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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Not Even An Attempt To Learn the Facts -- Typical Liberal Media

Do you ever read articles from VOX?  I do as part of an effort to see how the very liberal media is covering the news.  In case you don't know, VOX is a relatively new venture formed to "report the news" with a decidedly progressive slant.  Its biggest name is Ezra Klein, who formerly worked at the Washington Post and who left that position when the Post refused to fund a separate media outlet just for his views. 

This afternoon, I happened upon a rather typical VOX report.  This one came under the following headline:  "Why Egypt Just Freed Former Dictator Hosni Mubarak".  The first sentence of the article is "All remaining charges against former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak have been dismissed by the court hearing his case. He is free."  The article goes on to explain that the court was basically forced by the current "authoritarian ruler" of Egypt, president Sisi, to free Mubarak.

It is an amazing article in view of the truth.  As I write this, Mubarak is NOT free.  In fact, he is in the second year of a three year prison term for embezzlement while he was in office.  Neither that conviction nor Mubarak's prison term was affected by the recent court decision.  Mubarak is in prison and will be there for the remainder of his term.  On top of this, Mubarak is a very sick man who is unlikely to survive the next year and a half.  Most likely, he will die in prison.

What actually happened is that the Egyptian appellate court threw out the conviction of Mubarak in the trial court on the grounds of legal defects in the trial.  I have no way of knowing if the Egyptian judges who overturned the conviction were "pressured" by president Sisi, but, of course, neither does the reporter who wrote about why the judges made their decision.  In fact, we know that the Egyptian government says that it is going to appeal this latest court order.  It might be a ruse, but it ought to be mentioned in the story at a minimum.

It still amazes me that super liberal news sites like VOX don't even attempt to report the actual facts.  They just report their own beliefs and prejudices as if they were facts.  Just to be clear, let me report that it is not difficult to learn the truth about Mubarak's continuing imprisonment.  It took me about two minutes of searching at the site of Al Ahram, Egypt's largest news outlet, to get a full description of the current status of Mubarak and the fact that he will not be released.  I guess if you write for VOX, spending two minutes checking the facts is just too much to do, particularly when you already "know" what must have happened because your ideology calls for it to be true.



The Truth About Media

Two stories from this weekend demonstrate the truth about America's news media:

The first story is about a comment made on Twitter by someone who works on the staff of a Republican congressman from California.  The tweet criticized how Sasha and Malia Obama were dressed for a White House function.  It said that they looked more like they were ready to go to a bar than to attend a White House function.  The tweet was greeted with all sorts of criticism and it was deleted a few hours later.  Nevertheless, in the last two days, I have seen roughly ten articles at different news outlets discussing the tweet and just how "outrageous" it was.  Three of the articles accused the tweet of being "racist" and one even said that the tweet indicated that all Republicans were inherently racist.

Consider this story closely.  If you ever had the occasion to watch "Fashion Police" on cable TV, you know that the late Joan Rivers spent the last years of her career making nasty, snarky comments about clothes being worn by celebrities.  Her comments were much worse than anything in the tweet, but people just laughed at them.  Now some staffer makes a comment about what president Obama's daughters wore to a ceremony and it is horrible proof of racism that has to be spread across the entire news media?

The second story concerns a comment made by Obama at a bookstore yesterday when he saw Chuck Todd's new book that discusses Obama's failures as president.  Obama said that Todd is "sad".  That remark got much bigger coverage that the tweet about Sasha and Malia.  Admittedly, the remark came from the president of the United States, so it is much more newsworthy than the tweet story (although that is not saying much.)  The media is also now debating whether Obama meant that Todd is sad or that the picture of the president used by Todd on the jacket of his book makes Obama look sad.  Who really cares?  This is not front page news.

Now consider some of the news stories that have not been covered.  The battle for Kobani goes on in Syria with the Kurds defending the border town against ISIS.  Major battles were fought in the last few days and the ISIS forces began using car bombs to try to dislodge the Kurds.  If Kobani falls, it will be a major victory for ISIS, a major loss for the USA, and it will remake the strategic map of the area.  You still need to search carefully to get news about the ongoing battle, however.  Maybe the media would cover it if the Kurds made fun of the uniforms worn by the ISIS fighters or said that they look "angry".

Or how about a major story I read today in my local Connecticut paper.  The local Hearst papers which include the Stamford Advocate and the Greenwich Time, among others, ran a front page piece on the Sunday paper to discuss proposed improvements to the rail system in the region.  In this article, the reporter discussed a plan to use track improvements to decrease the travel time between New York City and Philadelphia to 33 minutes.  The reporter then explains that to reduce the time in that way would require major improvements in the track of the New Haven line in Connecticut.  Of course, travel from New York to Philadelphia goes south out of NYC and the New Haven line is north of NYC, so the two are completely unrelated. 

So we get erroneous stories and unimportant information from the media while they ignore what is really important.  It is the sad truth of American media.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

No Change Means No Hope

Writing in The Atlantic, Molly Ball has an interesting piece on the future of the Democrats.  Her focus is on the reaction in the party to the major defeat they suffered in the midterm elections.  Ball compares the reaction to the one that came from the Republicans after president Obama won re-election in 2012.  As with all of the punditry that analyzes an entire party, it is a vast oversimplification, but nevertheless, Ball does manage to get the essence correct (at least in my opinion.)  Here is the core of what Ball says:

Democrats today are convinced there's nothing wrong with what they stand for—if anything, they just need to stand for it louder and more aggressively.

There is a great deal of truth in this sentence.  Democrats see no need to change their policies, and that is shocking since those policies have been clearly rejected by the electorate.  The Democrats, however, are confident that they know better than the voters what is good for America.  Indeed, this outlook from the party is further proof of the viewpoint expressed by Jonathan Gruber, that Democrats think the voters are stupid.  In fact, the Democrat view is that voters are too stupid to even know what is best for them.

Think about this.  Two years ago, there was non-stop heckling from the media about how the Republicans had to change their positions and become more moderate or risk disappearing.  The media today says nothing about the Democrats changing positions.  Why is that?  The answer is that the media is one of the principal components of the Democrat party, and it sees no need for change despite the loss.  Or how about this?  President Obama won't even say in public that he and his party were soundly trounced in the election.  Instead of considering any change of course, Obama's reaction has been to move ahead in an unconstitutional manner to grant amnesty for illegal immigrants, a move which all the polls say is unpopular with the voters.  Or consider the reaction to what senator Schumer said the other day when he announced that it was a mistake for the Democrats to have focused on healthcare after winning in 2008.  There was a firestorm of protest in response and it was wholly from within the party.  One former White House staffer even denounced Schumer for not caring about sick people.

Let's put this all together.  Will the Democrats stop pushing Obamacare and help repeal it?  No, even though the public still votes by 3 to 2 against it.  Will the Democrats end the moves to fight non-existent global warming even though those moves cost America hundreds of thousands or even millions of jobs?  Here too, the answer is clearly negative despite falling public interest in the claims of climate change.  Will the Democrats start promoting economic growth?  Amazingly, the answer here remains NO.  Just this past week, Obama killed off chances to get a bipartisan deal in Congress that would have changed the tax code to provide important stimulus for America's economy.

It is amazing to watch the hubris of the Democrats in action.  The party is so certain that it knows better than the American people themselves what is good for the country that they are following a course that the voters have clearly disavowed.  This could all change by 2016 when the next president is chosen.  Nevertheless, if the outlook of the Democrats remains unchanged, their hopes of victory will be substantially reduced in 2016.  


Friday, November 28, 2014

Is It Time For the Next Topic?

The media is a tricky thing to figure out sometimes.  On occasion, they obsess over something and repeat it again and again for no apparent reason.  Consider how many people can recite the details about the Malaysian Airlines plane that "vanished" because entire networks (like CNN) became 24 hour update services about a story that required no updates except saying "nothing new today."  On other occasions, they ignore stories that clearly merit attention.  There are still major American networks that have not mentioned the story of Jonathan Gruber, the architect of Obamacare, who admits that president Obama expressly chose to lie to the American people about what the law was and what it would do in order to get it passed.

In the last two days, I have been amazed by the media's need to create stories.  For example, some media made a big deal about how protestors of the Ferguson grand jury decision "disrupted" the Macy's Thanksgiving parade in Manhattan.  It turns out that seven protesters tried to get on the parade route but were stopped by the New York police.  If you have ever been to that parade, you know that there must be at least ten times that number of people stopped by police each year when they drunkenly try to join the marchers.  The stories today do not mention if the "protesters" were drunk, but, if so, they would have fit right in.

And how about the stories discussing what a hard time president Obama is having finding a new secretary of defense.  Really?  All that has happened is that the White House leaked a few names and most of those mentioned told the press they were not interested.  So what is that story about in reality?  The answer is the incompetence of the White House.  Who, after all, leaks the name of a possible candidate for a position without first asking that candidate if he or she is interested?  The point of the leak or "trial balloon" as it is normally called, is to see if there is a groundswell of opposition to any of the potential nominees.  It is most certainly not meant as a method to tell the potential candidates that they are under consideration for the post.  But is it news that the Obama White House is incompetent?  Not really.  But the media not only covers the story, but they try to disguise it so that it does not even mention incompetence.  (Maybe the media folks just ate too much on Thanksgiving.  I know I did.)


Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Thanksgiving Spin From the White House

It really is amazing to watch the White House spin machine in action.  Just the other day, president Obama managed to kill the chances of a major bipartisan tax deal that was being finalized between senator Harry Reid and representative Dave Camp.  The deal would have provided all sorts of economic incentives for investment across America with the jobs and economic growth that would have resulted.  The deal would also have provided major relief for families who are struggling to pay for college costs as well as tax relief that helps support public transportation.  There were many other provisions in the deal, but the net effect would have been to promote economic growth and to help middle income Americans.  Obama threatened a veto, however, and the deal is now dead.  Those are the actual facts, but now we are getting the version of the Obama spin machine.

In the Politico today, we get reports that what actually happened is that in the negotiations, senator Reid together with senator Schumer of New York "abandoned" the priorities of the Democrats in order to lock in benefits for their own states.  As a result, the Democrats in the senate were "furious" at Reid and Schumer and moved away from supporting the compromise.  No mention or credit is given to the role of the Obama veto threat in killing the deal.

It is no big deal to hear another lie coming from the Obama White House.  Indeed, I keep expecting to learn that in some language the word "Obama" means "lies frequently".  Nevertheless, it is extraordinary that Obama and his staff would undermine the senate Democrat leadership as part of their lies.  Remember, senator Reid was just re-elected as the leader of the Democrats about a week ago.  Reid may be a disgusting person, but the senate Democrats still like him.  Schumer was also re-elected to his leadership position among the Democrats.  It is amazing that the president and his staff would take on these particular senators with lies when it is the president's own foolish veto threat that prevented passage of the bipartisan compromise tax bill.

I know that there have been a number of stories about the friction between Reid and Obama.  Nevertheless, one would think that someone in the White House would understand that attacking Reid and Schumer is not a good move by the Obamacrats.


It must Be Nice

At the moment, my house is a whirlwind of activity.  There is cooking in the kitchen, table-setting in the dining room, preparation of our "bar" in the living room, last minute clean up in other parts of the house, and general preparation activity before our guests arrive.  In the middle of all that, my daughter's dog, Bailey, just strolled into the room, yawned and sprawled out across the floor.  Just to show how relaxed she is, she rolled on her back and used the carpet to scratch her back.  Sometimes I think it must be nice to be a dog.


Three, That's the Number

As I write this, America is celebrating Thanksgiving and it is focused on family, food and football.  The rest of the world, however, is not concerned with our holiday.  In Iraq, ISIS forces are continuing an assault on the capital of Anbar province, the city of Ramadi.  That city is being defended by local tribesmen together with some Iraqi military forces.

This is a battle of major importance.  If the city falls, then the main outpost of resistance to ISIS in western Iraq will be gone.  ISIS will have consolidated its hold on a huge territory that spans both Iraqi and Syrian territory.  Even more important, this will be an enormous victory for the terrorists.  ISIS would have made clear that even with American support, the Iraqi army still cannot stand up to the ISIS fighters in a fixed battle.  Those Sunnis in the area who have thought about opposing ISIS will think twice before joining what seems to be the losing side.

In view of the great importance of this battle, one would think that the USA is going all out to support the Iraqi army with air power.  That thought, however, would be completely wrong.  According to reports, there have been three American air strikes in the battle zone since last Friday.  That comes out to one plane dropping a few bombs every other day.  It is an incomprehensible strategy.  (I apologize for calling this a "strategy" since that word implies that someone thought about the subject.)

I realize that president Obama is busy touring the country to promote his immigration order, a task he interrupts only to make his daily speech about Ferguson.  The national security team who work for Obama must all be on vacation or else they can't be bothered to pay attention to ISIS.  Secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel was just fired, so my guess is that he cannot even get his phone calls returned at the White House.  Nevertheless, someone better make sure Obama knows that we are facing a major disaster in Ramadi with ISIS.  It will not be enough for Obama to tell us some time next week that he only learned about the fighting in Ramadi from watching television and he is mad as hell that the US military did not do more to stop ISIS.

Three planes striking ISIS over six days is just not enough when we are dealing with the most important battle against ISIS in many months.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Right now, the big argument for Hillary Clinton being the Democrat nominee is that she is the only one who can beat the Republicans.  Her nomination in 2016 is "inevitable", or so we are told.  The truth is that Hillary's inevitability is looking less and less likely.

A year ago, Hillary was polling far ahead of all the potential Republican candidates.  Her lead over potential Democrat rivals was more than 50% in the polls.  Then came Hillary's book tour.  It was a total fiasco.  We learned from Mrs. Clinton that she and Bill were "dead broke" when they left the White House, even though Bill had a deal for his memoirs that gave him an advance payment of more than ten million dollars.  Indeed, Hillary did not back off from her claims of poverty despite Bill and she getting literally hundreds of thousands of dollars for each speech they gave (and there were many).  It is not often that people worth more than one hundred million dollars claim to be dead broke.

It was not just the claim of poverty that hurt, however,  Hillary's book tour was wooden and filled with other flubs.  The crowds were small and the book sales were even smaller.  The entire tour was a disaster.

That tour was followed by more mistakes coming from the Clinton camp.  Hillary put her foot in her mouth so often that it started to look like some sort of fetish.

Then came the campaign.  Hillary actively hit the trail for a large number of Democrat candidates.  So did Bill.  Only a few of those candidates she supported won, however.  Even in Arkansas, a state which ought to be swayed by the Clintons, the candidates supported by Hillary were smashed on election day.  So Hillary demonstrated that she had no ability to attract voters to the Democrats.  Even worse, she managed to commit more unforced errors as she spoke to the media.  Perhaps the most notable error was when she told a crowd that businesses do not create jobs.  That mistake was laughable, but it was far from the only one in the campaign.

Things went so poorly for Hillary during the campaign that her favorability ratings plummeted to the point where they are now upside down.  Depending on the poll, something like 7% more American voters have a negative view of Hillary than a positive one.  In the exit polling on election day, Hillary was matched against a generic "Republican presidential candidate" she lost badly.  Hillary got only 40% of the vote in that poll.

Since election day, the poor results have continued for Mrs. Clinton.  Today, for example, Quinipiac released a poll showing her with just a lead of 1% in a head to head match up with New Jersey governor Chris Christie.  If Hillary with all her name recognition can only manage a one percent lead over someone like Christie (and all his many negatives), the claim of her "inevitability" is clearly phony.

In the last month, Democrats have been distancing themselves from president Obama.  Just this week, Chuck Schumer actually said that the party's focus on passing Obamacare was a mistake.  Most likely, we will soon see some other Democrats move towards challenging the no-longer inevitable Mrs. Clinton for the nomination.  Indeed, if Hillary's numbers continue to fall, I doubt if she will even run.  Remember, in the last six months as her numbers collapsed, Hillary hasn't had to actually announce positions on the issues of the day.  If she decides to run, that will all change.  Hillary will have to tell us if she supports Obama's unconstitutional actions on immigration.  Hillary will have to tell us if she opposes the tax measures that Obama today threatened to veto.  Hillary will have to tell us her reaction to the riots in Ferguson.  While Hillary may please many in her party with her positions, there will be many others who will become disenchanted with Mrs. Clinton.  For Hillary, happy days are not here again.