Fact checking — a new oxymoron

Exposing The False Virtue Of Fact-Check Journalism

Authored by Rusty Guinn via EpsilonTheory.com,

Fiat News, in short, is news which broadly cheapens the credibility of media by presenting opinion as fact. It debases information in the same way that a capricious sovereign might debase a currency. It tells you how to think.

There is a certain type of fiat news which is the most pernicious, most in need of calling out where it rears its head. It seeks, like all fiat news, to present subjective judgments and opinions as fact. This type of news also elects itself as arbiter, responsible for determining the accuracy of the statements made by others. It’s not an unworthy goal. But in the hands of actors who wish to tell you how to think about a topic and not just inform you, it can do more to debase confidence in information and news than any other kind of media activity.

Yep. I’m talking about Fact Check Journalism. Sure, there are examples of Fact Check Journalism doing good. But then there’s the NPR Fact Check of the 2019 State of the Union Address.

https://www.npr.org/2019/02/05/690345256/fact-check-trumps-state-of-the-union-address?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=politics&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20190205

It’s a long read. I recommend it. If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself agreeing with most of the commentary. If you’re not, then maybe you won’t. But whether you agree with the commentary or not isn’t the point. Ignore whether you agreed or disagreed with its sentiments. Read it again and ask yourself: Is this really a fact check? Or is this person trying to shape how I think by presenting his or her opinions as a fact check? As it happens, I think you’ll find that there are actual fact checks in the article, mostly in the well-researched responses to the immigration and border wall questions, other responses to foreign policy and national security questions, and in many of Jim Zarroli’s checks on economic statements.

But with those exceptions, NPR’s Fact Check is an analysis, commentary and opinion piece. There’s nothing wrong with that on its own. That’s an important role of the press. But publishing a piece like this as a ‘fact check’ is not just fiat news. It is fraud, a fraud of the kind that will kill confidence in the media stone dead unless others of influence recognize it and disavow it.

What am I talking about? Let’s take a look.

Source: NPR
This ‘Fact Check’ is of a kind you might call the Benchmark Switch. It isn’t a fact check as in a statement against reality, but against what the author believes should have been said. The intention of this kind of fact check is to establish common knowledge about what is conventional and acceptable, to frame your interpretation of the remainder of the speech. We are to begin by understanding that the speaker being evaluated is beginning his speech well outside the norm. Definitional, textbook fiat news.

Source: NPR
This ‘Fact Check’ has a two-fer – Anecdotal Rebuttals and Emotionally Curated language. The author has elected to fact check an expressed desire, which is not entirely inappropriate. Although it is difficult to know in any absolute way if someone really wants to ‘binds wounds of division’, it is reasonable enough to assess whether their actions line up with that expressed desire. Yet the author simply lists a couple of examples and plays to the crowd with a ‘reading lines from a teleprompter’ bit. It’s a shame, because with as much as we write about the Widening Gyre, you won’t be surprised to learn that I completely agree with Tamara. But this isn’t fact-checking. This is an opinion the author wished to express, and found a ‘fact check’ to use as scaffolding for that opinion.

Source: NPR
This starts with a fact check, but then transitions into Necessary Context, the selective provision of additional facts to tell you the context in which the original fact should be interpreted. The author doesn’t trust you to know what to do with certain bits of information that imply that the economy has been doing well. You need to know his opinion about whether it has been influenced by certain policies, and he also wants you to know that he and ‘forecasters’ believe that it won’t be sustained, which is a fact check on…oh, nothing really. We just thought you should know, because reasons.

Source: NPR
This one starts out looking like a fact check, but ends up offering the reader a lovely combination of Benchmark Switching and Necessary Context. The author wishes the speaker had compared unemployment levels between two demographics, and fact checks against what she wishes had been said. She then wants to make sure that you know how to think about this data in context of the president’s achievements, even though no such claim about responsibility had been made.

Source: NPR
Again, I largely agree with Jim on the point, and most of what Jim had to say in the piece was squarely in the true fact check camp. But consider a rule of thumb: If a fact check includes the terms, “what matters”, it is not a fact check. It is an opinion, and when it is presented as a fact or fact check, it is someone telling you how to think.

Source: NPR
The legal challenges facing the eliminated regulations are a feature of a legitimate fact check, since they could bring the accuracy of the original statement into question. You’ve got a little bit of Necessary Context here, of course. The author wants to make sure you know that you should think about this policy as a bad thing. What’s the surest tell for this? Look for the word ‘including’, and see what follows. If the list is a bunch of things selectively curated to trigger a particular emotional response, be aware that our thinking is being curated, too. And not by us.

Source: NPR
More Necessary Context. Lots of ‘buts,’ which in any kind of fact check is a sign that the author wants to guide how we think about and interpret the fact presented in the first clause.

Source: NPR
More Necessary Context. No fact checks here, just an author who wants to give you some opinions so that you can think about the issue in the way he wishes to frame it.

Source: NPR
Necessary Context. Note the structure of each paragraph as well. ‘Bad things’ up front, and ‘grudging admissions’ at the back. This is not a fact check. It is another interpretation check, making sure that you interpret the facts ‘correctly.’ Vanilla fiat news.

Source: NPR
In response to a simple (and completely 100% accurate) statement celebrating the record number of women in Congress, the author wants you to know all sorts of Necessary Context. The author has all sorts of opinions about this topic, and wants to present them to you in the context of a fact check. No fact has actually been checked in the drafting of this statement.

Source: NPR
Larry has all sorts of Necessary Context for you. No fact checks, but zealous attempts at purporting the existence of common knowledge – what everyone knows that everyone knows – about the issue. And if you didn’t know how to think about all these facts and context, Larry gives you an Emotionally Curated fact as a kicker at the end, just to be sure.
You will find more of these if you read the piece, and you’ll find more of them in any such piece, because many news organizations have allowed their so-called fact checking apparatuses to become melded with their editorial, commentary and analysis practices. And that, friends, is the problem. Our trust in media is under attack. Our confidence in its value being debased from without and within. From without, we are being told that the media are the enemy of the people. From within, we are presented with opinions and commentary that purport to be facts. Both serve to debase this critical social institution.
The widening gyre will guide you to concern yourself with one of these, to be offended at the two being conflated. It will make you recoil, since one of them is clearly a ‘bigger problem’ or ‘more outrageous.’ Resist that impulse. We must resist and defeat both of these threats. Someone must watch for riders. And someone must watch the watchmen.

Third party fact checking is another trip to the propaganda mill. That is why it is pushed. All of a sudden we are in the age of fact checking? Funny how the timing is always to the socialist advantage. The minute you hear a “News Station” say “Let’s check the facts on that”, turn it off. The process of shaping what you just heard or saw has been attempted. You will get a little bit of fact with a deluge of “context and opinion” that has been carefully designed to alter your perception.

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No Photos Of Ruth Ginsburg’s ‘Very Public Appearance’ To Her Own Personal Concert

Not a single picture of her at the event? Combined with a news media that has rock solid reputation of flat out lying?

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Ginsburg has repeatedly promised to retire when she can no long work at “full steam.”  That is clearly NOT going to happen.

For the past six weeks or so, following surgery, she’s been “working from home”, according to the court even though no photos of her have emerged from anyone anywhere.

On Monday, however, she reportedly attended a concert dedicated to Justice Ruth Ginsburg put on by her daughter-in-law at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Ruth Ginsburg was the special guest to the concert of a series of songs written about her life by her daughter-in-law and produced by her son.

But the American Mirror points out that in the age of digital cameras, no one apparently documented this historic public appearance by the guest of honor.

“Attendees at the Notorious RBG in Song described Ginsburg as ‘glam,’ and ‘resplendent,’ and ‘magnificent,’ but you’ll have to take their word for it,” the blog said. “In an era when every person is carrying a camera and isn’t afraid to use it, there wasn’t a single snap of the 85-year-old to be found. Every media story that covered her alleged appearance used old file photos.”

One confirmation of her appearance was a tweet by Washington Post contributor David Hagedorn that later was deleted.

“What a delight to see RBG tonight at ‘Notorious RBG in Song,’ written & beautifully performed by her daughter-in-law, Patrice Michaels,” Hagedorn wrote. And then deleted when questions came up.

The event sponsored by the National Constitution Center was intended to pay tribute to Ginsburg’s legal work.

Several reporters “claimed to have spotted Ginsburg,” the blog said.

NPR reporter Nina Totenberg wrote on Twitter, “Spotted at a concert by her daughter-in-law, the notorious RBG out for the first time after her surgery in December!”

But the American Mirror said: “Folks online aren’t buying it, with more than a few pointing out the obvious: Why no pictures?”

Twitter user Edwin Motes wrote, “Well until I see her in a new video or sitting on the SCOTUS hearing cases, I won’t believe the likes of the Washington Post!”

If Ginsburg steps down, the Washington Examiner noted, it would create a crisis for the left.

President Trump already has nominated two conservative justices from his list of judges he considers to be in the mold of the late Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.

The far-left justice revealed her bias in a Bloomberg News interview when she said it “would not take a large adjustment” for Americans “should the justices say gay marriage is constitutional.”

“How can Ginsburg possibly think that it’s proper judicial conduct for her to speak out on this issue while the marriage case is pending before the court?” asked National Review columnist Ed Whelan. “If she had any sense of her duty to maintain both the appearance and the reality of impartiality, she would recognize that she is now obligated to recuse herself from the case.

“But of course she won’t.” And she didn’t.

Without either of those two votes, the same-sex marriage case would have failed.

She’s also been the subject of discussion of how crazy liberals can be.

It was when a social media statement speculated whether 10,000 people would be willing to die a day early if they could give that time to Supreme Court justice Ruth Ginsburg.

Talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh pointed out that unhinged idea.

“This is beyond ludicrous. This is asinine,” he told his listeners.

The tweet from Roger Simon, the chief political columnist of Politico.

“If it were possible, would you subtract one day off your life and add it to Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life for one extra day of good health?” he asked.

“If just 10,000 people did this, it would add 27 productive years to her life.”

“Who thinks this way?” Limbaugh asked. “This is illustrative of a certain kind of thinking that is scary, funny, hilarious and quite illuminating at the same time.”

So will this be the last photo we ever see of RBG?

Not a single picture of her at the event? Combined with a news media that has rock solid reputation of lying?

So, to condense the article into one question:

What are the odds that someone as high profile and “in the news” as Ginsberg has been, could make a public appearance at her own personal concert….and not have one person get a picture of her?

I’d say the odds are very very low that no one got a picture…if she was there.

Beyond that, who, more than Ginsberg herself, would not want to have it shown that she was well enough to go to the concert? Seems to me that she would want all kinds of pictures taken. She would want to leave no doubt that she was in attendance.

http://www.theamericanmirror.com/mystery-no-pictures-from-first-ginsburg-public-appearance-since-surgery/

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The Lawless Government

by Paul Craig Roberts,

I remember when a suspect was regarded as innocent until proven guilty in a fair trial. Today prosecutors convict their victims in the media in order to make an unbiased jury impossible and thereby coerce a plea bargain that saves the prosecutor from having to prove his case. In the United States, law is no longer a shield of the people. Law is a weapon in the hands of prosecutors. (See Roberts & Stratton, The Tyranny of Good Intentions.)

Formerly, if a prosecutor staged an arrest for publicity purposes, as Mueller did by placing a CNN presstitute on the scene and sending a couple of dozen heavily armed men in a pre-dawn raid to arrest a well known political consultant for allegedly “lying to Congress” when the appropriate procedure is for Mueller to inform Stone’s lawyer to present his client for indictment, the judge would throw out the case on the grounds that the prosecutor’s unethical action had biased the juror pool and made a fair trial impossible. The judge might also have thrown out the case on the grounds of selective prosecution. James Clapper while serving as Director of National Intelligence lied to Congress under oath and suffered no consequences, and Hillary Clinton has clearly broken the law and lied about it.

Today judges permit unethical behavior by prosecutors that deprives defendants of a fair trial, because judges don’t want the bother of trials any more than prosecutors do. Consequently, according to official statistics 97% of federal criminal cases are settled by a defendant pleading guilty to a charge negotiated by his attorney and a prosecutor. As the charge is a negotiated or made-up one, most people in prison are there for confessing to crimes that never occurred.

Prosecutors, now that they are no longer bound by constraints of legal integrity, often fabricate a case against a person in order to force the person to give false testimony against the prosecutor’s real target. This is what Mueller’s cases against Cohen, Manafort, and Roger Stone are. Trump is the target, not Cohen, Manafort, and Stone. In addition, prosecutors string out the investigation so long that they force the target to use up his net worth fighting off an indictment. Then when the indictment arrives, there is no money left for lawyers, which adds to the pressure to “cooperate.” If Trump were a fighting man, he would pardon Cohen, Manafort, and Stone, reimburse them out of the Justice (sic) Department’s budget for their legal expenses, and have Mueller arrested for sedition and plotting to overthrow the duly elected President of the United States. This would be hypocritical as Trump himself is plotting to overthrow the duly elected president of Venezuela.

Mueller is not an agent of law. He is the agent of the military/security complex and the Democratic Party who intend to do away with Trump, because Trump positioned himself between them and their agendas.

The preposterous charge against Trump is that he, in league with Russian President Vladimir Putin somehow through computer hacking and backdoor deals stole the presidential election from Hillary Clinton. This is the fabrication known as “Russiagate.” The creation of this fabrication involves far more crimes than those of which Trump, Cohen, Manafort, and Stone are accused. “Russiagate” rests on a fake “dossier” paid for by the Democrats and perhaps the FBI that was used to mislead the FISA court in order to obtain permission to spy on the Trump team. This is a felony for which the officials responsible are not being charged. The illegal spying failed to turn up any real evidence, and neither has Muller’s illegal “investigation.” The charges against Cohen, Manafort, and Stone are unrelated to the election and are likely false and used as threats for the purpose of eliciting false testimony against Trump in exchange for dropping the charges.

Mueller’s tactics in his effort to frame the President of the United States are more despicable than the tactics to which the Gestapo stooped. Even worse, they are the tactics commonly in use today by US attorneys, and this evil has spread into state and local prosecutions. That prosecutors routinely behave in a way that once would have caused them to be dismissed from office shows the collapse of law and prosecutorial integrity in the United States. So if you are anti-Trump and are willing to see anything done to stop him, beware, it will not stop with Trump.

The American and British media are as accommodating in the frameups as the German media was with the Nazi government. The Guardian, once an honest voice for the British working class, is now a propaganda sheet for British intelligence just as the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, and NPR are for the CIA and FBI. The US media has never been very good, but until the Clinton regime during which 90 percent of the media was concentrated in six corporate hands, there was more than one explanation.

Since Donald Trump won the Republican presidential nomination, the media has been allied with the military/security complex and the Democratic Party in an effort to deep-six Trump. As I expected would be the case, Trump is not an establishment guy and he had no idea how to staff a government that would have supported him against the Establishment. He has been blocked on every front from normalizing relations with Russia to establishing control over US borders to withdrawal from Syria. The latest line from the military/security complex and the presstitutes is that the US cannot withdraw its troops illegally occupying a rump section of Syria, because ISIS is resurgent in Syria and Iraq and will renew the war if US troops are withdrawn.

This is nonsense. As General Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said on television, it was a willful decision of the Obama regime to send ISIS to overthrow Assad once Russia and the UK Parliament blocked a US invasion. It is Russia and Syria who fought and defeated Washington’s proxy army known as ISIS. Washington is blocking Trump’s order to withdraw US troops.

Once upon a time the media and the foreign policy community would have publicly examined these issues. Now the media reads out the script handed to them.

As for Roger Stone, the media’s instructions are to convict Stone in the public’s mind as a facilitator of the Trump/Putin theft of the US presidential election. The actual facts do not matter, and the facts will never emerge from the media or from Mueller’s “investigation.”

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The Radical End

Via The Zman blog,

Usually, when you seek to take over something, you try not destroy it in the process of acquiring it. For example, if you’re trying to rise up the ranks of an organization, you don’t want to discredit the organization in the process. What’s the point of rising up the ranks, if the post you finally attain has been made worthless? This “conservative” instinct becomes stronger once you have gained control of whatever it was you were after. Now it is yours and you do what you must to protect and increase its value.

For example, when the Left took over all of the institutions of the American ruling elite (CIA, FBI, IRS, DHS, DOJ, TSA, DEA, EPA, DHS, HHS…), they were careful to not destroy them in the process. They destroyed the people in their way, for sure, but they were careful to avoid damaging the institutions too much. In fact, they worked to increase the power of the government, the schools and the colleges once they gained power over them. Today, logic says the Left should be extremely conservative, not wanting to alter anything, for fear of diminishing the power of what they have.

That’s the curious thing about what we are seeing from the Left. They have a firm grip on all of the institutions of the empire. They control the mass media. They control the administrative state and the education system. Global corporations are now run by people deeply invested in virtue signaling. The days of the Left having to pressure big business to do their bidding are long over. Big business is the vanguard of the Left now. Despite this, the Left is running around trying to scramble all of the rules.

When you’re in charge, the rules are your friend. After all, you get to write the rules, pick the people who enforce the rules and pick the people who interpret the rules. That is one of the best perks of being in control of the institutions. The people in charge of the empire should be the great defenders of law and order, as the rules work in their favor. Instead, everywhere you look, the Left is trying to destroy the authority and legitimacy of the things they control. It’s as if they are trying to burn down their own house to spite us.

A good example is the two big fake news stories this past week.

The first one was an obvious put up job by some hack political operators. There was no way it could hold up under scrutiny. Left-wing media should have attacked it in order to maintain what little credibility they have on these issues. Similarly, they fell for the story about the teenagers and the Indian protester. Official media should have been all over debunking that story, as that would have made them look responsible and humane.

Instead, they helped egg on the feeding frenzy. Even if the facts were as originally presented, normal people will always take the side of a kid over an adult in a situation like this. It’s not as if the kids were a gang of thugs attacking an old man in the subway. They just stood their ground and peacefully protested on behalf of their issue. More people were red pilled by that story than by all the alt-right internet memes combined. The media frenzy was suicidal, self-destructive and avoidable.

Now, it could simply be the case where their fanatics on social media make it impossible to put the brakes on these feeding frenzies. A left-wing idiot posts fake news on Twitter and within hours it is retweeted a million times by other left-wing idiots. The speed of the process makes it impossible for the more sober minded media operations to react in a timely fashion. Before they can react, the fake news has rocketed around the internet and the debunking of it is well under way.

That’s not the case in other areas where you see the Left damaging their own cause. For example, they are undermining the law in an effort to swat at flies. Two years after Charlottesville, left-wing lesbian lawyer Roberta Kaplan is asking the court to manipulate Federal law so she can harass alt-right activists. Her scheme relies on reinterpreting old laws aimed at the KKK to terrorize people who attended the rally. Kaplan is a billionaire and she is suing poor people who don’t have two nickels to rub together.

This is not strictly an American issue. In Canada, two left-wing professors are suing a student, because the student shared a Jordan Peterson video. This video was so upsetting and triggering to the professors, they went on a crazy rant about Peterson on social media. They now fear he may sue them, so they are suing the student in an effort to shift the blame onto her. That sounds insane, but given the state of the liberal courts in Canada, it is not out of the question that the student loses the case.

The only possible outcome of this sort of lawfare is to convince people that the law is a fraud. The only way a legal system can function is if the people think the law is both rational and predictable. Even if people don’t like the laws, they will obey them as long as the law is predictable. If left-wing lawyers manage to subvert the law by getting left-wing judges to sign off on what amounts to state terrorism, the law becomes the enemy of the people. The value of controlling the law and the courts declines.

Even if you want to put this sort of stuff aside as the actions of rogue individuals and mindless idiots on-line, think about some of the policies the Left is championing. One big item on their list is the normalization of open borders by debasing the value of things like driver’s licenses. States with left-wing government are in a rush to issue driver’s licences to illegals. This will result in so much fraud that the picture ID will lose its value. All levels of government count on those ID’s being mostly accurate.

It’s not just for the benefit of foreigners. New York State is now offering a third option for biological sex. A big part of how the state keeps tabs on the citizenry is having their personal information, usually through the driver’s license process. How long before the body dysmorphics start demanding they can describe themselves as they feel they should be described, rather than their actual description? Cops will be looking for people claiming to be dinosaurs, having licenses with pictures of a T-Rex on them.

When you start to tabulate the radical agenda and the ad hoc activity of the Left, the most obvious conclusion is there is little coordination. The people at the top have lost control of the monsters they created. They dream of creating a coalition of non-whites, over which they will preside, so they can control the empire. The trouble is their coalition is always reminding the other side that such an arrangement will be a catastrophe. Again, the Left is mostly just demonizing white people now.

The other conclusion is the radicalism of the Left has no limiting principle, so it has to spiral out of control. Like the Khmer Rouge, the logical end of this new radicalism is an orgy of self-destructive violence. That means it will not burn out on its own as happened in the 1970’s with student radicalism. This round of radicalism is for keeps and the Left will not stop until they are stopped. That’s going to put an end to civic nationalism and any thoughts of restoration. Whatever comes next comes after the final conflict.

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Ginsburg Cancels Late-January Appearance As Skeptics Demand Proof-Of-Life

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has canceled a public appearance scheduled for January 29 after missing two weeks of oral arguments at the Supreme Court.

Tuesday evening the Skirball Center announced the cancellation of :

“An Evening with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” part of an ongoing exhibit by the Cultural Center titled: “Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg Featuring Ruth Bader Ginsburg.”

 

While her real condition is unknown, “top cancer surgeons” told CNBC they expect the 85-year-old Justice to be back on the bench in less than six weeks after fracturing three ribs and undergoing surgery to remove two cancerous nodules from her left lung over a two-month span.

Ginsburg’s January 29 appearance was announced on December 20 – one day before her lung surgery. She was released from the hospital four days later. On January 7, Chief Justice John Roberts said Ginsburg was “unable to be present today,” adding that she would still participate from home. A court spokesperson said earlier that day that Ginsburg would participate in cases “on the basis of briefs, filings and transcripts”, but there has been no confirmed participation from Ginsburg on anything yet.

(h/t The Gateway Pundit)

Weekend at Ruthie’s?

Ginsburg’s absence from the bench – and now her late-January event cancellation, has stoked rumors over social media that the oldest Supreme Court Justice is actually dead, with doubters demanding proof-of-life under hashtags such as #WeekendAtRuths, a reference to the popular 1989 film Weekend At Bernie’s.

 


That said, a 1 second clip of a video purporting to be Ginsburg emerging from her Washington D.C. apartment was reported by TMZ and is the only known proof of her existence.

This wasn’t enough to satisfy some critics who pointed to the fact that you can’t see her face in the video, as noted by the Daily Dot’s Mike Rothschild.

And after the way the media covered up Hillary’s poor health, who can blame them?

Whatever Ginsburg’s current status, the prognosis for an 85-year-old who recently had two cancerous growths removed, and who has previously battled both pancreatic and colon cancer, can’t be good. The only question; will she survive Trump?

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-01-16/ginsburg-cancels-late-january-appearance-skeptics-demand-proof-life

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The Rise Of Socialism: Standing On The Shoulders Of Morons

by Simon Black via SovereignMan.com,

I’ve spent the last several days in this quaint Colombian city near the Venezuelan border (though I’m presently at the airport, en route to Chile for a board meeting).

As I’ve discussed several times in the past, Colombia is great. It’s naturally gorgeous, incredibly cheap, and full of interesting opportunities.

The country has recently emerged from decades of civil war. And the rebuilding efforts will have a profound impact on the economy… most notably with the national infrastructure.

Colombia’s highways are pitiful.

The distance from here to Bogota is barely 400 kilometers– it shouldn’t be more than a 3-4 hour drive. But it takes almost nine hours thanks to the terrible highways.

Railways, ports, even digital infrastructure are all lacking in Colombia, in large part because of the decades-long war against the FARC. For years the government didn’t want to build more railways if the guerrillas were just going to destroy them.

With the war over, they’re dumping an enormous amount of money into modernizing the country, which invariably brings interesting opportunities.

Colombia is still cheap today.

I spent the weekend in the mountains outside of Bucaramanga looking at real estate projects where, for example, a plush family home on more than an acre lot in an upscale community ran less than USD $70,000.

That’s cheap. My rule of thumb is that anything less than $1,000 per square meter for good quality residential housing (about $92 per square foot) is a great deal.

I also saw a huge, stately home with a grand, Spanish colonial interior courtyard, plus several acres of land, for less than $200,000.

That’s a hell of a bargain for a country with such a bright future.

One of the most noticeable things about this town, though, is the presence of so many Venezuelan refugees.

Bucaramanga is very close to the border, so it’s a natural migration point for Venezuelans fleeing their country. They’re EVERYWHERE.

Talking to these people, it’s apparent that the conditions are far worse than generally reported in the media. I’ve been to Venezuela several times myself, and I’ve seen firsthand the lack of food, medicine, etc.

It’s incredible that a country like Venezuela that’s rich in so many resources is in such a desperate situation.

Venezuela is legendary for its world-class oil and mineral deposits. But more than that, Venezuela boasts incredibly talented entrepreneurs and skilled labor, plus plenty of port facilities, arable land, etc.

This place SHOULD be an economic powerhouse. And decades ago it used to be.

But today Venezuela is one of the world’s most impoverished nations.

How did it all go wrong?

It’s all due to the rise of socialism.

You know the story: about 20 years ago, Hugo Chavez took control of Venezuela and engaged in radical economic and political reforms that awarded supreme power to the government (specifically to Chavez) while doling out crippling socialist programs that the country couldn’t afford.

When the price of oil was at an all-time high, they were able to limp along.

But the moment oil prices fell, Venezuela’s government went broke.

They tried to make up for it by nationalizing and expropriating everything that wasn’t nailed down– businesses, private land, etc. But that made matters worse.

They also borrowed heavily, burned through their international reserves, and printed an unbelievable amount of money. The currency quickly went into free-fall.

When I first went to Caracas several years ago, the exchange rate was about 8 bolivares per US dollar. A few months later when I returned, it was 50. My next trip was 500.

Soon a single US $100 bill would buy me literally stacks of Venezuelan bolivares; and by the time they finally capitulated and took the money out of circulation, it took over 4 million bolivares to buy a single US dollar.

(Since August 2018 the Venezuelan government started issuing new currency, which is basically the old currency minus a few zeros…)

All of this began with a premise that the government could centrally plan prosperity– that a tiny political elite could engineer wealth and efficient productivity while simultaneously providing an endless supply of free benefits to the constituents who keep them in power.

This experiment in central planning has notoriously failed throughout history (and it bankrupted Venezuela in less than two decades).

Yet we invariably see it rear its ugly head over and over again despite its dismal track record… especially in times when wealth and income inequality rise.

Every time people feel like they’re getting screwed by the system… every time they feel like someone else has an unfair advantage, there are cries to seize assets, confiscate wealth, and centrally plan prosperity.

We’re starting to see those calls rise again in the Land of the Free, where a whole spate of socialist-leaning candidates are coming out of the woodwork… including some presidential contenders.

There are now 40 socialists in Congress, including the infamous 29-year old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who think it’s a great idea to centrally plan the economy, jack up tax rates to confiscatory levels and even nationalize certain private industries.

Their desires are echoed by Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman who believes that 70%+ would be the best tax rate for maximum economic efficiency.

It’s even more interesting to note that, according to a recent Gallup poll, more younger Americans (18-29) now identify with Socialism than Capitalism – 51% vs. 45%. That’s a 12-point decline in a positive view toward capitalism in just the past two years… back in 2010, 68% of young Americans viewed capitalism favorably.

As Sir Isaac Newton said, they seem to be standing on the shoulders of morons.

And yet membership in the Democratic Socialists of America has swelled 7x just in the last two years.

This is all really alarming.

I’m not saying the US is going to become Venezuela in 20 years. But the Land of the Free is rapidly going down the same destructive path.

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5 Things Ocasio-Cortez Doesn’t Want You To Know About Her “Green New Deal”

by Justin Hawkins, op-ed via Fox News,

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y, the crazy-eyed self-described democratic socialist who has become a media sensation, is pushing for enactment of a radical plan called the Green New Deal that would ban the use of all fossil fuels from U.S. electricity generation, agriculture and manufacturing by 2030.

The Green New Deal would dramatically reshape the U.S. economy and add tens of trillions of dollars to the national debt.

The radical plan would force families to pay a lot more to heat, cool and provide electricity to their homes. It would raise the same costs for businesses, farmers, government and organizations, driving up their operating costs – and raising the prices for just about all the good and services Americans buy.

Under the Green New Deal, Americans would have to power their homes with renewable energy, such as wind and solar power. Every home and business in the United States would have to be “upgraded” for “state-of-the-art energy efficiency, comfort and safety.” And a slew of massive government social programs and mandates would be created.

Yet despite all these negatives, the Green New Deal has garnered significant attention and support from liberal members of the media, Congress, and even prominent senators considering 2020 presidential runs: Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

In addition to the energy provisions of the Green New Deal that have received the most attention from left-wing pundits and radical environmentalists, there is a lot of important information related to this proposal that proponents have deliberately kept out of the spotlight.

Here are five of the most important things you need to know about the Green New Deal.

1. It includes many radical programs that have nothing to do with so so-called “green” energy.

Supporters of the Green New Deal spend most of their time talking to the public about the proposal’s energy-related mandates, but some of the costliest parts of the plan are completely unrelated to the energy industry.

For example, Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal calls for the creation of “basic income programs” and single-payer health care.

The Green New Deal would also establish a federal jobs guarantee – one of the few non-energy-related parts of the plan Ocasio-Cortez has spent significant time advertising. And it would include provisions to “mitigate deeply entrenched racial, regional and gender-based inequalities in income and wealth.”

2. It would do nothing to curb global warming.

The primary justification given by Green New Deal proponents for the radical nature of the plan is that it is necessary to slow the rise of human-caused climate change, which Ocasio-Cortez and other liberals say will cause significant damage to the economy and human health over the next century.

Many scientists say there is no good evidence global warming will be catastrophic or that there’s anything humans can do to stop it. But even if we were to assume that global warming must be slowed down, the Green New Deal would do absolutly nothing to achieve this goal.

Even if the United States were to eliminate all of its carbon dioxide emissions by the start of 2030 – something that is impossible – the increased carbon dioxide emissions of the rest of world would more than offset the reductions in America.

Whether the Green New Deal is imposed or not, global carbon dioxide emissions are going to rise.

3. Renewable energy costs significantly more than fossil fuels.

The Green New Deal would eliminate fossil fuels from all electricity generation and transportation, forcing Americans to rely largely on expensive and unreliable renewable technologies like wind and solar power.

The Institute for Energy Research estimates that new solar power generation is nearly five times more expensive than using existing fossil fuel-powered electricity. Wind power is 3.5 times costlier.

These higher costs would drive up the price of all goods and services, not just electricity bills. And because all manufacturing would also be required to rely on “green” power, industries in the United States would struggle to match the prices of their foreign competitors, forcing some businesses to either close or move overseas.

4. The Green New Deal would empower and give handout to left-wing special interest groups and industries.

Some of the most vaguely worded parts of Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal plan are those that promise to increase the power of labor unions and give favors to left-wing industries.

According to the proposal, the Green New Deal would “deeply involve national and local labor unions to take a leadership role in the process of job training and worker deployment,” and it promises the “funding (of) massive investment in the drawdown of greenhouse gases.” That’s a code phrase for giving billions of taxpayer dollars to renewable-energy companies.

5. It would run up the national debt by tens of trillions of dollars.

Although no one knows exactly how much the Green New Deal would cost, a very conservative estimate is $40 trillion in its first 10 to 15 years. The Mercatus Center estimates the single-payer health-care proposal supported by Ocasio-Cortez would, on its own, cost more than $32 trillion.

Ocasio-Cortez has suggested one way to pay for these gigantic government programs would be to increase the income tax rate for America’s wealthiest earners as high as 70 percent, but even that radical move would fail to fund the Green New Deal.

In Ocasio-Cortez’s draft resolution, she suggests funding her proposal using “the same ways that we paid for the 2008 bank bailout and extended quantitative easing programs, the same ways we paid for World War II and many other wars. The Federal Reserve can extend credit to power these projects and investments.”

In other words, Ocasio-Cortez says we should pay for these left-wing proposals by running up the national debt by trillions of dollars, putting the nation’s economy at risk of collapsing.

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