Attack on innocent truck driver shows how dangerous election fraud claims really are

The saying "elections have consequences" has never rung more true than it does right now, and in more ways than one. Right now, the consequence of the 2016 election is that we currently have a sitting president who refuses to accept the outcome of what state election officials have verified as a free and fair election, instead claiming that the election was "rigged" with "rampant fraud," insisting that he actually won in a landslide, and continuing to peddle falsehoods in an attempt to remain in power.

We'll get to those claims in a minute. But first let's look at a story that highlights how the consequences of those claims are growing more and more dangerous.

A former Houston police captain has been arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after a police investigation into an incident that occurred two weeks before the 2020 election.

According to ABC 13 News, Mark Anthony Aguirre had spent four days surveilling a man who he thought was heading up a huge voter fraud operation. Believing the man's truck was transporting 750,000 fraudulent ballots, 63-year-old Aguirre rammed his SUV into the back of the truck, forcing it off the road. When the driver got out to check his truck and the welfare of the person who had struck his vehicle, Aguirre pulled out his pistol. He held the truck driver at gunpoint on the ground with his knee in his back until the police arrived.


The truck was not full of ballots. It was full of air conditioner parts and tools, and the man was an innocent air conditioner technician.

But it gets even darker and unhinged. Aguirre explained to police that he was part of a private citizen group called "Liberty Center" who were "investigating" an alleged voter ballot harvesting operation that the truck driver was supposedly running out of his shed behind his mobile home. Aguirre said he and some friends had set up a "command post" at a Marriott hotel and had been conducting 24-hour surveillance of the driver's home for four days. He claimed the driver was hiding 750,000 fraudulent ballots. He claimed they were using Hispanic children to sign them because their fingerprints wouldn't show up in a database. He also claimed that Mark Zuckerberg had paid the man $9.37 million to conduct the illegal voting operation.

None of this was true, of course. Police searched the truck driver's home, shed, and truck, and found no ballots. His home and shed contained normal home and shed things. And his truck contained exactly what you would expect an air conditioner repairman's truck to contain. The poor guy thought he was being robbed at gunpoint when Aguirre confronted him after ramming his truck.

So what of this "Liberty Center"? A grand jury subpoena of Aguirre's bank records show that he received three large payments from an organization called Liberty Center for God and Country—two for $25,000 in the month prior to the truck-ramming incident, and $211,400 the day after it.

The police officer who investigated the incident wrote in his affidavit that Aguirre told him he could be part of the solution or part of the problem, adding "I just hope you're a patriot."

Apparently, being a patriot means going along with someone being paid huge amounts of money to conduct bizarro "investigations" based on cuckoo conspiracy theories and committing felonies in the name of overturning a free and fair election.

We are so far past the point of "perusing legal channels" for ensuring the election was legitimate it's not even funny. Every state has verified its election results, including states with Republican Secretaries of State that ended up blue. Trump's legal team and other allies who have brought court cases have lost spectacularly. Every court case that has been put forth alleging either fraud or unconstitutionality of election changes due to the pandemic has been lost or dismissed except one, making Trump 1-59 in court. That includes rulings from Trump-appointed federal judges, the Supreme Courts of various states, as well as the SCOTUS itself.

There's a widespread claim that all of these cases have been dismissed on technicalities, but that's simply not true. You can read the court rulings here. There has been an unfortunately successful attempt at convincing a good portion of the public that there is evidence of widespread fraud, but multiple judges have been clear the evidence isn't there. The vast majority of "evidence" that has been presented are affidavits from people either misunderstanding normal election processes or describing normal processes in suspicious ways. Some of it has been flat out false information (such as the "expert" who mixed up counties in Michigan and Minnesota) and some of it has been flat out wrong assumptions based on a lack of relevant knowledge.

We can't get into every instance—and indeed, the absolute flood of b.s. is designed to make it virtually impossible to keep up with—but here's one example from this morning's Senate hearing. Much has been made of the forensic audit of the Dominion voting machines in Michigan, with countless breathless social media posts claiming a 68% error rate. Chris Krebs is a Republican who served as director of CISA—the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency—until he was fired by Trump for fact-checking him about the election. He explained in two minutes what the real story is with that part of the audit report.

Watch:

And yet Trump is still claiming to have won the election in a landslide, his pet media outlets are peddling the same fraudulent claim, and millions are eating it up.

Let's be perfectly clear. Fake voter fraud claims aside, the idea of a landslide Trump win is absurd on its face. Nearly every single poll of likely or registered voters leading up to the election had Biden favored to win. And despite the fanatic enthusiasm of his base, Trump has been a historically unpopular president. His approval rating at the beginning of 2020 was 42.6%, the lowest of any president since 1976—and that was before his handling of the pandemic led to hundreds of thousands of American deaths. Forty-one separate polls show that he has never even reached, much less exceeded, a 50% approval rating during his entire presidency.

So yeah. Cheering, adulating, superspreading crowds at rallies do not a majority make. The idea that Biden could only have won if there were fraud doesn't even make basic logical sense, and the idea that Democrats would have rigged the presidential election and not the congressional races is just plain silly.

The longer these allegations continue to be pushed, the more danger American citizens and the country as a whole will be in. One man's insatiable narcissism is not worth destroying democracy. Enough is enough.

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Judy Vaughan has spent most of her life helping other women, first as the director of House of Ruth, a safe haven for homeless families in East Los Angeles, and later as the Project Coordinator for Women for Guatemala, a solidarity organization committed to raising awareness about human rights abuses.

But in 1996, she decided to take things a step further. A house became available in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles and she was offered the opportunity to use it to help other women and children. So, in partnership with a group of 13 people who she knew from her years of activism, she decided to make it a transitional residence program for homeless women and their children. They called the program Alexandria House.

"I had learned from House of Ruth that families who are homeless are often isolated from the surrounding community," Judy says. "So we decided that as part of our mission, we would also be a neighborhood center and offer a number of resources and programs, including an after-school program and ESL classes."

She also decided that, unlike many other shelters in Los Angeles, she would accept mothers with their teenage boys.

"There are very few in Los Angeles [that do] due to what are considered liability issues," Judy explains. "Given the fact that there are (conservatively) 56,000 homeless people and only about 11,000 shelter beds on any one night, agencies can be selective on who they take."

Their Board of Directors had already determined that they should take families that would have difficulties finding a place. Some of these challenges include families with more than two children, immigrant families without legal documents, moms who are pregnant with other small children, families with a member who has a disability [and] families with service dogs.

"Being separated from your son or sons, especially in the early teen years, just adds to the stress that moms who are unhoused are already experiencing," Judy says.

"We were determined to offer women with teenage boys another choice."

Courtesy of Judy Vaughan

Alexandria House also doesn't kick boys out when they turn 18. For example, Judy says they currently have a mom with two daughters (21 and 2) and a son who just turned 18. The family had struggled to find a shelter that would take them all together, and once they found Alexandria House, they worried the boy would be kicked out on his 18th birthday. But, says Judy, "we were not going to ask him to leave because of his age."

Homelessness is a big issue in Los Angeles. "[It] is considered the homeless capital of the United States," Judy says. "The numbers have not changed significantly since 1984 when I was working at the House of Ruth." The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded the problem. According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), over 66,000 people in the greater Los Angeles area were experiencing homelessness in 2020, representing a rise of 12.7% compared with the year before.

Each woman who comes to Alexandria House has her own unique story, but some common reasons for ending up homeless include fleeing from a domestic violence or human trafficking situation, aging out of foster care and having no place to go, being priced out of an apartment, losing a job, or experiencing a family emergency with no 'cushion' to pay the rent.

"Homelessness is not a definition; it is a situation that a person finds themselves in, and in fact, it can happen to almost anyone. There are many practices and policies that make it almost impossible to break out of poverty and move out of homelessness."

And that's why Alexandria House exists: to help them move out of it. How long that takes depends on the woman, but according to Judy, families stay an average of 10 months. During that time, the women meet with support staff to identify needs and goals and put a plan of action in place.

A number of services are provided, including free childcare, programs and mentoring for school-age children, free mental health counseling, financial literacy classes and a savings program. They have also started Step Up Sisterhood LA, an entrepreneurial program to support women's dreams of starting their own businesses. "We serve as a support system for as long as a family would like," Judy says, even after they have moved on.

And so far, the program is a resounding success.

92 percent of the 200 families who stayed at Alexandria House have found financial stability and permanent housing — not becoming homeless again.

Since founding Alexandria House 25 years ago, Judy has never lost sight of her mission to join with others and create a vision of a more just society and community. That is why she is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year — and the donation she receives as a nominee will go to Alexandria House and will help grow the new Start-up Sisterhood LA program.

"Alexandria House is such an important part of my life," says Judy. "It has been amazing to watch the children grow up and the moms recreate their lives for themselves and for their families. I have witnessed resiliency, courage, and heroic acts of generosity."

The difference between a politician and a public servant may be a matter of semantics, but when it comes to getting legislation passed that actually helps people, the contrast is stark.

Texas Representative James Talarico is on a mission to get his constituents the life-saving medicine they need. The 31-year-old lawmaker has just introduced legislation that would cap the price of insulin—a medicine people with type 1 diabetes need to live, which has become unaffordable for many—at $50 a month.

The mission is personal for Talarico, as he nearly died three years ago when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

He shared his story on Twitter:

"In May 2018, I was a healthy 28-year-old running for the Texas House. I decided to walk the entire length of my district and hold town halls along the way. I hike Big Bend every year, so I wasn't concerned about a 25 mile walk...

But halfway through the walk, I began feeling nauseous and fatigued. Before the town hall in Hutto, I vomited in the bathroom."

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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