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“I think I’m going to be sick,” I said to my friend as we sat down to eat. It was the early 2000’s and I was part of the first generation of online daters. Back then there was no Tinder or Bumble. We used AOL and talked to girls through instant messages. I looked over at the girl behind the counter. Her name tag matched the girl to whom I had been talking. Her voice matched what I had heard on the phone, but it wasn’t the same girl. I had seen a picture of her. She was a thin brunette with large breasts and a seductive look on her face. The girl who had given us our food was about 5 feet tall and had to be over 200 pounds. I didn’t want to accept it, but I knew the truth. The girl had pretended to be somebody she was not. This phenomenon has become so common that there is even a word for it now – catfishing. I learned an important lesson that day. You have no idea that a person is who they claim to be until you verify it.
I once again have that sick feeling and this time it is far more important. President Trump finished election night with massive leads in almost all of the swing states. Unfortunately, many states allow votes to be counted that we have less verification of who they are coming from than I had with that girl. These mail-in ballots could have been sent in by anybody. In fact, I pick up the mail from the mailbox at my apartment, so I easily could have taken my roommate’s ballot, filled it out, and sent it in to be counted. I looked at the ballot. There is no verification process that would have prevented me from doing that. Most states have made catfishing the ballot box easier than catfishing a naïve, girl-crazed boy.
We have to fix our voting system so that we know who we are dealing with. I got better at it when it came to online dating, so we can use some of the same concepts. Generally, some sort of visual proof is necessary to figure out if a person is who they say they are. They didn’t have reverse web searches back then, and even now those do not always find the picture you’re looking for. Some guys would just assume that if a girl sent pictures that were too attractive she was fake, but that is not always the case, and you don’t want to miss out on a girl who really is the hot girl in the pictures. I’m looking at you, Minnesota Megan.
The first verification method I experimented with was to get multiple pictures instead of trusting just one. It has the benefit of preventing a girl (or maybe even a guy) from grabbing any old photo off the internet and saying it is them. It is an improvement, but you can find multiple pictures of the same girl all over the web, so it is also an easily beatable system. What you have to do is ask the person to send you real-time, spontaneously posed pictures. For example, you would tell the girl to send you a picture of her posing with her pinky to her mouth like Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movies. Then tell her to send a picture of her balancing a book on her head. Generally, if she can send you those pictures immediately, she is really the girl photographed.
We can use that method to verify voters, but it poses many logistical problems. We need to trust the people doing the verification, so each voting precinct would have to have people supporting both candidates there for the verification process. It would be a tedious and lengthy undertaking, as every single mail-in voter would need to be contacted, one at a time, to confirm their identity matches the name on the ballot, pose for the random pictures and text or email them in, and confirm that the vote on the ballot is the correct vote that they sent in. As you can see, the randomly posed picture solution would be very difficult to pull off without it taking years.
Fortunately, I eventually figured out the one foolproof way to know that you are speaking to the person in the pictures. The only way to be sure is to physically meet the girl in person and match the picture to the actual human being. I know it’s a crazy concept, but I haven’t looked directly at a girl and been fooled into thinking she was someone else since Hayley Mills. How can we put this approach into practice in our elections? Easy. All we have to do is require people to vote in person on Election Day so that we can match them to the photo identification that they provide.
A very smart lawyer that I know basically told me that because Democrats made fraudulent votes nearly impossible to prove, those votes are legal and we shouldn’t say that they are fraudulent. Fine. Let’s just say that the Democrats are catfishing us. He also implied that the only thing we can do is try to get the Democrats who are in power to change the fraudulent system that got them into power in the first place. Good luck with that. I say we need to fight and fight now. If we don’t we may end up in a four-year relationship with Joe Biden, which would certainly be the end of our love affair with liberty.
This story starts a couple of years back when my mother started getting into family genealogy. She mapped out what we already knew, but then had a few family members spit into a tube to send to 23andMe and Ancestry.com to find out more information. We expected most of the interesting stuff to come from my mom’s side. How involved was the Italian part of our family in the mob way back when? Were we even Italian, or were we more Albanian as one of the tests showed? Was my aunt really the mailman’s daughter as they joked with my grandparents?
Interestingly enough, the most surprising thing we found out was on my dad’s side. The test came back and said that he is half Jewish. We had no idea that we had any Jewish in our DNA at all, much less 50%. If you know my dad, his reaction was exactly as you would expect. He took me to the Katella Deli and ate corned beef, latkes, matzah ball soup, babka, gefilte fish, knishes, challah bread, and blintzes. I love my dad.
Fast forward to Christmas, 2019. I wanted to get my dad something imaginative that he wouldn’t expect and would also give him a laugh. Then an idea hit me. I looked online for a “Make America Great Again” yarmulke. It was perfect! I found one on Etsy, a website where people can make crafty products and set up their own “shop” to sell their wares on. The gift was a hit.
Fast forward again, this time to August 27 of this year. In my email I find a message from the guy who I bought the yarmulke from. It began like this:
Dear Valued Customer,
Please forgive us for sending you this unexpected email, you are receiving this because you purchased a “Trump Make America Great” Kippah or Yarmulke from our Etsy store during the past two years. First, I want to thank you for the purchase, you should know that this store was a labor of love to help my kids pay for their Bar and Bat Mitzvah’s, my family is ever grateful to you for being part of that.
We really need you to know the recent sad events that have transpired at our Etsy shop, Etsy who sides in many leftist causes came under pressure from the social media mob and have succumbed and permanently suspended our shop where we sold these MAGA kippahs. It appears a customer showed off their wares on TicTok and got a tsunami of leftist outrage. We were used to getting nasty messages on Etsy but this time Etsy sided with this outrage mob and has shut us down.
My jaw dropped. It isn’t surprising that leftist bullies would go on the attack. Democrats do not tolerate disagreement. The astonishing part was that Etsy had let them get their way and actually closed down this man’s shop. I responded to the email and asked if I could speak to him about what happened and he agreed.
We spoke on the phone last week and he asked that I don’t use his name out of concern for his kids. He told me that his son is a supporter of the president and has been harassed at school and has even been called out on what was described as a “mean girls” kind of webpage meant to “cancel” people. For that reason I will call him Daniel in this article.
Daniel is an interesting man with some insightful perspective on how the left is using Marxist tactics to silence anybody who disagrees with them. You see, Daniel is a Russian Jew who fled here in 1979 at the age of 9. He has seen the left in action in the Soviet Union and is alarmed at the similarities he sees with the Democrats in the United States today. He fears that Democrat policies and tactics will lead to the communism that his family fled from in the Soviet Union. He sees how the left is promoting division and pitting everybody against each other by pushing a victim mentality on people; rich vs. poor, black vs. white, gay vs. straight, male vs. female. He sees the left trying to silence people for having different opinions.
Daniel mentioned another tactic that is being used here in the United States and compared it to something I had never heard of before and had to look into, Josef Stalin’s “Doctor’s Plot.” In it, Stalin falsely accused Jewish doctors of plotting to kill Soviet leaders. Jews were denounced as poisoners and Daniel’s grandmother, who was a doctor with many patients, was reduced to seeing just a handful of patients in secret. Daniel sees Democrats doing the same thing by spreading horrible propaganda against people and vilifying them for political purposes. Just look at the slander the left has perpetrated against the police in our country and you can see the obvious comparison.
I told Daniel that it mystifies me that some Jews in America could ever vote for Democrats after seeing the rising antisemitism in that party. Between Representative Ilhan Omar’s openly anti-Semitic comments, Democrat’s support of the Iran Nuclear Deal that freed up $150 billion for a country that shouts “Death to Israel,” Democrats walking out on a speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Obama turning his back on Israel in the United Nations, some Democrats supporting the “BDS” movement, and the Democratic Convention booing an amendment to their platform that mentioned God and supported recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, it seems unfathomable that any Jew could support Democrats. Daniel told me that many secular Jews have forgotten their roots. He said that “Democrats have been letting Jews down for 80 years.”
I asked Daniel what he thinks us as Americans can do. He said that we need to focus on bringing the culture back. He said, “The left has won the culture war.” When we have major commercial websites shutting down shops for selling items that show support for our president, I fear he is right. This is just the tip of the iceberg of what kind of censorship and persecution we can expect if Democrats win next week.
Daniel had sold over 7,000 Trump yarmulkes before his shop was shut down. Whenever he tried to contact Etsy they told him that his complaint would be sent up the ladder but he never got anywhere with them. I reached out to Etsy and have not received a response. I also looked on Etsy at what other yarmulkes are allowed to be sold and found many, including “Biden/Harris” and “Black Lives Matter” versions.
Daniel has moved his business over to Ebay, and although he does not want me to confirm his identity, if you would like to support him just search on Ebay for “Trump kippahs” and many of the results will be from his shop. Just pick your favorite design and it is likely coming from him.
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.