Biden bought the election with questionable campaign money

By Christopher Harper

Even if Joe Biden didn’t steal the election, he certainly bought it through a record-breaking amount from anonymous donors whom Democrats have decried for years until 2020.

A Bloomberg investigation, which not so ironically came after the election rather than before it, noted that “the public will never have a full accounting of who helped him win the White House.”

Biden’s winning campaign received $145 million in so-called “dark money donations,” or roughly 10 percent of his record-breaking campaign chest of $1.5 billion. 

Biden’s haul of dark money dwarfed the $28.4 million spent on behalf of Donald Trump tops the previous record of $113 million in anonymous donations backing Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012.

In the past, many Democrats wanted to ban dark money since it allowed supporters to quietly back a candidate without scrutiny and obtain undue influence over victorious candidates. But in their effort to defeat Trump in 2020, they embraced dark money.

For example, Bloomberg reported that Priorities USA Action Fund, the super political action committee that Biden designated as his preferred vehicle for outside spending, used $26 million in funds originally donated to its nonprofit arm, called Priorities USA, to back Biden. The donors of that money do not have to be disclosed.

Guy Cecil, the chairman of Priorities USA, was unapologetic in comments to Bloomberg. “We weren’t going to unilaterally disarm against Trump and the right-wing forces that enabled him,” he said.

Campaign finance laws are supposed to limit the influence big money has over politicians. But the system has gaping loopholes, which groups backing Biden exploited.

In fact, the Biden campaign called for banning some types of nonprofits from spending money to influence elections and requiring that any organization spending more than $10,000 to influence elections to register with the Federal Election Commission and disclose any donors.

Overall, Democrats received $326 million in dark money, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That was more than twice the $148 million that supported Republican groups. 

Bloomberg found that Future Forward PAC, a super-PAC that spent $104 million backing Biden, got $46.9 million Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, $3 million from Twilio Chief Executive Officer Jeff Lawson, and $2.6 million from Eric Schmidt of Alphabet, the parent company of Google. But the most significant source of funds was from a sister nonprofit, Future Forward USA Action, which contributed $61 million. The names of those who put up the $61 million don’t have to be disclosed.

I guess you aren’t exactly stealing an election if you buy it with questionable donations, but it’s awfully close.

A sad day

By Christopher Harper

It’s a sad day.

It’s a sad day because more than 74 million people who voted for Donald Trump will no longer have a voice in the U.S. government.

Most of us voted for Trump because the Republican and Democrat parties had disregarded our views and ignored us for far too long.

Like many who voted for Trump, I don’t trust politicians, and I hold the Washington autocracy and bureaucracy in contempt.

Like many, Trump wasn’t my first choice. But I came around to like his blunt, sometimes disrespectful view of the Washington crowd.

More important, I look back at what Trump, despite overwhelming opposition from Democrats and the press, was able to accomplish in four years.

I just checked my retirement investments over the past four years, and they grew at the fastest rate of any time in my nearly 50 years of working. During the Covid-19 years, my investments soared at a clip of 13 percent.
Until this past year, I was not alone in this economic prosperity as nearly everyone saw huge economic increases throughout the country at almost all income levels.

For the first time in my life, including many years reporting about the Middle East, Trump came as close as any president to bringing peace to the region.

He virtually destroyed ISIS and helped achieve remarkable peace agreements that lead to diplomatic relations between four Muslim nations and Israel.
T
rump abandoned the flawed nuclear agreement in Iran and the flawed Paris climate change strategy. Unfortunately, President Biden will reestablish both.

Trump stood up to China, resetting the terms of the relationship between our countries. He understood that China had become a growing threat to America. Biden and his son’s suspect relationship with China is likely to embolden Beijing.

Trump’s appointments to federal courts, especially the U.S. Supreme Court, will have an impact for more years, particularly if the five conservatives on the bench don’t wilt in the Washington political heat.

Ironically, Trump did a lot better than Obama when it came to politics.
Democrats lost 13 seats in the Senate under Obama, while Republicans lost just one under Trump since 2017.

Under Obama, Democrats lost 69 seats in the House. Under Trump, the GOP lost 29 House seats.

Furthermore, the GOP still has control of most governorships and statehouses.

Despite the handwringing within the GOP, the Republican Party in 2021 is in a much better position than it was in 2009.

Unfortunately, the GOP will rid itself of Trump. As a result, my fellow Trump supporters and I won’t be voting for Republicans or Democrats. We’ll find somewhere else to go or sit on our hands while we remember how much Donald Trump got right.

The blame game

By Christopher Harper

After hundreds—perhaps thousands—of demonstrations over the years in Washington, D.C., how could law enforcement officials have been so poorly prepared for the attack on the U.S. Capitol?

For the most part, that question has gone unanswered as the media and Democrats blame President Trump.

The chaos showed that government agencies had no coordinated plan to defend against an attack on the Capitol.

The U.S. Capitol Police chief, Steven Sund, said he asked his supervisors for the National Guard to be put on alert long before the rioters exploded into the House and Senate. That request was denied.

“If we would have had the National Guard, we could have held them at bay longer, until more officers from our partner agencies could arrive,” said Sund, who, along with other law enforcement officials involved in the mess, has resigned.

Sund said that House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving rebuffed the idea, arguing he was uncomfortable with the “optics” that such a move would bring. Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger told Sund that he should informally reach out to his contacts at the Guard and ask them to be on alert, Sund added.

Both Irving and Stenger have since resigned from their posts in the fallout of the riots.

Despite numerous postings on social media calling for violent action, various federal agencies apparently failed to take the rhetoric seriously.

Dozens of posts listed assault rifles and other weapons that people claimed they were bringing to Washington. People discussed what types of ammunition would be best to carry and whether medical personnel would be available to treat the injured.

“It was such an embarrassingly bad failure and immediately became an infamous moment in American history,” said R.P. Eddy, a former American counterterrorism official.

Despite all of the red flags, Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser sent a letter to top federal and local law enforcement officials that warned against massive police deployments. Bowser had complained loudly about the large presence of riot police during last June’s protests by Black Lives Matter.

All of the requests for support came far too late, resulting in National Guard troops arriving hours after the assault started.

“We rely on Capitol Police and federal law enforcement to provide an assessment of the situation,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said. “And based on that assessment that they had, they believed they had sufficient personnel and did not make a request.”

Ultimately, the rioters are responsible for the mess they created.

Now the politicians are shoveling the blame toward Donald Trump when the House and Senate leaders didn’t like the optics of a sufficient number of cops to handle the rioters.

As a result, the optics got a lot worse.

Readin’, writin’, and ‘rithmetic

During the 25 years I have taught writing, I have complained frequently about how K-12 educators pay little attention to the building blocks of grammar, punctuation, and style.

In the past, students have accepted the need to learn these elements of writing. Now that’s changed.

I am teaching a month-long course in journalism history, which requires a great deal of writing.

For the first time ever, students feel emboldened enough to complain publicly that I deduct points, generally a full grade, when they make three errors or more.

“You keep dropping me entire letter grades for tiny, insignificant grammatical errors. I’ve never had a teacher complain about my grammar,” one student wrote. “Considering most of your students are juggling school, work, and the ramifications of a global pandemic, I don’t think this is the time for harsh grading.”

Another told me he checked with a website editor who said the grammar was fine. I noted 18 errors in a submission of 500 words.

Here’s what I wrote to all of the students:

After more than 25 years as a journalist at The Associated Press, Newsweek, and ABC News, I decided to teach writing. Since I joined academia, I have written and edited seven books. I’ve also written for newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and online publications. 

As such, I take writing quite seriously.

If a writer fails to understand the basic tenets of grammar, punctuation, and style, myriad problems occur.

First, readers and viewers get hung up on the errors, known as creating “noise” in communications theory. For example, I once did a major investigation of prisons, which began with a visual of geese over a Wisconsin jail. I referred to the geese as Canadian geese. Such birds are called Canada geese. At least 100 of the 20 million viewers of the documentary scolded me for the error. That means that at least 100 people stopped watching something important because I made a style error.

Second, readers and viewers may question the accuracy of the information provided if basic rules are not followed.

Third, I had the luxury of having excellent editors who would challenge almost anything I wrote. Today, there are virtually no editors who look over reporters’ shoulders for errors of grammar, punctuation, style, and most importantly, accuracy.

Lastly, if you seek employment in journalism, advertising, or public relations, you will likely have to take a writing test, which is intended to determine your abilities in accuracy, grammar, punctuation, and style.

Since this course is a writing class in the Department of Journalism, I think it’s essential that someone care about such matters.

DaTimes admits it published ‘fake news’

By Christopher Harper

The New York Times finally admitted that it published fake news over the past few years.

The admission wasn’t about the coverage of the Trump administration, but the errors stabbed at the very heart of what DaTimes considers its influence: international reporting.

You shouldn’t be surprised that you haven’t heard much about the massive editorial issues because DaTimes dumped the findings on the weekend before Christmas.

Reporter Rukmini Callimachi has been at the center of the publication’s coverage of terrorism, particularly the Islamic State.

In December 2014, Callimachi unearthed what appeared to be an important discovery. Syrian journalist Louai Abo Aljoud, Callimachi reported, said he had seen three American hostages while he was being held at an Islamic State facility in 2013. Upon further inspection, however, key details failed to bear out the “news,” resulting in an editor’s note affixed to the story on Friday.

“After the article was published, The Times learned that Mr. Aljoud had given inconsistent accounts of key elements of the episode to Times journalists and others,” the note reads in part.

After the publication of the editor’s note, Karam Shoumali, a Syrian journalist who worked with Callimachi, tweeted that he told the reporter about errors in the story. But she refused to change the details.

The tweet stands as evidence that as early as late 2014, less than a year after Callimachi jumped from the Associated Press to DaTimes, colleagues expressed concerns about her methods and conclusions.

But there’s a lot more. A key figure in DaTimes’ podcast, “The Caliphate,” which Callimachi created, was a fraud. Last September, Canadian authorities charged Shehroze Chaudhry for carrying out a terrorism hoax. Chaudhry was a key figure in “The Caliphate,” a 12-part series created in 2018. 

On Friday, DaTimes finally came clean. An editor’s note atop “Caliphate” admitted the collapse of key episodes. “In the absence of firmer evidence, ‘Caliphate’ should have been substantially revised to exclude the material related to Mr. Chaudhry. The podcast as a whole should not have been produced with Mr. Chaudhry as a central narrative character,” the note reads in part.

DaTimes failed to listen to various reporters from the news organization itself. This frequent problem has existed at the publication in past misadventures, such as Jason Blair and Judith Miller. 

Last week top editors who worked with Callimachi admitted their errors. But some reporters were not assuaged. C.J. Chivers, a former foreign correspondent and now a staff writer for the New York Times Magazine, was among the first Times reporters to complain to editors. 

“You discouraged people from using the fire alarm, and when some of us did use the fire alarm anyhow, we found the alarm was not connected to anything,” Chivers reportedly told the group. 

But there is a more fundamental question that runs through these problems at DaTimes, mainly since it is far from the first time that such egregious errors have happened. 

I gave up on DaTimes a few years ago. But it would seem its loyal readers should be asking a fundamental question: If someone got away with making stuff up for six years, shouldn’t the news organization take a harder look at all other aspects of the publication?   

Trump supporters are like ISIS fighters

By Christopher Harper

If anyone represents the disdain of the media for Trump supporters, CNN media maven Brian Stelter would be an excellent example.

Recently, Stelter compared Trump supporters to ISIS members who’d been brainwashed.

“The same pipeline that helps my children learn, helps you connect with your loved ones, also poisons some adults, and distorts their reality. The body of research about radicalization is very clear,” Stelter said. “The Internet creates more space for extremism, and the echo chamber effect accelerates the process. QAnon is one really clear recent example. But so is ‘Stop the Steal,’ and so are some corners of the anti-vaccination movement.

“The best word for what is happening in America right now is radicalization. That’s what it is. That’s what this hyped-up, right-wing media machine is doing. That’s why it feels harder to talk about politics with other people, harder to speak a common language about right and wrong.”

Stelter’s screed is reminiscent of various media attacks on Trump and his supporters—a subject of a recent analysis in Quillette by writer Kevin Mims. See https://quillette.com/2020/12/15/journalisms-ivory-towers/

Simply put, media types don’t understand Trump supporters because the two groups are almost distinctly different from one another. Virtually no one in the elite media comes from the same background as Trump supporters. For example, two-thirds of Americans—many of whom support Trump—don’t have college degrees. Alternatively, a college degree is a minimum requirement for a job in journalism. 

“As recently as the 1970s, when I first became a consumer of American journalism, daily newspapers were filled with the work of syndicated journalists such as Art Buchwald, Mike Royko, Jimmy Breslin, Pete Hamill, and Jack Anderson, none of whom possessed a university degree that wasn’t honorary. Perhaps the most storied newspaper columnist in Northern California during the second half of the 20th century was Herb Caen of the San Francisco Chronicle, another journalist who never went to college. Visit the Wikipedia page for American Print Journalists, and you’ll find plenty of famous 20th-century reporters who lacked a college degree: Ernie Pyle, H.L. Mencken, Harold Ross, Ernest Hemingway, Martha Gellhorn, Ring Lardner, Damon Runyon, I.F. Stone, Hedda Hopper, Walter Winchell, and even Hunter S. Thompson,” Mims notes. 

Mims continues: “So much that has been written about black Americans lately has also been written by black Americans. The same is true of gay Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and American immigrants. But very little of what has been written about non-college-educated Americans of any race or ethnicity in the last five years has actually been written by non-college-educated Americans.”

In many cases, the elite media no longer seek non-college-educated people as readers and viewers. That may be another reason why few people in the press understand those who voted for Trump.

Whatever the case, the media might want to look for people who understand that Trump supporters aren’t brainwashed idiots akin to ISIS members.

Iran redux

By Christopher Harper

Joe Biden says he wants to re-establish the nuclear deal with Iran—a move that would almost assuredly embolden the rogue regime.

Earlier this month, the Iranian parliament threatened to expand production of nuclear material in direct violation of a deal, which the Obama Administration negotiated and from which the Trump Administration exited in 2018.

Keep in mind, the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, only slowed Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon rather than stopped it.

If passed into law, the new parliament motion means that Iran would undertake a series of steps if the remaining parties to the agreement don’t provide relief from sanctions.

The steps include stocking 120 kilograms of uranium enriched at over 20% purity and withdrawing from a voluntary protocol, allowing U.N. inspectors access to non-nuclear sites. One hundred and twenty kilograms of 20%-enriched uranium is roughly half the material needed to fuel one nuclear weapon.

But there’s more. Last week Iran executed dissident journalist Ruhollah Zam, who was sentenced to death for inciting anti-government protests in 2017.

The execution of Zam demonstrated Iranian authorities’ willingness to defy international opposition in its suppression of the country’s media and opposition activists and the reach of its intelligence services beyond the country’s borders.

Zam, who had been living in France since 2011, ran a popular news channel, which he used to share news and logistics involving unrest in Iran in 2017. amid efforts by government security forces to suppress it.

Three years ago, he traveled to Iraq, where he was captured by the Revolutionary Guard, Iran’s security force.

But there’s even more. Earlier this year, U.S. officials determined that Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent who went missing in Iran in 2007, had died in Iranian custody. Last week Iran released a retired U.S. Naval officer, Michael White, for medical treatment to the Swiss embassy. His release was conditioned on his remaining in Iran.

Moreover, the State Department has repeatedly called for the release of three people with dual citizenship of Iran and the United States held by the Tehran regime.

Is Iran really the type of government that the United States can trust to abide by an agreement? I don’t think so, and neither should Joe Biden and his team.

‘Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one’

By Christopher Harper

Sixty years ago, famed columnist A. J. Liebling wrote: “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”

Liebling was describing the powerful media families: Sulzberger, Graham, Scripps, Chandler, and others.

Twenty years ago, it was hoped that the inexpensive transition to ones and zeroes would break the corporate hold on the press.

Instead, the media magnates of old have been pushed aside by the tech giants: Facebook, Google, Twitter, and others.

As a result, freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own a portal.

In a critical essay in the Wall Street Journal, journalist Alex Berenson writes: “Information has never been more plentiful or easier to distribute. Yet we are sliding into a new age of censorship and suppression.”

Berenson has been writing about the problems with lockdowns, mask-wearing, and other government policies that he argues are not based on science.

He’s not a conspiracy theorist. He’s a well-known writer who worked for The New York Times. But Amazon has suppressed his self-published articles that questioned the measures used to control COVID-19.

“Google-owned YouTube censors even more aggressively,” Berenson notes. “The company disclosed in October that it had pulled more than 200,000 videos about the epidemic—including one from Scott Atlas, a physician who was advising President Trump. Facebook has not only censored videos and attached warning labels or ‘fact checks’ to news articles but removed groups that oppose lockdowns and other restrictions.”

I can attest that one of my columns here ran afoul of the Facebook “fact-checkers,” and there was no way to remove the “fact check” other than by deleting the entire column.

Here is the way to end the censorship and control of the tech companies over content.

You may have heard that President Trump wants to eliminate what’s known as Section 230 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. On this subject, Trump and Joe Biden agree.

Originally, Section 230 was designed to help websites moderate online porn. But that’s not what’s happening now.

Section 230 guarantees that websites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube cannot be sued in U.S. courts because of what users post. The law states: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” Alternatively, the tech giants cannot be sued for moderating the posts, which they do continually. Without the law’s liability protection, all of these U.S.-based platforms could be subject to massive lawsuits.

With the massive interference and editing of materials posted on the websites, however, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have become publishers and should be treated as such. 

But the considerable clout of the tech giants has stalled the elimination of the protection. Liebling should be rolling over in his grave.

Proof that the pandemic numbers don’t add up

By Christoper Harper

A new study shows that the pandemic may not have caused as many deaths as previously reported, but the research was quickly suppressed by Johns Hopkins, the source of the information.

The study, which was published by Dr. Genevieve Briand at Johns Hopkins University, noted that there were some significant errors in the reporting of COVID-related deaths.

See the initial study and subsequent disclaimer at https://www.jhunewsletter.com/article/2020/11/a-closer-look-at-u-s-deaths-due-to-covid-19

It is already well established that COVID-19 is most dangerous to those over the age of 65 and have preexisting conditions. There has been a mortality rate of 2.1 percent in the United States, with elderly individuals making up over half that number. 

However, according to the study, the number of deaths in the United States show no significant change and even mirror past trends of seasonal illness. 

According to the CDC’s data from the last six years, total deaths have remained relatively constant, and increases can be explained by various factors such as a larger population. The spikes in fatalities in 2020 are consistent with historical trends, only topping 2018 by 11,292 deaths. There have been more than 260,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the United States.

Perhaps more important, the spike in recorded COVID-19 deaths seen in 2020 has coincided with a proportional decrease in death from other diseases. 

According to a graph in the study, deaths labeled under COVID-19 increased while deaths labeled under other causes decreased. It is important to note that this sample only applies to the month of April as the author noted these were the weeks with the highest reported deaths until recently. 

In the week ending April 18, for example, the number of people who died of heart disease, cancer, respiratory illness, and other diseases dropped by 2,540. The number of COVID deaths increased by 2,561. A similar trend occurred the next week, with a decrease of deaths from various illnesses other than COVID by 1,605, while the number of COVID cases increased by 1,651. 

Furthermore, Briand’s research noted that the number of deaths has remained relatively constant through all age groups. COVID death statistics seem to mirror the normal distribution of death among various age groups, lending credence to the contention that many fatalities were recategorized as COVID deaths. 

“All of this points to no evidence that COVID-19 created any excess deaths. Total death numbers are not above normal death numbers. We found no evidence to the contrary,” Briand maintained.

Although the study only analyzed the month of April when COVID was at one of its highest levels, the data seem to support the argument that the pandemic may have been overblown.

Now that the COVID scare has put Joe Biden into the White House, it wouldn’t be surprising if there somehow was a recalculation that Joe came to the rescue. There wouldn’t be a need to scare people!

Let’s get real about JFK

By Christopher Harper

In a yearly ritual on November 22, baby boomers recall when and where they heard about the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Unfortunately, few of us reflect on how Kennedy, while tragically struck down as a young man, was a lousy president and an even worse man.

Many consider JFK one of the best presidents in the history of the United States.

But even a cursory view of his life and times demonstrates how his legacy became hugely inflated after his death in 1963.

For example, many consider Kennedy responsible for civil rights laws when his successor, Lyndon Johnson, was the man who made that happen.

Moreover, as a senator, JFK voted against President Eisenhower’s civil rights legislation to appease racist Democrats in the South. In collusion with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, Kennedy ordered wiretaps on Martin Luther King Jr.

In international affairs, he approved the assassination of the leader of the Dominican Republic, Rafael Trujillo, as long as the United States had “plausible deniability.” In Cuba, he launched an attack to overthrow Fidel Castro, known as the Bag of Pigs invasion, which failed because JFK failed to approve air cover. In Vietnam, he expanded the U.S. presence and endorsed a coup that ultimately resulted in the assassination of the president, Ngo Dinh Diem.

During his presidency, JFK engaged in various extramarital affairs, including Marilyn Monroe and Judith Campbell, who also dated Mafia boss Sam Giancana and posed an incredible security risk because of her ties to the Mob.

Sure, JFK did some things right. He stared down the Russians during the Cuban missile crisis. He rejiggered the tax code—changes that would rankle his fellow Democrats because it actually made it easier on the wealthy. I’ll even give him credit for encouraging American scientists to launch probes into space.

A longtime friend who covered JFK admitted to me that the reporters knew about the affairs and the political shenanigans. But the media saw JFK as the Great White Hope to bring the United States into a new era.

I don’t want to speak ill of the dead. But I think Americans, particularly baby boomers, should analyze JFK’s legacy in a much more rational way.