Birthered in the U.S.A.

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[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]

The so-called “birther” story—the claim that President Obama was born outside the U.S. and is not a “natural born Citizen,” thus ineligible to be president—was back in the news last week.  Was it spread, as Donald Trump alleged, by the Clinton organization?

Among those allegedly spreading the birther story during the 2008 campaign: Sidney Blumenthal, Clinton’s top political advisor. According to James Asher, former Washington bureau chief of the McClatchy Company, one of the nation’s top news organizations, Blumenthal suggested to him that Obama was born in Kenya, and sought to persuade Asher to pursue the story—which Asher did, leading to a determination that the birther story was false.

The Washington Post, in a news story Friday, characterized as false Donald Trump’s charge that “Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy,” with the Post calling Trump’s claim “an assertion that has been repeatedly disproved by fact-checkers who have found no evidence that Clinton or her campaign questioned Obama’s birth certificate or his citizenship.” The rest of the media followed suit. The idea that the Clinton campaign was involved in the birther effort was a “false conspiracy,” reported the Associated Press. It was “a claim that does not stand up to scrutiny,” said Reuters.

In an effort to exonerate the Clinton organization from charges of ties to “birtherism,” some in the news media cling to the technicality that Blumenthal was supposedly not a part of the 2008 Clinton campaign. They claim that, while Blumenthal might have spread the rumor, Clinton’s campaign didn’t. For example, John Berman on CNN said that his organization “reached out to Clinton campaign staffers to say, to their knowledge, at that time, Sidney Blumenthal did not work for the campaign, but, yes, he is a friend of Hillary Clinton.”

Even McClatchy News, in reporting the allegations of one of its former editors, stated that “there is no evidence that Clinton herself or her campaign spread the story.” Again, the point is that the person spreading the story was just Sidney Blumenthal, a Clinton friend, not someone from the campaign.

That characterization of Blumenthal as someone who was not a member of the Clinton campaign is contradicted by the words of Mark Penn, the Clinton 2008 campaign’s pollster as well as its chief strategist. In an interview in GQ magazine, published June 12, 2008, Penn defended himself from accusations that he had overcharged the campaign for his services. He pointed out that the money paid to his business organization (the firm Penn Schoen Berland) went mostly for expenses, such as printing and postage related to direct mail.  Penn said that much of the money, payments that people assumed went to Penn himself, in fact went to “Sid Blumenthal.”

[Question:] You’ve been accused of making obscene amounts of money from this campaign. Can you clear that up for us?

[Penn:] Well, people think, you know… The reality is, the way that money’s been reported, all the printing and the postage—you know, 85 percent of the work has been for direct mail, of which almost all that is postage and printing and all that

[Question:] So when they come out with, like, ‘Mark Penn was paid $4 million,’ $3.4 million of that was postage?

[Penn:] The actual consulting fee is, you know, we received $27,000 a month, which is split between me and Sid Blumenthal [described by GQ as “a senior advisor”]. So it makes the net around half that.

[Question:] Wait, Sid makes as much as you?

[Penn:] You know, again, I don’t own these companies, so—

[Question:] No, really, Sid Blumenthal makes as much as you?

[Penn:] His fee is about the same.

So Sidney Blumenthal, according to Penn, was paid “about the same” as him, or, roughly half of the $27,000-a-month consulting fee paid by the Clinton campaign.

If you believe the news media, Blumenthal—Hillary Clinton’s closest political advisor, the apparent partner of her campaign’s chief strategist, and a man who was paid by the campaign at a rate corresponding to more than $160,000 a year—was not “the Clinton campaign.” If not, then who, besides Hillary Clinton herself, would be?

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The E-Cigarette Ban: A Win for Liars and Big Tobacco

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This article is part of the Green Watch series.

SummaryBureaucrats and politicians often cite “science” as justification for their efforts to exercise control over Americans’ lives. It’s a fake, politicized “science,” of course. When science suggests that government policy is ineffective or counterproductive, Washington elites ignore the science they claim to venerate. Case in point: the regulation of e-cigarettes, benefitting the big tobacco companies that the Left claims to hate. This reminds us of the “Joe Camel” controversy, which was fabricated and promoted so that the Left could get its hands on a fortune in tobacco money.

The Food and Drug Administration has joined with Big Tobacco in an effort to crush the small businesses that make up most of the e-cigarette industry. In doing so, the FDA is putting at risk the lives of millions of Americans.

Once again, bureaucrats and politicians are distorting scientific studies in order to support a political agenda.  The ostensible mission of the FDA is to make sure food and medicine are safe, but FDA bureaucrats and the politicians who enable them have long sought to make the agency into a national nanny, a haven for prohibitionism and for meddling in people’s lives.

Now, bureaucrats have issued a set of rules that would effectively ban 99 percent of e-cigarettes, scuttle innovation in the e-cig industry, and enrich the companies that misled the public about the health consequences of real smoking. Continue reading →

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The continuing and non-existent collapse of Donald Trump

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[Continuing our series on deception and misdirection in politics and public policy.]

Donald Trump’s continuing decline in the polls is a clear indicator that the GOP is facing disaster—that Trump will lose cataclysmically in November, perhaps becoming the first candidate to win a negative number of electoral votes, and that every other Republican on the ballot, from governors to U.S. Senators to Zika mosquito squashers, will perish in a landslide comparable to the Ruatoria debris avalanche off North Island, New Zealand, circa 170,000 B.C.

I know this because the news media tell me so. Trump’s poll numbers, I’m told, have been plummeting, collapsing, and falling in free fall, even as they have been both shrinking and sinking.

Over the past two weeks, the news media reported this crackup over and over again.

[Feel free to skip through these examples, down to the charts below.]

 

►Yahoo!, 8/9/16

More Republicans broke ranks Tuesday with their party’s White House nominee Donald Trump, issuing dire warnings that his recklessness and lack of policy chops would put the United States in danger. Facing sinking poll numbers and anger in the party . . .

►Singapore Star, 8/9/16

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is playing the “China-bashing card” in an attempt to rescue his falling poll numbers but has no real ideas to resolve the two nations’ differences, China’s official news agency said Tuesday.

►CNN, 8/9/16

Good morning. I’m Alison Kosik. It’s 30 minutes past the hour.

And Donald Trump, he’s trying to elevate the tone of his campaign. He is trying to get back on track after a couple of really rough weeks and plummeting poll numbers like this. New Monmouth poll showing Hillary Clinton breaking out to a 13-point lead.

►Times Record News (Wichita Falls, Texas), 8/9/16

The speaker’s obvious political concern about the latest polls is what Trump‘s slide may augur for Republican support down the ballot in congressional races this fall, putting his speakership in jeopardy.

►Right Wing Watch [People for the American Way], 8/10/16

On his radio show today, Glenn Beck became so alarmed over Donald Trump’s cratering poll numbers and forecasts showing him falling further and further behind Hillary Clinton that he called on Mitt Romney to throw his hat into the ring just so that Republicans have someone to vote for in case Trump has a complete meltdown.

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Unindicted, Clinton accepts Democratic nomination

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 PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA — The Democratic Party comes out of this convention deeply divided, with a nominee who, 56 percent of Americans believe, should have been indicted.

Tonight, Clinton was heckled repeatedly. Her supporters responded to the hecklers, outchanting them with “Hill-a-ree.” At times, some of us in the press area in the convention hall had difficulty hearing Clinton. Other major speakers were heckled this week, including Elizabeth Warren with chants of “We trusted you,” Leon Panetta and General John Allen with chants of “No more war,” and Bernie Sanders (at a pep rally outside the convention hall) with boos and jeers when he called on supporters to back the winning ticket.

This week, some of the protesters in Philadelphia took up the chant heard at last week’s Republican convention: “Lock her up!”

The anger of the Sanders people is entirely understandable, given that, as e-mails revealed this week, Democratic Party leaders cheated in order to deny their candidate the nomination, and discussed using religious bigotry to defeat him. Sanders, who got 46 percent of the delegates chosen in the primaries and caucuses, has reportedly decided to remain an independent rather than join the party.

Only a four-mile-long wall of eight-foot-high “no-scale” fence, keeping protesters far from delegates and most of the news media, created an illusion of peace in Philadelphia. (For some of the reality, see https://twitter.com/mikedogli/status/758578450760204288/video/1 .)  Armed guards enforced the rules, to make sure people went only where they were welcome. Photo ID was required, of course. Because, unlike security at the border or at the polls, security at a Democratic convention is something Democrats actually want.

Quoting the inaugural address of Franklin Roosevelt, Clinton in her pedestrian acceptance speech declared, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” People in Orlando, Dallas, and Baton Rouge—not to mention Istanbul, Nice, and Munich—might differ with that sentiment, as might the law enforcement personnel who have kept convention-goers safe.

The tense convention came as polls show Donald Trump pulling even with, or ahead of, Hillary Clinton.

So panicked have the Democrats become that, Wednesday, they and their media allies stooped to bizarre Continue reading →

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Trump, traitor (and the truth comes limping after)

Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it, so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late; the jest is over, and the tale hath had its effect . . .  
– Jonathan Swift

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA — How has Hillary Clinton survived in politics, and risen to her current position of trust, despite the fact that most people have an accurate impression of her character? Because the Clintons have an army of sycophants, ready to lie for their cause at a moment’s notice, and to smear anyone who dares criticize or otherwise challenge them.

Today, they started calling Donald Trump unpatriotic, disloyal to his country, practically a traitor.

To justify their characterization, they twisted his words from a press conference that he held today in Doral, Florida.

As is known to most people who follow the news, intelligence analysts believe that the Russians probably hacked into the server to which Hillary Clinton, when she was secretary of state, diverted stolen e-mails. That means the Russians probably have copies of at least some of the e-mails that Clinton destroyed.

Clinton has admitted to diverting some 66,000 e-mails, of which she returned roughly half. She claimed that the other half related to private matters such as yoga classes and plans for her daughter’s wedding. She claimed that her lawyers—who, importantly, lacked the proper security clearances to handle such material—reviewed the e-mails to determine which ones were personal and which were work-related.

Clinton claimed that the supposedly personal e-mails were deleted. It is those e-mails to which Trump referred at the press conference today.

Trump, half-jokingly, called on the Russians to turn over those copies. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said. He added sarcastically: “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Trump said that he hoped Continue reading →

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Honors at Dem convention for attempted cop killer, attempted gay basher

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA — Last night, the Democratic National Convention paid tribute to a would-be cop killer and a would-be gay basher.

Lezley (Leslie) McSpadden, mother of would-be cop killer Michael Brown, appeared on the stage of the convention, along with other women whose children were shot to death, died during encounters with law enforcement, or both.

She was honored as a surrogate for Brown and as someone who, because of her son’s death, became a leader in the “Mothers of the Movement” group. That group promotes the false narrative that there is an epidemic of police officers shooting and killing African-Americans based on racism. This effort is informally a part of the “Black Lives Matter” anti-police campaign, which has inspired at least three sets of assassinations in New York City, Dallas, and Baton Rouge, killing a total of 10 officers. (Yesterday in Philadelphia, BLM protesters, preparing for an event, were directed via loudspeaker, “black people to the front, white people to the back.”)

When McSpadden and other “Mothers of the Movement” were introduced, chants of “Black lives matter!” rose from the crowd.

Also honored as a surrogate for her son and appearing on stage: Sybrina Fulton, mother of Continue reading →

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Philadelphia freak-out

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA —They’re freaking out.

There is an air of panic in Philadelphia, as Donald Trump, in national polls, has pulled even with, or ahead of, Hillary Clinton. You could see utter dismay on the faces of Democratic Party operatives yesterday when Bernie Sanders, rallying the troops, called for his people to support the ticket of Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine, and they booed and jeered, and many of them gave the idea a literal thumbs-down. You could hear it in the tone of Elizabeth Warren’s speech, full of smears, in which Warren, who got rich and famous by pretending to be an American Indian, called Trump a racist.

The major news media spent last week attacking Trump’s claims of competence by painting the Republican convention as a mess. (Interestingly, as the WikiLeaks e-mails reveal, the “campaign is a mess” trope is one that the Democratic National Committee wanted to spread about Bernie Sanders.) Melania Trump’s “plagiarism,” roughly 23 words, apparently lifted accidentally from a Michelle Obama speech, dominated coverage of her speech. The fact that the Trump campaign allowed Ted Cruz to speak in primetime without an assurance of a Trump endorsement was presented as a historic blunder, rather than as a sign of political smarts—of magnanimity, or of allowing the NeverTrumpers to blow off steam, or of handing Cruz the rope with which he would hang himself.

Trump’s acceptance speech, we were told by the media, was dystopian, like the Mad Continue reading →

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The media get the treatment they deserve

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA — It’s hot in Philly—95 degrees yesterday but it felt like 107, per my Dark Skies weather app, and it’s supposed to be 93 or higher today. (Yesterday, on the asphalt outside the Wells Fargo Center, I got woozy from the heat. And I grew up on a chicken farm in Alabama.)

The AP reported at 8:15 p.m. Monday that, according to city officials, 41 people had been treated for heat-related problems or other injuries during protests related to the Democratic convention. They say 17 of those treated have been taken to hospitals to be evaluated. One security measure made it tougher for protesters: Officials blocked anyone without a credential for the Democratic convention from traveling to the subway stop next to the arena.

Thousands of protesters were scattered when the area was hit by a thunderstorm and flash flood. (An estimated 5,500 people protested Continue reading →

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The Democratic nomination was rigged. Aren’t you surprised?

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA —They cheated.

Democratic National Committee (DNC) e-mails, acknowledged as genuine, show that the Democratic Party itself worked to defeat Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and to win the party’s presidential nomination for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Last week, in his speech accepting the Republican nomination, Donald Trump said, “I have seen firsthand how the system is rigged against our citizens, just like it was rigged against Bernie Sanders–he never had a chance. Never had a chance.” At least with regard to Bernie Sanders, Trump has been proven correct.

The Democratic National Committee, which is the formal governing body of the Democratic Party, is obliged to remain neutral between serious candidates, and Sanders was certainly a serious candidate. Despite the best efforts of party operatives, Sanders ended up with roughly 12 million votes for the nomination. Clinton received 15 million, so Sanders got almost 45% of the vote between the two.

The DNC’s thumb-on-the-scale affected the contest in a number of ways. DNC communications resources were used to ridicule Sanders and downplay his chances of victory. DNC-sponsored debates were scheduled around holidays and on weekends in order to prevent Sanders from having a breakthrough performance.  From the tone of these e-mails, it is reasonable to presume that the DNC provided inside information to the Clinton campaign. (Still to be investigated: whether federal election laws were violated in the coordination between the Clinton campaign and the DNC.)

The narrative of the campaign, set by the DNC as part of the Clinton machine, Continue reading →

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Trump rips Clinton, pledges to fight for working Americans

CLEVELAND, OHIO —In every country, Thomas Jefferson wrote Henry Lee, there exist two parties: “Those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes,” and “Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise, depositary of the public interests.”

Tonight, Donald J. Trump laid claim to leadership of the second group—the one that represents and speaks for regular people. It’s an extraordinary claim, coming from a billionaire. Then again, he’s running against Hillary Clinton, who epitomizes the first group.

Introducing her father, Ivanka Trump declared: “Other politicians see the unfairness of it all and say, ‘I feel for you.’ Only my father will say, ‘I’ll fight for you.’” Another speaker, earlier in the evening, called Trump “America’s blue-collar billionaire.”

Trump’s acceptance speech painted a picture of “Big Business, elite media, and major donors” who are “lining up behind the campaign of my opponent,” Hillary Clinton, “throwing money at her” because “she’s their puppet, and they pull the strings” He’s running for president, he said, “so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people who cannot defend themselves.”

The system is corrupt, he said, and “Nobody knows the system better than me. Which is why I alone can fix it.”

Highlighting the Republican Party’s abrupt turn toward populism Continue reading →

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