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"Fact-Checkers"

August 7, 2020

If you’ve read my newsletter for a while, you won’t be surprised that I put the term “fact-checkers” in quotes. That’s because many “fact-checkers” these days don’t check facts so much as reinforce leftist opinions by citing biased sources to brand anyone who disagrees with them as being misinformed or a liar. We know this because what we do is check actual facts. For instance, if a story claims that a prominent person said something outrageous, we track down the original quote in context, in its entirety. Sometimes, that means we correct or don’t use a story from a conservative news source. But most often, it means we correct a liberal news source. Or sometimes, a so-called “fact-checker.”

The bias of “fact-checkers” is something that many conservatives have come to hold as conventional wisdom, but now, Sharyl Attkisson of Real Clear Investigations has taken a deep dive into their backgrounds and dug up solid evidence that all those assurances of non-partisan objectivity are anything but factual.

The study confirmed that media “fact-checkers” (surprise!) lean left. The claim of objective fact-checking is largely “illusory” and amounts to a “circular feedback loop of verification” in which “like-minded journalists or often Silicon Valley gatekeepers” rely on a small group of partisan news sources and political activists to control narratives and shape and censor information. One obvious example: for monitoring media bias, the far-left activist group Media Matters is treated as a trustworthy, reliable source for “fact-checkers” such as NewsGuard, while the conservative Media Research Center is ignored.

Facebook uses the World Health Organization as a source to fight “disinformation” about the coronavirus, even though we know the WHO has engaged in multiple incidents of spreading misinformation itself. Facebook also claims that members of its new oversight board “were chosen for their expertise and diversity” and “must not have actual or perceived conflicts of interest that could compromise their independent judgment and decision-making.” Yet 18 of the 20 have ties to George Soros’ far-left Open Society Foundations, while none have taken conservative stances on any controversial issue.

Google’s “fact-checking” group First Draft was not only started by the extremely liberal parent company, but it’s also supported by liberal nonprofits, including the Soros groups, and it routinely cites biased news sources to discredit non-leftist views. Its digital director frequently tweets and retweets “anti-American rhetoric and progressive positions.” First Draft even referred readers to an article that pushed the false claim that President Trump encouraged people literally to drink bleach.

This study simply confirms what anyone who’s been paying attention already knows: a great deal of today’s so-called “fact-checking” is just leftist advocacy in camouflage. This is why we have to spend so much time here fact-checking the “fact-checkers.”

You remember back in 2016, when Hillary Clinton thought she was a shoo-in for President, and Trump might question the validity of her win, and she expressed shock, outrage and horror that anyone would be so selfish and unpatriotic as to refuse to accept the results of a US Presidential election…then she lost, and she’s spent the past three years doing precisely that, along with millions of her fellow “Resistance” sore losers.

Now, it’s déjà vu all over again as the same never-Trumpers who’ve spent every moment since 2016 refusing to accept that Hillary lost are floating nightmare conspiracy theories that Trump might refuse to accept that he lost to Biden and leave the White House (to be fair, there were also some crackpot theories on the right that Obama would refuse to leave the White House.)

This kind of paranoia and refusal to accept the peaceful transfer of power and the verdict of the people in elections is something new and extremely destructive in the history of the United States. It’s a large part of what’s led us to a period that may be the most divisive since the Civil War. And there’s growing concern that if Trump is reelected, it will actually get even worse (like Portland everywhere.)

To test that, a bi-partisan anti-Trump organization called the Transition Integrity Project (Ha!) secretly gathered 100 "former high-ranking government officials, senior political campaigners, nationally prominent journalists and communications professionals, social movement leaders, and experts on politics, national security, democratic reform, election law, and media." Together, they war-gamed various election scenarios to try to figure out what the reactions would be.

These scenarios ranged from Biden winning the popular vote and losing the Electoral College to a narrow Trump win but with claims of some Biden ballots being destroyed. In the end, there was only one scenario in which a candidate won a clear victory and the losing side refused to accept it, and that loser was Biden.

The moral I draw from this (aside from "be VERY prepared") is that Trump’s victory needs to be so overwhelming in both the popular vote and the Electoral College that there can be no disputing it. That won’t stop the left from disputing it anyway, because they may not believe in God, but they think they have a Divine right to rule us. It will, however, send them a signal that they’re outnumbered so maybe they'll finally develop a little introspection and realize it’s time to grow up, end their three-year-plus tantrum and start thinking about why so many people think they shouldn’t be within 100 miles of the levers of power.

Nah, that'll never happen! But at least they can comfort themselves that Trump won't run for a third term.

Or maybe he WILL!...

Most reporters covering the White House have a severe illness --- not COVID-19, but Trump Derangement Syndrome, or TDS. The main symptom of TDS, at least as it manifests itself at Trump’s press briefings, is the inability to resist the urge to correct him with fake information, typically DNC talking points.

On Wednesday, during President Trump’s press briefing, it happened again. Someone tried to correct the President as he was answering a question on mail-in balloting. The reporter chimed in, “There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud.” The President, knowing a Democrat talking point when he hears one, called her out on that, saying, “Oh, really? Well, then, you’re reading a different newspaper than me.” Gotta love it.

Let’s try THE NEW YORK TIMES. Thanks to Dan Bongino for calling attention to this piece from the NYT from just a month before the 2012 election –- significantly, long before Trump called attention to the problem –- called “Error and Fraud at Issue as Absentee Voting Rises.” Note that this article was talking mostly about absentee voting, which still has more controls than widespread mail-in voting.

Using a primary election as an example, this piece illustrated how easy it is to make a ballot NOT COUNT, just by comparing signatures and deciding the “r’s” don’t match. Lather, rinse, repeat, for as many times as you need votes.

At the time this article was written in late 2012, the use of absentee ballots and other forms of mail-in balloting had tripled since 1980 and accounted for almost 20 percent of all voting.

According to the NYT story, statistics showed that votes cast by mail were less likely to be counted, more likely to be compromised and more likely to be contested than those cast in a voting booth. Twice more mail-in votes were rejected than in-person votes.

There’s something called the “margin of litigation” that allows election lawyers to challenge results with the possibility of changing the outcome. We’ve seen that if election results fall within that margin, there absolutely will be a challenge. If you recall the Florida results after the Bush-Gore election, you know what a ridiculous mess it turned into, with election judges trying to second-guess and accept or reject ballots on the basis of how their chads were hanging. Anyone who thinks wishful thinking and subjective analysis didn’t enter into that judgment is living in a fantasy world. That counts as fraud in my book.

Keep in mind, this was in THE NEW YORK TIMES: “Voting by mail is now common enough and problematic enough that election experts say there have been multiple elections in which no one can say with confidence which candidate was the deserved winner.”

The NYT even cited as an example the 2008 election that made Al Franken a U.S. Senator from Minnesota. (Recall that his win was what ended up giving Obamacare the Senate vote. Elections mean things.) Franken won by a mere 312 votes after 12,000 absentee ballots (about 4 percent of those) had been rejected.

In general, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to vote absentee; ironically, this might help explain the NYT’s willingness to criticize it. (To be fair, it might also have something to do with the push by Republicans in the past for absentee voting.) But widespread voting-by-mail has much less oversight than the process that is normally gone through to vote absentee. Some states are just wildly sending out mail-in ballots. Again this is from THE NEW YORK TIMES: “There is general consensus that voting by mail, whatever its impact, is more easily abused than other forms.”

Absentee voting was not meant to be the main way to vote. It’s for people who know they’re going to be away or otherwise unable to come in and vote on Election Day. In a normal election year, early in-person voting accommodates many of those people, and absentee voting takes care of the rest. I don’t think most people have thought seriously about what it would be like if virtually EVERYONE voted by mail. I agree with Bongino that it would be “an apocalyptic disaster.” (I haven’t even mentioned that the American Postal Workers Union has endorsed Biden. That in itself justifies a lack of confidence in the mail-in process.)

Even with the number of people who would normally vote absentee, the idea that “every vote counts” is naive. The only way we can counteract this problem is with a LANDSLIDE victory for President Trump and Republicans down the line.

I've previously linked to the Heritage Foundation’s Election Fraud Database of proven examples of voter fraud from across the country, and in case you didn’t see it or would like to review it in this context, here it is again.

Voter fraud is hard to prove –- better to head it off than try to do something about it afterwards. Though this accounting is not all-inclusive and is limited to proven, not just suspected, cases, it gives an idea of the scope of the problem. In their words, “preventing, deterring and prosecuting election fraud is essential to protecting the integrity of our voting process. Reforms intended to ensure such integrity do not disenfranchise voters and, in fact, protect their right to vote.”

Bongino also had a story from the NEW YORK POST from just two days ago (August 4), with the headline “25 percent of ballots in Brooklyn June primaries invalid.” They’re trying to deal with the mess; here’s an updated story from later that day.

Election Day has always been a day for Americans to celebrate. There’s a certain ritual involved in going to the polls THAT DAY and exercising our right. Even early voting diminishes that a little, I think, and it also encourages people to vote without knowing as much about the candidates as they might if they had waited. Then there's absentee voting, an alternative when one simply cannot go to the polls. (This year, that would include the elderly and others at high risk.) But large-scale mail-in voting is an unnecessary invitation to fraud and must not happen.

Think of the generations of Americans who have risked their lives –- given their lives –- to preserve our precious freedom and our right to vote. In light of that, the VERY LEAST that freedom-loving Americans can do is put on a doggone mask, go to the polls, keep the proper distance, and VOTE, for crying out loud. They’ll have hand sanitizer there, promise.

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!”

Gregg Jarrett has an excellent write-up of former deputy Attorney General Sally Yates’ testimony on Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. It’s a must-read.

To put it mildly, Jarrett was not impressed with this Obama holdover at the DOJ. “Like Comey,” he said, “Yates was a model of prevarication and insincerity...She minimized her own negligence and incompetence while blaming everyone else.”

Her strategy was so transparent that it even amused at times. She threw James Comey under the bus (which does seem like a pretty appropriate place for him, but still), and she cast herself as a Pollyanna who just didn’t know about the problems with the so-called evidence in the “Russia” case. Give me a break.

In “Yates World,” George Papadopoulos really is “connected to Russian intelligence”; the wiretapping of Page wasn’t surveillance of the Trump campaign because Page was a FORMER campaign associate; and Michael Flynn was not truthful with FBI agents Strzok and Pientka. Also, there was no bias on the part of FBI agents. None of this is true. Is Yates the Queen of Denial, or is she concocting an insanity defense in the event she is charged?

Consequences Are Back

August 6, 2020

All the underemployed liberal arts majors who wanted to play “social justice warrior” might start rethinking that decision after hearing this news: The FBI has opened more than 300 domestic terrorist investigations since the rioting began following George Floyd’s death. That doesn’t include investigations of violent crime and civil rights violations. Consequences are back.

That news was revealed Tuesday during the opening of a Senate hearing titled, "The Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble: Protecting Speech by Stopping Anarchist Violence.” It’s chaired by Sen. Ted Cruz, who said these violent rioters’ actions "are profoundly racist. The rioters...destroy minority communities, minority businesses and minority lives across this country. This shouldn't be complicated: peaceful protests must be protected. Riots must be stopped."

Cruz kicked off the hearings with some shocking video of what’s been allowed to rage on over the past couple of months in major American cities. You can see it here, if you dare:

Democratic Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono declared that the hearings should be called, "The right of the people peaceably to assemble without being beaten up by unidentifiable federal agents." That’s repeating a piece of fake news that the federal agents sent to Portland were not identified. In fact, they had their agency and number on their uniforms, they just didn’t have their names because those “peaceful protesters” were hunting down their families online and threatening them.

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley also claimed that protesters in Portland were “holding flowers, dancing, chanting" and calling for equal justice when federal agents emerged and attacked them with “military-grade tear gas" and other tools. Sen. Merkley has a bright future as a screenwriter if they ever reboot the “Billy Jack” franchise, but that doesn’t sound like the video we’ve seen actually coming out of Portland. As Sen. Lindsay Graham pointed out, if the feds hadn’t intervened, those peaceful flower children would have burned down the federal courthouse.

Throughout the hearing, Democrats attempted to blame the violence on overreaction by law enforcement and white nationalist groups posing as far-left radicals. The hearing ended with some political theater as Hirono dramatically walked out, accusing Cruz of refusing to listen and saying, “How many times have I had to say that we all should be denouncing violent extremists of every stripe?”

Cruz asked if that included Antifa. After she stormed out, he noted that “throughout her remarks she still did not say a negative word about Antifa nor has any Democrat here." I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for that.

Tuesday's Elections

August 6, 2020

Tuesday, primary elections were held in Kansas, Missouri, Michigan, Arizona and Washington. Among the most important results: in Kansas, moderate Rep. Roger Marshall defeated Secretary of State Kris Kobach for the GOP nomination for the Senate seat being vacated by Pat Roberts. Marshall had heavy backing from the Party establishment who feared that Kobach was too conservative to hold the seat, after he lost the Governor’s race in 2018.

In Missouri, in a stunning upset, Cori Bush defeated longtime Rep. William Lacy Clay in the Democratic primary in the Ferguson area. Bush is a formerly homeless nurse with no elective experience who is mostly known as a protest leader and fervent supporter of Black Lives Matter and Bernie Sanders. She was the first candidate backed by the far-left group Justice Democrats that got AOC into Congress. Her supporters declared that with her primary win, which makes her a virtual shoo-in in that heavily Democrat district, “The Squad” is now growing, which is very bad news for America.

Speaking of “The Squad,” Squad member and notorious anti-Semite Rashida Tlaib is comfortably ahead of her establishment challenger Brenda Jones, but the vote count is expected to go on until late Wednesday.

And speaking of very bad decisions by the voters, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, most recently known for immediately releasing rioters while prosecuting people who exercise their Second Amendment right to protect themselves (even if it means tampering with evidence) easily defeated her primary challenger. I guess St. Louis voters enjoy lawlessness and going unprotected from criminals because quite a few of them just voted for a lot more of it.