THE COLUMN: The Sting

If you knowingly sit down at a fixed poker game and lose your entire stash, would you also complain that some of the other players also cheated? If it was a friend who brought you into the game, would you then go to another one with him? And having lost all your money when you bet the farm, would you re-mortgage it and bet it all again on the chance that this time things would be different? If you're a Republican, the answer is: of course you would, because you just did and you're about to do it again.

If the national elections of 2018, 2020, and 2022 didn't teach the GOP a lesson or three, what will? From Donald Trump's surprise (though not a surprise to me) win in 2016, it's been mostly all downhill for the party of Lincoln, which has been thrice set back on its heels and sent to the power poorhouse. The day after Trump's election, the institutional Left launched its legal coup against Trump and as early as mid-February 2017 had claimed its first and most important scalp in Mike Flynn, the man who knew where all the bodies were buried during the Obama administration. Saddled with hostile incompetents such as Reince Priebus and Jeff Sessions, the Trump administration was kneecapped by its own naivete and betrayed by its two deadliest enemies, Jared and Ivanka Kushner, the twin vipers known around the West Wing as "the Democrats." By the time Trump was goaded by them and the media into firing Steve Bannon, the man who got him elected, MAGA was finished as a philosophical and governing force in the Oval Office. The rest, as they say, was commentary.

So from a position of power in January 2017, when the GOP under Trump held the White House and both branches of Congress; to the 2018 mid-terms, when Nancy D'Alesandro Pelosi, the pride of Baltimore, took over the House and unleashed not one but two impeachments against Trump; to the disaster of 2020, when the Trump forces refused to take the re-election campaign seriously and instead substituted supererogatory rallies in place of a brass-knuckles ground game; to the most recent congressional elections, in which the GOP barely recaptured the House but blew the Senate again, it's been one disaster after another. Why, it's almost been as if the fix has been in the whole time! 

It's not like there was no warning. Once the Democrats miraculously cleaned out the GOP in formerly red Orange County, Calif., in 2018 it should have been clear even to such notable dummies as Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy that the game was no longer being played on Game Day, but weeks and even months before, plus a few days after the polls had "closed." Early voting, "harvested" voting, "absentee" voting was a Tammany wet dream come to life: who doesn't like their chances on Election Day when more than half the votes are already in the bag and you know to an absolute certainty where they went? Add to this the unconstitutional changes to the voting laws rammed through in blue states during the Covid hoax, and the Dems were in the catbird seat long before Nov. 8.

The old joke used to be that the dead vote was critical in Democratic precincts but now this could literally be true, since the votes of dead people could already be in the can, not to mention the candidates themselves, well before election day. This is why, in the final weeks before the vote, the Democrats were exuding (in Mark Twain's famous words) "the serene confidence which a Christian feels in four aces." Polls? We don't need no stinkin' polls! Besides, why have a traditional one-man, one-day election—a binding snapshot in time—when you can have a permanently floating crap game, one in which you're always ahead no matter when it stops?

"Cheating" scream the die-hards on the Right, playing right into the hands of those who fixed the game in the first place. "Stop the steal!" they shout, when the steal is now part of the game. The "2000 Mules" of non-dispositive red-meat fantasy, whose presence is deduced from the arcana of cell-phone triangulation and the laws of probability, may or may not have existed, but the point is: they didn't matter. They were simply the fat ladies and strong men of the sideshows, meant to distract the gullible and easily panicked into ignoring the fact that their pockets have already been picked, their cars stolen and on their way to chop shops in Tijuana, and their home repossessed.

Thus, as I mentioned last week, there's no need for "cheating." Thanks to Tammany Hall's centuries-long perfection of electoral chicanery and the Republicans' willful blindness, the system has become the steal. Typical con men, the Democrats preach the "sanctity" of the vote when what they really lust after is the roundheels of the ballot. There are no virgins in this whorehouse, just the soiled doves of the media who gussy them up for the traveling salesmen and visiting firemen, and then collect their pimp money in the back alley from the bankers and the lawyers who like the system just fine the way it is.

It's a great racket: if you play your cards right, you can deal yourself a whole new hand at the closing bell and walk away with all the chips while you opponent impotently sputters in frustration. And should the marks finally catch on and start adopting some of your tactics, it hardly matters. California has already shown the way to eliminating the two-party system in its state elections via the "jungle primary" system, and just now solidly red Alaska has "elected" a Democrat to fill its lone House seat thanks to an enormity called "ranked-choice" voting. The mouthpiece of the Democrat machine, the New York Times, explains it all for you:

Mary Peltola, whose victory in a special election on Wednesday makes her the first Democrat in nearly half a century to represent Alaska in the House, won the contest for the remainder of Representative Don Young’s term with an upbeat campaign that appealed to Alaskan interests and the electorate’s independent streak.

But Alaska’s new voting system also played a big role in Ms. Peltola’s three-percentage-point victory over former Gov. Sarah Palin, her Republican opponent. Ms. Peltola, who will become the first Alaska Native to serve in Congress and the first woman to hold the House seat, won at least in part because voters had more choices. While more voters initially picked a Republican candidate, that didn’t matter. Given a second choice, many Republican voters opted for a Democrat — Ms. Peltola — over Ms. Palin... When voters have more choices, they’re less likely to vote along strict party lines, reducing polarization and giving independent-minded or more centrist candidates a better shot.

Bet you didn't know that elections will soon no longer be binary; pretty soon we'll have as many "choices" as Facebook has genders. So step right up, suckers and try your luck. Remember, until the country returns to day-and-date elections, between limited hours, in person only, with ironclad identification, there will be no end to this mischief. The Democrats, who boast of being "the oldest voter-based political party in the world," are simply better at it than anybody else. And if nothing meaningful is done, when the GOP loses again in two years, the 2,000 donkeys of the DNC will look at their "friends" at the RNC and say like Henry Gondorff to Doyle Lonnegan: "Tough luck... but that's what you get for playing with your head up your ass!"

THE COLUMN: The System Is the Steal

The nastiest side effect of China's gift to the world, Covid-19, was not the illness itself, nor the deaths (surely over-attributed) it caused primarily among the aged and infirm. Nor was it the unnecessary and unconstitutional lockdowns that accompanied the government-fueled, manufactured authoritarian panic, along with the arbitrary abrogation of fundamental constitutional rights, including those protected under the first amendment: freedom of speech, assembly, and the free exercise of religion—a national disgrace that will live in infamy, and which should never be forgiven.

Nor was it the incalculable economic destruction caused by this unholy concoction of Chinese bat-butt soup, liver of pangolin, and gain-of-function seasonings provided by Chef Boyarfauci, nor the loss of several years of schooling for America's increasingly ineducable youth. Nor even was it the semi-mandatory "vaccines" that don't fulfill any of the traditional metrics for real vaccines, including prevention of disease and its transmission or the granting of future immunity; now the argument has moved to whether they actually kill people, which isn't an encouraging trajectory for something billed as a panacea.

No, the worst damage has been to our political-electoral systems, as the results of the past two elections have made abundantly clear. Forget the nonsense about a "stolen" election; all elections are "stolen," if by stolen you mean that one side won and one side lost, and have been since George Washington Plunkitt was a pup. (For those keeping score at home, Tammany Hall, of which Plunkitt was an outstanding exemplar, was founded by Aaron Burr, the first Democrat Party vice president, national traitor, and murderer of Alexander Hamilton.) Whatever the election rules are—and under our unwieldy system, there are 50 different sets of them—the party that manipulates them best usually wins. And this of course gives the long-practiced Democrats an enormous advantage.

The fundamental principle of all American elections has been to determine as far in advance as possible how many votes the other guy is getting and then come crashing in at the end with overwhelming numbers of newfound votes to close the deal at the finishing bell. You can find them in storerooms, in the trunks of cars; sometimes they fall off trucks, mimeographed and marked in advance to save the poor voter's time. You do whatever it takes, more or less within the limits of the law, and then worry about penalties after the election is safely in the bag.

Permission vs. forgiveness: the fraud, dear Brutus, lies not in the machines but in our electoral system. There is only one way to ensure a free and fair election. But before we get to that, consider this:

Democratic norms are not perfectly realized anywhere, even in advanced democracies. Access to the electoral arena always has a cost and is never perfectly equal; the scopes and jurisdictions of elective offices are everywhere limited; electoral institutions invariably discriminate against somebody inside or outside the party system; and democratic politics is never quite sovereign but always subject to societal as well as constitutional constraints... There is much room for nuance and ambivalence... [and] bending and circumventing the rules may sometimes be considered “part of the game.”

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Part of the game? It is the game. There is no perfect "democracy." The system is, in fact, the steal. 

One of the Democrats' favored weapons a century ago was the Repeater, the man who voted in multiple districts under various names, a la today's college students, illegal aliens, single cat ladies with toxoplasmosis, and forgetful suburban wine moms. When the opposition (here called the Fusionists) tried to do the same thing, they would easily be caught out; one thing the GOP never has been any good at is being a criminal organization masquerading as a political party. It just doesn't have the talent for it:

The Fusionists make about the same sort of a mistake that a repeater made at an election in Albany several years ago. He was hired to go to the polls early in a half-dozen election districts and vote on other men's names before these men reached the polls. At one place, when he was asked his name by the poll clerk, he had the nerve to answer "William Croswell Doane."

"Come off. You ain't Bishop Doane," said the poll clerk.

"The hell I ain't, you—I" yelled the repeater.

Now, that is the sort of bad judgment the Fusionists are guilty of. They don't pick men to suit the work they have to do.

And what is that work? Why, winning elections, of course. Power and the lust for it is the only constant in political systems, even democracies. The Greeks were just as mad for dominance as any Roman consul; Periclean Athens was no idyll. Further, there is little or no proof that "democracies" are inherently superior to other forms of government, Churchill's silly formulation to the contrary notwithstanding. European democracies differ greatly from the American version, as do the Chinese and North Korean versions.

Nor is there any compelling practical argument in favor of universal suffrage; slaves, women, and male teenagers were not allowed to vote either in Greece or Rome, nor would they be for almost 2,000 years. Voting was generally limited to property owners, those with a financial stake in their society. As we'll see next week in my column about the history and effects of the 19th amendment, the expansion of a fetishized franchise ("sacred right," etc.) created at least as many problems as it solved. To the question of universal suffrage, "because" cannot be a satisfactory answer.

But unless the vote is given to toddlers, numerate chickens, or articulate dolphins, there are no more worlds left to conquer on the universal suffrage score. Covid, however, gave the Left whole new worlds to conquer: instead of expanding the franchise they simply expanded the time available to exercise it. Originally sold (as usual) as a "compassionate" and "fair" redress for the poor, the sick, the out-of-town, and those unable to read a calendar, mail-in and other forms of passive voting have now taken over the system:

The biggest issue for election administration in 2020 was the pivot to voting by mail throughout the country in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying importance of de-densifying in-person voting. This need led many states to increase opportunities for voting by mail, ranging from expanding the accepted reasons voters could list for requesting a mail ballot, to mailing ballots to all registered voters. As a consequence of these changes, the rate of voting by mail in 2020 doubled from 2016.

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That's not the worst of it. Friendly judges across the land threw out challenges to mail-in/absentee ballots on the niggling grounds that they weren't properly executed; worse, "ballot harvesting" allowed dumps of completely untraceable "votes" into random drop boxes, and lax counting regulations (differing from state to state) meant the suspect ballots could be quickly mingled into the legitimate-vote population. Add to that the arbitrary decision regarding the latest moment that ballots could be accepted even after the real polls had closed and you have a recipe for a perfectly legal steal.

Voting for fraud, not for democracy.

So while you’re complaining about the results of the last two elections, remember that in many states votes were cast weeks or even months ago. Those votes heavily favored the Democrats, which in part accounts for the election of a bona fide rutabaga as the new senator from Pennsylvania. Further, as long as one side can mail in—or worse, "discover"—an unlimited number of ballots or votes on thumb drives of uncertain provenance, with little or no chain of custody, and the other side appears in person with ID to vote once on election day (as Republicans tend to do), the former is always going to beat the latter. No cheating necessary! The Steal is built into the system.

The only chance we have of recapturing our Republic is to return to real voting: one day, one man, one vote, in person, with identification, on a paper ballot, and getting a purple finger in return to prevent Repeaters. No early voting, no late voting, no drop boxes, no "curated" votes, no harvested votes, no absentee ballots for any reason other than active-duty military overseas. If you're sick and can't get to the polls, tough. If you've moved out of the country, tough. Anything else is not an election, but a rolling plebiscite whose parameters can be adjusted on a whim and which therefore renders elections functionally meaningless. And if you don't think so, ask yourself why, with control of the House of Representatives currently on knife edge, votes are still being counted in Democrat-friendly California.

Citizenship ought to entail at least as many responsibilities as it does benefits. There's no right to vote in the Constitution: it has to be earned, not demanded. It's not for everybody (nor does everybody even want it): it shouldn't be for wards of the government, the criminal, the insane. Nothing encourage indigency like being able to vote yourself a raise with other people's money.

If the franchise is really "sacred," let's start acting like it. The country would be a better place, the government would be more honest, and we'd no longer have to endure now-constant accusations of fraud from both sides. Who wouldn't vote for that?

Voting in a W.A.S.P. nest

I rolled out of bed before six this morning, threw on some clothes, and hopped into the car to go and vote. I was hoping to beat the lines and then get home quickly for my first cup of coffee.

Well, no such luck. Despite the near freezing weather, the line in my small New England town was around the block by the time I got there, Baby Boomers as far as the eye could see. I guess I should have waited for that coffee.

I shouldn't be surprised, of course. I hang my hat in W.A.S.P. country these days, and while the prevailing wisdom (and social science data) holds that Mainline Protestant affiliation is in steep decline, the truth of the matter is that the theological character of those once prominent sects has actually just shifted in a worldly direction, such that woke virtue signaling now occupies the space once held by creeds and confessions.

Cancelling and shame storming modern reprobates has replaced more traditional W.A.S.P. practices, but in the age of Donald Trump, voting has become the biggest virtue signal of all -- provided, of course, that you're voting that Orange Man Bad. Consequently, this line -- full of people in designer jeans, with the slightest hint of the dear old Ivy League in their accents, and air of never having a single thought that isn't preapproved by the New York Times editorial board -- had the atmosphere of a religious rite. The earliest protestants reduced the number of sacraments from seven to three, but it seems that their distant progeny have reduced them even further, to one: voting.

Game Day.

And it was livelier than a June wedding. People were taking selfies, wearing sweaters that said "Vote!" One (gray-haired) woman greeted some friends and, referring to the number of people, exclaimed, "This is the coolest thing I've ever seen!" This despite the fact that we don't live in a swing state, and the allocation of our seven electoral votes is a foregone conclusion.

As the line inched forward, I couldn't help but feel that this all reeked of privilege. Many conservatives, me included, guffawed at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's recent claim that long lines were a sign of voter suppression, even when they're "happening in a blue state." AOC's New York is, of course, just terribly governed, as the pandemic and this election season should make plain to everyone.

But there is a concern here. Before me were a bunch of affluent people who probably had no real work to do until their afternoon Zoom meeting. It costs them nothing to stand in line for hours to vote for the Wall Street candidate, more COVID hysteria, and the destruction of blue collar jobs. Then they can head home, park their electric cars in their heated driveways, and futz around until its time to watch election returns on MSNBC.

But how many regular working people -- plumbers, electricians, construction workers, even cops and firemen -- who have good reason to fear the further empowerment of the left in this country, looked at those lines and said to themselves "I don't have time for this"?

Well, hopefully they make it through in the end. If not in my neck of the woods, at least in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and everywhere else where their votes really count and their livelihoods are under assault. It'd be nice to see the smug liberals I saw this morning mugged by reality, just like four years ago.

Why Pennsylvania Is in Play

Pennsylvania might be the most hotly contested state in this presidential election, and with good reason. Our fifth most populous state, Pennsylvania is home to two big cities -- Philadelphia and Pittsburgh -- that are flush with the affluent and the underclasses who serve them -- both key Democratic constituencies -- while the rest of the state is dominated by rural, working class voters, who are much more conservatively inclined even when their actual voting patterns are harder to predict.

Republicans have long felt that this second cohort were their natural allies. In the 1980s they were often called Reagan Democrats, and the GOP was convinced that eventually they would come to their senses and become reliable Republicans. But, despite their best efforts, every Democratic candidate from Bill Clinton in 1992 through Barrack Obama in 2012 carried the Keystone State.

That changed in 2016, when rural Pennsylvanians found in Donald Trump a candidate who spoke to their interests and preferences. He won the state by 44,292 votes out of more than 6,000,000 cast, the smallest presidential margin in the state in 176 years.

But this year, the Democrats are determined to win it back. It is very likely that the party establishment decided to go all in on Joe Biden with PA in mind. After all, though he represented Delaware in the Senate for thirty-six years, he never stops reminding voters that he was born in Scranton, and prides himself on his common touch (a questionable characterization).

But beyond that, the Biden camp are offering Pennsylvania's rural voters essentially nothing. Ace reporter Salena Zito, who knows her native state better than anybody, recently spoke to several long-time Democrats in Bethel Park, who all have roughly the same story -- they've been forced to accept that their pro-life, pro-Second Amendment views are no longer welcome in the party. What's more, they've been increasingly disturbed by the Democrat's embrace of rioting and disorder in cities throughout the country, and their tendency to denigrate the police.

And then there's fracking. The natural gas industry, which relies on fracking, employs over 300,000 workers, directly or indirectly, in Pennsylvania. While campaigning for the Democratic nomination, both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren called for a national fracking ban. Joe Biden's position has generally been harder to decipher, but he seems to have settled on a policy of “no more new fracking." while his running mate, Kamala Harris, continues to support a total ban on the practice.

If there's one thing that the aforementioned working class voters care about, it is jobs. Here's Rose Tennent writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer about what fracking has meant for the state:

We allowed responsible, modern natural gas development to go forward, allowing Pennsylvanians to take advantage of some of the world’s greatest shale gas reserves. The result has been an incredible boon to our state and our country. Fracking and the rest of the shale gas revolution saved Pennsylvania from the worst depths of the Great Recession. When our workers were hurting the most in 2008 and 2009, the shale fields eventually catapulted Pennsylvania back to prosperity by restoring the energy dominance that we enjoyed a century earlier. Today, 106,000 Pennsylvanians have mostly well-paid, desirable jobs in the energy sector. That’s a big part of why our state has a 3.9% unemployment rate — a figure that would have been unimaginable only a few years ago.

Those figures are from before the pandemic and the lockdowns, of course, which together brutalized both the economy overall and the resource industry specifically. But the potential for the industry to rebound and the jobs to come back once the lockdowns are relaxed is real, so long as as they're allowed to. Biden's position, which amounts to "read my lips, No Future Fracking Jobs," seems designed to ensure that that that never happens.

There's some in every crowd.

Beyond the benefits it brings for the state itself, Tennent points out that, largely because of fracking, "America as a whole has become energy independent for the first time since we became dependent on imported oil from the Middle East in the 1960s." Hydraulic fracturing doesn't only create jobs stateside, it also makes it so the price of heating our homes and filling up are gas tanks aren't reliant on the whims of OPEC or political stability in the notoriously volatile area surrounding the Strait of Hormuz.

This is very appealing for working class Americans in Pennsylvania, many of whom were wary of the Bush-era Republican Party's middle eastern adventurism. American energy independence removes one of the major justifications for getting involved in the constant squabbles in that part of the world. Consequently, from the perspective of those Americans who both benefit from well paying blue collar jobs in the natural gas industry and disproportionately serve in the military, fracking goes down as a win/win.

So, while polling out of Pennsylvania for this election cycle has been, in the words of elections analyst Jim Geraghty, "boringly consistent," with Biden ahead in nearly every poll for the past several months, reports of a noticeable shift in people registering as Republicans hasn't been surprising. As Geraghty explained recently in National Review,

In November 2016, Pennsylvania had 4.2 million registered Democrats, 3.3 million registered Republicans, and 1.2 million registered with “other parties” or none. By 2020, Pennsylvania had 4.09 million registered Democrats, 3.29 registered Republicans, and 1.21 million registered with other parties. Then the parties began their post-primary voter-registration drives — and Republicans added a net 135,619 voters between June and the final week of September, while Democrats added 57,985 and other voters increased by 49,995.... Add it all up: Democrats are down 66,778 registered members from November 2016, while the Republicans added 125,381, and “other” is up 61,313.

I recently took a trip to Pennsylvania, and it was impossible to miss two things. First, the never-ending cacophony of paid advertisements that are ostensibly pro-Biden, but in actuality anti-Trump. On TV and the radio, you hear over and over tear-jerking stories about someone who lost his job or a family member because Covid-19 (with no explanation as to how Biden would have handled the pandemic differently), ending with the command "vote him out." But the other notable thing was that, driving around the countryside, there must have been ten Trump signs for every Biden sign.

Now, you may object that is a non-scientific measurement, of course, but coupled with the differences in registration, it increases my suspicion that, like in 2016, the polling out of Pennsylvania isn't telling the whole story. Which is to say, the professional forecasters might once again be in for a rude awakening on election night.

SPECIAL REPORT: Third-Party Spending in Canada's 2019 Election

Our crack team of researchers have been at it again, this time compiling a report laying out the financial returns of third parties during Canada's most recent federal election last year.

The 2019 Canadian federal election (formally the 43rd Canadian general election) was held on October 21, 2019, to elect members of the House of Commons to the 43rd Canadian Parliament. The writs of election for the 2019 election were issued by Governor General Julie Payette on September 11, 2019.

The Liberal Party, led by incumbent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, won 157 seats to form a minority government and lost the majority they had won in the 2015 election. The Liberals lost the popular vote to the Conservatives, which marks only the second time in Canadian history that a governing party formed a government while receiving less than 35 per cent of the national popular vote. The Liberals received the lowest percentage of the national popular vote of a governing party in Canadian history.

Elections Canada defines a third party as "a person or group that wants to participate in or influence elections other than as a political party, electoral district association, nomination contestant or candidate." Any third party that wishes to engage in regulated activities (which includes most public partisan activities, like advertising or promoting a candidate or party) during the pre-election or election periods is required by law to register with the Federal Government once it incurs more than $500.00 in expenses. That registration includes declaring where that money is going, and following that money trail -- be it in greenbacks, loonies, or pounds sterling -- is a central part of our project here at The Pipeline.

Of the top ten spenders, eight of them are leftist groups, one (the Canadian Medical Association) a centrist, and only one -- Canada Proud ("Working to defeat Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the 2019 federal election") -- is on the right. That adds up to $5.5 million Canadian on the left versus $360,000 on the right -- $671,000 if you add in the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, which comes in at number 11.

Here's the full report:

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And here is a break down of that spending: