Observations On The Michigan Court of Claims Ruling That The State’s Election Rules Were Illegally Changed By Its Democratic Secretary Of State

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Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, broke state law when she unilaterally changed election rules concerning absentee balloting in the 2020 election.

Michigan Court of Claims Chief Judge Christopher Murray made the ruling in response to one of the Republican lawsuits alleging that her actions violated the Michigan Administrative Procedures Act. Benson had instructed local election clerks a month before the Nov. 3 election to start with a “presumption” that all signatures on absentee ballots were valid and only reject those that had “multiple significant and obvious” inconsistencies.

The court concluded,

…nowhere in this state’s election law has the Legislature indicated that signatures are to be presumed valid, nor did the Legislature require that signatures are to be accepted so long as there are any redeeming qualities in the application or return envelope as compared with the signature on file. Policy determinations like the one at issue — which places the thumb on the scale in favor of a signature’s validity — should be made pursuant to properly promulgated rules under the APA or by the Legislature.

Over 3.1 million Michigan voters sent in absentee ballot last November. Biden won the state’s electoral votes by a margin of just over 154,000.

This was not the only judicial ruling that something was amiss in the 2020 balloting. In neighboring Wisconsin, another closely contested state, the state Supreme Court ruled in December that state and local election officials erred when they gave blanket permission for voters to declare themselves home-bound and skip voter ID requirements in the 2020 elections.

In a case challenging the practice in Dane County, one of Wisconsin’s large urban centers around the city of Madison, the state’s highest court ruled that only those voters whose “own age, physical illness or infirmity” makes them home-bound could declare themselves “indefinitely confined” and avoid complying with the requirement for photo ID. Local officials like Dane County and Gov. Tony Evers, the case concluded, did not have legal authority to exempt all voters to get an absentee ballot without an ID. Evers had issued an executive order earlier this year.

“We conclude that both the contention that electors qualify as indefinitely confined solely as the result of the COVID19 pandemic and the declared public health emergency and the contention that Wis. Stat. § 6.86(2)(a) could be used for those who ‘have trouble presenting a valid ID’ are erroneous because those reasons do not come within the statutory criteria,” the court ruled. “We conclude that [Evers’] Emergency Order #12 did not render all Wisconsin electors ‘indefinitely confined,’ thereby obviating the requirement of a valid photo identification to obtain an absentee ballot.”

And in Virginia, a judge in January approved a consent decree permanently banning the acceptance of ballots without postmarks after Election Day, concluding that instructions from the Virginia Department of Elections to the contrary in 2020 had violated state law. The ruling came after the election, so it was the model of a Pyrrhic victory for the GOP.

“If the return envelope has a missing postmark, the ballot shall be rendered invalid,” Frederick County Circuit Judge William W. Eldridge IV ruled in the consent decree.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court washed its hands of the 2020 election controversies, declaring them moot, several more legal challenges remain in live in the states, and two investigations of voting machine logs are pending in Georgia and Arizona.

What’s going on here?

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Tit For Tat Ethics: The Anti-Biden-Pro-Trump Flags

Anti-Biden flags

Two stories about vulgar flags hanging on houses were so similar, I thought they were a single episode. In fact, they occurred in different states. It didn’t help that in both stories, the politically correct, silly and near-useless news media refused to actually reveal the facts because they might be “offensive.”

In Charlotte, North Carolina, a flag with “graphic language” directed at President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris hangs in front of a home down the street from Mallard Creek Elementary School. Teachers and neighbors are upset at “the profane language and blatant disrespect for the President and Vice-President,” and complained that this was was “a terrible example” to set for kids. The house is on a street on the route for all the buses to get to the school.

What exactly is “the graphic language”? We’re supposed to guess: that’s today’s woke journalism, as in “lousy journalism.” Some comments from neighbors are also revealing. A neighbor told the local Fox affiliate, “If she’s concerned about that, then she needs to be getting on these rap songs and everything else.”

Yeah, that’s a classic deflection, in the style of a nice round, ten rationalizations, like 2.Whataboutism, or “They’re Just as Bad,”8, The Trivial Trap (“No harm no foul!”), 8A. The Dead Horse-Beater’s Dodge, or “This can’t make things any worse,” 16., The Consistency Obsession, 22, “There are worse things,” 26, “The Favorite Child” Excuse,” 33. The Management Shrug: “Don’t sweat the small stuff!,” 44. “It’s Not The First Time, ” 50A. Narcissist Ethics , or “I don’t care,” and #58. The Golden Rule Mutation, or “I’m all right with it!” The response doesn’t address the issue at hand, it just shrugs it away.

Too bad they don’t teach basic ethics in the U.S.

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Ethics Dunce: Unethical Groveler Kelly Stafford

It’s really simple. If you don’t have the fortitude to stand up for your opinions, resist bullying and tell the social media mobs to go fry an egg, then shelter in your metaphorical womb, check with the Woke and The Wonderful about their latest agenda items and directives so you can parrot them accurately, and shut the hell up.

At least Galileo was threatened with torture by an authority that wasn’t bluffing before he retracted what he knew to be true. What was Kelly Stafford, the wife of Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, afraid of? Yet she quickly followed up her video, which was 100% correct, with a nauseating retraction on Instagram, as she wrote,

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Good Morning! Once Again, Here Is A 2020 Election Ethics Train Wreck Update…[Corrected And Revised]

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1. As you can see from the map above, RealClearPolitics, the remarkably balanced politics blog (which means that progressives view it as a right wing propaganda organ) still rates the election as undecided.

Notice of Correction: Several sources reported incorrectly that RCP had called the election for Biden and then reversed itself based on, among other developments, the Trump campaign’s lawsuit alleging widespread voting fraud in Pennsylvania. RCP sent out a tweet denying that it had ever had William Penn’s pride and joy listed as anything but unsettled. Thanks to EA readers who pointed this out, and good for RCP for not following the mob and its conventional wisdom. What matters, of course, is what the map says now, and that at least one non-partisan, responsible source officially regards the election as undecided, which, in fact, it is.

RCP also shows Arizona, Alaska for some mysterious reason, Georgia, and North Carolina. All but Alaska currently have the President less than a percentage point behind with recounts looming and legitimate questions popping up daily. Biden’s Electoral vote count is under 270, at 259.

Observes Victory Girls, accurately,

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito ordered the state to segregate votes that came in late. The state has been very reluctant to follow the orders of a Supreme Court Justice. This happened because at the last minute the Governor of Pennsylvania asked the state Supreme Court to extend the voting time. Constitutional expert Ken Starr [explains] this unconstitutional action:

“…[W]hat happened in Pennsylvania over these recent weeks is a constitutional travesty. Governor Wolf tries to get his reforms, his vision, as he was entitled to do, through the legislature of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He failed. He then goes to the state Supreme Court, which by a divided vote, accepted the substance of what Governor Wolf was doing, and then added thereon nooks and crannies as well.”

In short, there are a lot of Biden votes in Pennsylvania that may be disallowed.

Pennsylvania isn’t enough: Trump still has to run the table to win, and that is a huge long-shot. But the claim that the election is over and settled now is simply and unequivocally false.

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Good Morning! Here’s Your 2020 Election Ethics Train Wreck Update To Start The Week Off Right… [Updated And Revised]

red flags

NOTICE OF UPDATE: The numbers J.D. Rucker used in the sources for this post can no longer be verified. Now HIS alleged source is showing numbers that don’t support his argument. I can’t imagine that Rucker, who has some credibility and writes for various conservative publications, would make up statistics wholesale for a post about statistics. I can imagine the statistics being altered after he called attention to their suspicious nature, since there is such a concerted effort to discredit any claims that the voting totals may not be accurate, but there is no evidence of that. This is the whole problem. There are no reliable sources.

\You want smoke? You want red flags? You want the appearance of impropriety? You want to hear about yet another dubiously flipped crucial state in the 2020 election?

Conservative writer J.D. Rucker reported that numbers from DecisionDeskHQ showed that 5,867,609 people in Michigan voted for President  while only 5,717,819 voted in the hotly contested Senate election. That’s a 149,790 difference. As of the time of his post, he wrote, Joe Biden was ahead by 145,935 votes.

“What a coinkydink!” (Special credit for identifying the film quote and the actor!)

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Election 2020: The Appearance Of Impropriety Or Real Impropriety? Part II, An Accountant’s Analysis

Larry Correia, a perceptive blogger who approaches issues with the mind of a veteran accountant and auditor, has concluded regarding the 2020 election that “Fuckery is Afoot.” In a 3000+ word post, Correia (whose tart and blunt analysis I last featured here), begins,

I am more offended by how ham-fisted, clumsy, and audacious the fraud to elect him is than the idea of Joe Biden being president…. However, what is potentially fatal for America is half the populace believing that their elections are hopelessly rigged, and they’re eternally fucked. And now, however this shakes out in court, that’s exactly what half the country is going to think.  …In auditing you look for red flags. That’s weird bits in the data that suggest something shifty is going on. You flag those weird things so you can delve into them further. One flag doesn’t necessarily mean there’s fraud. Weird things happen. A few flags mean stupidity or dishonesty. But a giant pile of red flags means that there’s bad shit going on and people should be in jail.

Here are just some of the “red flags” that Correia identifies…

  • The massive turn out alone is a red flag.
  • The late-night spikes that were enough to close all the Trump leads are a red flag.
  • The statistically impossible breakdown of the ratios of these vote dumps is a red flag.
  • The ratios of these dumps being far better than the percentages in the bluest of blue cities, even though the historical data does not match, red flag.
  • The ratios of these vote dumps favoring Biden more in these few battlegrounds than the ratio for the rest of the country (even the bluest of the blue) red flag.
  • Biden outperforming Obama among these few urban vote dumps, even though Trump picked up points in every demographic group in the rest of the country, red flag.
  • The poll observers being removed. Red flag.
  • The counters cheering as GOP observers are removed, red flag.
  • The fact that the dem observers outnumber the GOP observers 3 to 1, red flag (and basis of the first lawsuit filed)The electioneering at the polls (on video), red flag.
  • The willful violation of the court order requiring the separation of ballots by type, red flag.
  • [The] USPS whistleblower reporting to the Inspector General that today they were ordered to backdate ballots to yesterday, red flag.
  • The video of 2 AM deliveries of what appear to be boxes of ballots with no chain of custody or other observers right before the late night miracle spikes, red flag.

Any of those things would be enough to trigger an audit in the normal world.This many flags and I’d be giggling in anticipation of catching some thieves…This is going to the courts.

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Day After The Day After Updates And Observations On The 2020 Election

Thanksgiving hangover

1. I had written some time ago that the best possible outcome ethically would be a Trump landslide, and the worst would be a Trump win in the Electoral College while losing the popular vote. Somehow I missed the obvious worst scenario, which is what we are getting: a mega-2000 mess, with multiple states in doubt for various questionable factors, resulting in litigation by both sides, stretching on into December.

This was one more example of how the false and biased polls interfered with legitimate analysis.

2. I have frequently praised Richard Nixon for passing on the opportunity to challenge the results in Illinois, Texas and other states after the 1960 election, and saying that it was more important to respect the process and not throw an election into turmoil. Of course, based on what we know about Nixon. That may have been a ploy and virtue signaling: while there was certainly some voting shenanigans, notably in Richard Daley’s notoriously corrupt Chicago, Nixon maybe have been told that he would lose anyway, and that challenging the results would make it harder for him to come back and win in ’64 or ’68. Nonetheless, Nixon set the norm, and Al Gore broke it in 2000. Now it seems insane for a party to not to challenge a close election if there seems to be any question about the legitimacy of the result.

That shift is also a reflection of the widening chasm between the two parties. There wasn’t much difference philosophically between the Democrats and Republicans in 1960, nor between Nixon and Kennedy. (There wasn’t much difference between their ethical instincts either, but we didn’t know that at the time.) Today there is every reason to believe that for a party to just shrug off the possibility that a Presidency has been stolen in the best interests of the nation is a breach of duty and a betrayal of the public trust.

However, a party (like the Democrats since 2016) or a candidate (like Hillary Clinton) continuing to deny the results after they have been validated is unforgivable and destructive.

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From The Dead Ethics Alarms Files: Wait, WHAT? Why Was This Court Decision Even Necessary?

Uri Rafaeli owed $8.41 in unpaid property taxes. That’s eight dollars and change. The amount gradually increased to $285.81 from added interest, penalties and fees. Oakland County in Michigan  confiscated and sold his property for $24,500, thenkept all proceeds above the past due amount.  Meanwhile, Andre Ohanessian owed about $6,000 in unpaid taxes, interest, penalties and fees to the same Oakland County, and the county sold his property for $82,000. It kept all proceeds of that sale too.

Seems fair to me!

Kidding. Actually, that seems so wrong that I don’t understand how any public officials could do such a thing, or argue that it was defensible rather than obvious theft. The Michigan Supreme Court ruled last week that the takings clause in the state constitution prevents counties from selling homes for unpaid tax debts and keeping all surplus proceeds.

Because, you know, it’s wrong. Continue reading

No, The President Isn’t A Dictator, But Given The Opportunity, These Elected Officials Might Be

There are many ironies and contradictions in the various government reactions to the Wuhan virus, some quite yummy, like the municipalities that had banned plastic bags that are now forced to ban the re-usable kind, and demand the use of the plastic once again. Some day, when this is all over, we can sit around and laugh about it all.

This development, however, is not funny: a frightening number of governors, mayors and police officers have demonstrated how much of our democracy is currently entrusted to nascent totalitarians. I know, I know: to protect the public in a unique crisis, extraordinary measures must be taken, and because so many in our democracy don’t really possess the intelligence and sense of social responsibility that the Founders, in their idealistic fervor, decided to pretend they had (much less the common sense of the average meerkat), sometimes those measures must be accompanied by the force of law. However, because it is a democracy and one that begins with wariness of governments infringing on personal liberties, and will end with our governments being supported when they decided those liberties can be ignored on a whim and a hunch, the recent gusto with which elected officials and their police forces have felt justified in crushing those liberties are warnings that responsible citizens must not let go unpunished. I wrote about one example here, regarding Vermont’s governor’s move to stop the big box stores from selling items Maple Syrup big Brother considers “non-essential.” There are more.

Ethics Alarms already covered the father taken away in handcuffs for playing T-ball on on otherwise empty field with his wife and 6-year-old child, but the Philadephia police pulling  people off  buses for not wearing masks, or the aspiring fascist officer  who tried to  chase down single jogger on an empty beach initially escaped my attention. There are so many examples, you see. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up,2/25/2020: Remembering “Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee” [CORRECTED]

Notice of a correction: in the first version of this post, I mistakenly wrote that the famous photo above was  of the first Liston fight. It was not: this was the dramatic scene that ended the rematch. Thanks to Tim Levier for reminding me.

Good Morning!

1. Cultural literacy thoughts: I wonder…how many Millennial Americans—or among the post-boomer generations—recognize the context of the photo above? On this date in 1964, a brash 22-year-old black boxer named Cassius Clay (1942-2016) pulled off one of the great upsets in sports history, defeating world heavyweight boxing champ Sonny Liston, an 8-to-1 favorite, in a seventh-round technical knockout. The now iconic photo above captured the dramatic finale of the 1965 rematch, ending the speculation that Clay’s victory over the previously frightening Liston had been a fluke.

Indeed, the 1964 fight was just the beginning of a remarkable story.

After his stunning victory, the sudden celebrity attended a victory to a private party at a Miami hotel. In attendance was Malcolm X, the outspoken leader of the rising African American Muslim group known as the Nation of Islam. Two days later, Cassius Clay announced he was joining the Nation of Islam, and renounced his “slave name”  to adopt  the Muslim name, Muhammad Ali. As Ali, he became one of the most influential social and political figures of his era, affecting civil rights, politics, public attitudes, language and culture…and sports, of course, as  professional boxing’s greatest champion. After successfully defending his title nine times, Ali surrendered it in 1967 after he refused induction into the U.S. Army on the grounds that he was a Muslim minister and thus  a conscientious objector. His stand against the Vietnam War galvanized national opposition to the war, especially among students and the young. In 1971,  the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Ali’s draft evasion conviction, and in 1974, he regained his heavyweight title in a match against George Foreman in Zaire, enshrining his phrase “rope-a-dope” in our lexicon. Eventually Ali became  the first boxer to win the heavyweight title three times. His post-retirement diagnosis  of pugilistic Parkinson’s syndrome and the sad spectacle of the once loquacious and witty athlete’s slow decline into near speechlessness and impaired motor functionscontributed to the collapse of boxing’s popularity. Ali was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Ronald Reagan, and lit the Olympic flame at the opening ceremonies of the1996  Summer Games in Atlanta, Georgia.

My mother, who like virtually everyone in her first generation Greek family was uncomfortable around blacks, once met Ali, who was seated next to her at a Harvard College function when she was Assistant Dean of Housing. She said later that he was the most charming, charismatic, beautiful man she had ever met in her life.

2. You can lead an idiot to child-proof packaging, but you can’t make him think. A study in the Journal of Pediatrics aimed at figuring out why there has been a steep rise in accidental poisonings of U.S. children according to CDC figures has come to a disturbing conclusion. Researchers analyzed nearly 4,500 calls to five U.S. poison centers in Arizona, Florida and Georgia over an eight month period in 2017. They found more than half of the prescription medicine poisonings occurred because parents and grandparents removed  pills and medicines from child-proof packaging to make them more easily accessible, to help the adults remember to take them, or more convenient for travel. Continue reading