sorry not to be able to give more notice; travel this week has prevented me from posting regularly, and will also prevent me from attending the services.
I pray for blessings of comfort to his dear wife, Melany, and their children, all of whom I have met and have heard about with each visit and Christmas letter. Not only was Richard a champion of the idea of family as the basic unit of society, it was the central personal joy of his life.
I’ll continue this post with a Part II about how I knew him and how he profoundly affected my writing.
For additional stories about his passing, I suggest here, here, and here.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Liberal Twinkie Dilemma

Let me start with the childhood memory of a favorite lunchbox treat. My mom used to put Twinkies in the freezer, and then they would not only help keep the sandwich cool (before icepacks were invented for lunchboxes, as far as I know), but would thaw enough for eating just about by lunchtime. But they didn’t always totally thaw, so my preferred way—the real right way—of eating a Twinkie was to eat the outer pound cake first, and then the semi-solid creamy filling last. (I also ate Oreos the authentic way, by eating the outer cookie first and saving the creamy inside for last.) Good times.

But suddenly this long-time lunchbox standard is about to become a fading memory only. Hostess, the maker of Twinkies (and Ding-Dongs and Hostess Cupcakes, and other high preservative bakery treats) has gone under—the victim of a combination poor economy overall for too many years and outrageous demands for employees by their labor unions. The labor demands could not be met; the unions refused a reasonable pay cut to protect jobs. So the result is the total loss of 18,500 jobs. Another example of labor unions doing what’s best for employees (seriously, they would describe it that way).
Dipped Twinkies and Ding Dongs
in a chocolate shop on Cannery Row;
We asked how long they could provide these, and they
said only until the ones they have on hand are gone
So the question comes up—and I’m not making this up—about whether the federal government should step in and “bail out” the troubled bakery company. After all, isn’t Hostess too big to fail? Isn’t the public’s need for Twinkies, from the only provider, greater than any principles of economics? And, most important, shouldn’t the government back up union workers whenever it must?
This must be the liberal position, right?
Except that, pretty much simultaneously the First Lady is crusading for the federal government to gain greater control over school lunches. Not only should sweet bakery treats with creamy fillings be banned from school lunch menus and campus vending machines, in some areas school officials monitor foods sent from home. A cupcake (or, Fed forbid, a Twinkie) instead of an apple might be a big no-no, and could be confiscated, with a disciplinary note sent home to the bad parent.
So, in liberal world, there should be cheers for the demise of an evil corporation offering foods that could lead to childhood obesity. But…the way liberal world is supposed to happen is, because of the federal government’s positive influence on our food choices, the public would then pressure the company to discontinue the evil food production and turn toward making delectable veggie burgers, if they plan to continue their existence at all—which they are pretty much required to do, because their purpose is to provide employment, right?
Twinkie memorial found on Facebook
But that isn’t what’s happening. Demand for fattening bakery snacks at low prices is still fairly high—at least judging by the series of memorials I’ve seen on Facebook. Plus, the loss of those union jobs is bad optics in a campaign (oh, wait, the campaign is over—except that among liberals, the campaign is never over).
What is a liberal to do?
May we humbly suggest the full big government assault on all fronts: insisting on federal government bailout and production of a product simply to preserve union jobs—while simultaneously outlawing the product in school or in places where anyone under 18 is allowed to make purchases, while making sure the media tells this story in some relatively surreal way. Yes, that would do it.
Because the free market alternative is totally unacceptable: high demand for this particular product could lead some new enterprise to buy up the company’s assets and begin producing the product elsewhere—maybe even with the same name and packaging—but without the restraints of overpriced union labor. And the product might become even more available as a result. And this is why many of us prefer living in free market world instead of liberal-controlled world.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks in All Things

We’re traveling this week. Thanksgiving we’re spending at our son Economic Sphere’s little base housing duplex in Monterey. It is the first time we’ve seen him since we dropped him off at the swearing in ceremony last February, when he joined the Army. So this is very good. His wife is taking on the whole Thanksgiving feast cooking performance, including soaking the turkey in brine all night (I have never been so adventurous in cooking a turkey).

We spent a day with old friends before we arrived, friends who lived in Houston a decade ago before moving to northern California. We used to live in this part of the world; Economic Sphere was born just up the road a couple of hours’ drive, during that era of our lives. It was surprising to drive through some of the same places, still looking the same. From the roads, California doesn’t look on the verge of economic collapse, and it’s hard to picture imminent disaster. As for our kids, I’m glad they’re here when they don’t have to pay in-state taxes (military are assigned to their home location instead of the state they’re stationed in). And housing, which can be outrageously priced here, is taken care of for them right now. And they don’t have kids in schools that I could not trust to appropriately educate any grandchild of mine. (Although, I would like to hint that, now that they are somewhat settled, I would love to learn of a grandchild coming to this little family, before they’re stationed overseas somewhere beyond my reach. Am I allowed to bring up such suggestions?)
I’m thankful we can still travel. I’m thankful for our beautiful family and friends. I’m thankful I can still get internet access. I’m thankful for a few days off. I’m thankful that turkey and sweet potatoes are not on the extensive list of foods I’m allergic to. (No pumpkin pie this year, alas. Nor apple pie.)
I’m thankful we have this special day where we pause with our family and friends and together celebrate saying thanks to God, the giver of all the good.
I wish the same for the same sense of gratefulness for all of you. It makes for a better life.

This is an aside, but I'm also thankful for good humor. One of my favorite Thanksgiing moments is this old episode of WKRP in Cincinnati. I hope you enjoy.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Non-Riot Revolution

This has been a several part series on the election and what it means. First I posted my report as a poll watcher on Election Day, which contrasted with overall reports. Then I collected a list of evidences of voter fraud. So now we can get to the question: Given massive voter fraud and an illegitimate presidency, what do freedom-loving conservatives do in response?

There will be a number of legitimate efforts to pursue legal prosecution of fraud, as there should be. This effort, such as is carried out by True the Vote (who trained me and thousands of other poll watchers), is quixotic—dreaming the impossible dream of having free and fair elections. I think that needs to continue. We do not consent to Venezuela-style elections, where the outcome is decided by the dictator and any “election” is just a token gesture to mollify critics around the world. That is what we experienced this time, but it is not what we have consented to. As with all rulers not chosen freely by the people, the tyrant is an illegitimate ruler; the people have not consented. Rather they are enslaved. Hayek’s title The Road to Serfdom makes more literal sense now.
I expect others will pursue the impossible recourse of “proving” the illegitimacy of the election before the electoral college vote, and using the electoral college as an opportunity to overturn the fraudulent results. This is also quixotic, but even less sensible. Imagine if the other side saw the electoral college as merely a way to manipulate an outcome that they didn’t approve of. I wouldn’t mind seeing this play out in fiction or a movie, but I see it as not realistic in response to this election.
Unlike the anti-freedom, anti-civilization radicals, we who love and honor freedom and civilization will not riot in the streets, essentially throwing a tantrum that we can’t have our way.
What we will do—no magic formula, no perfect easy resolution—is to live individual lives following the rules of civilization, and where we can, rules of freedom. We will not lie, cheat, and steal like our enemies. We will value innocent life. We will value and preserve the family as the basic unit of civilization. And we will honor God as the provider of our inalienable rights and obey the laws He has given us to preserve them.
Most of the people in the history of the world have lived under tyranny. While I believe God has had a special purpose in allowing freedom to flourish in America these past couple centuries, His larger purpose is to turn His children (all of us) to Him. Hardship more often turns broken hearts to God than thankfulness for abundance turns hearts to Him. Unfortunately.
Good people show up everywhere. While following the rules of freedom, free-enterprise, and civilization lead a people to thrive, living these laws individually will not guarantee success amidst an oppressive regime. But they can lead to individual happiness despite the oppression.
Photo of honeybees from Hinode Farms
There are those who are reframing the political game for the next election. I will let them. I am not particularly interested. Until enough hearts change in this country that a critical mass of people actually choose freedom and civilization, winning the political game from time to time will not solve the underlying cancer. Not that we should abandon all efforts in the political world, but let’s be realistic about the limits of politics.
My suggestions may not seem like enough. But there’s a story about honeybees, where each individual bee gathers practically microscopic amounts of pollen from hundreds of individual flowers, making maybe a twelfth of a teaspoon of honey per bee. Not much by itself, but added together with the hard work of others, the result is abundance of sweetness. So, while my individual efforts, and yours, may not seem to be enough under the circumstances, if we do our part anyway, let’s trust that God can make something of our efforts.
In short, here’s what I suggest:
·       Keep doing your part as a good citizen. Vote intelligently for the best candidates you can find.
·       Keep voicing your opinions, and find more and better ways to express the philosophy of freedom and civilization to those who do not yet understand. (This is my purpose at Spherical Model.)
·      Stand up against tyranny where the laws have not yet been ruled against us. Encourage state and local leaders to respond to your desire for freedom.
·      Avoid mollifying and appeasement while also avoiding contention. Living better lives than those who don’t know how to follow God’s law is a better convincer than sharp words.
·      Defend family, and defend religious freedoms—we haven’t lost yet. And whatever the culture around us does, we must nevertheless resist the acceptance of evil.
·      Find others to connect with, and strengthen one another.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Not Fair and Square

There was voter fraud this election. No question about that. And it appears to be massive. Enough to change the outcome of the election? I don’t know, but probably. As an obscure blogger it’s probably safe for me to go out on a limb and say, “Yes, I believe the election was stolen and the president wields power illegitimately.” With that knowledge/belief, what should happen now? We'll get to that question eventually.

First, let’s catalog a bit of the evidence (at this point reported and under investigation but not publicly verified), to establish reasons for this personal belief. That will fill the post for today (it could fill up several, but I’m just touching the surface). Then we’ll take on the “remedy.”
As I said, the catalog of fraud is more than I can easily cover here and still talk about the overall issue. But here are a few lists:
This piece from RedState is from a month before the election, outlining the likely tactics based on holes in the system and current and past practices. Turned out this was prescient. The list includes:
·        The SOS Project (Secretaries of State were put in place, by election or appointment, with George Soros approval, because they are ultimately the vote counters).
·        SEIU shenanigans (ACORN and Project Vote are additional names; there are many).
·        11 million illegal immigrants.
·        Fake ID industry, and inability of acting on information of info mismatches.
·        Voter Registration system flaws.
·        Union GOTV strategies.
·        Early Voting.
This collection, ObamaVoterFraud blog, was put together in the few days following the election. With links for each included in the piece, here are just a few of the many claims:
·        10 counties in Colorado report from 104% to 140%  voter turnout.
·        Philadelphia polling stations that kicked out legal poll observers had 90% voter turnout and 99% of vote going to Obama. (Overall turnout in Philadelphia was a realistic 60%.)
·        70,000 reports of observed fraud turned in by end of Election Day.
·        Voter fraud reported in Wisconsin.
·        Obama won dozens of Cleveland districts with 100% of the vote.
·        Ohio residents show up at polls only to be told they already voted (someone illegally voted in their name).
·        Boston reports 129% voter turnout.
·        Nevada unions are registering illegals and forcing them to vote.
This piece from World Net Daily lists several additional evidences (20% of Ohio registered voters are ineligible, for example) and concentrates on illegal foreign donations as something to follow up on. But the author, Joseph Farah, a former liberal radical himself, reveals some of the philosophy that leads our enemy in power to justify their cheating, which I think is germane:
If anyone has a balanced approach to the realities of political life in America, it’s me. I’ve looked at life from both sides. I know the arguments of the other side and can still spout them before most of today’s practitioners of so-called “progressive” thought can.
I also know that the reigning ethos of this movement represented so ably today by Obama is this: “By any means necessary …” It was first articulated by Jean Paul Sartre in his play, “Dirty Hands.” But it became popularized as a slogan of the revolutionary left by Malcolm X.
What it means, in short, is that the ends justify the means. It means violence is fine in achieving a worthwhile objective. It means lying, stealing, cheating and all those other bourgeoisie “sins” are appropriate means of furthering the cause.
Is there any doubt in your mind today that this is now the reigning ethos of the Democratic Party and its various tentacles and allies?
There is no doubt in my mind.
And that’s why stealing the vote is not only an acceptable practice by these people, it is a moral imperative in their twisted worldview.
This collection tries to summarize, as of a week after Election Day, the litany of evidences. Additional reports I didn’t list above include:
·        Voting machines in several states reported “flipping” ballots to Obama during early voting. While much of this was probably user error, there was video evidence of the repeated problem in Pennsylvania, and machines did indeed “flip” to a default Obama vote.
·        In Cuyahoga County, Ohio, 50 precincts showed Romney receiving 2 votes or less, and in 100 precincts, Obama received 99 or more votes for every Romney vote.
·        In Broward County, Florida, Obama received 99% of the vote in many precincts.
·        Wood County, Ohio, has a voting age population of 98, 213 (not all necessarily eligible to register as voters), but on Election Day they somehow had 106, 258 registered voters.
·        In Wisconsin there were reports of people being bussed in from Chicago to vote. The link for this unbelievable (anecdotal Facebook) story is here, and here’s an excerpt:
The Democrats stationed a self described “BIG Chicago pro bono attorney” as one of their two observers at this small polling place. He remained at the polling place from 7:00 a.m. until well after 8:p.m. …..A high priced CHICAGO attorney, sitting in a Sheboygan WISCONSIN polling place, observing wards comprised of 1500 voters? …. WHY???
Why would someone from Chicago be observing in Sheboygan Wisconsin? And WHY at such a small polling place? Finally, isn’t it interesting that this would occur at the VERY polling place in which all of the above described events ALSO occurred? AGAIN WHY WOULD A CHICAGO ATTORNEY BE OBSERVING AN ELECTION POLLING PLACE WITH FEWER THAN 1500 VOTERS IN IT, IN SHEBOYGAN WISCONSIN? Of all the places where there has been suspected voting irregularities, and OUTRIGHT FRAUD throughout the ENTIRE United States, WHY HERE? WHY SHEBOYGAN? WHY THIS SMALL WARD?
This lawyer spent the day running in and out making, and taking calls, which coincidentally then coincided with influxes of groups of individuals by the van and bus loads, coming in to register, AND VOTE, using what appeared to be copied Allient energy bills. These individuals often did not have photo I.D.’s, could not remember their own addresses without looking at the paper, and became easily tripped, confused and annoyed when questioned.
Many of these same individuals, just so happened to be dressed in/wearing CHICAGO BEARS apparel, and whom openly discussed “catching busses back to Chicago” with each other, with poll workers, via their cell phones in the lobby area just outside the polling place, as well as in the parking lot, both before and AFTER registering and voting.
One woman was dressed head to toe in CHICAGO BEARS apparel including perfectly manicured BEARS fake fingernails!
She complained because registering was taking too long and she had to hurry up to catch her bus back to Chicago.
We have photos of these people in vehicles with plates from different states, photos of them leaving the polls, and other irregularities.
Let’s not forget about the military (as the federal government apparently did), with military absentee ballots reportedly down by70%:
The conservative-leaning military vote has decreased drastically since 2010 due to the so-called Military Voter Protection Act that was enacted into law the year before. It has made it so difficult for overseas military personnel to obtain absentee ballots that in Virginia and Ohio there has been a 70% decrease in requests for ballots since 2008. In Virginia, almost 30,000 fewer overseas military voters requested ballots than in 2008. In Ohio, more than 20,000 fewer overseas military voters requested ballots. This is significant considering Obama won in both states by a little over 100,000 votes.
If you follow some of the links within the above lists, you’ll find Project Veritas videos—James O’Keefe, who seems to never fail, even though they should see him coming by now. Also, I left out reports of 140% voter turnout in Florida, as reported early on. It turns out Florida is yet again incapable of voting and counting votes as humanly expected. They had a two-page ballot; instead of reporting how many ballots were reported, they reported how many pages, in other words two pages per vote. When the 140% was cut in half, the turnout was a more believable (but still high) 70%.
Remember 2000, when Democrats claimed Al Gore had been robbed of the presidency—because attempts to cheat in Florida failed to put him over the top in every count, so they just kept counting and changing the count—recounting only counties that had already gone heavily in his favor but had not guaranteed his win as expected? Remember the outrage of the left? Just imagine (actually you can’t imagine, because it doesn’t happen) if conservatives were guilty of so many evidences of fraud? The opposition would simply take to the streets and refuse to accept the legitimacy of the presidency. In fact, even when Bush clearly won, they spent eight years claiming he was a usurper (actually not using that word; they don’t have the vocabulary).
Conservatives are genuinely upset. But I see no riots forthcoming, nor would I favor such a response. Next post the question is, Given massive voter fraud and an illegitimate presidency, what do freedom-loving conservatives do in response?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Standing Guard

The past few elections I have reported my adventures (here and here) as a poll watcher. I’ve waited a week to gather some information about election integrity as a whole, so I can see my experience in the larger picture. I had the opportunity Monday evening to run into my fellow poll watcher and the Alternate Judge, to verify some of their experiences as well.

I volunteer as a back-up poll worker. I show up at headquarters (in this case True the Vote headquarters at the King Street Patriots location in Houston) as soon as I can get there, which with traffic was a little after 1:00 PM.
While I have been trained and qualified several times as a poll watcher, and was signed up online for training, for some reason the system had not accepted my login. Various other trainings, like researching voter databases, were available (some of which I had gone through at home), but the actual Poll Watcher Training wasn’t there for me, and so I couldn’t certify by taking the test online. I had given TTV a heads up by email, and I had prepared at home by reviewing my training from last year.
At headquarters we were still unable to get me online to take the qualifying test, at least in a short timeframe. When we got impatient waiting for a new password to be sent to my email, that I could receive on my phone, we finally decided to have me do the test on paper. (Isn’t low-tech great!) I got 100%, which means my training from past years was pretty thorough. They also provided me with a printed version of the training book for my state, which I should have had access to online, and I was able to take that with me. I also got supplied with other poll watcher helps in a packet.
They were ready to send me into the field as soon as I got credentialed. So we signed the paperwork. I was actually sent out as a poll watcher representing one of the candidates for judge. In Texas each party is allowed two poll watchers per polling location, each candidate is allowed two poll watchers, and any organization involved in an issue on the ballot would be allowed two poll watchers. So it could get crowded if volunteer poll watchers were more ubiquitous. But the goal has been to make sure each polling location was watched, preferably with more than one poll watcher.
Our polls are set up with a Presiding Judge, who runs the polling place; this person is from the party that won the majority in that precinct in the last election (I don’t know whether that means it could change theoretically every two years, or only every four years). Then there is an Alternate Judge from the opposite party. There are usually several clerks; we had four. Law requires the PJ to choose at least one clerk from the opposing party (if a list of such persons is made available), but ours were all Democrats. These are all paid positions—low pay, but they receive something a little above minimum wage for their hours, I believe. The county registrar’s office is the source of the pay, I believe.
Poll watchers are unpaid. Our job is simply to observe the process and report any incidents or irregularities—or to verify the accuracy of the process. Anyone trying to carry out a free and fair election has no need to fear from well-trained poll watchers. We help the process, and our presence tends to make things go more smoothly. Poll watchers do not interact with voters, do not interfere with voters, do not observe how a person votes, other than to watch the process when a voter is being aided by a poll worker, to verify that no influence is taking place.
I was sent to an area in southeast Houston, an ethnically black area, with some Hispanics, and not many whites. The PJ and all of the clerks were black; none spoke Spanish. The AJ and poll watchers were pretty obvious because of our racial difference.
There was only one poll watcher, Patsy, from the beginning of the day. She was there for the setup, with her credentials, well trained. The PJ through a screaming, harassing fit about her being there and hindered her in every way but throwing her out. (I have been sent to replace poll watchers who have been thrown out, so this is milder.) There were numerous irregularities and illegalities before I was sent. I don’t know what those were, except that the PJ insisted on allowing the vote of someone who had been sent a ballot-by-mail and did not bring that with them. Legally, such a person must turn in the paper ballot to make sure it is not counted, if they want to vote in person after all. Otherwise, it would be easy for a person to vote by mail and also vote in person, which would be illegal.
The Alternate Judge, Brenda, handled all eligibility calls to the county, all day, which probably saved us. The PJ said, at one point, “We don’t stand on such formalities here.” Her clerks, though, did seem to me to be doing their best just to do their jobs. We had a number of provisional ballots (not counted votes, but to be reviewed later for eligibility), but not an unusual number.
I was treated respectfully by the PJ and others. Maybe it was having a second poll watcher there that made her take things seriously; maybe she had been contacted by the County about complaints received about her and was told to straighten up. I don’t know; I only know that things were not nearly as bad after I got there as Patsy had suffered early in the day. I took only one 10-minute break, for food, just before 6:00, and during my break a third poll watcher, Linda, joined us through the closing of the polls and counting; it was her first time.
I handled one special case during the day, right after I came back around 6:00. A woman came in with her father, who could neither read nor speak English. No Spanish-speaking poll worker was available, so the woman was sworn in as a poll worker to help her father vote. This is according to protocol and not particularly unusual. The PJ asked that someone who spoke Spanish observe. I was going to do that anyway, but it’s funny that the PJ actually wanted me to closely observe. For the most part, I don’t think the woman was trying to influence the vote, but she did illegally handle the machine. I tried nudging her at the beginning, but didn’t get her attention, so I continued observing. Our e-slate machines have a wheel to move from frame to frame, and then an enter button, and a final “cast ballot” button. She handled the wheel the entire time, and then had the voeter press the appropriate buttons. There were several propositions on the City of Houston ballot, and for a couple of those she simply read the title and said, “You wanted to vote for that, didn’t you?” which, again, isn’t strictly legal. But based on how the rest of the ballot had gone, it appeared to me she was verifying their previous conversations and not telling him how to vote.
When the ballot was cast, I pulled her aside and explained to her about not touching the machine, if she did this in the future, and she seemed to appreciate being told. There was no animosity. I did write up the incident report, but included that I did not think she was trying to act illegally but was simply not well-enough trained. Maybe I should have interfered more forcefully, but it seemed pointless. A man between 50-60 who can’t read (any language) or speak English, but is a certified voter and therefore a citizen—it does not surprise me how such a person votes.
At the end of the day, the official count of signed names was 20 lower than the official count of legal ballots cast on the machines. That is supposed to reconcile; it didn’t. The PJ seemed not at all concerned with the discrepancy. The likely explanation is that someone failed to write the names of voters 20 times during the day. That’s a lot, actually. I was watching up to four clerks at a time, so I could have missed something, but I didn’t notice any voters whose names were not written on the list. The AJ said she would let the county know of the concern, and I wrote it up on an incident report.
Here’s why I’m concerned about such a small thing. The national vote difference was 2,828,267 (by the count I saw Monday evening). The number of polling places nationwide is approximately 250,000. Divide the vote difference by the number of polling places, and the result is 11.3 votes per polling place.
  2,828,267      vote difference
÷ ±250,000      polling locations

              11.3 votes per polling place 

There is another thing I noted about voting day. I voted at my precinct late morning. The first 2-hour count posted on the door was, as I recall, 232. I left probably just before the 11:30 count was posted, but if that held throughout the day, then you’d expect about 1392. So that is my perspective of what was normal on Election Day, in addition to early voting.
At the polling location where I watched, the counts were as follows:
 9:30     117
11:30    227      (111 votes since 9:30)
 1:30     364      (137 votes since 11:30)
 3:30     432      (68 votes since 1:30)
 5:30     549      (117 votes since 3:30)
 7:00     670      (121 votes since 5:30)
There were no extraordinarily long lines. Sometimes all the booths were full and people were waiting to vote. But generally the clerks were able to keep up with the flow of incoming voters. There was no line at closing. In fact, the final half hour was very slow. Two people walked in a few minutes after 7:00, and the clerk turned them away, because they had not arrived by the closing of the polls—this was appropriate.
Word across the country was that the Democrats had taken full advantage of early voting. However, in Harris County (where Houston is), Republicans clearly outnumbered Democrats in early voting. But Democrats won the Harris County vote because of their Election Day turnout. And yet in a highly Democrat area, I saw light voting, about half the size of the vote in my home precinct. That’s anecdotal, I realize. But you can imagine my surprise when I got to my car around 8:45 PM and turned on the radio to find out that everything was other than I had seen. Odd.
I had expected to be able to do my report as well as talk about fraud generally in one post. But this is enough for one day. There’s more to say about the value of free and fair elections, but I’ll save that for another post.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Paradigm Shift Underway

I’m in the process of gleaning through information and data, and simply trying to process the paradigm shift. I no longer believe we live in a free constitutional republic; we live in a socialist-leaning democracy, with the majority ever voting to take more from the producers and give wealth to the non-producers. That is a big piece of news to process. (My son Political Sphere said, “Oh, yeah, I already knew that’s where we were.”)

Here are a few observations from the midst of the shift:
·        The president’s re-election resulted from voter fraud. When more than 100% of numerous key voting districts vote for one candidate—in addition to those votes for the other candidate—it is a given that voter fraud has taken place. They did not even bother with subtlety so that there was only suspicion but not clear evidence. Some estimates I’ve read are that 5% of the Obama vote is fraudulent. But there is nothing to be done, because the Department of Justice is required to prosecute, and they have been refusing for four years—because they are in on the game.

·        The president’s position in power, therefore, is illegitimate—as is true in nearly all despotic regimes. There are probably (almost certainly, just from what we know of Fast and Furious and the Benghazi cover-up) multiple reasons for impeachment. But it won’t happen, because we are in a nation that either tacitly or overtly supports the regime.

·        While much is wrong in this country, the status quo this week is not very different from what it was a week ago. So far I am still able to publish my opinions online. Hyperinflation has not yet taken all our belongings. In many ways, life slogs on as it has the past four years. While dangers loom, today is still scary but tolerable. While we still have the ability to act with some freedom, we should do so.

·        Those of us paying attention have some advantages the enemy does not:
o   We have a good work ethic and a larger supply of common sense.
o   We are much more likely to rely on God for help and guidance.
o   We value family and safeguard it. With the difference in replacement rates alone, we could overcome the opposition in a generation, simply because they don’t raise offspring.

·       Since the enemy does not raise replacement offspring, they plan to control the next generation through control of education. [Here is the part you’re probably not ready to hear yet, because your paradigm is still shifting.] The way to avoid the loss of the next generation is to pull our children and grandchildren out of public schools—either into private/parochial schools, or, better yet, homeschooling.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this last point. I came across this article the day after the election, which refers to another article, “TheLast Radicals,” from National Review, of all places. One of the paragraphs in this piece reveals why homeschooling is so frightening to “progressives”:
The problem is not educational outcomes: Students in the Seton program tend to score on average in the 80th percentile on standardized tests. The problem is that progressives operate as though the state owned children as joint property. Dana Goldstein, writing in Slate, urged her fellow progressives to resist the temptation to homeschool, arguing that the practice is “fundamentally illiberal” and asking incredulously: “Could such a go-it-alone ideology ever be truly progressive?” She went on to argue that the children of high-achieving parents amount to public goods because of peer effects—poor students do better when mixed with better-off peers—meaning that “when college-educated parents pull their kids out of public schools, whether for private school or homeschooling, they make it harder for less-advantaged children to thrive.” She does not extend that analysis to its logical conclusion: that conscientious, educated liberals should enroll their children in the very worst public schools they can find in order to maximize the public good.
One of the outcomes of last week’s election was that our local school board, in a conservative area of the very red state of Texas, now has seven out of seven non-conservative teacher-organization-controlled trustees. The largest most local taxing entity, with the most effect on our everyday family lives, is controlled by people whose ideology is at odds with the people paying for schools (not paying their salaries; school trustees are unpaid—which adds to the puzzlement about how much money got put into their campaigns). If we cannot have a say, even at the local level, at our own school district, in a conservative area, it is time for that government institution to be abandoned.
This will not be a popular idea. It will take a while for this sad reality to sink in to people who still see schools as this great social opportunity, where their kids are building lifelong memories. But wishing to give our children what we had does not make it so; some of those memories are still available for some students at some schools—but becoming educated in the philosophies of our brilliant founding fathers (all of whom were homeschooled), along with the ethos they lived, is no longer an option in most public schools.
We began our homeschooling journey in 2000. It was something we saw as essential for our family at the time. It turned out there were benefits we had no idea we would get. It was a wild decade-long ride, and required so much energy and dedication that parents have to be truly committed to the holistic education of the children they love in order to meet the challenge. So I haven’t up till now done much proselytizing about homeschooling.
But with the paradigm shift, while we still can, it might be urgent to give this next generation the truths about freedom that we know but they are not being taught—before such teaching is prevented.
If you have even an inkling of interest in the possibility of such a drastic lifestyle change, there are a few places to explore:
·       A ThomasJefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of leaders for the 21st Century, by Oliver Van DeMille.
·       TheWell-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home, by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer (I got my copy signed by the authors when I heard them speak).
· (Texas Home School Coalition); sign up for their free weekly online newsletter, and get the handbook, which is specific to Texas law, but since Texas is a groundbreaking state for homeschooling, it would probably be helpful to any homeschooling parent.
·        Miracle in Texas, a video telling the amazing story from the early 1990s when the courts declared homeschools to be private schools, which paved the way for homeschooling freedom across the country.
At some point I’ll post more of our experiences, which might either make you want to dive right in or scare you off, depending on who you are. But, consider, for the sake of life, liberty, and family, whether the next step for you is to escape from government institutional indoctrination schools.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Clear Choice

I have been hoping, for this election, for clarity. I wanted the situation to be that people could see clearly who the candidates were, so the choice could be made without deceit. I believed that, if the American people had the clear choice before them, they would make the right choice for our country.
Here is what was clear to anyone with eyes willing to see:
President Obama divides the people, ignores the constitution, and has a four-year record of failed economic policies. His behavior toward our allies has been offensive. His behavior to our enemies has been apologetic and submissive. His specific lies following the Benghazi attack are so egregious as to require impeachment. His history, while sketchy, clearly indicates a disdain for our beloved constitutional ideals. He seems incompetent as a leader (specifically failing to persuade others to follow his actual ideology when truthfully stating it). Meanwhile, I think he is consistent in moving to transform the nation from a constitutional republic into a marxist tyranny. His tone is condescending and his attacks on his opponent are petty and small-minded. Because I love my homeland and the blessed freedom we inherited from our forefathers, I see him as an enemy. It is difficult for me to see positives about him. Others see him as a “great” orator; I have never heard him give a speech that moved me, and most of his speech I find grating and the opposite of inspiring. But I grant that some people swoon and feel moved, for whatever reason. (People do that over various rap “singers,” and I feel similarly puzzled.)
Romney during the GOP convention
from Ann Romney's Facebook page
Deserved-President Romney has been knowable all along. He is, despite the mischaracterization, about as steady and consistent as I have ever seen a public figure. He has a genuine history of remarkable success. His open record shows a very smart man, with an extreme work ethic combined with almost superhuman energy. His priorities are with God and family, and caring for individuals, with personal hand labor, not just with money. This was the hardest thing to get to know about him, because his quiet service is a way of life; he does it to serve God and fellowman, and it detracts from that purpose to talk about it. But his friends, real people who have known him in real life over long years, testify on his behalf. The stories of his sterling character are legion. Meanwhile, no one, virtually not a single human being, comes forward to testify of Obama’s lifetime character record.
Romney seems, in ways our founding fathers were, raised up by God for such a time as this. He had the sterling qualities, the valuable life experience, and the understanding—in addition to natural leadership qualities that inspire the best in those around him. Whatever our serious, practically insolvable problems in this country, if a human being, who would turn to God for guidance, could be seen to find solutions and turn the country around, that human being would be Mitt Romney. As Ann said, “This man will not fail.”
The choice was between Obama’s failure for our country and damage to our constitution, and the return to the constitution, free-enterprise, and civilized living. This was a difference between right and wrong, between freedom and tyranny, between prosperity and depression. The differences could not have been more stark.
It was inconceivable to me that, with that clarity, a majority of the American people would do anything other than rush to the polls to make the right choice. I was wrong.
I had felt peace in the couple of weeks before the election, that the clarity was there, and more than anything that God had things in hand. In my perspective, which is a much smaller perspective than God’s perspective, I could only imagine that meant a Mitt Romney win, and I was counting on improved economic and other considerations—that we would have some relief from the government-induced pain. So the immediate reaction was to mourn the loss of my hopes and plans.
What I had refused to believe was that the country, because of the people and their choices, was in as bad a shape as turned out to be true. This changes my understanding completely.
In the Book of Mormon, there is an understanding that there is a societal pattern we could call The Pride Cycle. A free and prosperous people tend to become complacent and prideful and forget about God, which leads to corruption and then bondage. And then, in their really bad straits, the humbled people turn back to God, and they eventually get deliverance and return to prosperity. Until they become complacent and prideful again.
My son Political Sphere had been listening to the returns on TheBlazeTV (Glenn Beck’s coverage online). And he said one of the guests, historian David Barton, actually talked about the cycle. He called it the Cycle of the Body Politic, but it is similar enough, I think we’re looking at the same cycle. I found this, beginning at the 4:12 mark (four hours and twelve minutes in):
David Barton: It’s called the Cycle of the Body Politic, and it goes through these steps:
·         You start with bondage as a nation.
·         Then you hit spiritual truth.
·         From that you develop great courage.
·         From great courage you fight for liberty.
·         You then have abundance once you get liberty.
·         But then selfishness sets in.
·         And then complacency.
·         And then apathy.
·         And then you go back to dependence.
And that’s the typical cycle of nations.
Glenn: I think the United States, many of our friends and neighbors are at apathy and dependence, in that transition period. But there’s probably a third of us that are in spiritual truth and great courage. We’re just at opposite ends of the circle.
I think that’s right. Because I have mostly surrounded myself with like-minded people, those of us at the “spiritual truth and great courage” place, I believed we were a critical mass that could move us up toward liberty and abundance. But indeed a thin majority of the voters saw Obama and what he represents as what they want. They do not want to hear truth. They refuse to believe in principles of truth. They were willing to believe Romney was an evil plutocrat out to gouge money from the poor, with all evidence to the contrary. They were willing to believe Obama had their best interests at heart despite the high unemployment, higher taxes, and anti-business policies. One could say there are many among them that are too stupid to know the truth, but I believe right now it is more willful disbelief. Government is their replacement for God. Compared to the real God, government is a pathetic substitute.
Even if we find there was enough voter fraud and disenfranchisement of military voting to make the difference, the country itself is nevertheless under condemnation--more than half choosing not to follow God's principles. The sizable percentage of eligible voters who failed to vote in essence assented to the current path southward into tyranny. I was simply wrong about there being enough of us to prevent the inevitable drop into the bottom bondage point of the cycle—and bondage is a synonym for tyranny. We are already suffering a fair amount of tyranny and have been suffering it for some years. I don’t know quite how to envision what is yet to come. But in order for God to humble His people and persuade them to turn back to Him, they must be made uncomfortable in their suffering.
There has to be a way to move back up north to freedom. We’ll talk about that in days to come. For today, let me just say that we owe a debt of gratitude to Mitt Romney for his tremendous sacrifice. He is a natural leader without the common love of power. We might not ever see a candidate for president who is as good a man as Mitt Romney has been his whole life.
There is a character in the Book of Mormon, a strong leader named Captain Moroni; it was said of him: “Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men” (Alma 48:17). If we had a preponderance of men like Mitt Romney, instead of this one singular man, we would have prosperity, civilization, and liberty at the very top of the sphere, with no slipping southward.
I believe he was called by God to run this campaign and give it his all. The cost physically, emotionally, and economically to him and his family was significant. He knew going in that the odds were against him, but he was the very best option, and he did his very best to give us the choice we needed. I believe it was part of God’s plan to have Romney there, so the choice would be stark, so that when the inevitable suffering of a people under condemnation comes, the suffering will clearly be the natural consequence of the choice.
What do we—who are already choosing right—what do we do now? Whatever God continues to call us to do. There was this discussion at the 4:54 mark of Glenn Beck’s coverage (my apologies that I couldn’t locate the General’s full name and don’t recognize him):
General: I’m disappointed, but I’m not discouraged. I’m going back to the hotel tonight. I’m going to get a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow I’m going back to Washington, and I’m gonna do exactly what I’ve been doing. And, David, you’ve just got to keep on writing books. And, Glenn, you’ve got to continue to be the Ezekiel 33:6 watchman.
Glenn: It doesn’t end well for those guys.
General: You’ve got to be the watchman. We’ve got to keep doing what we’ve been doing. It’s what we’re called to, and we keep doing what we’ve been doing. And the outcome is not up to us….
David Barton: John Quincy Adams fighting a losing battle, for him; he fought against slavery. But he never quit, and when the media asked him why, he said, “Because duty is ours; results are God’s.” And if we’ll stay on the track of doing the right thing, and don’t worry about the results, it doesn’t alter what we do, we’ll be all right.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Think on These Things

So, I was in the car Wednesday morning, with Christmas music playing, because I couldn’t handle any more sadness from radio news. My heart was heavy, grieving for the loss of my beloved country. And even with the music, I was feeling crummy, because I have had some illness going on for the last three weeks, which made it so I couldn’t even sing along. So I was what you might call “poor in spirit,” as I imagine half the population was this day.
I was on my way somewhere that, if I could manage to pull myself together, would be a joyful and peaceful place to be for the day, but—there was that problem of pulling myself together, and I was only about ten minutes away. So I was praying, aloud, there in my car. And the very clear thought came to me, along with an awareness of the music and Christmas and other joys, “Think on these things.” I remembered the phrase from Paul’s admonition. I couldn’t remember the reference right then, but I found it easily later.
Philippians 4:8  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
That’s what I need to do, to keep the grief at bay when my mind is spinning all kinds of reasons for depression: think on praiseworthy, lovely things. Think about visiting my grandchildren and children. Think about music and other things that lift and energize me. There’s a Christmas choir concert coming up I intend to sing in. There are things I want to play and record for my grandchildren, so they can hear me sing to them even when I’m not nearby. There’s celebrating the birth of Christ next month, adjusting to doing that when none of the kids live at home anymore—a first. There is work and service to be done. There are things to be written without any implications on an impending election.
As I was reading that chapter of Philippians, I came across some other words that I needed, including the two preceding verses:
4:6 Be careful [full of care, overly concerned] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 

And then there’s verse 13 besides:
4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
I had time, so I actually read all of Philippians. This was in chapter 2:
2:14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
2:15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world….

It seemed that last phrase was written for such a day as this. Paul wrote this letter to the saints in Philippi from a Roman prison. But in chapter 1, he sees the good even in that: 

1:12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out [turned out, or come] rather unto the furtherance of the gospel…. 

There will be other thoughts for other days. But for now, to get beyond the grieving that interferes with living life, if there is something the Lord turns my attention to, to uplift me, I will “think on these things.”


Monday, November 5, 2012

To GOTV or Not to GOTV?

My son Political Sphere has expressed a different view of Get-Out-the-Vote campaigns than most people do, and I am persuaded to agree. GOTV drives are used by both sides. In theory, you have a large supply of engaged, informed citizens who haven’t been voting simply because they have not known how to get through the bureaucracy of registering to vote and then getting to the polls. So, you help with that and serve the country. In an ideal world.

But this is not an ideal world.
There are times and places I think voter registration drives, followed up with encouragement to get to the polls, are entirely appropriate:
·         Where a lot of people have moved recently, such as in a new neighborhood or a relatively transient apartment neighborhood;
·         Where young people, often going off to college, are voting for the first time, or for the first time away from home and need some guidance;
·         Where immigrants have recently completed the naturalization process and now, as citizens, get to exercise their right to vote.
But rounding up uninformed voters, doing something for them and persuading them to vote for whom you say—even if this may be a legal tactic, it does nothing to bring more informed voters to the polls and does dilute the vote of informed, engaged voters.
Back in the summer of 2010, before I set up this blog, I wrote a piece about GOTV, some of which I published in a Facebook note. The early part of the piece relates to a situation specific to Houston at the time (but a pattern used across the country by trained “community organizers”). The second half recommends who should recuse themselves from voting for the sake of the country. I would never advocate any voting test, or any suppression of legal votes. I simply suggest what thought processes ought to be adhered to by voters. Let me add this caveat: there are many 2008 Obama voters who have since seen the light. If their repentance is sincere, and they can see clearly the principles to base a vote on this time, I do not insist on their self-recusal.
This day before the biggest election of my half-century life, I hope that every single thinking, informed, principled voter will cast their vote, while anyone who has up until now neglected their civic duties might do that for yet one more day—for all our sakes. And may the best candidates win.
Questionable GOTV
The opposition has used get-out-the-vote drives as a way of enhancing their chances to win. [As I write this, in July 2010, they have shipped in voter registrars and activists from Chicago and elsewhere for a project called Turn Texas Blue. They’re here in Harris County, in and around Houston, to multiply their voting position as many times as they can.] They find the portion of the population that is least informed, and then they essentially buy their votes. “I’ll drive you to the polls and treat you to lunch; oh, by the way, vote for the Democrats.” “Here’s a new trash can; remember when you vote it’s the Democrats who provided it, because we know your needs and meet them.” “You’re too weak to leave the assisted living center and get to the polls? No problem. Here, I’ll help you fill out your absentee ballot. You haven’t studied the candidates? No problem. Trust me, you want to vote for the Democrats.”
There’s something perverse about it. If you attack them for it, they can claim they’re just doing a service so that everyone can have a voice. But they’re not actually giving voice to more informed votes; they’re giving additional voice to their own vote. They add numbers to their side without actually adding any more informed voters to their side.
So what can we do except try to get out a higher percentage of voters likely to vote conservative? We do it differently. No buying votes. We canvas neighborhoods, try to locate conservatives, and provide information that will allow them to make an informed vote. It’s not an approach that appeals to stupid or buyable voters; it is merely an attempt to get the attendance of good citizens higher on voting days. It’s how it should be on both sides, but isn’t.
If a person isn’t motivated enough to get themselves registered to vote and make a decision about candidates, do we really want them having a say in who gets to make our laws and levy our taxes? In truth we’d be better off if they just followed their usual pattern of ignoring civic duty.

Who Should Vote
There is no voting test. We don’t do that here in America. But with great power (to vote) comes great responsibility (to vote responsibly). Those of you who can’t do that, we’d all be better off if you didn’t have a reckless say in who gets to make our laws and levy our taxes. How about some self-restraint, for all of our sakes?
You should recuse yourself from the upcoming election if…
  • You voted for Obama because you wanted to be part of the historic vote that put the first black president into office. This means you are racist, voting for a person because of his skin color instead of the content of his character or even shared political beliefs. That was irresponsible. You’re not capable of casting an informed vote.
  • You voted for Obama because you believed “hope” and “change” meant something good for America, just because you wanted it to mean something good, and not because you looked into what this man was hoping to change. Your lack of attention to detail was irresponsible. You’re not capable of casting an informed vote.
  • You voted for Obama because you believed his policies would be best for the economy and the safety of the country and you do not regret your vote. But his policies are disastrous for the economy, for our nation’s safety and sovereignty, and for maintaining of God-given inalienable rights. If you are unaware of the damage he is causing, then you are not sensible enough to vote in an election that affects the rest of us. You’re not capable of casting an informed vote.
  • You voted for Obama because you believed transforming us from a constitutional republic into a semi-dictatorial socialistic state would make America better, then it is understandable why you voted for him; you are as seditious as he is. But people who hate the republic of America should not consider themselves worthy of voting in our elections, since they are America’s enemies, so you should recuse yourself. You’re not capable of casting a vote in the best interests of America and Americans.