<< ARI Watch

Mouthpieces for Election Riggers
- Yaron Brook & Gregory Salmieri -

First a bit of Objectivist jargon.  A statement might be true, or partly true and partly false, or totally false, or lower than that, it might be arbitrary, a level so low it’s not even false.  An example of an arbitrary statement is  “The stars determine one’s fate.”  How could one prove or refute it?  A more formal definition: [1]

    “Arbitrary” means a claim put forth in the absence of evidence of any sort, perceptual or conceptual; its basis is neither direct observation nor any kind of theoretical argument. ... a sheer assertion with no attempt to validate it or connect it to reality.
    Since an arbitrary statement has no connection to man’s means of knowledge or his grasp of reality, cognitively speaking such a statement must be treated as though nothing had been said.

Hold that thought.

The Yaron Brook Show of 27 November 2020 was  “Detecting Fraud in Elections (and in Life) with Greg Salmieri.” [2]  After his introduction Mr. Brook dives in:

“... probably the most controversial topic in the news cycle right now ... is this issue of election fraud. It’s been going on now since election day ... I actually think that it’s never gonna end. The idea that this election was stolen by Biden is gonna stay in the minds of certain people, and certainly Trump will encourage this for the rest of his life. ...

“... today we’ll talk about some of the examples from this [i.e. election fraud allegations]. We won’t talk about all of them. There’s no way to talk about all of them. Every one you deal with, five others pop out somewhere else. It’s like Whack-a-Mole, you can’t keep track of these. Every day there’s a new claim.”

Thus Mr. Brook says that allegations of election fraud have been dealt with as they were made, “whacked” and shown groundless, and he trivializes the allegations as an unreal, limitless barrage.

“That’s the nature, as we’ll see, of the arbitrary.”

He said the magic word.  He dismisses election fraud allegations as arbitrary, lower than false, as though nothing had been said.  “There was election fraud.” is in the same category as “The stars determine ones fate.”

But despite this Mr. Brook acts very much as if something has been said, and he doesn’t like the message.  He continues, not too grammatically:

“We’re going to try to talk about this in kind of principle, with the idea of what is evidence, what is required to establish something as evidence, and then maybe about how much evidence is necessary to establish something as worth examining, and then actually true. And we’ll look at arbitrary and we’ll do it in the context of the election and with some examples of this.”

Mr. Salmieri responds:

“I’m not surprised [at Trump and others claiming election fraud] because I think Trump has been the candidate of the arbitrary since before his run in 2016. He came onto the political stage with the birther conspiracy, which was an arbitrary claim.”

The claim that Obama was foreign-born (and therefore ineligible to hold the presidency) was ultimately proved false to most people’s satisfaction but there were legitimate reasons to be suspicious; the claim was not out of the blue. [3]

“And if you’ve been following him [Trump] and following how these claims play out—”

Again insinuating that the claims have all come to nothing and continue to do so, as in Mr. Brook’s “Whack-a-Mole” characterization.  In what follows Mr. Salmieri is less than coherent, as if we are hearing stream of consciousness instead of thoughtful speech:

“If you remember the kinds of things Objectivists used to say about the arbitrary and how it works out, back in the 90s and earlier when – Leonard Peikoff really is the one who articulated views on this first and then really had some good classes on the subject and lectures – you could just see it followed exactly the pattern that you’d expect.

“But what I’m more interested in thinking about than declaring this arbitrary or is it arbitrary, is just how should one think about evidence in the first place. I think it’s definitely true ... that there are a lot of arbitrary opinions spouted about the election and about fraud. That doesn’t show you that there’s not some needle of real evidence in the haystack of pretend evidence, or pretend claims.”

Thus Mr. Salmieri is willing to grant that a tiny number of the allegations of vote fraud might not be arbitrary: perhaps there’s a needle in that haystack of nonsense (or lies, for “pretend” implies deceit). But don’t get your hopes up, later Mr. Brook will explain that no needle exists. Mr. Salmieri continues:

“How does one go about assessing evidence? It’s clear from a lot of the conversation I hear from people about it that they just haven’t thought much about what is evidence, what does it take to be evidence. And one of the thoughts about the arbitrary, I mean there are two— the arbitrary is that which is asserted in defiance of the need for evidence, and it’s a brazen thing, and to accuse somebody of trafficking in the arbitrary or asserting the arbitrary is a really serious accusation and that needs evidence for it.”

Regarding the person asserting the arbitrary:

“The guy doesn’t have evidence that he hasn’t given you yet or he’s about to give you or he’s mistaken to think it’s evidence, to claim that someone’s doing that as they claim about Trump is a serious claim about someone, and we can talk about what the evidence for that is. But there’s another issue that I think is more important than judging about somebody,  ‘this guy is spouting the arbitrary and it’s bad.’  It’s for you, for your own sake. Here’s a claim, do I have evidence for this, maybe the other guy who says he has evidence for it does have evidence for it, and I don’t understand that or don’t know it or forget. It comes later how to judge these other people. I want to know what’s true: how can I tell what’s true here?”

Mr. Salmieri may appear earnest and sincere but in what follows notice how he uses slanted words and phrases. Without having first referred to specific articles he refers to “these articles.” Instead of their presenting alleged evidence, they have “views,” and are “spilling out different things,” which are “flying” at him. That and “spouted” and “spouting” earlier is language intended to diminish what he claims to be considering objectively:

“There are some questions about this election. There are all these articles of all these different point of views spilling out different things. Things are said to be evidence of this, they’re said to be evidence of that. How can I tell what counts as evidence for me. I’m selfish, I wanna know what’s true and so how should I process it with all this information flying at me. And I think that question is more important than how do you judge some other party as being irrational. I think only once you think about what do you selfishly need to understand something, for something to help you tell what’s true – which is what evidence does, it helps you tell that something’s true – once you think about what you need for that, that then puts you in a position to think about other people who are pitching you claims and so forth. Are they respecting my cognitive needs? Are they being objective in their presentation or are they trying to snow me in one way or another?”

Shortly we will see that Mr. Salmieri is not really interested in knowing what’s true, and if he is selfish it is in the non-Objectivist sense of sowing confusion to get what he wants at your expense. He is the one trying to snow us. His “cognitive need” consists of Never Trump.  Mr. Brook responds:

“I agree completely. The main thing that really needs to be considered is: what do I need to know, to know if something is – not true, we haven’t got to true yet – but is there evidence here or is this arbitrary?

“... What do I need to know when somebody says something. I mean there’s a lot of claims, post this election, about votes appearing out of nowhere, or Dominion Systems, which is this producer of voting systems, being just an arm of the Democratic Party and being completely controlled by Democrats. So people make these claims.”

I don’t think anyone claims that Dominion Systems is an arm of the Democratic Party. The election fraud of 2020 consists of a consensus of a number of more or less independent conspirators.  Or better, the fraud is part of a self-righteous movement. The insistent drumbeat of “Trump is the new Hitler, get rid of him whatever it takes” has convinced people to lie and cheat, including government officials.

The fraud needn’t be one big organized conspiracy though there is a shared common short-term goal, Never Trump. There are those who want Trump out who have nothing to do with the Democratic Party. “Dominion Systems is an arm of the Democratic Party” is a straw man set up just to knock over.

“What is the first thing one should do in trying to assess— Do I know that this is true, or how does one even relate to a statement like that in a heated environment that is something like an election?”

Mr. Salmieri responds:

“If the claim you’re initially investigating is, some people say there’s election fraud, okay, is there any evidence of that? For something to be evidence of election fraud – then we can go to the other claims and is there evidence of them – one, you have to know that it’s true, the thing that’s supposed to be evidence, or at least have good reason to believe that it’s true. So if someone tells you, here’s evidence of election fraud, Dominion is owned, was co-founded by Chávez, and this and that and the other thing—”

We interrupt. I don’t know of anyone claiming that Hugo Chávez, the late president of Venezuela, owned or co-founded Dominion Systems. It does look like Dominion Systems is owned and run by partisan Leftists (that the company donated $50,000 to Hillary Clinton’s campaign is one indication of it), and some claim it is associated with Smartmatic, a company founded by four Venezuelan software engineers, two of whom were allies of Chávez.

In any case, whatever Dominion’s corporate relations Mr. Salmieri can have them. The essential problem is that its voting system is corrupt. [4]  Mr. Salmieri continues:

“—if you don’t know if any of that’s true, then you don’t know if any of it’s evidence. Then the second thing is – so the one is, how do you know that the evidence is true in the first place – and I think a lot of people just aren’t asking that. Rudy Giuliani said this or— I mean it’s not just a Republican thing. There are all kinds of claims of election fraud in 2016 also that kind of quickly died down but there was a period where people worried about had the Russians not just engaged in a disinformation campaign but got access to election computers and so forth. So it’s not one side of the political spectrum or another that has a monopoly.”

Thus he insinuates that election fraud is equally pro Republican and pro Democrat, [5]  and that the claims of election fraud in 2020 are on the same level as the false claims about Russia in 2016. The Salmieri Wall of Sound continues:

“Someone claimed this. Do I have a reason to believe that it’s true in the first place? Only if it is, is it evidence. And then second, how does it connect to the thing that you’re trying to prove, you’re trying to have evidence for? Because in order for one fact to count as evidence of a conclusion in your mind, there’s always a lot of other things that you would need to know. So, in assessing whether a given piece of evidence is evidence for you, you need to work out what those other things are and check whether you really know them.”

And he considers as an example the claim that in some counties there were more people who voted than there were registered voters. He says that in some of the counties that isn’t true. Furthermore he says if it were true, that is not necessarily evidence of vote fraud, you need to investigate further.

Mr. Brook responds:

“I’d like to know whether the election is legitimate. ...”

He pretends that he wants to know.

“... People are making claims, seemingly legitimate people – now we’ll get to that in a minute, because who makes the claim, I think, is really, really important – but let’s assume a certain segment of the population believes that people like Rudy Giuliani are legits and honest. ... How do you deal with that? Assuming, let’s say, that first, the person conveying information seems to be a legitimate source for the information.”

Mr. Brook’s “who makes the claim is really important” misdirects our attention, taking us from the truth of the claim – which is what really matters – to a person reporting the claim. Focusing on Giuliani is a ruse. Mr. Brook has long hated Giuliani for prosecuting Michael Milken, the financier who in the midst of a brilliant career went crooked. Later Mr. Brook will end up saying that Giuliani cannot be trusted and therefore his claims about vote fraud cannot be trusted. He does not really want to know whether the election was legitimate.

Mr. Salmieri weighs in. We summarize. He repeats that acquiring knowledge takes work. If you cannot do the work yourself, you must rely on reputable investigators and reporters to do it for you. Even then you cannot say that you personally know such and such is true, you can say only:  if my sources can be trusted then such and such is true. Nothing to disagree with so far, but why is he treating his audience as if they are stupid, as if they don’t know when they are trusting someone’s word?

Regarding the many affidavits about election fraud that Giuliani refers to, Mr. Salmieri says, earnestly, self-righteously:

“The issue is a kind of honesty with yourself, of how do you know this? What’s your chain of evidence personally? And it goes through Rudy and your judgment of his character, rather than thinking you’ve done the work that he purports to have done.”

Mr. Salmieri uses the legal term “chain of evidence” [6]  in a novel way. Apparently he intends to refer to a chain of trust between people: A trusts B who trusts C etc.  But why worry about this? Giuliani’s reliability doesn’t affect the truth of people’s testimony. Their testimony needn’t “go through” him; they can speak for themselves. Why doesn’t Mr. Salmieri just cut to the testimony and leave Giuliani out of it?

Mr. Brook:

“Yeah. So let’s say you start out with ... I trust Rudy, Rudy said this, and then, case after case, the courts, the entity that’s supposed to do the work to figure this out, say no, no, there’s no evidence here, there’s nothing and they throw it out. Or you start reading on Twitter or Facebook or whatever, kinda the counter-evidence for what Rudy’s saying, the fact that there are fact-checkers out there and that even Rudy’s retracting some of his earlier claims—”

He goes on to say that Giuliani made a mistake claiming that Biden’s vote count somewhere (Mr. Brook doesn’t say where) inexplicably increased by a hundred thousand or “something like that” (quoting Mr. Brook), but, says Mr. Brook, it was the reverse and Giuliani retracted his claim. Mr. Brook gives no source for this and I can find none. But no one is infallible, suppose Giuliani made such a mistake. Was it an isolated mistake or part of a pattern? Setting aside that the mistake he described doesn’t seem to exist, Mr. Brook claims, without proof, that it is part of a pattern and therefore we should be skeptical about all allegations of election fraud.

“... the same people who are arguing every other theory about fraud were arguing this theory just as passionately, with as much conviction. And once these things start accumulating you should start doubting your sources of information.”

Mr. Salmieri agrees, then says:  “If your judgment is in part based on someone’s character, you have to update as you learn new things about their character. Unless you’ve actually read all these affidavits yourself and done all that work yourself, you’re relying on other people’s claims ...”  Mr. Brook continues:

“And it’s striking how many people, I mean other than some people, are dishonest. What do you think causes people to think that they know, and that they are experts on something because they’ve read a few articles in Google?”

In 450 words or more Mr. Salmieri repeats the idea that there are no shortcuts to knowledge, one has to work to really know. Mr. Brook responds, and now we see why he focuses on Giuliani:

“Yeah, and I find it really interesting to use your own knowledge as a reference point. So there’re certain things I know ... finance, I know the Middle East, I know these things really well. And then I read a newspaper and what I discover ... is they’re wrong about these things almost all the time. Then why would I believe they’re right about anything else that they write where I’m not an expert, where I don’t know. So it immediately causes me to think: the same with Rudy Giuliani.

“My assessment of Rudy is he’s been so wrong on so many things, and he is so morally despicable for things he did in the 1980s, [7]  primarily in the 90s, [8]  that I don’t trust anything he says, because [of] where I know he’s been wrong, the stuff I really know he’s wrong on, so I don’t trust him on anything. It’s the exact opposite of kind of the people who take his word as always the truth.

“But using your own referent and knowing what it took you to know something really well and then applying it to everything, applying it to what you really know and what you don’t know and assessing information that comes in and the level of expertise, think about Rudy saying something about your area of expertise that is at the equivalent shallowness of what he’s saying here and how upset you would be.”

Mr. Salmieri agrees – though since Mr. Brook gave no verifiable examples of Giuliani’s mistakes one wonders what he is agreeing with – then there is a discussion about how one can use and compare different news outlets and “fact checking” websites to arrive at the truth: that all the allegations are bogus. Eventually Mr. Brook introduces a new idea regarding election fraud:

“So we hear all this stuff. It’s important for people to understand that what they’re getting is not, for them, epistemologically, it’s not knowledge. ... They’re not even getting evidence yet, they’re getting statements people make. ... Maybe they can do a lot of research to discover whether there’s legitimacy or illegitimacy to this.

“How much do you do? I saw a list, I think somebody posted a list, of all the different claims of, uh. The problem is when you see these long lists of 300 different ways in which fraud was committed, you start thinking, who out there is sophisticated enough to organize 300 different ways in which to commit fraud in one direction. ... with just randomness to the different accusations.”

Mr. Brook commits several errors.  (1) Though he doesn’t say where we can find the list he saw so we can evaluate it, any great multiplicity of frauds would not be in the methods used, of which there are perhaps half a dozen, but in the cases, which may number far more than 300.  (2) Few people would claim that these many cases across many states are centrally organized. Again, the massive fraud is a consensus or movement, not necessarily an organized conspiracy.  (3) Again Mr. Brook insinuates that those who favor Republicans commit as much fraud as those who favor Democrats. He gives no evidence, and there is reason to think fraud is predominately in the one direction Never Trump because fraud and violence are what Leftists turn to when they cannot get their way otherwise. Socialists don't respect individual rights; they think they're entitled to your ballot as much as your money.

A fourth error is in a class by itself:  The enormity of a crime is reason to believe it didn’t occur.  Like the Big Lie only instead of a proposition it is an action.

Mr. Brook concludes:
“So what do you do with all this stuff that’s coming in if you’re really trying to figure out what’s going on?”

In his response Mr. Salmieri agrees with Mr. Brook. He begins by saying that in life generally one must:

“... develop a sense for what kinds of arguments lead to truth and what kind don’t.  Aristotle called this paideia or educatedness.”

That may sound impressively learnèd but in Mr. Salmieri’s hands it leads to this:

“... one thing [about] that element of being educated, and able to reason well, is knowing that when there are many, many different arguments pointing to the same conclusion in unrelated ways, it’s usually a sign that they’re not that good. That is, there’s generally a chain of evidence for something that’s true, and it’s one, maybe two independent chains, not 15. Typically, when someone’s giving you a whole lot of arguments, they’re trying to throw things at the wall and see what sticks. And then in particular in the case of something like election fraud, if somebody was going to commit election fraud, they would commit it in some way, by some plan by some scheme, not there be a million different independent schemes, so you need more evidence for more different claims.”

To Mr. Salmieri mass fraud becomes its own smokescreen. After more intellectual gobbledygook about when one should become suspicious, he again says that the large number of allegations of fraud is by itself reason to suspect there is no fraud.  Then he goes off on a new tack. He points out that before the election Trump had said that there probably would be attempts at fraud and to be vigilant. Because Trump said this, and for that reason alone, Salmieri says you could  “be certain that whether or not there was fraud there would be a more than usual amount of claims of fraud.”  He ignores the reason why Trump warned of fraud, namely mass mail-in voting. He discounts the possibility, without saying so explicitly, that Trump’s warning was reasonable. Did he expect Trump to be a doormat and keep quiet?

“If you get hundreds and hundreds of people looking into things and trying to figure out if there’s fraud, a bunch of them are gonna think they see something, even if they don’t, so you’re gonna get a more than usual amount of reports. So we knew there were gonna be a more than usual amount of reports, which means that the mere fact that there are more than usual amount of points is exactly of zero value in determining is there fraud.

“Now it might be that in that haystack of reports there are one or two that are evidence, but the fact that there are more reports than usual means nothing. And if you do this with many, many things you start to see, well, which ones are evidence that should make me suspicious and which ones just are of no value. And so that particular one, more claims than usual of fraud, [are] of no value.”

Missing from Mr. Salmieri’s sophistical analysis is an actual examination of the fraud allegations. He feels he need not investigate because there are so many of them. He can deduce their illegitimacy while sitting in his armchair staring into vacant space.

The two men go on to discuss why there were such a the large number of ballots that indicated a choice for president but no choice for the other offices. They say this was reasonable and leave out the rest of the story. [9]

Then there is a long discussion of the effect of counting mail-in ballots before versus after election day. They pay no attention to the opportunities for fraud made possible by mail-in ballots, or why counting was halted for several hours in several swing states.

At one point Salmieri says,  “We know that Trump is doing better with Black and Latino voters than Democrats do typically.”  We cannot know that because it isn’t true, in fact just the opposite is true and by a wide margin. [10]

Mr. Brook changes the subject:

“How much time do you think people should spend on ... trying to figure out what’s going on, and to what extent do you trust the system that we have to get to the bottom? Assuming there’s some valid claims, and my assumption is always there’s some fraud that happens. I’m sure there’s fraud on both sides and in little batches it happens all the time. It’s the systemic nature which I am pretty convinced is nonsense.”

Asking “how much time” insinuates that we are wasting our time on a dead issue. Recall that within the first two sentences of this discussion Mr. Brook derided concern about election fraud: “I actually think that it’s never gonna end.” [11]

Mr. Salmieri replies:

“The bigger issue than how much time you spend ... is you should know what you’ve put into this and you should understand your state of knowledge and your conclusions accordingly. So I think, given my assessment of the characters of the people involved and my assessment of the system, which we’ll talk about later, I dismiss these claims without looking into them, and I think it’s perfectly valid to do that.”

Just so, he goes on to say, you acknowledge that you haven't looked into them, which makes your dismissing them OK:

“But then you have to say, look, I’ve dismissed them. I’ve not looked into the evidence here. People claim to have evidence, so I’m not saying no one’s given any evidence. Rudy says he has evidence and whatever, but I’ve not looked into it, but I think the odds are, given what I know about him and the other people, is that he’s BS’ing. And I know that there are courts that will eventually adjudicate this. If you [sic, I] say that, that’s fine, but then don’t act as though I’ve read through all these affidavits and I can tell that this person was lying and that one there and this person had this mistake.

“On the other hand, if you have looked into some of these things, don’t take that as meaning you’ve looked into all of them and you know everything. You’ve amateurishly looked into some of them and to try to get a feel for what’s going on, which is what I’ve done. On the other hand, if you trust Trump or you trust Giuliani, you trust [Sidney] Powell, or whatever for whatever reasons, I think you’re mistaken to, and we can have an argument about why these people ought to be regarded as people who are out to destroy your mind. That if you value reason you should not trust them or regard them as decent human beings.

“But if you do trust them and that’s why you believe certain things, but without having done much work, you just saw Rudy’s press conference or whatever, then you should say: I saw Rudy’s press conference, I trust him that he’s eventually going to deliver the goods, if he doesn’t I’ll update then. And both of those two views, pro-conspiracy ..., you’ve put very little time in, but you know you’ve put very little time in and you can say I’ve not put much time in it, here’s what I have done, on the basis of that here’s what I think and here’s how confident I am.”

Thus, if you see evidence of rigging you are associating with people who are “out to destroy your mind,” that is, everyone’s mind.  And since “if you value reason you should not trust them or regard them as decent human beings,” if you do trust them you must not value reason. Indeed, the insinuation is that you yourself are not a decent human being.

Mr. Salmieri tries to give the impression of objective analysis but his “epistemology” makes it nearly impossible to see election rigging and very easy to turn a blind eye to it. [12]

Mr. Brook responds:

“I agree with you because of the people involved. I start out with a huge amount of skepticism about any statement that Rudy Giuliani makes. I’ve said on the show many many times, I really despise the guy, and he’s not gotten better, he’s gotten worse over time, not better. Maybe there was a slight glimmer of goodness in him around 9/11 – maybe, but, or maybe he’s just good at taking advantage of opportunities to establish his reputation. But I’ve always despised Rudy Giuliani, so anything he says I put a big question.”

Those who know the case of Richard Minns will cringe hearing this phony lecture us on goodness and honesty. [13]

Mr. Salmieri’s reply to Mr. Brook is that he grew up in New York City and at first admired Giuliani; he didn’t have anything against him until he heard Brook and Peikoff talk about Giuliani’s career as a prosecutor (apparently referring to the Milken case) and that he  “didn’t have a strong aversion to him until he started making arbitrary claims.”

Mr. Brook:

“What I do is I take a few of the claims and I just spend a little bit of time on seeing, okay, do they make any kind of sense, and I gave one example of the vote count ...

“I did a deep dive on this Dominion thing and ... the claims about Dominion Systems are so crazy, are so nutty and there are so many of them and again it’s always suspicious when there’s not just one conspiracy.”

The main claim, which Mr. Brook doesn’t mention, is that the voting system of Dominion Systems was designed to throw elections, and the claim is not crazy or nutty. [4 again]

He goes on to describe an obscure contention concerning Pelosi that is, we agree, false. Mr. Brook argues like the Jesuits, of whom one wit said:  “Accuse them of murdering three men and a dog, and they will triumphantly produce the dog alive.”  After the Pelosi dog:

“So once you dig a little deeper, you suddenly discover, No, none of this makes any sense, and then, in my you know, for my sanity and because I have limited time and limited energy I throw all of it out.”

Someone on the chat asks about lists of allegations and integrating evidence. The preachy Mr. Salmieri answers by repeating his earnest plea to  “do the work,”  mixed into this hash of verbiage:

“... about the people giving the lists, are they showing any signs of being aware of and having done any of the work they would need to do? One, to know if the claims are true in the first place, and, two, if they were true know if they pointed to the conclusion they want, because a lot of them don’t ... And if they’re citing it as that, why. Do they show signs of knowing something you don’t about why it would connect and they’re making efforts to show you why that, or do they just swallow something. So are they doing the work? Are they showing signs of doing the work? Have you done the work and, if not other people, that you’re getting these lists from doing the work. And then integration isn’t just a list, it’s something you do you put the things together into a theory. What’s the theory: Democrats are bad, and a lot of Democrats did a lot of different bad things that somehow took the election. A theory that integrated evidence would be a specific theory that would give a cause that would explain in a kind of comprehensive way all these different things through one mechanism.”

Why must we find one single mechanism that alone explains all the anomalies in the election, otherwise we cannot consider fraud? Again, there is one single goal which a number of disparate and independent groups and people share. Their effort is the result of a consensus, it need not be one overarching conspiracy. Since two criminals in concert are enough to make a conspiracy, the effort could be a number of independent mini-conspiracies with a common goal.

That said, the existence of one or more nationwide conspiracies is not out of the question. Dishonest leftists – I repeat myself – can learn the latest tactics of election fraud, such as how to harvest mail-in ballots, through social media or from a few traveling agitators. Centrally controlled vote machines – black box voting – make vote fraud on a multi-state level very possible. Multi-state agitation of one kind or another is ongoing, such as piles of bricks showing up at BLM “events” all over the country. One has to question the sincerity of someone who dismisses the possibility of nationwide conspiracies as beyond consideration.

Mr. Salmieri says that  “just pointing to some list”  is not an  “integration”  forming his sought after all-encompassing mechanism.  Maybe so but what of it?  Never Trump is such an “integration” if you want to put it that way.

Then the two men praise the Pennsylvania court ruling against Trump – they really rub it in – and say how much more reliable the courts are than the news outlets.

Mr. Brook reads from the chat:  “California delivered mail-in ballots to all voters. My mom received a ballot for my sister who moved to Texas years ago. Even if there isn’t any large-scale fraud does it seem like representative states should take voting security more seriously?”  Mr. Salmieri answers:

“I don’t know.  So, one, when they mail ballots out to everyone, is that a voting security concern? Well, you know, if you don’t know anything it certainly seems like it might be, and it might be. But maybe they take a lot of steps when they come back to double-check the signature and this and that. You’d want to know what the whole process is to know how secure this is, and I don’t know what the whole process is.”

I am not making this up. He doesn’t know if states should take voting security more seriously. He continues by bringing up what should be an unrelated issue:  “you constantly get complaints from Democrats that ... it’s difficult to vote”  and the difficulties favor the  “privileged” etc.  The Republicans say  “things are too lax in a way that allows for voter fraud. And I’m not convinced of either of those claims.”  About the second claim he says:  “There’s all the attempts to show widespread fraud ... None of them have turned up any kind of significant amount of fraud.”

“... there’s a lot of electioneering on both sides [Republicans for security and Democrats for easy access] trying to set rules that ... balance security and access.”

A curious admission. In fact both Republicans and Democrats should be interested in having secure, genuine elections. Mr. Salmieri appears to excuse Democrats for being more interested in easy voting.

“But the Republicans trying to push it one way and the Democrats trying to push it another, and I don’t think it’s really all that important which way it goes in different states.”

Not all that important, check.

Mr. Brook weighs in and misses the point, saying that since the Democrats had California locked in anyway why bother with vote fraud. He then describes how secure voting is in Puerto Rico [14]  and concludes regarding the U.S.:

“There are all kinds of little barriers that are put in there to secure the votes, and while I think there’s fraud out there, I’m skeptical it goes in one direction. I’m convinced it’s not systemic, but yeah I’m sure there are all kinds of little things that people do that are crazy.”

Don’t worry about it, not big things in one direction, just little things in all directions.

After some discussion of the non-existence of fraud in past elections Mr. Salmieri throws us a bone. Because of the massive surge in mail-in voting there was “more chance for errors” and “if there are bad actors, maybe they can find a way to take advantage of that,” so he thinks  “people should look at this election a little more closely than previous ones ... but none of that substantiates the kind of over-the-top speculations.”  Mr. Salmieri doesn’t always do complete sentences but you get the idea:  there is no evidence for massive election fraud, it is just speculation, and you are delusional if you think otherwise.

Mr. Brook reads from the chat:  “... Why not at least champion getting rid of mass mail-ins that didn’t exist before covid?”  and replies:

“I don’t see any problem with mass mail-ins.

“I would like to see online voting. I know it’s much trickier, security-wise, and people are going to be very skeptical of it. I think blockchain and other technologies make it—. If we’re gonna vote, then in the context of the world in which we live there’s no reason not to make it simple.”

No problem with mass mail-in ballots, check.  Put out the welcome mat for vote-fraudsters.

Mr. Salmieri:

“I think a lot of different ways of voting are fine. ... I don’t have a strong opinion on how much more or less secure one is than the other. I think whatever the differences are probably pretty minor. ... I don’t see a problem here. I don’t see the problem the Democrats see about mass disenfranchisement due to the voting laws, and I don’t see the problem the Republicans see of a lot of voter fraud. I just don’t think there’s much evidence of either.”

Much?  Why won’t this mealy-mouth tell us about the some?

Mr. Brook replies, and note how he ignores the fact that Fulton County (Atlanta) – where most of the Georgia fraud occurred – is dominated by Democrats:

“I agree ... I think Greg’s completely right.
“Georgia is a Republican state and in spite of the fact that everybody in positions of power are Republicans, it went for Biden. And they’re trying to claim that there were issues there, but again, no evidence, zero evidence.”

The non-existence of a water main break causing a halt in ballot counting is not evidence, check.  That after ballet-counting was ordered suspended and all observers had left the counting room, ballots were counted for two hours unobserved is not evidence, check. That Georgia got rid of signature verification for mail-in ballots (the minimum necessary to verify valid ballots) is not evidence, check.

Speaking of all the swing states, here is Scott Adams on one of his December podcasts: [15]

“Everybody looking for little bits of evidence of whether this election was stolen or not, it’s complete misdirection.
“You don’t need evidence if bullies chased out witnesses. Let me say that again. Bullies chased out witnesses in the key cities. “Keep that fact, just one little fact, [in mind]: bullies chased out witnesses of the vote count.
“Every...thing you say after that doesn’t matter. All that matters is that it was non-transparent by force.”

What a not always tasteful cartoonist says in one minute expresses the epistemological issue better than anything a pair of intellectual imposters said in two hours.
The moment observers were excluded from the vote counting facilities, the counts immediately became fraudulent by default.
But “better than” regarding the epistemological issue is not the best way to express the comparison. Misters Brook and Salmieri are not the least bit interested in genuine epistemology. Their purpose is to use a bogus epistemology (trust, skepticism, etc.) to pull the wool over your eyes.

The remainder of the discussion between these two hucksters is more of the same mixed with Trump Derangement Syndrome psychologizing. I’ll cut it short with something Mr. Salmieri says. As he speaks Trump is still president of the United States but he is champing at the bit for Biden to replace him:

“... we have a president, or I mean he’s now been voted out, ...”


To find out what’s happening in the world beyond your ken you have no choice but to rely on reputable investigators and reporters. They become in effect your eyes and ears. Such reliable people do exist, and it is fairly easy to determine who they are:  by their manner, their consistency (both internally and with what you know already), the reliability of their past work, and their reputation among people whose judgement you trust.

And though you should be able to display your chain of dependence when asked, it’s not something you need to do every time you talk about the final link. The shyster Salmieri demanding such a parade is his way of making you unsure of yourself, making you sabotage your thinking, making what you say look doubtful to other people.

Skepticism is the idea that you can’t be sure of anything. The shysters Brook and Salmieri promote – in the case of election fraud against Trump – what you might call social skepticism:  you cannot be sure of anything that requires trusting other people. Society becomes a shattered vase and you are stuck in your own little fragment of porcelain.

Over and over the shysters Brook and Salmieri plead, earnest-sounding and self-righteous:

Do the work!  Where is the evidence?  There is no evidence!

You haven’t personally read those hundreds of sworn affidavits. Have you even seen them? You don’t even know they really exist. About that video of people covering up windows so ballot-counting observers couldn’t see inside, how do you know it wasn’t faked? How do you know the Atlanta office wasn’t flooded by a water main break?

And the very number of election fraud claims makes them beneath consideration.

So say in so many words these self-proclaimed exemplars of Objectivist thinking, like Bishop Berkeley in the newsroom.

They start with Never Trump and then pepper sophistries with Objectivist-sounding words such as arbitrary, epistemology, Aristotle, principle, etc. and end up agreeing with the leftist mainstream press. Their whole discussion is an extended insult to your intelligence.

If the alleged products of Objectivism at the Ayn Rand Institute were sincere we would have to ask:  How is it that Rand’s philosophy left so many dead brains in its wake?


It turns out Rand herself had something to say about election fraud.

In 1960 the presidential race was between Richard M. Nixon (R) and John F. Kennedy (D). Kennedy won but not fairly; fraud tipped the election in his favor. And contrary to Mr. Brook, the fraud involved several states. Rand had occasion to refer to that election when reviewing Nixon’s career for an article on Watergate, titled “Brothers, You Asked for It!” [16]  Leaving off my external quote marks and indenting her quotes:

... if the fate of the entire nation is the criterion of journalistic concern – did anyone demand or pursue an investigation of the frauds in the Presidential election of 1960?

This last is, perhaps, the darkest moral stain on the record of the man who covered it up: Richard Nixon. Stewart Alsop tells the story in Newsweek (May 21, 1973):  after he had conceded the election to Kennedy, Mr. Nixon
“got a number of telephone calls from major supporters urging him to contest the election, on the ground that it had been stolen. More important, he got word from J. Edgar Hoover, an old ally, that the FBI had clear proof of massive vote stealing in Illinois, Texas and elsewhere.”
Mr. Nixon decided not to contest the election.
“He might win the Presidency by demanding a recount, he said, but only at the price of chaos and bitterness, and ‘I would not want the Presidency on those terms.’ 
This story, if true, is a gruesome example of the murderously evil nature of altruism. ... By sacrificing himself and his ambition for the sake of the country, it is the country that Mr. Nixon sacrificed. By accepting an injustice, it is justice that he sacrificed. By forgiving a fraud of that magnitude, it is the Constitution that he sacrificed: he turned the country over to a man who, perhaps, in legal and moral fact, was not its President.

She then mentions some disasters we would have avoided without the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, and concludes:
This was the way reality paid Mr. Nixon for his altruism (and lack of moral courage).

A comment on social media:  “There are times when I wonder if some of the ARI people have read anything at all by Ayn Rand.”

1  From The Philosophy of Objectivism, a lecture series by Leonard Peikoff, Lecture 6, as quoted by Harry Binswanger in The Ayn Rand Lexicon.

2  Uploaded to YouTube 30 November 2020.
Yaron Brook is board chairman of the Ayn Rand Institute; Gregory Salmieri is Anthem Foundation Fellow in Philosophy and at the time of the discussion a part time lecturer in Philosophy at Rutgers University.

Mr. Brook’s conversation contains much word-stuttering, false starts, extraneous you knows, I means, rights, ands, uhs and ums. Most of these have been silently omitted in our transcription.  Mr. Salmieri’s speech has the same faults, though the word-stuttering is not nearly as bad as Mr. Brook’s, and receives the same cosmetic treatment.

This is the first time I’ve listened to Mr. Salmieri at length. His voice takes the cake for repellency. Moist, sloppy, the mile-a-minute unwavering rhythm, the emphasis on final consonants.

3  Obama refused to release his original birth certificate; instead he released a copy of what he claimed was a certificate made at the same time but at best was a new certificate created at a much later date using information from the original; and his social security number doesn’t follow the usual protocol: the first three digits bear no relation to his address at the time it was issued. There was reason to be suspicious about his past.

The birthers expressed skepticism about Obama being born in Hawaii and gave reasons for their doubt, whether those reasons were given in error or deceit. That’s different from asserting something arbitrarily. Anyone wishing to refute the birthers could provide counter-reasons, and did. Salmieri bandies about the “arbitrary” epithet with a free and easy abandon.

4  The following, about Dominion Systems, is an abridged and lightly copyedited message from an astute reader:

Brook:  “I did a deep dive on this Dominion thing ...”  Apparently he dived into the kiddie pool.

The issue with Dominion has nothing to do with its origins or any former South American relationships.  There are three essential issues:  (1) The inherent corruptibility of its voting systems. (There’s a good reason why Texas, three times, rejected Dominion.)  (2) The company’s utterly corrupt Security Chief (former?), Eric Coomer (He had the motive, means, and opportunity to fix votes for Biden.)  (3) The fact that in October 2020, China invested $400 million in Staple Street Capital, which owns Dominion Voting Systems. That “investment” was made via UBS Securities, LLC, a Swiss investment corporation that is 75% owned by China. (The documentary evidence for this is publicly available, e.g., SEC filings.)

For more on #1 see the court-ordered report, “Antrim Michigan Forensics Report,” which includes (emphasis added):
  “We conclude that the Dominion Voting System is intentionally and purposefully designed with inherent errors to create systemic fraud and influence election results. The system intentionally generates an enormously high number of ballot errors. ...”
  “The allowable election error rate established by the Federal Election Commission guidelines is of 1 in 250,000 ballots (.0008%). We observed an error rate of 68.05%. This demonstrated a significant and fatal error in security and election integrity.”

5 That there is just as much election fraud for Republicans as for Democrats has been a frequent theme of Mr. Brook.  See  Theft of the U.S. Presidency.

6  From a legal dictionary:  “Chain of evidence is a series of events which, when viewed in sequence, account for the actions of a person during a particular period of time or the location of a piece of evidence during a specified time period.”

7  Mr. Brook doesn’t say what despicable acts he thinks Giuliani committed.

President Reagan, at the beginning of his first term in 1981, appointed Giuliani to the U.S. Justice Department, and one act of his that Mr. Brook would have found despicable was ordering Haitian boat people returned to Haiti.

When Giuliani was mayor of NYC he managed the indictment of 11 Mafia leaders, including the heads of New York’s five dominant crime families. Even Mr. Brook acknowledges that this was a good thing, so apparently the Haiti and Milken (see next footnote) affairs more than counterbalance it in his mind.

8  Probably referring to Giuliani’s prosecution of Michael Milken. ARI people, including Mr. Peikoff, have long hated him for it, well before Mr. Brook joined the organization. ARI continues to sell Edwin Locke’s recorded lecture “The ‘Trial’ of Michael Milken,” a defense of the man in the form of a fictional trial, recorded not long after his conviction in 1990.

Milken’s defenders at ARI never mention Ivan Boesky. He had committed the same crime as Milken – defrauding his investors through insider-trading – but unlike Milken he hadn’t much of a legitimate career. Milken was a brilliant man gone partly bad. Boesky was just plain bad. Milken’s defenders never mention Boesky because they would have to denounce him, and in doing so would denounce Milken as well for the two rise and fall together.

Contrary to ARI, Giuliani was right to prosecute Milken for at least some of the charges. (Giuliani could be criticized for using RICO to do it and for the original draconian prison sentence, soon reduced to something reasonable.)

9  For example, masses of unfolded supposedly mailed-in ballots. Again see  Theft of the U.S. Presidency.

10  From exit polls on the day of the election:  Blacks – 87% for Biden, 12% for Trump; Hispanics (which includes white Hispanics) – 65% for Biden, 32% for Trump.

11  Another problem with this section of Mr. Brook’s speech is that election fraud needn’t be systemic, that is, nationwide, to influence the outcome of a presidential election. In the one under discussion, six counties was more than enough to flip the election to Biden. Also witness the election of 1960, which even Mr. Brook acknowledges was stolen.

12  There are several other problems with this section of Mr. Salmieri’s speech.

Both he and Mr. Brook are discussing one of the most important elections in post WW II American history. To dismiss claims of fraud in the cavalier manner they do is to engage in massive evasion.

Both he and Mr. Brook seem desperate to make the issue of election fraud about trust.  “If you trust Trump or ... Giuliani” etc. Obviously they want you to trust them. They can’t win you over with evidence or reason so they require your trust – “Trust me,” the shibboleth of the con man.  (It seems to be an Obleftivist thing. Peikoff vs. McCaskey,  Peikoff vs. Reisman,  Ridpath vs. Catherine.)

About Salmieri’s “you just saw Rudy’s press conference or whatever” remark: Salmieri imagines an uninformed person who saw one of Rudy’s press conferences or who “amateurishly looked into some of them” – apparently the best straw man Salmieri could come up with to knock down.

13  See  Who Is Richard Minns?

14  Elsewhere Mr. Brook says he made Puerto Rico his legal residence for a tax advantage.

15  twitter.com/kelliwardaz/status/1335225504899739649

16  The Ayn Rand Letter (Vol. II, No. 15) nominally dated 23 April 1973 but actually written several months later.