Will the backlash to school closures lead to education reform?

Although outgoing LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner announced on Monday that the district will offer five-day-a-week, in-person instruction to all students this fall, it appears to be something less than a guarantee that the school year will be “back to normal.”

For one thing, negotiations are continuing between the district and UTLA, the union that represents over 30,000 teachers, counselors and others. Just last week, union president Cecily Myart-Cruz was on KPCC radio warning, “it’s going to take more than Newsom and anyone else saying, yes, we should be back like it was.”

So, what is it going to take?

The teachers’ union president spoke directly to the elected officials that she assumed were listening in the audience. “For all the local leaders tuning in,” she began, offering “my thoughts on how schools reopen in the fall….”

Myart-Cruz said elected leaders should go to the “parts of the city or community hardest hit by COVID-19 and have a conversation with those families” about “their needs and wants from the public education system,” and then “utilize the monies from the American Rescue Plan to make those needs and wants a reality.” This, she said, is “what it will take to ensure that we can equitably reopen our schools five days a week for all students in the fall.”

The school board already voted to spend an extra $700 million on schools that meet a formula created by a coalition of community groups; the formula apportions more money to schools in areas where asthma rates are higher and there is more gun violence.

That’s separate from what Myart-Cruz is demanding. If meeting the “needs and wants” of unspecified families as a condition of reopening the schools seems a little vague, fear not, the union has also provided a more specific list of demands.

UTLA told the district it wants class sizes reduced and 1,000 more teachers hired. It also wants the district to hire 1,800 new counselors, psychologists and social workers; also 300 special education providers, 300 instructional services employees, and 50 new art, music and drama teachers.

The union wants a ban on the transfer of teachers to other campuses in response to changing enrollment, as well as a ban on combining elementary classes and asking teachers to teach two grade levels in the same class.

And UTLA also wants more money. The union says the district should offer signing bonuses and salary increases to attract and retain teachers.

If the teachers don’t get what they want, they may not agree to teach in a classroom where desks are less than 6 feet apart. That would throw reopening plans into chaos because the classrooms won’t be large enough to accommodate all the students, leading to a complicated split schedule or even a return to distance learning.

“Let’s be clear,” Myart-Cruz told KPCC, “there won’t be a return to ‘a normal.’ A global pandemic has shaped our ‘normal’ and this is a time for actual transformational education.”

There’s more than one kind of transformation. On Sunday, angry parents took to the streets near downtown L.A. and marched from LAUSD headquarters to the headquarters of the teachers’ union 2.5 miles away. Openly threatening more recall elections, the parents demanded a seat at the bargaining table, a pledge from school board members that they will not accept campaign donations from unions that have contracts with the district, a full reopening of schools in the fall, and a commitment to follow only the latest guidance from federal health officials, not the demands of teachers’ unions.

Some parents want even more transformation than that.

The Pasadena-based California School Choice Foundation is organizing support for a ballot initiative to reform education. One proposal would strengthen charter schools and protect them from attack by union-backed legislation. Another proposal would create Education Savings Accounts and require the state to deposit the per-pupil spending allocation for each student into individual accounts that parents could use to send their child to any accredited school, public or private.

If that’s on the ballot in November 2022, enough seething-mad parents, grandparents and newly registered 18-year-old voters could turn out to pass it. We may find out that no one wants to go “back to normal.”

Susan Shelley is an editorial writer and columnist for the Southern California News Group. Susan@SusanShelley.com. Twitter: @Susan_Shelley

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Loss of a House seat may advantage California Democrats

On first glance, and also at first gloat, it appeared that California’s impending first-time-ever loss of one seat in Congress might ensure that Democrats lose the small majority they now hold in the House of Representatives, letting Republicans veto almost everything President Biden might want to do.

But conventional wisdom and first gloats are often not what they seem. The details sometimes end up overcoming false initial assumptions.

First, the gloats. One came from state GOP chair Jessica Millan Patterson, she who never had a critical word for ex-President Donald Trump even as he led her party to staggering electoral defeats in California.

Said Patterson, “California Republicans have a better vision (than Democrats) and we’re going to…take back Congress and make the right Californian (Bakersfield’s Kevin McCarthy) speaker of the House.”

Maybe so, maybe not. Republicans crowed for much of the last six months that razor-thin victories in four House races last year portend future big gains for the GOP.

That’s where the details come in. One of those details is that Democrats now outnumber Republicans almost 2-1 among registered voters in this state, an unprecedented margin. Almost one-fourth of the electorate still refuses to declare a party preference when signing up to vote. The majority of no party preference voters (NPPs) have consistently chosen Democrats over Republicans in past elections.

These details matter because of the shuffle that will come from dividing California into 52 congressional districts, not 53. Geographically, every district in California will get slightly larger. In big cities, this could mean district lines shift by a few blocks. In rural areas, the change could amount to miles. No one knows exactly where new district boundaries will lie, pending the arrival of more Census information this summer.

And there’s another detail to consider: While California did not lose population over the last decade, gaining about 6.4 percent (just behind the national rate of a bit more than 7 percent), there was movement, mostly from coastal areas with the most expensive real estate to inland areas where homes generally cost less.

Some district lines must now move eastward to accommodate those changes.

To assess the likely impact of these shifts, go back to the nearly 2-1 deficit the GOP suffers among registered voters.

When geographic lines shift, they always toss some voters into districts held by politicians those voters never previously knew or supported. Most voters getting shuffled will be Democrats or NPPs. So along with the slight geographic changes, clumps of voters will also be thrown from one district into another.

This means the electorate in districts the GOP flipped narrowly last year – margins varied from about 300 votes to about 8,000 – will be different from what it has been.

The most important difference will be that, on average, each district will likely see a slightly higher percentage of Democratic voters than before. Because of today’s registration numbers, that’s inevitable when voters displaced by the disappearance of one district get distributed into others.

Shifts in the electorate will also occur because of that west-to-east population movement. Will the current 8th District, covering the High Desert area of San Bernardino County and stretching toward Mono Lake, remain as solidly Republican as it is today? Or will the new district in that area (perhaps bearing a different number), soon contain parts of the city of San Bernardino, adding a component of Democrats?

Even the non-partisan state redistricting commission can’t yet know the answers, because no one has precise information on which to base a new configuration.

All of which means the Republican gloating about the Census (whose results so far contain few surprises) may be premature. For the margins by which they recovered those four previously longtime GOP-held districts may no longer exist under the state’s new reapportionment plan.

So Democrats might have a chance to gain ground in the House, rather than losing control. Any shift back to the Democrats in just two or three of the districts they briefly held could have national consequences in a narrowly divided Congress.

Email Thomas Elias at tdelias@aol.com.

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You don’t need college to be successful

Americans took out $1.7 trillion in government loans for college tuition.

Now, some don’t want to pay it back.

President Joe Biden says they shouldn’t have to. He wants to cancel at least $10,000 and maybe $50,000 of every student’s debt.

“They’re in real trouble,” says Biden, “having to make choices between paying their student loan and paying the rent.”

Poor students!

But wait: Shouldn’t they have given some thought to debt payments when they signed up for overpriced colleges? When they majored in subjects like photography or women’s studies, unlikely to lead to good jobs? When they took six years to graduate (a third don’t graduate even after six years).

Shouldn’t politicians also acknowledge that it’s taxpayer loans that let bloated colleges keep increasing tuition at twice the rate of inflation?

Yes.

But they don’t.

“Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe points out that students’ demand for loan forgiveness is “kind of self-involved.”

“I know guys who worked hard to get a construction operation running.  Some had to take out a loan on a big old diesel truck. Why would we forgive the cost of a degree but not the cost of a lease payment?”

It’s a good question.

“For some reason,” continues Rowe, “we think a tool that looks like a diploma is somehow more important than that big piece of metal in the driveway that allows the guy to build homes that you … are in.”

The political class does focus on subsidizing college.

“Now everybody is armed with a degree. What kind of world is that?” asks Rowe. “Everybody dreams of being in the corner office, but nobody knows how to build the corner office?”

Lots of good jobs in skilled trades don’t require a college degree, he points out. “The push for college came at the expense of every other form of education. Shop class was taken out of high school. We have denied millions of kids an opportunity to see what half the workforce looks like.”

It’s a reason America now has a shortage of skilled trade workers.

Yet, plumbers, elevator mechanics construction managers, etc., make $100,000 a year.

MikeroweWORKS Foundation gives young people scholarships to schools where they learn such trades. He seeks to make skilled labor “cool” again.

One Rowe scholarship recipient, Chloe Hudson, considered college but was shocked at what it cost.

“I was like, ‘I can’t afford this!’ I don’t want to be saddled with student debt the rest of my life!”

Instead, thanks to her Rowe scholarship, she learned how to weld, and now she has no trouble finding work.

“I’ve been under nuclear plants … been in water systems,” Hudson recounts. “Those jobs make me appreciate what I have now so much more.”

“What do you make?” I ask Hudson.

$3,000 a week,” she responds.

She’s appalled by today’s college student’s demand for loan forgiveness.

“There is not a single loan I have ever taken out where I didn’t have an expectation put on myself that I was going to repay it,” says Hudson. “That’s getting up at four o’clock in the morning and making sure I’m at work on time. That’s staying late. That’s working weekends.”

But now she will have to help pay for all those college students who won’t pay their debts.

“I am taxed heavily,” complains Hudson. “It’s not a good feeling to know that the government thinks that they can spend my dollars better than I can.”

Right. Government doesn’t spend our dollars better than we do. “Forgive student loans” really means workers must pay for privileged students who don’t.

John Stossel is author of “Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media.”

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Political gridlock on mass shootings and the southern border

Watch any movie from the 30s, 40s, 50s and even 60s and you’ll see porters and stewards shoving carts piled high with enormous steamer trunks. You’ll also see travelers huffing and puffing onto trains, buses, steamships and airplanes hauling heavy suitcases, yet not a single person ever stopped to ask, “Why doesn’t someone put wheels on these things?”

Not until Bernard Sadow came along.

Bernie Sadow was granted the very first patent on rolling suitcases, in– are you ready for this? — 1972! Think about that. From the time Og the Caveman developed opposable thumbs until the Nixon/McGovern campaign, nobody had thought of putting wheels on bags until Bernie finally took the lug out of luggage.

There are, of course, other seemingly soluble problems still awaiting an equally simple fix: mass shootings and open borders.

With 6 dead in Atlanta, 10 dead in Boulder, and hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants entering the country every year, including thousands of unaccompanied children, the political circular firing squad has once again sprung into action, guaranteeing no action will be taken on either issue.

Eventually, we’ll move on to new distractions until another round of mass murders and border surges starts the cycle all over again. Year after year, decade after decade we say, “enough is enough”, yet it never is. Sandy Hook wasn’t enough. Las Vegas wasn’t enough. Parkland High School wasn’t enough. From 1990 to 2007, our undocumented immigrant population more than tripled, mushrooming from 3.5 million to a record high of 12.2 million. That wasn’t enough.

The immigration can has been kicked down the alley by Republicans and Democrats ever since the Hart-Celler Act of 1965 and the Reagan Amnesty of 1986. Now it’s President Biden’s turn.

He’s off to a terrible start.

Biden passing the immigration hot potato to Vice President Harris, who, as District Attorney for San Francisco and Attorney General of California, never meet a border she didn’t want open.

Thousands of desperately poor people have already overwhelmed border towns across the southwest, along with ICE facilities and the social safety net of cities and towns. This latest surge will put even more pressure on the nearly nonexistent low-income housing market, while pricing even more people into homelessness.

Fingers will be pointed, but not toward a solution.

Former President Trump correctly pushed the immigration issue onto the front burner. Unfortunately, often with bullying and even racist language that fired up his frustrated base but did little to actually secure the border. COVID-19 did more to curtail illegal immigration than all the president’s bluster about “a big beautiful wall” which he never built.

As swarms of children crowd into inadequate facilities and video is shown every night on the news, our new president’s tone has shifted. Now he’s talking tough. “The border is closed.” Except it’s not and everyone knows it. The incentive is still there for people to risk their children’s lives in the hands of human traffickers. This is not compassion.

Meanwhile, after a year-long hiatus, mass shootings are a thing again and so is our bifurcated response. We are suffering from national cognitive dissonance when it comes to guns. Every opinion poll shows Americans overwhelming support a new assault weapons ban, but good luck getting anything through congress. Meanwhile, 6 killed in Atlanta and 10 killed in Boulder caused a media meltdown while the 4,033 shot in Chicago last year barely made the news.

We had a federal assault weapons ban for ten years without the hammer and sickle replacing the stars and stripes. We still had the Second Amendment. Nobody had their guns taken from them. But  since that law expired in 2004, “We the People” have become even more distrustful of each other and the government itself. Each mass shooting sends scores queuing up at gun stores as if Costco were having a toilet paper sale. After Sandy Hook, President Obama pushed for an assault weapon ban and gun shops put his picture up with the caption, “Salesman of the Year.” Guns aren’t going away. Ever. They are part of us.

While some questions are eternal: what’s the meaning of life, what awaits us after death, why can we exit the eastbound 210 at Lake Avenue without getting crushed by a big rig? Border security and keeping weapons of war out of the hands of lunatics are not metaphysics. Put the damn wheels on the suitcases!

If we continue to allow partisan politics to paralyze commonsense solutions, we’ll carry the baggage of open borders and mass shootings far into the future.

Doug McIntyre’s column appears Sundays. He can be reached at: Doug@DougMcIntyre.com.   

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The Political Reform Act stifles political participation

California’s campaign finance laws have become a tool of abuse against citizens participating in their government.

That’s the only conclusion that can be drawn from the latest ruling in a long-running case in Redondo Beach involving a developer’s effort to build a huge project on the waterfront.

While the First Amendment guarantees the right of citizens to distribute flyers, seek signatures on petitions and buy advertising to support a candidacy or cause, in California these constitutionally protected activities could put you at risk of massive fines and financially devastating lawsuits.

In the post-Watergate era, various reformers thought it would be a good idea to regulate campaign finance in order to limit the influence of big money. Voters in California approved the Political Reform Act in 1974, creating a new agency, the Fair Political Practices Commission, to write regulations and enforce the new law. Additionally, California sometimes allows private attorneys to enforce laws by filing lawsuits against individuals or entities.

The much-amended Political Reform Act is wildly complex. The case in Redondo Beach involved the regulations governing the different types of campaign committees and which ones apply to which types of political participation.

In the summer of 2016, some Redondo residents were organizing opposition to a plan by developer CenterCal Properties, LLC, for a large project on the waterfront. A proposed initiative aiming to block the development gained traction and became Measure C on the March 7, 2017, ballot.

On the way to getting the ballot measure qualified and eventually passed, a number of citizens in Redondo took various actions in support of it. A group called Rescue Our Waterfront, led by Wayne Craig and Martin Holmes, formed a committee. Then-candidates Bill Brand and Nils Nehrenheim, later elected (and re-elected) mayor and city councilman, respectively, helped with signature gathering and provided other support for the effort. Rescue Our Waterfront supported the election of Brand and Nehrenheim and added their names to a political mailer.

What we have here is a group of citizens who share a viewpoint and are participating in politics. This is core First Amendment activity. Fine, right?

Not so fast. Rescue Our Waterfront’s organizers were initially confused about whether they were forming a “general purpose committee” or a “primarily formed committee.” They erroneously checked both boxes on their Statement of Organization form, but later corrected it. ROW was a “general purpose committee,” and it was not controlled by any candidate.

Fine, right? Not so fast.

After Measure C passed, two Redondo residents, Arnette Travis and Chris Voisey, filed a lawsuit against the ROW committee, Brand, Nehrenheim, and a volunteer, Linda Moffat, who had served as Brand’s campaign treasurer. The lawsuit charged that the candidates had secretly controlled the ROW committee, that the committee was the wrong type of committee, and that the committee name violated the Political Reform Act.

It’s expensive to sue or be sued. Travis and Voisey testified during the trial that they were not paying the lawyer who was representing them, Bradley W. Hertz of The Sutton Law Firm. They testified that they did not know who was paying for the lawsuit.

In a dramatic scene, L.A. County Superior Court Judge Malcolm H. Mackey ordered Hertz to take the witness stand himself and answer the question under oath: Who was paying for the lawsuit? Reluctantly, the lawyer testified that the developer was writing the checks.

Judge Mackey ruled in favor of ROW, Brand, Nehrenheim and Moffat, finding that ROW was correctly designated as a “general purpose committee,” was not candidate-controlled, and had not violated the law. The court ordered Voisey and Travis to pay the defendants’ costs, including attorney fees of more than $860,000. Further, Mackey ruled that because the “true entity and persons” behind the lawsuit were the developer and its two principals, using Voisey and Travis as “sham clients and shell plaintiffs,” the developer was also responsible for paying the defendants’ costs. Voisey, Travis and the CenterCal team appealed the decision.

Last week, a three-judge panel of the California Court of Appeal ruled in favor of ROW, Brand, Nehrenheim and Moffat. The court’s 32-page ruling reveals a degree of puzzlement about the underlying issue in the case. “We understand this argument to be about voters’ relative trust in each type of committee,” the court wrote. “The hypothesis must be that voters are more willing to trust general purpose committees, which are oriented to general and long-term ideals, like supporting slow-growth development. Conversely, the supposition must be that voters are warier of primary purpose committees, which may exist only briefly and thus lack accountability, and may be opportunistically and singularly driven to pass a measure. Similarly, the hypothesis must be that voters have more trust in committees that are independent from candidates. This at any rate appears to be the general idea.”

But that “general idea,” when enforced as a campaign finance law, enabled a big-money interest to go after two local candidates, a volunteer treasurer and two citizen activists who didn’t do anything illegal, yet were forced to run up more than $800,000 in legal fees to defend themselves.

It gets worse. The appeals court said the developer couldn’t be held responsible for paying the defendants’ costs, because there’s nothing illegal about secretly funding a lawsuit.

During the trial, two expert witnesses took opposite sides of the argument over whether ROW had formed the correct type of committee. It’s an illustration of the irrational complexity that the expert who was determined to be wrong is a former chair of the Fair Political Practices Commission.

The more closely you look at the Political Reform Act, the more clear it becomes that the law is achieving the opposite of what voters intended.

Restore the First Amendment in California. Repeal the Political Reform Act.

Susan Shelley is an editorial writer and columnist for the Southern California News Group. Susan@SusanShelley.com. Twitter: @Susan_Shelley

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Is 36 the new 21?

I’m a habitual reader of biographies, preferably of dead people. In 1985, New York Mets’ pitcher Dwight Gooden wrote his autobiography. He was 21. What could he possibly write about, the fourth grade? I passed on Gooden’s book. I want the whole story, cradle to grave, so it’s dead people for me or nothing.

Fortunately, there are lots of books about dead people and I’ve read hundreds of them: men, women, celebrities, politicians, famous figures from history, and sometimes obscure lives that catch my eye for whatever reason. Currently, I’m slogging through a 755-page behemoth on the mid-19th century Austrian diplomat, Clemens von Metternich. I have no idea why.

One thing I look for in every life story is the “peak-point”, that moment when someone is at the very top of the roller coaster, before they begin the inevitable descent– if not steep plunge– to the boneyard that awaits us all. No matter how famous, infamous or obscure, it’s a rare bird who recognizes, while they’re living it, that this is their finest hour. We humans, despite the knowledge of our own mortality, are endlessly optimistic. Even people who already have everything; health, wealth, love and more wealth, believe tomorrow will somehow be even better.

Age teaches us otherwise.

A new study of 2,000 Americans, funded by some kind of pill that’s supposed to help us live forever or something, concluded the best year of our lives is our 36th.

For me, thirty-six is so far in the rear-view mirror it’s like the 13th floor of a high rise. And not just my thirty-sixth year. Most of my thirties (and a good chunk of my 20s) are a blank slate for reasons we need not get into here. Still, the arc of everybody’s life has its peaks and valleys. Even Tom Hanks’ life.  Remember “Joe versus the Volcano?” When things are going rotten, we’re acutely aware of every bad break and bump in the road. Yet, how many of us soak in the good times; that magic moment when it will never be better?

For most of us, we don’t gain that insight until later in life. That’s the tragedy of Al Bundy. “Married… With Children’s” everyman realizes too late his life climaxed the day he scored four touchdowns for Polk High.

Hopefully, our best days were not in high school. Although, judging from social media posts, millions of us long for the good ol’ days of the 1970s, 80’s and even the 1990s, with the children of each of these decades claiming they had the best music, the best cars, and the most fun. I’m not nostalgic about my high school years. I did not look good in bellbottoms. I went to an all-boys high school. I’ve never played air guitar.

The idea that our lives peak at 36 is also strange to me. Yes, at that tender age our knees don’t pop when we get up from the couch, we still have hair where we want it and we can could go to Marie Callender’s without having to poke a new hole our belts afterwards. At 36, we have enough life ahead of us to “get around to it”, whatever “it” is.

For ballplayers, their lives might peak by winning the World Series or an Olympic gold medal; for actors maybe it’s picking up an Academy Award. But most of us don’t experience uber-highs that are showcased to the whole world. Our best days are usually private affairs; our wedding day, (if not the first, maybe the second or third) the birth of our children, or the day we retire with enough bread in the bank to live with dignity if not ease.

A lucky few live their entire lives in the moment; savoring every sandwich, every full moon and sunny day. That wasn’t me growing up. But I’m getting there. With each candle on the birthday cake, I’ve come to enjoy simpler things and covet the extravagant less.

No pollster has ever asked what the best year of my life has been, but when the do, I have the answer. My next year.

Doug McIntyre’s column appears Sundays. He can be reached at: Doug@DougMcIntyre.com.

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Private property’s harvest

I’m thankful.

Yes, we’ve got the pandemic, lockdowns, a worsening deficit, etc.

But we still live in a relatively free country at the most prosperous time in human history.

The pandemic showed that when people are faced with crises, we adjust. Restaurants switched to takeout and outdoor dining. Grocery stores began curbside pickup. Companies mass-produced masks, hand sanitizer, ventilators and, now, vaccines. I hide from COVID-19 by staying home; yet, thanks to new services such as Zoom, I can research this column and make my weekly videos from my couch.

That’s brought benefits. I no longer have to deal with traffic congestion.

Traffic jams are a good example of what ecologist Garrett Hardin called the “Tragedy of the Commons.”

Because roads are free, more people drive, and roads are often congested. If roads were subject to “peak-load pricing, charging higher prices during times of peak demand and lower prices at other times,” Hardin wrote, then we’d have fewer traffic jams.

I bring this up now, before Thanksgiving, because a similar Tragedy of the Commons nearly killed the Pilgrims. When they landed at Plymouth Rock, they started a society based on sharing.

Sharing sounds great.

But sharing, basically, is collective or communal farming, which is socialism. Food and supplies were distributed based on need. Pilgrims were forbidden to selfishly produce food for themselves.

That collective farming was a disaster. When the first harvest came, there wasn’t much food to go around. The Pilgrims nearly starved.

Since no individual owned crops from the farm, no one had an incentive to work harder to produce extra that they might sell to others. Since even slackers got food from the communal supply, there was no penalty for not working.

William Bradford wrote in his “History of Plymouth Plantation” that the colony was ridden with “corruption” and “much was stolen both by night and day, before it became scarce eatable.”

People eager to provide for their families were less eager to provide for others. Bradford wrote, “young men, that were most able and fit for labour, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense.”

Ultimately, said Bradford, shared farming “was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort.”

The Pilgrims “begane to thinke how they might raise as much corne as they could, and obtaine a beter crope (so) they might not still thus languish in miserie.”

Languishing in misery is what people in Venezuela do now.

The Pilgrims’ solution: private property.

In 1623, the collective farm was split up, and every family was given a plot of land. People could grow their own food and keep it or trade it. “It made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.” wrote Bradford. “Women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability.”

The Pilgrims flourished because they turned to private property.

So, this Thanksgiving, be grateful for private property, a foundation of capitalism.

Your grocery may not have the small turkey you wanted this year, but they have much more of what you want than people in the Soviet Union ever got.

When you’re shopping for dinner or stocking up for Lockdown 2.0, be glad that you have so many options available.

If government controlled the production of turkeys and toilet paper, this would be a very, very unhappy Thanksgiving.

John Stossel is author of “Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media.”

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What the Trump team is claiming

President Trump’s legal team held a press briefing on Thursday and said they can prove there was election fraud in multiple states involving more than enough ballots to reverse the election results.

“We have more than double the number needed to overturn the election in terms of provable, illegal ballots,” Trump campaign attorney Rudy Giuliani said, citing sworn affidavits from witnesses in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada and Arizona.

Giuliani and attorney Sidney Powell described a massive scheme to alter vote counts using Smartmatic software, which is run on Dominion Voting Systems used in dozens of states, as well as old-fashioned ballot-box stuffing with fraudulent vote-by-mail ballots.

It is true, and publicly documented, that Dominion Voting Systems technology was denied certification for use in Texas elections after an extensive review. “The examiner reports identified multiple hardware and software issues,” the Secretary of State’s Office wrote in a Jan. 24 statement explaining the rejection of Dominion’s Democracy Suite 5.5-A system, including “concerns” about whether it is “safe from fraudulent or unauthorized manipulation.”

And it is true that right here in California, security vulnerabilities in Smartmatic software were publicly documented as part of the Secretary of State’s conditional certification of the voting technology now in use in Los Angeles County. L.A. built its own proprietary system and uses Smartmatic software to run it.

The reports of tests on L.A.’s “Voting Systems for All People,” or VSAP, technology are available on the secretary of state’s website. The California Certification Software Test Report for VSAP Tally 2.1 — the software that counts the votes — concludes with this: “Potential vulnerabilities were identified.”

And the report includes this response from Smartmatic:

“Developer Response: Smartmatic staff has investigated this list of potential software security vulnerabilities. We find that most of these relate to Internet connected systems. Some could be exploited by trusted insiders, even without the system being inadvertently or maliciously attached to the Internet. We note that many are not easy to exploit or would not give an attacker meaningful access or capabilities that would allow undetectable manipulation or results or denial of service. A malicious trusted insider would likely attempt other avenues by which to subvert the voting system.”

One documented avenue: A “trusted insider” could use an “infected USB flash drive” to load malicious software into back-office servers and workstations.

It is fully documented and beyond dispute that Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic software have security vulnerabilities that would enable tampering with the vote tally in an election.

Powell said she will prove in court that there was a two-step scheme to tamper with the vote tally electronically and then to further affect the count by introducing a flood of unauthorized or manufactured mail ballots into tally centers. She said she will prove in court that Smartmatic software was used to switch votes from Trump to Biden and to “inject” additional votes for Biden. She said she can prove that questionable ballots for Biden were delivered and tallied out of sight of observers in the middle of the night, that stacks of ballots were run through scanners multiple times, and that some precincts had voter turnout of up to 350 percent.

If true, it’s very serious.

In addition to the allegations about tampering with the vote tally, there are constitutional issues pending before the Supreme Court which could affect the certification of the vote in Pennsylvania and other states. The Constitution gives state legislatures the power to determine the “manner” of state elections for federal offices. In Pennsylvania, the legislature’s deadline for the arrival of absentee ballots was Nov. 3, but the executive and judicial branches of the state government extended the deadline by three days.

Following an emergency appeal, Justice Samuel Alito ordered Pennsylvania to keep separate all the ballots that arrived after Nov. 3 so that a remedy would be available if they were found to be invalid.

Powell said she has sworn affidavits from election workers who say they were instructed to backdate ballots that arrived on Nov. 4, 5 and 6 so they would appear to have arrived on November 3, evading the court’s order to separate them.

Giuliani said he can prove that Trump won Pennsylvania by 30,000 votes if only lawful votes are counted. He said he can also prove that Trump won Wisconsin, where the state’s strict procedures regarding mail-in votes require voters to apply for absentee ballots. Giuliani said 100,000 absentee ballots just in Milwaukee and Madison were counted even though there is no record that anyone applied for them.

The Trump lawyers have a couple of weeks to prove enough to convince some state legislatures to vote to withhold their electors or send a different slate of electors to vote in the Electoral College on Dec. 14. That’s the vote that actually elects the president. If no candidate reaches 270 electoral votes, the election goes to the House of Representatives, where each state delegation has one vote.

The framers of the Constitution built layers of safeguards into the process of electing a president, knowing that with so much power at stake, there might be times when malicious forces attempted to interfere with the vote.

We’ve seen plenty of malice. We’ll see if there’s proof.

Susan Shelley is an editorial writer and columnist for the Southern California News Group. Susan@SusanShelley.com. Twitter: @Susan_Shelley

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Whatever happens Tuesday, life will get better: John Stossel

Worried about Tuesday?

Remember: The most important parts of life happen outside politics.

Love, friendship, family, raising children, building businesses, worship, charity work — that is the stuff of life! Politicians get in the way of those things. But despite the efforts of power-hungry Republicans and Democrats, life gets better.

You may not believe that. Surveys show most people think life is getting worse.

But it isn’t, as Marian Tupy and Ron Bailey point out in their new book, “Ten Global Trends Every Smart Person Should Know.”

“Child labor was once ubiquitous. Now it’s limited to a few countries in Africa. Women did not have a vote (until New Zealand granted it at the end of the 19th century). Today, women vote everywhere except for the Vatican,” Tupy reminds us.

“Gays and lesbians, persecuted for millennia, are free to marry. Slavery was universal; now it is illegal. The world has never been more peaceful, more educated and kinder.”

But the nastiness of today’s politics may stop progress! Make life worse!

It’s possible, but “worse” compared to what?

I’ve lived through the Vietnam War, a military draft, 90 percent income tax rates, price controls, indecency laws, widespread racism and sexism, Jim Crow, the explosion of crime in the 1970s…

Overall, life got better.

With Donald Trump and Joe Biden claiming the other will destroy what’s good, it’s hard to see improvement. But the world has made progress, largely thanks to libertarian ideas.

“For millennia the world was marked by despotism, slavery, hierarchy, rigid class privilege, and literally no increase in the standard of living,” says Cato Institute Vice President David Boaz in the May/June 2020 Policy Report.

“Then libertarian ideas came into the world. Of course, they weren’t called that at the time. … (T)hey were the ideas of human rights, free markets, property rights, religious toleration, the value of commerce, the dignity of the individual – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

These ideas created a wave of progress unlike anything in history.

“Look at the chart of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, or any measure of economic growth,” adds Boaz. “It looks like a hockey stick: flat for almost all human history, and then it rockets upwards.”

The media shriek hysterically about every problem, and we have problems: pandemic, lockdowns, unemployment, wildfires, bad cops, violent riots, crime…

But no matter who wins on Tuesday, life will probably get better.

Entrepreneurs will invent cool things.

This year, while Democrats and Republicans fought, the private sector found cheaper and better ways to send people into space.

The World Bank complained about governments not providing all people clean drinking water. So private companies are doing it. A billboard in Peru turns humidity into potable drinking water. A drinking straw, LifeStraw, removes bacteria and parasites from water.

Forests are expanding because modern farming uses less land, allowing the forests to regrow.

Thanks to often-despised free markets, poverty continues to decline. In 1981, 42 percent of the world lived in extreme poverty. By 2018, only 8.6 percent did. Do politicians ever highlight those gains? No.

Probably because most of those good things happened in spite of them, not because of them.

Most good things do.

Yes, we still have lots of problems: trillion dollar deficits, mental illness, crushing regulation, endless wars (although fewer of them), criminal injustice, inequality, climate change…

But it’s always been that way. Evolution programmed humans to focus on problems. Our ancestors survived in a very dangerous world. If they weren’t hypervigilant, they wouldn’t have lived long enough to give birth to the people who gave birth to us.

I obsess about problems. But I try not to let that distract me from the big picture:

More people in more places enjoy prosperity, religious freedom, personal freedom, democratic governance, largely equal rights, civility, better health and longer lives.

Neither Trump nor Biden is likely to destroy that.

John Stossel is author of “Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media.”

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Don’t waste a vote on Trump or Biden, cast a vote for liberty

I can comfortably project that my former law school friend and moot court colleague at Syracuse Law School, Joe Biden, will carry the presidential vote in California.

Given that, I say that if your non-Biden vote is not cast for the Republican this year, it would be far more impactful if you are so tired of the crazy divisions and angst in today’s American politics.

A vote for President Trump, whether you like it or not, believe it or not, happens to be the proverbial wasted vote this time.

So, if you are concerned about wasting your vote (which I as a Libertarian have been hearing about for decades now), or if you are just dissatisfied with the results of your past voting ventures for years now, you might finally consider and make a change in your pattern of voting — or at least you should.

Republican or Democrat, name your poison: Both of those parties raise our taxes, continue to steal our freedoms and are totally out of touch with most of us, especially if we are not insiders or big-time donors.

But you need to know that disgruntled voters really don’t have to settle and vote for the lesser of two evils. Some of you know that you actually do have a choice, much to the chagrin of those currently in power.

Jo Jorgenson is running for president on the ballots in all 50 states and D.C. as we speak, and is the very candidate that so many of you have been yearning and wishing for for years when clamoring for a third party or a new one.

So who the heck is Jo Jorgensen, and why haven’t I heard more about him before?

Well, first of all Jo’s a she, Joanne at birth, but Jo has been her name for years, and as a tenured professor at Clemson University today. Secondly, the powers running the show apparently don’t want anyone to know about Jo Jorgensen, Libertarians, the Libertarian Part and as little as possible about our libertarian roots of this nation as depicted in the words of the first half of the Declaration of Independence.

So, if you might finally just happen to be interested in knowing and understanding what the LP is and represents, you might go to LP.org and actually see a real political party platform, not your typical made-up list of stuff invented solely to catch votes and voters every two to four years.

And know that the Libertarian Party platform has changed very little since its inception in 1971, stressing individual liberty, free markets, defending Americans in America (actually end wars and bring the troops home), ending the tyranny of the Federal Reserve on citizens’ financial security, immediately ending the long-ago failed war on drugs. The LP seeks to prosecute white-collar criminals who are systematically transferring wealth, property and power from honest middle-class people to the so-called titans of industry who possess unparalleled influence over government at all levels. Jo Jorgensen advocates the end of the crony capitalism of the GOP, and the restoration of everyone’s civil rights.

Finally, you might recall that it has been the Democrats and Republicans in Congress who have stuck American citizens with a debt somewhere around $27 trillion now, along with an ever-expanding federal government, perpetual war, madness in public policy and now an imminent police state as a result of their ever-shifting draconian COVID-19 policies.

It’s way past the time to stop wasting your votes on the two dangerously self-serving statist parties, and actually choose freedom over fear or habit in these trying times, for a change.

Elect Libertarian Jo Jorgensen to be the first female president ever, on Nov. 3, 2020. Frankly, I submit that this presidential election is far too important this time to vote for yet another Republican or Democrat for president. Because if you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.

Richard Boddie is a member of the Southern California News Group’s editorial board.

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