Can We Trust Our Elections? Grading Each State

There should be an area of agreement between all reasonable people in the United States.  For our country to survive we must be able to trust the integrity of our elections.  If elected officials are abusing their power like they are in places like California right now, we need to have the ability to vote those people out of office or else there is no check against tyranny.  When dishonest politicians are able to steal elections, they will. 

Both Democrats and Republicans say that they want honest and fair elections.  Both parties have complained about the integrity of our recent and upcoming elections.  Unfortunately, they have different ideas about what is taking away the trust in our elections.  We heard a lot from Democrats about Russian interference in the 2016 election.  In fact, they have spent much of the last 4 years investigating it over and over again.  Many of you may wonder how they allege that the Russians changed the outcome in 2016.  Did they somehow hack our voting systems and change the vote counts?  Did they fly in Russians to swing states where they cast illegal votes?  No.  The alleged Russian interference is that they said mean things about Hillary Clinton on Facebook.  While that may be frustrating to Hillary fans, it does not actually make it easier for anybody to cast fraudulent votes.  Plus, how many of you would change your vote because some stranger said something mean on Facebook?

Republicans ask a different question about voting that we should all agree is important.  Do we know who is casting the votes in our elections and that no shenanigans are happening with those votes?  If we don’t it opens the door to voter fraud, stolen elections, and the end of our government of the people, by the people, and for the people.  Do not fall for the media line that very few people get convicted of voter fraud so nobody does it.  That’s like saying a Las Vegas club that doesn’t check ID’s has no underage people inside because no underage people got caught. 

How can we be more confident about who is voting and that they are correctly counted?  The only way to be sure is to require in person voting, on Election Day, with matching photo ID to verify that the person is who they say they are.  It’s easy and it’s common sense.  Unfortunately, not everybody wants to have honest elections. 

Each state sets up their own election laws, so some are far more reliable than others.  Some are unwisely pushing for mail-in voting, with nobody there to verify that the person who filled out the ballot is the actual person that the ballot belongs to, and with no guarantee that the ballot will be delivered or counted.  In fact, there is already an investigation into military mail-in ballots that were apparently opened and thrown into the garbage in Pennsylvania.  The only time a mail-in ballot should be accepted is for overseas military personnel.  All 50 states now allow some form of mail-in voting, so nobody gets a perfect score on preventing voter fraud, but some states at least have a few precautions set up. 

Unfortunately, other states not only lack rules to prevent election shenanigans, but they come up with ideas to make cheating so easy that the Houston Astros wish they had thought of it.  “Ballot harvesting” is the shady practice of allowing a third party to collect ballots and deliver them to be counted.  This has all of the negatives of mail-in voting with the added problem of having partisan people targeting which ballots to bring in.  In California this practice caused congressional districts that had always voted one way to flip.  In many of the cases the returns had one candidate ahead at the end of election night only to swing wildly to the other side the next day.  Whenever the results from election night change like that it raises major red flags as to the integrity of those votes.

It’s pretty unbelievable, but some states do not even require you to show identification when you go to vote.  That means we have no idea who is casting votes in those states.  Here in California, if I walked into a polling place and said my name is Fred Johnson, then I’m Fred Johnson.  Apparently in Pennsylvania their Secretary of State said that they would not even throw out a ballot if the signature doesn’t match.

What we need is a report card to know which states have safe enough elections to trust the outcome.  Below you will find it, with a grade based on how many precautions are set up to make sure that each vote has been properly cast by the correct, legal voter. 

  StateVoting Only on Election DayVoting In Person OnlyID Required to Verify Who Is VotingBallot Harvesting and Other Notable Rules  Grade
    Alabama    YesNo, but an excuse is required    YesAbsentee ballots require witnesses and must be received before the close of polling    A
  Alaska  No  No  Yes, but non-photo ID acceptedA special needs voter can have a representative return a ballot  C  
    Arizona    No    No  Yes, but non-photo ID acceptedFamily member, household member, or caregiver can return ballots    C
  Arkansas  NoNo, but an excuse is required  YesBallot harvesting allowed, but limit two ballots per authorized agent  B
California  NoNo, and everyone receives a mailed ballot  NoBallot harvesting allowed  F
Colorado NoNo, all mail-in election NoBallot harvesting allowed F
  Connecticut  YesNo, but an excuse is required  Yes, but non-photo ID acceptedOthers can return votes for disabled voters, with restrictions   B
  DelawareYes, but early voting passed for 2022  NoID is requested, but voters can sign an affidavit to avoid showing IDUnspecified if ballot harvesting is allowed   D
  Florida  No  No  YesOthers can return votes for disabled voters, with restrictions  C
  Georgia   No  No  YesOthers can return votes for disabled voters, with restrictions  C
    Hawaii    NoNo, all mail-in electionID is requested, but voters can recite their date of birth and address insteadUnspecified if ballot harvesting is allowed    F
  Idaho  No  NoID is requested, but voters can sign an affidavit to avoid showing IDUnspecified if ballot harvesting is allowed  F
Illinois No No NoBallot harvesting allowed F
    Indiana    NoNo, but an excuse is required, and coronavirus is not a valid excuse    YesMail ballots must be received before the close of polling    B
  Iowa  No  NoYes, or another voter can vouch for their identityBallot harvesting allowed  D
Kansas No No YesBallot harvesting allowed D
  Kentucky  YesNo, but an excuse is required  YesOthers can return votes for disabled voter, with restrictions   A
    Louisiana    NoNo, but an excuse is required, and coronavirus is not a valid excuse ID is requested, but voters can sign an affidavit to avoid showing IDMail ballots require a witness signature and must be received before the close of polling    B
  Maine  No  No  NoBallot harvesting allowed, but limited to five at a time  F
Maryland No No NoBallot harvesting allowed F
    Massachusetts    No    No    NoBallots may be delivered by a family member or from a healthcare facility    F
      Michigan      No      NoID is requested, but voters can sign an affidavit to avoid showing IDFamily member or certified election assistant can deliver ballots.  Ballots must be received by 6 pm on Election Day    D
  Minnesota  No  No   NoDesignated agent can return up to three ballots  F
   Mississippi    YesNo, but an excuse is required      YesUnspecified if ballot harvesting is allowed.  Mail ballots require witnesses and must be received before the close of polling    B
    Missouri     Yes      No    Yes, but non-photo is acceptedBallots can be returned by a family member or a team of election authorities and require witness signatures    B
    Montana    No    No    Yes, but non-photo is acceptedLaw limited who could return ballots and only six per person, but a judge has held up the law    D
    Nebraska  No  No  NoOthers can return up to two ballots except for campaign workers   D
  Nevada  NoNo, and everyone receives a mailed ballot  NoBallots may be returned by a family member  F
New Hampshire    YesNo, but an excuse is requiredIf ID is not presented, the voter signs a challenged voter affidavit and votes a regular ballot. After the election a mailing is sent and the voter must sign and return it; if it is not returned, the voter will be investigated for voter fraud.Family members, nursing home staff, and residential care staff can return up to four ballots which must be received before the close of polling    B   
  New Jersey  NoNo, and everyone receives a mailed ballot  NoAn authorized messenger can return up to three ballots  F
  New Mexico  No  No  NoA caregiver or immediate family member can return ballots F
  New York  NoNo, but an excuse is required  NoUnspecified if ballot harvesting is allowed   F
North Carolina    No    NoNo, although a voter ID law was passed by voters, it was blocked by an Obama appointed judge. Ballots require witness signature and may be returned by a near relative or legal guardian    F
 North Dakota    No    No    YesOthers can deliver up to four ballots, cannot be a candidate or be compensated    C
  Ohio  No  NoYes, but non-photo is acceptedBallots can be returned by a family member   D
 Oklahoma    No    No  Yes, but non-photo is acceptedCopy of ID, notarized ballot, or two witness signatures required    C
Oregon NoNo, all mail-in election NoBallot harvesting allowed F
      Pennsylvania      No      No      NoIf voter becomes too sick to vote a representative, deputy sheriff or constable can deliver an emergency absentee ballot    F
  Rhode Island  No  No  YesUnspecified if ballot harvesting is allowed  D
South Carolina    YesNo, but an excuse is required, and coronavirus is not a valid excuse      YesBallots may be returned by others except candidates or paid campaign workers and require witness signatures    A
 South Dakota     No       NoID is requested, but voters can sign an affidavit to avoid showing IDPhoto ID required for a mail ballot.  An authorized messenger may deliver ballots, but if more than one they must notify the person in charge of the election   D      
  Tennessee      NoNo, and a judge ordered them to allow no-excuse absentee voting      YesUnspecified if ballot harvesting is allowed    D
    Texas     NoNo, but an excuse is requiredPhoto ID requested. Voters who do not possess an acceptable form of photo ID and cannot obtain one, may present a supporting form of ID and execute a Reasonable Impediment DeclarationPhoto ID required for a mail ballot.  A household member, relative or person lawfully assisting a voter who is disabled or cannot read the ballot may return the mail ballot    C
  Utah  NoNo, all mail-in election  NoUnspecified if ballot harvesting is allowed  F
  Vermont  NoNo, and everyone receives a mailed ballot  NoUnspecified if ballot harvesting is allowed  F
    Virginia    No        No    Yes, but non-photo acceptedWitness signature required for mail ballots.  A designated representative can return ballot for a voter who is incapacitated or hospitalized    C
  Washington  NoNo, all mail-in election  NoUnspecified if ballot harvesting is allowed   F
 West Virginia  NoNo, but an excuse is requiredYes, or be identified by a poll workerAnyone can return up to two ballots  B
  Wisconsin      No      No      YesUnspecified if ballot harvesting is allowed. Photo ID required for a mail ballot and witness signature required    C
  Wyoming  No  No  NoUnspecified if ballot harvesting is allowed  F

Censorship, Vegas, and Convention Craziness

This is my first article in a few weeks because as you might know, I’ve been busy working on getting my new book, The God Bet, released.  The premise of the book is that I will bet anybody a million dollars on which party God would vote for.  It is getting good reviews, but so far I have been unable to add it to my “shop” page on Facebook.  They rejected it and you won’t believe why.  Here is the reason that they sent me: 

“It looks like we didn’t approve your item because we don’t allow the sale of adult items or services (ex: sexual enhancement items, adult videos).”

Now, here is a link to the book.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/1735532916

As you can see, there are no sexual enhancement items or adult videos related to the book cover.  As most of you probably know, the cover is taken from Michelangelo’s famous painting The Creation of Adam, which is on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  It depicts God reaching down to give life to Adam, but on my book cover God is reaching out to cast a vote on stone tablets for the party He would support.  There is a butt in the painting but it is entirely artistic and non-sexual.  In fact, when I looked at the community standards that Facebook has posted it shows a bunch of examples of sexually suggestive pictures that are unacceptable, and then a picture that they say is artistic so it is acceptable.  The acceptable example; a picture of Michelangelo’s nude sculpture of David. 

The other thing that kept me busy this week was a trip to Las Vegas to visit some friends.  It was very interesting to see how the casinos and the people inside were reacting to a disease that is only slightly more likely to kill you than a sharknado.  The good news is that nobody was afraid of the coronavirus.  People were mingling with each other, dancing together at the bar with a live band, high fiving, gambling, and drinking together.  There was only one fear going around Vegas and I agree that we need to fight to end it.  The real disease to fear is government licensure.  You see, the way that the government controls businesses and takes away freedom is by issuing licenses to conduct business and then threatening to take those licenses away if they don’t do exactly what the government wants.  This is why so few restaurants and bars are able to stand up to the government and open without restrictions.  If they do, many states threaten to take away their liquor licenses, and most of their profits come from liquor sales.  Proponents say that licensing is to protect the consumer, but in reality the free market already does that.  If there really was a disease worth being afraid of and you opened your business, people would voluntarily stay away.  Think about it.  If there was a business that said they were open to people with ebola, would you need the government to take away a license to keep people away?  No.  And I doubt there was ever a very long waiting list to vacation at a leper colony.

The funny thing is, the people who actually push for licensing are the people who are already in those lines of work.  As the brilliant economist Milton Friedman said, “If the real true function of licensing was to protect the consumers, you’d expect the consumers to be lobbying for licensure, but you will discover that it’s always the plumbers or the beauticians or the morticians… there isn’t an occupation you can name that hasn’t been down to the Statehouse trying to get licensure.”  Why would businesses want licensing?  Because it is a barrier to entry, so it keeps out competition.  Less competition lets those who are already in control stay in control.  The people who are hurt by licensure are competitors wanting to enter an industry and the consumers.  In Las Vegas, the consumers are hurt right now because the casinos are afraid of losing their gaming licenses, so they are forced to require a bunch of silly rules.  The one I thought was funny was that to walk through the hotels and casinos they required that you wear a mask, but if you were smoking you could keep the mask down.  In a related story, I now smoke three packs a day. 

The other big thing that happened this week was the Democratic Convention.  I must admit, I didn’t watch it.  I already knew what they were going to say.  Trump is bad.  Then the media would fawn over each speaker.  I do have 2 observations, though.  First, the media narrative that Republicans are turning on the president because John Kasich spoke is ridiculous.  John Kasich spoke because he has a fragile ego and President Trump hurt his feelings 4 years ago when he beat him in the primaries.  All his speech shows is that his hurt feelings are more important to him than his principles.  He claims to be pro-life, but if he’s supporting Joe Biden he is not.  He claims to be a fiscal conservative, but if he supports Joe Biden he is not.  He has completely lost any respect from conservatives.  If he had any backbone he would handle it differently.  Ted Cruz, for example, has proven that he actually cares more about doing what is right than his ego.  President Trump ripped on Senator Cruz relentlessly during the primaries 4 years ago.  I’m sure his feelings were hurt by some of the brutal personal attacks, but Senator Cruz cares more about America than holding personal grudges, and has put the campaign behind him and become a strong ally of the president in conservative policies.  I have gained a lot of respect and confidence in Cruz.  John Kasich should toughen up and stop crying about sour grapes from 2016.

The second observation is that the Democrats actually did it.  They nominated a guy that they admitted was corrupt just months ago.   It wasn’t even the Republicans who were accusing Biden of being corrupt.  It was his own party, the same Democrats who just picked him to top their ticket.  You may not remember it because that isn’t how they framed it in the media.  They framed it this way.  “President Trump should be impeached because he tried to gain an advantage over his future political opponent, Joe Biden, by asking Ukraine to investigate him.”  Think about what that’s saying.  If Joe Biden didn’t do anything wrong, how would it be an advantage to President Trump to clear him?  It wouldn’t.  The only way it would be an advantage is if an investigation would uncover corruption.  Democrats can’t have it both ways.  Either they are saying that they impeached the president for trying to clear their candidate of wrongdoing, which doesn’t make sense, or they’re saying that their candidate is corrupt.  Yet they chose him as their best.  Remember that when you vote.

Free Market Solutions to Big Government Bullies

Big government is bad whether my side is in charge or the other guys are. 

We as conservatives should try not to use the government as a sledgehammer to force people to do what we want like Democrats do.  They want us to stay home and close our restaurants; they use the government, and threats to take away liquor licenses to strong arm those restaurants.  They want a baker or a florist to participate in a same-sex wedding; they use government threats and fines to force them to go against their religious beliefs.  They want “free” healthcare, college, or whatever else they think they can promise for votes; they use the government to confiscate money from people to pay for it.

Conservatives should not become authoritarian tyrants like those on the left.  We should be true to our principles and keep the government out of people’s lives as much as possible.  Instead of wielding government power to get our way, I suggest we use imaginative free market ways to fight for our side when we can.  I have a few suggestions.

1. This is an idea for Christians who still want to work in the wedding industry.  Bakers, florists and musicians have been targeted by bullies who cannot tolerate anyone who does not agree with them or does not do exactly what they want.  The most publicized of these instances was Jack Phillips, the baker in Colorado who politely declined to make a cake for a same-sex wedding because of religious convictions.  In true leftist fashion, the couple ran to the government to compel Phillips to bake cakes for same-sex weddings.  He had to fight the government all the way up to the Supreme Court where, fortunately, he prevailed. 

There are certainly times to fight in court and I am thrilled that Jack Phillips was victorious, but my solution would keep the government out of it and instead use the freedom to choose.  I suggest simply putting in place a policy that says this:

“A percentage of the profits from all same-sex weddings will be donated in the name of the couple to charity.  They may choose between Alliance Defending Freedom, Family Research Council, or Focus on the Family.”

2. The loss of liberty we have experienced in 2020 is unprecedented in the United States.  The government has locked us in our homes, taken our jobs, closed our businesses, cancelled our sports and entertainment, and even stopped us from seeing a friendly smile to brighten our day. 

This is a very urgent fight right now, and it has to be done through the free market in places like California because big government Democrats control every part of the government.  The method of attack is pretty clear.  Businesses have to fight the government every step of the way and we, the customers, have to support them by frequenting the places that are fighting.  In fact, in May I started a fundraiser through my blog for people to donate to businesses that opened up against the lockdown orders.  Last week my friends and I went down and presented a check to Jeff Gourley, the owner of Nomads Canteen, which was the first restaurant in Orange County to open up back in May.  If you want to donate, click here and we will give it to another deserving business who is standing up for our freedom. 

3. When Colin Kaepernick started slandering our police as racists who go to work looking for black people to murder and NFL players all around the league jumped on board with that lie I anticipated a problem.  How was I going to show my disapproval?  The obvious answer was to stop watching NFL games, but I dismissed that solution because I could see it leading to quite a moral dilemma for me down the road.  You see, consistency is very important to me.  I could handle boycotting the NFL because football is not one of my top priorities, but baseball is my life, and what would I do when some brain-dead baseball player decided to kneel during the national anthem? 

Then it came to me.  It was such a brilliant alternative that I think we should try to make it a movement.  These kneeling players wanted to make a difference, so I thought of a way to let them know that they did.  I vowed on social media that for every cop hating player who kneels for the anthem I will donate $1 in their name to President Trump’s re-election campaign fund.  Today I am fulfilling that promise by donating $212 to President Trump’s campaign.   It took some research but the best lists I found showed 211 NFL players who joined in on the anthem protests.  I intend to tweet every player that I can find to let them know about their contribution. 

Oh yeah.  You might be wondering about that extra dollar.  It is for Bruce Maxwell, the only Major League Baseball player who knelt during the national anthem.  He is no longer in the league, not because of his protest, but because he might have trouble hitting off of some of the Little Leaguers I train.

 

 

Following Up

This is a quick update to my previous article, “This is Tyranny but What Can We Do?” In it, we started a GoFundMe for businesses that were willing to open up and fight for our freedom. This Thursday we went down to Nomads Canteen in San Clemente, the first Orange County restaurant that opened up back in May, and presented the money we raised to owner Jeff Gourley. This is a picture of me with Jeff after giving him the check. The food is great, too, so go check it out!

The fundraiser is still up and there are other businesses who fought and are still fighting, so if you would like to help them you can donate here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/bt6qz-reopen-america

Father’s Day in California

Have you ever had the feeling you were on some kind of a hidden camera show?  One of those times where everything around you seems so ridiculous that you think somebody is just messing with you for laughs?  This Sunday was one of those days for me. 

My day started out normal.  Well, not normal.  A normal Sunday would begin with me going to church.  Since apparently they had it wrong in 1776 that liberty is endowed by our creator and we no longer have the freedom to attend church without a mask, I watched the service on my computer.  It was after church that things started to get weird. 

Sunday was Father’s Day and my dad picked his favorite pizza place for lunch, so I said I would drive up and meet them there.  I parked my car and saw theirs so I knew they were already inside the restaurant.  When I walked in an employee rushed over and stopped me. 

“They’re already seated,” I said as I walked towards the tables. 

“You need to put on a mask,” he replied. 

“I don’t have one,” I said. 

He persisted, “You have to have one on until you get to the table.  Here, we have some for you to use,” as he grabbed a box on the counter. 

Two thoughts crossed my mind in the next couple of seconds.  First, I thought about how completely gullible and illogical so many people are to go along with this.  Apparently, if I walk 20 feet to a table without wearing a mask, everybody in the restaurant will be dead.  Yet, if I get to the table, remove the mask, and eat for an hour, then everything will be fine.  Insanity.  The other thought was that my family is going to make fun of me but I have to do the right thing.  We can’t let the bad guys win.  “Never mind,” I said, and I turned around and walked out.

I think my dad was annoyed, amused, and proud at the same time.  When he came out to walk down to the bakery to get dessert I was sitting on a bench outside.  I walked with him. 

“We missed you at lunch,” he said. 

“Yeah, me too,” I answered.  “You know why I’m like this?  Why I stand up for what I believe like that?”

“McDonald’s?” Dad asked.

“Yep,” I said, and he busted out laughing.

You see, when I was a kid my mom would occasionally take us to McDonald’s because they were the first fast food place to put in a playground.  In August of 1987 Joan Kroc, widow of Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s, made a $1 million contribution to the Democratic National Committee.  At the time it was the largest single contribution to the party ever.  Dad heard about Kroc’s donation and banned us from going to McDonald’s until George Bush defeated Michael Dukakis a year later.  We gave my dad a hard time about that for years.  Now look at me, Dad!

Side note:  As a general rule, I don’t like to boycott businesses for disagreeing with me politically except under certain circumstances.  I think it’s a bad precedent to set to make everything about politics.  For example, I still eat Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.  I like it.  Plus I get a kick out of the fact that two Vermont leftists got rich because of free market capitalism.

After lunch we went to my parent’s house and watched Hondo, the John Wayne western.  Then dinner was even more entertaining than lunch.  My parents, my sister’s family, and I went to a Mexican restaurant.  My parents and I arrived first and I ordered a margarita.  When my drink came out I was disappointed to find one of those awful paper straws in it.  You know the ones.  They make whatever you’re drinking taste like cardboard and then they get soggy and mushy.  So far not funny, just annoying.  Then I noticed my mom’s iced tea had a real, plastic straw in it.  I asked the waitress, “Can I please get a real straw like hers?”  I couldn’t tell if she had a look of confusion on her face because, well, she was wearing a mask, but she walked off for my straw.  A minute later she returned to our table with two straws.  Two more PAPER straws!  I was not wearing a mask so I’m sure everyone could see the perplexed look on my face.  Was she messing with me?  Did she not understand me?  Was Ashton Kutcher hiding around the corner? 

“No.  I meant a real straw.  Like that one,” I said as I pointed at my mom’s tea. 

She looked at me blankly, followed by some unintelligible mumbling from beneath her mask about not having any.  I asked if that was the last one in my mom’s drink.  She mumbled again, nodded, and walked away.  My family laughed hysterically because I was so confused.  I glanced around again for Ashton Kutcher.  Nowhere.  Oh well.  I guess Mom had gotten the last real straw. 

A minute later the waitress brought my nephew his water because he had gotten there a little later.  My Dad said, “Hey Steve, look at his straw.”  Sure enough, in my nephew’s glass was a real, plastic straw.  Laughter ensued.  Ashton Kutcher never popped out.

This is Tyranny but What Can We Do?

In the 1995 Best Picture winner Braveheart, William Wallace rallies his troops with a speech that seems very fit for the time we live in right now.  Early in the film William knows that the English are bad, but when they murder his young wife he knows he has to do something.  He has to fight.  We in America, and especially in the blue states like where I am in California, are at that point now.  Our jobs and businesses have been taken by the government.  Our ability to meet freely with people has been taken by the government.  Our sports and entertainment have been taken by the government.  If we want our freedom back we have to stand up and fight back.  The big question I have been asked is, “How? What can we do?”  Fortunately, I have come up with multiple, specific actions you can take to help us regain our freedom, and they are much easier actions than the Scots had to take against the English.

  1. Vote for candidates who promote small government.  The lesson to be learned from this should not be to trust one party’s politicians to control our lives.  The lesson should be that we should not trust the government to control our lives no matter who is in power.  Our country was set up to restrain the government, not to restrain the people.  The people themselves will disagree on things.  The question to ask is, “what do you think should happen when someone disagrees with you?”  If the answer is, “use the government to force them to do what I want,” then that is a problem.  The answer should be, “let them disagree with me and live how they want.”  Our goal should not be to force people to do what we want.  Our goal should be freedom.
  2. Go to church.  People need God, and people need community.
  3. Open your business.  If you are a business owner you have the most at stake.  You have worked hard all of your lives to open a restaurant or store and should be allowed to succeed if people like your product or service.  Take Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s example.  He just opened up his factory in Fremont, California, tweeting, “I will be on the line with everyone else.  If anyone is arrested I ask that it only be me.”
  4. Support businesses that open up!  This is where the rest of us can help, and I promise you it can be fun.  You don’t even have to be able to afford a Tesla, although if you can, go for it!  I have been to Nomad’s Canteen in San Clemente three times since owner Jeff Gourley reopened last week against government orders.  Gourley is a friendly guy who told us about how he got his chicken recipe from a local while he was living in Belize.  The food is fantastic and the people are even better!  This is the most important thing to do right now.  It will make a difference and here’s why.  The line to get into Nomad’s was all the way out to the street.  The first weekend they were open there were so many customers that they sold out of almost everything on the menu and had to close again for a few days.  When other businesses see lines of people eager to spend money they will want in on the action.  More and more places will open.  When people see that all of us are out and surviving, the floodgates will open and we the people will win. 
  5. The first restaurant that I heard about that opened up against government orders was Café El Dorado near Sacramento, California.  I considered driving up there to show my support but it would be about 16 hours round trip.  That gave me my next idea.  For those of you who cannot make it to San Clemente or Sacramento, CA, or Castle Rock, Colorado to eat, or to Auburn, CA or Owosso, Michigan to get your hair cut, but want to show your support for the brave business owners and their employees who are trying to bring freedom back to our land, I have started a GoFundMe so that you can make a donation that will be given to those establishments that stand up against tyranny and open up.  Not a penny will go into my pocket and I will post receipts on this blog so that you can see exactly where the donations are going.  Also, if you donate and know of a business that has opened up, let me know in the comments or send me a message.  The more money that is donated, the more people we can support! 
  6. If you are scared, stay home.  In fact, you should stay home forever because there are a lot of things outside that can kill you.  As of this writing, 1 out of every 3,865 people in America have died of coronavirus.  I don’t want to scare you panicky people, but according to numbers from the National Safety Council, 1 out of 106 people will die in a car accident.  1 in 111 will die in a fall.  You can be killed in a gun assault; 1 in 298.  Or getting hit by a car as a pedestrian; 1 in 541.  You may drown; 1 in 1,121.  You don’t even have to leave your house to choke on food; 1 in 2,618, so you should certainly switch to a liquid diet just to be on the safe side.  There’s even a 1 in 118,776 chance you will be killed by a dog.  It’s a dangerous world out there.  Stay home!  Besides, I like that there’s no traffic.

Now you have no excuses.  The challenge is out there and you know what you can do.  Here is the link to the “Reopen America” GoFundMe page: www.gofundme.com/bt6qz-reopen-america    

And remember…  “They may take our lives, but they will never take our freedom!”

Update: Gavin Newsom has ordered ABC to start revoking liquor licenses of businesses who open up. Nomad’s is closed while they pursue legal action against King Newsom. We need to fight more than ever!

The Four Types of People

I have observed four different types of people when it comes to the coronavirus quarantine.  Type 1’s are people who are genuinely scared.  They think that we need to hide in our houses because otherwise they, or many of their friends and family members are all going to die of coronavirus.  I mostly feel bad for these people because, as I discussed before, their fears are completely irrational if you look at the odds.  Unfortunately, type 1’s sometimes overlap with the worst group, type 2.

Type 2’s are the people who are spreading the fear.  They consist of those overlapping type 1’s, politicians, and the media.  The driving force of this whole debacle is, by far, the media.  They have a couple of reasons to blow things out of proportion and scare people.  The first is attention and power.  Bad news equals ratings.  When they scare people, those people keep listening to them.  Members of the media love to feel important and affect our lives.  If the media scares enough people the politicians jump on board because they are scared by scared voters.  Plus they also love power over people’s lives.  Second, the media sees it as a chance to take down a president that they have been trying unsuccessfully to destroy since before he took office.  It very well may work.  Every person who dies, every business that closes down, and every person who loses their job is a good thing for Democrats come November.

Some of the many tactics that type 2’s use are: 

  1.  They give seemingly large numbers without providing any perspective.  The new estimate of 60,000 deaths may seem big, but the media doesn’t tell us that about that many people die every 8 days in the United States.
  2. They use models to predict future outcomes.  Later, when the actual numbers don’t match their predictions they simply update the model to reflect the new data.  They expect us to accept their models as truth even though we have seen them be incorrect time and time again.
  3. They tell us about celebrities who test positive for coronavirus.  They have to put a face to the disease and they realize that since almost none of us will personally know anybody who dies of the virus, they have to tell us about Tom Hanks, Kevin Durant and Idris Elba catching it to scare us into compliance.  The thing is, celebrities have always gotten sick.  It just normally is not reported.
  4. They lie about the death rate being much higher than the flu.  Considering the current reported numbers, combined with the fact that for every reported case there are likely 50 to 85 unreported cases, the death rate for coronavirus is hovering in the 0.066% to 0.1% range.  In other words, right around the same as the flu.

Type 2’s are also the people who feel the need to attack and shame anybody who dares to question the wisdom of giving up our liberty or, God forbid, doesn’t socially distance.  You see them on social media posting grim stories about how everybody is going to die, or complaining about people who aren’t wearing masks, or are playing tennis in the park, or want to attend church services.  They mock people as morons or say they have a death wish if they are seen with other people.  Unfortunately, type 2’s are the people you hear the most from.

Type 3’s are the people like me who think that the fear of coronavirus is irrational because the numbers do not justify it.  That does not mean that they think it isn’t real.  It certainly is, and the sick and elderly should stay at home.  Young, healthy people should be allowed to choose for themselves if they want to quarantine or not.  It should be up to that individual instead of the government.  Type 3’s still value individual liberty.  Some ignore social distancing rules, yet stay alive at a massively high rate.  The reason has nothing to do with them.  It is simply because the survival rate is massively high in general.  Type 3’s realize that it is dishonest when people are led to believe that there is a binary choice between quantity and quality of life.  The real choice is between a long, lower quality life and a long, higher quality life.  They choose the latter.  Unfortunately, type 1’s and 2’s are probably lost causes, and they outnumber type 3’s and control public policy right now.

This leads us to our last group, and possibly our last hope.  Right now public opinion is solidly in favor of the quarantine.  I know I’m in the minority, and the type 1’s and 2’s are not going to change their minds because the odds don’t matter to them and liberty is a disposable value to them.  Their numbers are relatively small, though.  The reason the polls still favor the quarantine is because of the type 4’s.

Type 4’s are the largest group.  At this point, they are in favor of the quarantine.  They are simply being cautious.  Their motto is, “better safe than sorry.”  While they are very averse to risk, they are also logical people who look around and don’t see the scary results that the type 2’s keep touting.  I have heard, more times than I can count, things like, “this doesn’t seem that bad, but let’s play it safe and see what happens.”  They observantly notice that nobody that they know is dying.  They also see that the few people they hear about who do catch coronavirus are surviving.  They see the numbers, and the fact that they just don’t match the gloom and doom predictions they heard from the media.  Most importantly, they do see the damage that the quarantine is doing.  They see a third of the country out of work.  They see kids missing out on proms and graduations.  They see people becoming depressed because they are lonely and barred from doing the things they love.  They will start to miss restaurants, sports, and live music.  The reason that they are our last hope is because at a certain point reality will start to become clear and they will begin to feel safe enough to want freedom again.  As type 4’s get more courageous, things will get better. 

As we move forward we will see that type 3’s were right all along.  There will be deaths, but not in the numbers we were warned about.  Frustratingly, the type 2’s will claim that it is because the quarantine worked and stopped people from catching coronavirus.  In fact, it’s likely that more people actually get it, or already had it, but it’s just much milder than how it was portrayed.

What type are you?

Baseball In A Pandemic

“There are three things in my life which I really love:  God, my family, and baseball.  The only problem – once baseball season starts I change the order around a bit.”  – Al Gallagher

I miss baseball.  I’ve always loved and defended my country as the greatest, freest nation on earth.  I realize that some of those liberties have been under attack for a quite a while now.  Since a large portion of our country is now hostile to God and capitalism, the rights I have always feared being taken away were those having to do with religious and economic liberty.  I never thought I’d have to worry about my right to play baseball being taken away.  Heck, even Cuba loves baseball.  But alas, here I am, a modern day “Shoeless Joe” Jackson, banned from playing ball. (More on “Shoeless Joe” later.)

In my depressed state I started thinking about a comparison that I keep hearing about, the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic.  The only year I can think of where there was no World Series was the strike year in 1994, so how did baseball handle the Spanish Flu and how does it compare to the coronavirus?  I learned a lot of interesting facts about both.  Here are six of them.

  1. The 1918 season actually was shortened, but not because of the pandemic.  The World Series was moved up to the beginning of September so that players could go off to fight in World War 1.
  2. During the first wave of the pandemic Babe Ruth caught the flu and almost died.  It’s crazy to think how different baseball history would have been had Ruth died and never become a Yankee.  Instead, he recovered and this was the first year that the Babe, still primarily a pitcher, got to play the field and hit on some of the days he wasn’t pitching.  In that part-time role, he led the league in home runs.
  3. Ruth’s Red Sox won the 1918 World Series.  The next year they would trade him to the Yankees and not win another title for 86 years. 
  4. The Spanish flu, for obvious hygienic reasons, was one of the major factors in baseball banning the spit ball.
  5. This brings us back to “Shoeless Joe.”  There are now rumors, that the 1919 “Black Sox” were not the first team to throw the World Series.  The 1918 Cubs had the best record in baseball and there is talk that they threw that year’s World Series. 
  6. The biggest lesson I learned with regards to comparing the Spanish Flu to coronavirus is that the comparison isn’t even fair.  The Spanish Flu was far worse.  It killed young, healthy people at a high rate.  Two big league players died from the Spanish Flu, Larry Chappell and Harry Glenn.  The NHL actually did have to end the Stanley Cup Finals in a 2-2 tie because so many of the Montreal Canadiens got sick they didn’t have enough players to play.  NHL Hall of Famer Joe Hall died.  675,000 Americans died when the population was only 103 million.  In fact, in the entire history of our country, 1918 is the only year where our population declined.  Right now we’re at around 328 million and steadily growing.  The coronavirus is barely a blip on the radar. 

This whole thing has only cemented my opinion that we are overreacting.  When the media started throwing out names of athletes with coronavirus to scare people, I said that athletes get sick all the time.  Hysterical people told me, “But this is different.”  I said, “Fine.  If Kevin Durant dies, I’ll take your side.”  I’m pleased to say the NBA star survived.

As I pointed out in my last post, the odds of dying from coronavirus are slim to none.  We should not be cowering in our homes over something that is likely about 1/25th as dangerous as the Spanish Flu.  We should be booing the Houston Astros right now.  In fact, those cheaters should be forced to play without masks, closer than six feet apart from each other, next to the dirty trashcans that they used to bang on.

One final thought.  Game 1 of the 1918 World Series was the first time the Star Spangled Banner was played before a game.  It made me consider, could Colin Kaepernick have been right?  After all, how can I keep a straight face when I hear “the land of the free and the home of the brave” when we are certainly neither anymore?  My conclusion?  Of course not.  Kaepernick is just as wrong as ever.  I still respect our history.  When I hear that line I’ll be frustrated that it’s a thing of the past, but I’ll still honor those values and the men who fought for them.  Our founding fathers risked everything to set up a government that recognizes that our rights aren’t given by them, but are endowed by our creator.  They chose to fight for liberty even though it meant almost certain death if the British won.  Now we voluntarily give up our liberty over something that has almost no chance of killing us.  It is disappointing, but there is still a small remnant of Americans who value liberty which, at least for me, has to include baseball.   Play ball!

A Cure Worse Than The Disease?

I feel alone.  Not just because the coronavirus quarantine is shutting down the country and forcing us to stay in our homes, but because it seems like such a large majority of the country is willing to just accept it and go along with it.  Then when somebody disagrees, or God forbid, goes outside for something deemed “non-essential,” they are vilified as a horrible, selfish person who doesn’t care about people dying. 

One instinct that I have is to simply turn it around on those people and vilify them as horrible, selfish people who don’t care about millions of people being put out of work, retirement accounts being wiped out, and people becoming more lonely and depressed.  The thing is, I don’t think that’s true.  I think the people in favor of the shutdown do care about the economic and emotional impact of the quarantine but they don’t know how to weigh it against the fear that has been instilled in them about the coronavirus.  Instead of arguing or accusing, I decided it would work best just to clarify my rationale and hope that people can see that it is neither selfish nor illogical.

First, let me clarify my position.  I do believe that coronavirus is real and will kill people.  I think that there are reasonable responses for us to take to combat the virus.  I think that everyone should practice good hygiene. I think that it is reasonable for the elderly and people with medical conditions that make this virus especially dangerous to them to stay at home.  I think that we should lock down nursing homes, and that we should put money and resources into our medical response to the virus.  I just think that shutting down the whole country is not reasonable, rational, or consistent, and will hurt more than it helps. 

We first have to be rational and agree that people have always died, and will continue to die in the future.  This is nothing new.  There is obviously a certain level of risk that we deem reasonable to keeping the country running.  Otherwise, to save around 40,000 lives per year we would lower the speed limit to 10 mph.  We have to decide what level of death is reasonable to us, and what level justifies the effects of shutting down our society. 

As a baseball guy and a poker player I know a lot about probability and odds.  I think a lot about how likely things are to happen.  Considering that 98% of the people who are dying of coronavirus have underlying medical conditions and half of them have at least three, the odds of a young healthy person dying are pretty astronomical.  But what are the chances that I will even know anybody who dies of the virus?  The estimates on the number of deaths vary pretty widely.  Nobody actually knows the real death rate because most of the people who have coronavirus don’t count in the numbers because they can’t even tell they have it.  What is for sure is that it is much lower than the number that gets reported.  As of this moment the reported number comes out to about 1.7%.  As this report says (https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2020/03/24/science.abb3221), it is likely that for every reported case of coronavirus there are 10 other cases.  That would, of course, move the decimal point one spot to the left for a death rate of about 0.17%, or very slightly higher than the 0.1% death rate of the flu.  Ask yourself, how many people do you know who died of the flu this year?  In fact, if we use Dr. Fauci’s doomsday guess that we could have “between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths,” and even if we go with the higher figure, we have lost 200,000 to the flu in the last 6 years.  (https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/index.html)  How many people do you know who have died of the flu in the last 6 years?  I would guess for most people the answer would be the same as mine, zero. 

The point is, the numbers we are hearing are likely far worse than the actual numbers.  They may sound big, but we need to have some perspective.  This is where comparing numbers with other situations is actually useful.  The Black Plague famously killed half of the population of Europe and it took about 200 years to get back to the population level it was at before.  I wondered, “what percentage of the United States will this kill and how long will it take us to get back to our current population level?”  So, I looked it up.  The United States population is 327,200,000.  200,000 deaths would be 0.06% of the population.  Then to find out how long it would take for us to recover and get back to our current population level I had to look up how many people normally die each day.  7,452. If we then average out the coronavirus deaths over a year, it would add 548 a day, making it an even 8,000 deaths per day.  Next, we have to look at how many people are born each day to see how long it will take to replace those 8,000 people a day.  There are, on average, 10,388 births per day in our country.  So the answer to my question?  Zero days.  In fact, not only is coronavirus not decimating our population as badly as it is being made out to be, but our population is growing by around 2,388 each day.

This is certainly lower than the threshold of a reasonable level of death to shut down our country that we were looking for, especially considering the damage the quarantine is causing economically and emotionally.  While we have already established that you probably won’t know anybody who dies of coronavirus, you almost certainly do know somebody who has lost their job.  I know several.  You definitely know people who have seen their retirement accounts plummet.  The high school seniors that I coach at baseball have worked hard for four years and will likely never get to play again.  Addicts are unable to attend meetings and many are relapsing.  People who have issues with anxiety or depression are struggling more than ever.  Many businesses and restaurants will go out of business.  There is less joy in the world because sports and concerts are shut down.  Maybe the biggest loss will be the loss of our liberty.  What ever happened to “give me liberty or give me death?”  Yes.  There was a time when Americans valued their freedom even more than their lives.  I fear that I am alone in still believing that.

Let me finish with another comparison.  If we figure out the odds of any random person dying of coronavirus based on the numbers above we get 1 in 1,636.  To put that in perspective, that’s about the same as the odds of dying from falling down the stairs (1 in 1,662) (https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-mortality-risk).  In other words, it does happen, but it’s very, very unlikely.  I suggest we treat coronavirus the same way as we treat stairs.  We have Grandma take the elevator but let everyone else keep climbing.