The Maricopa County election auditors, put in place by the GOP-led Arizona Senate, took a week away because of the high school graduation ceremonies scheduled to take place at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, but those events are over, and, as reported on NEWSMAX (story credited to Associated Press), auditors went back to work on Monday. The 2.1 million ballots had to be carted back over from a nearby building on the fairgrounds, where they’d been guarded 24/7.

I wouldn’t imagine that there’s been any problem with security. Imagine how many pairs of eyes were locked on those boxes of ballots every inch of the way.

The audit team, which consists of four different firms with different responsibilities, are ramping up their operations, with more tables and counters added this week. Even with that, the operation still hasn’t reached full capacity. So they might speed up even more, though there is no deadline, just the goal of getting it right.

There are a few other differences as well. For example, journalists observing the audit have been advised that Senate liaison Ken Bennett, a former Republican secretary of state, will no longer be answering questions about the audit process. Instead, reporters will be directed to Arizona Republican Party Chairman Randy Pullen. We’re not sure why this change was made; it likely means nothing but we’ll check into it.

Anyway, even though auditors had some time off, the lawyers and politicians were working overtime, and it’s been, well, tense. We brought you the “special” meeting of the County Board of Supervisors, who unanimously supported a letter by the county recorder condemning the audit and vowing not to cooperate further. “We’re DONE,” they said. (The stunning YouTube video of that meeting is now under restricted access.) Then there was the next-day meeting of auditors and board members Senate President Karen Fann had called, which the auditors attended but the board members boycotted. The idea behind that meeting had been to try to work together without more subpoenas, but that hope apparently has been dashed.

Heck, with the members of this board, even subpoenas and judicial orders don’t work. The lawyers advising them have apparently given them grand delusions of their own power.

The auditors’ claim that the main database had been removed from one of the machines was met with denial and outrage by the board, and CNN and AP reported that auditors walked back that claim. This was inaccurate, and technical forensic expert Ben Cotton of Cyfir, one of the companies performing the audit, wrote a letter to THE EPOCH TIMES to that effect. Cotton says that not only was the database deleted, but he has been able to recover it and is working on retrieving the information on it.

The claim that there are no legal grounds to conduct this audit is inaccurate as well. Senate Republicans had issued a subpoena for all the ballots, plus the voting machines and election data, and a judge upheld this, saying that Maricopa County needed to comply. So the board begrudgingly did, and now they won’t stop carping about it.

They’ve criticized the audit for being conducted by people who don’t normally audit elections, and “journalists” covering this story have stressed the point, calling them “unqualified.” But we think there’s a reason these companies ended up with the job, and it’s a political one. Reportedly, some companies that specialize in election audits have been intimidated from participating in what they’ve been told is conspiracy-theory nonsense. My understanding is that this issue is so politicized, there were companies that chose not to get involved, as it could damage or even destroy their professional relationships with clients. But as you’ll see, the auditors who did accept this mission seem to be doing a highly professional job.

In another update, we now have a portion of the transcript from last Tuesday’s meeting with auditors and state senators (the meeting snubbed by the County Board), and Ben Cotton appears in video testimony. Shocking: he doesn't appear to be a wild-eyed right-wing crazy, but a professional forensic analyst who knows what he's talking about.

The media have been insisting that the fact the auditors were ABLE to recover the information meant it hadn’t really been deleted –- that they’d just been looking in the wrong place before it turned up. But it's amazing what forensics investigators can retrieve that has been "deleted." (That's no doubt why Hillary's aides were instructed to hit her devices with hammers.) Cotton said specifically that the “D” drive of the EMS Primary Server had been deleted. He said it was his extensive experience in data forensics that enabled him to recover the deleted files.

Cotton explains the procedure he followed during this segment of the transcript, as reported by THE CONSERVATIVE TREEHOUSE.

(Editorial note: the headline for THE CONSERVATIVE TREEHOUSE says Cotton accuses the media and board of “intentionally misleading” the public. We didn’t see anything in the story or in their video news report that talked specifically about intentionally misleading; i.e., lying. But reason tells us that they either were deliberately lying or are just such lazy, partisan excuses for journalists that they repeated the false story they wanted to tell. It’s one or the other.).

Cotton’s testimony about the data recovery is technical stuff, but it boils down to the fact that he was able to recover all the deleted files and has gained access to that data. (If I understand correctly, having “access” to the data doesn’t necessarily mean that all of it is readable; we’ll have to cross our fingers that the “data continuity checks” show that it is.) In the course of retrieving this material, Cotton said, he found clear indications –- in the form of an MFT, or master file table –- that the database directory had been deleted from that server.

Finally, members of the Board of Supervisors are now bringing their accusations to the media, in a full-court press to affect public perception of the audit. Specifically, county recorder Stephen Richer, who read a scathing prepared statement at last Monday’s meeting board meeting and who wasn’t even in office during the November election, has taken his show on the road, going on ABC News Monday in an interview with Terry Moran to say there’s no “legitimate reason that would have prompted this audit.” He complained again that the companies doing the audit are not professional or legitimate. I beg to differ; we’ve been watching this drama play out, and the auditors seem to be the ones who are behaving professionally.

I’m not going to link to the article on Yahoo News about Richer's interview, because it contains verbiage that I know not to be correct. For example, this is not a “so-called audit.” It’s a real audit, it's being handled well, and if these board members want to be taken seriously, they need to stop fighting tooth-and-nail against transparency.

Bernie knows best

May 25, 2021

I’ve often written about how miraculous it is that so many politicians who’ve never done anything except politics know how to do so many things better than the people who actually know about them. For instance, Bernie Sanders has never so much as run a lemonade stand, but he knows how to run every business in America better than the people who started them. Likewise, many politicians think they know everything they need to know to regulate guns, even if they don’t know which end of one the bullet comes out of.

Latest example: our thanks for the laugh to California Assemblyman David Chiu, who tweeted his horrified and indignant response to finding the packaging from a Glock pistol as he was walking through a San Francisco park. He didn’t notice, but other Twitter users did, that what he posted a photo of was the packaging from a Glock brand toy air gun.

While it’s also interesting to see how many things he got wrong while just trying to back out of that boner gracefully, my question is why he was so upset at finding that, but San Francisco parks full of discarded heroin needles and human feces don’t seem to bother him in the least.

Several recent developments have cast renewed doubt on the claim that the COVID-19 coronavirus naturally spread from animals. There’s a growing amount of at least circumstantial evidence suggesting that it escaped from the viral research lab in Wuhan, China. The New York Post has a good recap of what happened up until now and why we’re suddenly hearing a number of authoritative voices speak up to question the official story.

(An aside: yes, I said the virus came from China, because it did. That’s not racist, any more than saying "German measles" is racist, and it’s certainly not an incitement to idiots to attack Chinese people. Anyone who pushes that line is a patsy doing the propaganda work of China’s Communist government, which is hiding behind false claims of “racism” to escape scrutiny of its own culpability in allowing this virus to spread worldwide. Besides, anyone who howls that “Chinese virus” is racist and then talks about the “Indian Variant” is either a hypocrite or, by their own definition, a hate-inciting racist. Aside over.)

For a long time, any suggestion that the virus might have come from a lab in China was treated as a crazy, racist conspiracy theory, and any mention of it was banned by social media outlets and their “fact-checkers.” But this weekend might have brought a tipping point, as even Dr. Fauci pulled his biggest flip-flop yet and admitted that maaaaaybe it’s not so certain where the virus came from and he is now “perfectly in favor of any investigation that looks into the origin of the virus.”

Of course, any investigation would require the cooperation of the Chinese government, which has never given it before, and that’s why all the adamant denials and censorship were unfounded from the get-go.

While this debate rages on, let me just point out one big problem with many of the “fact-checks” that are being used as excuses to silence legitimate questions. Many of them, as in this case, don’t debunk the claims with actual facts, but with “appeals to authority.” They cite some prominent “expert” who disagrees, and that’s taken as proof that the claim is false. But an “appeal to authority” that cites a questionable authority is a textbook example of a logical fallacy. (No wonder leftists are trying to brand logic and reason as "white supremacist concepts" and kill them.)

I’ve said since this pandemic began that I didn’t blame health officials for getting things wrong at first, or altering their initial comments, because it was an entirely new disease and they were scrambling to learn what it was and how it spread. I get that mistakes were made about things like whether or not to wear masks, or how contagious surfaces are.

But too many times, opinions (often biased opinions) were treated as if they were settled truths. One example was when Trump was branded as a liar for predicting that a vaccine would be available before the end of the year -- “experts” said it would take at least until 2021. Not only was Trump’s statement just a hopeful prediction, not a lie, but he turned out to be correct and the so-called “experts” wrong.

Now, the flat denials that the virus might have come from a Chinese lab and the attacks on anyone who suggested it are looking like the assurances of “experts” who didn’t know what they were talking about. It’s still an unproven hypothesis for which we need to get to the truth. But if you censor questions and silence debate, then how do you ever expect to get to the truth about anything?

Related: Today marks 62 days since Vice President Kamala Harris was put in charge of cleaning up President Biden’s border disaster, and she has yet to hold a press conference or visit the border.

When pressed to explain, Biden press secretary Jen Psaki said that she doesn’t expect Harris to visit the southern border, “given her purview” as Border Czar.

Yes, that makes no sense whatsoever, at least to sane people who believe words mean things. But in the Bizarro Biden White House, border czars never visit the border, people with no experience at health or business are put in charge of health and business, and the climate change czar mostly flies around in private jets, lecturing the rest of us to cut our CO2 emissions. It all makes perfect sense if you simply think of the most obvious thing that a person with common sense would do, and then prepare for the exact opposite.

Jame O’Keefe’s Project Veritas has released a new expose, this time aimed at Facebook.

Two alleged Facebook whistleblowers provided him with interviews and documents about what they claim is a disturbingly Orwellian program that’s secretly monitoring Facebook users and tracking their comments about the COVID vaccines. They say Facebook is using an algorithm that tracks any comments about vaccinations. Any posts that run counter to the company’s “everyone must get vaccinated” narrative, even if they’re factually accurate, go toward the user’s “VH score” (for “vaccine hesitancy.”)

The whistleblowers claim that based on your secret VH score, “we will demote or leave the comment alone depending on the content within the comment." The idea is to drastically reduce exposure of comments that express reluctance to vaccinate, keeping other users from seeing, liking or reposting them.

Facebook replied that they proactively announced this policy on their company blog, but O’Keefe said the extent of it has largely been kept quiet. The whistleblowers fear this is only the beginning, and that instead of creating an open forum where people can freely discuss personal issues, Facebook wants a community where everyone complies with the approved narrative or you’ll be singled out as an enemy of society.

If that isn’t enough to make you rethink your use of Facebook, try this article from the Federalist. It’s about how Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, with his astonishing $350 million gift to a left-leaning get-out-the-vote organization, is probably the person most responsible for Joe Biden being in the White House right now. You’ll have to read it here because Democrats stopped whining about “billionaires buying elections” the minute they realized that billionaires were buying elections for them.

A Democratic Representative chastising his fellow Democrats for attacking Israel without having a real understanding of the conflict or the region’s history. But kudos to California Rep. Brad Sherman for daring to go there:

One example he cites: some Democrats want to deprive Israel of the technology that allows smart bombs to hit a precise target, which would leave only “dumb bombs” that cause more civilian casualties.

Just curious: When you saw the phrase “dumb bomb” - something dumb that just goes off and doesn’t care what it blows up -- did any of you also think of some of Rep. Sherman’s House colleagues?

The NYT notices

May 25, 2021

Will the miracles never cease today? The New York Times has actually noticed the humanitarian disaster wrought by President Biden’s undoing of Trump’s border security policies. And all that it took was a report that up to 10,000 unaccompanied migrant children, half of them 12 and under, were going to be warehoused at Fort Bliss, which an attorney for the National Center for Youth Law called “a setting that fails to meet rudimentary child welfare standards.”

The backlash forced Biden to cancel the Fort Bliss plan for children of “tender age” (although thousands of teenagers are still there), but it’s not clear what he’s going to do with all the kids that are pouring in. Previous plans included busing them around the country in the middle of the night and cramming them into facilities that liberals called “cages” when Trump was in office, except under much more crowded, unsanitary and dangerous conditions. Reason magazine obtained secret recordings of federal employees at the facilities complaining about the appalling situation there, both for the kids and the workers.

And the problem isn’t likely to end anytime soon: Maria Bartiromo of Fox News reported that between February and April, 453,000 migrants illegally entered the US. Sen. Ron Johnson said more than 6,000 a day are being apprehended, which is three times the number that Obama called a “humanitarian crisis.”

I guess if Biden really got desperate, he could restore the Trump security measures that he kicked down like a drunken mule on day one. But no, that would require admitting that Trump was right about something. Democrat leaders would rather see America go down in flames than ever admit that. Obviously.

Sunday, “60 Minutes” actually bucked the LGBTQ+++ lobby and aired a segment on people who underwent transgender surgery and/or hormone treatments, regretted it and “detransitioned.”

I won’t recount it all in detail because Tyler O’Neil did a fine job of that at the link, and you can see video of the segment there as well. In a nutshell, these people tended to have emotional, medical or psychological issues and were convinced that gender transitioning would cure them.

Some were surprised and disturbed at how easy it was to get doctors to sign off on radical hormone treatments and body-mutilating elective surgery, such as removing a woman’s breasts. If most doctors suggested something half that radical, you’d demand a second opinion; but this field of medicine has been so corrupted by the activist trans agenda that doctors feel too intimidated to object to performing procedures that actually cause harm.

Naturally, “60 Minutes” had to include the requisite knocks on red states that are banning such radical experimental procedures on minors, and other genuflecting to the PC trans dogma. I won’t complain about that because it would be like criticizing a dog’s posture when it walks on its hind legs: the miracle is that the feat was accomplished at all.

But that didn’t prevent GLAAD and other trans groups from blasting "60 Minutes" for covering this story. It’s interesting that they claim they champion rights for trans people because everyone deserves to live their lives honestly and openly, and to be heard and respected. But if you feel that you were misled, harmed and exploited by the steamrolling of the trans agenda onto society, their attitude is “Shut up!!!”

Kudos to “60 Minutes” for actually having the courage to act like real journalists.