Archive for Tom Blumer

Obama-Era's Operation Choke Point Ends; Press Virtually Ignored It for Four Years

Operation Choke Point, one of the more disgraceful episodes in U.S. law enforcement and regulatory history, officially ended last week. Naturally, since it was entirely a stultifying enterprise of the Obama administration, the establishment press, as it almost universally has since its inception in 2013, has ignored its demise.

It took a year for the program to even gain an iota of the attention it deserved. A 2014 slideshow still available at the American Banker website explains how the government deceptively announced the operation's intention a year earlier:

OperationChokePointAnnouncement2013

Well, gosh, who can be against going after "online scammers" and accounts with "red flags indicative of fraud?"

Nobody, except that despite what Bresnick said, that isn't what Operation Choke Point was about.

Next, the Obama administration's Justice Department headed by Attorney General Eric Holder "sent more than 50 subpoenas to banks and payment processing firms."

Then the pile-on began. The State of New York "instructed 117 banks, including the nation's four largest, to develop safeguards aimed at preventing unlicensed online lenders from accessing the payments system." Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation also stepped up it's reviews of banks' relationships online lenders other businesses that might pose type risks for banks."

No matter what one thinks of the online lending business, the fact is that it's legal, and if State and federal legislators wanted to do something about it, they could. But they hadn't. So DOJ and bank regulators were attempting to short-circuit the democratic process by deciding who should and shouldn't be in business. DOJ and bank regulators pushed from major fines and settlements from certain banks, and got them in some instances.

But there was far more at stake here than the online lending industry. It turns out that Operation Choke Point, as explained at CryptocoinsNews.com, which still has working links to FDIC documents and a related contemporaneous article at The Hill, was interested in putting the financial system access squeeze on a total of 30 mostly legal types of businesses:

Ammunition Sales
Cable Box De-scramblers
Coin Dealers
Credit Card Schemes

Credit Repair Services
Dating Services
Debt Consolidation Scams
Drug Paraphernalia

Escort Services
Firearms Sales
Fireworks Sales
Get Rich Products

Government Grants
Home-Based Charities
Life-Time Guarantees
Life-Time Memberships

Lottery Sales
Mailing Lists/Personal Info
Money Transfer Networks
On-line Gambling

PayDay Loans
Pharmaceutical Sales
Ponzi Schemes
Pornography

Pyramid-Type Sales
Racist Materials
Surveillance Equipment
Telemarketing

Tobacco Sales
Travel Clubs

If DOJ and bank regulators had a problem with the existence of these businesses, they could have gone to Congress and had them legislated out of existence, or asked for more money to go after the businesses listed above which are truly illegal. But the Obama administration was really never interested in passing laws when it thought it could otherwise impose its will (see: Immigration, Iran nuclear "deal," unilateral changes to rules and deadlines contained in ObamaCare, etc., etc.).

So it thought it could intimidate the banking system into forcing these "objectionable" industries out of existence. Unsurprisingly, give the administration's attitude towards the Second Amendment, based on several experiences reported at the time, firearms dealers and sellers of ammunition received a disproportionate share of disruptions and terminations of their banking relationships.

On Friday, the federal government at the Washington Examiner (official correspondence is also at the link), the government put an end to this tyrannical nonsense. Sadly, reporter Joseph Lawler's partisan interpretation of who was and wasn't in support of the operation is from all appearances accurate:

Trump ends Obama's Operation Choke Point

The Trump administration has ended Operation Choke Point, the anti-fraud initiative started under the Obama administration that many Republicans argued was used to target gun retailers and other businesses that Democrats found objectionable.

Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd told GOP representatives in a Wednesday letter that the long-running program had ended, bringing a conclusion to a chapter in the Obama years that long provoked and angered conservatives who saw Choke Point as an extra-legal crackdown on politically disfavored groups.

"All of the department's bank investigations conducted as part of Operation Chokepoint are now over, the initiative is no longer in effect, and it will not be undertaken again," Boyd wrote in the letter.

The letter was addressed to Jeb Hensarling and Bob Goodlatte, the chairmen of the Financial Services and Judiciary Committees, respectively. Their staffs confirmed they received the letter.

The Republicans had written last week to Attorney General Jeff Sessions for confirmation that the program was over so that businesses that might be targeted could breathe easy.

Obviously, those who say it doesn't matter who is charge of the Executive Branch in Washington are quite wrong in this instance.

As I wrote three years ago:

... the press has virtually ignored the ongoing ugliness of Operation Choke Point for over a year. Recent coverage at the Hill, a Washington Post blog, and the Wall Street Journal are all nice. But this is the type of operation which I believe the vast majority of Americans would find appalling — and I daresay that's why the establishment press's key gatekeepers are ignoring it.

They ignored it then, and they're ignoring its termination now. Heaven forbid the Obama administration be factually and accurately portrayed as the unilateral law enforcers willing to abuse the law enforcement and regulatory state to accomplish its goals.

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Searches at the Associated Press's main national site, its APnews.com site, and at the New York Times on "choke point" (not in quotes) returned no current stories on the program's official termination. Just to be sure, nothing relevant came back in searches eliminating the space between "choke" and "point."

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

AP Coverage of Spain Attacks Avoids Saying Why Its Terror Respite Has Ended

In what has to be seen as a bit of a welcome change from the norm, Friday morning coverage at the Associated Press of the Thursday terror attacks in Spain which, as of the time this post was written, had killed a total 14 and injured 125, many seriously, hasn't gone wobbly or weaselly.

That said, there's one connection the AP and others in the press haven't made. Someone needs to.

As noted, the wire service report authored by three reporters with the help of two others has for the moment abandoned its reluctance to use the T-word (terrorism) and even the I-word (Islamic). One could argue that it's because the terrorist conspiracy is so obvious, but that hasn't stopped the AP and others from holding back in the past (bolds are mine throughout this post):

POLICE: ATTACKS IN SPAIN ARE LINKED, TOOK LONG TIME TO PLAN

The back-to-back vehicle attacks in Barcelona and a nearby resort had been planned for a long time by an Islamic terrorist cell - and could have been far deadlier had its base not been destroyed by an apparently accidental explosion this week, Spanish officials said Friday.

Police intensified their manhunt for an unknown number of suspects still on the loose Friday. They shot and killed five people early Friday who were wearing fake bomb belts as they attacked the seaside resort of Cambrils with a speeding car. Police also arrested four others believed linked to the Cambrils attack and the carnage Thursday on a famous Barcelona promenade.

The number of victims stood at 13 dead and 120 wounded in Barcelona, and one dead and five wounded in Cambrils. Sixty-one people wounded by the van in Barcelona remained hospitalized on Friday, with 17 of them in critical condition.

Authorities said the two attacks were related and the work of a large terrorist cell that had been plotting attacks for a long time from a house in Alcanar, 200 kilometers (124 miles) down the coast from Barcelona. The house was destroyed by an explosion of butane gas on Wednesday night that killed one person.

Senior police official Josep Lluis Trapero said police were working on the theory that the suspects were preparing a different type of attack, using explosives or gas, and that the apparently accidental explosion prevented them from carrying out a far more deadly rampage.

The Islamic State group quickly claimed responsibility for Europe's latest bout of extremist violence ...

Well, using the word "extremist" was pretty weak. But we'll accept it, given the rest of the opening paragraphs' contents.

So the AP's reporting was fine, up to a point. But a very important omission came later. Perhaps the reporters involved are too young to remember, but the AP's senior editors, who surely watched over the wire service's story preparation in this instance, should have known better:

... the dual attacks unnerved a country that hasn't seen an Islamic extremist attack since 2004, when al-Qaida-inspired bombers killed 192 people in coordinated assaults on Madrid's commuter trains. Unlike France, Britain, Sweden and Germany, Spain has largely been spared, thanks in part to a crackdown that has netted some 200 suspected jihadis in recent years.

Yes, Spain has indeed been largely spared until now. But why?

Here's why: The 2004 Madrid attacks intimidated the country's voters into bending to Al-Qaida's will in elections several days later, as James Phillips at the Heritage Foundation noted on March 16 of that year, five days after those March 11 attacks.

The attacks were designed to influence that election result — and they succeeded:

Spain's Retreat After The Madrid Bombings Rewards Terrorism

... it is clear that the bombings contributed greatly to the Socialist Party's surprise victory at the polls three days later and the election of a new Prime Minister, Socialist Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. Already, Zapatero has promised to withdraw Spanish troops from duty in Iraq. This is, unfortunately, a political triumph for radical Islamic terrorism and may well embolden Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups to strike similarly in the future.

... The Politics of Capitulation

The bombings have had a major political impact, propelling the opposition Socialist Party to an upset victory over the conservative government of Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, a staunch U.S. ally, in the general elections held three days later. As a result of the bombings, Aznar's government, which initially sought to lay the blame on Basque separatists who have conducted a terrorist campaign against the Spanish government for more than 20 years, was swept out of office by a voter backlash.

The newly elected Spanish Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, already has pledged to withdraw Spain's 1,300 troops from Iraq. Such a withdrawal would weaken the coalition's effort to build a stable democracy in Iraq and make Iraq a safer place for Al Qaeda terrorists to operate. This decision has made the Iraqi people the biggest losers in the Spanish elections and Osama bin Laden the biggest winner.

This Spanish retreat will be perceived as a huge political triumph for Al Qaeda and like-minded Islamic radicals -- probably their most important achievement since September 11, 2001. Zapatero's act of appeasement has handed Osama bin Laden a major victory. This will only encourage further attacks, from Al Qaeda or from other terrorist groups emboldened by the successful operation in Spain, targeting other members of the coalition involved in liberating Iraq from Saddam's brutal regime. Spain's cave-in on Iraq after the bombing will particularly heighten the threat of copycat attacks on other countries ...

Thus, after the Madrid attacks, Spanish voters bought temporary peace through appeasement, and hoped against hope that they'd be left alone.

Meanwhile, terrorist attacks and Islamist uprisings occurred elsewhere in Europe. For example, Spain managed to dodge the particularly ugly riots of late 2005 which occurred in France and other European countries. Rioters, predominantly Muslim immigrants, torched hundreds if not thousands of vehicles and caused widespread property damage.

Other European terror attacks followed during the next 13 years. The litany is too long to fully recite here, but among the major ones there was London 2005, Charlie Hebdo in France in early 2015, the Bataclan attacks in Paris later that year, the Brussels bombings in March 2016.

But, as the AP reporters noted, the reprieve didn't last forever. The terrorists are back with a vengeance, and they're clearly quite organized. Effective police work in "recent years" has prevented catastrophe — until now.

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So for all the welcome accuracy of the on the ground reporting AP provided, it missed the opportunity to demonstrate that appeasing terrorists doesn't buy indefinite peace. Spanish voters in 2004 and the government they elected were absolutely wrong to think that it would.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

NY Times Editorial Page Editor Testifying in Palin Libel Case Was The Atlantic's Managing Editor During Giffords Saga

On Thursday, a federal court judge in New York made what Eriq Gardner at the Hollywood Reporter called an "unusual move" in Sarah Palin's libel lawsuit against the New York Times.

It is indeed extraordinarily unusual, and would appear not to bode well for the Times — which likely explains why the paper's colleagues in the establishment press are, for the most part, either not reporting it at all or inadequately reporting it. Read more

AP Ignores Almost All Details of UAW-Fiat Chrysler Training Center Scandal

On Tuesday morning, the Associated Press left no doubt that it does not want to see detailed news of the outrageous United Auto Workers-Fiat Chrysler training scandal spread beyond Metro Detroit.

In an unbylined item which digested far longer reports seen at Detroit's major newspapers down to five paragraphs, the wire service kept the union out of its headline, failed to mention the union until the fourth paragraph, and omitted almost all of the details which caused a Chrysler financial analyst to plead guilty to his role in the conspiracy.

Let's start with that headline:

APheadlineOnUAWchryslerTrainingScandal080817

Anyone previously unfamiliar with the scandal who sees this headline in a list of stories and fails to click through, or sees it in print and decides not to read further, will believe that the scheme involves only the corporate finances of Fiat Chrysler.

Now here's the AP's five-paragraph item, found in identical form at its main national site and its APnews.com site:

APstoryOnUAWchryslerTrainingScandal080817

The first paragraph makes it appear as if the Fiat Chrysler "analyst" (more properly described, as will be seen later, as the training center's controller) illegally funneled company funds. That's incorrect. The funds involved belonged to the UAW-Fiat Chrysler Training Partnership. In these circumstances, UAW officials ordinarily approve vendor and other invoices, and the company, after cursory review, physically prints and mails checks payable from allocated funds. The union has similar arrangements with General Motors and Ford.

Even when the AP got around to mentioning the UAW in its story's fourth paragraph, it failed to identify the training fund's administration as the primary responsibility of the union. It also did not identify the amount of "funneled" money involved. Finally, it failed to describe how the money, which was supposed to be targeted towards worker training as part of a negotiated labor agreement, was misappropriated.

Excerpts from the Detroit News coverage of Durden's plea show how many sadly relevant details the AP chose to omit (bolds are mine):

Former FCA analyst pleads guilty in UAW probe

A former financial analyst with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV who is charged with helping to improperly channel more than $4.5 million in blue-collar training funds to union officials pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Tuesday.

Jerome Durden, 61, of Rochester Hills, faced charges of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and failure to file a tax return — all linked to an investigation into improper financial activities at the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center. Durden was the center’s controller and pleaded guilty to both charges. He allegedly used some of the training funds for $4,300 in new carpeting at his home.

... Durden now faces up to 37 months in prison ...

... Durden is expected to cooperate with prosecutors ...

... He is one of three charged in the case which came to light in an unsealed indictment released in late July. Former top Fiat Chrysler labor negotiator, 57-year-old Alphons Iacobelli, also faces charges as does Monica Morgan-Holiefield, 54, of Harrison Township. She is the widow of former UAW Vice President General Holiefield.

Durden is alleged to have helped transfer millions of dollars in training center funds to Holiefield, Morgan-Holiefield and Iacobelli who used the funds on personal luxuries.

... As part of the scheme from 2009 to 2015, Durden “agreed and conspired” with Iacobelli, Holiefield, Morgan-Holiefield, a senior UAW official called UAW-2, the training center and the Leave the Light on Foundation, other individuals and entities to defraud the U.S., according to court filings.

... Durden admitted to “preparing and filing numerous false tax returns” on behalf of the nonprofit training center and the Leave the Light on Foundation and acknowledged the false tax returns caused more than $1 million in tax losses to the U.S., prosecutors say.

... Iacobelli is accused of pocketing union worker training funds to buy a $350,000 Ferrari, two solid-gold Mont Blanc pens and to install a pool and outdoor kitchen at his upscale Rochester Hills home.

Morgan-Holiefield, the widow of Holiefield who died in 2015, is alleged to have received some $30,000 in airline tickets and had the $262,000 mortgage on her and Holiefield’s home paid off using the training center funds.

So the AP decided that it didn't need to tell readers that:

  • The "scheme," which it should have called a "conspiracy," occurred over a six-year period, the beginning of which happens to be the year the former Chrysler Corporation filed for bankruptcy and, with the help of the U.S. government, announced that it would become part of Italy-based Fiat. The bankruptcy reorganization also illegally shortchanged many creditors who should have had senior standing in the bankruptcy reorganization in favor of funding union benefits under a contract which was no longer legally enforceable. One of those salvaged benefits was the continued operation of the joint training center.
  • The misappropriated funds amounted to over $4.5 million.
  • Thanks to fraudulent and unfiled tax returns, U.S. taxpayers are out over $1 million.
  • The misappropriated funds were largely spent on "personal luxuries." Even choosing to omit some of the specifics in this area would have been forgivable, but note that the AP's brief item made no mention of how the money was spent.

This formerly alleged but now acknowledged conspiracy, though jointly hatched by criminal minds at both Fiat Chrysler and the UAW, was perpetrated with union money and the cooperation of union executives in whom UAW members at the company had placed their trust.

As I noted in a Saturday NewsBusters post, in a union organizing election last week at a Nissan plant in Mississippi, Nissan cited the UAW-Fiat Chrysler scandal as a reason why its workers should reject UAW representation. They did, by a 62 percent to 38 percent margin.

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The AP's bare-bones treatment of this metro Detroit-based corruption virtually guarantees that most people outside the Motor City and its suburbs won't hear a word about the latest news relating to this scandal. But why should we expect an organization whose reporters are represented by the News Media Guild to properly cover and distribute a story which makes organized labor look bad?

What was feared when the Supreme Court allowed AP workers (and eventually, other journalists) to organize in a 5-4 decision in 1937 — namely that the wire service and other entities would lose their ability to "preserve its news service free from color, bias, or distortion," especially in covering organized labor-related matters — has quite obviously come to pass.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Not National News: Philly's Once Heralded 'Soda Tax' Has Been a Spectacular Failure

The national press could barely hide its glee in June 2016 when Philadelphia passed a "soda tax" of 1.5 cents per ounce levied against non-alcoholic beverages containing "any form of artificial sugar substitute, including stevia, aspartame, sucralose, neotame, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), saccharin, and advantame."

Now that the predictions of opponents have virtually all come to pass, accompanied by unintended consequences even they didn't anticipate, the national press is barely interested.

Coverage at the New York Times when the soda tax passed 14 months ago carried a video where the head of Healthy Food America, whose self-admitted primary reason for being is to advocate for the passage of "taxes on sugary drinks" throughout the land, described the tax as "a historic moment for public health." Times reporter Margot Sanger-Katz virtually celebrated Mayor Jim Kenney's underhanded passage strategy, admiring how "he cast the soft drink industry as a tantalizing revenue source that could be tapped to fund popular city programs, including universal prekindergarten."

The tax, which in certain instances has topped 100 percent, went into effect on January 1. Here are the lowlights identified in a Tax Foundation report issued on August 3 concerning what has since transpired (bolds are mine throughout this post):

  1. Philadelphia’s beverage excise tax is ... 24 times the Pennsylvania excise tax rate on beer.
  2. The high tax rate on nonalcoholic beverages makes them more expensive than beer in some cases. Prior research on soda taxes suggests they are likely to drive consumers to more alcoholic beverage consumption.
  3. Philadelphia’s beverage tax applies to diet beverages, despite those beverages having no impact on caloric intake.
  4. Beverage tax collections were originally promoted as a vehicle to raise funds for prekindergarten education, but in practice Philadelphia awards just 49 percent of the soda tax revenues to local pre-K programs.
  5. Soda tax revenues are likely below expectations due to consumer mobility. Some soda consumers may drive out of town to buy groceries, rather than pay the higher taxes.
  6. Poor revenue performance of Philadelphia’s beverage tax threatens the sustainability of the programs it funds.

Concerning Point 4, "A June news release by the Office of the Controller noted that none of the monthly collections have met the $7.7 million per month target needed to meet the original 2017 estimate." The city projected that it would collect $46 million during the first six months of 2017. Instead it collected only $39.4 million.

Also concerning Point 4, the city deliberately lowballed its predicted collections for the month of January so it could brag about meeting expectations. Sadly, as was noted in a separate Philly.com op-ed, this profoundly dishonest strategy was politically astute:

While the tax is fresh on their constituents’ minds, officials can point to the success of the first month’s artificially low projections, as they did. City officials and politicians get to claim credit for the tax’s superficial success early on but do not have to defend it later when the cracks start to appear because the public largely has moved on to the next news cycle.

Additionally, the Tax Foundation reports, with linked support, that:

"Soda sales in Philadelphia have also declined since the tax went into effect at the beginning of 2017, threatening the long-run sustainability of the tax. According to some local distributors and retailers, sales have declined by nearly 50 percent. ... the decline in consumption is worse than predicted."

"... stories have emerged of harm to local manufacturing and convenience store workers and reductions in consumer choices."

"For example, local branches of Coca-Cola report a workforce downsizing of 40 positions and PepsiCo reports laying off 80-100 workers as a result of decreased soda sales from the tax. PepsiCo further announced that it would be pulling all 12-pack and 2-liter products of its brands from Philadelphia grocery and convenience stores and other vendors."

In one particularly poignant example just last week:

CC Orlando & Sons, which baked countless wedding and holy communion cakes and pastries since its founding ... in 1948, closed."

... business was off 60 percent since the soda tax went into effect Jan. 1 ... (as) customers simply crossed the nearby city line to avoid the higher prices for juices, milk and other sweetened drinks typically purchased with doughnuts and pastries.

... Sunday’s crowd at the store ... was in tears over the closing and the layoff of the five workers, who were like family.

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The Associated Press has no story on Philly soda tax developments at its main national site. At its APnews.com site, which is a mixture of AP-written stories and those produced by others, there are four listings which all link to the same story found at Philly.com about how Cook County in Illinois has just imposed a similar tax. The New York Times has nothing current. Results from a Google News search show very little interest in covering recent developments at the major national establishment press outlets.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

David Brooks Calls For Google's CEO to Resign Over Damore Firing

On Friday, in an op-ed which made the paper's print edition, David Brooks, the alleged conservative commentator at the New York Times, surprised more than a few people by calling for Google CEO Sundar Pichai to resign over his awful handling of now ex-employee James Damore's "Echo Chamber" document.

Brooks identified the five key players in the drama, and directed sharp criticism at three of them: Google's diversity officer, the press, and ultimately Pichai.

First, Damore (links are in originals and bolds are mine throughout this post):

Damore was tapping into the long and contentious debate about genes and behavior. On one side are those who believe that humans come out as blank slates and are formed by social structures. On the other are the evolutionary psychologists who argue that genes interact with environment and play a large role in shaping who we are. In general the evolutionary psychologists have been winning this debate.

You can almost hear the gasps of surprise throughout Times headquarters at Brooks's reliance on inconvenient science.

Next up, women in tech:

We should all have a lot of sympathy for the second group of actors in this drama, the women in tech who felt the memo made their lives harder. Picture yourself in a hostile male-dominated environment, getting interrupted at meetings, being ignored, having your abilities doubted, and along comes some guy arguing that women are on average less status hungry and more vulnerable to stress. Of course you’d object.

What we have is a legitimate tension. Damore is describing a truth on one level; his sensible critics are describing a different truth, one that exists on another level. He is championing scientific research; they are championing gender equality. It takes a little subtlety to harmonize these strands, but it’s doable.

Brooks's baseline assumption that tech in general is a hostile male-dominated environment across the board is shaky. But it exists in more places than it should, and as Brooks noted, people of good will should be able to work through and resolve these issues.

Brooks then moved on to people who have demonstrated an annoying tendency not to be of good will throughout Corporate America, namely diversity officers like the one at Google (one handy rule for job seekers is that if the prospective employer actually has someone in such a position, there must be better companies at which to hang one's hat):

The third player in the drama is Google’s diversity officer, Danielle Brown. She didn’t wrestle with any of the evidence behind Damore’s memo. She just wrote his views “advanced incorrect assumptions about gender.” This is ideology obliterating reason.

At this point, the folks at the Times may have started wondering who took over Brooks's body when he wrote his column. But he's absolutely right. Brown's response was knee-jerk, entirely off-base, and, sadly, all too typical for someone whose job and status depend on fomenting employee discord while posing as a peacemaker.

Next, Brooks fired a broadside at the media, and tested the guardrails by broadening the topic to include college campus intolerance (link is in original):

... The fourth actor is the media. The coverage of the memo has been atrocious.

As Conor Friedersdorf wrote in The Atlantic, “I cannot remember the last time so many outlets and observers mischaracterized so many aspects of a text everyone possessed.” Various reporters and critics apparently decided that Damore opposes all things Enlightened People believe and therefore they don’t have to afford him the basic standards of intellectual fairness.

The mob that hounded Damore was like the mobs we’ve seen on a lot of college campuses. We all have our theories about why these moral crazes are suddenly so common. I’d say that radical uncertainty about morality, meaning and life in general is producing intense anxiety.

The rest of the establishment press must now be wondering what got into Brooks. It's bad enough that he exposed how they deliberately botched the Damore-Google drama. But then he went a step further to decry how intolerant so many of the nation's college campuses have become in just the past several years. The press has given that trend undeserved breathing room by generally failing to expose the true depth of what has become routine intimidation of those with dissenting views in academia. You're not supposed to talk about that David, especially in moralistic terms which look (oh my goodness) almost religious in tone.

Finally, Brooks got to Pichai's role:

Which brings us to Pichai, the supposed grown-up in the room. He could have wrestled with the tension between population-level research and individual experience. He could have stood up for the free flow of information. Instead he joined the mob. He fired Damore and wrote, “To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not O.K.”

That is a blatantly dishonest characterization of the memo. Damore wrote nothing like that about his Google colleagues. Either Pichai is unprepared to understand the research (unlikely), is not capable of handling complex data flows (a bad trait in a C.E.O.) or was simply too afraid to stand up to a mob.

Regardless which weakness applies, this episode suggests he should seek a nonleadership position. We are at a moment when mobs on the left and the right ignore evidence and destroy scapegoats. That’s when we need good leaders most.

Well, it was unrealistic to expect Brooks to turn in a perfect performance.

Of course, he had to throw in a bogus "but the right is just as bad" bone to his leftist readers, even though one struggles to identify a single instance where a leftist speaker has been shouted down by conservative dissenters.

But that flaw doesn't change the fact that for once, David Brooks made quite a few good points, especially about Pichai's apparent inability to be a leader when it really counted.

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Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

WashPost: Anarchists Are About 'More Than Just Smashing Windows'

The Washington Post published a 2,000-word story Thursday which attempted to portray DC-area anarchists who attempted to disrupt and ruin President Donald Trump's inauguration in January as being interested in "more than just smashing windows."

The best answer to what "more" is in Perry Stein's report is that it's about destroying as much property belonging to others as possible once it's clear that attempts to stop or seriously disrupt planned events have failed — oh, and getting away with it.

Stein's opening paragraph gave readers the idea that her treatment would be far too sympathetic, complete with a clickbait headline which promised what her story failed to deliver:

What draws Americans to anarchy? It’s more than just smashing windows.

By day, they are graphic designers, legal assistants, nonprofit workers and students. But outside their 9-to-5 jobs, they call themselves anarchists — bucking the system, shunning the government and sometimes even rioting and smashing windows to make a point.

And what's their point? This is the "best" answer Stein could formulate, in response to court documents describing their Inauguration Day actions as "malicious and "violent":

... the anarchists see (their actions) as a necessary way to draw attention to poverty, racism, educational inequality and other problems.

“Allowing inauguration to proceed as a peaceful unfolding does not reflect that this is not a peaceful country. There is no peace,” said (37 year-old Legha) Carrefour, who would not say which inauguration protests he participated in and whether he knew if the violence would occur. “We wanted to make it a clusterf---, and we made it a clusterf---.”

So it seems that if it weren't for these heroic anarchists, no one would have any idea that "poverty, racism, educational inequality and other problems" exist. Apparently these anarchists deserve our gratitude for "drawing attention" to problems no one else ever discusses.

This is journalism?

But these supposedly brave anarchists aren't willing to suffer consequences for their disruptive and violent actions:

For the Inauguration Day protest planning, representatives from affinity groups across the country formed a council. People also connected through websites and message boards, including CrimethInc.— a site that describes itself as a “decentralized network pledged to anonymous collective action.”

Some talked about trying to block bridges into the city, but many of the anarchists said they wanted to be closer to the inauguration action downtown. The group decided to use “black bloc” tactics, wearing dark clothes and masks so that authorities would have a harder time identifying — and convicting — participants.

“You can breathe easy at a black bloc. You know if one person gets demasked, they will have your back,” said one anarchist who participated in the inauguration black bloc but asked to remain anonymous because of possible legal implications.

Stein failed to mention that six police officers were injured during Inauguration Day protests. Those injuries were considered "minor and non-life threatening but three of those officers were injured in the head." In other words, those three officers were extraordinarily lucky to have avoided far more serious injuries.

The Post reporter did note that the property destruction went beyond "smashing windows":

Muhammad Ashraf, whose 2015 Lincoln super-stretch limousine was burned by rioters while parked downtown, wondered whether the protesters understood the effect the rioting had on him.

Ashraf, 52, owner of Virginia-based Nationwide Chauffeured Services, watched on television as his limo was engulfed in flames. The vehicle was a total loss. After insurance payments, it cost him $60,000 out of pocket to replace, he said.

“When that car becomes a source of your livelihood, it becomes a part of your life. I don’t know if the protesters understand that when they destroy something — the way I felt when I saw my car burning, it really hurt me deeply even though it’s just a car,” he said. “Six months later, I still want to know, did that accomplish anything?”

Having told the story, Stein appears not to have asked the anarchists the question Ashraf wants answered. Instead, we were told by Carrefour, the insolent punk disguised as a 37 year-old, that "it’s important to attack the symbols of capitalism. It’s just property at the end of the day.”

As Ashraf explained, his limo wasn't "just property," and certainly wasn't just a "symbol." It was the source of his livelihood. I doubt that Carrefour would feel the same way if someone smashed his smartphone into teeny tiny pieces.

John Sexton at Hot Air had this reaction to Stein's report:

... the article never does offer much of a justification for the violence which is the main distinctive of anarchist protests. As a reader, you’re left with the impression that participants feel there’s a certain outlaw romance to the whole thing, i.e. dressing in black, wearing a mask, breaking windows and breaking the law, running from police, etc. That kind of excitement tinged with the risk of being arrested must create a real adrenaline rush and some group solidarity among those who do it. You can imagine them sitting around later talking about all the chaos and replaying their role in it for friends.

Does any of that justify destroying Muhammad Ashraf’s limo or doing $100,000 worth of damage to buildings in the form of broken glass? I don’t think so but clearly, the anarchists must. So why not ask them to explain it. It’s the only question really worth asking these people: What appeals to you about breaking things? But the Post sidesteps the question by suggesting there are other reasons for being an anarchist and then doesn’t deliver much in the way of other reasons.

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Sexton also posted the following video reminding readers of the destruction these darlings inflicted on DC in January:

In the past, anarchists have mostly been able to count on a lenient court system to avoid suffering serious consequences for their actions. How they're being treated in the wake of what happened on Inauguration Day appears to have, at long last, shaken that confidence.

For example, in early July, anarchist Dane Powell was sentenced to 36 months in prison. While the judge involved "suspended all but four months of the sentence on the condition that he successfully complete two years of supervised probation," Powell's sentence, though still too lenient, is four months longer than what has been business as usual in many courts for over a decade. It's not a moment too soon in coming.

Come to think of it, maybe the whole point of Stein's report was to irresponsibly soften anarchists' image in advance of upcoming court proceedings involving others among the 234 who were arrested in January.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

NPR Pushes Unproven Claim That Female Google Employees Stayed Home

Monday evening, National Public Radio published a tweet about the Google-free speech controversy that raised eyebrows and brought on torrents of ridicule, namely that "some women at the company skipped work today, upset by the leaked memo" written by now-fired software engineer James Damore.

It turns out that the basis for the claim is so extraordinarily thin that it shouldn't have been reported.

Here is NPR's Monday evening tweet (HT Twitchy):

NPRonGoogleWomenNotWorking080717

On Twitter, the ridicule directed at female employees who allegedly stayed home in the tweet's 1,400 comments was fierce, especially in noting how the reported reactions essentially confirmed one of the premises in Damore's "Echo Chamber" document, namely that "Women, on average, have more Neuroticism (higher anxiety, lower stress tolerance)" (link is in Damore's original).

But did what NPR reported really happen?

The network's underlying article containing the claim by Bill Chappell and Laura Sydell reported this "news" in its third paragraph.

It turns out that the sole source for the claim is a former Google employee:

Another software engineer who used to work for Google, Kelly Ellis, says some women who still work at the company stayed home Monday because the memo made them "uncomfortable going back to work."

Five paragraphs later, readers learn that Ellis hasn't been with the company for roughly three years, and that she has an axe to grind:

... Ellis said she left Google in 2014 after she was sexually harassed. When she read the leaked document, it didn't surprise her "because I saw similar language when I was at Google being shared on internal message boards and other different internal forums."

Ellis said although he isn't a manager, the "manifesto" author's opinions directly impact his female peers. "The main input to Google's performance review process, which is how they slot engineers, which determines pay — the main input to that is peer review," says Ellis. "It's your peers writing feedback on your work."

... In April, a Department of Labor official accused Google of practicing "systemic" discrimination against female employees.

There is no evidence that NPR spoke or communicated with any female Google employee who stayed home, or with any Google supervisor or manager who could have confirmed that any female employees stayed home.

A bit of research indicates that Ellis has been quite vocal about the reasons for her 2014 departure, and claims to somehow have deep knowledge of what's going on at the company, even three years after she left:

  • In March 2015, she issued a series of tweets, several of them naming names, about her treatment while she worked for Google, including specific instances of alleged sexual harassment. However, according to Business Insider, Ellis also tweeted that "I have no proof of any of this."
  • In February of this year, in connection with Uber's firing of former Google executive Amit Singhal, who had resigned in 2016 because of "credible" allegations of sexual harassment during his time at the search giant, Ellis "shared some of her own experiences with at the company in light of the news surrounding Singhal’s departure." Among other things, she claimed that male executives at the two companies "just get shuffled around, with zero regard for the women in our industry," and that "At the highest levels of leadership at most SV/SF (Silicon Valley/San Francisco) tech companies, execs are hiring their buddies outside of the usual hiring process."
  • On Saturday, she weighed in on Damore's document, claiming that "There are many people at Google who share this guy's views." Three years later, does she really know this?

Ellis may very well be telling the truth, but NPR's failure to interview, even anonymously, any actual women employees who skipped work on Monday means that the network should have considered her contention a rumor.

There appears to be another motivation to report this rumor.

In early January, the U.S. Department of Labor, in what it described "as part of routine audit of a federal contractor," sued to force the company "to provide requested compensation data and documents for the multinational company’s Mountain View headquarters." In April, DOL, as seen in the NPR excerpt above, further claimed that it had somehow determined that the company had "systemic compensation disparities." In late May, in a "you can't make this up" response, the company refused, claiming in a court filing that that the highest of high-tech companies would somehow need 500 hours and $100,000 to fulfill the agency’s request. (Even if true, which seems highly doubtful, the cost involved is minuscule compared to the $19.5 billion in 2016 profit reported by the company's Alphabet Inc. subsidiary.)

The point is that reporting what many have described as the "snowflake" reaction to Damore's document appears to anecdotally support the notion that Google has a workplace environment which is hostile to women. The NPR reporters surely know this.

But regardless of how it does or doesn't advance particular agendas, is NPR's sole reliance on someone who left the company in 2014 justified?

Longtime blogger Ann Althouse, who leans left, says "No."

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Althouse explained herself on Wednesday, while noting the intense irony of how Ellis's NPR-carried claim supports the un-PC contentions Damore made in his "Echo Chamber" document:

Did Google women stay home from work because they were upset over the Damore memo?

... I wonder how Kelly Ellis knows what women in her former workplace did and why they did it.

... Why did NPR speak with Kelly Ellis and why did NPR not talk to any of the women whose actions and emotions it is portraying? If I had to guess, I'd say it's because Ellis said something that NPR believed fit very nicely into the story it wanted to tell, and it either didn't bother to check more deeply or it tried and couldn't find these women but still thought the idea was too good not to use. Again, NPR is in a cocoon if it didn't see how this fact/"fact" would be used by those who want to say there's no real problem of gender discrimination in the tech industry.

... I'm going to answer my question in the post title: No. It's a myth, an urban legend.

... You need to be skeptical about things that fit your template. Those who are accepting this report at face value and using it to support the idea that women really are emotional and ill-suited to a high-pressure workplace are engaging in the same kind of cocoonish behavior that we're seeing from NPR.

My take is that Kelly Ellis may be telling the truth, but her claim is unproven. As such, regardless of who it helps or hurts, NPR should not have reported it.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

CNN's Baldwin Twice Falsely Claims Google Engineer Wants Women Away From Computers

The establishment press's failure to properly describe James Damore's 10-page "Echo Chamber" critique at Google was entirely predictable and pervasive.

Brooke Baldwin took it to a new level Tuesday on CNN Newsroom, as she falsely claimed — twice — that the now-fired software engineer doesn't like women being around computers.

At TheFederalist.com yesterday, Bre Payton identified ten examples of "All The Media Outlets Blatantly Lying About The Google Memo."

CNN was on Payton's list for the item written up yesterday at NewsBusters, which involved CNN Money writer Jackie Wattles. Wattles wrote that Damore believes that "women aren't suited for tech jobs for 'biological' reasons," and refused to back down from that lie even when she couldn't find any specific evidence to back up her contention. At that point, she held on by falsely claiming that Damore's belief was "implicit."

Baldwin kept the smear going on CNN Newsroom  in the following clip. By making a comparison to the reportedly ugly situation at Uber, Liz Plank at Vox.com essentially claimed that a workplace environment hostile to women might have emboldened Damore to speak his mind, while Mary Katharine Ham took deep umbrage after Baldwin's second false statement characterizing Damore's thoughts about women and computers:

Transcript:

BROOKE BALDWIN: So do you agree — like Mary Katharine, I think, was essentially saying, y'know, America is great for all these various opinions, diversification of thought. You know, that was maybe wrong for Google (to fire him), despite the fact that maybe we don’t all agree with what this guy said, he's allowed to say it. Do you think he was allowed to say that — where he’s essentially saying, "Well I don't really like women anywhere near a computer" — and should he have been fired for it. Liz?

LIZ PLANK: I find it interesting that he felt comfortable sharing this with people at the company, in the way that I felt that it was interesting, y'know, when stuff came out of the culture at Uber that was, enabled systemic sexual harassment, and the sort of things that I think a lot of men felt like they could say and do were not appropriate. I do wonder what kind of culture exists at Google that made a white man, who is in a senior position, an engineer at one of the most, one of the biggest tech companies in the world, feel threatened by a few diversity programs — and then want to share that with and write 10 pages about it, and then fear, have it leaked in the way that it had, and think that there would be no consequences.

BALDWIN: But isn’t a piece of this, isn’t a piece of this, Mary Katharine, this is directed to you, where this software engineer, you know, he had hiring power. I mean he could impact the empowerment of women. And again, I go back to paraphrasing, this is a guy who's basically saying, "I don’t like women around computers" —

MARY KATHARINE HAM: See I totally, I actually, Brooke, I often disagree with you in like a very jovial way, and I just totally disagree with the characterization that that's what he's saying.

BALDWIN: Yeah.

HAM: He wasn't saying that, and that’s why I disagree with the reaction to this. If it were what you were saying, I would be more on board with Liz’s point of view. But look, I think, we’re saying, look, this is a valuable conversation to have, and I agree. One of the things this person was bringing to the table was that perhaps part of diversity is ideological diversity as well. And ironically, and no one seems to recognize the blinding irony of this, he was saying one of the problems with Google is that we are perhaps in this ideologically insular bubble that is so insular that people like me feel silenced and don’t want to bring our opinions to the forefront. And then wait a second — in response to that, his dissenting opinion, it was leaked to punish him, and then he was fired for it having been leaked.

Liz Plank's take that Damore feels "threatened" is valid, but it has nothing to do with her condescending reference to "a few diversity programs," and everything to do, as noted in his introductory "Reply to public response and misrepresentation," with how Google's "culture of shaming and misrepresentation is disrespectful and unaccepting of anyone outside its echo chamber."

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Further, Damore contends, as would any classical economist, that "discrimination to reach equal representation is unfair, divisive, and bad for business." Expanding on that thought, and essentially speaking for Google shareholders whose obvious goal is to maximize their returns on investment:

Philosophically, I don't think we should do arbitrary social engineering of tech just to make it appealing to equal portions of both men and women. For each of these changes, we need principled reasons for why it helps Google; that is, we should be optimizing for Google—with Google's diversity being a component of that. For example, currently those willing to work extra hours or take extra stress will inevitably get ahead and if we try to change that too much, it may have disastrous consequences. Also, when considering the costs and benefits, we should keep in mind that Google's funding is finite so its allocation is more zero-sum than is generally acknowledged.

The company appears to have placed "diversity" above "maximizing profits" or "maximizing shareholder value." If that is indeed the case, it's a fundamental betrayal of shareholders.

As to Brooke Baldwin, like Jackie Wattles in the NewsBusters post seen yesterday, she apparently won't concede how wrong she was to smear Damore as she did, and twice. And why not? Apparently, there are no consequences for serial lying at CNN — which is why it so richly deserves to be called "fake news."

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

CNN Reporter Lies About and Smears Now-Fired Google Engineer's 'Echo Chamber' Critique

Given the fundamental dishonesty of almost any discussion of workplace "diversity" and "inclusion" in the leftist media, it was inevitable that someone would grossly mischaracterize the critique written by now ex-Google employee James Damore as an ode to male chauvinism.

CNN has done just that, hysterically and falsely claiming that Damore argued that "women aren't suited for tech jobs for 'biological' reasons." He did no such thing — and on Twitter, CNNMoney.com writer Jackie Wattles essentially admitted it.

As if to prove that this was Damore's argument, Wattles put one word — "biological" — in quotes. Here are the headline and larger-font opening sentence from her dispatch (bolds are mine throughout this post):

Storm at Google over engineer's anti-diversity manifesto

Google executives have responded to a 3,300-word manifesto written by one of its male engineers that argues women aren't suited for tech jobs for "biological" reasons.

Here's the related tweet promoting the story (HT Twitchy):

CNNfalseTweetOnFiredGoogleEng080717

This is a deliberate, irresponsible, and cowardly smear.

Here is every example of Damore's use of any form of the word "biology" in his "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber" document:

GoogleManifesto1from0817

GoogleManifesto2from0817

GoogleManifesto3from0817

There is nothing in the manifesto which supports CNN's claim that Damore believes that "(all) women aren't suited for tech jobs."

Damore's claim is about how "the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women ... may explain" why women and men aren't represented equally "in tech and leadership," and that "biological causes" play a role. Damore specifically refuted CNN's after-the-fact characterization when he wrote that "Many of these differences are small and there’s significant overlap between men and women, so you can’t say anything about an individual given these population level distributions." Heaven forbid that we start treating people as individuals instead of as member of supposedly aggrieved groups.

Damore could hardly have stated matters more plainly (or correctly, as will be seen later in this post).

When confronted on Twitter to back up her contention that Damore wrote that "women aren't suited for tech jobs for 'biological' reasons," Wattles had no credible response.

When called out for her lack of evidence, Wattles couldn't find any. Instead of admitting to that failure and apologizing, she took the despicable, cowardly route and claimed to be able to read Damore's supposedly evil mind:

CNNwriterFalselyDefendsGoogEngCrit080617

So it's "not a direct quote" after all. Her reported contention, as if it's an undisputable fact, that Damore believes that "women aren't suited for tech jobs for 'biological' reasons," is really only "implicit."

Then why did the CNN reporter put "biological" in quotes in her opening sentence?

The default answer would appear to be: To deliberately and irresponsibly smear Damore.

One Twitter user summed things up perfectly: "You're writing front and center front page blurbs based on what you *think* this person is saying? Let me tell you directly: You are wrong."

Wattles is indeed wrong. In separate opinions, four authorities in the related sciences predominantly weighed in on Damore's side at Quillette.com (HT Instapundit; internal links are to their respective faculty pages or bios):

Lee Jussim, professor of social psychology at Rutgers University —

"I cannot speak to the atmosphere at Google, but ... Give(n) that the author gets everything else right, I am pretty confident he is right about that too."

David P. Schmitt, founder and director of the International Sexuality Description Project (ISDP) —

"... should Google use various practices (affirmative action is not just one thing) to especially encourage capable women of joining (and enjoying) the Google workplace? I vote yes. At the same time, should we be able to openly discuss and be informed by some of the real psychological sex differences that might account for variation in men’s and women’s workplace performance? In the right context, I vote yes to that, too." Damore was attempting to "openly discuss ... real psychological sex differences," in a civil tone, and got fired for it.

Geoffrey Miller, an evolutionary psychology professor at University of New Mexico —

"For what it’s worth, I think that almost all of the Google memo’s empirical claims are scientifically accurate. Moreover, they are stated quite carefully and dispassionately. Its key claims about sex differences are especially well-supported by large volumes of research across species, cultures, and history."

Deborah W. Soh, a Toronto based science writer who has a PhD in sexual neuroscience from the University of York —

"As a woman who’s worked in academia and within STEM, I didn’t find the memo offensive or sexist in the least. I found it to be a well thought out document, asking for greater tolerance for differences in opinion, and treating people as individuals instead of based on group membership. Within the field of neuroscience, sex differences between women and men—when it comes to brain structure and function and associated differences in personality and occupational preferences—are understood to be true, because the evidence for them (thousands of studies) is strong. This is not information that’s considered controversial or up for debate; if you tried to argue otherwise, or for purely social influences, you’d be laughed at."

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Unfortunately, laughing at Jackie Wattles and CNN doesn't suffice in the circumstances. Her article, and the outrageous "How dare he?" CNN video seen at her story's link, demand apologies accompanied by retractions, neither of which we'll likely see in this century.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

CBS Inadvertently Admits Gun Restrictions on the Law-Abiding Haven't Worked in Chicago

On Friday's This Morning show, CBS News reporter Adriana Diaz reported on her seven days on the streets of Chicago's South Side, one of the most dangerous and crime-ridden areas in the U.S.

While her report gamely tried to focus on how guns were to blame for the violence, astute observers who know how difficult it is for law-abiding citizens to get guns in the Windy City will notice that, despite those state- and city-imposed barriers, it's still very "easy" for criminals to get guns. Read more

Fake Analysis: WashPost's Milbank Claims 'There's No Such Thing As a Trump Democrat'

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank's vicious, mean-spirited attacks on Donald Trump, Republicans, and conservatives have become so predictable and trite that they're barely worthy of attention, no matter how shrill his rhetoric.

The unhinged Milbank is of course entitled to his opinions, but in his latest column on Friday, he tried to promote an obvious falsehood as an indisputable fact, claiming in his column's headline that "There’s no such thing as a Trump Democrat."

As will be seen, there is no genuine basis for Milbank's claim.

Here is his column's opening:

There’s no such thing as a Trump Democrat

Do you believe in mermaids, unicorns and fairies?

If so, you may have taken interest in a new mythical creature that appeared during the 2016 election: the Trump Democrat.

It has become an article of faith that an unusually large number of people who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 or 2012 switched sides and voted for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. It follows that Democrats, to win in the future, need to get these lost partisans to come home.

But new data, and an analysis by AFL-CIO political director Michael Podhorzer that he shared with me, puts all this into question. The number of Obama-to-Trump voters turns out to be smaller than thought. And those Obama voters who did switch to Trump were largely Republican voters to start with. The aberration wasn’t their votes for Trump but their votes for Obama.

Stop right there. Podhorzer shared his data and analysis with Milbank, but Milbank wouldn't share it with his readers, or even link to it. Milbank only provided a link to Podhorzer's bio at the AFL-CIO web site. There is no data or analysis available there, nor is there any hint of it at the group's press release page.

Let's look at the incredibly flimsy foundation on which Milbank's claim is built. Its based on the core findings seen in the second paragraph below:

A poll released in June by the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group, a nonpartisan collaboration of analysts and scholars ... re-interviewed the same respondents queried in 2012; they were asked who they voted for in real time.

(George Washington University political scientist John) Sides found that 86 percent of Obama 2012 voters voted for Clinton while nearly 89 percent of Romney voters supported Trump. Nine percent of Obama voters voted for Trump while 5 percent voted for a third-party candidate or a write-in, while 5 percent of Romney voters supported Clinton and 6 percent voted for a third-party candidate or write-in.

Sides tried to pretend that Clinton's loss of one-seventh of Obama 2012 supporters compared to Trump only losing one of nine Romney 2012 supporters was no big deal — and further, that Trump picking up almost two-thirds of Obama defectors (9 points out of 14) compared to Clinton picking up less than half of Romney defectors (5 points out of 11) was also unimportant and, as described earlier in the study, "typical."

That's ridiculous. Those findings, with a slight offset for new 2016 voters who likely favored Clinton, almost completely explain the change between Obama's 3.9 percent and Clinton's 2.1 percent popular vote margins. In terms of state-by-state Electoral College results, these net switches explain why Trump could fight for and win Florida and the three "blue wall" states (Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) which gave him his electoral vote victory margin.

Then this supposedly nonpartisan organization proceeded to completely, and I would argue deliberately, mischaracterize the views of whites who switched from Obama to Trump:

White Party Switchers’ Votes Correlated with Views on Immigration, Muslims, and Black People

Sorry, Mr. Sides, your bias is showing. The three correlations are correctly explained as follows:

  • It wasn't "immigration." White party switchers' views on illegal immigration are what mattered, especially in light of the Obama administration's clear, in-your-face attempt to flood the nation with unvetted "refugees" and unaccompanied minor children.
  • It wasn't "Muslims" per se. White party switchers' views on the Obama administration's coddling of violent, radical Islamists and the clear growth of radical Islam's worldwide threat are what mattered.
  • Finally, it wasn't "Black People." It was Black Lives Matter, specifically that group's wholesale embrace of violence, its hatred of law enforcement, and racial exclusion.

So what do you do when the data doesn't tell you what you want to hear? If you're Milbank, as seen in an earlier except, you claim that "Obama voters who did switch to Trump were largely Republican voters to start with."

Again, that's rubbish. All one has to do is look at results in three of Northeastern Ohio's formerly bluest presidential-vote counties see how absurd that claim is.

Northeastern Ohio has voted solid-blue Democrat in presidential elections since the days of Bill Clinton. Here are the result from the past five presidential elections for Ashtabula, Trumbull, and Mahoning Counties in the Buckeye State's northeastern corner (links: 2016, 2012, 2008, 2004, 2000):

NEOcountyPresElections2000to2016

It's large-scale shifts such as these which explain why Ohio, thought to be a swing state in 2016, went for Trump by the largest Buckeye State presidential victory margin since George H.W. Bush defeated Michael Dukakis in 1988. Similar shifts occurred in many other formerly blue presidential-vote counties in other parts of the nation.

To believe Milbank's mush, one would have to believe that those who supported Gore, Kerry, and Obama  by mostly very large margins in the four presidential elections from 2000 to 2012 in these three counties as well as other Northeastern Ohio counties were really Republicans pretending to be Democrats. Further, one would have to believe that they voted in mostly overwhelming majorities as Democrats during all those years just to pull one over on Milbank, the AFL-CIO's Podhorzer, and GW University's John Sides.

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What we really saw in these three counties is a massive shift of Democrats from acceptable presidential candidates within their own party to Donald Trump. Though there certainly were changes in party registration leading up to the 2016 primaries and general election, it is very fair to describe many Democrats who voted for Trump in 2016 as "Trump Democrats."

It should be quite obvious that Dana Milbank and his supposedly learned sources engaged in embarrassingly fake analysis.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Fake Analysis: WashPost's Milbank Claims 'There's No Such Thing As a Trump Democrat'

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank's vicious, mean-spirited attacks on Donald Trump, Republicans, and conservatives have become so predictable and trite that they're barely worthy of attention, no matter how shrill his rhetoric.

The unhinged Milbank is of course entitled to his opinions, but in his latest column on Friday, he tried to promote an obvious falsehood as an indisputable fact, claiming in his column's headline that "There’s no such thing as a Trump Democrat."

As will be seen, there is no genuine basis for Milbank's claim.

Here is his column's opening:

There’s no such thing as a Trump Democrat

Do you believe in mermaids, unicorns and fairies?

If so, you may have taken interest in a new mythical creature that appeared during the 2016 election: the Trump Democrat.

It has become an article of faith that an unusually large number of people who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 or 2012 switched sides and voted for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. It follows that Democrats, to win in the future, need to get these lost partisans to come home.

But new data, and an analysis by AFL-CIO political director Michael Podhorzer that he shared with me, puts all this into question. The number of Obama-to-Trump voters turns out to be smaller than thought. And those Obama voters who did switch to Trump were largely Republican voters to start with. The aberration wasn’t their votes for Trump but their votes for Obama.

Stop right there. Podhorzer shared his data and analysis with Milbank, but Milbank wouldn't share it with his readers, or even link to it. Milbank only provided a link to Podhorzer's bio at the AFL-CIO web site. There is no data or analysis available there, nor is there any hint of it at the group's press release page.

Let's look at the incredibly flimsy foundation on which Milbank's claim is built. Its based on the core findings seen in the second paragraph below:

A poll released in June by the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group, a nonpartisan collaboration of analysts and scholars ... re-interviewed the same respondents queried in 2012; they were asked who they voted for in real time.

(George Washington University political scientist John) Sides found that 86 percent of Obama 2012 voters voted for Clinton while nearly 89 percent of Romney voters supported Trump. Nine percent of Obama voters voted for Trump while 5 percent voted for a third-party candidate or a write-in, while 5 percent of Romney voters supported Clinton and 6 percent voted for a third-party candidate or write-in.

Sides tried to pretend that Clinton's loss of one-seventh of Obama 2012 supporters compared to Trump only losing one of nine Romney 2012 supporters was no big deal — and further, that Trump picking up almost two-thirds of Obama defectors (9 points out of 14) compared to Clinton picking up less than half of Romney defectors (5 points out of 11) was also unimportant and, as described earlier in the study, "typical."

That's ridiculous. Those findings, with a slight offset for new 2016 voters who likely favored Clinton, almost completely explain the change between Obama's 3.9 percent and Clinton's 2.1 percent popular vote margins. In terms of state-by-state Electoral College results, these net switches explain why Trump could fight for and win Florida and the three "blue wall" states (Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) which gave him his electoral vote victory margin.

Then this supposedly nonpartisan organization proceeded to completely, and I would argue deliberately, mischaracterize the views of whites who switched from Obama to Trump:

White Party Switchers’ Votes Correlated with Views on Immigration, Muslims, and Black People

Sorry, Mr. Sides, your bias is showing. The three correlations are correctly explained as follows:

  • It wasn't "immigration." White party switchers' views on illegal immigration are what mattered, especially in light of the Obama administration's clear, in-your-face attempt to flood the nation with unvetted "refugees" and unaccompanied minor children.
  • It wasn't "Muslims" per se. White party switchers' views on the Obama administration's coddling of violent, radical Islamists and the clear growth of radical Islam's worldwide threat are what mattered.
  • Finally, it wasn't "Black People." It was Black Lives Matter, specifically that group's wholesale embrace of violence, its hatred of law enforcement, and racial exclusion.

So what do you do when the data doesn't tell you what you want to hear? If you're Milbank, as seen in an earlier except, you claim that "Obama voters who did switch to Trump were largely Republican voters to start with."

Again, that's rubbish. All one has to do is look at results in three of Northeastern Ohio's formerly bluest presidential-vote counties see how absurd that claim is.

Northeastern Ohio has voted solid-blue Democrat in presidential elections since the days of Bill Clinton. Here are the result from the past five presidential elections for Ashtabula, Trumbull, and Mahoning Counties in the Buckeye State's northeastern corner (links: 2016, 2012, 2008, 2004, 2000):

NEOcountyPresElections2000to2016

It's large-scale shifts such as these which explain why Ohio, thought to be a swing state in 2016, went for Trump by the largest Buckeye State presidential victory margin since George H.W. Bush defeated Michael Dukakis in 1988. Similar shifts occurred in many other formerly blue presidential-vote counties in other parts of the nation.

To believe Milbank's mush, one would have to believe that those who supported Gore, Kerry, and Obama  by mostly very large margins in the four presidential elections from 2000 to 2012 in these three counties as well as other Northeastern Ohio counties were really Republicans pretending to be Democrats. Further, one would have to believe that they voted in mostly overwhelming majorities as Democrats during all those years just to pull one over on Milbank, the AFL-CIO's Podhorzer, and GW University's John Sides.

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What we really saw in these three counties is a massive shift of Democrats from acceptable presidential candidates within their own party to Donald Trump. Though there certainly were changes in party registration leading up to the 2016 primaries and general election, it is very fair to describe many Democrats who voted for Trump in 2016 as "Trump Democrats."

It should be quite obvious that Dana Milbank and his supposedly learned sources engaged in embarrassingly fake analysis.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

NY Times Editor Criticizes Women's March's 'Embrace of Hate' in Op-Ed

Bari Weiss is a staff editor in the opinion section at the New York Times. Like many women, she was initially enthused by the Women's March movement which began after President Donald Trump's inauguration. Since then she has, for many good reasons, become disillusioned.

She detailed that disillusionment in a Tuesday op-ed which clearly runs against the grain at the Times, and received predictable, name-calling blowback from a Women's March leader who pretended that they and their movement are non-violent. It isn't, and they aren't.

Though Weiss's column really should be read in its entirety, here are the key paragraphs which direct personal criticism at three of the movement's four primary leaders (bolds are mine):

When Progressives Embrace Hate

... The image of this fearsome foursome, echoed in more than a few flattering profiles, was as seductive as a Benetton ad. There was Tamika Mallory, a young black activist who was crowned the “Sojourner Truth of our time” by Jet magazine and “a leader of tomorrow” by Valerie Jarrett. Carmen Perez, a Mexican-American and a veteran political organizer, was named one of Fortune’s Top 50 World Leaders. Linda Sarsour, a hijab-wearing Palestinian-American and the former head of the Arab-American Association of New York, had been recognized as a “champion of change” by the Obama White House. And Bob Bland, the fashion designer behind the “Nasty Women” T-shirts, was the white mother who came up with the idea of the march in the first place.

... What wasn’t to like?

A lot, as it turns out. The leaders of the Women’s March, arguably the most prominent feminists in the country, have some chilling ideas and associations. Far from erecting the big tent so many had hoped for, the movement they lead has embraced decidedly illiberal causes and cultivated a radical tenor that seems determined to alienate all but the most woke.

... Start with Ms. Sarsour ...

There are comments on her Twitter feed of the anti-Zionist sort: “Nothing is creepier than Zionism,” she wrote in 2012. And, oddly, given her status as a major feminist organizer, there are more than a few that seem to make common cause with anti-feminists ... She has dismissed the anti-Islamist feminist Ayaan Hirsi Ali in the most crude and cruel terms, insisting she is “not a real woman” and confessing that she wishes she could take away Ms. Ali’s vagina — this about a woman who suffered genital mutilation as a girl in Somalia.

... just last month, Ms. Sarsour proved that her past is prologue. On July 16, the official Twitter feed of the Women’s March offered warm wishes to Assata Shakur. “Happy birthday to the revolutionary #AssataShakur!” read the tweet, which featured a “#SignOfResistance, in Assata’s honor” — a pink and purple Pop Art-style portrait of Ms. Shakur, better known as Joanne Chesimard, a convicted killer who is on the F.B.I.’s list of most wanted terrorists.

... Ms. Mallory, in addition to applauding Assata Shakur as a feminist emblem, also admires Fidel Castro, who sheltered Ms. Shakur in Cuba. She put up a flurry of posts when Mr. Castro died last year. “R.I.P. Comandante! Your legacy lives on!” she wrote in one. She does not have similar respect for American police officers. “When you throw a brick in a pile of hogs, the one that hollers is the one you hit,” she posted on Nov. 20.

Ms. Perez also expressed her admiration for a Black Panther convicted of trying to kill six police officers: “Love learning from and sharing space with Baba Sekou Odinga.”

But the public figure both women regularly fawn over is Louis Farrakhan.

... (Farrakhan's) views, which this editorial page has called “twisted,” remain as appalling as ever.

Weiss went on to assert that "what I stand against is embracing terrorists, disdaining independent feminist voices, hating on democracies and celebrating dictatorships."

She predicted that she would soon be smeared as "alt-right." She was correct. It only took a couple of days.

Exhibiting all too typical cowardice, the three women whom Weiss specifically criticized delegated the task to Bland, whose letter to the editor was published on Thursday:

From a Women’s March Leader: ‘We Need to Stand United’

... Ms. Weiss is endorsing a sensational alt-right attack that aims to discredit the Women’s March movement and its leaders and to derail the progress we have made since January.

Her article is a distraction at a critical moment when rights are being stripped from vulnerable communities every day.

... I stand in solidarity with my fellow organizers Carmen Perez, Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory.

We are a movement grounded in love for all people, but especially for the vulnerable, the oppressed and the marginalized.

For now, critics like Ms. Weiss are just critics from their seats. Until they get up, listen and do the work to understand those whose feelings have been shaped by injustices, they will remain apologists for the status quo, racist ideology and the white nationalist patriarchy.

Bland's letter would melt any hypocrisy meter applied to it. It message: Shut up, show up, and do what you're told.

Anyone who dares to criticize the despicable resumés, horrid actions, and outrageous statements of Women's March leaders is "alt-right" and one of many "apologists for the status quo, racist ideology and the white nationalist patriarchy." So much for "love of all people."

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Women's March leaders apparently still believe it's the 1960s, which the national establishment press's tight control of what was allowed to become news prevented most Americans from learning just how violent and ugly the anti-Vietnam War protest movement and the Black Power movement, to name just two, really were.

It's 2017, and though the reporters at Weiss's paper and at other establishment press outlets regularly whitewash the truth about the Women's March and other leftist movements, the truth is out there. Enough Americans who also happen to be voters are learning it.

Women who might otherwise have marched in naive lockstep with the Women's March are reaching the same conclusion Bari Weiss did at the end of her column, namely that if her discomfort with the movement and its leaders "puts me beyond the pale of the progressive feminist movement in America right now, so be it."

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

AP Only Vaguely Refers to UAW-Chrysler Scandal in Covering Union's Nissan-Mississippi Loss

On Friday, the United Auto Workers failed in yet another attempt to organize an auto plant in the South. This time it was a Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi. Unlike in the 2014, when workers at a Chattanooga, Tennessee Volkswagen plant narrowly rejected the union, Friday's result was a 62 percent to 38 percent shellacking.

Coverage of the UAW's defeat at the Associated Press overnight was reasonably measured, with one exception: a barely mentioned and completely unexplained Fiat Chrysler-UAW corruption scandal in Metro Detroit which influenced the voting.

Reporter Jeff Amy's dispatch shortly after midnight Saturday morning (also saved here for future reference, fair use, and discussion purposes) first mentioned it, though quite cryptically and quite late in his report (bolds are mine throughout this post):

Nissan workers reject United Auto Workers in Mississippi

Workers at a Nissan assembly plant in Mississippi have voted against forming a union, adding to decades of futility by United Auto Workers organizers at foreign-owned auto plants in the American South.

Representatives of Nissan Motor Co. and the UAW said late Friday that 2,244 workers, or 62 percent, voted against the UAW, while 1,307, or 38 percent, favored the union.

... The UAW has never fully organized an international automaker in the traditionally anti-union South, although it did persuade some maintenance workers to join at a Volkswagen AG plant in Tennessee. The UAW's lack of influence among southern auto workers has reduced its bargaining power when Detroit automakers lose market share and close plants.

Let's stop there for a moment. Amy's observation is spot-on, and is rarely mentioned by those covering the industry.

Year-to-date figures released earlier this week through July show that the combined market share of the "Detroit automakers" — General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler — has been only 43.9 percent, down from 47.1 percent during the first seven months of 2011. The three companies' market share in July alone, at 41.9 percent, was even worse, meaning that the the combined downward slide during the past several years continues. Given the union's track record at companies whose workers it represents, it seems quite reasonable that Canton, Mississippi's workers would resist the UAW's organizing efforts.

The union isn't handling the loss well, and appears to be willing to engage in scorched-earth tactics to punish Nissan. The AP's Amy, whose journalists are represented by the News Media Guild union, almost appeared to be egging them on:

... UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel had telegraphed the move (complaining to the National Labor Relations Board) Monday, when he alleged illegal activity by the company.

"Despite claiming for years to be neutral on the question of a union, Nissan waged one of the most illegal and unethical anti-union campaigns that I've seen in my lifetime," Casteel said in a statement Friday.

... The union also could try to encourage a backlash against Nissan outside the United States, where it has tried to build pressure on the company through unions at other plants and supporters in the French government, which owns nearly 20 percent of the Renault Group, Nissan's business partner. The union said it would "educate" the French government about Nissan's anti-union campaign.

Amy eventually inserted the following cryptic sentence relating to the corruption scandal into the 25th of his 27 paragraphs:

Kristen Dziczek of the Center for Automotive Research said that although the UAW was the underdog, odds were unlikely to improve soon, as President Donald Trump's appointees take over the National Labor Relations Board. A corruption scandal involving union employees allegedly taking bribes from a former Fiat Chrysler executive also threatened to spread.

That final bolded sentence also appears in the eighth paragraph of a story at APnews.com: "UAW defiant in Mississippi loss as union opponents celebrate."

The scandal involved is a real doozy. It received initial wire service coverage when it first broke on July 26. Here are the first five paragraphs of the AP's report that day:

EX-FIAT CHRYSLER EXECUTIVE CHARGED IN UNION OFFICIAL PAYOFF

A former Fiat Chrysler executive was charged Wednesday with looting a training center for blue-collar workers by giving $1.2 million through a variety of ways to a UAW leader, his wife and other senior union officials.

Al Iacobelli was indicted in an alleged conspiracy involving United Auto Workers vice president General Holiefield and Holiefield's wife, Monica Morgan. Holiefield died in 2015.

The indictment describes a multiyear scheme to reward Holiefield and Morgan with first-class travel, designer clothing and jewelry. A $262,000 mortgage on their home in suburban Detroit was paid off, according to the grand jury.

Iacobelli treated himself to more than $350,000 for a Ferrari, the government alleged.

The "indictment exposes a disturbing criminal collaboration that was ongoing for years between high ranking officials of FCA and the UAW," said David Gelios, head of the FBI in Detroit. FCA is Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

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Since then, the scandal has received almost no other press attention outside of Metro Detroit. Its tentacles appear to be spreading, though they still seem to relate only to Fiat Chrysler, as seen in the following story update at the Detroit Free Press on July 31:

FCA-UAW scandal nears new potential target

A former United Auto Workers official is under investigation and a potential target of the FBI probe into a multimillion-dollar conspiracy within the top ranks of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and the union, The Detroit News has learned.

Retired UAW Associate Director Virdell King has hired a criminal defense lawyer amid questions about personal purchases made through a UAW-Chrysler National Training Center credit-card account, according to two sources familiar with the investigation. The training center funds are supposed to benefit blue-collar workers.

The focus on King provides a partial roadmap of additional people who could be charged in a high-profile criminal case that alleges FCA and union leaders spent more than $1.2 million on luxury items instead of using the money to benefit training of Fiat Chrysler hourly workers. The indictment references, but does not identify, a handful of other union and automaker officials accused of participating in a scheme to pay off UAW officials.

Though AP didn't directly note it, Nissan leveraged this scandal in making its case to Canton, Mississippi plant workers, essentially arguing that a UAW with corrupt leaders and poor internal controls can't be trusted to represent their best interests. That's a reasonable argument to make, but it leaves open what Amy and the AP mean in by "threatened to spread."

Do they mean that the scandal may spread beyond Fiat Chrysler to include executives and UAW representatives at other companies, or even UAW leaders at the very top?

On the one hand, it's a wonder that Amy and the AP mentioned the scandal at all. But since they did, they owed readers a lot more than a cryptic, vague, and completely uninformative sentence.

Their treatment makes one question what they know that they won't tell us.

Cross-posted at <<< Please support MRC's NewsBusters team with a tax-deductible contribution today. >>>

</p>">BizzyBlog.com.

AP Reporter Smears Stephen Miller As in League With 'Far-Right' 'White Supremacists'

Stephen Miller's trouncing of CNN reporter Jim Acosta over immigration policy at Wednesday's White House press briefing apparently angered the Associated Press's Hillel Italie beyond measure.

Thursday, while barely covering any of the substance of the confrontation, the AP reporter irresponsibly launched into a smearing, sneering tirade equating Miller's viewpoints with "members of the far-right community, including such white supremacists as David Duke and Richard Spencer."

Here are excerpts from Italies's idiocy:

When senior White House aide Stephen Miller disputed the significance of Emma Lazarus’ poem on the Statue of Liberty, he wasn’t stating a new opinion.

Members of the far-right community, including such white supremacists as David Duke and Richard Spencer, have harshly criticized the poem and even used anti-Semitic language.

“It’s offensive that such a beautiful, inspiring statue was ever associated with ugliness, weakness, and deformity,” Spencer tweeted in January, referring to such words by Lazarus as “wretched refuse.”

This is miles beneath contempt.

Miller merely pointed out that "The poem that you’re referring to, that was added later, is not actually a part of the original Statue of Liberty." He did not criticize the poem, but instead correctly recounted the history while adding that a poem, no matter how noble its sentiments, doesn't drive national policy.

But Hillel Italie apparently considers any people who believe that current immigration policies should be less generous in any way to be "alt-right" and "white supremacists." The left and the press, but I repeat myself, have clearly never gotten past believing that half of President Donald Trump's supporters belong in Hillary Clinton's "basket of deplorables ... racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic -- you name it."

The press, now obviously including the AP, has been using Richard Spencer as some kind of threatening alt-right monster for almost two years now. The fact of the matter is that Spencer can't even fill a mid-sized hotel meeting room with his followers (275 appears to have been his high-water mark in late November). Just about wherever he goes, the number of journalists present outnumber his supporters.

Trump has disavowed the alt-right on numerous occasions. Spencer turned against Trump in April. Thus, there's no valid association between them whatsoever. The Trump administration believes that the immigration system needs to be reformed to put all American families, all legal U.S. workers, and national sovereignty first — sentiments held by most Americans. Spencer does not.

Perhaps because he knew how weak his associations of Miller were with Richard Spencer and David Duke, Italie decided to artificially broaden the definition of alt-right:

Among those praising Miller was Breitbart News, the alt-right publication once headed by Steve Bannon, now Trump’s chief strategist. “Trump Adviser Miller Schools Acosta: Statue of Liberty Poem on Huddled Masses Added Later” reads a headline on breitbart.com. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Breitbart "alt-right" smear, with "alt-right" narrowly defined, as Italie effectively did, as "including ... white supremacists" and "anti-Semitic language," doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

In its November attempt to explain the alt-right, USA Today said that "It is a loose movement, mostly online, that includes people who are dedicated to "white identity." Breitbart is most assuredly not dedicated to white identity, and it's a smear to claim that it is; one look at the paper's staff during the website's 2015 breakout year will refute that claim. The closest Breitbart ever came to being alt-right in the white nationalist, white supremacist sense was an attempt to explain the alt-right to readers in March of last year. By that bogus yardstick, every news organization in America which has tried to explain the alt-right ... is alt-right.

The suspicion here is that there's more than a little professional jealousy at work. In April, Breitbart was in the top 30 U.S. news sites for web traffic, i.e., it's a mainstream center-right site whose traffic exceeded, among many others, NPR, ABC News, the Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times.

The AP's websites didn't crack the top 100. Though the wire service's content is obviously pervasive because of its vast number of subscribing outlets, the fact remains that the AP's two primary websites — AP.org and APnews.com — had no more than one-third of Breitbart's traffic, and likely quite a bit less than one-third. As of Thursday evening, Breitbart's U.S. Alexa rank was 69. AP.org was at 1,223, with a steep decline since September of last year; and APnews.com was at 1,355.

Miller blasted Acosta on at least four other fronts besides Acosta's attempt to directly associate the poem added later with the Statue of Liberty itself (falsely describing Miller's statement as "some National Park revisionism"):

  • Costa began by falsely assuming that some level of English proficiency isn't required to emigrate legally to the U.S. He's wrong, as Miller observed: "Right now it’s a requirement that to be naturalized you have to speak English."
  • Acosta was just getting started demonstrating how utterly ignorant he is, claiming that "we're in a low period of immigration right now." Miller correctly pointed out that the level of legal immigration remains high — arguably too high, given the hordes of tech-savvy American workers currently holding jobs which are far beneath their skill levels. In trying to claim that immigration is currently low, Acosta referred to recent reductions in illegal border crossings. One struggles and fails to find a kinder word than "stupid" to describe Acosta's attempt to change the subject. As Miller asked, "Do you really at CNN not know the difference between Green Card policy and illegal immigration?" Apparently not.
  • Costa went deeper into idiocy when he asked if Trump's immigration policy will end up meaning that the U.S. is "just going to bring in people from Great Britain and Australia." Miller couldn't believe what he was hearing (who can blame him?): "That you think only people from Great Britain or Australia would speak English is so insulting to millions of hardworking immigrants who do speak English from all over the world."
  • Most fundamentally, Acosta clearly considered any reduction in legal immigration levels below the 1 million seen annually in recent years as some form of betrayal of American ideals. Miller correctly characterized that as nonsense, and further as a smear of previous American presidential administrations which had far lower annual legal immigration numbers: "Tell me what years meet Jim Acosta’s definition of the Statue of Liberty poem law of the land. So you’re saying a million a year is the Statue of Liberty number? 900,000 violates it? 800,000 violates it?"

Almost none of this made it into Hillel Italie's dispatch. Instead, the reporter chose to quote a 1986 speech by President Ronald Reagan:

... During a 1986 ceremony marking the statue’s centennial, President Ronald Reagan noted Lazarus’ “very special dedication” and emphasized the statue’s importance not just to “immigrants who stand out” but to “those whose names are remembered by only a few.”

“Many of them passed through this harbor, went by this lady, looked up at her torch, which we light tonight in their honor,” Reagan said. “They were the men and women who labored all their lives so that their children would be well fed, clothed, and educated, the families that went through great hardship yet kept their honor, their dignity, and their faith in God. They passed on to their children those values, values that define civilization and are the prerequisites of human progress. They worked in our factories, on ships and railroads, in stores, and on road construction crews. They were teachers, lumberjacks, seamstresses, and journalists. They came from every land.”

This Reagan speech has absolutely nothing to do with yesterday's Miller-Acosta confrontation. The immigrants to whom Reagan referred came here legally. Once upon a time were heavily vetted, and only a relatively limited number of them were allowed to enter the U.S. in any given year.

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As John Hinderaker at Powerline observed:

I wish I could say that Hillel’s smear is unworthy of the Associated Press, but the unfortunate reality is that smearing President Trump and members of his administration is the AP’s main project these days. Actual news reporting falls far down the priority list.

We're long past the point where news organizations which subscribe to AP content should get a pass for doing so — unless they're also comfortable with the AP's smears. In that case, they too should be avoided to the extent the AP's websites currently are.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Liberal Pollster Smears West Virginians As 'Close-Minded,' 'Easily Misled'

Longtime liberal pollster Stuart Rothenberg apparently had a hard time handling President Donald Trump's visit to West Virginia on Thursday. During that visit, Mountain State Governor Jim Justice officially announced his switch to the Republican Party, thereby consolidating full GOP control over the executive and legislative branches in that state, and bringing the total number of Republican U.S. governors to 35.

Reacting to Trump's visit and this stunning news, which further confirms how the Democratic Party has lost touch with working people and Middle America in general, Rothenberg published two of the most condescending and insulting tweets one will ever see directed at an entire state's population.

Here they are (direct links are here and here; at the time this post was drafted, they were still present, almost a full day after they were published; H/T Twitchy via Instapundit):

RothenbergWVtweets080317

Well now.

Many West Virginians are indeed having a harder time supporting themselves. That's not a character flaw. Instead, it is a direct and deliberate result of the Obama administration's war on coal.

The Media Research Center produced Collateral Damage: Forgotten Casualties of the Left’s War on Coal, a moving documentary film on that very topic in November 2016 (trailer here; complete film here). How are you supposed to support yourself when federal government rules and regulations, based entirely on a hoax, take your livelihood away from you while offering nothing to replace it?

Lots of West Virginians "can't speak English"? Two points:

  • The state's immigrant population as a percentage of total population is one of the lowest in the nation, meaning that there is no doubt that Rothenberg is taking a direct shot at the literacy of its citizens.
  • The state's high school graduation rate of 85 percent is 42nd in the nation. Blue state California is 50th. Imagine that. The rate in the blue state of New York, at 85.6 percent, is barely higher than West Virginia's. Would Rothenberg ever dare to claim that Californians or New Yorkers "can't speak English," even though almost anyone who has been to either state knows that many people there can't, or won't?

With that first tweet, the snide Rothenberg was just getting started.

"Close-minded, provincial, angry, easily misled"? His reference to his wife's dad in Pennsylvania, who one would think he considers absolutely despicable (or, I should say, deplorable), was a pathetic attempt to soften the blow.

As might be expected, outraged responses poured into Twitter, accompanied by little if any support:

"The snide, nasty, dripping condescension is why we have Trump."

"... as someone who comes from the region that is incredibly bigoted -- people from West Virginia are incredible hard-working folks." (This comment caused Rothenberg to publish the his second tweet.)

"... this is exactly how folks from WV think the cosmopolitan class views them & then they prove it."

"All of my college classmates from WVA went home after school and supported themselves. Funny most from DC and suburbs went back and couldn't."

"'Close-minded, provincial, angry, and easily misled.' So I guess they're qualified to be D.C. political reporters?"

"This is why we snort in derision when liberals say they are compassionate and the right is full of hate. Proven over and over to be a lie."

"This tweet says more about you than them."

One would think that Rothenberg might have acquired some humility during the past eight years, given two firm predictions he has made during that time which turned out to be totally and horribly wrong. Nope.

The first was this claim in April 2009 (bolds are mine throughout this post):

April Madness: Can GOP Win Back the House in 2010?

... the chance of Republicans winning control of either chamber in the 2010 midterm elections is zero. Not “close to zero.” Not “slight” or “small.” Zero.

Rothenberg doesn't get a pass because he wrote this 19 months before the midterms. He knows that 19 months is a lifetime in politics, but wrote what he did anyway in hopes of demoralizing the opposition. Republicans picked up 63 House seats in the 2010 midterms, taking a decisive 242-193 majority. The GOP also picked up six Senate seats (Democrats maintained a 51-47 majority), and increased their cadre of state governors by six.

The second prediction which was totally wrong occurred three weeks before Election Day 2016, when he unconditionally declared in the Washington Post that Hillary Clinton would win the presidency, Rothenberg clearly relished the idea that Trump would surely lose:

Trump’s path to an electoral college victory isn’t narrow. It’s nonexistent.

The trajectory of the 2016 presidential race — which will result in a Hillary Clinton victory — remains largely unchanged from May, when Donald Trump and Clinton were in the process of wrapping up their nominations.

... Trump’s supporters have not turned on him. But he trails badly with only a few weeks to go until Nov. 8, and he must broaden his appeal to have any chance of winning. That is now impossible.

... Trump is and has been a disaster as a presidential nominee, and that will not change in the campaign’s final days.

... It would be a mistake to call Trump’s current path to an electoral-college victory narrow. It is nonexistent. Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, once part of the Trump scenario, have never been “in play” ...

... Clinton is headed for solid popular-vote and electoral-vote victories that are larger than Obama’s were over Romney. ...

... the most important question is no longer whether Trump or Clinton will win but how large Clinton’s margin will be and whether she will have coattails.

Oops.

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Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Headline at Deceptive NY Times Story Ties Trump(!) to Dems' IT Scandal

The first news reports of House IT staffer Imran Awan's Monday arrest "for attempting to flee the country and charged with bank fraud" came out on Fox on Monday night. The New York Times did not file a related story until Friday afternoon, roughly 72 hours later, for Saturday's print edition.

Reporter Nicholas Fandos's Page A18 item is one of the most obvious and disgraceful attempts at misdirection and reality avoidance one will ever see, starting with its headline, which, incredibly, makes it appear as if this scandal, which the Democratic Party entirely owns, involves President Donald Trump.

Here is that headline:

NYTheadlineOnAwanArrest072817

Any reader who was previously unaware of this scandal would surely believe, based on this headline, that it's Republicans who have a problem, and that the I.T. person formerly worked for the Trump administration.

That the Times deliberately composed this headline to deceive isn't arguable. The paper knows that this story is about Democrats, and the story's URL, which reflects a headline used earlier Friday — "imran-awan-debbie-wasserman-shultz-pakistan.html" (nice touch there, misspelling the congresswoman's name) — proves that a previous genuinely informative headline was suppressed.

The Times gave Trump headlined treatment only because he retweeted a Thursday morning Townhall.com tweet about the press's failure to cover Awan's arrest: "ABC, NBC, And CBS Pretty Much Bury IT Scandal Engulfing Debbie Wasserman Schultz's Office." Townhall's Thursday morning report referenced Curtis Houck's Wednesday evening post at NewsBusters, which noted that only CBS mentioned the scandal at all, giving it 37 seconds of coverage.

In a largely substance-free report which was all about casting doubt on previous reporting on the scandal by center-right outlets, particularly the Daily Caller, Times reporter Fando exposed the establishment press's double standard relating to when stories are deemed newsworthy.

The Daily Caller alone has now published two dozen stories on the Dems' IT scandal, producing mountains of damning evidence concerning potential compromises of sensitive information and obstruction of authorities' investigations.

But as Holmes Lybrand at the Daily Caller noted Friday evening, the Times, which has spent month after month publishing anonymously sourced and frequently rebutted stories on alleged election-related and other collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, has raised the evidentiary bar in covering the Awan story, despite the existence of court and other records supporting the DC's work.

Just a few of Fando's most self-damning paragraphs include the following (links are in originals and bolds are mine throughout this post):

The Daily Caller, with almost two dozen articles on the family, has led the pack in reporting the story, packaging new details that have dribbled out of the investigation into a growing web of material, even as few in the mainstream news media paid attention.

That is until Monday, when Mr. Awan was arrested by the F.B.I. and United States Capitol Police on seemingly unrelated charges as he tried to board a flight to Pakistan. In the days since, the story has raced down an increasingly familiar track at warp speed, from the fringes of the internet to Fox News and other established publications.

Since the Daily Caller, as noted, has been on this story for six months, Fando is clearly attempting to marginalize it as a part of the "fringes of the internet." This is a characterization the Times would never apply to the Miami Herald, the Seattle Times, the Boston Globe, or Philly.com, all of whose sites as of Sunday morning had lower traffic ratings than the Daily Caller at Alexa.com.

Continuing the Fandos fantasy:

But for all the publicity, few if any of the fundamental facts of the case have come into focus. The criminal complaint against Mr. Awan filed on Monday alleges that he and his wife conspired to secure a fraudulent loan, not to commit espionage or political high jinks. And Mr. Awan’s lawyer, Christopher Gowen, says the more explosive accusations are the product of an anti-Muslim, right-wing smear job targeting his client and his client’s family.

So is the family’s story the stuff of a spy novel, ripe for sleuthing and criminal prosecution, or simply an overblown Washington story, typical of midsummer? Many here are finding it hard to say.

The tale more or less began six months ago, when investigators for the United States Capitol Police started looking into allegations by unnamed House lawmakers that the Pakistani-Americans had executed some sort of scam. What, exactly, has not been clear. News outlets have alluded variously to a procurement scheme, outright theft of computers or unauthorized access to computer networks — in addition to more extreme crimes like espionage.

The Times has only needed one or more anonymous source to publish stories about Trump and Russia, but it won't dignify the possibility that stories with much stronger evidentiary support concerning the crimes just identified have validity.

Lybrand's response at the Daily Caller called out the refusal by the Times and two other online sites to provide or refer to a slew of relevant details:

Media Ditches Substance Of Wasserman Schultz FBI Boondoggle To Focus On Conspiracy Theories

... The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group reporter Luke Rosiak, who has covered this story extensively since it first appeared in February, broke the news Sunday that “FBI agents seized smashed computer hard drives from the home of Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s information technology (IT) administrator, according to two sources with knowledge of the investigation.”

The NYT and BuzzFeed fail to mention this and many other key facts in recent articles, and Snopes obfuscates the story by rating a claim from a no-name blog as false, requiring the reader to dig through the fact check to find the truth.

... A NYT article Friday dedicates the vast majority of its space to casting doubt on stories surrounding Awan by using his lawyer, Christopher Gowen, as a reputable defense for Awan. Not only does the NYT ignore Gowen’s deep ties to Clinton, which TheDCNF has reported in detail, but the article also attempts to cast doubt by citing theories from a no-name conspiracy theorist who supports Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (though NYT calls him a “right winger”).

The NYT complains that “for all the publicity, few if any of the fundamental facts of the case have come into focus,” but fails to mention some of those fundamental facts within the article. The article makes no mention of the official Fairfax court documents that Rosiak has repeatedly linked to in his multiple stories on the Awans ...

Regardless of external noise, theories and blogs, the NYT, BuzzFeed and Snopes have made a perhaps unwitting effort to obfuscate information surrounding the Awan story.

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One could go on and on chronicling the obfuscations, distortions, outright falsehoods in the Times writeup which clearly show how overly generous Lybrand's description of Fando's work as an "unwitting effort" is. Here are just a few:

  • Though Awan and several of his relatives who managed office information technology for members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and other lawmakers worked for House Democrats and were relieved of those duties almost six months ago, Congresswoman and former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz kept Awan on her payroll until she fired him Tuesday evening. The Times described that firing as a choice by Schultz to "terminate a longstanding work arrangement."
  • Fando wrote that Awan and his family "contracted to work part time for more than a dozen Democratic members of Congress, including Ms. Wasserman Schultz." He did not mention the House Intelligence Committee, and the known affected Democratic congresspersons, including Schultz, number 30, i.e., 2-1/2 dozen, not just one.
  • Fando wrote that "Ms. Wasserman Schultz has been a favorite target of conspiracy theorists on both the left and the right since last July," when WikiLeaks documents "showed party officials had conspired to harm the presidential candidacy of Senator Bernie Sanders." Fando somehow forgot to report that Schultz resigned as Democratic National Committee chairman as a result of those revelations — and the DNC's determination to have the party nominate Hillary Clinton over Sanders "from the start" is reality, not a conspiracy theory.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Media, Celebs Outraged After Edited Video Shows Trump Snubbing Disabled Boy

In a since-deleted tweet, an aide to Washington State Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal claimed that President Donald Trump had ignored a "child in (a) wheelchair" who reached up "twice to shake the president's hand" after a Friday speech. It turns out that the aide, Ansel Herz, clearly engaged in the kind of "selective editing" critics claim conservative undercover journalists commit (but almost never do). By the time Herz deleted the tweet, the damage had spread around the world, as Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, unhinged GQ critic Keith Olbermann, and others ignorantly pounced on the deceptive tweet as proof that Trump is a heartless monster.

The complete video of the event shows that Trump specifically greeted and spoke with the wheelchair-bound boy before the speech.

Here is the video snip Herz used:

Here is a snip from earlier in the official White House full video, with Trump greeting the boy at the 2:19 mark:

Given what happened earlier, the idea that Trump engaged in some kind of carelessly negligent and hurtful behavior towards the wheelchair-bound boy as he departed is absurd.

Herz's tweet led Rowling to launch into a six-tweet rant seen at Twitchy.com. Among other things, she accused him of pretending "not to see a child in a wheelchair, as though frightened he might catch his condition," and of being a "monster of narcissism (who) values only himself and his pale reflections." As of when this post was drafted mid-morning on Saturday, the opening tweet in her series had been retweeted over 73,000 times and had garnered over 148,000 likes. The complete series of tweets was also still present at Rowling's Twitter account.

Meanwhile in a now-deleted tweet (HT Washington Free Beacon), Olbermann wrote that "this is mortifying, revelatory. OTOH, I'm somebody who shook his damnable hand. The child is fortunate he didn't touch the evil."

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Some left-wing bloggers also took the bait. Over at the Daily Kos, the related post's headline still reads, "This video of Trump ignoring a disabled child repeatedly trying to shake his hand is heartbreaking," even though the post's author has admitted that "Another video surfaced of him greeting the child on the way in." Actually, as we have seen, Trump's greeting is in an earlier portion of the same video.

Once again, the left's constant insinuation that the center-right is the source of fake news is proven spectacularly wrong.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Press Pours Resources Into Investigating Nine-Year-old's Letter to Trump

On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders read a letter from a Stockton, California boy named Dylan Harbin, whose nickname is "Pickle."

Almost immediately, "Pickle Truthers" in the Trump-deranged media who couldn't imagine that a 9 year-old could really have written such a letter embarked on an exhaustive boyhunt to verify Pickle's existence.

Many clearly operated on the assumption that Pickle was a figment of Trump's fevered imagination, and instigated a detailed forensic analysis of the letter. That letter is seen below:

Just a few examples of over-the-top skepticism included the following:

  • Mediaite's Jonathan Levine: "Ok. Serious question. Is Pickle real?" Levine tried to backtrack away from his "serious question" later by joking in a separate tweet, "Look ... I won't rest until I've seen a birth certificate" You're not fooling anyone, Jon — not even your own staff.
  • Washington Post reporter Christopher Ingraham: "Pickle's actually a 45-year-old trucker from Iowa."
  • Matt Berman at Buzzfeed used the fact that Pickle had asked how much money the President has as an excuse to claim that "Pickle demands ... (Trump's) tax returns."
  • A journalist at the UK Mirror claimed that “There is no record in the index of US newspaper birth announcements for a Dylan Harbin between 2007 and 2009.”

It soon became obvious that a number of tweeters, including many in the press, weren't joking as they questioned Pickle's existence. Ultimately, the Washington Post put reporter Monica Hess on the case:

Did a 9-year-old called ‘Pickle’ really write that letter to Trump? Yep, he’s real.

... then the comments became more investigative. Was it odd that the notebook paper, which theoretically arrived in the mail, didn’t seem to have the crease marks one would see on a letter folded into an envelope? Was it unusual that a young child would have spelled “people” and “friend” correctly, but then mixed up “how”? What kind of 9-year-old would request a birthday party themed around a 71-year-old man?

Pickle came to represent everything the nation feared and hoped for: Was the administration a “friend” to the American people? Was the administration trying to pull one over on us?

“The ‘kid’ who wrote the Pickle letter,” someone posted, as if they had uncovered a second set of Pentagon papers, “has the same name as the [Vice President Pence’s] cat.”

Hesse then proceeded to insist that the skepticism was, naturally, all Trump's fault:

As Wednesday’s investigation into the veracity of Pickle barged on ahead, weary Trump supporters noted the lunacy — the desperation — of people who would dedicate so much energy to tearing apart a sweet letter from a child.

It was lunacy. But it was not lunacy that came out of nowhere. It was lunacy born of the times, incubated in a world of secret Russian meetings, fudged inauguration sizes, and grandiose statements from a commander in chief whose greatest pastime and hobby was self-mythologizing.

Hesse clearly had no sense of irony as she wrote this.

It's turning out that the "secret Russian" contacts of genuine importance during the 2016 U.S. election campaign largely involved Democrats who allegedly arranged to pay for the infamous Trump-Russia dossier produced by Fusion GPS. This and other matters, including hundreds of illegal alleged unmaskings Obama administration officials, now point to the idea that it was the left which was really engaged in trying to rig the 2016 general election.

Hesse consulted two "handwriting and children’s cognitive experts." One "noted that the margins on the right side of the paper were very wide, which can indicate a feeling of concern about the future." I'll have to remember that the next time I change the settings on my Word documents.

Of course, despite how "improbable ... it may seem," according to Jezebel's Prachi Gupta, Hesse reported that Pickle is indeed real:

His name was Dylan. When he was a baby, his older brother started calling him Dyl-Pickle, and eventually the Dyl dropped away.

So, we found Pickle. He is real, definitely real. He likes watching baseball and riding his scooter and Donald Trump.

As Jim Treacher at the Daily Caller wryly observed, it's a relief that wealthy Post owner Jeff Bezos "can afford to pay people to track down little kids who write letters to the President of the United States, just in case it’s all some sort of trick."

But the real story here is at Gatehouse Media's RecordNet.com, which covers local news in Stockton.

A story said to be a compendium of wire service reports on Dylan Harbin reveals the following (Dylan's misspellings are uncorrected):

... Dylan Harbin received the shoutout of shoutouts Wednesday when his letter was read by new press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders during the daily press briefing. “My name is Dylan but every body calls me Pickle ... I’m 9 years old and you are my favorit president. I like you so much I had a birthday about you. My cake was the shap of your hat.”

Cake? Hat? What?

... when Pickle asked for “a Donald Trump suit” for his birthday, she bought him one, and when he asked for “a Donald Trump cake,” she made him one herself, because she couldn’t find a bakery willing and able to do it.

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So you can refuse to bake a Donald Trump cake for a little boy without consequences. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's pretty stunning that Dylan's mom, SueAnn Harbin, appears to have tried pretty hard to find a bakery willing to serve her, and couldn't. But if you as a baker won't bake a cake celebrating a same-sex "marriage," your business can and likely will be sued or fined out of existence.

I hope Mrs. Harbin eventually tells Dylan why she had to be the one to bake his Donald Trump cake.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Oregonian Initially Fails to Report Basic, Horrifying Facts About an Arrested Illegal Immigrant

For years, if not decades, it's been obvious that all too many local, regional, and national journalists do everything they can to keep important details about criminal acts committed by people who are in this country illegally out of their reports. Immigration-enforcement advocates who attempt to track such crimes have told me on several occasions that they typically have to try to access court records to get full details which should clearly have been shouted out in news stories' headlines.

A Wednesday story written up at OregonLive.com, the web site of the Oregonian newspaper, provides a perfect and genuinely sickening example.

Here is the full report by the paper's Samantha Matsumoto:

Police arrest man accused of attacking two women in NE Portland

Police arrested a man accused of sexually assaulting a woman in her Northeast Portland home on Monday then attacking a woman in a parking garage later that day.

Officers arrested Sergio Jose Martinez, 31, on Monday evening after Martinez reportedly attacked a woman in a parking garage in the 2100 block of Northeast Halsey Street, police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson said.

Martinez, armed with a knife, ran from police, but was captured in a neighborhood apartment, Simpson said. He was taken to a hospital with minor injuries and was released and booked into the Multnomah County Jail on Tuesday.

Earlier that day, police say Martinez broke into a 65-year-old woman's house a few blocks away on Northeast Irving Street. He physically and sexually assaulted the woman, then stole her car, Simpson said.

Martinez is charged with first-degree robbery, kidnapping, burglary, sodomy, sex abuse and second-degree assault. Investigators expect additional charges after Martinez is arraigned Wednesday.

Though it has outrageous particulars, Matsumoto's reporting on Martinez's crimes made it all look rather routine.

Unfortunately for her and the Oregonian, Oregon TV station KOIN engaged in actual journalism and gave readers ugly details anyone would have expected any responsible journalist to report.

Here is the video report:

Here are excerpts from the station's web report, which largely tracks and expands on the video seen above, concentrating on what OregonLive.com wouldn't report (bolds are mine):

Accused attacker has history of illegal entry into US
Sergio Jose Martinez's most recent removal from the US was in November 2016

The man accused of violently attacking two women on Monday has a long history of being deported to Mexico and then illegally entering the United States, according to court records.

... According to court documents obtained by KOIN 6 News, Martinez’ arrest record began in 2003. He has been jailed in California and Oregon several times. At age 15, he completed a drug and alcohol treatment program in Texas.

Martinez moved to Portland within the last three years. He appears to be transient with no fixed address. He has used a Northwest Portland shelter as his mailing address. Martinez told officials that he picks up construction jobs to make money.

Martinez is a meth and marijuana user and told the sheriff’s office alcohol is his most serious addition.(sic) Earlier this year, he told jail staff that he consumes four to six 24 oz. beers per day. In the past, he said he has consumed as much as 10 beers per day.

... His criminal record is extensive.

In California, his conviction record includes:
2008 – Burglary
2010 – U.S. alien found in U.S. following deportation;
2014 – Parole violation
2015 – Battery, theft, and obstructing a public officer
2016 – Illegal entry into the U.S.

“Defendant has entry/removal from United States to/from Mexico 20 times with at least 5 probation violations from re-entry,” according to court documents filed in March 2017.

His most recent removal from the United States was in November 2016, but it remains unknown when he re-entered the U.S.

... The county has issued 9 failure to appear warrants against Martinez since September 1986.

It's overwhelmingly likely that the Oregonian initially chose to withhold Martinez's 20 deportations, extensive criminal record, and long-term record of drug and alcohol addiction from its readers.

On the safe assumption that this is the case, we know why the Oregonian held out on reporting these details. Most of the left-leaning, open borders-supporting press doesn't want its audience to know the extent of crimes committed by illegal immigrants, the ease with which deported immigrants have waltzed back into this country for decades, and, especially in the case of sanctuary cities like Portland and sanctuary states like Oregon, how that status recklessly endangers their law-abiding citizens. If these things were more widely known, more people might be even more strongly in favor of stricter border controls, up to and including building the Donald Trump-advocated wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, than they already are. We can't have that.

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In this instance, KOIN's interest appears to have been the result of Martinez's crimes leading to a manhunt with pursuit, which obviously makes for good breaking-news television. Nevertheless, the station should be applauded for its thorough and important follow-up, which appears to have finally motivated the Oregonian to do its job late Wednesday evening.

In other less visible circumstances, how often has the Oregonian deliberately chosen, as was clearly the case with Martinez, to keep relevant details about a perpetrator's illegal-immigration history and criminal record away from its audience? The disgraceful default answer at that paper, and at so many others around the country, is almost certainly: Very.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

NY Times Reporter: Lower Headcount and Higher Spending Are Contradictory

When the establishment press isn't criticizing center-right outlets as fact-challenged and not objective, it's dismissing them as irrelevant and unimportant.

If that's really the case, that would lead one to wonder why a seasoned New York Times reporter was bothering to look at a story published at Breitbart.com, let alone tweeting his breathtaking ignorance about the content of that report's first two sentences.

The headline and first two sentences of Chriss W. Street's Tuesday story at Breitbart read as follows:

Number of Registered Lobbyists Falls 14% in 2017

The number of federally registered political lobbyists has fallen by 14 percent thus far in 2017 from the 2016 total.

However, based on data provided by the non-partisan OpenSecrets.org, spending by lobbyists is on track to rise by about 3 percent in 2017.

Amazingly, Times reporter Nicholas Confessore found something terribly wrong with this, and said so in the following Wednesday morning tweet (HT Twitchy):

NYTconfessoreLobbyistTweet072617

There is nothing in Smith's second sentence which contradicts the first. It is quite possible for the number of lobbyists to go down and the spending by the ones who remain to go up. That Confessore is so absolutely sure that there is a contradiction reflects badly on him, the Times, and Confessore's alma mater of Princeton. It appears that majoring in Politics at that Ivy League school and 19 years as a journalist hasn't required much in the way of math knowledge.

NewsBusters has chronicled a long history of Confessore's bias and ignorance. Just a few of the lowlights include the following:

  • In January 2016, as the size of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's speaking fees, though known for many months, finally became a controversy as a result of Democratic rival Bernie Sanders' bitter attacks on them, Confessore suddenly decided to criticize them — but at the same time claimed, speaking for her pre-candidacy declaration supporters, that raking in $250,000 for 40-minute speeches "is the most innocent way you can make money as a former government official." Words fail.
  • In August 2015, Confessore's formulated a fever-swamp conspiracy theory that Rush Limbaugh (whose name he pronounced "Lim-bow," as if we're supposed to believe, after over 25 years of Rush being in the talk-radio national spotlight, he didn't know better) had somehow convinced Fox News to kiss and make up with Donald Trump after the then-presidential candidate's infamous dust-up with then-evening show host Megyn Kelly.
  • Confessore co-authored a 2013 piece alleging that Tea Party and conservative groups who had their applications for not-for-profit status held up for years by badgering Internal Revenue Service officials who asked impertinent questions and erected artificial approval barriers had somehow "tested rules on politics" and "tested political limits." An Ohio Tea Party correction described the dispatch as "laughable," and insisted that "we were told the rules and we followed them to the "T". We didn't challenge them or try to change them." By that time, even the Obama administration's IRS had agreed that its politically motivated questions were wrong. But Confessore and co-author Michael Luo wouldn't let go, even after the truth was acknowledged.

To his credit, Confessore, at least thus far, hasn't deleted his tweet and tried to pretend it never happened (though one can't rule out the possibility that he'll wait a few weeks or months to delete it while hoping no one notices).

To his detriment, though he could have stayed away from Twitter and left his level of ignorance a mystery, he decided to go on it and demonstrate just how deep it is.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

The Associated Press's Abortion and Pro-Life Regulation Double Standard

It's no secret that the establishment press's pro-abortion posture is so strong and pervasive that one wonders if supporting it is a job prerequisite. One clear manifestation of that is how journalists treat attempts to regulate conduct and disclosure at abortion clinics with outraged hysteria, while ignoring attempts to silence and marginalize pro-life groups attempting to show pregnant women that there is an alternative to eliminating the unborn lives they are carrying.

The Associated Press is especially experienced in engaging in this double standard.

In June, the AP made a national story (found at the APNews.com national web site) out of a law in Kansas. The writeup implicitly mocked lawmakers who passed the law and the governor who signed it by concentrating on one of its relatively trivial elements (presented in full because of its brevity and for fair use and discussion purposes):

APonKansasAbortionDrLaw060817

Rather than describe the law as a disclosure requirement with an accompanying waiting period (which was already in place anyway), the AP's headline chose to focus on its font requirement without even telling readers what the law was about.

The unnamed AP reporter's opening paragraph repeated and detailed the font requirement, which is a common element of many disclosure laws regulating to, among many other things, workplace bulletin board messages and safety signage and highway signs. Additional research into other reporting on the status of this law as it made its way through the state legislature indicates a near-obsession with reporting on the font requirement.

The need for such a law enabling pregnant mothers to at least know something about the disciplinary record of the doctor who is about to end their unborn baby's life is obvious once one looks through the Kansas-related stories regularly chronicled at Operation Rescue and other pro-life websites. One current matter involves a third-time revocation of "the medical license of an abortionist who once kept dangerously shoddy records and provided dubious mental health justification for women – including girls as young as 10 – to get late-term abortions ..."

The AP story's correction seen above would seem to indicate that the reporter involved accepted a proabortion group's press release or statement on what the law would do without determining the law's actual content. In mid-March, pro-life groups' disclosure proposal involved "the year the doctor graduated from medical school, the date employment started at the clinic, state of residency, status of malpractice insurance, hospital privileges and interaction with state medical regulators," and not the specific medical school or the doctor's age as the wire service story above originally reported.

Let's contrast how the AP treated June's story out of Kansas with a more recent development in Seattle, Washington's King County.

In this case, a county board decided that it needed to force a labeling requirement on crisis pregnancy centers.

The AP only treated this news as a regional story.

What the county Board of Health did is likely just an opening attempt to marginalize those who want to counsel expectant mothers in difficult situations and provide them access or referrals to prenatal care — something Planned Parenthood has been shown to rarely do. The AP story involved clearly took the Board's side:

APonKingCountyPregnancyCtrReg072217

Note that the regulation has a font-size requirement which happens to be four times larger than the one involved in the Kansas law described earlier (yes, Kansas's law has to do with what's on paper, and King County's involves signage). Yet the AP didn't headline or obsess over this font-size requirement at all. The double standard could hardly be more obvious.

The Board has mandated a $100 per day penalty for failure to comply; no financial penalty was identified in AP's coverage of the Kansas law, likely because there isn't one.

In this story, the AP's headline writer and the story's reporter wouldn't even allow the words "crisis pregnancy centers" to appear without including scare quotes which explicitly question the term's legitimacy — even though there are at least nine national networks of honest-to-goodness crisis pregnancy centers.

Here's what crisis pregnancy centers do:

Crisis pregnancy centers typically provide women with the following free services: pregnancy tests, caring and confidential counseling from trained professionals, medical referrals, abortion and adoption information, information about medical insurance or government assistance, temporary shelter, and much more.

You ... can likely find a crisis pregnancy center near you in the yellow pages of your local phonebook (e.g., under "Abortion Alternatives" or "Pregnancy Counseling").

The supposed need for this regulation was an investigation by undercover "trained volunteer college and law students" claiming that "the centers give medically inaccurate information about abortion and some don't tell patients that they don't provide abortions or make referrals involving abortion and contraception."

Care Net of Puget Sound, which has six crisis pregnancy centers in the region and is mentioned in the AP report, blasted that contention as "an absolute lie." Of course they don't provide abortions (and I'm sure they clearly tell patients that), and of course, as pro-life-driven, they won't make such referrals. The obvious question about this "investigation" should be: Where's the James O'Keefe-level video proof, with all the raw footage? (The unsurprising answer will be seen shortly.)

In later paragraphs, the AP's unnamed reporter hyperventilated over the fact that Care Net "offers 'life-affirming' resources" and had a "prayer team" which is especially concerned with praying for the "very abortion-minded."

As to the specific labeling requirement, as Jay Hobbs at LifeNews.com noted on Monday, the Board is legally forcing crisis pregnancy centers to lie — and, as I suspected earlier, it trusted the aforementioned "investigation" without examining it in any detail:

Health Board Forces Pregnancy Centers to Post False Signs Saying “We’re Not a Health Care Facility”

In the past year, Care Net of Puget Sound—a state-licensed medical provider based in Seattle—contributed over $6 million worth of services to its community at zero cost to taxpayers.

... Care Net has served over 250,000 women and men since 1985 and operate under the licensure of two board-certified OB-GYNs. Not only that, the organization relies upon a 42-physician medical advisory council and employs three board-certified OB-GYNs, two physicians, three physician’s assistants and 21 nurses.

Despite Care Net’s clear medical nature—the organization offers ultrasounds and free STD/STI testing at no cost to clients or taxpayers—the new distinction from King County’s Board of Health has everything to do with what they don’t offer: abortion.

... no King Board of Health officials have visited pregnancy centers to educate themselves on the subject—and only three board members are medical professionals, including one dentist, an environmental health professor and a health clinic worker—the group relied exclusively on undocumented testimony from pro-abortion groups including NARAL Pro-Choice America and Legal Voice.

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While we're in that neighborhood, let make it clear that abortion — Planned Parenthood's primary business, no matter how often and how stridently the organization and its apologists continue to misrepresent it — is not health care. As a practicing physician succinctly put it to me a couple of years ago: Abortion "is only 'healthcare' if you think pregnancy is a 'disease.'" The group which actually has no genuine right to describe its facilities as "health care clinics" is Planned Parenthood. Most of its facilities won't even let pregnant mothers see their unborn babies' ultrasounds. Oh, but PP does use ultrasounds — as one facility's representative put it, "to see how far along the, um, patient is." The "patient" is the child targeted for an abortion.

Searches on "Puget" at the AP's main national site and at its APNews.com site both returned no stories relating to the King County Board of Health's action.

It appears that any attempt to regulate abortion is a reason for the AP to try to create national hysteria, while the wire service is determined to keep any attempt to silence or curb pro-life efforts as quiet as possible.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Columnist Ruben Navarrette Is Reluctant to Credit Trump For Border Crossings Plunge

Friday morning on Fox & Friends, Washington Post Writers Group columnist Ruben Navarrette, Jr. gave President Donald Trump only grudging and partial credit for the steep decline in illegal border crossings from Mexico into the U.S. so far this year.

Navarrette's "logic," which went unchallenged by host Steve Doocy, ignored several policy-related Trump administration announcements which have had direct impact, and failed to recognize how the tone which has been set at the administration's highest levels has had an impact on how the law is enforced on the ground.

Navarrette has been called "the most widely read Latino columnist in the country." His general posture towards Trump wasn't particularly difficult to research. His threatening May 24 column tells readers all they need to know about his mindset (bolds are mine throughout this post):

Trump's Latino enablers will be neither forgiven nor forgotten

... Latinos — especially Mexican-Americans ... are currently debasing themselves by auditioning for the reality show known as the Trump administration.

... Hispanic business leader (President and CEO Javier Palomarez of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce) recently went over to the dark side by joining Trump’s National Diversity Coalition. He even bragged that he helped broker a meeting between Latina entrepreneurs and Ivanka Trump ...

... If you’re Latino and working for the Trump White House, or jockeying for access, you ought to be ashamed. Have you no self-respect?

... Attention, Trump’s Latino enablers. You’re on notice. If you help the president shaft us, history will not be kind. And your betrayal will be neither forgiven nor forgotten.

It has apparently not occurred to Navarrette that many legal immigrants who endured the process of becoming citizens justifiably oppose granting amnesty or special favors to those who have come to this country illegally — especially legal citizens originally from Mexico and other Central American countries who now see the media and government officials simply assuming that, solely because of their ethnic background, they support the wave of illegal immigration which has gone on for decades.

In June of last year, CBS News apparently had little difficulty finding "a handful of Mexican-Americans in Texas border towns who echo this sentiment that that they have played by the rules, so others should be made to as well." These people clearly won't feel "shafted" if the Trump administration continues to enforce the law, and won't be intimidated by Navarrette's now-documented threat.

How interesting, then, that Navarrette appeared on Fox & Friends and tried to come across as a reasonable, level-headed guy, while making laughably false claims about sanctuary cities and claiming that ICE agents alone deserve most of the credit.

Doocy opened the full interview segment by nothing that under Trump, illegal border crossings are down 70 percent, illegal immigration-related arrests inside the country are up 40 percent, and "demands for removal" are up 80 percent.

The host then asked Navarrette about the news that ICE will have "10,000 more agents out on the street enforcing the laws of the land."

After saying that it's a good idea to have ICE agents instead of local law enforcement enforcing immigration laws, the columnist bizarrely claimed that the move:

... does vindicate people like me and others who have said for a long time that sanctuary cities are mostly symbolic. They have no power, no authority. The federal government can go in there any time it wants and this proves it."

Navarrette conveniently ignored the fact that many sanctuary cities' top officials have specifically instructed their law enforcement officials to keep their cooperation with ICE at an absolute minimum, including "fail(ing) to honor immigration detainers and releas(ing) serious criminal offenders" who should be deported out onto the streets.

It didn't seem possible, but it Navarette got even more bizarre.

Doocy pointed out that when the Obama-era Department of Justice said "Don't" go into sanctuary cities, ICE agents "have to listen." Here's Navarrette's response:

They gotta listen, but they find ways around it. Y'know, my dad was a cop for 37 years, and cops have a nice way of getting around various regulations. In this case, under Obama, those ICE agents, when they "stood down" (makes "scare quotes" with his hands) they deported 3 million people in eight years.

As to the deportation numbers, Navarrette is almost certainly aware that the Obama administration achieved its artificially high number of deportations by toying with the procedures involved, as the Los Angeles Times reported in April 2014 while reassuring readers that the Obama administration wasn't genuinely tough on immigration enforcement:

... the number of people deported at or near the border has gone up — primarily as a result of changing who gets counted in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency's deportation statistics.

... Until recent years, most people caught illegally crossing the southern border were simply bused back into Mexico in what officials called "voluntary returns," but which critics derisively termed "catch and release." Those removals, which during the 1990s reached more 1 million a year, were not counted in Immigration and Customs Enforcement's deportation statistics.

Now, the vast majority of border crossers who are apprehended get fingerprinted and formally deported.

... "If you are a run-of-the-mill immigrant here illegally, your odds of getting deported are close to zero — it's just highly unlikely to happen," John Sandweg, until recently the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in an interview.

As to ICE agents working around regulations, it's very hard to imagine that many were, simply because of the continued employment and career risks involved.

Navarrette then expanded on his claim that sanctuary cities are a sham, "because local residents will rebel, and they have before ... if sanctuary city policies lead to an unsafe environment."

Sure, Ruben. How has that worked out in San Francisco after Kate Steinle's murder, which was made possible by that city's sanctuary policies? Meanwhile, the city's residents and tourists suffered a mind-boggling 25,899 vehicle break-ins in 2015. If that's not an "unsafe environment," I don't know what is. Yet both the city and the State of California have since doubled down on their sanctuary defiance.

Finally, Doocy asked Navarrette for his take on the dramatic drop in illegal border crossings. As seen in the video's final segment below, the Post group columnist seriously downplayed the Trump administration's role in this result:

Navarrette's answer (eliminating repetition caused by Doocy not fully hearing all of what he originally said):

RUBEN NAVARRETTE, JR: Yeah, these are complicated things. This is not just because of President Trump. It's because of the economy in Mexico, some apprehension about coming into United States. And also some really creative policies by ICE. I give them credit. They have found ways to discourage border crossings.

... They found ways to create situations, for instance,they separate families at the border. It's created a disincentive to cross the border.

So I give a lot more credit to ICE agents on the ground, or Border Patrol agents on the ground, than I do the White House.

So the economy in Mexico is improving? Perhaps, but slowly, given forecasts of 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent economic growth this year in a country whose GDP per capita is less than one-third of that seen in the U.S.

Apprehension about coming into the U.S.? That would seem to be taking place because the odds of successfully crossing and being able to stay have gone down.

Even if one agrees that "creative policies by ICE" have contributed to this, we now have an administration where creative ideas designed to reduce and discourage illegal border crossings will be rewarded and not punished. Why? Because the tone set at the top of the Trump administration, which is so obviously different than that seen under Obama, enables creative solutions to be tried instead of potentially punished.

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Navarrette is simply and reflexively predisposed not to significantly credit the Trump administration for any accomplishment, regardless of the evidence right in front of his face. He also conveniently ignored the surely noticed administration announcements concerning the official end of "catch and release," the implementation of a "sweeping plan to deport undocumented immigrants," and the Department of Justice's virtual declaration of war on and dozens of arrests of those involved in gangs whose members are predominantly in this country illegally.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Kansas Paper Doubts Contest Winner's Disqualification Based on Pro-Trump Post

A Kansas woman who entered a national makeup artists contest has been disqualified from personally redeeming her prize after having been declared its winner. Why? Because, and only because, she posted on Instagram, without comment, a "Trump for President" 2016 graphic on Election Day last year.

Despite having all the necessary evidence documenting what happened, the Wichita Eagle's related story headline only conceded that this is something Gypsy Freeman only "says."

The "Saint + Sinner Contest" was sponsored by Kat Von D Beauty, the namesake line produced by Katherine von Drachenberg, described as "an American tattoo artist, model, musician, entrepreneur, and television personality." Von D's products are sold by cosmetics giant Sephora, which is a subsidiary of publicly held LVMH, the self-described "world’s leading luxury products group," whose annual sales total 37.6 billion euros ($44 billion at current exchange rates).

The Friday morning Wichita Eagle report by Matt Riedl also inexplicably seemed to cast doubt on Freeman's claim (bolds are mine):

Wichitan won national contest, was disqualified for supporting Trump, she says

An Instagram post showing support for President Donald Trump apparently disqualified a local makeup artist from a national contest.

Gypsy Freeman ... the winner of the Saint + Sinner Contest – and a guest – was to be flown to Los Angeles to attend the launch party of a new makeup line from Kat Von D, perhaps best known for her role on “LA Ink.” The approximate value of the prize package, which included a $500 gift card to Sephora, was $2,100.

... When Freeman was announced as the winner, curious Instagrammers went to her page and found a pro-Trump post from Election Day last year.

That evening, she received a direct message from Kat Von D’s personal Instagram account, telling her the celebrity had “drawn a personal line in the sand between myself and anyone who supports that man,” according to screenshots of the conversation.

The "pro-Trump post" is merely the online equivalent of a Trump bumper sticker. It has no accompanying commentary, but lots of subsequent comments and back and forth between Freeman and commenters, and is the only one of 121 Instagram posts not involving Freeman's art or inspirational and motivational quotes.

Continuing, as we being to ultimately learn that Von D was willing to accept Freeman's entry, but doesn't want to be seen anywhere near her:

“My launch party [and my brand] celebrates many things that Trump is against,” the celebrity went on to say, according to the screenshots. “And I just need you to know that I personally have a hard time with inviting anyone who would support such an anti-feminist, anti-homosexual/LGBT, anti-immigrant, and anti-climate change fascist such as Trump.”

According to the screenshots, Freeman replied: “I won’t be upset with you if you can’t have us there for these reasons, and I wish you the best."

But that wasn't enough for Von D, who simply had to double down with the venom:

The celebrity then replied, according to the screenshots provided: “It’s not about inviting people based on their political stance – it’s just extremely difficult (borderline impossible) for me to be friends with or associate with anyone who would support a man who goes against everything I stand for. I would feel the same way towards people who supported Hitler, or any other fascist.”

... The Florida-based photographer who took the photos for Freeman’s entry, Jenn Bischof, was invited to – and attended – the launch party in her place, Freeman said. A post on Bischof’s Instagram account shows her at the party alongside Kat Von D.

All evidence of the contest’s existence has since been deleted from the brand’s Instagram account and website, though the contest rules are available in a cached version of the site.

Riedl missed the fact that the contest rules are still available at KatVonDbeauty.com.

Given the evidence and the paper's follow-up work, it's hard to see why the Eagle's headline writer turned the matter into something Gypsy Freeman only "says," or that Riedl could only describe as the whole saga as "apparent." That's especially true because Eagle presented all of the message-related screenshots in a series of nine photos at the end of Riedl's report. A complete rundown of Von D's messages is here.

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Three other matters not addressed in Riedl's report which can be found in those messages are worth noting:

  • Von D claimed that "the purpose of me contacting you privately was specifically to avoid any embarrassment." Whose "embarrassment," Von D's or Freeman's? It seems likely that Von D was trying to avoid her own embarrassment, but that she couldn't intimidate Freeman into silence.
  • When Freeman pointed out there was no politics-related stipulation in the contest rules, Von D responded that she wouldn't have thought of it because "Most people know where I stand on such a matter." In other words, contestants are supposed to fully research the sponsor's political and personal beliefs before they decide whether or not to put forth the effort involved in creating an entry and risk submitting something to someone who disagrees with them. Really?
  • Further, Von D claimed that "I have found it rare to find many people in the artist community who do stand on the side of Trump — especially because we are the outsiders." Von D isn't filthy rich, but anyone who had an estimated net worth of $5 million in 2015 has a lot of nerve trying to pretend to be an outsider. But the myth that rich celebrities are somehow still "outsiders" is something the entertainment press (which your author obviously recognizes does not include the Wichita Eagle) has been willing to indulge for decades.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Media-Cited 'Trump Slump' in Foreign Tourism Turns Out to Have Been a Bump

In March and April, the press, with the help of hyperventilating tourism industry officials, warned readers and viewers that a "Trump slump" in foreign visitors to the U.S. was likely because of President Donald Trump's attempts to impose a temporary travel ban from six countries and "the negative sentiments" associated with having Trump as this nation's President.

Even then, the evidence was thin. But on Monday, Beth J. Harpaz at the Associated Press reported that "International arrivals and travel-related spending are up in 2017 compared with the same period in 2016," quite sharply so in the past two reported months. Imagine that.

An April 4 NBC News report by Harriet Baskas noted flatness during Trump's first two months in office, and tried to pin it on the President. The reporter attempted to maximize the negativity in her presentation of the numbers (bolds are mine throughout this post):

Is an unwelcoming political climate really creating a “Trump Slump” in the annual $250 billion business and leisure travel industry in the United States?

“Yes,” “No,” and “Maybe So,” say travel industry experts and number crunchers.

... right after Trump issued the first travel ban, search engines such as Hopper saw a serious slip in flight searches into the U.S. and in the eight days following January 27 (the day the travel ban was first imposed) ForwardKeys saw international bookings to the U.S. fall by 6.5 percent.

Since then, there’s been a continued slow-down in U.S.-bound air travel bookings.

From January 28 to March 25, bookings were essentially flat, up just. 0.1 percent over the same period last year, according to ForwardKeys.

Baskas clearly wanted readers to focus on that 6.5 percent decline in the first eight days of the temporary travel ban. But the tiny increase from January 28 to March 25 includes those eight days (Jan. 28 to Feb. 4), meaning that the decline was slightly more than offset by an increase of roughly 1.2 percent during the last 49 days of the period (Feb. 5 to March 25).

So where was this "continued slow-down" Baskas claimed? There wasn't one.

There was another potential explanation for a potential hit to foreign tourism which Baskas mentioned in passing, while primarily going after Trump:

Though also attributable to the strength of the U.S. dollar, the dip is predominantly due to "the negative sentiments of the U.S. as a destination created by some of the new policies of President Trump’s Administration," said Helen Marano, WTTC's Senior Vice President Government Affairs. "Already, there have been clear signs and data that international visitors are rethinking booking their holidays to the U.S."

But in a Travel Trends Index report released Tuesday, the U.S. Travel Association said that international travel to the U.S. “defied growth expectations” and actually grew faster than domestic travel during February.

But the group warns of a drop-off in international travel going forward.

The February growth just cited is consistent with the post-February 4 increase discussed earlier.

There is an MSNBC video at the NBC link, presumably from about the same early-April time period, which comes across as far more certain that a slump was in full swing, and that it was all Trump's fault. Additionally, reports from outlets in the UK (The Economist, the UK Independent, and the UK Guardian) were somehow absolutely convinced that foreign tourism to the U.S. was already "falling off a cliff."

As for the alleged "rethinking" by potential tourists, Monday's AP report indicates that the rethinkers didn't change their plans, while additional others decided to visit the U.S. despite the presence of mean old Donald Trump in the White House. These developments have taken a travel industry spokesman completely by surprise:

No Trump slump in tourism but there could be a Trump bump

Last winter, the U.S. tourism industry fretted that Trump administration policies might lead to a “Trump slump” in travel.

But those fears may have been premature. International arrivals and travel-related spending are up in 2017 compared with the same period in 2016.

There might even be a “Trump bump,” says Roger Dow, CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, a nonprofit representing the travel industry.

A few months ago, Dow and others warned that President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and ban on travel from a handful of mostly Muslim countries could send an anti-tourism message.

But “impending doom hasn’t manifested itself,” Dow said in an interview. “Right now we cannot identify a loss. It’s contrary to everything we’ve heard, but travel is in slightly better shape than it was a year ago. Everyone wants me to tell the story of the sky is falling, but for the travel industry, the sky is not falling.”

Latest numbers from the U.S. Travel Association’s Travel Trends Index showed 6.6 percent growth in international travel to the U.S. in April and 5 percent growth in May compared with the same months last year. The Travel Trends Index uses hotel, airline and U.S. government data.

The increases seen in April and May are significant "bumps," whether one wants to credit Trump or not, and make a mockery of video headlines I've found, including the one seen nearby, which will only concede that there are no "Trump slump" signs "yet." Such increases, sustained for about a year, could be fairly characterized as a "boom," and a pretty impressive one, especially given the strong dollar.

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The AP's Harpaz went on to cite other impressive growth stats. Yet she seemed determined to find people who were downbeat. After finding a couple of destination operators who threw shade at Trump for alleged reductions in foreign visitors, she posted this paragraph about New York City:

New York City’s tourism agency, NYC & Company, predicts that 300,000 fewer international travelers will visit the city this year than last, according to spokesman Chris Heywood. Concerns about Trump administration’s policies include “rhetoric surrounding the travel ban, laptop bans on certain airline carriers and the threat of having visitors reveal social media accounts,” along with “the lack of a proactive welcome message on behalf of the nation,” Heywood said. New York has put up its own signs saying “New York City - Welcoming the World” in England, Germany and Mexico.

There's only one problem with that prediction, as seen in the New York Times: It was reported in late February, when everyone was in "Woe is us" mode, supposedly because of Trump. That Times article's headline: "New York Expects Fewer Foreign Tourists, Saying Trump Is to Blame."

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

AP, NY Times Are Conveniently AWOL as Women's March, Black Lives Matter Praise 1970s Cop KIller

The Women's March movement has received fawning and forgiving establishment press attention, particularly from the Associated Press and New York Times, since its first official event the day after President Donald Trump's inauguration.

Now the movement appears to be (or at least should be) self-immolating for several reasons, most recently its unapologetic support for a 1970s convicted cop killer. That controversy has even pulled in the Black Lives Matter movement, which has also received consistent and undeserved favorable press treatment, also exposing BLM once again as consistently, violently radical. Now the AP and the Times aren't covering either group's direct association with this controversy.

Both the AP and the Times have led the establishment press in whitewashing the truth about the positions, leadership, and funding of the Women's March and BLM for the past six months and three years, respectively, while selectively covering their events and pronouncements. Neither outfit is a legitimate grassroots movement in any way, shape or form.

Sunday afternoon, the Women's March's official Twitter account took off the mask just long enough to ruin itself in the eyes of anyone who genuinely believes in nonviolence. It started with a tweet wishing happy Birthday to the "revolutionary" Assata Shakur:

WomensMarchShakurTweet071617

The tweet received harsh pushback for honoring a woman who was a member of the 1970s Black Liberation Movement, a movement which "was responsible for the murders of more than 10 police officers around the country." Shakur herself was convicted in 1977 of the first-degree murder of officer Werner Foerster and seven other felonies relating to a 1973 shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike. Shakur, whose original name was Joanne Chesimard, escaped from prison in 1979 and fled to Cuba in 1984, receiving political asylum from that communist island. The FBI has had Shakur on its Most Wanted Terrorist List since 2013.

The Women's March, which claims that it "is committed to dismantling systems of oppression through nonviolent resistance," responded furiously to its critics Monday evening with a 20-tweet defense of its cop-killer birthday wish. Here are the lowlights:

  • (Tweet 5) Shakur was "a civil rights leader who used her leadership position to challenge sexism within the Black Liberation Movement."
  • (Tweet 6) Her "resistance tactics were different from ours. That does not mean that we do not respect her anti-sexism work."
  • (Tweet 7) She "took a militant approach. We do not. That does not mean we don't respect and appreciate her anti-racism work."
  • (Tweet 19) "We say all this not to say that #AssataShakur has never committed a crime, and not to endorse all of her actions."
  • (Tweet 20) "We say this to demonstrate the ongoing history of government & right-wing attempts to criminalize and discredit political activists."

Please. The Black Liberation Movement was nothing more and nothing less than a pack of murderous, bloodthirsty revolutionaries dressing up their violent impulses in that era's language of political correctness — but the Women's March says Shakur deserves a pass because she "fought sexism" among her fellow thugs and was supposedly "anti-racism." (And where exactly is the tangible support for those claims?)

The Women's March, in its rant against the "right-wing," somehow forgets that it's the decidedly left-wing Obama administration's FBI which put Shakur on the Most Wanted Terrorists List, and that New Jersey was a Democratic Party stronghold during the time of her mid-1970s trial, having both a governor and attorney general from that party.

The Women's March thus appears to be exposing its real definition of "right-wing," namely "anyone and any group holding a political position which won't forgive unrepentant cop-killers." That's a vast majority of the U.S. population, positioning the genuine beliefs of the Women's March far on the outer fringes.

Black Lives Matter confirmed its presence on the outer fringes when co-founder Alicia Garza picked a Twitter fight with CNN's Jake Tapper over his "cop-killer" characterization of Shakur 

Garza was merely reiterating BLM's already-expressed position on Shakur. In November, in its officially sanctioned tribute to communist Cuban dictator Fidel Castro after his death posted at Medium.com, BLM thanked Castro for protecting violent black fugitives from American justice:

... we are particularly grateful to Fidel for holding Mama Assata Shakur, who continues to inspire us. We are thankful that he provided a home for Brother Michael Finney, Ralph Goodwin, and Charles Hill, asylum to Brother Huey P. Newton, and sanctuary for so many other Black revolutionaries who were being persecuted by the American government during the Black Power era.

Thus, BLM is all-in with the entire violent group of 1970s black domestic terrorists.

Searches done late Wednesday evening at the Associated Press's main national site on "Assata Shakur" (not in quotes) and "Chesimard" (both without quote marks returned nothing and nothing, respectively. The most recent AP-generated story on Shakur at APnews.com is from mid-June, when the Trump administration demanded that Cuba return Shakur (Cuba quickly refused).

Though a search at AP on "black lives matter" (not in quotes), returned eight recent items, adding "Shakur" to that search dropped that number of results to zero.

The last mention of Assata Shakur found in a search on her name at the New York Times was July 8, well before the Women's March's de facto endorsement of her as a heroine occurred. But the Times did mention her in its coverage of the January Women's March, showing a photograph of a man with a photo of Shakur on his shirt. The man, named Bishop Walker and said to be a sixth-grade teacher, described Shakur as someone "who I look up to" and who "inspired me to become a teacher." (Our kids are in the best of hands, aren't they?) The caption at the Times photo only described Shakur as an "activist."

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At National Review, David French noted how the press was not at all reluctant last week to falsely describe the Alliance Defending Freedom as a "hate group" with no genuine basis whatsoever, while groups on the left which flaunt their violence and hate have received a pass for years:

... these radical groups enjoy the best of both worlds, maintaining the mainstream-media credibility that allows them to raise money and capture the support of millions while also applauding and sustaining a far more dangerous fringe. Reasonable Americans march. Well-meaning Americans donate. Radicals profit.

It’s time for the rest of the media to join (Jake) Tapper, awaken from its anti-Trump trance, apply the same scrutiny to the Left as it does to the Right, and report the sad truth. Two of America’s most well-known #Resistance groups claim nonviolence but applaud terrorists. Liberal Americans, they haven’t earned your support — and they don’t deserve your respect.

And to be consistent with their treatment of Republicans and conservatives, the establishment press should be asking every leftist politician who has publicly supported the Women's March and Black Lives Matter if they will denounce the positions on Shakur taken by those two groups, and if they will disown their support for them if those groups fail to alter their stance.

Even if they don't, it's safe to say that an ever-growing plurality and perhaps even a majority of Americans have caught on to the press's dishonest game, and that the coverups aren't working nearly as well as they used to.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Press Downplays Seattle Mayor's Party ID as New Evidence of Teen Abuse Surfaces

In May, as noted at NewsBusters, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray ended his run for reelection in the wake of "mounting allegations that he sexually abused underage boys in the 1980s."

On Sunday, the Seattle Times reported that records previously thought destroyed revealed that "An Oregon child-welfare investigator concluded" that" Murray "sexually abused his foster son in the early 1980s." The Times, as well as related wire reports from the Associated Press and Reuters, have only told readers that Murray is a Democrat in very late paragraphs.

Specifically, a newly surfaced May 20, 1984 Multnomah County, Oregon social services document assessing Murray and his relationship with foster child Jeff Simpson contained the following conclusion (bolds are mine throughout this post):

In the professional judgement of this caseworker who has interviewed numerous children of all ages and of all levels of emotional disturbance regarding sexual abuse, Jeff Simpson has been sexually abused by ... Edward Murray.

A separate document reveals that the county's District Attorney considered taking the case to a grand jury for prosecution, but decided against doing so:

It was Jeff’s emotional instability, history of manipulative behavior and the fact that he has again run away and made himself unavailable that forced my decision.

... However, this in no way means that the District Attorney's Office has decided that Jeff's allegations are not true.

Reporters Lewis Kamb and Jim Brunner at the Seattle Times noted the significance of these documents (link is in original):

The newly obtained records, previously thought destroyed, provide the clearest picture yet of the investigation of Murray, then a paralegal who had worked as a counselor to Simpson and other troubled children.

The documents, released to The Seattle Times this month by Oregon’s Department of Human Services, also contradict public statements in recent months by Murray and his lawyer contending investigators had debunked Simpson’s allegations at the time as false.

... Oregon officials previously said records of the investigation had been purged, but located them in April under a newer computer-tracking system. In releasing the typically private information to The Times, that state cited, in part, a provision of public-records law that allows disclosure “to protect children from abuse and neglect.”

The finding by CPS supporting Simpson — who had been abandoned as an infant and later lived under Murray’s care for nearly a year and a half as a teenager — prompted Oregon child-welfare officials to decide that Murray should never again be a foster parent, a June 1984 report shows.

Murray has been accused of sexual abuse by several others who were then teenagers. One of them, Delvonn Heckard, withdrew the lawsuit he had filed against Murray in June while promising that he would refile the suit next year. The ever-ambitious Murray jumped on this development, stating that he would not rule out competing in this year's election after all as a write-in candidate.

One might think that Sunday's Seattle Times story might turn the tables, and lead those who have supported him and city residents in general to question whether he should be allowed to serve the rest of his term. But this is Seattle, where, as the New York Times reported in May shortly after Murray announced that he would not seek reelection, attitudes are more, well, "complicated":

In the gay, lesbian and transgender community that has largely worshiped Mr. Murray — and especially in its heart, Capitol Hill, where Mr. Murray and his husband, Michael Shiosaki, have lived for decades — a pall of uncertainty and sadness has descended.

“It’s such a complicated sadness,” said Monisha Harrell, the chairwoman at Equal Rights Washington, a statewide advocacy group that worked closely with Mr. Murray in promoting the Anderson-Murray Anti-Discrimination Law, which was passed in 2006.

“There’s a sadness for the loss of a leader who has put himself on the front line of many of these causes that have been so important to us,” she said.

Other people who live or work in Capitol Hill, where many of the crosswalks are painted in gay-pride rainbows, said they were struggling with what to think, because no matter what is decided in court, many young gay, lesbian and transgender people are victims of crime, exploitation and abuse.

Note the complete absence of anything resembling "anger." No form of that word appears in that New York Times story.

Perhaps this inability to get genuinely angry at a homosexual man who can no longer deny that credible accusations of abuse against him exist has caused the gay-friendly press to be reluctant to tag Murray as a Democrat. That would be consistent with the Seattle-area press's clear reluctance, as seen in an April NewsBusters post, to report specific, credible rumors about Murray's past when they first surfaced in 2008.

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Regardless of the reason, the reluctance to apply a party label to Murray is obvious:

  • The Times story waited 22 paragraphs before describing Murray as "a longtime Democratic state lawmaker and gay civil-rights leader."
  • The Associated Press's unbylined coverage waited until Paragraph 12 of 19, and identified him as a Democrat almost in passing: "By then (2008), Murray was a Washington state senator, Democratic powerbroker and gay rights advocate."
  • The related story at Reuters didn't disclose Murray's party affiliation until its final paragraph: "Murray, a Democrat and the city's first openly gay mayor, has also in the past suggested that the accusations were rooted in stereotypes of gay men."

Unfortunately for Murray, the latest developments support the notion that, at least earlier in his life, he may have fit that stereotype. That's apparently unfortunate for Democrats as well — which would seem to explain the left-supporting press's reluctance and delay in applying the party tag to him.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

AP's Scaremongers: GOP Health Bill Will Allow 'Skimpy' Insurance Coverage

In a Thursday evening dispatch, Erica Werner and Alan Fram at the Associated Press, in a virtual editorial disguised as a news report, claimed that a key element of the Republican health care currently being considered in Congress is "letting insurers sell low-cost, skimpy policies."

What an insult to our intelligence. What's really "skimpy," even though the left won't acknowledge it, is the current regime known as ObamaCare.

Here is the AP's related tweet (HT Twitchy):

APonSkimpyGOPhealthIns071317

Here is the related text from the AP story:

The reworked bill McConnell presented to fellow Republicans aims to win conservatives' support by letting insurers sell low-cost, skimpy policies. At the same time, he seeks to placate hesitant moderates by adding billions to combat opioid abuse and help consumers with skyrocketing insurance costs.

There are at least four absurd aspects of the wire service's insulting "skimpy" characterization. It takes a lot of nerve to presumptively trash any alternative to the healthcare system ObamaCare has created, given that it virtually defines "skimpy."

First, the number of insurance carriers and policies available to ObamaCare customers is certainly quite skimpy for millions of Americans. Having just one ObamaCare carrier available in a given county is as skimpy as it can get and still exist. That's the case in one-third of U.S. counties this year — and that was known before last November's election.

The second point is that most ObamaCare policies which are available are quite skimpy in having absurdly high deductibles which no one, especially Democrats, would have considered acceptable in the pre-ObamaCare era. When one combines that fact with Obamacare's age-based premiums, the financial costs of being insured are prohibitive for millions of Americans.

To cite just one example (if the link doesn't work, readers can confirm this by going through the questionnaire at HealthSherpa.com for zip code 35803), a couple in Huntsville, Alabama where each spouse is 60 years old can choose between just two Silver plans. One has a $2,800 deductible per person and costs $23,892 per year ($1,991 times 12). The other has a $2,600 deductible per person and costs $25,716 per year ($2,143 times 12). Any couple with income higher than roughly $64,200 (and therefore no ObamaCare subsidy) with both spouses using up their deductibles will spend $29,692 or $30,716, respectively, before a single dollar of coverage kicks in.

In most cases, couples with incomes at or even quite a bit above this threshold cannot possibly afford this. So they're already choosing a completely "skimpy" alternative, i.e., not purchasing coverage. Those with significant medical needs or exposures who simply must have coverage are more often than not either running up their credit cards, mortgaging their homes, or even selling their homes just to pay the premiums.

Third, in the world of the AP and the left, "skimpy" is apparently anything less than ObamaCare's mandatory list of items which must be covered. This is simply ridiculous. ObamaCare's list of required coverage includes pregnancy and contraception regardless of age. No one in their right mind would consider a plan which happened not to have coverage for pregnancy or contraception for a 60-year-old woman to be "skimpy."

Fourth but not least, most who are objecting to AP's "skimpy" characterization are making the key point that allowing plans with less than absolutely comprehensive coverage returns an important element to the healthcare marketplace which ObamaCare has largely eliminated: choice. Here are a few tweets to that effect:

ReactionsToAPskimpyOcareReformCharge071317

One can say far more credibly say about most ObamaCare plans what cynics unfairly used to say about those supposedly inadequate individual plans with exclusions: It's okay as long as you never have to use it. But ObamaCare is far more expensive that those supposedly inadequate individual plans ever were, and the prospect of accessing reimbursable benefits is far more remote.

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For over eight years now, press coverage of the Affordable Care Act has rarely involved rational explanations of what it really does and doesn't do. Instead, it has almost entirely been about claiming that people will be or have been "getting covered," even when the so-called "coverage" is in reality so skimpy that millions have either sent tens of thousands of premium and out-of-pocket dollars down the drain or have decided to opt out entirely.

Werner's and Fram's false framing of their story continues that horrible tradition.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Fake Analysis: NY Times Strikes Out in Claiming Conservative 'Veneration' For Putin

There's fake news, and then there's fake analysis. Jeremy Peters at the New York Times published a particularly odious example of the latter ("Reverence for Putin on the Right Buys Trump Cover") Friday evening (for Saturday's print edition).

Longtime blogger and particularly effective Time critic Tom Maguire had this succinct but understated take: "He (Peters) paints with far too broad a brush and inevitably splashes paint on himself." I'd say the Times reporter is swimming in the type of paint which can't wash off. This effort should permanently peg Peters as a shameless, unapologetic propagandist.

Peters' premise is that so many conservatives have "reverence" and "veneration" for Putin that they are effectively giving President Donald Trump's allegedly nefarious dealings with the Russian leader and his country a pass on that basis. Even in the context of the media's all-consuming Trump-Russia obsession, this is an especially pungent, steaming pile of horse manure.

In a tweet Peters posted after a pollster criticized him (HT Twitchy) for fabricating the idea that conservatives in general have had a long-standing "reverence" for Putin — a position absolutely not supported by polling history — the reporter wants us to believe that what he has published is definitive and irrefutable:

NYTjeremyPetersPutinConservativesTweet071417

Peters clearly has a hard time with basic math.

His writeup has a dozen names (besides Trump). But only seven of them were specific examples of individuals describing Putin with alleged "veneration."

Here is the complete list of every single person except Donald Trump himself identified in Peters' pathetic prose (alleged Putin admirers bolded):

  1. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani — dishonestly tagged as a Putin admirer.
  2. Experienced national security adviser K.T. MacFarland — dishonestly tagged as a Putin admirer.
  3. Angela Stent, "director of the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies at Georgetown University" — criticizes conservatives who allegedly admire Putin.
  4. Leading radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh — dishonestly tagged as a Putin admirer.
  5. Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle — dishonestly tagged as a Putin admirer.
  6. Stuart Stevens, a former adviser to 2012 GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney — criticizes conservatives who allegedly admire Putin.
  7. 2008 GOP Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin — dishonestly tagged as a Putin admirer.
  8. Fox News and talk radio host Sean Hannity — included only because he interviewed Palin. Peters did not describe any of Hannity's specific views on Putin.
  9. Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters — criticizes conservatives who allegedly admire Putin.
  10. William (Bill) Kristol, the editor at large of the conservative Weekly Standard — criticizes conservatives who allegedly admire Putin.
  11. Evangelical Christian leader Franklin Graham — dishonestly tagged as a Putin admirer.
  12. Conservative pundit and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan — dishonestly tagged as a Putin admirer.

None of Peters' seven examples of alleged Putin "veneration" survive genuine scrutiny.

Maguire nailed down four of them: Giuliani, MacFarland, Palin, and Limbaugh.

Let's look at how pathetic bordering on pathological Peters was in criticizing Giuliani:

Putin decides what he wants to do, and he does it in half a day,” Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York mayor and longtime friend and adviser to President Trump, gushed in 2014.

The reporter's link is to a YouTube video from a Rachel Maddow MSNBC broadcast. It shows that Giuliani was criticizing President Barack Obama's decision-making sloth, in the process noting that Putin, unlike Obama, wasn't a serial ditherer. Maddow dishonestly claimed that the former Gotham mayor was "rallying around the Russian flag."

But as Maguire noted, the full interview transcript shows Giuliani observing that Obama's dithering forced him to go to Putin for a bailout in Syria:

First, we were going to do something to Syria, then [Obama] was going to act on his own, then he was going to get congressional approval. Then he wanted the U.K. U.K. said no. Then it looked like Congress was going to say no. Then he was going to go anyway. Then he decided not to do it. And finally, after five or six days of wringing his hands and thinking and thinking and thinking, he brings Putin in and makes Putin a hero.

Giuliani was not displaying "veneration" for Putin. He was making an unfortunately accurate observation that the bad-guy Russian President, whom he referred to later in the interview as a "bully," knew how to lead, while the alleged leader of the free world clearly did not.

Concerning the three others Maguire did not get to:

  • Guilfoyle "wished Mr. Putin could be president of the United States for just 48 hours. That way, as she put it, 'Americans don’t have to worry and wake up in the morning fearful of a group that’s murderous and horrific like ISIS.'" Virtually every sentient human being on earth, which apparently doesn't include Peters, recognizes this as a scorching criticism of Barack Obama, and not as any kind of "reverence" directed at Putin. Guilfoyle was only noting, as Giuliani did, that the Russian President is decisive, and that Obama most assuredly was not.
  • Graham, in Peters' words, "said in 2014 that Russia was doing more than the United States to protect its children." Graham's actual words: "Isn’t it sad, though, that America’s own morality has fallen so far that on this issue -- protecting children from any homosexual agenda or propaganda -- Russia’s standard is higher than our own?" This was a sharp criticism directed at U.S. culture, and certainly not a "veneration" of Putin, who was, in Graham's view, merely doing what any responsible leader looking out for the long-term well-being of his nation would and should do.
  • Buchanan is the only person Peters identified who gave a Putin a genuine compliment, claiming that "He is seeking to redefine the ‘Us vs. Them’ world conflict of the future as one in which conservatives, traditionalists, and nationalists of all continents and countries stand up against the cultural and ideological imperialism of what he sees as a decadent West." Unfortunately for Peters, who set the bar himself at "veneration," this statement doesn't have that quality.

Thus, contrary to Peters' tweeted assertion that he provided a "dozen" examples, he provided only seven, and none of them are even remotely in the neighborhood of the "veneration" described in the following paragraph:

... The veneration of Mr. Putin helps explain why revelations about Russia’s involvement in the election — including recent reports that members of Mr. Trump’s inner circle set up a meeting at which they expected a representative of the Russian government to give them incriminating information about Hillary Clinton — and Mr. Trump’s reluctance to acknowledge it, have barely penetrated the consciousness of the president’s conservative base.

Thus, if Peters, as he claims, has "many, many, more examples" which are similar to these, it's fair to contend that he has absolutely nothing.

In this Times reporter's view, millions upon millions of Americans don't care about "Russia’s involvement in the election" — in reality because it has yet to be definitively demonstrated, and which, even if it did exist, did not affect actual balloting — not because it has so far been the mother of all nothing-burgers, but because of the "veneration of Mr. Putin." It seems inconceivable that anyone, especially a journalist who covers politics, could be so delusional and utterly divorced from reality, but Jeremy Peters has managed it.

It would appear that Peters is either so convinced of his righteousness that he can't appreciate how fundamentally dishonest his effort is, or he knows exactly what he's doing and doesn't care.

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Regardless of the reporter's motivations, the fact that his utterly fake analysis got past his editors at the Times means there might as well not be any. If drivel like this is the new standard of what's allowed through, Dean Baquet, the paper's Executive Editor, who is laying off or buying out roughly half of the paper's 100 copy editors in a downsizing move, should relieve them all of their duties.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Vox Writer Blames Reagan for Decline of Liberal St. Louis

Timothy B. Lee is the Lead Writer for the New Money section of the reflexively leftist Vox.com. He has looked at what has happened to the city of St. Louis during the past 60 or so years, and thinks that Ronald Reagan is largely to blame.

Too bad for him that most of the reasons for St. Louis's decline have absolutely nothing to do with the Gipper. Even the alleged damage done in Washington in relaxing previously overzealous antitrust law enforcement that Lee erroneously cited as a major factor occurred during several presidential administrations.

The immediate comeback to Lee's lament is that it's pretty rich to go after a Republican Commander-in-Chief who presided over a six-year string of economic growth (annually averaging 4.5 percent compounded from 1983 to 1988) which hasn't been seen since. If one is looking for cause and effect, it's far more relevant to note that St. Louis has had only Democratic Party mayors since 1949.

The city's Democratic mayors, like so many others throughout the land, have been noticeably reluctant to address crime. St. Louis currently has the highest murder rate of any U.S. city with over 100,000 people and "the highest violent crime rate in the U.S."

The story with the city's schools is similarly awful. A 2016 survey put the St. Louis's schools in the nation's bottom 2 percent. Overall, St. Louis was named "the Worst City in the U.S. for Young Families."

Also, as seen in so many other cities, these horrid results have been achieved in the presence of high taxes.

Crime, lousy schools, and high taxes have driven the city's population down from 856,000 in 1950 to an estimated 311,000 in 2016. But almost 75 percent of that population decline (to 450,000) occurred by 1980, the year before Ronald Reagan became President. And yet Lee believes it might be even remotely reasonable to place significant blame on the Gipper? What a hoot.

His primary linked article, an early-2016 screed by Brian S. Feldman, a researcher-reporter with the Open Markets Program at the left-leaning New America think tank, only partially buys that blame-Reagan assessment.

A full reading of Feldman's ponderous piece, which tries to blame mid-sized U.S. cities' implosions on loosened antitrust laws and the many company headquarters lost as a result of permitted mergers, actually criticizes three presidential administrations — two of them run by Democrats:

... In 1978, Jimmy Carter signed the Airline Deregulation Act, which swept away the Civil Aeronautics Board and paved the way for massive industry restructuring. ...

...Meanwhile, under the Reagan administration, the federal government fundamentally changed course on antitrust enforcement. The Reagan Justice Department wrote new guidelines that rejected regional equity or local control as considerations in deciding whether to block mergers or prosecute monopolies. Enforcers were instructed to wave through mergers and tolerate consolidation, as long as there was no active collusion and consumers didn’t immediately suffer higher prices. Even more, Reagan’s administration cut the budgets of the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice, leaving both agencies with limited resources for enforcement.

Fact check: Reagan did cut spending at the FTC, but according to the American Enterprise Institute he "never cut the budgets of the departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, Justice, or State." Perhaps Feldman meant that DOJ, even with its overall budget increases, decided to direct fewer resources towards antitrust enforcement and evaluation. But that's not what he wrote, so we don't know.

Now let's get to a later administration tagged with blame by Feldman:

... in 1994 the Clinton administration followed suit with the passage of the Riegle-Neal Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act. Since 1984, the number of independent banks has fallen by more than half, from 15,663 to 6,799 in 2011. Of those now-defunct banks, more than 8,352 either merged or were consolidated.

Clinton also had the chance to change the overall thrust of antitrust enforcement Feldman considered too lax. If he did, Feldman didn't note of it. Instead, the Clinton administration is best remembered for one case, that of going after Microsoft by suing it over its dominance of the PC operating system market. How quaint it is today to read about the supposedly unstoppable "chokehold" that company had "on the computer industry." (And please, don't even try to give the Clinton DOJ credit for the change in circumstances.)

Feldman believes that St. Louis, along with many other mid-sized cities, suffered severely when longtime corporate headquarters were severely downsized or eliminated, leading to related reductions in the professional services workforces at the companies and at other firms which served them, like advertisers, accounting, legal, etc. But even he acknowledges that St. Louis was doing quite well in some respects well into the mid- and late-1980s. For example, a new convention center built in 1977 was "booked in advance for ten years straight." That takes us to Year 7 of Reagan, sir.

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I would not be at all surprised, based on my take on similar but not as extreme experiences in the Cincinnati area where I live, that the complacent professional class in St. Louis was likely duped for decades into thinking that it could somehow work with anti-business Democratic Party mayors and city councils. By the time they figured out that they'd been had, irreparable damage had been done.

In sum, Vox's Lee created a weakly supported piece and gave it a clickbait headline designed to get leftists all excited about the idea of blaming a Republican legend for one city's urban decay. Those who actually read it, along with Feldman's underlying support piece, will be sadly disappointed to find that there's virtually nothing there, and that the answer to Lee's headlined question — "Is Ronald Reagan to blame for the decline of St. Louis?" — is "No!"

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

AP Downplays Maine Democrat State Rep's Death Threat Against Trump

The Associated Press has both given short shrift to and significantly whitewashed a frightening, violent threat made against President Donald Trump by a Democratic state representative from South Portland, Maine. On Tuesday, Scott Hamann, in a long Facebook rant, wrote, among other things, that "Trump is a half term president, at most, especially if I ever get within 10 feet of that p***y.”

If that isn't a death threat, I don't know what is. The AP writer on the story would only acknowledge that the state's GOP chairman saw it that way.

Hamann's full Facebook rant, since reportedly pulled, is here.

His characterizations of President Trump include but aren't limited to the following (some wording sanitized):

  • "Trump was installed by the Russians ..."
  • "Trump is a joke, and anyone who doesn't have their head up their a** understands that."
  • "He's an admitted rapist ..."
  • "He's an out of the closet racist."

Hamann also doesn't think much of those who voted for Trump: "Don't like the truth? ... Well f*** you, snowflake. You're a f***ing p***y. And you people are destroying America."

Hamann also wrote that "President Obama ran quite possibly the classiest 2 term presidency in US history, no scandals ..." What Hamann knows about "class" is a mystery.

Hamann's clear-as-day death wrapped up his post.

The AP does not even have a story on Hamann's threat at its main national site. Its APnews.com site has the following brief unbylined item, which was clearly held, as is so often the case, until the Democrat had a chance to make a pathetic attempt to defend himself (specific time stamp obtained at the story as it appeared at the Charlotte Observer):

APonMaineRepTrumpThreat071217

It's quite obvious, based on the Facebook post quotes seen earlier, that Hamann wasn't being "sarcastic" at all. He was bitterly angry. It's also quite obvious that AP deliberately kept Hamann's most inflammatory example of name-calling — the three words following "within 10 feet" — out of its report.

Further running protection for the Maine Democrat, note how the AP would not characterize what Hamann wrote as the violent threat that it was, instead leaving that to Maine's GOP Chairwoman.

A more complete portion of Demi Kouzounas's statement was carried at CentralMaine.com, along with interesting facts and history the AP failed to report (bolds are mine):

Demi Kouzounas, chairwoman of the Maine Republican Party, issued a statement calling Hamann “unhinged and dangerous.”

“Words cannot even begin to describe the level of revulsion I feel after reading Rep. Scott Hamann’s recent tirade that has come to light,” Kouzounas said in a prepared statement. “Perhaps the most alarming aspect of this tirade is an implied death threat against our president.” (The AP writer should have put "implied death threat" in quotes, though it's hard to see how what Hamann posted was only "implied." — Ed.)

Dave Watson, the resident agent in charge of the U.S. Secret Service field office in Portland, said his agency had been made aware of Hamann’s comments. Watson said his office also was receiving phone calls from the general public about the post.

“We are looking into it, but as to whether an investigation has been opened, I can’t comment on that,” Watson said. “But we have been getting messages.”

This is not the first time that a Maine lawmaker has found himself on the hot seat for an offensive social media post. In March 2015, former state Sen. Mike Willette, a Presque Isle Republican, was forced to resign the chairmanship of the Legislature’s State and Local Government Committee after he posted derogatory remarks about then-President Barack Obama and Muslims on Facebook.

Willette posted an item that criticized Obama’s handling of the Islamic State and said that Obama would deal with the terrorist group at “the family reunion.” Previous posts by Willette included comments and memes about Muslims and immigrants that have been criticized as racist, bigoted and xenophobic.

It would appear that the AP writer left the story of Mike Willette out of the wire service's story because he or she didn't want anyone to get any ideas that Hamann is deserving of serious discipline.

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During the Obama era, people were forced out of their jobs and suffered other forms employment-related discipline for merely ridiculing the president. If a clear death threat doesn't result in harsher penalties against Hamann, it will further expose a serious and long-running double standard on the left.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Press Ignores NY Times's Absurd 'Honest Mistake' Defense in Palin Libel Suit

On Friday, a lawyer for the New York Times, arguing before a Manhattan federal judge, claimed that the paper made "an honest mistake in posting the editorial" claiming that Sarah Palin directly incited the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords in 2011.

The establishment press, apparently more interested in protecting the viability of one of its more important gatekeeping bastions with silence than it is in subjecting it to the ridicule and outrage it deserves — regardless of the results of the libel case Palin has brought — has almost totally ignored Friday's proceedings.

As trial lawyer John Hinderaker at Powerline noted on Saturday, the "honest mistake" posture means that the opinion writers' defense "likely will have to be that they don’t read their own newspaper."

As will eventually be seen in this post, it also likely means that they supposedly don't recall their own editorials.

A Google News search on [Sarah Palin New York Times "honest mistake"] (typed exactly as indicated between brackets, during past week, sorted by date), done Tuesday afternoon shortly after 3 p.m. Eastern Time, returned only 17 results. All but five are from center-right blogs and outlets.

One of those five is from the Courthouse News Service, which noted the Times's novel defense that, in the service's words, "the original version of the editorial barely remained on the website for half a day."

How quaint. The editorial in its original form, claiming that Palin’s incitement of the 2011 Giffords shooting was "clear" and "direct," made it into the paper's June 15 print edition (daily circulation as of a year ago: 590,000), and will be present in dead-tree form in libraries, cluttered offices and dens, musty basements and perhaps digitally in certain public library and research databases throughout the land indefinitely.

The two corrections made to the editorial were posted in the paper's Saturday, June 16 print edition — but, as seen here, not in its customary list of daily corrections. Instead, as seen below, the corrections, presented as if they represented a single correction, appeared at the bottom of that day's editorial page in fine print (click here or on the graphic below for a larger view in a separate tab or window):

NYT061617bottomOfEditorialPage

Of the four remaining Google News results returned, the New York Post and the Washington Times both lean right, and are usually seen as outsiders. Only coverage seen at Newsday and a one-paragraph squib at Bloomberg News's relatively obscure Big Law Business site can be described as coming from the establishment press.

The print-edition saga above appears to contradict a claim the Times made as reported in Newsday's July 7 story, which is the sole instance of full left-leaning legacy media coverage I was able to locate in the aforementioned mid-afternoon Tuesday search (bolds are mine throughout this post; second ellipse is in original):

... “There was an honest mistake in posting the editorial,” said Times lawyer David Schulz. “It was corrected within 12 or 13 hours ... So there’s no evidence that there was a knowing intent to put out misinformation.”

The lawsuit focuses on a June 14 Times editorial (published in the June 15 print edition) in the wake of the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise. It cited a map circulated by a Palin political committee targeting Giffords’ district with crosshairs over the congresswoman, and claimed “political incitement” by the former GOP vice-presidential nominee was behind the shooting.

But there has never been evidence that shooter Jared Loughner, whose focus on Giffords predated Palin’s map, ever saw it, and the crosshairs were over Giffords’ district — not her face. The Times ran a correction, but not an apology.

As to the argument concerning "a knowing intent to put out misinformation," the Times's June 16 print edition treatment of its corrections — keeping them out of its regular daily list of corrections and virtually hiding them at the bottom of that day's editorial page — would appear to betray a "knowing intent" to minimize its attempts to correct the record in the minds of print readers.

Newsday reporter John Riley also drew an important distinction between reality and the Times's post-corrections editorial. As seen above, Riley noted that in six years there has "never been evidence" that Jared Loughner ever saw the Palin PAC's "crosshairs" map. One key portion of the corrected Times editorial, seen here, only admits that "no connection (between the map and Loughner's shooting of Giffords and murder of six others) was ever established."

A fair reading of the Times's final take is that it is that there was at least some evidence of a "connection," despite Riley's correct assertion at Newsday that "there has never been." Thus, Palin's name and the crosshairs map remained in the editorial because the Times is keeping hope alive that a genuine connection may someday be established.

That's certainly how several prominent pundits saw things in tweets published shortly after the final version of the editorial appeared online. The best characterization of the paper's position was tweeted by Iowahawk: "I guess our blood libel was wrong, but we'll just keep it in here anyway just in case."

It's also important to note that Riley's observation that "The Times ran a correction, but not an apology" is correct, if by "ran" one means "included in its official online and/or print editions of the newspaper." While the Times tweeted an apology on June 15, it hardly suffices in the circumstances. It also appears to contain the paper's opening line of defense in the Palin libel suit:

We're sorry about this and we appreciate that our readers called us on the mistake. We've corrected the editorial.

When it pawned credit off to its readers, the Times began its "honest mistake" attempt to make the court in the Palin lawsuit believe three individually and collectively impossible things.

First: "We're too stupid to remember the conclusions reached about Loughner's motivations reached six years ago in numerous stories by our own reporters." A search at the Times on "Giffords Arizona" (not in quotes) indicates that it published over 110 items related to the Giffords shooting between January 10 and January 18, 2011.

Second: "We're also too stupid to read reiterations of those conclusions published by columnists in our own newspaper spread over the past six years, up to and including the day after the assassination attempt on Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise in June of this year."

Third, and arguably most damning: "We're also too stupid to remember statements we published in a house editorial the day after the January 8, 2011 Giffords shooting, which is also the day after the Palin-crosshairs smear first appeared" (January 9 online for January 10 print edition; full editorial here):

NYT011011editorialSnipsGiffords

This 2011 editorial appeared after the Palin-crosshairs smear was already underway and had already been largely discredited.

At 2:19 p.m. on January 8, 2011, an odious tweet by Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas ("Mission Accomplished, Sarah Palin") linked to a post published earlier that day at ShadowProof titled "SARAH PALIN’S HIT LIST."

More than 24 hours later, in their editorial released on the evening of January 9, the opinion writers at the Times, in the passages excerpted above, vaguely but nonetheless substantively discredited the left-driven smears which almost immediately appeared after the Giffords shooting. Based on its pre-editorial appearance, that would likely include the Palin smear the paper's opinion writers actively adopted and promoted as an established fact six years later.

Now the Times is tasked with trying to convince a federal court that they have persisted for six years in "honestly" and "mistakenly" placing more faith in a far-left, fever-swamp Internet conspiracy theory which has no supporting evidence than in their paper's own reporting, in its own columnists, and in their original 2011 house editorial — which, as noted, seems to have initially discredited the Palin smear.

And a judge and/or jury are supposed to believe all of that?

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Powerline's Hinderaker sees things thusly:

THE NEW YORK TIMES IS IN TROUBLE

... The “actual malice” standard that applies to defamation cases brought by public figures is often considered to be impossibly high. It has little to do with the usual meaning of the word “malice.” Rather, it requires that a defendant publish a statement that he knows to be false, or about which he has no idea whether it is true or not, and publishes it anyway (“reckless disregard”). Sarah Palin’s lawsuit against the Times is the rare case where it is hard to see how the paper will be able to mount a defense.

If so, and if the Times loses — not at all assured even if the merits are there because, as Hinderaker notes, the case is being heard in Manhattan — it would appear that the paper's wounds have been entirely self-inflicted.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

CNN Analyst April Ryan Thought Trump Spokesperson Invented the Word 'Stagflation'

April Ryan has been a frequent subject this year at NewsBusters, given her proclivity to see racism where there is none, her failure to understand the difference between a person's annual income and their net worth, and her criticism of center-right news sites allowed into White House briefings as "fake news peddlers." Naturally, Ryan's next move after that final item was to join serial fake news perpetrator CNN as an analyst.

Three months into her new gig, she has embarrassed herself several times, perhaps never more so than on Monday, when she first tweeted her belief that a Trump administration official had made up the term "stagflation," and then pathetically tried to claim that she had been joking.

According to Dictionary.com, stagflation, "an inflationary period accompanied by rising unemployment and lack of growth in consumer demand and business activity," has been around as a term since "1965-1970."

This made it especially odd that Ryan would have contended, as she definitely did Monday afternoon, that Marc Short of the Trump administration was inventing the term out of thin air at that day's White House press briefing.

Short misspoke, and then quickly corrected himself, when discussing the U.S. economy during the Obama era:

MARC SHORT, Trump administration Director of Legislative Affairs: As Americans are anxious to get back to work and get the economy growing again after eight years of stagflation -- sorry, stagnation, the nominee to run the President’s Council of Economic Advisers is stuck waiting for approval. Kevin Hassett again received Democrat support and an endorsement letter from 44 bipartisan economists, some of whom even served in the Obama administration. He was approved in committee on June 14th and again is still waiting to be confirmed.

(Separately, the Senate's failure to confirm so many of Trump's nominees, which is an outrageous combination of Democrats' blocking moves Republicans' failure to engineer up-or-down votes, is not getting the press coverage it deserves. In the example Short identified, not having someone in charge of the Council of Economic Advisers at this point should be considered a national disgrace.)

Ryan clearly thought she was cleverly (and quite cynically) capitalizing on what she thought was Short's invention of a goofy word never seen before when she pushed out the following tweet:

AprilRyanOnStagflation071017

It's quite plausible, and defensible, that Ryan had never really heard the term before Monday. She graduated from college in 1989 and is 49 years old. The term "stagflation" would have fallen into general disuse by the time she reached her senior year in high school, after the economic boom during the Reagan years left the brutal stagflation driven by Jimmy Carter-era policies in the rear-view mirror.

But that's where the defense of Ryan begins and ends. If you hear a responsible official use a word you haven't heard before, you don't assume that he made it up, or even that he misspoke. You look it up first to see if it really is a word. Ryan failed to do this. Her ingrained bias against the Trump administration and its supposedly ignorant representatives could hardly be more obvious.

It's particularly annoying to see this kind of arrogance coming from someone who really believed in mid-March that the portion of Trump's illegally released 2005 tax return showing him making $100 million that year showed "he was not a billionaire":

null

Ryan still could have recovered. After all, as I noted, the term "stagflation" hasn't been widely used since the mid-1980s. She could have tweeted, "To my surprise, 'stagflation' is a real word. I was wrong. I apologize to readers and Marc Short." The character count of that statement is 97, making it instantly tweetable.

Instead, like so many journalists, politicians and others caught dead to rights these days, she dug her hole so deep that she'll never fully escape the humiliation of this incident or its impact on her credibility — nor will she deserve to.

In the following two tweets out of about a half-dozen relating to her attempted walkback (links are here and here), Ryan tried to pretend she was joking:

AprilRyanOnStagflationJoking071017

If she was really joking, Ryan wouldn't have originally contended that Short made up the word. It's not arguable, and it's embarrassing for someone claiming to be an adult to try to pretend that it is..

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As for Ryan's insistence that "I will continue to be me" — Well, if that involves continuing to doggedly fail to acknowledge mistakes when she makes them, as all of us must do from time to time, one must truly pity her and those who must deal with her on a daily basis.

The only "good" thing one can say is that she's right where she belongs in being associated with CNN.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Not News: Researchers Claim to Have 'Invalidated' EPA's Core Global Warming 'Finding'

A peer-reviewed research report published last week by three highly qualified researchers with the agreement of seven others similarly accomplished charges that the entities reporting historical and current worldwide temperatures have adjusted their data to show global warming which has not actually occurred.

The trio has concluded that this data is "not a valid representation of reality," and that as a result, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 2009 "Endangerment Finding" — essentially that global warming has been occurring and continues to accelerate due to human activity — is, in the study's words, "invalidated." The establishment media's silence has been deafening.

The media non-coverage of the research report — "On the Validity of NOAA, NASA and Hadley CRU Global Average Surface Temperature Data & The Validity of EPA’s CO2 Endangerment Finding" — is consistent with its virtual refusal to acknowledge the existence of many other studies released in 2016 and so far this year which have cast serious doubt on human-caused global warming as supposedly "settled science."

At Breitbart in early June, UK-based writer and longtime climate change skeptic James Delingpole referred readers to a collection of "80 Graphs From 58 Papers Invalidate Claims Of Unprecedented Global-Scale Modern Warming" published this year alone. The person who accumulated that collection, Kenneth Richards, is a "professor of environmental economics and policy and an affiliated professor of law at the IU Maurer School of Law."

Richards' recent post arrived just five months after a December post documenting "60 (2016) Scientific Papers Affirm Today’s Warming Isn’t Global, Unprecedented, Or Remarkable." The pace of climate change-skeptical studies is increasing.

Readers relying solely on the establishment press would be aware of none of this. How many papers by qualified authors need to be published before the "97 percent" consensus on human-caused warming disintegrates? (Answer: It already did years ago, but the press won't admit it.)

Late Wednesday, the Daily Caller finally broke the ice, and covered the "Validity of Data" study released on June 27 (bolds are mine throughout this post):

Temperature Adjustments Account For ‘Nearly All Of The Warming’ In Climate Data

A new study found adjustments made to global surface temperature readings by scientists in recent years “are totally inconsistent with published and credible U.S. and other temperature data.”

“Thus, it is impossible to conclude from the three published GAST (Global Average Surface Temperature) data sets that recent years have been the warmest ever – despite current claims of record setting warming,” according to a study published June 27 by two scientists and a veteran statistician.

The peer-reviewed study tried to validate current surface temperature datasets managed by NASA, NOAA and the UK’s Met Office, all of which make adjustments to raw thermometer readings. Skeptics of man-made global warming have criticized the adjustments.

... Their study found measurements “nearly always exhibited a steeper warming linear trend over its entire history,” which was “nearly always accomplished by systematically removing the previously existing cyclical temperature pattern.”

“The conclusive findings of this research are that the three [global average surface temperature] data sets are not a valid representation of reality,” the study found. “In fact, the magnitude of their historical data adjustments, that removed their cyclical temperature patterns, are totally inconsistent with published and credible U.S. and other temperature data.”

Based on these results, the study’s authors claim the science underpinning the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to regulate greenhouse gases “is invalidated.”

In 2009, the EPA's "Endangerment Finding" claimed that its regulating authority was based on the following:

Scientific consensus shows that as a result of human activities, GHG concentrations in the atmosphere are at record high levels and data shows that the Earth has been warming over the past 100 years, with the steepest increase in warming in recent decades.

The research paper discussed above claims that reported "warming" is only occurring in adjustments to underlying data and is not actually occurring on Planet Earth. If so, its contention that the EPA's "Endangerment Finding" belongs in the trash is correct.

Press reports have routinely and eagerly reported as undisputed facts that very recent years have been the "warmest ever." As might be expected, Seth Borenstein at the Associated Press eagerly promoted such claims earlier this year, insisting that "For third-straight time, Earth sets hottest year record."

Well, if that's so obvious, one would think that Penn State professor Michael E. Mann, the creator of the infamous global warming "hockey stick," would be willing to show the world the data he used in creating the scary chart which supposedly predicted all of this.

Nope. In yet another climate-related development the press is almost certain to ignore as long as possible, it has become clear that Mann would rather face serious potential legal consequences than open up his work to scrutiny.

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Principia-Scientific.org, a group dedicated to scientific research which follows the "traditional scientific method" (as opposed to "Post-normalism ... where policy and outcome dictate the kind of ‘science’ needed to justify it"), has the details:

Michael Mann, who chose to file what many consider to be a cynical SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) libel suit (against now-79-year-old Canadian climatologist, Dr. Tim Ball — Ed.) in the British Columbia Supreme Court, Vancouver six long years ago, has astonished legal experts by refusing to comply with the court direction to hand over all his disputed graph’s data. ...

... As Dr. Ball explains:

“Michael Mann moved for an adjournment of the trial scheduled for February 20, 2017. We had little choice because Canadian courts always grant adjournments before a trial in their belief that an out of court settlement is preferable. We agreed to an adjournment with conditions. The major one was that he [Mann] produce all documents including computer codes by February 20th, 2017. He failed to meet the deadline.”

... Mann’s now proven contempt of court means Ball is entitled to have the court serve upon Mann the fullest punishment. ... (Under Canadian law) Mann is now proven to have wilfully hidden his data, so the court may rule he hid it because it is fake. As such, the court must then dismiss Mann’s entire libel suit with costs awarded to Ball and his team.

... The perpetrator of the biggest criminal “assault on science” has now become clear: Dr Mann, utterly damned by his contempt of the court order to show his dodgy data.

If Mann really does suffer legal consequences in this and other cases (the linked article also notes that this development helps columnist and talk show host Mark Steyn in his legal defense against a separate Mann lawsuit), the press will have a tough time explaining away its decades-long complicity in this assault on science. Watching them try should be entertaining.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

CNN's Robertson Claims Merkel Chose Hamburg As G-20 Site to Harass Trump

In one of the more bizarre segments seen in the past several weeks on CNN — and in the context of the recent events and broadcasts, that's saying something — CNN's International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson claimed on Thursday that German Chancellor Angela Merkel chose to hold the G-20 summit in Hamburg so that Trump could "hear the voices of dissent" from protesters.

The only problem: Germany chose this week's summit location a year ago, when no one even knew who the next U.S. president would be, and when all the allegedly smart money was on Hillary Clinton winning the general election.

Here is the related segment (HT Mollie Hemingway at TheFederalist.com):

Transcript (beginning at the 0:19 mark; bolds are mine throughout this post):

JOHN KING, CNN: CNN's Nic Robertson is live in Hamburg, where one of the interesting G-20 dynamics this time, Nic, will include demonstrations much closer to the event site than we've become accustomed to in recent years. Why is that?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN: Yeah, there is a reason for it, quite simply Angela Merkel has chosen to hold this summit in an environment, in a location that can be surrounded by protesters — not as we've seen (with) some summits on a remote hilltop (where) the whole village or town around it is secure.

There will be protesters here. There were protesters last night. The police had to turn on a water cannon on about a thousand of them. They just sort of rained it on them. They didn't wash them off the streets.

There was a women's protest just down beside here a little while ago.

But the essence of the idea here is, not forgetting that Angela Merkel is in a reelection campaign this year, the protesters will be able to get close so that, in part, President Trump can hear the voices of dissent here in Germany, here in Europe.

And that voice of dissent, Angela Merkel's voice of dissent with President Trump over their different views on trade, the concerns about protectionism from the United States.

Angela Merkel was quoted in a popular weekly political paper here saying that the United States sees globalization differently to how we do. We see a win-win situation, she said. The United States sees winners and losers where only some profit in globalization.

So the stakes have been set pretty high there, and the people of Germany and others will be able to give voice and vent their frustrations and feelings that perhaps the German chancellor is too polite to say in terms that they will.

This isn't just utterly bizarre. It's utterly detached from reality.

As Hemingway noted in her critique, after excerpting a June 2016 Associated Press dispatch when Germany chose Hamburg as this year's G-20 site a over year ago (links are in original):

Robertson oddly claimed that the protesters of the G-20 summit would be supportive of Merkel’s pro-globalization stance ...

... Perhaps Robertson is unaware that the G-20 protesters are anticapitalists who are not supportive of globalization.

The Telegraph reported on Tuesday, “Thousands of violent anti-Capitalist protestors are planning to disrupt this week’s G-20 summit in Hamburg, the German interior minister warned on Tuesday.”

Reuters wrote, “‘Welcome to Hell’. That’s the greeting for U.S. President Donald Trump and other world leaders from anti-capitalist protesters in Hamburg who aim to disrupt the G-20 summit, already rife with tensions over trade and climate change."

Later verbiage in the Reuters report noted the presence of about "8,000 ... deemed by security forces to be ready to commit violence," including "1,000 black-clad and masked anarchists" among the total current and expected 100,000 protesters.

The idea that anyone could consider the protests a pro-Merkel, anti-Trump exercise is something only those in the establishment press fever swamps could conjure up.

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Let's go one step further here, and take it on faith that Merkel and Germany, having chosen Hamburg a year ago, decided to relax originally tighter security plans for the G-20 summit in that city to ensure that protesters would be close enough for Trump to hear them. 

But, if that's really how Merkel and the Germans thought things through, what Robertson is really saying is that the country's chancellor and its security forces are perfectly willing to accept the violence and property destruction which has occurred and will occur, even though it could have been avoided. Is that something an incumbent chancellor running for reelection would risk just so a U.S. president can supposedly "hear the voices of dissent"?

As I noted earlier, this is so bizarre and utterly detached from reality that in-studio host John King should have burst out in laughter.

It's telling, and damning, that he didn't.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Fake Ratings: Networks Dishonestly Inflate Evening News Numbers…by Misspelling

Now we know that advertisers and the public are being supplied fake ratings by the same broadcasters who so often deliver fake news.

A Thursday morning Wall Street Journal dispatch by Joe Flint reports that the broadcast networks routinely inflate their reported evening news audiences. They hide low-performing evening audiences by — get this — "forgetting how to spell."

No wonder the networks are so obsessed with "hacking." In the ratings game, what could be described as a form of it — modifying (the results generated by) "a computer program in a skillful or clever way" — has become a routine industry practice (bolds are mine):

In TV Ratings Game, Networks Try to Dissguys Bad Newz from Nielsen
They misspell shows to fool the firm’s automated system into ignoring broadcasts on nights with few viewers; “NBC Nitely News”

In a game largely sanctioned by TV-ratings firm Nielsen, television networks try to hide their shows’ poor performances on any given night by forgetting how to spell.

That explains the appearance of “NBC Nitely News,” which apparently aired on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend this year, when a lot of people were away from their TVs. The retitling of “NBC Nightly News” fooled Nielsen’s automated system, which listed “Nitely” as a separate show.

Hiding the May 26 program from Nielsen dramatically improved the show’s average viewership that week. Instead of falling further behind first-place rival “ABC World News Tonight,” NBC news narrowed the gap.

Walt Disney Co.’s ABC declined to comment. The network, though, groused last month when NBC News intentionally misspelled an entire week of “Nightly News” broadcasts. Altogether, NBC, which is ranked second behind ABC in ratings, has played the misspell card 14 times since the start of the 2016-17 television season last fall.

This sounds like a very ripe topic for people who think they are so much smarter than Trump and his supporters...and they can't spell "Nightly"? Nielsen's apparent acquiescence in this unethical practice even as it has grown is also troubling. Here's why:

... Nielsen projects viewer ratings based on a panel of more than 40,000 homes and 100,000 people. Higher ratings help networks sell commercial time at higher rates. The network misspellings fudge that calculation, and some advertisers say the trick is getting overused.

“Networks never used to do this,” said Billie Gold, director of programming at ad giant Dentsu Inc. Now, she said, it has become the norm.

TV news executives say the higher numbers gathered from show misspellings are used only for publicity purposes, and that accurate ratings for the missing broadcasts are readily available to advertisers.

Thus, the broadcast networks are clearly abusing a tool Flint describes as having been "reserved primarily for Christmas and Thanksgiving or if a show was pre-empted in parts of the U.S. for a live sports event."

It's important to unpack the final excerpted paragraph, because what is happening can be boiled down to two old-fashioned words.

The nets are admitting that they exclude low-viewership shows to inflate their reported average nightly audience "for publicity purposes." Apparently, they believe the public is too stupid to understand a disclosure that might, as an example, say that "this week's average audience was affected by a low getaway day before Memorial Day weekend." So they exclude the slow night or nights, and publicly pretend that their average audience reflect a full Monday-Friday week.

There's an old-fashioned word for this: Lying.

They also say that ratings for artificially excluded low-viewership shows is "readily available to advertisers." This is a clever way of saying that it's not routinely provided unless it's requested.

Perhaps the most savvy advertisers and the media-placement firms they use understand this ruse, and insist on seeing all "available" information before making their ad spending decisions. But those who aren't aware of this scheme won't even know to ask for the excluded information, and will base their ad spending on the inflated numbers.

There's also an old-fashioned word for this: Stealing.

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Until now, Nielsen, which Flint reports is finally going to try to do something to stop the abuse, has looked the other way as all of this has occurred, effectively serving as an accessory to the lying and stealing just described.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

AP's Weak 'Clarification' Fails to Clean Up Its 'All 17 Agencies' Russia Fiction

If there's ever a "most pathetic correction ever" contest, the one posted by the Associated Press late Friday afternoon, conveniently ahead of what for many Americans will be a very long holiday weekend, has to be a serious contender. The wire service won't even acknowledge that it's a correction at its APnews.com site, instead calling it a "clarification." No one should be fooled.

The AP's folly appears to have been triggered by an appropriately labeled correction posted at the New York Times Thursday evening which, as Kristine Marsh at NewsBusters noted Friday morning, "admitted (that) one of the media’s major talking points about the (government's) Russia investigation wasn’t actually true."

Here's the Thursday correction at the Times, seen at Marsh's post:

A White House Memo article on Monday about President Trump’s deflections and denials about Russia referred incorrectly to the source of an intelligence assessment that said Russia orchestrated hacking attacks during last year’s presidential election. The assessment was made by four intelligence agencies — the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community.

The AP's Friday afternoon "clarification" was so weak, one has to ask why it even bothered (The APNews.com entry seen below only said that the item went up "yesterday"; the specific time stamp seen below was found at the identical item at the AP's main national site, where the "clarification" is nonetheless included in its current list of "corrections"):

APclarificationOnTrumpRussia063017

So we have three agencies which "collected information" (AP apparently didn't consider the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to be an "agency," though the Times did). The three agencies the AP named are identified as the authors of the January 6 report, "Russia’s Influence Campaign Targeting the 2016 US Presidential Election."

Regardless of how many other agencies might have reviewed some or all of the "collected information," no others put their names on the report, meaning that no other agencies have been shown to have been "involved in reaching the assessment," which is clearly a separate step from reviewing "collected information." Thus, the default presumption has to be that only three three agencies actually reached the assessment.

The correction at the New York Times accurately notes that "The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community." The AP's "clarification" about who was "involved" is more vague, and thus much weaker.

The actual "Russia's Influence" report's opening contradicts AP's contention that Russia's efforts were intended "to benefit Trump":

We assess with high confidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election, the consistent goals of which were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. When it appeared to Moscow that Secretary Clinton was likely to win the election, the Russian influence campaign then focused on undermining her expected presidency.

In other words, if we are to believe the intelligence agencies' actual words and not the AP's convenient interpretation of them, the alleged efforts by Russia and Putin were all about hurting Mrs. Clinton, because they expected her to win the election. They had "a clear preference" for Trump, but that preference was not behind their alleged efforts. They would have had a clear preference for any candidate not named Hillary Clinton, who they assumed would be the next U.S. president.

Further, the report, contrary to the language AP employed without quote marks, doesn't directly mention "benefiting" Trump. No form of the word "benefit" appears in the report. A review of the 17 times Trump's name is mentioned includes contentions that Russia and Putin "aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances," apparently in the name of weakening Mrs. Clinton's perceived mandate if elected, but never claims that Russia and Putin believed that Trump could actually win.

It's prohibitively unlikely that AP's pathetically weak "correction" or "clarification" will ever filter through to all online postings of the four dispatches it identified, or to the public library newspaper databases like Proquest containing them.

To cite just two easily found examples, late Saturday evening, the sentence AP "corrected" or "clarified" in its April 6 story — "All 17 intelligence agencies have agreed that Russia was behind the hack of Democratic email systems and tried to influence the 2016 election to benefit Trump" — was still present at the websites of DC radio station WTOP and the Los Angeles Daily News. Additionally, a search at Proquest found four instances of the April 6 story which still contained — and likely always will contain — that sentence.

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The AP's own cleanup isn't even complete.

The very day the wire service issued its "correction" or "clarification," Ken Thomas and Vivian Salama repeated the error, which remains even after an early Saturday update (APnews.com version is here):

AP070117with17agenciesError

That article, complete with the "17 agencies" error, has already made it to Proquest.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

AP's Latest Fable: Global Warming 'Will' Hit GDP of 'Poor and Southern' Counties

Seth Borenstein at the Associated Press and those pushing for radical wealth redistribution in the name of "climate change" just can't past their hysteria over President Donald Trump's unilateral decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords. Trump's move reversed former President Barack Obama's unilateral decision to sign on.

Borenstein's latest exercise in hyperbole on Thursday gave free publicity to a study which absurdly pretends to project the economic impact of alleged global warming over 80 years out. The study's authors appear not to realize that the allegedly frightening impacts they're projecting aren't intimidating at all.

As is so typical of press stories on climate matters, Borenstein gave readers the impression that the projected effects have far more credibility than the underlying study claims (evidence seen in bolded words):

Climate change up close: Southern, poor counties to suffer

Poor and southern U.S. counties will get hit hardest by global warming, according to a first-of-its-kind detailed projection of potential climate change effects at the local level.

"Will get hit hardest" communicates certainty, despite the opening sentence's indication that a "projection" is involved. The proper wording should have been "would get hit hardest." But that would dilute the intended sensationalism. In fact, with a very conservative assumption for economic growth, no county in the U.S. will suffer a real "hit" at all.

Continuing:

The study, published Thursday in the journal Science, calculates probable economic harms and benefits for the more than 3,100 counties in the United States under different possible scenarios for worldwide emissions of heat-trapping gases. It looks at agriculture, energy costs, labor costs, coastal damage from rising seas, crime and deaths, then estimates the effect on average local income by the end of the century.

... The county hit hardest if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated is tiny and impoverished Union County in Florida, where median income would take a 28 percent hit. And among counties with at least 500,000 people, Polk County in central Florida would suffer the most, with damages of more than 17 percent of income.

Borenstein never told readers that the full effects he identified, if they were to somehow actually occur, wouldn't be seen until the furthest range of the study, between the years 2080 to 2100, and would not happen unless global temperatures rise by 4 degrees Celsius. All of this also assumes an unproven correlation between greenhouse gas emissions, primarily carbon dioxide, which isn't even a genuine pollutant, and increases in global temperatures.

To demonstrate how the underlying study is much ado about virtually nothing, and eventually prove that no county will suffer a "hit," let's start with Science Magazine's glib scare sentence:

ScienceMagScareGDPsentence

The detailed report actually identifies the impact as 1.2 percent of GDP per degree Celsius increase in temperatures.

For the moment, let's accept the study's premise on GDP effects, and that temperatures actually increase by what the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) described in its Fifth Assessment Report in 2014 as the "very high greenhouse gas emissions" scenario (technically known as "RCP8.5"):

IPCChiEmissionsTempIncreaseTo2100

As seen above, if that occurs, temperatures in 2090, the midpoint year in the farthest extrapolated range of 2080-2100 in the Science Magazine projections, would increase by 4 degrees Celsius (rounded up a bit). According to the study, GDP would therefore be 4.8 percent lower (4 times the 1.2 percent GDP decrease for each degree of temperature increase) than it otherwise would have been.

That's a truly trifling impact. Really.

The easiest, back-of-the-envelope explanation is this: An economy which ends up being 4.8 percent smaller than it otherwise would have been 74 years down the road in 2090 will have grown by a trivial 0.065 percent less per year (.048 divided by 74) on average during that period.

The next three tables are for those who wish to see the full detail. Those who don't need it can skip down to the text after the last table.

In 2016, the U.S. economy was 8.5 times larger than it was in 1946. In the intervening 70 years, it grew at a real (inflation-adjusted) compound annual rate of 3.1 percent:

GDP1946to2016

If the U.S. economy grows at only a 2.5 percent annual rate during the next 74 years — taking us to the midpoint year of 2090 in the Science Magazine projections — it will be over six times larger than it is now:

GDP2016to2090at2pt5pct

If GDP grows at that slower-than-historical pace, and if the IPCC is right about its worst-case 4 degrees of warming, and if the Science Magazine theorists are right about the economic impact of the temperature increase, compound annual growth during the next 74 years will be 2.43 percent instead of 2.5 percent:

GDP2016to2090with4degreeCtempRise

Even the alleged "28 percent (income) hit" projected to be suffered by Union County in Florida would, if one safely assumes that real incomes grow at roughly the same rate as real GDP, mean that incomes would rise by a factor of 4.48 during the next 74 years, and GDP would grow at a 2.05 percent compound annual rate. That's certainly less than desirable, but still a decent improvement, and certainly not a "hit to income."

If there's any reason for alarm, it's extremely well-hidden — and keep in mind that the study's authors claim to have taken a comprehensive look at major GDP-influencing factors, including but not limited to violent crime, property crime, mortality, labor supply, and crop yields.

Finally, the supposedly frightening 4.8 percent GDP reduction spread over 74 years is significantly less than the impact of just seven post-recession years of the miserable economic policies the nation endured under former President Barack Obama, when growth averaged 1 percent less per year below the 70-year post-World War II trend (2.1 percent vs. 3.1 percent, or a compound total of just over 7 percent).

It's clear that the global warmists who produced the study and gullible or agenda-driven reporters like the AP's Borenstein clearly don't want readers to understand the following additional facts:

  • The 4-degree Celsius rise in global temperatures giving rise to the allegedly gloomy GDP scenario cited has to be considered highly unlikely. That's because the same models predicting this temperature rise as a worst-case scenario can't explain why temperatures have barely budged during the past two decades.
  • If properly explained and understood, the vast majority of people would be quite willing to "risk" possible 0.07 percent per year reductions in annual GDP growth relating to something which, based on the track record, is very unlikely to happen — especially because the alternative, as envisioned in the Paris accords and the agendas of those behind it, is to have the world's prosperous nations, particularly the U.S., eventually give up a great deal of their sovereignty and large sums of money.

Global warming alarmists and journalists relaying their nonsense are going to have to get better at their scare tactics, because what the study discussed here, and what Borenstein reported, shouldn't scare anyone at all.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

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Three Journalists Quit CNN After Their Russia-Trump Story's Deleted

Thursday evening, CNN.com ran a story by reporter Thomas Frank which, according to a now-posted Editor's Note, connected "Anthony Scaramucci with (congressional) investigations into the Russian Direct Investment Fund."

The Editor's Note tells the network's readers: "That story did not meet CNN's editorial standards and has been retracted." Further, "Links to the story have been disabled. CNN apologizes to Mr. Scaramucci." Then, in a Monday evening bombshell, Fox News's Howard Kurtz reported that "Three journalists (have) quit CNN in fallout from (the) retracted Russia story" — although it's possible they may have resigned instead of getting fired.

What in the world happened?

The withdrawn story previously triggered a network editors' decision to consolidate their control over all future Russia-related stories, forcing such items to go through additional review before publication.

As The Hill reported on Sunday (link is in original; bolds are mine throughout this post):

CNNMoney executive editor Rich Barbieri sent out an email Saturday regarding the network's new rules after CNN a day earlier issued a retraction on one of its stories.

"No one should publish any content involving Russia without coming to me and Jason [Farkas]," said the email, obtained by BuzzFeed News.

"This applies to social, video, editorial, and MoneyStream. No exceptions," the email added. "I will lay out a workflow Monday."

... A source close to CNN told BuzzFeed the incident was a "massive, massive f--- up and people will be disciplined."

As to what was specifically wrong with the withdrawn story, we're not going to find out directly from CNN, whose full Editor's Note made no attempt to explain how it could have seen the light of day, and made it absolutely clear that any attempt to find out by searching CNN.com would be in vain:

CNNeditorsNoteWithdrawnStory062317

Additionally, on Sunday, as Tim Graham at NewsBusters observed, CNN's Brian Stelter failed to address the withdrawn story on his Reliable Sources program.

CNN apparently hasn't learned that Google often temporarily caches web pages. As of early Monday afternoon Eastern Time, cached copies of the network's story could still be found here (originally posted at CNN) and here (originally posted at a Florida TV station's website). The latter version is also saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes.

Here is the CNN story's headline and opening as they appeared at the network's website before it was pulled:

CNNopeningTrumpRussiaStory062217

Two things are immediately obvious.

The first is that the story was entirely based on claims made by one anonymous "congressional source." Scaramucci and others involved in that source's claim about a "January meeting" pushed back hard, but Frank delayed noting their objections until far later paragraphs:

(Claim — Paragraph 3)

Separately, Steve Mnuchin, now Treasury Secretary, said in a January letter that he would look into the Jan. 16 meeting between the fund's chief executive and Anthony Scaramucci, a member of the transition team's executive committee and a fundraiser and adviser for Trump's presidential campaign.

(The in-story denial — Paragraphs 10, 11 and 16)

... Scaramucci, the founder of SkyBridge Capital, minimized his January meeting with Dmitriev in the resort town of Davos, Switzerland, at the celebrated annual gathering of the World Economic Forum. Scaramucci had met Dmitriev at previous Davos meetings, although at the gathering in January, Scaramucci was expecting to be named White House liaison to the business community.

Dmitriev "came over to say hello in a restaurant, and I was cordial," Scaramucci said in a recent email to CNN. "There is nothing there."

... A spokeswoman for the Russian fund said the two men did not discuss sanctions, and that the discussion itself did not violate sanctions that U.S. imposed in 2014 after Russia annexed part of neighboring Ukraine. The spokeswoman declined to describe the conversation, saying, "We do not comment on private meetings."

Thus, what CNN's single anonymous "congressional source" claimed was a "meeting" was, according to those actually involved, a brief encounter in a restaurant.

In response, Scaramucci tweeted the following late Thursday: "It's ok. I did nothing wrong. They like hitting friends of @potus who are loyal advocates on his behalf."

Early Saturday morning, after CNN pulled the story, Scaramucci appeared to go out of his way to give the network a pass, tweeting that: "@CNN did the right thing. Classy move. Apology accepted. Everyone makes mistakes. Moving on."

That leads us to the second obvious shortcoming in CNN's original story, which is that Frank acted as if he and the network had little or no previous familiarity with Scaramucci.

While it's plausible to claim that the Russian Direct Investment Fund is "little-known," Scaramucci has been quite well-known to CNN — so well-known that he's been a frequent guest on the network's New Day and other programs, has written at least one op-ed posted on the network's website, and has also appeared on other cable networks' shows.

A quick visit to YouTube surfaced tense but civil arguments between Scaramucci and New Day host Chris Cuomo on June 20June 15, May 9, and March 22, as well as a June 9 appearance on Fox News's Hannity, a May 31 interview with that network's Martha MacCallum, and a June 9 MSNBC appearance.

What's more, the Fox Business Network's Charles Gasparino reported on June 7 that Scaramucci is still being considered for some kind of advisory position within the Trump administration.

This breathtaking omission about Scaramucci's visibility enabled Frank and CNN to completely avoid noting that he has been a visible and vocal supporter and defender of Trump.

In other words, this anonymously sourced story has all the earmarks of a hit piece ordered up to discredit an articulate Trump supporter who may join the administration, perhaps by one of the two U.S. senators named later in the story, Democrats Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Ben Cardin of Maryland. Now three of the CNN journalists involved in waving the story through — Frank; Lex Harris, executive editor of CNN’s investigative unit; and Eric Lichtblau, who edited the story — are no longer CNN journalists.

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Scaramucci's unusually generous tweet after the story was pulled, CNN editors' post-withdrawal reaction, and the now-reported resignations all indicate that there's much more behind how this story managed to get published than the network is willing to publicly admit.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

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