April Fools Day Hoax Roundup

Does it seem to you that there have been a lot of big-time hoaxes lately? In late February the most widely-publicized alleged “hate crime” in years — the Jussie Smollett caper — was revealed as a hoax; and then just a few weeks after that the Mueller Report was completed, and it turned out that the single most intensely covered news event of my entire lifetime — the “Trump/Russia collusion” story — was also a hoax.

These were not minor or insignificant hoaxes. Both were a huge focus of mainstream press and media coverage and commentary, in the first case for several weeks, and in the second for over two years. Both fed the dominant media narrative of opposition to President Trump and hatred of him and his supporters. Both hoaxes were accepted uncritically and without a hint of skepticism by essentially all of the progressive press and media, who repeated and amplified them at great extent right up until they suddenly unraveled.

But with the extreme focus on these two hoaxes, perhaps you are losing track of the fact that these are just two of some dozens of similar hoaxes perpetrated by the same press and media players in recent years. Today, in honor of April Fools Day, the Manhattan Contrarian performs the public service of reminding you of the extent to which you are subject to a constant barrage of hoaxes originating from the mainstream press, media (including social media), and often also the government; hoaxes that are then endlessly repeated and amplified, all in the service of increased political power for the left.

Hate Crime Hoaxes

If you search the recesses of your memory, you will likely be able to come up with at least a few prior hate crime hoaxes that got big media play before the truth came out. One of the biggest was the University of Virginia fraternity gang rape hoax of 2014, originally perpetrated upon the world by Rolling Stone magazine. Going back several more years, there was the Duke lacrosse team gang rape hoax of 2006. If you follow this issue, you may also remember some others, . . .

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The Russia Hoax: Should We All Now Just Move On?

A week ago today, the issuance of the Mueller Report finally popped the long-inflating bubble of the Trump/Russia collusion hoax. After thousands of excited and breathless press reports and cable news segments over two-plus years (“new bombshell,” “the walls are closing in,” “impeachment,” etc.), it turned out that there was nothing there. So is there any point in wasting any more time on this? Why don’t we all just move on?

You won’t be surprised that many voices in the media are already advocating for that. At the New York Times, they had barely made it to Tuesday when the lead front page article, headlined “Trump, Citing ‘Evil Deeds,’ Turns Wrath on His Critics,” started pushing for Trump to “drop the subject,” citing the precedents of Reagan and Clinton:

[Trump’s] approach [of seeking retribution against his critics], if it lasts, contrasts with those of other presidents who survived major scandals. After the Iran-contra affair, President Ronald Reagan happily dropped the subject and focused on arms control talks with the Soviet Union and other issues. After being acquitted at his Senate impeachment trial, President Bill Clinton was just as eager to move on to Social Security and other initiatives.

Less expected, perhaps, was the op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on the same day from long-time G.W. Bush advisor Karl Rove, with the headline “Move On From Robert Mueller, Mr. President.” That article’s gist was captured in its sub-headline, “Obsessing over the investigation’s origins isn’t the way to win over swing voters.” Rove urges Trump to switch his attention to focusing on a positive message, including the strong economy.

I’m not here to advise the President on how to conduct his messaging or his campaign. But I do think that it is of great importance not to let the perpetrators of the Russia hoax — both media and deep state actors — off the hook. It’s not just that the respective Reagan and Clinton controversies are not remotely relevant. (Both Reagan in Iran-Contra and Clinton in the Lewinski matter had been caught in actual wrongdoing. You might think the wrongdoing was trivial in either instance or both, but wrongdoing it was. Of course those two were only too happy to move on.) More important is that getting out the positive message of more freedom and less government and less government dependency — whether by the President or anyone else — is critically dependent on maximally discrediting and sidelining these hoaxers. . . .

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What Does It Mean That There Is "No Evidence" To Support An Accusation?

A frequent assertion with respect to the accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was that there was “no evidence” to support them. But this assertion was never right. Sworn testimony of an accuser is evidence. That evidence might not be credible without at least some corroboration, but it is still evidence. Being a trial lawyer by trade, I know a thing or two about this subject.

A more accurate statement in the context of the Kavanaugh accusations would have been that there was no “corroborating evidence.” Accusations of rape or sexual assault, at least ones made reasonably contemporaneous with the conduct complained of, typically come with substantial corroborating evidence. First and foremost would be DNA of the accused retrieved from the accuser. Other examples might be bruises or other injuries to the accuser; a crime scene matching the accuser’s version of the events; witnesses who can place the accused at the scene even if they didn’t witness any wrongdoing; and so forth. Even in the case of a thirty-year-old accusation, an accuser with a credible claim could potentially come up with at least some material corroborating evidence, such as a definitive location for the event that matches her description of what occurred, or a corroborating witness who could say that she was there and why she was there or how she got there or how she got home.

Now there are accusations of vote fraud in Florida, particularly involving Broward and Palm Beach Counties. A frequent response has been that there is “no evidence” of vote fraud. For example, at Vox: “There’s no evidence of voter fraud in Florida.”; or at the Guardian: “State elections and law enforcement officials say they have seen no evidence suggesting such allegations [of vote fraud] are true.”; or at NPR: “As Florida Races Narrow, Trump And Scott Spread Claims Of Fraud Without Evidence.”

Well, is there anything that counts as “evidence” of vote fraud occurring in Broward (or Palm Beach) Counties? Definitely. How about these things: . . .

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How The New York Times And Washington Post Do "Poverty"

My post this past Sunday took note of a prominent Wall Street Journal op-ed last week that drove home some points that I have been making here for a few years about the measurement and incidence of “poverty” in the U.S. Most important is the systematic exclusion of some $1.2 trillion of government redistributions, $500 million of private charity, and as much as $2 trillion of underground economy from the incomes of lower income people when “poverty” is measured and reported. Since these three categories, in the aggregate, come to a large multiple of the amount that ought to be sufficient to eliminate all poverty under the government’s definition, I have long asserted that the government “poverty” data are systematically fraudulent, misleading, and useless for their intended purpose. . . .

Into this mix on September 12 the Census Bureau dropped its newly-released data on poverty for the year 2017. Admittedly that release does not itself contain the definitions and lists of exclusions that you need to understand how useless and deceptive this is. For that you’ll have to go on a hunt through the Census website; or, alternatively, read the Manhattan Contrarian or the Wall Street Journal op-eds, or maybe this big study from John Early for the Cato Institute. But again, if you are going to report on this subject, there is no excuse for not knowing this basic information.

So shall we take a look at how the New York Times and Washington Post reported on the Census release? In the New York Times, the big story by Glen Thrush, headlined “U.S. Recovery Eludes Many Living Below Poverty Level, Census Suggests,” appeared on September 13. The Washington Post ran an op-ed by Jared Bernstein on September 12 headlined “New census data show gains to low- and middle-income families but stalled progress on health coverage.” . . . .

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The Poverty Fraud In Action, With UN Assist

Back in December, I took note of a new Report out from the UN -- apparently it was just a draft -- supposedly addressing "extreme poverty" in the United States.  The Report was the work of a British guy named Philip Alston, designated the UN's "Special Rapporteur," who had just conducted a two-week "visit" to the U.S. during December 2017, and had supposedly in that brief time discovered to his horror the existence of pervasive "extreme poverty."  In my post, I stated that the Report was characterized by an extraordinary level of both "malice and ignorance," giving multiple examples of same.

Well, come June 1 the UN -- in particular, the so-called "Human Rights Commission," naturally -- decided to issue a somewhat modified version of this thing in final form, under the title "Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights on his mission to the United States of America."   Believe me, despite some revisions, the Report has gotten no better.  It is either completely uninformed and ignorant on the status of physical-deprivation poverty and redistribution programs in the U.S., or intentionally fraudulent as to same.  I would go with the latter, but you be the judge.  

More significantly, the Report was promptly seized upon by a group of some twenty Senators and Congresspersons of the Democratic Party -- led of course by none other than Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren -- who sent a letter on June 12 to UN Ambassador Nikki Haley expressing "deep concern" about the "findings" in the Report.  The problem for Sanders, Warren, et al., is that, unlike Alston, they are not able to fall back on possibly being uninformed or ignorant on the U.S. poverty statistics or on the extent of redistribution and anti-poverty programs already in existence.  With one-hundred-percent certainty, they know that Alston's Report is so much hooey.  Therefore, their reliance on it is fraud, pure and simple.

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Are The Residents Of New York City Public Housing "Poor"?

Following up on yesterday's post, I thought it might be interesting to take an in depth look into the question of whether typical residents of New York City public housing are or are not "poor."  It turns out to be not such an easy question to answer.  Here is the nub of the problem:  These are people who are provided by government with resources of value far in excess of the amount deemed to constitute the federal poverty "threshold."  In the official measures, these additional resources are not counted, and the recipients are therefore, for the most part, deemed "poor."  But should the additional resources be counted?  If these resources don't count toward alleviating poverty, why again do we provide them?

First, consider a profile for a typical New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) family.  NYCHA in 2017 reported the "average" income of its resident families as $24,336, and the average monthly rent as $509.  The $24,336 is slightly below the 2018 federal poverty threshold for a family of 4, which is $25,100.  Thus it is likely that about half, or somewhat more, of NYCHA families are said to be "in poverty."  But of course, the $24,336 does not include any increment for the implicit subsidy of the NYCHA apartment.  How much is that?  Because it is not paid in cash, there are different ways to value it.  One way would be to take the annual HUD operating subsidy to NYCHA, which is about $2 billion, and the forgiven NYC property taxes, which would be at least $500 million, and divide that up among the 170,000 +/- NYCHA apartments.  That is basically the methodology used by Mr. Early in his study discussed in yesterday's post.  That methodology would give you an implicit subsidy of about $15,000 per year per NYCHA apartment.  But that is a very low-end way of looking at it.  At the high end, you could value the NYCHA apartments by looking to what comparable apartments in their neighborhoods are currently renting for.  By this alternative methodology, many NYCHA apartments -- particularly those now located in fancy Manhattan neighborhoods, and those lining the Lower East Side waterfront -- come with annual subsidies in the range of $50,000 and even $100,000 per apartment.

So, just to make a case that draws out the contrasts, consider a 4 person family with the average NYCHA family "income" of $24,336 living in a water view apartment that comes with a $100,000 annual subsidy by the second methodology.  Add in that it is highly likely that such a family would also receive other government benefits:  Medicaid (that costs about $10,000 per beneficiary in New York, so $40,000 for this family), food stamps, heating assistance, clothing assistance, school lunches, Pell grants, cell phones, EITC, etc.  The full package likely costs the taxpayers well in excess of $150,000 per year.

So, is this family "poor"?

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