Thursday, June 26, 2014

Obama and the Death of Honest Journalism

Not even the left tries too hard to argue that the mainstream media is ideologically impartial, not anymore. That reporters are overwhelmingly liberal is nothing new, of course. They vote that way and they cover news that way. Even Harvard, studying coverage of the 2008 election, was forced to conclude there was considerable bias in favor of Obama. (How it must have pained them to reach that conclusion.) 

But the problem is reaching farcical proportions.

Sure, there's Fox News and talk radio, but they mostly preach to their own choirs. They don't have the ability to create what one observer calls the "drumbeat." Without the drumbeat, scandals soon whither and die. More on that in a moment.

What most don't realize is that media bias is most pernicious in what they don't report. Stories that don't advance their world view are simply ignored, or relegated to page A17. It's clever, really, because it's harder to be accused of malfeasance for something you didn't do.

Which brings us to the Obama administration and its incestuous relationship with the Fourth Estate. There certainly has been lots to write about. In fact, sometimes it's hard to keep track of all the scandals surrounding this White House. Here's a list that is by no means complete, and you'd be forgiven if you've forgotten some:

  • IRS used as a political tool and subsequent cover up
  • Benghazi and false story about an internet video
  • Spying on the AP
  • Spying on reporter James Rosen 
  • Fast and Furious
  • Obamacare roll-out
  • HHS Secretary Sebelius soliciting money from companies HHS regulated
  • Eric Holder (likely) committing perjury in front of Congress (see James Rosen, Fast and Furious)
  • GSA spending on wild parties and Vegas boondoggles
  • VA mismanagement and neglect of veterans
  • Opining on local criminal matters before they are settled (Robert Gates, Treyvon Martin)
  • Solyndra
  • EPA chief Lisa Jackson using a fake email personality to avoid scrutiny
  • Violation of War Powers Act invading Libya without Congressional advise and consent
  • Swapping al Qaeda thugs for U.S. deserter without Congressional advise and consent
  • Release of identity of CIA station chief in Kabul
  • Flood of illegal immigrants across southern boarder
  • Refusal by Justice Department to enforce laws it doesn't like
  • Use of executive orders to make law

I submit that maybe a third of these would have ended the presidency of a Republican. The media would have created the drumbeat. The New York Times would have found some angle to keep these stories on the front page until special prosecutors were hired and the presidential scalp was acquired. This is how the drumbeat works. Remember how the death of every single U.S. soldier in Afghanistan or Iraq was always the first item on the nightly news. It was relentless, and incredibly effective at driving down poll numbers for Bush. Arguably, the war fatigue that the coverage created got Obama elected. The drumbeat did its job.

But the absence of a drumbeat can be even more effective. Did you know that three times as many servicemen have been killed in Afghanistan under Obama as under Bush? Well, you wouldn't, would you, because it's never reported. No drumbeat.

Remember Valerie Plame? She was a mid-level CIA office worker at Langley. Her name was leaked and it was front page news for weeks. Most Americans learned her name. She and her husband were featured in a glamorous photo shoot in Vanity Fair. A total non-issue, but major drumbeat. Damage was done to the Bush white House.

Have you ever heard the name of the CIA station chief in Kabul? Now, there's a real spy, and that's a name that needs to be a secret, except that the White House leaked the name just last week. Haven't heard the story? That is exactly my point. No drumbeat.

Oh, when a story that breaks that liberal reporters find inconvenient, they will dutifully write about it, but one or two perfunctory efforts on A17 and they're good, and likely the angle is about Republican overreach and scandal-mongering.

The IRS scandal is a perfect example. The New York Times, and others, should be ashamed of the way they have handled this incredibly important story. Paul Wehner of Commentary sums it up perfectly:

Here’s a thought experiment. Assume during the George W. Bush administration the IRS had targeted, Planned Parenthood, the Center for American Progress, and a slew of other liberal groups. Assume, too, that no conservative groups were the subject of harassment and intimidation. And just for the fun of it, assume that press secretary Ari Fleischer had misled the press and the public by saying the scandal was confined to two rogue IRS agents in Cincinnati and that President Bush had declared that there was “not even a smidgen of corruption” that had occurred.

Let’s go a step further. Assume that the IRS Commissioner, in testifying before Congress, admitted that the emails of the person at the heart of the abuse of power scandal were gone, that the backup tapes have been erased and that her hard drive was destroyed. For good measure, assume that the person who was intimately involved in targeting liberal groups took the Fifth Amendment.

Given all this, boys and girls, do you think the elite media–the New York Times, Washington Post, The News Hour, and the news networks for ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN–would pay much attention to it?

Answer: They wouldn’t just cover the story; they would fixate on it. It would be a crazed obsession. Journalists up and down the Acela Corridor would be experiencing dangerously rapid pulse rates. The gleam in their eye and the spring in their step would be impossible to miss. You couldn’t escape the coverage even if you wanted to. The story would sear itself into your imagination.

Bingo, my friends.

Did you know that one of the articles of impeachment for Richard Nixon was his trying to use the IRS as a weapon against political enemies? The IRS wouldn't do it, but just the trying was deemed an impeachable offense; and damn straight it was.

But Obama didn't just try, he did it. We don't yet have a smoking gun, but that's because the IRS and the White House are in full cover-up/obstruction mode. This is where the media - the mainstream media - is supposed to get busy. Just yesterday we learned that the IRS violated the law by not reporting the "lost" emails to the National Archivist. Front page news, right? Not at the Times, but they did find room for their 1,498th story on gay rights so far this year.

This is despicable behavior, but worse, it's dangerous for our democracy. When a president - any president - is conditioned to believe that he can get away whatever he wants because the media will have his back, then he will keep pushing the envelope in every way. We see this happening as we speak.

Sorry, you must stop paying for this:

It is no longer acceptable for conservatives to subscribe to the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, or any of the other apologists for a presidency that has left the rails. If you are subscribing just to "see what the other side thinks," I submit you couldn't avoid finding out what they think shy of holing up in a Unabomber shack for a few years. If you have to, go online so you don't have to pay. If you like the crosswords, I don't care. There are lots of crosswords out there.

We must stop feeding our enemies.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Left is Winning Because They Work Harder (at Politics)

Google "college liberal" and this is the first image that comes up. It's a popular one, so much so that it's become a "meme," like so...

(There are lots more, and they are pretty funny. And, yes, I know there's a typo in the meme above.)

Remember this person back in school? I'm sure you do. I'm not talking about the exact woman in the picture, of course, but people like her, wholly committed leftists, whose every waking moment is an expression of their political identity. From the food they eat, to the courses they take, to the protests they attend. Being a liberal, a.k.a. "progressive," is their first, second and third priority.

We conservatives are a different animal. College, at least for me, had healthy doses of studying, sports, beer, and girls. Politics, while important, was maybe fifth on the list. Libs, even if they were doing something on my list, like drinking beer or chasing girls, it was always in the context of their progessivism. Beer was consumed over animated discussions about Che or Paul Ehrlich. Girls were chased at consciousness-raising rallies about the issue de jour.

Above all, they were aggressive, loud, and in-your-face. If there was ever any push back, say from an administration that didn't think a shantytown in the middle of campus was a particularly good idea (unlikely, I know), the howl of outrage was so loud that there was rapid acquiescence.

We conservatives just couldn't compete with that, because, frankly, we just didn't have time with everything else on our plates. The result was that our views were never really heard, or worse, they symbolically and literally, shouted down like those of any conservative speaker who tries to be heard at a Northeastern campus.

None of this changes just because college ends. Progressives typically transition into teaching, media, and politics, all of which give them ideological leverage, platforms from which to propagate their views. Conservatives often go into business, which is great for the country, but leaves little scope for political activities or influence. Between families, jobs, perhaps charity work, who has time to spend on politics, let alone camp out in Zucotti Park, shouting slogans and handing out pamphlets.

And this is how our country is being lost to a tiny fraction of its most ideological. And I mean tiny. I would guess that we're talking about no more than two or three percent. But they work harder at it than we do, and they have positions of influence.

I wish I had an answer to this better than, "make time and get involved," but I don't. We will continue to lose as long as we are outworked and outshouted.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

De-Coding the Language of the Left

Do you bristle when you hear the word sustainable? How about diversity, or social justice? Do you get a nagging feeling about the word bullying? Can you say why? Can you articulate why these words bother you, or do you just try to keep your mouth shut? Maybe there's something wrong with you...

Take sustainable. Nothing wrong with that, right? We take the word to be an absolute good. After all, it's hard to argue that conserving resources is a bad idea, all other things being equal.

Ah, but there's the rub, all other things aren't equal. The environmental left doesn't believe in cost/benefit analyses, so "sustainability" has come to mean whatever the Greens want it to mean.  Simply attaching the word to other words conveys its essential goodness to anything. Sustainable practices. If one had to define the word now, its real meaning is, "this is something of which we environmentalists approve."

Conversely, if something's deemed not sustainable, it conveys disapproval. Google "Keystone Pipeline not sustainable," and you will get 642,000 hits. But you, good rationalist, say, "Wait, I think more natural gas is a good thing, both for the environment and for our economy." Sorry, you are now anti-sustainability, and since we know, without having to discuss it any further, that this is a good thing, you are ipso facto morally and logically tainted. Excuse us, while we dismiss your viewpoint without having to, well, think it through at all.

That's the way it works these days. The left, unable to marshal anything beyond emotive arguments, finds it simpler to shut down opposing viewpoints than to engage with them. Co-opting language is part of this strategy.

Let's look at some other examples:


This one has been a very effective lexical weapon for the left. How can one oppose diversity, at least beyond a personal thought bubble? Say something like that to your kid's principal and see the horror in his (her!) face. Because really, it should be a good thing. It should mean the bringing together of disparate people of disparate views and ideas, who then challenge each other with reason and intellect to make something greater. Except it doesn't. The kind of diversity that matters most - the intellectual kind - is the one shunned by very purveyors of the word. What diversity really means is that progressive viewpoints will be welcome from people of all races (but not quite as much from whites and Asians).


I was once hazed by a fraternity; it was fun, and helped me bond with my fellow initiates. Having said this, there certainly are hazing rituals out there that I'd be just as happy pass on. Yes, hazing can go too far, but so can the reaction of schools and parents. Hazing has now become a catch-all phrase that means something we school administers disapprove of, particular if it involves a team or a fraternity. It's a useful cudgel for the scolds to go after institutions they profoundly dislike, particularly as those institutions scrape out an existence outside the progressive bubble of academia. Last year, the president of Bowdoin suspended the entire tennis team for the year because the seniors jokingly made a couple of the freshman eat a goldfish, something that was practically a national sport in the on 50s campuses. Look it up.


Apparently, our country is suffering an epidemic of bullying. The Anti-Defamation League defines bullying as "repetitive and aggressive behavior while exploiting a power differential in size, age, or numbers." Sounds about right. But lots of other stuff is bullying now. Disagreement on the playground? Bullying. Someone gets left out of a social circle? Bullying. A girl's basketball team wins by 70 points? Bullying. So, the statistics soar, and administrators get another tool for control, and another excuse to hire more staff to deal with the problem.


I think we all know what the word is supposed to mean: if you tolerate something, you may not like it at all, but you will not actively oppose it. You quietly accept it. But now, notably within the gay rights movement, its real meaning is appreciate, or even celebrate, as in, you will actively celebrate our lifestyle. Or else. (See: Brendan Eich, ex-CEO of Mozilla.) Recently, my kid's school had "Days of Dialogue," which featured work sessions in things like "Gender Expression and Sexuality." There's little doubt that the dialogue was mono-directional, pointed squarely at the pre-enlightened.

Social Justice

Again, how can anything with the word justice be a bad thing? And hey, throw social in there for good measure. I dare you to speak the words, "I am opposed to social justice." But just in case you're out of the loop and haven't been to an Al Sharpton rally lately, what it means is equality of outcome, and specifically the wholesale, coerced transfer of wealth from those who have it to those who don't. This can even be expressed on a global basis as an excuse to transfer wealth from the First World to the Third. Many view proposed UN climate regulations as just such a measure.

Can you think of the first word that liberals stole? It is the word liberal itself. Classically, a liberal was someone who believed in a limited state and embraced the rapid change that happens to societies and economies when the government stays out of the way. In Europe, it still has the definition (if only just). American liberals fight for an ever-growing state, one that locks in the vested interests of unions and big businesses. That is anti-change, which is...conservative!

Confused? It will only get worse.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Tea Party Is a Metaphor

Nothing, it seems, gets the media more in a lather than the idea of the Tea Party, so much so that they can't get their stories straight. One week, the Tea Party is dead, the next they are a potent force. That they are a force for evil goes without saying, of course.

The deposing of Eric Cantor is the latest happenstance that has apparently raised the Tea Party from the dead. What nobody seems to have noticed is that the Tea Party had nothing to do with Cantor's loss. Not in any literal sense, anyway. Understand there is no actual political party called the Tea Party. There is only a fairly motley collection of organizations such as the Tea Party Patriots that try to raise money for candidates. David Brat, the unknown professor who beat Cantor, had no financial support from any Tea Party organizations. Brat, in fact, spent all of $100,000. I'm guessing most of that was from friends and relatives.

What does exist, though, is a profoundly unhappy conservative base that isn't willing to give the Republican establishment too many more chances. This tension has existed for decades. It was once the Goldwater Republicans versus the Country Club Republicans. Later, it was Reagan Republicans versus Bush Republicans. Always, on the right, it has been about constitutional and limited government.

So, the "Tea Party" is simply what we call this faction now. If you are a limited government conservative, you are a Tea Partier, whether you sport a "Don't Tread on Me" bumper sticker or not. This is somewhat unfortunate, in a way, because once something has a name, it becomes easier to demonize - "Oh, you know all those Tea Baggers are racist, right?"

The interesting thing is that the Tea Party was (and is) one of the most truly spontaneous and widespread grass roots movements in our lifetimes. The big Washington rally a few years back was probably a thousand times larger than the entire "Occupy" movement. Many were getting involved in politics for the first time in their lives. To the media and the left, though, it is a toxic movement. Naturally, when the same sort of grass roots, political new-comers kind of movement got Barack Obama elected, it was hailed as the greatest thing to ever happen to our democracy.