Wednesday, August 31, 2022

TikTok’s New ‘Elections Center’ Is A Massive Threat To National Security

TikTok’s New ‘Elections Center’ Is A Massive Threat To National Security


That we’ve forfeited this much control to a hostile foreign power is one of the most mind-boggling, slow-motion political blunders in modern history.

TikTok just unveiled an “Elections Center” that will put detailed voter profiles in the hands of a company based in Beijing, stocked with party members and state employees, subject to laws that allow the Chinese government data access. Given the Chinese Communist Party’s influence over ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, China could exercise enormous control over the midterm elections with this data. What’s worse is that American institutions are actively encouraging TikTok to do this.

By law, ByteDance is required to give China access to its data upon request. TikTok claims such requests would be rejected, but there is no way to know whether that’s true. We do, however, know that members of the CCP actually work for ByteDance. We also know TikTok’s data has been accessed in China, despite the company’s claims. Finally, we know TikTok is currently the most popular social network in America.

Last week, TikTok boasted in a press release about the creation of its new Elections Center. The center will influence American elections on two fronts: by providing voter information and countering “misinformation.” The first front means TikTok will have voting profiles on all American users who click through the Elections Center, and the second front means a Chinese company will be policing our political discourse on the single most popular social network.


According to TikTok, the center will “connect people who engage with election content to authoritative information and sources in more than 45 languages.” That may sound lovely, but it means when users select their state and click “register to vote,” TikTok can now cross-reference their location and interest in voting with their age, political leanings, and other attributes that can be gleaned from its vast trove of data.

Why does that matter? Tristan Harris of the Center for Humane Technology and “The Social Dilemma” joined “The Federalist Radio Hour” last week to outline the threats posed by TikTok. With the app’s data, Harris explained, China “can look at all the voting districts in the swing states and … can basically look at people’s sentiments with an AI that calculates what people’s opinions are in all the key voting areas.

Then, added Harris, China “can strategically up-regulate everybody who starts to say, you know, China’s really not so bad.”

“If China were to invade Taiwan tomorrow, they could up-regulate all the American voices who are saying that Taiwan was always a part of China,” Harris noted. (Listen to Elbridge Colby’s recent appearance on “The Federalist Radio Hour” to get a sense of how fragile this relationship really is.) That could be done on a local, state, or national scale on a variety of issues.

This is a hypothetical, to be sure, but it’s a tool we’re simply hoping a hostile foreign power will not utilize. Imagine China knows there are a handful of likely Mark Kelly voters in a certain area of Arizona. TikTok could feed them content that could, in turn, encourage more Democrat-leaning users to vote against Blake Masters or feed likely voters who consume conservative content videos that might depress turnout for Masters.

Perhaps there are disincentives for the CCP to actually weaponize TikTok data: It could leak and escalate conflict outside the party’s control; it could harm the bottom line of one of their most powerful companies; it could jeopardize the long-term control China has over the American public’s social and individual health through the app.

There is no guarantee China will weaponize this data now or in the future, but there is absolutely no reason for us to willingly forfeit it either. The risk is not remotely worth whatever reward American consumers think they’re getting.


On the “misinformation” front, it’s obviously bad enough that Big Tech companies based in America or China now believe it’s their duty to police the public discourse. But it’s also in China’s interest to foment cultural discord and hamper politicians who might undercut their geopolitical aspirations. Controlling the rhetoric Americans are allowed to post and see on one of the most popular sources of discussion and information is a major advantage for China.

Would the CCP hand marching orders to ByteDance and TikTok? Maybe, but they also wouldn’t have to be explicit. The overwhelming ideology of censors is one that favors leftism and opposes everything else. The information that gets powerfully suppressed almost always counters the political establishment, whether it’s on transgenderism, race, election integrity, Covid policies, or China.

It’s bad enough a major corporation exerts this much control over the discourse at all, let alone in an election cycle, let alone one owned by China. Whether based in America or overseas, social media makes us less happy and less healthy basically across the board. That we’ve forfeited this much control to a hostile foreign power is one of the most mind-boggling, slow-motion political blunders in modern history.

American Partners

Instead of collective opposition to this transparent data suck, American institutions actually helped and endorsed TikTok’s creation of the Elections Center. TikTok partnered with the National Association of Secretaries of State, Ballotpedia, the Campus Vote Project, and the Federal Voting Assistance Program, among other organizations, to “provide information” on the hub.

The Federal Voting Assistance Program, for example, is a taxpayer-funded government group that “works to ensure Service members, their eligible family members, and overseas citizens are aware of their right to vote and have the tools and resources to successfully do so — from anywhere in the world.” This is a wonderful mission, but whoever authorized the TikTok partnership at FVAP made a bad decision, one that could ultimately help China draw us into a military conflict and gain the upper hand when it comes to influencing public opinion.

It should be an embarrassment for any of these groups to affiliate with TikTok at all, particularly on this effort.

The Threat

Around the time TikTok announced the Elections Center, Forbes reported that “three hundred current employees at TikTok and its parent company ByteDance previously worked for Chinese state media publications, according to public employee LinkedIn profiles.”

Forbes found that 50 of those profiles “specifically mentioned work on TikTok, in areas including policy, strategy, operations, monetization, user experience and localization.” Last month, TikTok confirmed an explosive Buzzfeed report that found U.S. user data had been accessed in China. In 2020, the Department of Justice found that 130 members of the CCP worked for ByteDance in Beijing.

TikTok is furiously working on “Project Texas,” an internal mission to emphasize its independence from Beijing. In the same week TikTok unveiled the Elections Center, Axios reported that Oracle started “vetting TikTok’s algorithms and content moderation models to ensure they aren’t manipulated by Chinese authorities,” now that its data had been routed into Oracle’s cloud.

This still puts valuable data and public influence in the hands of yet another private entity, which may not even be able to detect algorithm manipulation that benefits China when it’s less overtly political and more subtle, like the promotion of trans ideology, anti-Americanism, and more. It also doesn’t ensure Oracle would catch short-term election interference before damage is done.

Earlier this summer, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tried to turn Rep. Val Demings’, D-Fla., use of TikTok into a political liability by running an ad on her use of the app. In a sane society, that argument would be a layup. Unfortunately, in a country with tens of millions of daily TikTok users and an elite class of clapping seals more interested in suppressing the unwashed masses than countering China, it probably is not. Shortly after taking office, President Joe Biden actually rescinded former President Donald Trump’s attempted ban on TikTok, despite his party’s incessant posturing about election integrity.

Social media is a public health crisis. Every person who uses TikTok and every organization that partners with it or sends advertising money onto the platform is boosting authoritarian China’s control over our individual well-being, our society, and our world. The company’s new Elections Center underscores the urgency of this threat, putting detailed voter profiles and algorithmic control of a massive platform at the fingertips of a company staffed with loyalists to a hostile foreign government.

Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Among the Greatest Partisan Rip-Offs of All Time

President Joe Biden announces student loan relief in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington on August 24, 2022. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Among the Greatest Partisan Rip-Offs of All Time



Remember 1773’s Boston Tea Party and “taxation without representation” that led to the American Revolution and our ultimate separation from Britain?

I imagine you do, but perhaps not if you are one of our younger readers and all you were being taught in one of our woke schools that skin color and gender identity were far more important than reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Nevertheless, Joe Biden—quite possibly, even likely, illegally and certainly as the most obvious kind of vote grubbing—has gone one (or multiple times) up on King George in the “taxation without representation” department with his student loan forgiveness, partial though it may be.

Consider this: The gullible poor slob (aka good citizen), whether parent or graduate, who has been paying or has fully paid his/her student loan is being asked to pay for someone else’s, once again through taxes, even though the recipient of this largesse may be less needy than the benighted taxpayer.

He or she is paying twice, rather like the estate tax but worse because it taking the money of yet more people that can ill afford it.

How much will this loan forgiveness cost all of us taxpayers? Estimates vary, of course. The other day Penn Wharton put it at $300 billion after 10 years. That translates to $2,000 per taxpayer, according to the National Review.

But those are not the most recent figures. Fox Business on Aug. 25 is estimating between $440 and $600 billion over the same time frame.  Something called the Committee for a Responsible Budget has now put it at $500 billion.

In most of our experiences, these estimates tend to go up, often also in multiples, so no one knows what it will actually cost, but we can be sure it’s a stupendous amount.

Driving home from my early morning stint on the Tennessee Star Report today, I heard Glenn Beck—who immediately follows on the same station to his national audience—mention ever more disturbing numbers, comparing the expenditure to the annual cost of the U. S. Military and to the gross national product of over a hundred countries.

All this at a time when our national debt is rising exponentially, inflation (with the temporary exception of heavily-managed gas prices) is doing the same, and the Fed is working overtime to fight these trends through rapidly increasing interest rates.

And yet the man in the White House is taking us all in the opposite direction for a few votes that might not really be there, especially if the Republicans wake up, as opposed to being woke, and communicate well to the public. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)  has made a good start at a Senate hearing.

More, please, and as forcefully as possible—not just at hearings for the C-SPAN crowd, but everywhere for everyone.

Messaging, with exceptions (notably Trump and DeSantis), has been a weakness for Republicans, especially with the quondam-left’s stranglehold on mainstream media.

This relates interestingly to the larger higher education discussion. For the last year or so, I have been conducting a private—admittedly random and without concrete statistical value—survey of liberals and progressives to ask them whether they knew Biden had plagiarized (rather extensively at that) in law school, of all places.

Only one of seven or eight did!

When I informed the others about the plagiarism and its extent (he lifted an entire legal brief and claimed it as his own), repeated several times with Neil Kinnock and others (when he lifted their speeches), I watched as ears seemed to close and eyes grew unfocused. Some even looked away as if overcome by a sudden cognitive disorder, while trying to figure out how to walk away or change the subject. Such is communication in our times.

Which makes me wonder if Biden really respects education, whether he sees it as any more than just a road to getting votes, just as he saw a law degree as something for getting a job or getting into politics, but not as something enshrining, or even recognizing your belief in, the rule of law this country was founded on.

He clearly is acting lawlessly against the separation of powers in our Constitution in many areas—trampling on it really—whether at his own behest or that of others.

Anyway, I hope and actually suspect that this loan forgiveness will backfire.

Scientific 'Integrity'

 Scientific 'Integrity'

John Stossel

"Trust the science," say the media.

Polls show that fewer Americans do. There's good reason for that.

"They don't trust science because science is increasingly untrustworthy," says science writer Andrew Follet in my new video. "The only group that trusts science right now is Democrats."

Sixty-four percent of Democrats have "a great deal" of confidence in the scientific community, compared to 34% of Republicans.

Of course, true science -- using the scientific method -- is important. But that's not what much of "science" is these days.

Instead, today government science is misused by progressive politicians.

Example 1: Environmental activists want to limit commercial fishing. They want Congress to pass what they call the "Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act." It claims climate change is the "greatest threat to America's national security" and offers a dubious solution: close more of the ocean to commercial fishing.

The administration's deputy director of Climate, Jane Lubchenco, told Congress that a scientific paper concludes that closing more of the ocean can actually increase catches of fish.

Really? That doesn't seem logical.

It isn't. The paper was retracted. One scientist called its logic "biologically impossible."

Also, Lubchenco's didn't tell Congress that the paper was written by her brother-in-law! And edited by her!

Did the White House punish Lubchenco for her ethics violations? No. In fact, after her testimony, she was appointed co-head of President Joe Biden's Scientific Integrity Task Force!

Last week, the National Academy of Sciences banned her for five years. Yet she's still on the White House's Scientific Integrity Task Force.

Sadly, much of what's called science today is simply left-wing advocacy.

New fields like fat studies, African studies, Latinx studies, queer studies," says Follet, "are essentially entirely fake."

Fake? Well, they must be. "Experts" in those fields keep being fooled by people who submit gibberish.

Example 2:

A ridiculous paper, "Embracing Fatness as Self-Care in the Era of Trump," was accepted by Massey University's "Fat Studies" conference. The conference then invited the paper's author, "Sea Matheson," to speak.

Attendees gave Matheson's speech rave reviews, praising the paper's description of Donald Trump's "fatphobia" and inviting Matheson to review other work submitted to their "scientific" journal, Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight and Society.

But Matheson is no scientist. "She" is actually comedian Steven Crowder, who disguised himself as an overweight woman to expose "ivory tower quackery."

Crowder is just the latest person to fool today's so-called science journals. James Lindsay, Peter Boghossian and Helen Pluckrose submitted nonsense papers to "grievance studies" journals like Fat Studies, Sexuality & Culture and Sex Roles.

Seven accepted ridiculous papers.

One that took a section of "Mein Kampf" but replaced references to "National Socialism" with "feminism," was accepted by Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work.

Gender, Place and Culture accepted a paper that claimed there is rape culture at dog parks.

Follett blames this perversion of science on government. Its science agencies, like much of America, have been taken over by leftists hungry to promote themselves and their agenda.

In science, the way to promote yourself is to get papers published. That often gets you more funding. Government agencies like the National Science Foundation provide most of that funding.

"Nobody wants to publish something that goes against the paymaster," says Follett. "You don't get published unless the NSF likes your results."

Example 3: The NSF gave nearly half a million dollars to a team that wrote a paper questioning glacier science because it "stems from knowledge created by men."

Absurdities are pushed by the right, too. Some people still claim that man plays no part in climate change or that the climate isn't warming at all. Some say vaccines don't work. But the right's junk science doesn't get backed by government funds.

I'm angry that my tax dollars go to support leftist nonsense.

Unfortunately, most Americans don't care. That's probably because they don't know that government throws so much money at ridiculous progressive advocacy.

"We'll all start caring when the bridges start falling down and the planes start crashing," says Follet. "That's the inevitable end result of this."

Tuesday, August 30, 2022




This past Thursday President Biden announced his unconstitutional plan to “forgive” student loans in some massive cumulative amount. The White House has posted a transcript of Biden’s remarks here.

According to Biden, it won’t cost you a dime: “The point is this: There is plenty of deficit reduction to pay for the programs — cumulative deficit reduction — to pay for the programs many times over.” I’d like to get a fact-check on that whopper.

I decried the scheme in “The cancelations.” To say the least, It is of dubious legality, to say the least. It is cynical beyond belief. It is also incredibly unfair to citizens who have foregone college or paid their debts. Making honest citizens feel like chumps should be beyond the bounds. That was my take.

I’d also like to see a fair poll on the politics of the scheme. When a patent phony like Ohio Democratic Senatorial candidate Tim Ryan declines to sign on, I infer it must be a loser on this score as well. That is a dead giveaway.

When it comes to talking the talk, Ryan is a human weathervane. I’m not much on the nuts and bolts of politics, but I infer that Republicans ought to hammer the blatant cynicism and injustice of the cancelation scheme.

All Republicans are now terrorists

All Republicans are now terrorists

Democrats and the mainstream media have gone full Orwellian

Last week, Financial Times Associate Editor Edward Luce tweeted that Republicans are the most “dangerous” political force in the world, bar none. “I’ve covered extremism and violent ideologies around the world,” he said, and “I have never come across a political force more nihilistic, dangerous & contemptible than today’s Republicans. Nothing close.” Former CIA Director Michael Hayden chimed in immediately and said, “I agree.”

This past Tuesday, Democrat adviser Kurt Bardella called all Republicans a “domestic terrorist cell.” MSNBC’s Tiffany Cross agreed and said there should be no distinction between Republicans and “right-wing extremists.” At the same time, Peter Wehner, a contributing writer for The Atlantic, likened the Republican Party to a “dagger pointed at the throat of American democracy.” All this while the FBI Director Christopher Wray added that any American flying the Gadsden — “Don’t Tread On Me” — flag is suspect of violent extremism.  

Does anyone except me hear the ghost of George Orwell laughing right now? 

Does it concern you that a group of Democrats holding power is now defining all Republicans as being “right-wing extremists” and a “threat to American democracy?” 

And by the way, what is a right-wing extremist? Is it someone who advocates for pro-life legislation? Is it someone who believes in traditional standards of sexual morality? Are you a right-winger if you believe in lower taxes? Are you an extremist if you dare to call for open debate on environmental policy? Are you a threat to American democracy if you think enforcing America’s borders will actually be good for America? Are you one of those “nihilistic, dangerous & contemptible” people “holding a dagger to America’s throat” if you believe in school choice and the self-evident reality of parental rights? 

Isn’t it a bit convenient that Big Brother has decided that all Americans with a “Republican” bumper sticker on their car versus those who obediently parrot the beltway propaganda of George Soros are a security risk? 

And what about these smart folks on the left? Is their thoughtless embrace of critical race theory a security risk? How about their endless printing of monopoly money and the consequent degrading of U.S. currency? Does this enhance or impede American democracy? Does their embrace of the neo-Marxism of Black Lives Matter endanger our freedom? Does their infatuation with sexual nihilism make America’s women and children feel more or less secure? And how about “climate change” and “green” economics? Does their religious zeal for the disproven pantheism of former Vice President Al Gore enhance our national security or hurt it? Finally, let’s consider their post-modern aversion to any robust debate concerning everything above; is their intellectual foreclosure not nihilistic and extreme? 

Oh, a final question: How about their ad hominem attacks of calling 50% of the American people derogatory names? Isn’t such ignorance of the elementary principles of Socratic logic a bit dangerous? Do you feel more secure knowing that some bureaucrat or politician at the highest levels of political power can unabashedly pigeonhole any person holding a conservative worldview as a compromise to national security? Do you feel safe knowing that this tactical use of rhetorical sleight of hand is actually accompanied by a straight face — or perhaps a sly grin? 

This betrayal of classical liberalism is simply incredible. And I mean this in the technical sense of the word. These worn-out political attacks lack any credibility. Our nation’s political class and their obedient media lapdogs make no sense. They disregard any elementary understanding of freshman-level logic. Their rhetoric is foolish. And when caught on the horns of their duplicitous dilemma, their only reaction is to shoot the messenger and ignore the message. “All Republicans are right-wingers,” they shout. “Anyone who disagrees with us is a security risk, a deplorable, and thoughtless rube!” This narcissistic nonsense lacks any credibility. It is simply in-credible! 

A free society that remains silent while George Orwell‘s “1984” unfolds before its very eyes will not remain free. Our nation’s elites are hell-bent on completely restructuring the socio-political context of our country, and in their zeal, they are labeling anyone who challenges them a “dangerous, contemptible, terrorist.”  

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once warned that “silence in the face of evil is evil is evil itself.” Half of the American people have just been told we are a “domestic terrorist cell.” Silence in the face of this oligarchical power grab is complicity in our demise as well as our country’s. “Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act. God will not hold us guiltless.”

Good riddance to Fauci and his calamitous, costly career

Good riddance to Fauci and his calamitous, costly career

Whatever comes next in the pandemic, we all have cause to rejoice at the best news since the arrival of the COVID vaccine: Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser, has announced his retirement. His long and singularly disastrous career ends in December.

Never in the history of the public-health profession has anyone been so richly rewarded for doing so much harm to the public’s health. Whether or not he actually helped start the COVID pandemic — by funding dangerous research in the Chinese lab that may have created the coronavirus — he promoted a series of policies in America and the rest of the world that did even more damage than the virus.

Except possibly for the Great Depression, the lockdowns were the costliest public-policy mistake ever made during peacetime in America.

Fauci warned that AIDS could be spread through “routine close contact” in the 1980s.
Fauci warned that AIDS could be spread through “routine close contact” in the 1980s.
Deanne Fitzmaurice/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Fauci got away with it by invoking the authority of science while violating its fundamental principles. Before COVID arrived, the world’s leading epidemiologists had warned that lockdowns would be futile and cause catastrophic collateral damage, but Fauci simply ignored that advice.

As evidence mounted of the policies’ failure, he persisted by deploying the skills honed during five decades in Washington: bureaucratic infighting, media manipulation and fearmongering.

In the 1980s, he made national news by warning that the AIDS virus could be spread by “routine close contact” among family members, becoming one of the early prophets of the AIDS “heterosexual breakout” that would supposedly decimate the general population. That prospect needlessly terrified the public for more than a decade, but it boosted public funding for AIDS research, including a long and costly Fauci project to develop an AIDS vaccine.

Fauci, Deborah Birx and Robert Redfield served on former President Donald Trump's COVID-19 task force.
Fauci, Deborah Birx and Robert Redfield served on former President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 task force.
Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

The vaccine venture failed, but it enabled Fauci and two of his collaborators, Deborah Birx and Robert Redfield, to develop a relationship that they exploited during their service on the White House COVID Task Force. Birx, the task force’s coordinator, and Redfield, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, joined with Fauci to bully the Trump administration into following their dictates on COVID.

The three secretly agreed to all resign if any of them were fired, and they never disagreed with one another at the task-force meetings, as Scott Atlas recounts in his Washington memoir, “A Plague Upon Our House.”

Atlas, a health-policy analyst at the Hoover Institution, tried getting his colleagues at the meetings to consider the evidence that lockdowns and mask mandates were not working, but the three bureaucrats had no interest in debating it — or bothering to read the studies. To his amazement, they made no pretense of conducting any sort of cost-benefit analysis of their policies and never deigned to even discuss the vast social and economic collateral damage.

They were bureaucrats solely focused on compelling the public to follow their arbitrary rules. There was no reason to force vaccinations on people who had already acquired natural immunity to COVID, but the bureaucrats were determined to punish anyone who defied their authority — and silence any scientist who criticized them.

Early in the pandemic, prominent virologists expressed concerns by email that the virus had been created in the Wuhan laboratory, but they publicly dismissed that possibility after a teleconference with Fauci and other officials who had been funding research at the lab.

When eminent researchers from Oxford, Harvard and Stanford issued the Great Barrington Declaration, calling for a traditional public-health policy focused on protecting the vulnerable instead of shutting down society, Fauci dismissed it as “total nonsense,” and the mainstream media, as usual, parroted his smears and claims.

Fauci owed much of his success to decades of cultivating the right journalists — always quick to return a phone call or email, always available for a TV appearance, always happy to provide an authoritative quotation when he had no idea what he was talking about. Above all, he was always ready to satisfy journalists’ need for scary news and doomsday predictions.

Terrifying the public was good for business. The journalists were rewarded more clicks and higher ratings; Fauci and his fellow bureaucrats amassed more power and bigger budgets.

Fauci became the highest-paid federal employee, earning more than $400,000 per year, and stands to collect a pension estimated at $350,000 a year. That’s an appalling sum, considering the lasting harm he has done to children and adults in America and the rest of the world. But it’s a small price to be rid of him.

John Tierney is a contributing editor of City Journal and a co-author of “The Power of Bad: How the Negativity Effect Rules Us and How We Can Rule It.”