Gotta wonder based on the text of the Executive Order if John Ratcliffe at ODNI is working on the case as introduced by Sidney Powell regarding SmartMatic.
Many have said the United States needs election reform. The last time there was real reform was in 2002 with the launch of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. This commission operates in cadence with the Help America Vote Act. Did you know about this federal law and that it is under the authority of the Department of Justice? Nor did I until I found myself in a rabbit hole yesterday. There is a LOT here so it may get confusing but it will put much of what the press conference was about yesterday in context by Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell.
The Election Assistance Commission (EAC) supports state and local election officials in their efforts to ensure accessible, accurate. and secure elections. EAC develops guidance to meet the Help America Vote Act requirements, adopts voluntary voting system guidelines, and serves as a national clearinghouse of information on election administration. EAC also accredits testing laboratories and certifies voting systems, as well as audits the use of Help America Vote Act funds.
Further, at least 2 former members of the EAC went on later to join the Board of Directors for SmartMatic, the software in question hosted on Dominion machines.
Gracia Hillman served as a commissioner and chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (2003-2010); and Paul DeGregorio is an elections expert who also served as commissioner and chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (2003-2007). Further details from a 2018 Associated Press article includes:
Gracia Hillman served as a commissioner on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) from 2003 to 2010 and as chairman. During her career, she also served as Vice President for External Affairs at Howard University, Senior Coordinator for International Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State, President and CEO of WorldSpace Foundation, and Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of the U.S., the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and the National Coalition on Black Voter Participation.
Ms. Hillman has provided leadership as an officer and director of numerous nonprofit boards of directors and government commissions. She has represented the United States government before the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Paul DeGregorio served as commissioner of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) from 2003 to 2007, and during his tenure at the EAC served as chairman. At the EAC, Mr. DeGregorio oversaw federal election reform, such as the implementation of the Help America Vote Act and the establishment of the first federal certification of voting systems.
So, this HAVA law is funded and appears to operate with an estimated $500 million budget for 2020. That being the case, it is also then assigned an Inspector General to investigate compliance at the state and federal level. (I have not found any IG reports, however.)
State by state funding for 2020 is:
Okay, got it. Now exactly how are those funds allocated, spent and who approves this at the federal and state level? Help figure that out.
The HAVA Election Security Funds were appropriated in 2018 and 2020. The two HAVA Election Security Fund appropriations, authorized under Title I Section 101 of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002, marks the first new appropriations for HAVA grants since FY2010. This funding provides states with additional resources to secure and improve election systems.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 included $380 million in grants made available to states to improve the administration of elections for federal office, including enhancing technology and making certain election security improvements.
Then the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020 authorized an additional $425 million in new Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funds.
It should also be noted that SmartMatic has several U.S. patents and there have been several lawsuits regarding the use of the patent(s) where the system can or cannot be sold across the world. ES&S and Dominion have essentially the whole voting market in the United States. ProPublica, a left-leaning government accountability organization did a large summary in 2019 on voting irregularities across the US and it is an interesting read.
Trying to sort out the voting systems, hardware and software is crazy. Here is some help for you so that you can work out your own answers to questions you may have. There is much, much more for sure… this summary is merely a tip sheet for the reader.
The nation’s three largest voting machine manufacturing vendors — Election Systems & Software (ES&S), Dominion Voting Systems, and Hart InterCivic — have all publicly acknowledged that they place modems in some of their vote tabulators and scanners.
While the vendors claim that their “firewalls” protect computers from outside interference, many of the nation’s leading technical experts say this claim is bogus.
“Once a hacker starts talking to a voting machine through the modem,” says Princeton University Computer Science professor Andrew Appel, “they can hack the software and make it cheat in future elections.” It’s as straightforward as that.
So, what can we do?
“We should be unplugging all of these machines from the internet,” says Kevin Skoglund, the computer scientist who led the 10-expert investigatory team. This means keeping elections technologies disconnected all the time, including on election night.
“We cannot make our computers perfectly secure,” says Andrew Appel. “What we should do is remove all of the unnecessary, hackable pathways, such as modems. We should not connect our voting machines directly to the computer networks. That is just inviting trouble.” More here.
We begin with more details by Sidney Powell (General Flynn’s lawyer and part of the Trump legal team).
Then we have this summary from American Oversight, which is a very left-leaning group of lawyers but they too have concerns regarding Georgia’s overhaul of the state voting systems.
In July 2019, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced that the state had awarded a $107 million contract to manufacturer Dominion Voting Systems to replace existing voting machines with a new “verified paper ballot system.” As reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, both Dominion and the state’s former elections company, Election Systems & Software, had connections with Gov. Brian Kemp’s administration. Dominion lobbyist Jared Thomas had been a longtime political and campaign aide to Kemp, who previously served as secretary of state, and another lobbyist, Barry Herron, had worked for Diebold Election Systems, which had originally sold Georgia its electronic voting machines.
Elsewhere in the state, voters reported long lines and ballot issues, and concerns remain about the hidden costs of the new voting system, the state’s planned purge of 300,000 names from its voter rolls, and security weaknesses in voting equipment. With the 2020 elections looming and the security of U.S. voting systems less than certain, American Oversight is investigating state officials’ communications with Dominion Voting Systems and its subcontractor KnowInk and is requesting records that could shed light on how the state is working to ensure secure and accurate elections.
After allegations emerged that called into question the integrity of voting machines produced by Dominion Voting Systems, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)—part of the Department of Homeland Security—issued a statement on Nov. 12 disputing the allegations, saying “the November 3rd election was the most secure in American history.”
What the agency failed to disclose, however, is that Dominion Voting Systems is a member of CISA’s Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Council, one of two entities that authored the statement put out by CISA.
The agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether Dominion and Smartmatic had input or were otherwise involved in CISA’s Nov. 12 statement. In addition, Smartmatic, a separate voting machine company that has been the subject of additional concerns, is also a member.
The joint statement on the integrity of the Nov. 3 election was issued by the Executive Committee of the Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council (GCC), an Executive Committee representing a coalition of certain state & local government officials and government agencies, and the Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Council (SCC), a coalition primarily composed of voting system manufacturers that also includes Democracy Works, an organization which promotes the use of technology to increase voter participation.
The statement claims, “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”
“While we know there are many unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation about the process of our elections, we can assure you we have the utmost confidence in the security and integrity of our elections, and you should too,” says the statement.
Some of the allegations surrounding the integrity of the presidential election, included by President Donald Trump’s legal team, have been focused on the voting systems provided by Dominion, and to a lesser extent, Smartmatic. Both Dominion and Smartmatic have dismissed concerns over their systems.
Both companies are listed as members of CISA’s Sector Coordinating Council and appear to be actively involved as they are named as “Organizing Members” of the SCC. Among the key objectives of the SCC is to “serve as the primary liaison between the election subsector and federal, state, and local agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), concerning private election subsector security and emergency preparedness issues.”
The Charter states the primary mission of the Council is to “advance the physical security, cybersecurity, and emergency preparedness of the nation’s election infrastructure, in accordance with existing U.S. law. This mission will be accomplished through the voluntary actions of the infrastructure owners and operators represented in the Council.”
CISA’s Reliance on Commercial Vendors
CISA says that it “works to ensure the physical security and cybersecurity of the systems and assets that support the Nation’s elections,” including voter registration databases, IT infrastructure and systems to manage elections (including counting, auditing, and validating election results), voting systems, storage facilities for voting system infrastructure, and polling places including early voting locations.
In effect, CISA appears to act as something of an interface between commercial vendors and state & local governments.
“CISA is committed to working collaboratively with those on the front lines of elections—state and local governments, election officials, federal partners, and vendors—to manage risks to the Nation’s election infrastructure,” the agency states on its website.
As CISA notes, they do not have direct oversight or responsibility for the administration of our nation’s elections as that responsibility lies with state and local governments.
“Ultimate responsibility for administering the Nation’s elections rests with state and local governments, CISA offers a variety of free services to help states ensure both the physical security and cybersecurity of their elections infrastructure,” the agency writes on its website.
Dominion Using CISA to Deny Allegations
On Nov. 12, this publication published an article detailing a number of concerns raised about the integrity of Dominion Voting Systems in a sworn Aug. 24 declaration from Harri Hursti, a poll watcher and acknowledged expert on electronic voting security.
Hursti’s observations were made during the June 9 statewide primary election in Georgia and the runoff elections on Aug. 11, 2020, and centered primarily, although not exclusively, around the Dominion systems and equipment.
Hursti summarized his findings as follows:
“The scanner and tabulation software settings being employed to determine which votes to count on hand-marked paper ballots are likely causing clearly intentioned votes not to be counted”
“The voting system is being operated in Fulton County in a manner that escalates the security risk to an extreme level.”
“Voters are not reviewing their BMD [Ballot Marking Devices] printed ballots, which causes BMD generated results to be un-auditable due to the untrustworthy audit trail.”
As part of the article, we reached out to Dominion Voting Systems for comment on Nov. 11 about the allegations contained in Hursti’s sworn statement, to which the company did not respond. Our article was published on the morning of Nov. 12. That afternoon CISA published its statement denying any problems with the voting systems.
The next day, Nov. 13, Dominion sent us an email titled “SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT: FACTS & RUMORS,” which cited the joint statement published by the GCC and SCC, of which Dominion is an organizing member.
Nowhere in its email did Dominion disclose that it had any affiliation with CISA, or was an active member of the SCC, one of the issuing councils. The email itself referenced the statement in third-party fashion:
“According to a Joint Statement by the federal government agency that oversees U.S. election security, the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity, & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA): ‘There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.’ The government & private sector councils that support this mission called the 2020 election ‘the most secure in American history.’”
CISA did not respond to a request for comment by The Epoch Times about whether it has investigated the claims made in the Georgia lawsuit about Dominion.
While it remains unclear whether CISA and the GCC/SCC have evaluated concerns raised in the Georgia lawsuit, their public statements categorically deny any problems with the systems.
However, in an Oct. 11 order just weeks prior to the presidential elections, U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg agreed with the concerns associated with the new Dominion voting system, writing that the case presented “serious system security vulnerability and operational issues that may place Plaintiffs and other voters at risk of deprivation of their fundamental right to cast an effective vote that is accurately counted.”
Despite the court’s misgivings, Totenberg ruled against replacing the Dominion system right before the presidential election, noting that “Implementation of such a sudden systemic change under these circumstances cannot but cause voter confusion and some real measure of electoral disruption.”
Given the recent timing of Judge Totenberg’s order, it does not appear that any of these issues were addressed by Dominion, CISC, or any of its affiliated organizations or Councils, despite their later statements claiming there were no such issues.
Ever wonder about the tracking that Facebook uses to prioritize posts, block others, or issue warnings? There are some good uses for selection institutions, corporations, or agencies for sure… but we remain suspect of Facebook and all social media and with good reason.
So, take a look at the tool Facebook uses and is exploited by others.
When it comes to poll testing used by politicians, CrowdTangle is generally the ‘go-to’ source.
CrowdTangle Search: The top trend graph will show how election or candidate keywords have performed on social over time. Meme search will help with text on image posts so you’ll have broader results from overall election keywords.
Lists: Set up lists for politicians, candidates, local officials, campaign staffers, political Facebook groups, political influencers, and journalists. Set up a weekly digest (in our notifications section) for these lists to keep track of what everyone is saying.
Intelligence: See who’s driving more social interactions around their content. Compare candidates in races, political groups, and more.
Live Displays: Create an election-themed Live Display to give your team a real-time, multi-platform view of what candidates are saying, what local and national publishers are saying about the candidates, to compare your coverage of the election to that of your competitors, and more.
Check out these Live Displays for these 2020 Elections:
How to do fan-outs to see how a piece of content is spreading. (Fan-outs are tactics investigators use when they’re trying to identify similar content that has made its way across social media networks.)
Which Page or public account it was posted from, or which public group it was posted to.
How many interactions (e.g. likes, reactions, comments, shares) or video views it received.
Which other public Pages or accounts shared it.
CrowdTangle doesn’t track:
Reach or impressions on a post.
Ephemeral content like stories.
Demographic information on users. CrowdTangle can tell you a particular post earned 1,000 likes, but it can’t tell you who liked it, where they are from, or their age.
Paid or boosted posts. CrowdTangle doesn’t differentiate between paid or organic engagement.
Any data or posts from private accounts, or accounts that have put location or age restrictions on their content.
What accounts does CrowdTangle track?
CrowdTangle tracks influential public accounts and groups across Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit, including all verified users, profiles, and accounts like politicians, journalists, media and publishers, celebrities, sports teams, public figures, and more. CrowdTangle also can track 7 days of public Twitter data via CrowdTangle Search and our Chrome Extension. CrowdTangle does not track any private accounts.
CrowdTangle’s database currently includes:
Facebook: 6M+ Facebook Pages, public Groups, and verified profiles. This includes all Facebook Pages with more than 100K likes (new Pages are added automatically via an API).
Instagram: 2M+ public Instagram accounts. This includes all accounts with more than 75K followers, as well as all verified accounts.
A former infantry officer in the U.S. Army, Ambassador Jeffrey served in Germany and Vietnam from 1969 to 1976.
>> Think of it <<
James Jeffrey—who is retiring from his posts as the Special Representative for Syria Engagement and Special Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS — reportedly said that “shell games” have been used to avoid telling U.S. leaders the true number of American troops in Syria.
“We were always playing shell games to not make clear to our leadership how many troops we had there,” Jeffrey said, according to Defense One.
Jeffrey reportedly said that when President Donald Trump was interested in withdrawing from Syria, arguments against a withdrawal were presented to the commander in chief.
“What Syria withdrawal? There was never a Syria withdrawal,” Jeffrey told the outlet. “When the situation in northeast Syria had been fairly stable after we defeated ISIS, [Trump] was inclined to pull out. In each case, we then decided to come up with five better arguments for why we needed to stay. And we succeeded both times. That’s the story.”
The president last year officially agreed to maintain some troops in Syria, according to Defense One.
While Jeffrey in 2016 prior to the presidential election signed onto an anti-Trump letter with other individuals who had previously served under Republican administrations, Defense One noted that Jeffrey’s advice for the Biden administration is to persist in the course set by President Trump’s team.
Media outlets have projected Joe Biden to be the winner of the presidential contest, but Trump has not conceded.
For more context in part:
Under a “security mechanism” negotiated by Jeffrey’s team, the SDF had agreed to destroy its fortifications along the Turkish border and allow joint U.S.-Turkish patrols on its soil, in exchange for protection from a further Turkish attack.
“Those troops were not there to protect the Kurds from the Turks,” Jeffrey said, referring to U.S. troops that Trump moved away from the border after an October 6 phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. “The purpose of the president’s phone call was to dissuade [Erdoğan] from something in the days past we had become convinced was no longer a possibility but a probability.”
Jeffrey claimed that Turkey did not see U.S. forces as a deterrent. But when pressed, he confessed to Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) that Turkey would “absolutely not” kill American troops in Syria. He also tried to minimize his role in the decision-making process.
“I have never briefed the president,” Jeffrey said.
“Between the fourth and the sixth [of October], I had at least one conversation with [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo,” he continued. “Secretary Pompeo has been consulted very, very frequently, almost daily by the president on Syria issues.”
“The SDF has long had relations with Russia and the Assad government,” Jeffrey claimed. “We also never told them that we couldn’t.” Read more here.
But the U.S. government had reportedly blocked an agreement between the SDF and Bashar al-Assad prior to the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the region.
War Crimes Revealed
The National Interest reported yesterday that Jeffrey had slowed efforts by the State Department to condemn the murder of Syrian Kurdish politician Hevrin Khalaf by Turkish-backed paramilitaries.
For the first time in public, Jeffrey addressed accusations that Turkish forces had used white phosphorus, an incendiary chemical, on civilian areas. Lawmakers noted that they had received no notice from the Trump administration on the alleged use of chemical weapons.
“I haven’t heard anything about that [from the State Department] other than here,” Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D–MD) pointed out.
So, Jeffrey changed the subject to alleged war crimes by Bashar al-Assad, the Iranian- and Russian-backed ruler of the Syrian central government.
The first U.S. troops arrived in Syria under the Obama administration in Oct. 2015 to push back ISIS. At its peak, ISIS-controlled territories across Iraq and Syria that were home to about 10 million people.
Fifty American advisers were initially sent to Syria. That number grew to more than 500, according to the Pentagon, before officials acknowledged there were approximately 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria.
The role of the U.S. troops has been to advise and assist the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) — a Kurdish-led force that now numbers more than 50,000 and is about 40 percent Arab. The U.S. is not involved in direct combat unless it is for self-defense.
Al-Masri, who was about 58, was one of Al Qaeda’s founding leaders and was thought to be the first in line to lead the organization after its current leader, Ayman al-Zawahri.
Long featured on the F.B.I.’s Most Wanted Terrorist list, he had been indicted in the United States for crimes related to the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 224 people and wounded hundreds. The F.B.I. offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his capture, and as of Friday, his picture was still on the Most Wanted list.
American intelligence officials say that Mr. al-Masri had been in Iran’s “custody” since 2003, but that he had been living freely in the Pasdaran district of Tehran, an upscale suburb, since at least 2015. Source
WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States and Israel worked together to track and kill a senior al-Qaida operative in Iran earlier this year, a bold intelligence operation by the two allied nations that came as the Trump administration was ramping up pressure on Tehran.
Four current and former U.S. officials said Abu Mohammed al-Masri, al-Qaida’s No. 2, was killed by assassins in the Iranian capital in August. The U.S. provided intelligence to the Israelis on where they could find al-Masri and the alias he was using at the time, while Israeli agents carried out the killing, according to two of the officials. The two other officials confirmed al-Masri’s killing but could not provide specific details.
1998 file photo of Nairobi
Al-Masri was gunned down in a Tehran alley on Aug. 7, the anniversary of the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Al-Masri was widely believed to have participated in the planning of those attacks and was wanted on terrorism charges by the FBI.
Al-Masri’s death is a blow to al-Qaida, the terror network that orchestrated the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the U.S, and comes amid rumors in the Middle East about the fate of the group’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri. The officials could not confirm those reports but said the U.S. intelligence community was trying to determine their credibility.
Two of the officials — one within the intelligence community and with direct knowledge of the operation and another former CIA officer briefed on the matter — said al-Masri was killed by Kidon, a unit within the secretive Israeli spy organization Mossad allegedly responsible for the assassination of high-value targets. In Hebrew, Kidon means bayonet or “tip of the spear.”
The official in the intelligence community said al-Masri’s daughter, Maryam, was also a target of the operation. The U.S. believed she was being groomed for a leadership role in al-Qaida and intelligence suggested she was involved in operational planning, according to the official, who like the others, spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence.
Al-Masri’s daughter was the widow of Hamza bin Laden, the son of al-Qaida mastermind Osama bin Laden. He was killed last year in a U.S. counterterrorism operation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.
The news of al-Masri’s death was first reported by The New York Times.
Both the CIA and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, which oversees the Mossad intelligence agency, declined to comment.
Israel and Iran are bitter enemies, with the Iranian nuclear program Israel’s top security concern. Israel has welcomed the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the 2015 Iranian nuclear accord and the U.S. pressure campaign on Tehran.
At the time of the killings, the Trump administration was in the advanced stages of trying to push through the U.N. Security Council the reinstatement of all international sanctions on Iran that were lifted under the nuclear agreement. None of the other Security Council members went along with the U.S., which has vowed to punish countries that do not enforce the sanctions as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran.
Israeli officials are concerned the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden could return to the nuclear accord. It is likely that if Biden does engage with the Iranians, Israel will press for the accord to be modified to address Iran’s long-range missile program and its military activity across the region, specifically in Syria and its support for groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad.
The revelations that Iran was harboring an al-Qaida leader could help Israel bolster its case with the new U.S. administration.
Al-Masri had been on a kill or capture list for years. but his presence in Iran, which has a long history of hostility toward al-Qaida, presented significant obstacles to either apprehending or killing him.
Iran denied the reports, saying the government is not harboring any al-Qaida leaders and blaming the U.S. and Israel for trying to foment anti-Iranian sentiment. U.S. officials have long believed a number of al-Qaida leaders have been living quietly in Iran for years and publicly released intelligence assessments have made that case.
Al-Masri’s death, albeit under an assumed name, was reported in Iranian media on Aug. 8. Reports identified him as a Lebanese history professor potentially affiliated with Lebanon’s Iranian-linked Hezbollah movement and said he had been killed by motorcycle gunmen along with his daughter.
Lebanese media, citing Iranian reports, said that those killed were Lebanese citizen Habib Daoud and his daughter Maraym.
The deaths of al-Masri and his daughter occurred three days after the catastrophic Aug. 4 explosion at the port of Beirut and did not get much attention. Hezbollah never commented on reports and Lebanese security officials did not report that any citizens were killed in Tehran.
A Hezbollah official on Saturday would not comment on al-Masri’s death, saying Iran’s foreign ministry had already denied it.
The alleged killings seem to fit a pattern of behavior attributed to Israel in the past.
In 1995, the founder of the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad was killed by a gunman on a motorcycle in Malta, in an assassination widely attributed to the Mossad. The Mossad also reportedly carried out a string of similar killings of Iranian nuclear scientists in Iran early last decade. Iran has accused Israel of being behind those killings.
Yoel Guzansky, a senior fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies and former analyst on Iranian affairs in the prime minister’s office, said it has been known for some time that Iran is hiding top al-Qaeda figures. While he had no direct knowledge of al-Masri’s death, he said a joint operation between the U.S. and Israel would reflect the two nations’ close intelligence cooperation, with the U.S. typically stronger in the technical aspects of intelligence gathering and Israel adept at operating agents behind enemy lines.
Should the Senate be capped at 100 members, the way the House has been capped at 435 since 1929?
Democrats increasingly call for Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia to become official U.S. states. With 3.1 million and 700 thousand American citizens respectively, their residents have no representation in the Senate or the House.
In November, Puerto Rico residents voted 52 percent for statehood, in a nonbinding referendum. In June, the House passed the Washington, D.C. Admission Act by 232–180, with no Republicans in favor and all but one Democrat — Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN7) — in support.
The Constitution’s 17th Amendment requires the Senate “shall be composed of two Senators from each State.” Republicans say that adding Puerto Rico and/or the District of Columbia as states is just a partisan ploy to add more Democrats to the Senate, not to mention the House. (That said, Puerto Rico’s elected but nonvoting member of the House, Jenniffer González-Colón, is a Republican.)
What the constitutional amendment would do
A constitutional amendment proposal would limit the Senate to states that existed in 2019. In other words, it would block the seating of senators from potential future states Puerto Rico or the District of Columbia — or any other potential future states, for that matter.
That also means it would officially cap the Senate at 100 members. The House has been officially set at 435 members since the Permanent Apportionment Act of 1929, but while the Senate has remained at 100 members since 1959 because that was the last year a new state was added, the Senate has never had an official number of members like the House does.
This was introduced as a constitutional amendment, rather than as normal legislation, because it seeks to supersede the portions of the 17th Amendment; specifically, superseding the portion which says the Senate is composed of two senators from each state, with a new clause saying the Senate is composed of two senators from each state that existed in 2019.
Supporters argue that the widespread Democratic support for new states during the Trump era, especially considering how previous pre-Trump proposals didn’t gain nearly as much Democratic support, merely reflects a partisan gambit to pass policies that existing voters don’t sufficiently support.
“From packing the Supreme Court to passing the disastrous Green New Deal, it’s no secret Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer and their Washington elites will do anything to reshape the political future of our nation — no matter the cost,” Rep. Walker said in a press release.
“Democrats’ blatant attempts to strategically manipulate and mold dark blue strongholds in their quest to achieve a Senate majority treats Americans as pawns in their pathetic chess game,” Rep. Walker continued. “There is a cap on the number of members in the House and the Senate should have the same to avoid political abuse and hostage-taking of our standards and norms.”
What opponents say
Opponents counter that places such as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia currently experience taxation without full representation — exactly the type of oppression the American Revolutionary War was fought to end.
“The rights to vote, to be equally represented in the governments that make our own laws, and that elections are carried out fairly are the most fundamental and essential elements of democracy,” Commish. González-Colón said during a July congressional hearing. “I represent 89 percent of the inhabitants of the five territories of the United States … Those of us who live in the territories, live in jurisdictions that constitutionally does not have a vote in a government that dictates our national laws and that can, and has intervened, with local laws.”
“D.C. pays more federal taxes per capita than any state and pays more federal taxes than 22 states,” Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC0) said during another July congressional hearing. “D.C.’s population of 705,000 is larger than those of two states,… D.C.’s $15.5 billion budget is larger than those of 12 states… D.C. has a higher per capita personal income and gross domestic product than any state. Eighty-six percent of D.C. residents voted for statehood in 2016.”
Odds of passage
A constitutional amendment requires passage by two-thirds of both the House and Senate, plus three-quarters of state legislatures. And this one has a particularly long road ahead, considering it has not yet attracted any cosponsors.
It awaits a potential vote in the House Judiciary Committee.
DS: Legislative proposals to make D.C. a state violate the Constitution in at least two ways.
Article I, Section 8 grants Congress the right to “exercise exclusive Legislation” over the “District” that is “the Seat of the Government of the United States.”
Congress cannot simply change the “Seat of the Government” into a state or delegate its power over the District to the government of a new state.
It took a constitutional amendment to give D.C. residents the ability to vote for president because they are not a state and Congress could not make them a state.
Ratified in 1961, the 23rd Amendment recognizes Congress’s authority to oversee the manner in which the District appoints electors to the Electoral College.
Congress cannot single-handedly eliminate the power this amendment grants only to Congress.
Article I would need to be amended, and the 23rd Amendment would need to be repealed for legislative efforts to be constitutional.
In Adams v. Clinton (2000), the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals found that legislative efforts to allow for voting representation in Congress were unconstitutional.
The three judge panel made it clear that the Constitution would need to be amended in order for such changes to take place within the law.
Congress itself recognized this in 1977 with a constitutional amendment to grant D.C. representation—it failed to gain the approval of the states.
Constitutional questions aside, proponents pushing for D.C. statehood overlook the fact that D.C. residents are already well-represented.
The Founders reasoned that the whole Congress would represent the interests of the residents of the District of Columbia.
According to Justice Joseph Story, those who lived in the District “would receive with thankfulness such a blessing, since their own importance would be thereby increased, their interests subserved, and their rights be under the immediate protection of the representatives of the whole.”
This remains true today, especially in light of the fact that federal spending often benefits D.C. residents more than those living in the states, whose residents usually receive far less in federal funding per capita than D.C. residents.
In fact, seven of the 10 wealthiest counties in America surround Washington, D.C.
The interests of the residents of the District are already highly promoted, even perhaps at the expense of the rest of the country.
The council is made up of 13 members and a mayor—each of which is an elected position.
Though the campaign to make the District of Columbia a state and grant it full congressional voting will lumber on, supporters should come to terms with the constitutional and practical impediments outlined above.
If proponents of D.C. statehood want to live in a state and not a district, they have someoptions that are very close by.
Joe Biden has said he would lockdown the nation based on the science. Question is, what science? Virology experts hardly all agree on the threats and implications of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Michael Osterholm, an infectious-disease expert and one of the 13 members of Biden’s new coronavirus task force called for a national lockdown lasting four to six weeks to slow the rise of virus cases across the country. Read here in detail.
Then we have governors that are going to another round of lockdowns: California, New York, Michigan, and Oregon and in various forms including just some cities like Chicago. Cancel the holidays they say… close businesses at 10 pm, that is when the virus shows up. Yeesh… but let’s go deeper into critical thinking, shall we?
The New England Journal of Medicine has published a study that goes to the heart of the issue of lockdowns. The question has always been whether and to what extent a lockdown, however extreme, is capable of suppressing the virus. If so, you can make an argument that at least lockdowns, despite their astronomical social and economic costs, achieve something. If not, nations of the world have embarked on a catastrophic experiment that has destroyed billions of lives, and all expectation of human rights and liberties, with no payoff at all.
AIER has long highlighted studies that show no gain in virus management from lockdowns. Even as early as April, a major data scientist said that this virus becomes endemic in 70 days after the first round of infection, regardless of policies. The largest global study of lockdowns compared with deaths as published in The Lancet found no association between coercive stringencies and deaths per million.
To test further might seem superfluous but, for whatever reason, governments all over the world, including in the US, still are under the impression that they can affect viral transmissions through a range of “nonpharmaceutical interventions” (NPIs) like mandatory masks, forced human separation, stay-at-home orders, bans of gatherings, business, and school closures, and extreme travel restrictions. Nothing like this has been tried on this scale in the whole of human history, so one might suppose that policymakers have some basis for their confidence that these measures accomplish something.
A study conducted by Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in cooperation with the Naval Medical Research Center sought to test lockdowns along with testing and isolation. In May, 3,143 new recruits to the Marines were given the option to participate in a study of frequent testing under extreme quarantine. The study was called CHARM, which stands for COVID-19 Health Action Response for Marines. Of the recruits asked, a total of 1,848 young people agreed to be guinea pigs in this experiment which involved “which included weekly qPCR testing and blood sampling for IgG antibody assessment.” In addition, the CHARM study volunteers who did test positively “on the day of enrollment (day 0) or on day 7 or day 14 were separated from their roommates and were placed in isolation.”
What did the recruits have to do? The study explains, and, as you will see, they faced an even more strict regime that has existed in civilian life in most places. All recruits, even those not in the CHARM group, did the following.
All recruits wore double-layered cloth masks at all times indoors and outdoors, except when sleeping or eating; practiced social distancing of at least 6 feet; were not allowed to leave campus; did not have access to personal electronics and other items that might contribute to surface transmission, and routinely washed their hands. They slept in double-occupancy rooms with sinks, ate in shared dining facilities, and used shared bathrooms. All recruits cleaned their rooms daily, sanitized bathrooms after each use with bleach wipes, and ate pre-plated meals in a dining hall that was cleaned with bleach after each platoon had eaten. Most instruction and exercises were conducted outdoors. All movement of recruits was supervised, and unidirectional flow was implemented, with designated building entry and exit points to minimize contact among persons. All recruits, regardless of participation in the study, underwent daily temperature and symptom screening. Six instructors who were assigned to each platoon worked in 8-hour shifts and enforced the quarantine measures. If recruits reported any signs or symptoms consistent with Covid-19, they reported to sick call, underwent rapid qPCR testing for SARS-CoV-2, and were placed in isolation pending the results of testing.
Instructors were also restricted to campus, were required to wear masks, were provided with pre-plated meals, and underwent daily temperature checks and symptom screening. Instructors who were assigned to a platoon in which a positive case was diagnosed underwent rapid qPCR testing for SARS-CoV-2, and, if the result was positive, the instructor was removed from duty. Recruits and instructors were prohibited from interacting with campus support staff, such as janitorial and food-service personnel. After each class completed quarantine, a deep bleach cleaning of surfaces was performed in the bathrooms, showers, bedrooms, and hallways in the dormitories, and the dormitory remained unoccupied for at least 72 hours before re-occupancy.
The reputation of Marine basic training is that it is tough going but this really does take it to another level. Also, this is an environment where those in charge do not mess around. There was surely close to 100% compliance, as compared with, for example, a typical college campus.
What were the results? The virus still spread, though 90% of those who tested positive were without symptoms. Incredibly, 2% of the CHARM recruits still contracted the virus, even if all but one remained asymptomatic. “Our study showed that in a group of predominantly young male military recruits, approximately 2% became positive for SARS-CoV-2, as determined by qPCR assay, during a 2-week, strictly enforced quarantine.”
And how does this compare to the control group that was not tested and not isolated in the case of a positive case?
Have a look at this chart from the study:
Which is to say that the nonparticipants actually contracted the virus at a slightly lower rate than those who were under an extreme regime. Conversely, extreme enforcement of NPIs plus more frequent testing and isolation was associated with a greater degree of infection.
I’m grateful to Don Wolt for drawing my attention to this study, which, so far as I know, has received very little attention from any media source at all, despite having been published in the New England Journal of Medicine on November 11.
Here are four actual media headlines about the study that miss the point entirely:
CNN: “Many military Covid-19 cases are asymptomatic, studies show”
SciTech Daily: “Asymptomatic COVID-19 Transmission Revealed Through Study of 2,000 Marine Recruits”
ABC: “Broad study of Marine recruits shows limits of COVID-19 symptom screening”
US Navy: “Navy/Marine Corps COVID-19 Study Findings Published in New England Journal of Medicine”
No national news story that I have found highlighted the most important finding of all: extreme quarantine plus frequent testing and isolation among military recruits did nothing to stop the virus.
The study is important because of the social structure of control here. It’s one thing to observe no effects from national lockdowns. There are countless variables here that could be invoked as cautionary notes: demographics, population density, preexisting immunities, degree of compliance, and so on. But with this Marine study, you have a near homogeneous group based on age, health, and densities of living. And even here, you see confirmed what so many other studies have shown: lockdowns are pointlessly destructive. They do not manage the disease. They crush human liberty and produce astonishing costs, such as 5.53 million years of lost life from the closing of schools alone.
The lockdowners keep telling us to pay attention to the science. That’s what we are doing. When the results contradict their pro-compulsion narrative, they pretend that the studies do not exist and barrel ahead with their scary plans to disable all social functioning in the presence of a virus. Lockdowns are not science. They never have been. They are an experiment in social/political top-down management that is without precedent in cost to life and liberty.
[The earliest version of this article misstated the conditions of the control group. They were equally locked down with those who participated in the study. The difference between the two concerned testing frequency and the isolation response. This does not affect this article’s conclusion; indeed it strengthens it: even under extreme measures, the virus spread, and more so with the extra measure intended to control the virus. Nearly all infections were without symptoms.]
As the most recent example, Republican Donald Trump confirmed more justices in four years alone than his Democratic predecessors Barack Obama or Bill Clinton each did in eight. (And Democrat Jimmy Carter didn’t even get the opportunity to nominate a single justice.)
This discrepancy — and its disconnect from election results — has produced proposals for ways in which presidents get a consistent number of justice appointments, regardless of party.
The existing nine justices would be grandfathered in, and not subject to the bill’s requirements. From then on, a justice would be nominated by the president every two years, specifically during odd-numbered years. As usual, the Senate would hold a vote to confirm or deny the nomination. And once those justices were confirmed, they would serve for 18 years.
In response to Obama’s 2016 nomination of Merrick Garland, for whom Senate Republicans refused to hold a vote for almost a year, the bill adds an interesting twist. If a justice hasn’t received a Senate vote within 120 days, that justice would automatically be seated on the Court. In other words, had this bill been in effect in 2016, Garland would have joined the Court. (Or maybe not. Under that scenario, presumably the Republican-led Senate wouldn’t have let that outcome happen by delaying Garland’s vote for that long.)
What about if a justice dies, as Antonin Scalia did in 2016 and Ruth Bader Ginsburg did in 2020? In that case, the living former Supreme Court justice who most recently retired would temporarily fill the seat, until the next odd-numbered year when a president could nominate someone new again.
How would that have played out if this bill was law during the two most recent deaths? Ginsburg would have been temporarily replaced by Anthony Kennedy, who was more conservative than she was, though not as conservative as her actual replacement Amy Coney Barrett. And Scalia would have been temporarily replaced by John Paul Stevens, who leaned much more left than Scalia did, as well as much more left than Scalia’s actual replacement Neil Gorsuch.
Supporters argue that the bill would add a level of regularity and predictability to the judicial branch, without the likelihood of massive potential change because of a single appointment, as Barrett seems potentially likely to usher in after Ginsburg’s death.
“We can’t face a national crisis every time a vacancy occurs on the Supreme Court,” Rep. Khanna said in a press release.
“No justice should feel the weight of an entire country on their shoulders. No president should be able to shift the ideology of our highest judicial body by mere chance,” Rep. Khanna continued. Most importantly, our country’s top constitutional questions shouldn’t be decided by a panel of jurists who are biding their time until a president of their choice is elected. It’s time to standardize and democratize the Supreme Court.”
What opponents say
Opponents counter that lifetime tenure serves a purpose by insulating the Supreme Court from political pressures.
“It is the best expedient which can be devised in any government, to secure a steady, upright and impartial administration of the laws,” Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist №78. “Nothing can contribute so much to its firmness and independence, as permanency in office, this quality may therefore be justly regarded as an indispensable ingredient in its constitution; and in a great measure as the citadel of the public justice and the public security.”
Opponents also include some top Democrats. “No. There is a question about whether or not — it’s a lifetime appointment. I’m not going to try to change that at all,” Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said in October.
Odds of passage are low in the Republican-controlled Senate. But this bill, while it seems Democratic given the current political reality and recent history, is in theory nonpartisan. Although a Republican president and Senate happened to get to confirm the two most recent Supreme Court justices following deaths, perhaps the next two — or more — such vacancies will be confirmed by Democrats.
As the news breaks from Operation Warp Speed (Trump administration) on the news of Pfizer’s vaccine. As announced by StatNews:
Pfizer and partner BioNTech said Monday that their vaccine against Covid-19 was strongly effective, exceeding expectations with results that are likely to be met with cautious excitement — and relief — in the face of the global pandemic.
The vaccine is the first to be tested in the United States to generate late-stage data. The companies said an early analysis of the results showed that individuals who received two injections of the vaccine three weeks apart experienced more than 90% fewer cases of symptomatic Covid-19 than those who received a placebo. For months, researchers have cautioned that a vaccine that might only be 60% or 70% effective.
The Phase 3 study is ongoing and additional data could affect results.
In keeping with guidance from the Food and Drug Administration, the companies will not file for an emergency use authorization to distribute the vaccine until they reach another milestone: when half of the patients in their study have been observed for any safety issues for at least two months following their second dose. Pfizer expects to cross that threshold in the third week of November. More here.
Exactly what is presumptive president-elect Biden’s plan and will he take full credit for the remarkable work of the Trump White House?
Well, let’s look at that, shall we?
Source in part with additional context: The experts include Rick Bright, the former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) who said he was forced out his position earlier this year after opposing promoting unproven treatments. (Bright was fired from HHS and became a whistle-blower for fully disagreeing with hydroxychloroquine.
Bioethicist and oncologist Zeke Emanuel, who served as former adviser to the Obama administration on the Affordable Care Act and is brother of former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, and Atul Gawande, a surgeon who served as advisor to the Clinton and Obama administrations, will also serve on the panel. (Emanuel was the cat that believes people — particularly the aged — who aren’t contributing materially to society should get out of the way for the benefit of the strong. And, Emanuel was a prime architect of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, and remains one of the law’s most enthusiastic apologists. Readers may also recall his infamous 2014 article in The Atlantic, where he wrote that he wants to die at age 75 — implying that we should too — because people after that age become “feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.”
Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel is the vice provost for global initiatives and a professor at the University of Pennsylvania.
He’s also a special adviser to the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. If asked to put a chip on the betting calendar as to when we return to at least a “new normal,” where are you willing to place yours?
I’ve been saying this for months and I’ll continue to say it: November 2021. Even if we get a vaccine and have to play out getting it out there, it’s November 2021. I’m sticking with it. Source
Other experts who will serve as co-chairs include Vivek Murthy, a former surgeon general who served under the Obama administration; David Kessler, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration; and Marcella Nunez-Smith, an associate professor of internal medicine, public health and management and the founding director of the Equity Research and Innovation Center. (Marcella Nunez-Smith is at the core of blaming discrimination of healthcare and the pandemic on race.
The three also served as advisers on Biden’s campaign.
“Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most important battles our administration will face, and I will be informed by science and by experts,” the president-elect said in a statement.
Biden had announced plans shorty after being projected winner of the presidential election on Saturday to name “a group of leading scientists and experts as transition advisers to help take the Biden-Harris COVID plan and convert it into an action blueprint” that will start in January, when he is inaugurated.
“That plan will be built on bedrock science,” he said.
The Biden transition team, which has been working behind-the-scenes since Labor Day, also has preferred candidates in mind for major Cabinet posts that require Senate confirmation and positions inside the West Wing that do not. The Cabinet announcements are not expected for a few weeks, aides said, and some are likely to be delayed even longer until it’s known who will control the Senate following the January run-offs in Georgia.
Ron Klain, a longtime adviser to Biden and his chief of staff during the early years of the Obama administration, is a leading contender to be White House chief of staff, people close to the process tell CNN.
The Biden transition is a robust effort with two Biden advisers, Jeff Zients and Ted Kaufman, taking the primary lead in overseeing these ongoing efforts. Anita Dunn, a senior adviser to the Biden campaign and former White House communications director, is another one of the co-chairs, along with New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, and Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond.
For decades, progressives have attempted to use climate change to justify liberal policy changes. But their latest attempt – a new proposal called the “Great Reset” – is the most ambitious and radical plan the world has seen in more than a generation.
At a virtual meeting earlier in June hosted by the World Economic Forum, some of the planet’s most powerful business leaders, government officials, and activists announced a proposal to “reset” the global economy. Instead of traditional capitalism, the high-profile group said the world should adopt more socialistic policies, such as wealth taxes, additional regulations, and massive Green New Deal-like government programs.
“Every country, from the United States to China, must participate, and every industry, from oil and gas to tech, must be transformed,” wrote Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, in an article published on WEF’s website. “In short, we need a ‘Great Reset’ of capitalism.”
Schwab also said that “all aspects of our societies and economies” must be “revamped,” “from education to social contracts and working conditions.”
Joining Schwab at the WEF event was Prince Charles, one of the primary proponents of the Great Reset; Gina Gopinath, the chief economist at the International Monetary Fund; António Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations; and CEOs and presidents of major international corporations, such as Microsoft and BP.
Activists from groups such as Greenpeace International and a variety of academics also attended the event or have expressed their support for the Great Reset.
Although many details about the Great Reset won’t be rolled out until the World Economic Forum meets in Davos in January 2021, the general principles of the plan are clear: The world needs massive new government programs and far-reaching policies comparable to those offered by American socialists such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in their Green New Deal plan.
Or, put another way, we need a form of socialism — a word the World Economic Forum has deliberately avoided using, all while calling for countless socialist and progressive plans.
One of the main themes of the June meeting was that the coronavirus pandemic has created an important “opportunity” for many of the World Economic Forum’s members to enact their radical transformation of capitalism, which they acknowledged would likely not have been made possible without the pandemic.
“We have a golden opportunity to seize something good from this crisis — its unprecedented shockwaves may well make people more receptive to big visions of change,” said Prince Charles at the meeting, adding later, “It is an opportunity we have never had before and may never have again.”
You might be wondering how these leaders plan to convince the world to completely alter its economy over the long run since the COVID-19 pandemic most assuredly won’t remain a crisis forever. The answer is that they’ve already identified another “crisis” that will require expansive government intervention: Climate change.
“The threat of climate change has been more gradual [than COVID-19]—but its devastating reality for many people and their livelihoods around the world, and its ever-greater potential to disrupt, surpasses even that of Covid-19,” Prince Charles said.
Of course, these government officials, activists, and influencers can’t impose a systemic change of this size on their own. Which is why they have already started to activate vast networks of left-wing activists from around the world, who will throughout 2021 demand changes in line with the Great Reset.
According to the World Economic Forum, its 2021 Davos summit will include thousands of members of the Global Shapers Community, youth activists located in 400 cities across the planet.
For those of us who support free markets, the Great Reset is nothing short of terrifying. Our current crony capitalist system has many flaws, to be sure, but granting more power to the government agents who created that crony system and eroding property rights is not the best way forward. America is the world’s most powerful, prosperous nation precisely because of the very market principles the Great Reset supporters loathe, not in spite of them.
Making matters worse, the left has already proven throughout the COVID-19 pandemic that it can radically transform political realities in the midst of a crisis, so it’s not hard to see how the Great Reset could eventually come to fruition.
Donate to NoisyRoom.net
Support American Values...