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South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham appeared on Wednesday’s HANNITY TV show to talk about the Senate Judiciary Committee’s efforts to declassify an approximately 40-page FBI memo critical of the Steele “dossier,” and also to question the lead intel analyst and a case agent who interviewed Steele’s Russian “sub-source” –- actually Steele’s employee –- twice, first in January and later in March of 2017. (The warrant to spy on Carter Page was renewed in April and June of 2017, after the problems with the “dossier” were known. This is documented, and it is a crime.)

Sen. Graham didn’t mention names, and in the IG report the lead analyst is identified only as Supervisory Intelligence Analyst, never by name, but I think Graham must have been talking about this guy.

Yes, I know; the headline alone is a laff riot, if you want to laugh until you cry. Profiled here by Paul Sperry at RealClear Investigations, our “person of interest” is senior FBI analyst Brian J. Auten. He was central to the vetting process for the “dossier” that was used in the FISA application and three renewals to spy on Carter Page, but it’s also true that since 2010, he has taught a class on...wait for it...the ethics of spying at Patrick Henry College. (Motto: “Give me irony, or give me death!” Kidding.)

As Sperry reports, Auten “seems to have violated his own stated “golden rule” for spying, which involves using ‘the least intrusive standard” for surveilling U.S. citizens to avoid harming “a subject’s reputation, dignity and privacy.” Yes, we’ve seen how that standard was respected in the case of Carter Page, who was actually accused of being a Russian agent in order for the FBI to get inside Trump’s 2016 campaign. Page was put through the wringer over that horrific charge, telling RealClear Investigations that based on leaks to the media, people believed he was a “traitor” who conspired with the Kremlin to help Trump. He received death threats. Imagine if that happened to you.

Sperry goes into detail describing Auten’s involvement in downplaying the problems with the “dossier.” It’s a lengthy article, but I encourage you to read it (you won't be tested), just to see how one person in the right place within a bureaucracy can guide a chain of events. It's also quite interesting to see how a so-called “ethicist” can so skillfully rationalize his own lack of ethics.

Sperry reports that Auten’s name is indeed on a list of witnesses Sen. Graham intends to call now that he has received subpoena power for the Judiciary Committee, and also that Graham says they’ll be focusing on the investigators.

Incidentally, last December, FBI Director Christopher Wray wrote Inspector General Michael Horowitz to tell him he’d put every employee involved in the 2016-2017 FISA application process through “additional training in ethics” with “an emphasis on privacy and civil liberties.”

Don't know about you, but I feel so much better now. Hey, wouldn’t it be hilarious if we found out Brian J. Auten taught the class? No, really, I wonder if he did.

With all the political and racial unrest going on in the country right now, there’s a very different --- and extremely welcome (to me) --- kind of unrest going on at the same time. It’s happening in the media, as “cancel culture” starts to eat its own.

Yesterday, we brought you the story of Bari Weiss, a self-described “centrist” journalist who very publicly left her job as a writer and editor at THE NEW YORK TIMES after finding out what it was like there to try to express an individual, intellectually curious, non-sanctioned thought or even to report a story that didn't advance a leftist, anti-Trump agenda. In case you didn’t see her open resignation letter, here it is at her website. There is still smoke coming off of it.

Weiss justifiably slams media people, particularly at the NYT, for their sense of self-importance. “A new consensus has emerged in the press,” she writes, but perhaps especially at this paper that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else.”

Seems to me that it should have been enough that Weiss was upset at Donald Trump’s victory and even cried at her desk when he won. But, no, that wasn’t nearly enough. In fact, they were all too busy sobbing at their own desks to notice her dismay. She soon found out that in the new Era of Trump, all so-called “journalists” were required from that day forward to have a single-minded focus on destroying...HIM.

(By the way, I thought it was interesting that Weiss’s colleagues called her a “Nazi” while also complaining that she was "writing about Jews again.” Just wondering: if they’re complaining about her writing about Jews, just who are the Nazis here? Do these so-called professional journalists even know what a Nazi is? But I digress.)

Brian Kilmeade, subbing for Tucker Carlson on his Tuesday evening show, played a clip of Ms. Weiss from “The Joe Rogan Experience,” talking about what happened. She makes a very interesting point about “cancel culture”: “The people who are inoculated from it [the ostracism, firings, etc.] are people that are already extremely successful and can take the risk. It’s why Ricky Gervais can be Ricky Gervais; it’s why J. K. Rowling can tweet what she tweeted a few months ago and survive it, because they’ve already accumulated enough capital. The people that I hear from that are completely screwed by it are people like artists and poets and untenured professors are aren’t famous and no one knows about, and are, you know, having to go with a begging bowl..to get support after they’ve, you know, made a bad joke, or whatever it is.”

Weiss apparently hadn’t reached the point in her career at which she could get away with expressing her own thoughts. Thank goodness actor/comedian Ricky Gervais had attained that level by the time Hollywood “cancel culture” inspired him to ridicule it, which he has done mercilessly. And he hasn’t let up. (My theory: he knows what he says is really what most people think.)

Kilmeade pointed out that another NYT editor, Liz Spayd, sounded very much like Weiss in an interview with Carlson back in December of 2016 (right after Trump was elected). Spayd lost her job (surprise!) shortly after doing that interview. “I consider it almost an unrecognized point of view,” she said, “that The Times has that comes from being in New York, being in that, you know, in a certain circle, and seeing the world a certain way, not being in touch with people who don’t live like them or don’t live in cities and who are the ones who elected Donald Trump to the presidency. They’re just out of touch with that.”

I’ll say it again: they should have just read my 2016 book GOD, GUNS, GRITS, & GRAVY.

Journalists who try to challenge their more radical, “woke” colleagues at The Times to look outside their safe little thought-bubble tend not to last long there. It’s a hostile work environment, to say the least. Weiss believes there are many in the same position she was in; they just do what they know is expected of them and don’t speak up. I would imagine that even some of the editors directing and correcting their underlings are doing it out of fear of “cancel culture,” protecting their own job security.

But now Andrew Sullivan has left his job at THE NEW YORKER. Sullivan is someone who does have quite a big name. He says the underlying reasons for his exit are “pretty self-evident” and that he’ll address them in his last column on Friday. Sullivan also has backed Weiss, saying, “The mob bullied and harrassed a young woman for thoughtcrimes. And her editors stood by and watched.”

Someone else has resigned, not from the media but from another influential post in popular culture: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art senior curator of painting and sculpture Gary Garrels. As reported by Robby Soave at REASON magazine, he was accused of “toxic white supremacist beliefs” in a petition from museum employees for daring to say he would still accept works of art from white men. I am not kidding –- that is ALL he said. I wish Garrels, after 20 years with the museum, had put up more of a fight against such a ludicrous accusation, but at least this puts into focus how a small minority of crazies are trying to run the show. More sane people will become fed up with this type of radical orthodoxy, and more WILL fight back.

Finally, today's look at what’s happening with media wouldn’t be complete without examining how it’s blurring the lines between news and outright campaign advocacy. CourierNewsroom.com, known as “Courier,” was created and funded by the Democrat-aligned digital organization Acronym. It is absolutely political, but because it’s organized as a media outlet, it doesn’t have to disclose its donors or the total dollars it spends promoting Democrat politicians. (In that way, it’s a lot like Black Lives Matter not having to report its source of funding.)

According to this story in POLITICO, “Experts in media ethics and misinformation worry that the advocacy-cloaked-in-journalism tactic is pouring gasoline on a raging fire of consumer misinformation and online disinformation." Yes, there is that, but I also agree with those who say that this trend will further undermine the public’s trust in news, which has already fallen to about as low as it can go. It gets harder all the time just to find accurate information on a candidate or an issue, even as partisan “fact-checkers” abound. That’s why we’re trying so hard here to sort it all out and be a valued and trusted source.

Vote by mail

July 15, 2020

Republicans warn that voting by mail would be a recipe for massive vote fraud (it would.) But that’s only part of the problem. It would also mean trusting the integrity of our elections to the US Post Office. Nothing against the hard-working men and women of the postal service, but there’s a reason why there so many jokes about things being lost in the mail.

Here’s a round up of the latest vote-by-mail stories. For instance, in Wisconsin, it was an absolute disaster, with ballots never getting to voters, arriving at the wrong destinations or getting back too late to be counted. The primary was April 7th, and they’re still not sure who the valid winners were…

California election officials have rejected over 100,000 mail-in ballots from their recent primary, due to mistakes…

And in West Virginia, a mail carrier pleaded guilty to changing the party affiliation on some mail-in ballots. He claimed he did it as “a joke.”

If all this doesn’t convince Democrats to abandon the idea of voting by mail, maybe this will:

The mail carrier in West Virginia changed the party affiliation on those ballots from Democrat to Republican. Maybe that will actually make Democrats care about stopping vote fraud.

I noted recently that former employees of CNN are speaking out about how biased and unprofessional that network has become in its TDS-induced hysteria. Now, do I sense a trend?

Bari Weiss is a centrist writer/editor who was hired by the New York Times after the 2016 election shocked them into realizing they were out of touch with the American people (they could have known that sooner if they’d read my book, “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy.”) But instead of listening to her, they’ve allowed young, ultra-woke staffers to target and slander her, as they do anyone who makes them feel “unsafe” by voicing a non-far-left opinion. She finally had enough, and she not only quit the Times, she released her resignation letter, and it’s a must-read.

In it, she torches the Times as only an insider can, blasting the publisher and editors for their cowardly surrender to intolerant leftist groupthink. She says that stories are chosen and written to appeal to the narrowest of audiences. Instead of writing “the first draft of history,” even history itself must be molded to fit the preconceived narrative. She’s been subjected to a hostile work environment where suggesting any story that doesn’t advance the “progressive” narrative leads to attacks on social media and claims that she’s a racist, a Nazi and “writing about the Jews again.” No action is ever taken against the attackers, only the victims. She says Twitter has become the Times’ ultimate editor, and rules are applied extremely subjectively: those who hold to the leftist orthodoxy go unscrutinized while anyone who varies from it lives in fear of the “digital Thunderdome” and “online venom is excused so long as it is directed at the proper targets.”

Her advice to anyone going into journalism today (aside from “don’t”):

“Rule One: Speak your mind at your own peril. Rule Two: Never risk commissioning a story that goes against the narrative. Rule Three: Never believe an editor or publisher who urges you to go against the grain. Eventually, the publisher will cave to the mob, the editor will get fired or reassigned, and you’ll be hung out to dry.”

I repeat, this is a must-read. Whatever suspicions you’ve had about the cowardly, biased tunnel-vision of the New York Times, the death of journalism in general, or how the adults must be totally cowed by the red diaper babies on their staffs, this confirms it all and more.

If you’d like more background on Ms. Weiss and some of her previous reasonable criticisms of the Times that earned her the hatred and scorn of the woke brigade, Instapundit has a good round-up. It includes a headline from the satirical site, The Babylon Bee, that contains more blunt truth than you'll find in a month's worth of the New York Times.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s latest upchuck of cockamamie condescension was her claim that Republicans don’t understand what it’s like to live in poor neighborhoods (yeah, none of us grew up poor!) and that crime is up in New York City because unemployed people need to shoplift a loaf of bread to feed their families (and apparently, loot a TV from Target, then shoot a few people on their way home.) She smugly said she had to “connect the dots” for us, proving that even connecting dots is beyond her capabilities.

For the record, the crime that’s up in New York City is violent crime. Shootings are up by 130% from just one year ago. This is not a result of poverty but of the idiotic policies of Mayor Bill DeBlasio, who has systematically destroyed the great city that Rudy Giuliani rescued from the failed leftist policies of DeBlasio’s mentor, David Dinkins. DeBlasio has dismantled all the effective policing that made the city safe again, demoralized the police, emboldened lawbreakers to ignore the law and attack police, encouraged rioters, and sparked a 400% spike in applications for retirements among NYPD officers. In this regard, he’s turning the Big Apple into yet another Democrat-run war zone, like Chicago. Except Chicago’s last Republican mayor left office in 1931. It’s taken DeBlasio only one-and-a-half terms to cause similar damage.

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That spike in violent crime includes senseless shootings of innocent people, many of them black. The latest heartbreaking murder came Sunday night when two gunmen opened fire on a group having a cookout in a park. They injured three men and killed Davell Gardner – a one-year-old child who was sitting in his stroller when a bullet struck him in the abdomen. In that same weekend, 35 people were shot in 28 incidents, including other young boys of 12 and 15.

DeBlasio’s response to this has been to cut $1.5 billion from the police budget while taunting the President by painting a “Black Lives Matter” mural across from Trump Tower (a divisive political statement at taxpayer expense during a financial crisis.) If black lives really mattered to DeBlasio, he’d do something to stop so many of them from being violently ended, like that of Davell Gardner. If we are all to know George Floyd’s name, then we should definitely know his, too.

As for AOC’s ludicrous assertions, Kim Hirsch at the Victory Girls blog notes that a 2014 study by the University of North Dakota found that poverty does not have a significant effect on violent crime in the US. But as Ms. Hirsch notes, crime has an effect on poverty, driving businesses out of high crime neighborhoods and depriving residents of jobs.

On a lighter note, Ms. Hirsch also points out that the dose of “reality” that AOC thinks she’s giving all us Republicans who don’t know what it’s like to be poor was actually cribbed from watching “Breaking Bad” on TV. She even missed the point of that show (nobody in it turned to crime to buy food, and far from glamorizing crime, everyone either died or had their lives destroyed.) I’d also like to suggest that she got the idea of criminals being guilty only of stealing a loaf of bread from the Broadway musical of “Les Miserables.” The only connection between that and real life in New York City today is that nobody is less miserable since Bill DeBlasio became mayor.

For all the people jumping up and down and screaming about President Trump withdrawing from the World Health Organization, here’s a big, cold bucket of reality about why.

Dr. Li-Meng Yan, formerly a specialist in virology and immunology at the Hong Kong School of Public Health, is now in hiding in the US and in fear for her life because she says she knew the minute she told the truth about COVID-19 and China, she would be “disappeared and killed,” so she had to go to the US to speak out.

The truth is that the Chinese government knew early on that the virus was deadly and was transferred human-to-human, and they kept it a secret while the WHO downplayed the danger. They refused to let outside health experts in and warned doctors to keep silent. They could have prevented the spread of the pandemic if they’d done certain things and sounded an alarm, but they didn’t because of “the corruption among this kind of international organization like the W-H-O to China government, and to China Communist Party government.”

Read the full thing. It’s good info to have in your pocket the next time someone blames President Trump for every coronavirus death and claims we need to replace him with Joe “China’s no threat” Biden.

Speaking of Biden and his claim that he would’ve handled the pandemic so much better than Trump, take a look at this chart comparing the caseload for the COVID-19 (Chinese) coronavirus to the H1N1 (swine flu) that struck under Obama-Biden in 2009.

They promised to have 160 million vaccine doses by late October but produced only 30 million, too late to do most Americans any good. While Democrats blame Trump for over 3 million Americans being infected with COVID-19, nearly 61 million were infected with H1N1. As Biden’s then-chief of staff and current campaign health adviser Ron Klain noted, it was only due to luck that swine flu wasn’t more lethal and wasn’t “one of the great mass casualty events in American history.”

So if you’d like to bet your life on sheer dumb luck, vote for Biden! Say, that would make a perfect campaign slogan for him.