By Inez Feltscher Stepman • The Federalist
The latest in Facebook-policed “fake news” is a claim echoing through the conservative Twittersphere, including from my own account, that two bills outgoing California Gov. Jerry Brown signed impose such draconian water use standards that fines could be imposed for taking a shower and running laundry on the same day. Snopes rated these assertions as “mostly false,” and Facebook flagged stories about them as fake news.
But Snopes, Facebook, and others purporting to “fact check” conservative frustrations with the law are the ones misleading about its effects. The way these allegedly neutral fact-checkers present repackaged liberal assumptions as hard fact is a great illustration of how the Left pulls off the kind of logical ju-jitsu that allows them to label conservative arguments as fake news in order to dismiss them.
In this particular case, none of these “debunking” articles actually dispute the three most crucial facts: there is a daily per-person 55-gallon limit ratcheting down to 50 gallons over the course of a decade, fines will be imposed upon violation, and, for at least some users, a reasonable-length shower and running the wash will put them over. In fact, most of the articles in question actually confirm these three vital points, usually squashed into a final paragraph that contradicts the headline. Nevertheless, they conclude that conservatives are spreading false information.
Fines On Providers Are Fines on Consumers
For starters, they point out that the $1,000 per day ($10,000 a day during drought) fines are levied on water providers, not directly on individuals. The first liberal assumption embedded in the narrative is that those fines will not be passed on to consumers.
If you think water companies will eat thousands of dollars of overuse fines without passing them on to consumers in the form of higher water costs, company fines for violators, or hard-usage cutoff caps, I have an infrastructure project to sell you in Brooklyn. But regardless of where you fall on economic theory questions, this is an arguable assumption, not an indisputable fact.
Secondly, the Snopes article assures California citizens that the 55-gallon standard is quite relaxed, and that most will easily be able to take a shower and do laundry while staying under the limit. The outlet buttresses its math by calculating that the average shower uses about 17 gallons of water, while high-efficiency washing machines use 15-30 gallons per load. Second liberal assumption: most people take extremely short showers and own super-efficient, expensive appliances.
The reality, of course, is that these numbers need a fact check. The U.S. Geological Survey—that well-known purveyor of right-wing fake news—says a ten-minute shower can run about 50 gallons of use without special water-saving showerheads, while washing machines vary from 25 to 40 gallons per cycle, depending on efficiency.
Again, the claim that a shower and laundry don’t run over the legally imposed limit is not based on hard facts ignored by ideological opponents, but on ideological (and fantastical) assumptions: that everyone has or wants a brand-new efficient washer and shower head, or that people take very brief showers to save water.
Terrible Management Caused California’s Water Woes
Fact-check wars aside, few conservatives would complain about strict water restrictions if California’s drought woes were truly unavoidable. But the state’s chronic water troubles are the result of decades of leftist mismanagement.
California is among the highest-tax states in the nation and boasts a booming tax base of large industries, from the Silicon Valley technology hub and Hollywood to enormous agriculture and viticulture sectors. Yet the state, the arid southern half of which is naturally short on water, has not authorized new reservoir construction for 20 years.
Brown’s administration not only failed to build a single reservoir for the droughts that are sure to plague the state’s future, it is actively fighting a federal project to enlarge the capacity of the Shasta reservoir by adding to its dam, citing environmental protection. In the midst of record droughts several years ago, the state actually flushed millions of acre-feet of lifesaving reservoir water to help boost the population of a three-inch bait fish living in the Sacramento River Delta.
If the most basic duty of a state government is to keep its citizens safe, close behind is the fundamental obligation to build and maintain basic infrastructure such as roads, schools, and, in the case of a desert state, ensuring that enough water remains in reserves to operate through a drought. It’s hard to argue that California’s natural water problems outstrip those of a true desert state like Arizona, yet Arizona has a reservoir system that can keep the state operating through even intense and prolonged drought.
Instead, the California legislature spends billions on social leveling schemes that have, if not produced, than at least failed to alleviate the growing gap between rich and poor and skyrocketing homeless rates in the state. Then when the 2015 droughts finally forced the legislature to confront the issue, its solution has been to impose draconian water use restrictions on individual use, even though that makes up just 10 percent of the state’s overall water use (50 percent is environmental, 40 percent agricultural).
Because the Left has stranglehold over the mainstream media narrative, and now over many of the social media platforms we use to communicate, the unspoken premises that underlie their “fact checking” rarely get brought to light. In the case of the California water wars, Brown and the Left are hoping citizens will focus on ideologically contingent claims of fake news and miss their decades of irresponsible mismanagement in the Golden State.
By Andrew C. McCarthy • National Review
The media are in a lather over the Justice Department’s grand-jury investigation of contacts between several reporters and a government source — the former Senate Intelligence Committee security director who has been indicted for lying to investigators about his leaks to the press.
The same media are in a lather over the refusal of the president of the United States, at least thus far, to submit to questioning by the special counsel in the Russia investigation. The president is placing himself “above the law,” they contend, if he rebuffs prosecutors or defies a grand-jury subpoena.
Whether we’re talking about journalists or presidents, the situation is the same: An investigative demand is made on people whose jobs are so important to the functioning of our self-governing republic that they are given some protection, but not absolute immunity, from the obligation to provide evidence to the grand jury. Continue reading
Inconvenient Science: NASA data show that global temperatures dropped sharply over the past two years. Not that you’d know it, since that wasn’t deemed news. Does that make NASA a global warming denier?
Writing in Real Clear Markets, Aaron Brown looked at the official NASA global temperature data and noticed something surprising. From February 2016 to February 2018, “global average temperatures dropped by 0.56 degrees Celsius.” That, he notes, is the biggest two-year drop in the past century.
“The 2016-2018 Big Chill,” he writes, “was composed of two Little Chills, the biggest five month drop ever (February to June 2016) and the fourth biggest (February to June 2017). A similar event from February to June 2018 would bring global average temperatures below the 1980s average.”
Isn’t this just the sort of man-bites-dog story that the mainstream media always says is newsworthy?
In this case, it didn’t warrant any news coverage.
In fact, in the three weeks since Real Clear Markets ran Brown’s story, no other news outlet picked up on it. They did, however, find time to report on such things as tourism’s impact on climate change, how global warming will generate more hurricanes this year, and threaten fish habitats, and make islands uninhabitable. They wrote about a UN official saying that “our window of time for addressing climate change is closing very quickly.”
Reporters even found time to cover a group that says they want to carve President Trump’s face into a glacier to prove climate change “is happening.”
In other words, the mainstream news covered stories that repeated what climate change advocates have been saying ad nauseam for decades.
That’s not to say that a two-year stretch of cooling means that global warming is a hoax. Two years out of hundreds or thousands doesn’t necessarily mean anything. And there could be a reasonable explanation. But the drop in temperatures at least merits a “Hey, what’s going on here?” story.
What’s more, journalists are perfectly willing to jump on any individual weather anomaly — or even a picture of a starving polar bear — as proof of global warming. (We haven’t seen any stories pinning Hawaii’s recent volcanic activity on global warming yet, but won’t be surprised if someone tries to make the connection.)
We’ve noted this refusal to cover inconvenient scientific findings many times in this space over the years.
Hiding The Evidence
There was the study published in the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate showing that climate models exaggerate global warming from CO2 emissions by as much as 45%. It was ignored.
Then there was the study in the journal Nature Geoscience that found that climate models were faulty, and that, as one of the authors put it, “We haven’t seen that rapid acceleration in warming after 2000 that we see in the models.”
Nor did the press see fit to report on findings from the University of Alabama-Huntsville showing that the Earth’s atmosphere appears to be less sensitive to changing CO2 levels than previously assumed.
How about the fact that the U.S. has cut CO2 emissions over the past 13 years faster than any other industrialized nation? Or that polar bear populations are increasing? Or that we haven’t seen any increase in violent weather in decades?
Reporters no doubt worry that covering such findings will only embolden “deniers” and undermine support for immediate, drastic action.
But if fears of catastrophic climate change are warranted — which we seriously doubt — ignoring things like the rapid cooling in the past two years carries an even bigger risk.
Suppose, Brown writes, the two-year cooling trend continues. “At some point the news will leak out that all global warming since 1980 has been wiped out in two and a half years, and that record-setting events went unreported.”
He goes on: “Some people could go from uncritical acceptance of steadily rising temperatures to uncritical refusal to accept any warming at all.”
Brown is right. News outlets should decide what gets covered based on its news value, not on whether it pushes an agenda. Otherwise, they’re doing the public a disservice and putting their own already shaky credibility at greater risk.
Conservative leaders are joining together to call for equal treatment on tech and social media.
In a statement released Tuesday, a number of conservative organizations and leaders detailed their concerns:
Social media censorship and online restriction of conservatives and their organizations have reached a crisis level. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s hearings on Capitol Hill only served to draw attention to how widespread this problem has become. Conservative leaders now have banded together to call for equal treatment on tech and social media.
Conservatives have encountered problems across platforms — Twitter, Facebook, Google, and its video platform YouTube especially. Social media firms have banned gun videos and rejected pro-life advertisements. They have skewed search results and adjusted trending topics in ways Continue reading
By David Harsanyi • The Federalist
This week, CNN fact checked Donald Trump’s recent claim that he had been tougher on Russia than Barack Obama. “(No he wasn’t)” maintained the cheeky chyron. Though the network fancies itself the arbiter of truth in the Era of Trump — apples and bananas and all that — this particular contention is, at the very least, debatable. In fact, there’s a good case to be made that in nearly every way, save rhetoric, the president has been tougher on Russia than his predecessor.
This isn’t necessarily a heavy lift when we consider Obama spent most of his eight years placating Vladimir Putin and his allies in the Middle East. Much of the trouble we find ourselves in now can be directly traced to Obama’s feckless policies.
By the time Obama let Putin’s stooge Dmitry Medvedev know that the administration would have more “flexibility” on missile defense, the president had already canceled the sale of American missile-defense systems to our allies in Poland and the Czech Republic. This pleased Putin greatly. At the time, Obama and his allies were Continue reading
With all due respect to contrary opinions apparently held at the New York Times, ABC News, Reuters, CNN, and some of our other media colleagues, this editorial page feels comfortable declaring that North Korea, inasmuch as it is a murderous dictatorship threatening nuclear war, is the bad guy in today’s geopolitical struggle.
“North Korea judged winner of diplomatic gold at Olympics,” Reuters reported. “Without a word, only flashing smiles, Kim Jong-un’s sister outflanked Vice President Mike Pence in diplomacy,” the New York Times declared, in a news story that never mentioned that the sister, Kim Yo Jong, is literally the head of North Korea’s propaganda department. A supposed news story from CNN chastised Vice President Mike Pence for “a ‘missed opportunity’ for North Korea diplomacy.”
The argument: Pence “‘degraded the image of the United States as a superpower’ by meeting with North Korean defectors along with Otto Warmbier’s father, and by speaking strongly against North Korea on multiple occasions.”
Otto Warmbier is the American murdered Continue reading
By Bari Weis • New York Times
Imagine this: The author of the most popular book in the country goes on Bill Maher’s show and says the following about President Barack Obama: “There is something in the book that I was absolutely sure of but it was so incendiary that I just didn’t have the ultimate proof,” he says. “I didn’t have the blue dress.”
The host pushes the coy writer for a hint. “You just have to read between the lines toward the end of the book,” the writer answers. “When you hit that paragraph you’re going to say, ‘Bingo!’”
Within moments, every person with a copy turns to the last bit. The woman’s name jumps out as if it was printed in boldface: Samantha Power, the United Nations ambassador. “The president has been spending a notable amount of private time,” the book says, with her on Air Force One.
Do I have to tell you what the reaction to this rumor-mongering would be? Heads would explode on every cable channel (except for Fox, of course, which would be calling for a special investigation). Editorials would issue forth Continue reading
By David Rutz • Washington Free Beacon
Imagine scores of the nation’s largest employers have announced $1,000 bonuses, wage hikes, and employee investments in direct response to a Democratic tax overhaul.
And then imagine that Republican Speaker Paul Ryan—who has already called the tax overhaul “Armageddon” and “the worst bill in the history of the United States Congress”—dismisses that money for working-class people as “crumbs” and “so pathetic.”
Out of touch! Bitter! Why, the press and chattering class would have a field day.
The New York Times would go with “For Top Republican, Four-Figure Bonuses Are ‘Crumbs.'” Washington Post would do Continue reading
By Jonathan S. Tobin • National Review
In May 2016, deputy national-security adviser Ben Rhodes took a victory lap in the New York Times to celebrate the Obama administration’s signature foreign-policy win. Rhodes had helped orchestrate the campaign to ensure that Congress would fail to stop President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal from going into effect, and in a remarkably unguarded interview for a New York Times Magazine profile, the failed novelist–turned–foreign-policy spinmaster boasted of how a tame press corps that he dubbed an “echo chamber” had done his bidding.
At the time, some in the Obama camp chastised Rhodes for spilling the beans on how the mainstream media had dutifully bought the president’s disingenuous arguments for a pact that did not end the nuclear threat, expired within a decade (making an Iranian bomb inevitable), and both strengthened and enriched the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, with few tough questions asked. But while Rhodes and the rest of the Obama team have given way to President Trump’s staff, the media echo chamber devoted to defending Obama’s appeasement of Iran that he cultivated is still with us.
The evidence for that was on display this week in the aftermath of Politico’s scoop about the way the Obama administration blocked federal investigations of Hezbollah’s drug-running, money-laundering, and terror operations during the Iran-deal negotiations. Josh Meyer’s three-part series was based on interviews with Drug Enforcement Administration personnel and other well-placed sources within the federal government who worked on Project Continue reading
by Mark Hemingway • Weekly Standard
Covering the Trump presidency has not always been the media’s finest hour, but even grading on that curve, the month of December has brought astonishing screwups. Professor and venerable political observer Walter Russell Mead tweeted on December 8, “I remember Watergate pretty well, and I don’t remember anything like this level of journalistic carelessness back then. The constant stream of ‘bombshells’ that turn into duds is doing much more to damage the media than anything Trump could manage.”
On December 1, ABC News correspondent Brian Ross went on air and made a remarkable claim. For months, the media have been furiously trying to prove collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Ross reported that former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had just pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, was prepared to testify that President Trump had instructed him to contact Russian officials before the 2016 election, while Trump was still a candidate. If true, it would have been a gamechanger. But Ross’s claim was inaccurate. Flynn’s documented attempts to contact the Russians came after Trump was president-elect, allegedly trying to lay diplomatic groundwork for the new administration. Ross was suspended by ABC for four weeks without pay for the error.
Later that same weekend, the New York Times ran a story about Trump transition official K. T. McFarland, charging that she had lied to congressional investigators about knowledge of the Trump transition team’s contacts with Russia. The article went through four headline changes and extensive edits after it was first published, substantially softening and backing away from claims made in the original version. The first headline made a definitive claim: Continue reading
By Ken Stern • NY Post
Most reporters and editors are liberal — a now-dated Pew Research Center poll found that liberals outnumber conservatives in the media by some 5 to 1, and that comports with my own anecdotal experience at National Public Radio. When you are liberal, and everyone else around you is as well, it is easy to fall into groupthink on what stories are important, what sources are legitimate and what the narrative of the day will be.
This may seem like an unusual admission from someone who once ran NPR, but it is borne of recent experience. Spurred by a fear that red and blue America were drifting irrevocably apart, I decided to venture out from my overwhelmingly Democratic neighborhood and engage Republicans where they live, work and pray. For an entire year, I embedded myself with the other side, standing in pit row at a NASCAR race, hanging out at Tea Party meetings and sitting in on Steve Bannon’s radio show. I found an America far different from the one depicted in the press and imagined by presidents (“cling to guns or religion”) and presidential candidates (“basket of deplorables”) alike. Continue reading
Few of the forty four presidents who preceded the present one have been as vilified as Donald J. Trump is. The billionaire with his passion for dealmaking is detested by the Republican establishment as an outsider who beat sixteen allegedly more qualified Republicans. The Democrats treat him as an illegitimate impostor, an incompetent upstart, and a marauding gravedigger of the United States of America. The overwhelming majority of the biased media alternately label him as a fraud, a criminal, a soulless money grubber, a traitor, and a deranged warmonger. Additional lurid claims about the forty fifth president are fueled by the Washington, DC grapevine without any factual basis and even a kernel of truth.
The ubiquitous hatred that the electoral victory of President Trump aroused is in itself an alarming sign of the authoritarian nature of the power hungry members of the entrenched power centers within all three branches of the federal government and beyond – including
Who is George Soros? Born Schwartz Gyorgy (in Hungarian the family name comes first) on August 12, 1930, in Budapest, Hungary, to Schwartz Tivadar, a lawyer, and Schwartz Erzsebet, the co-owner of the family’s silk shop, he grew up in a secular, upper middle class family that was openly anti-Semitic. In response to the burgeoning anti-Semitism in Hungary, the father changed the family name in 1936 from Schwartz that clearly identified the family as Jewish to the Hungarian sounding last name of Soros. The family survived the deportations by obtaining forged Christian birth certificates. He fled in 1947 to England. In 1954, he graduated from the London School of Economics in philosophy. In 1956, he immigrated to the United States.
In 1969, Soros established the Double Eagle hedge fund which in 1970 was followed by Soros Fund Management. In 1973 renamed as the Quantum Fund, it has grown from $12 millions to over $40 billion. Soros’s political involvement has intensified with the growth of his personal wealth, estimated to be around $25 billion. In addition to financing far left organizations in the United States and across the world from 1979 on,he has started to finance dissidents across the former Soviet block. Advocating “open societies” whose declared objective was to open up the communist dictatorships through the free flow of political and scientific ideas, Soros financed the Solidarity movement in Poland, the Charter 77 in the former Czechoslovakia, and Andrei Sakharov’s efforts in the former Soviet Union. In 1984, he established the first Open Society Institute in his native Hungary.
Now that we know she edited the emails before turning them over, the entire record is suspect.
by Kimberley A. Strassel • Wall Street Journal
Clinton scandals have a way of bumping and rolling along to a point where nobody can remember why there was any outrage to begin with. So in the interest of clarity, let’s take the latest news in the Hillary email escapade, and distill it into its basic pieces:
• Nothing Mrs. Clinton has said so far on the subject is correct. The Democratic presidential aspirant on March 10 held a press conference pitched as her first and last word on the revelation that she’d used a private email server while secretary of state. She told reporters that she’d turned over to the State Department “all my emails that could possibly be work-related.” And she insisted that she “did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material.”
Not true and not true. The State Department has now admitted that it is aware of at least 15 work-related emails that Mrs. Clinton fully or partially withheld. Continue reading
President Obama lives and operates in a fictitious world because the real world doesn’t cooperate with his dogmas.
It’s plainly liberating for President Obama to simply deny reality and declare everything just peachy, as he did again Monday at the G7 summit in Germany. Sadly, reality’s not cooperating.
One of his fictions du jour: All’s well with ObamaCare. No joke.
“The thing is working,” the president insisted. “We haven’t had a lot of conversation about the horrors of ObamaCare, because none of them have come to pass.”
Somebody’s having those conversations. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows 54 percent oppose ObamaCare, with only 39 percent — the lowest ever — in favor.
He also insisted that a big suit against ObamaCare, Burwell v. King, is so clearly based on a “twisted interpretation” that “it probably shouldn’t even have been taken up.” Continue reading