Lloyd Billingsley, An issue for campaign videos and candidates alike.
On September 4, California Assembly Bill 730 by Palo Alto Democrat Marc Berman takes effect, a matter of interest for voters and journalists across the country. The measure, signed last October by governor Gavin Newsom, will “prohibit a person, committee, or other entity, within 60 days of an election at which a candidate for elective office will appear on the ballot, from distributing with actual malice materially deceptive audio or visual media of the candidate with the intent to injure the candidate’s reputation or to deceive a voter into voting for or against the candidate, unless the media includes a disclosure stating that the media has been manipulated.”
Defenders of AB-730 see it as a defense against “deep fake” videos like the one that appeared to show House Speaker Nancy Pelosi drunk. Kevin Baker, legislative director of the California ACLU, charged that the bill would result in voter confusion, malicious litigation and “repression of free speech.” The repressive measure may prove difficult to enforce and easy to circumvent.
A video could show actual violence and mayhem in the streets of Portland and Seattle, with the fully sober NancAB-730y Pelosi proclaiming “people do what they do.” Her statement on gang members’ “spark of divinity,” and her tantrum over Trump’s state of the union speech, offer other possibilities, among many.
A clever operator could dodge AB-730 by showing unmanipulated footage of Communist Chinese soldiers attacking the Tiananmen Square demonstrators in 1989, or the current crackdown on peaceful democratic demonstrators in Hong Kong. This could be intercut with Joe Biden saying, “China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man. I mean, you know, they’re not bad folks, folks. But guess what? They’re not competition for us.”
Joe Biden is on record that “we choose truth over facts,” that poor kids are “just as smart as white kids,” and that African Americans “ain’t black,” if they don’t favor Joe Biden. The Democrat nominee called a female college student a “dog-faced pony soldier” and told an auto worker “you’re full of shit.” No need to manipulate any of that.
Some sleuth may track down actual footage of Democrat kingpin Willie Brown out on the town with svelte attorney Kamala Harris, 30 years Willie’s junior. If not, many photos show the pair together and they could be backdropped, say, with “Willie and the Hand Jive,” by the late Johnny Otis. Kamala’s support for Joe Biden’s accuser Tara Reade, and many other statements by Joe Biden’s pick for vice president, eliminate any need for falsification. Still, the “deep fake” issue goes beyond audio or visual material.
For most of her adult life, Elizabeth Warren claimed to be Native American in general and Cherokee in particular. This claim was totally false, but did not prompt Warren’s resignation or hinder her quest to become president of the United States. In the Democrat Party, the truth gives way to any particular “narrative” a candidate wants to spin. Consider, for example, Ammar Campa-Najjar, a Democrat running for Congress in California’s 50th district.
According to his campaign website, Ammar is “the son of a Christian, working-class mother,” born and raised in San Diego. He graduated from San Diego State University, “after taking time off to help reelect the president,” and after 2012 secured a position in the Labor Department. In 2018, Ammar ran for Congress, when other information suddenly came to light.
“Grandson of Munich Massacre Terrorist Running for Congress,” headlined a February 20, 2018 report in Haaretz. As reporter Amir Tibon explained, Ammar Campa-Najjar is the grandson of Muhammad Yusuf al-Najjar, a senior member of the Palestinian terror organization Black September, “which carried out numerous terror attacks against Israelis in the early 1970s – including the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.” Campa-Najjar’s father is Yasser Najjar, a former Palestinian Authority official.
How Yasser Najjar arrived in the United States, if he ever did, has not been documented, like much of Campa-Najjar’s narrative. Those who raised such concerns drew charges of “Islamophobia,” but Republican Duncan Hunter, though facing charges of misusing campaign funds, defeated the “Mexican-Palestinian American and former Obama campaign and administration official,” as The Hill described the Democrat.
It’s now hard to find Camp-Najjar’s improbable narrative in establishment media reports. At this writing, San Diego State has not responded to a request for information on the graduation of Ammar Campa-Najjar and his father Yasser Najjar. According to National Public Radio, in 1981 Yasser Najjar “moved to San Diego, where he earned an MBA and later opened three clothing boutiques.”
Yasser’s son Ammar now faces former Rep. Darrell Issa, a veteran of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee. His Democrat opponent, who attended the Islamic School of San Diego, excels at raising money but in recent polls trails Issa 47-43.
The Mexican-Palestinian American compares his story to Dreams from My Father, which Obama biographer David Garrow exposed as a novel and the author a “composite character.” In similar style, voters may find the Mexican-Palestinian American a composite character, and his narrative decidedly strange. If so, it would be hard to blame them.
Truthful campaign videos about Ammar Campa-Najjar, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris would have nothing to fear from AB-730, which kicks in on September 4. The election takes place on November 3. As President Trump says, we’ll have to see what happens.