Sunday, May 21, 2017

I’m A-Fraud You Might be Wrong

We’ve been promised a healthcare plan that will be cheaper, more inclusive with better coverage and without dropping anyone currently covered from the system… “believe me.” We’ve been promised a tax plan that will make a significant cut in middle class taxes and grow the economy without generating budget deficits… “believe me.” We’ve been promised a “beautiful wall paid for by Mexico” that will seal our southern border tight against drug flow and the ability of the undocumented to pass easily across it… “believe me.” We were told that the recent inaugural turnout was the biggest in history… “believe me.” And we were clearly informed that the seeming 3 million voter edge in the popular vote (Clinton over Trump) was due to millions of fraudulent voters… “believe me.”
There hasn’t been a GOP-proposed replacement healthcare system that accomplishes any of those stated goals, the Mnuchin-announced tax plan pretty much benefits only the mega-rich (while punishing the big-city blue states by taking away the ability to deduct state taxes) and will create staggering deficits, there isn’t the slightest indication that Mexico will pay for a wall that even many GOP representatives in Congress are skeptical about building in the first place, clear photographic imagery from the inauguration itself prove rather conclusively a rather dismal turnout, and that statement that there were millions of illegal voters that went for Clinton never had the slightest statistical evidence. If there were any election fraud, most probably it was the Russian hack of the DNC and their spread of malicious anti-Democrat fake news across social media.
But Donald Trump asked VP Mike Pence to lead an inquiry to prove the existence of that mass of illegal votes cast for his opponent. You’d think if Mr. Trump were willing to cite that there were 3 million such fraudulent votes (which he did), there would be, somewhere, hard evidence of this rather terrible statistic. Trump seems to have parroted the results of a purported study by True the Vote, a nonprofit conservative group that made that claim.
So Mr. Pence’s assignment would seem to have been an easy quest: simply find that study and make its methodology and results public. Er… well… it seems that there really wasn’t much of a study. You mean that study never really existed? Yup, but they’re working on it. But where did they get that 3 million dollar number? Oh, someone made it up? Yup, which is why the study has begun well after the statement that there were 3 million fraudulent votes. Yup, you always announce results before you investigate and get the facts? Huh? Most other governmental investigations into voter fraud have produced no more than a statistically irrelevant couple of dozen violations, but for who do not like those results, they can always make up numbers they like better. For more on the substantiated reality, visit:
The April 27th explains the current Trump and Trump-supporter efforts to find fraud: “True the Vote… is still in the process of gathering voter rolls from states and sending out public records requests to government agencies, which is a far cry from actually identifying any fraudulent voters. But the leaders of True the Vote, whose board member Gregg Phillips’s tweets about voter fraud were retweeted by the president in February, is determined to carry out the project no matter how long it takes.
“‘It’s a Herculean task,’ the group’s president, Catherine Engelbrecht, a Texan who founded a Tea Party group in 2009, told Fast Company, pointing out the challenge of dealing with states that each have their own process for releasing information about voters. ‘I originally said late spring, but what I hadn’t factored in was the snail’s pace that we would see some of these data sources crawling in.’
“They’re not the only ones moving slowly on the effort. In early February, the White House announced that Vice President Pence was leading a task force into voter fraud, and he was ‘starting to gather names and individuals to be a part of it.’ A month later, Pence’s office told NPR that the task force was ‘still doing the necessary groundwork.’ By last week, a senior administration official told CNN that the task force ‘has not been the topic of a lot of conversation’ in the White House. And as of today it still appears to have no staff and there is no indication of when it will start its work…
“True the Vote’s task consists of two parts: collecting voter rolls from every state (which list the individuals who voted in the 2016 election) and then comparing them to lists from a panoply of government agencies that include immigration records, prison records, among others. By filtering out noncitizens, felons, and others who are not legally allowed to vote, they hope to tally the number of people who illegally voted last November.
“Engelbrecht is careful not to make predictions, noting that Phillips was ‘crucified’ and ‘tried in the court of public opinion’ over his claim that 3 million illegal votes may have been cast in November, though she does anticipate that True the Vote will have somewhere close to 200 million records to analyze. Phillips, whose findings were called suspect by the fact-checking group PolitiFact, did not return several calls for comment.
“‘There are enough fissures and wormholes and rabbit holes in the voting process that have afforded the opportunity for fraud to be institutionalized,’ says Engelbrecht. ‘Are we going to find noncitizens voting? Dead people voting? Yes. And that points to a bigger problem and a bigger conversation that we need to have.’
“Except most election experts don’t think it’s a problem at all, citing cleaner voter rolls, updated voting systems, and stricter voter ID laws in many jurisdictions. During the George W. Bush administration, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft set up a ‘voting access and integrity initiative,’ which hardly found any examples of voter fraud. And in 2012, Florida’s governor, Rick Scott, sought to ‘purge undocumented immigrants from the voter rolls,’ reports Politico, but his list of 180,000 names was so full of errors that in the end only 85 people were kicked off the rolls.
“And election experts question True the Vote’s approach, emphasizing that it’s not statistically sound for such a complicated data challenge… ‘If I were to undertake an effort like this, I would not obtain the voter rolls of every state and then compare them to these lists of noncitizens and felons and others,’ cautions David Becker, a former Justice Department attorney who is now executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research. ‘You will get an enormous number of false positives. You need much more data, not to mention that voter rolls are riddled with errors in the first place.’ He points out that such rolls don’t have Social Security numbers or driver’s license info, and might not even have birth dates in some cases.”
Why do I think that, like most such completely fabricated Trump claims, the GOP just hopes this issue just fades away from a lack of popular interest? And why do I still keep blogging about lies that we are constantly being fed to the point where so many people simply no longer care that their leaders seem incapable of telling us the truth, especially where that truth materially impacts our daily lives? 
I’m Peter Dekom, and when Americans no longer cherish truth, justice and leaders willing to deal with the real world, they have to know that our days as a democracy are clearly numbered.

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