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Thursday Fake News

August 6, 2020

A story exploded onto the media Wednesday that for the first time, Facebook and Twitter had banned President Trump from tweeting because of a video clip of him talking about reopening schools in which he said children are “almost immune” to the coronavirus, which the sites branded as “misinformation.”

That was actually due to sloppy reporting by the Washington Post, which confused President Trump’s personal Twitter account with his campaign account, which is where the clip actually was posted.

As to whether either social media platform had any business censoring Trump’s comment, that’s an entirely different and legitimate question. A spokeswoman for Trump’s campaign said the President was merely "stating a fact that children are less susceptible to the coronavirus," and the ban was “another display of Silicon Valley’s flagrant bias against this President, where the rules are only enforced in one direction. Social media companies are not the arbiters of truth.

I just wrote about a study showing the leftwing bias of the “fact-checkers” such sites rely on.

But I’ll toss this in, too: According to the CDC, the number of children in the US under age 15 who have died of COVID-19 is 42 out of 135,579 as of July 25th. That represents 0.03% of all virus deaths, and only 0.3% of all deaths in that age group. Eighty percent of COVID-19 deaths are among the elderly, and people under 45 account for less than 3%. COVID-19 is not even among the 10 leading causes of deaths of children school-age and younger. So while it must be taken very seriously, and obviously, all children are not immune to it, saying they’re “almost immune” doesn’t sound like it’s that far off the mark to me.

Incidentally, those numbers come from a must-read article by Heritage.org with a number of surprising facts and debunked popular claims about COVID-19. For instance, it is not the leading cause of death in America right now, the US does not have the highest COVID-19 death rate in the world, and Florida’s deaths-per-million rate is far from equaling that of New York (by 327 to 1,685.) Listen to the media long enough, and you’ll be like the old Firesign Theater album: “Everything You Know Is Wrong.”

So, if you defund the police, what do you replace them with?

According to a blueprint reportedly backed by a majority of the Seattle City Council, the Police Department “perpetuates racism and violence” and upholds “white supremacy culture,” so they want to replace it with non-profit programs and “community-led activities.” They’re seeking groups that are “well-versed in de-escalation skills and mental health support,” including “trauma-informed, gender-affirming, anti-racist praxis,” and that are “committed to retention of social service workers with adequate and equitable pay and benefits, preferably unionized” and have a “demonstrated commitment to a harm-reduction model, including safer consumption practices.” They'd also better have really excellent medical insurance benefits.

There’s a lot more of this touchy-feely, leftwing fantasyland word salad at the link, but to help the citizens of Seattle, I’ll boil it down to just one word:

“MOVE!”

Many Trump supporters are frustrated that the President seemed unprepared for some of the tough questions about the US coronavirus response in his Axios interview with Jonathan Swan. So he might want to take a cue from Matt Margolis at PJ Media, who has some advice for him on how to explain it in clearer terms.

Margolis points out that in comparing the US negatively to Germany and South Korea in terms of deaths per million, Swan cherry-picked two nations but left out a lot of others. In fact, the US is not #1 in deaths per million, but tenth.

Also, the US isn’t a small, homogenous nation with one all-powerful central government; it’s a collection of 50 states that the federal government can only offer aid and advice to as they make their own local decisions, and with Constitutional rights for individuals that must be accommodated (even if they are trampled in some blue states.) Because of that, many of the COVID-19 deaths have been in a small handful of Northeastern blue states. If you lifted New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and DC out and lumped them together as if they were a nation, they would lead the world in deaths per 100,000, while the entire remaining states together would come in 18th.

Liberal media outlets would like us to believe that Trump is somehow responsible for the bad decisions made by local Democratic officials, like forcing nursing homes to take in COVID-19 patients. Trump didn’t run the New York State or City response to the virus, but he did insure that the predicted deadly shortages of ventilators and hospital rooms (remember that scare story?) never materialized.

If Swan wants to know who was in charge of the response in New York, maybe he should interview New York City’s Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. Wait, I’m sorry: she’s now the former Health Commissioner. She just resigned and blasted Mayor DeBlasio on her way out the door. She wrote, “I leave my post today with deep disappointment that during the most critical public health crisis in our lifetime, that the health department’s incomparable disease control expertise was not used to the degree it could have been.” There had been longstanding conflicts between her and DeBlasio, who said he needs team players: “It had been clear in recent days that it was time for a change. We need an atmosphere of unity. We need an atmosphere of common purpose.” (Can you imagine the media's reaction if Dr. Fauci had resigned and blasted Trump, and he replied that he needed team players?)

Please note that I’m not even going to comment on which side is right here. I may think that DeBlasio has done a terrible job, but that doesn’t mean that he should have done whatever Dr. Barbot said. Way back in April, when there were reports of dust-ups between Trump and Fauci, I said I wouldn’t be surprised, since they both have different jobs. Fauci has only the health issue to deal with, and if he thinks we could prevent even only COVID-19 death by shutting down the economy for two years, he might think it’s worth it. But Trump is more like a general overseeing a battlefield: he has to consider all the ramifications and unintended consequences; he can’t focus solely on one platoon if it’s going to cost him the war in the long run.

We have pandemics all the time (remember swine flu in 2009?), but we can’t shut down the world for a year or more until we develop a vaccine for all of them. Maybe DeBlasio thought he was protecting both New York’s health and its economy. He simply failed on both counts.

Weird Fake News Wednesday

August 5, 2020

Since 2016, there’s been a Twitter account allegedly run by an anonymous Arizona State University anthropology professor who claimed to be gay and Native American and to have fled Alabama because of the South’s “oppression of queer folk.” The widely-cited account promoted leftwing social justice issues. Recently, the writer claimed to have contracted COVID-19 because she’d been forced to come in and teach. She accused ASU of forcing her to continue giving 200-person lectures and to have cut her salary by 15% while she was hospitalized. And then came the announcement that she had died.

It was all very sad and tragic and infuriating…until the announcement came that every word of it was a big, fat lie. ASU has been closed since March and didn’t cut anyone’s salary. Also, the professor never really existed. Tuesday, one of the account’s Twitter contacts, BethAnn McLaughlin, admitted to making up the entire hoax. In a statement through her lawyer, she said, “I take full responsibility for my involvement in creating the @sciencing_bi Twitter account. My actions are inexcusable. I apologize without reservation to all the people I hurt.”

On the plus side, this does impart a very valuable lesson: Twitter is an open fire hydrant of sewage. Be very careful about which Twitter accounts you trust. There’s mine, and…well, after that, you’re on your own.

Susan Rice is the latest to be cited in the media as the current frontrunner to be Joe Biden’s running mate. He has committed to choosing a woman, and he's pretty well obligated to choose a woman of color as well. Naturally, the leftist media are obsessed with who it will be.

Folks, it’s all theatrics. Kamala Harris won't be it; Val Demings won't be it. And neither will Susan Rice, though she does have suitable Obama connections. Precisely none of the women mentioned as candidates for the #2 spot in recent weeks can help Biden win, and, more importantly, given the circumstances, none of them can be envisioned as President of the United States, because we all know that Biden, if he's still even the candidate on Election Day and (shudder) wins, will be replaced practically on the spot. Rice, with her foreign policy credentials, might have a little more gravitas than the others –- it wouldn’t take much to stand out in that crowd –- but she still has way too many problems.

For one thing –- not that it would matter to hard-core Democrat party hacks and rabid anti-Trumpers –- she’s a liar of great repute. By that I don’t mean little lies here and there, tiny fibs that might be rationalized as necessary for national security, but huge politically-charged whoppers told repeatedly on national TV and even under oath. I’m still enough of an optimist to think that this would matter to the independent voters, the folks in the middle, the thoughtful “swing” voters that Biden or any challenger would need to sway.

Of course, we all know that Rice lied her head off about the cause of the 2012 attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in which U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others were killed. She went on five different Sunday shows and told the same fake story about an anti-Islam YouTube video setting off protests that turned violent. Hillary told the same story. We all know it was fabricated to cover up the fact that it was a terrorist attack. American personnel were not given the protection they needed and deserved, help was not provided once the attack was underway, and our people ended up dead. But Rice did her political duty. From then on, we knew what she was made of.

That was just the first. Later on, we found out that Rice had written a curious “note to self” on the very last day of the Obama administration --- just as Trump was being sworn in, in fact. It was a “memo to the file” about the meeting she'd attended (aside: WITH JOE BIDEN) in the Oval Office on January 5, 2017, to say that Obama had told them everything having to do with the “Russia” investigation had to be done “by the book.” I think she mentioned that five times. This is what you call a “CYA” memo. She was “C”-ing Obama’s “A.”

Later, she covered her own “A,” too. She had her lawyer, Kathryn Ruemmler, who also happens to have been PRESIDENT OBAMA’S WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL, write a letter to Sens. Grassley, Graham, Feinstein and Whitehouse, saying, “While serving as National Security Advisor, Ambassador Rice was not briefed on the existence of any FBI investigation into allegations of collusion between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia, and she later learned of the fact of this investigation from Director Comey’s subsequent testimony.”

Oh, really?? Comey didn’t testify until March 20, 2017, but Rice was present at the January 5 Oval Office meeting that dealt with exactly that –- in particular, with the investigation into Michael Flynn.

And it gets worse. She also denied this under oath. On September 8, 2017, she gave sworn testimony to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (then chaired by Republican Devin Nunes) that she knew nothing about the FBI’s “Russia” investigation while she was at the White House. Apparently anticipating some difficult questioning from Republicans, she arrived with two attorneys from Latham & Watkins (Ruemmler’s firm). Ironically, it was a couple of questions from Democrats that tripped her up.

Adam Schiff: “Director Comey testified that, in July of last year [2016], he began a counterintelligence investigation into people associated with the Trump campaign and what contacts they may have had with Russia. That investigative responsibility, wasn’t part of your portfolio, I take it?”

Rice: “No, not at all.”

Schiff: “And would Director Comey brief you on the progress of his investigation?”

Rice: “No. I think it’s important for everybody to understand: We were not informed by Director Comey or the attorney general that there was an active investigation of anybody in the Trump orbit...In the Obama White House, we maintained scrupulously the firewall between the people in the White House and contacts with Justice about potential or actual criminal matters. The only communication that was sanctioned in that vein was between the White House counsel and the Justice Department or the FBI.”

She goes on: “And Director Comey did not volunteer to us, not only then but for the duration of his administration, that there was an active investigation of anybody in the Trump orbit...I learned about it formally in the public domain after I left office.”

And later…

Eric Swalwell: “Is it fair to say that, as the national security adviser, you were not read in on active, ongoing investigations that the Department of Justice or the FBI were conducting?”

Rice: “Absolutely, that’s the case. Those were law enforcement matters...”

EDITORIAL COMMENT: Who is she kidding?

According to the Horowitz report, testimony from Comey differs markedly from that of Rice. Comey said the Obama team knew about the FBI’s investigation in detail, almost from the start. He said Rice was one of the people he had told (along with Obama) about “Crossfire Hurricane” in the summer of 2016. And, of course, her presence at the January 5 meeting shows she had to have been aware of the Michael Flynn case.

So, it appears that Biden’s current frontrunner for the VP slot has lied quite brazenly under oath. She'd had plenty of practice before then, too. Leftists won’t care one bit, but I don’t think swing voters will want to put someone in office who more appropriately belongs in jail. We knew Hillary belonged in jail; notice she didn't win in 2016.

This excellent article from RealClear Investigations details all of Rice's lies.