Tuesday, September 22, 2020

How Governments are Handling the "Second Wave" - Tiptoeing Toward Totalitarianism

Sometimes, governments are their own worst enemies.  Now that many of our so-called leaders are either threatening or making good on their threats to lock us down again, a brief look at data, sourced from government databanks is in order.  For the purposes of this posting, I will look at the data as provided by the United Kingdom on their Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK website.

Here are four pertinent graphs:





As you can see, while the number of positive COVID-19 daily tests has risen to nearly the level that they hit back in April, May and June, the number of deaths has remained muted as shown on this graphic which breaks down the number of deaths within 28 days of positive tests for England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland:

In fact, if we look at the cumulative number of deaths within 28 days of positive COVID-19 tests, the line looks very, very flat:

Looking at the raw data, back on April 8, 2020, 975 people died in England, 4 people died in Northern Ireland, 52 people died in Scotland and 42 people died in Wales for a grand total of 1073 COVID-19 deaths in one day.  Since data is not always completely up-to-date, let's look at the number of people that died in these three nations on September 15, 2020; on that day, 15 people died in England, 1 person died in Northern Ireland, no people died in Scotland and 1 person died in Wales for a grand total of 17 COVID-19 deaths in one day or 1.6 percent of the deaths that occurred back in early April 2020.  This, despite the fact that the number of daily tests which has risen from 14,419 on April 8, 2020 to 207,718 on September 15, 2020 as shown here:

 Now, let's look at very recent news from the United Kingdom:


The new measures included masks in more settings, tougher enforcement of the rules and, according to Boris Johnson, the potential used of the military to help "free up the police" who presumably will be busy handing out tickets to those Brits daring enough to flaunt the rules.   


Here is Johnson's ministerial broadcast to his subjects:

Interestingly, despite his alarmist comments on the state of COVID-19 in the United Kingdom, his own government's statistics would show that there is relatively little cause for alarm.  That said, I do like the "early closing for bars and pubs" as though the SARS-CoV-2 virus doesn't become active until after 10 pm daily.  God help us all if we happen to find ourselves in a British pub at 10:01 pm!

Here are the "new rules":


Note that the government expects that these measures will be in place until March 2021.

There is no doubt that COVID-19 has taken a significant toll on the United Kingdom given that it has the highest official COVID-19 death toll in Europe, however, despite the release of new modelling showing that up to 50,000 U.K. citizens could test positive for COVID-19 by October, the current data from the very government clearly shows that the "herd has already been culled" with the most vulnerable having already died as a result of the virus.  There are only two things that can explain the rising number of positive test results and the falling number of deaths:

1.) The "culling of the herd" has already taken place with the most vulnerable (i.e. the elderly and those with serious comorbidities).

2.) The rising number of tests.

Let's close with this video showing what St. Petersburg Russia looks like now:


And Russia is supposed represent subjugation and the United Kingdom is supposed to represent freedom?

While many would say that those of us who live outside the United Kingdom shouldn't worry about this clampdown on U.K. citizens, the fact of the matter is that, among Western leaders, there are very few original thinkers and that it is quite often a case of "monkey see, monkey do".  Once one leader has tiptoed toward totalitarianism, many of the rest of the "monkeys" are certain to follow.


Monday, September 21, 2020

Assessing American Military Spending

While Main Street America was distracted with all things COVID, in June 2020, the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its Defense Acquisition Annual Assessment to Congress.  In this report, the GAO looks at the investments that the Department of Defense plans to make as it acquires new major weapons systems including aircraft, ships, satellites and increased investments in information technology.  Given the ramping up of the Cold War Part II with Russia and China, it is interesting to see how much Washington is willing to spend on defending the homeland from what it sees as a multipolar threat.

 

Let's open this posting with a definition.  Major Defense Acquisition Programs or MDAPs are generally programs designated by the Secretary of Defense as such or that are estimated to require eventual total expenditure for research, development, test and evaluation of more than $480 million or for procurement of more than $2.79 billion in fiscal year 2014 constant dollars.

 

Now, let's look at the GAO assessment.  The assessment summarizes the costs and scheduling measures for 121 weapons and information technology programs as shown here:

 

 

The report notes that Major Defense Acquisition Programs which account for the vast majority of the combined portfolio of weapons and IT programs have stabilized non-quantity-related cost growth but that they continue to proceed with limited knowledge and inconsistent software development approaches and cybersecurity practises.

 

Here is a graphic showing the number and cost of Major Defense Acquisition Programs (MDAP) from 2008 to 2019 (in billions of 2020 dollars):

 


On a year-over-year basis, the Department of Defense has invested $44 billion more in funding to its 2019 MDAP portfolio, up significantly from the $19 billion increase between 2017 and 2018.  Between 2018 and 2019, total acquisition cost estimates for DoD's 85 current MDAPs grew by $64 billion  (a 4 percent increase) that was driven by decisions to increase quantities of some weapons systems including a doubling of the number of missiles it plans to acquire through the Air Force's Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile program.  Over the one year period, on average, deliverability schedules increased by just over one month (a one percent increase).  That said, it is key to note that since their initial or first cost estimates, these 85 MDAPs have accumulated over $628 billion in total cost growth (a 54 percent increase) and deliverability schedules increased by more than 2 years (a 29 percent increase).

 

Here is a table showing the cost changes to the DoD's 2019 portfolio of 85 MDAPs over the past year:

 


In total, portfolio acquisition costs have increased by $63.8 billion (a 3.7 percent increase) over the past year, in part due to quantity increases ($49.3 billion in total).  This includes increased procurement costs of $49.33 billion (a 3.5 percent increase) and increased research and development costs of $14.69 billion (a 4.6 percent increase).  Of the 85 MDAPs, nine programs increased their total costs by 25 percent, accounting for more than $43 billion in total increased costs.

 

Here is a table showing the MDAPs with the highest increases in cost from the first full estimate:

 



It is important to note that, in some cases, program inefficiencies have led the DoD to reduce quantities.  In the case of the Navy's DDG 1000 Zumwalt Class Destroyer, development cost growth led the Navy to reduced quantities from 32 ships to three ships which, in turn, pushed up the average per-unit procurement costs.  Here is a breakdown of the Zumwalt issues showing that the Navy still won't have operational testing of the lead ship until September 2021 and delivery of a ship with its combat system in place until September 2022:

 



Let's close with this quote from the analysis:

 

"Among MDAPs we surveyed, we found that programs continue to move forward without the benefit of knowledge at key acquisition points, while future MDAPs reported plans to modestly increase the implementation of knowledge practices. These practices are key because we have found a statistically significant correlation between implementation of certain knowledge-based practices and improved cost and schedule performance. We also found, among the MDAPs we surveyed, inconsistent implementation of leading software development approaches and cybersecurity practices. This included longer than expected delivery times for software and delays completing statute-based cybersecurity vulnerability evaluations."

 

The American defense industry would like to thank American taxpayers for their unfettered generosity, even during the COVID-19 era.

 

Friday, September 18, 2020

Weaponized Narratives - The Future of War

With Washington continuously ramping up the rhetoric against both China and Russia, a physical conflict between the world's superpowers could well be in the offing.  As you will see from this posting, the first and possibly most important phase of the "war" is already being undertaken.

The Center on the Future of War at Arizona State University looks at the "social, political, economic and cultural implications of the changing nature of war and conflict".  One of the Center's focuses is on the  "Weaponized Narrative Initiative":


A weaponized narrative is defined as follows:

"A weaponized narrative is an attack that seeks to undermine an opponent's civilization, intensity and will.  By generating confusion, complexity and political and social schism, it confounds response on the par of the defender."

The Center outlines how a weaponized narrative works:

"A fast-moving information deluge is the ideal battleground for this kind of warfare – for guerrillas and terrorists as well as adversary states. A firehose of narrative attacks gives the targeted populace little time to process and evaluate. It is cognitively disorienting and confusing – especially if the opponents barely realize what’s hitting them. Opportunities abound for emotional manipulation undermining the opponent’s will to resist."

Ironically, the Center states that Weaponized Narratives are being used by enemy states including both Russia and the Islamic State in their battle against the United States:

"Efforts by Russia to meddle in the elections of Western democracies – including France and Germany as well as the United States – are in the news. The Islamic State’s weaponized narrative has been highly effective. Even political movements have caught on, as one can see in the rise of the alt-right in the United States and Europe. In short, many different types of adversaries have found weaponized narratives advantageous in this battlespace. Additional recent targets have included Ukraine, Brexit, NATO, the Baltics, and even the Pope."

In a book entitled Narrative Warfare, author Ajit Mann states the following:

"Weaponized narrative represents a deep threat to national and international security and cooperation - a threat that our advanced kinetic capacity, and those of our partner nations, cannot address alone.  When narratives are weaponized, they can undermine homeland security by shaking the faith of citizens in democratic institutions and the rule of law causing civil unrest...This form of warfare is all about influence.  But this is not information warfare; this is warfare over the meaning of the information.  Information consists of facts - raw data.  Narratives do not tell the facts.  Narratives tell the meaning of the facts.  This is narrative warfare, and our adversaries are beating our brawn with their brains."

The most important part of a narrative is its credibility.  The narrator of the narrative must be viewed as a credible source of information and is viewed by the target audience as most crucible if they are part of the targeted group and reflect the experiences of the targeted group.  It is also important that the narrative be shared by civilians rather than just representatives of the government or military. 

If you wish to read a more in-depth analysis of weaponized narratives, please follow this link to a White Paper on the  by a collection of authors affiliated with the Center on the Future of War in which they state that "weaponized narrative us realm and ut us a vert effective form of asymmetric warfare when directed against the West.  It presents challenges not just to military and security organizations but to civil society and to democratic principles and institutions.

All that I can say in response to the accusations that Russia and China are purveyors of weaponized narratives to "defeat" the United States, it certainly is a good thing that Washington doesn't use its powers of weaponized narratives against these nations....except through its funding of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) which you can read more about here (sarcasm intended).

Let's close this posting with a quote from Sun Tzu in the Art of War:

"The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting." 

Given how rapidly the world has accepted the current government-created narrative about the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, it shouldn't surprise any of us how gullible the vast majority of people are when it comes to governments' use of narratives to change public opinion.  As P.T. Barnum/David Hannum put it, "There's a sucker born every minute."

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Protecting the 2020 Election - The Role of America's Technoplutocracy

Since the 2016 election, Americans have been subjected to a repeated diet of electoral interference by "outside bad actors", suggesting that significant steps need to be taken to control the spread of false information and narratives during the 2020 presidential election in particular.  While it receives almost no attention from the mainstream media, 

 

Let's open by looking at a quote from Chad Wolf, Acting Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, during his September 2020 State of the Homeland address:


"We are identifying and preventing malign foreign actors and nation states from interfering in our elections and protecting our election infrastructure....


Our newest component – the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency  (or CISA) – is at the forefront guarding against nation-state actors’ cyber-enabled espionage and malicious influence activity aimed at all levels of government and industry.

 

As we approach the 2020 election, we remain steadfast in protecting this essential American process. 

 

CISA has doubled down both on their efforts across the federal government and in partnering with local election leaders across the country to make sure our elections are safe and secure.

 

Elections are a bedrock of our Constitutional republic, and securing them is paramount to accurately expressing the will of the American people.

 

To protect the integrity of our representative government, our ultimate goal must be to ensure that American voters decide American elections.

 

In light of new levels of organized efforts by Russia in 2016 to disrupt and deceive, the Department strengthened U.S. efforts to rebuff the aggressive and meddlesome behavior of any nefarious state actor.

 

Signed into law by President Trump, CISA has made extraordinary and rapid strides bolstering the security of this most sacred democratic process.

 

CISA leveraged unique cybersecurity technical services by funding the Election Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center (or EI-ISAC) that deploys and monitors intrusion detection systems on election infrastructure across all 50 states.

 

The results were historic - 2018 was the most secure election in the modern era.

 

Not resting on its laurels, CISA has only increased its protection in scope and impact as it pursues the goal of an ever-more secure election in 2020."

 

Let's take a closer look at EI-ISAC, the Department of Homeland Security's frontline shield against electoral interference in the United States.  Here is the front page of EI-ISAC's website as found on the Center for Internet Security website (noting that CIS is the operator of EI-ISAC):

 


According to CIS, EI-ISAC is "supporting the rapidly changing cybersecurity needs of U.S. elections offices."

 

EI-ISAC provides the following cybersecurity tools and training resources to "help elections officials protect their systems and data":

 


Joining EI-ISAC is free for U.S. elections organizations as shown here:

 

Now, let's look at one of the products being used by EI-ISAC to protect American elections.  Here is the lead page of Protect Your Elections website:

 


Here is an introductory video about Protect Your Elections: 

 


Here is how Protect Your Election can help with the election process:

 


Here are the tools that Protect Your Election offers to protect the electoral process against digital attacks:

 


 

Most importantly in this age of censorship, here is how Protect Your Election can prevent the spread of false narratives and information during elections:

 


If you read carefully through the screen captures, you may have noticed this:

 


That's right, America's technoplutocracy is hard at work, protecting your election!

 

With the above information in mind, let's close this posting with some key information from Open Secrets.  Here are the 2020 and previous elections campaign contributions from affiliates of Alphabet Inc. (i.e. Google), noting that organization themselves cannot contribute to candidates and party committees:

 


Here is a further breakdown of how these funds were designated by political party:

 


As shown here, the top 25 recipients of these campaign contributions are all Democrats:

 


By way of comparison, the top Republican recipient, Donald Trump, has received a rather measly $29,021.  Given this donation information, do you really think that Protect Your Election is really going to provide a balanced product, particularly when it comes to fact-checking?

 

While companies like Google and its technoplutocracy sector peers are publicly stating that they are in the business of protecting America's democracy from the hostile disinformation tactics being used by America's enemies for the benefit of the sweaty masses, I think that we can pretty much assume that at least some of the most influential players are in it, to win it for their chosen party, the Democrats.  At the very least, we should make the assumption that products that are being touted by the technology tyrants to protect democracy are highly vulnerable to political bias.


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Mask Protection From the SARS-CoV-2 Virus - Fact or Fiction?

One thing that has become readily apparent during the age of COVID is the controversial use of universal masking.  Science regarding the use of masks to protect us against the SARS-CoV-2 virus and other similar viruses is extremely divisive with each side of the debate having its own "axe to grind".  That said, a recent posting on the Association of American of Physicians and Surgeons provides us with some interesting data that should give us and our political overlords cause to ponder their actions.  Please note that all of the data presented in this posting is linked from the original sources on the AAPS webpage.

 

Here is a screen capture showing the lead in for the article:

 

 

The article opens by noting the following information about the size of SARS-CoV-2 particles, giving us a sense of just how small they are:

 

 

The article goes on to note the following:

 

"1.) Virus is transmitted through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. Larger respiratory droplets (>5 μm) remain in the air for only a short time and travel only short distances, generally <1 meter. They fall to the ground quickly.  This idea guides the CDC’s advice to maintain at least a 6-foot distance.

 

2.) Virus-laden small (<5 μm) aerosolized droplets can remain in the air for at least 3 hours and travel long distances."

 

The curator of the article, Dr. Marilyn M. Singleton goes to to state that ventilation, even the opening of a door or small window, can dilute the concentration of droplets to one-half their original concentration after 30 seconds.  This factor is critical given the issues facing users of poorly ventilated and highly populated areas like mass transit and long-term care facilities and why social distancing may not work as well as in other settings.

 

Dr. Singleton notes that a person can contract COVID-19 from touching surfaces and then touching their own mouth, nose and possibly eyes, however, it is not believed that this is the main source of viral spread.

 

Now, let's look at her research regarding masks.  Here is some background on masks and respirators, remembering that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is 0.125 µmeters in size:

 

1.) Masks and respirators work by collecting particles through several physical mechanisms, including diffusion (small particles) and interception and impaction (large particles)

 

2.) N95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) are constructed from electret (a dielectric material that has a quasi-permanent electric charge. An electret generates internal and external electric fields so the filter material has electrostatic attraction for additional collection of all particle sizes. As flow increases, particles will be collected less efficiently.  A properly fitted N95 will block 95% of tiny air particles down to 0.3 μm from reaching the wearer’s face.  But even these have problems: many have exhalation valve for easier breathing and less moisture inside the mask.

 

3.) Surgical masks are designed to protect patients from a surgeon’s respiratory droplets, aren’t effective at blocking particles smaller than 100 μm.

 

Here are the filter efficiencies of a number of materials that are used for filtering as follows:

 

Filter efficiency was measured across a wide range of small particle sizes (0.02 to 1 µm) at 33 and 99 L/min.

 

1.) N95 respirators had efficiencies greater than 95% (as expected).

 

2.) T-shirts had 10% efficiency,

 

3.) Scarves 10% to 20%,

 

4.) Cloth masks 10% to 30%,

 

5.) Sweatshirts 20% to 40%, and

 

6.) Towels 40%.

 

All of the cloth masks and materials had near zero efficiency at 0.3 µm, a particle size that easily penetrates into the lungs.

 

Another study which evaluated 44 masks, respirators and other materials with similar methods and small aerosols (0.08 µm and 0.22 µm) young the N95 FFR filter efficiency was greater than 95 percent, medical masks were 55 percent efficient, general masks were 38 percent efficient and handkerchiefs were between 2 percent effective (one layer) and 13 percent effective (4 layers).

 

The conclusions are as follows:

 

1.) Wearing masks will not reduce SARS-CoV-2.

 

2.) N95 masks protect health care workers, but are not recommended for source control transmission.

 

3.) Surgical masks are better than cloth but not very efficient at preventing emissions from infected patients.

 

4.) Cloth masks will be ineffective at preventing SARS-CoV-2 transmission, whether worn as source control or as personal protective equipment (PPE).

 

Masks may confuse that message and give people a false sense of security. If masks had been the solution in Asia (where masks are very commonly used for all respiratory infections), shouldn’t they have stopped the pandemic before it spread elsewhere?


I want to close this posting with a graphic from Swiss Policy Research.  The graphs show the cumulative number of COVID-19 infections against time and the date when mandatory masks were introduced with a vertical dashed red line for two German districts:



As you can see, there was very little negative impact on the rise in infections when mandatory mask wearing was introduced.


It is becoming increasingly apparent that a significant number of governments around the world from city to state/province to country are imposing masks on their citizenry without really considering the significant divisions in the medical community regarding their use.  It is a rare government that takes a stand against the commonly held perception that masks perform as a cure all for stopping the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. 


Monday, September 14, 2020

Civil Unrest in America - An Unintended Consequence

Sometimes fear does result in unintended consequences.  Recent press releases from two of America's largest gun manufacturers show us what the recent civil unrest has created in the most heavily armed civilian population in the world.

 

Sturm, Ruger and Company is the largest gun manufacturing company in the United States.  Here is the first page of the company's press release showing their results for the second quarter of 2020:



Net firearms sales rose from $94.971 million in the second quarter of 2019 to $129.413 million in the second quarter of 2020, an increase of 36.3 percent.  Over the first half of the year, net firearms sales rose by 21.3 percent on a year-over-year basis, hitting $252.178 million.  The company's strong operational and financial performance allowed them to award a one-time special dividend of $5.00 per share.

 

Sturm's Chief Executive Officer Christopher J. Killoy made the following comments about the second quarter results:


"Consumer demand, which began to surge in the latter stages on the first quarter, continued to intensify in the second quarter. This increased demand appears to be driven, in part, by concerns about personal protection and home defense stemming from the continuing COVID-19 pandemic; protests, demonstrations, and civil unrest in many cities throughout the United States; and the call, by some, for the reduction in funding and authority of various law enforcement organizations. As a result of this oversized demand, inventories were significantly reduced at all levels in the channel during the second quarter."

 

The sell-through of the company's products from their independent distributors to retailers increased by 47 percent in the first half of 2020 on a year-over-year basis.  Demand was so high that Ruger's finished goods inventory and distributors' inventories of their products declined by 57 percent during the most recent quarter.

 

Now let's look at the financial results of America's second largest gun manufacturing company, Smith & Wesson.  Here is the first page of the company's press release showing their results for the first quarter of fiscal 2021:

 


Net sales rose from $123.665 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2020 to $277.965 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2021, an increase of 124.8 percent.  Firearms sales rose a remarkable 140.9 percent during the first quarter of fiscal 2021, hitting $229.9 million.

 

Smith & Wesson's President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Smith had this to say about the company's second quarter results:

 

 "Today, I am pleased to report record-breaking first quarter financial results for Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc. These results could not have been possible without our dedicated employees, who not only worked diligently to manufacture and fulfill the strong flow of customer orders with a broad assortment of our highly sought-after firearms, but did so with a heightened commitment to the health and safety protocols that our operations management team put in place at the start of the pandemic. Our record revenue and unit sales during the quarter demonstrates our ability to rapidly respond to increased demand through our flexible manufacturing model and our state-of-the-art distribution facility, delivering outstanding products that resonate with the firearms consumer."

 

He also stated that:

 

"Our record revenue and unit sales during the quarter demonstrates our ability to rapidly respond to increased demand through our flexible manufacturing model and our state-of-the-art distribution facility, delivering outstanding products that resonate with the firearms consumer."

 

The company's performance has allowed them to pay down their debt and reduce their net debt to zero as well as paying its first quarterly dividend of $0.05 per share to its shareholders.

 

Just in case you were curious, here is the number of background firearms checks that have been done by the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System or NICS on a monthly basis since 1998:

 


As you can see, the months of March, May, June, July and August of 2020 have seen background checks in excess of 3 million for the first time since records were kept and it certainly appears that 2020 as a whole will be a record-breaking year for firearms background checks.

 

While one can never prove that the current social unrest in some of America's largest cities has created higher demand for personal firearms, the coincidence of higher sales by two of the United States' would suggest that there is at least some connection between civilians wanting to protect themselves and the current violence plaguing American streets.


Friday, September 11, 2020

What Happens if Donald Trump Wins?

While insiders in Washington, particularly of the Donkey brand, love to brandish the tired old mantra of Russian interference in America's political theatre, a document from the Transition Integrity Project or TIP shows who is really showing potential for interfering in America's growingly fractured and fractious political landscape.


The Transition Integrity Project is a group that you have not likely heard anything about.  TIP is made up of a group of Democratic Party insiders and former Obama and Clinton era officials as well as a selection of disgruntled neoconservative Republicans.  TIP was created in late 2019 by Rosa Brooks and Nils Gilman.  Rosa Brooks was an advisor to the Hillary Clinton State Department and was previously the general counsel to the President of the Open Society Institute, part of George Soros' Open Societies Foundations as shown here:



The current director of TIP is Zoe Hudson, former serving as senior policy analysis at the Open Society Foundation where she also played the role of liaison between the U.S. federal government and the foundation as shown here:



While we only know the identities of a few members of TIP, many members remain anonymous other than David Frum, William Kristol, Donna Brazile, John Podesta and Chuck Hagel.


Members of TIP met in June 2020 to conduct a series of four "war games" which simulated the eleven week period between the November 3, 2020 Election Day and the January 20, 2021 Inauguration Day under various scenarios. 


Here is the lead page of the "Preventing a Disrupted Presidential Election and Transition" document: 

 


In the four exercises, participants noted the following as an overriding concern and reasoning for the necessity of holding such a simulation:


"We assess with a high degree of likelihood that November’s elections will be marked by a chaotic legal and political landscape. We also assess that the President Trump is likely to contest the result by both legal and extra-legal means, in an attempt to hold onto power. Recent events, including the President’s own unwillingness to commit to abiding by the results of the election, the Attorney General’s embrace of the President’s groundless electoral fraud claims, and the unprecedented deployment of federal agents to put down leftwing protests, underscore the extreme lengths to which President Trump may be willing to go in order to stay in office."


TIP felt it necessary to examine the following unknowns:

 

1.) How far might candidates go in contesting negative electoral outcomes or disrupting the normal transition process?

 

2.) How well would American institutions hold up if one or both candidates refused to play by the rules.


Each exercise involved seven teams consisting of 2 to 3 people as follows:

 

1.) Trump campaign team


2.) Biden campaign team


3.) Republican elected officials


4.) Democratic elected officials


5.) Career military and civilian federal government employees as well as political appointees


6.) Media - right wing, left wing and mainstream


7.) Public - consisted of polling experts

 

Here are the four game scenarios:



In case you are interested in more details, here is a detailed outline of each of the four game scenarios:

 






Here are the top-line findings of the exercises:

 

1.) Campaign decisions about whether to contest the election are likely to be political calcula- tions, rather than calculations based on legal rules alone.

 

2.) A close and contested election may be resolved through the exercise of power, not through the courts.

 

3.) As an incumbent unbounded by norms, President Trump has a huge advantage.

 

4.) A show of numbers in the streets- and actions in the streets- may be decisive factors in de-

 termining what the public perceives as a just and legitimate outcome.

 

5.) Trump is likely to prioritize his personal interests in the transition period.

 

Let's focus on point five.  Here are some quotes from TIP's report about how Donald Trump will handle a contested electoral result:

 

1.) Take the money and run. Participants in the scenario exercises universally believed that self- preservation for President Trump and his family will be Trump’s first and possibly only priority if he is forced to concede electoral defeat. Before he leaves office he might maximize the flow of federal money into Trump businesses (moves played: direct COVID-19 relief package for Trump hotels; relocate to Mar-a-Lago for the final months of his presidency); negotiate business deals with foreign countries; and purge documents that might incriminate foreign governments and business partners (for example, documents related to Jamal Khashoggi’s murder). President Trump could also launch his next business venture from the White House (speculations include “MAGA TV,” possibly headed by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner

 

2.) Pardon everyone. In almost every TIP scenario, Team Trump executed or prepared for the par-dons of relatives, campaign associates, and himself. Players took different approaches in each of the scenarios; in one scenario Trump resigned on January 19, 2021, trusting that Pence would sign the pardons. In another scenario, Trump executed his own pardon. In the debrief, participants noted that the pardons could be challenged only after he leaves office and someone files charges. Even with an expansive understanding of pardon powers, Trump can’t absolve himself of state crimes…He will certainly try to establish the narrative in advance that any efforts to hold him or his allies accountable for wrong-doing and illegality is politically motivated revenge.

 

3.)  Wag the Dog/spark a foreign adventure. There was quite a bit of speculation that Trump might himself initiate a foreign crisis shortly after the election or during the transition, perhaps to change the media narrative around a contested election, attempt to rally nationalist feelings to himself, or placate foreign leaders to whom he may feel beholden, such as Vladimir Putin. Some participants noted that in the event of political chaos in the United States, certain US adversaries might be emboldened to act opportunistically, especially if electoral contestation was generating uncertainty about who precisely was acting as Commander in Chief. From a national security perspective, participants expressed concern about US vulnerability during a contested election.

 

4.) Destroy evidence. In an effort to preserve the President’s legacy and thwart future criminal investigations, Team Trump ordered numerous documents destroyed in several of the exercises. Team Trump also classified many more documents as top secret and expanded the use of non-disclosure agreements.

 

5.) Disrupt the transition process. In several of the TIP exercises, Team Trump refused to provide clearances or briefings for proposed members of the incoming Biden administration, offering only what is already in the public domain. Team Trump attempted to discredit the transition team (“We’re cooperating, but not with Democrat Antifa agents”). In a debrief, one participant ex- pressed concern that Attorney General Barr could launch a bogus investigation into “terrorist ties” of the Biden transition team in order to justify surveillance, and/or facilitate a false flag operation before the election or when the election is still being contested. 


Now, in closing, let's look at TIP's recommendations:


1.) Plan for a contested election. If there is a crisis, events will unfold quickly, and sleep-deprived leaders will be asked to make consequential decisions quickly. Thinking through options now will help to ensure better decisions. Approach this as a political battle, not just a legal battle. In the event of electoral contestation, sustained political mobilization will likely be crucial for ensuring transition integrity. Dedicated staff and resources need to be in place at least through the end of January.

 

2.) Focus on readiness in the states, providing political support for a complete and accurate count. Governors, Secretaries of State, Attorneys General and Legislatures can communicate and rein- force laws and norms and be ready to confront irregularities. Election officials will need political and public support to see the process through to completion.

 

3.) Address the two biggest threats head on: lies about “voter fraud” and escalating violence. Voting fraud is virtually non-existent, but Trump lies about it to create a narrative designed to politically mobilize his base and to create the basis for contesting the results should he lose. The potential for violent conflict is high, particularly since Trump encourages his supporters to take up arms.

 

4.) Anticipate a rocky administrative transition. Transition teams will likely need to do two things simultaneously: defend against Trump’s reckless actions on his way out of office; and find creative solutions to ensure landing teams are able to access the information and resources they need to begin to prepare for governing.

 

What I find particularly interesting about this document is that even if Donald Trump clearly wins the election, this group of Obama-administration linked individuals is willing to take extreme measures to ensure a Biden win as quoted here:

 

"The Biden Campaign encouraged Western states, particularly California but also Oregon and Washington, and collectively known as “Cascadia,” to secede from the Union unless Congres- sional Republicans agreed to a set of structural reforms to fix our democratic system to ensure majority rule. With advice from President Obama, the Biden Campaign submitted a proposal to 1) Give statehood to Washington, DC and Puerto Rico; 2) Divide California into five states to more accurately represent its population in the Senate; 3) Require Supreme Court justices to retire at 70; and 4) Eliminate the Electoral College, to ensure that the candidate who wins to the popular vote becomes President....

 

One of the most consequential moves was that Team Biden on January 6 provoked a breakdown in the joint session of Congress by getting the House of Representatives to agree to award the presidency to Biden (based on the alternative pro-Biden submissions sent by pro-Biden governors)."

 

And here we all thought that Russia was the "bogeyman in the closet" when it came to interfering in the will of American voters.  What should be of concern to all American voters is the presence of more than one of George Soros insiders among the leaders of the rather ironically named Transition Integrity Project, particularly given Soros close links to Hillary Clinton as shown here (thanks to WikiLeaks):