Stories The Media Tells Itself

November 8, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Yglesias is irked by them:

Back when Republicans were unpopular because of the poor economy in late 2008, Barack Obama’s calm demeanor amidst economic crisis was said to be key to his popularity. Then when Democrats became unpopular because of the poor economy in late 2009, Barack Obama’s calm demeanor amidst economic crisis was said to be the key to his unpopularity. But if the economy improves, then conventional wisdom about every single aspect of Obama’s personality and policy agenda will pivot around that fact. With the economy in the dumps, the health care bill is liberal overreach. If the economy improves, the health care bill will be said to demonstrate the genius of pushing a moderate proposal with no public option. Just you wait.

Having been through this cycle a couple more times than Matt has, even I have been struck by the lame predictability of the media's sudden turn.

Nothing we didn't know - but confirmation nonetheless: too many in the media don't have any view but what is outside themselves. They're afraid to be biased, and therefore too quick to jump on what seems like the majority mood at any time. I remain of the view that Obama's temperament is still a great asset; as his attention to policy; and his obvious mixture of great egotism and epistemic modesty. I think he understands that playing the GOP political narrative game can trap you. Politics is not a game, in his view. And in the end, I suspect Americans will go with the adult, not the swooning adolescents.



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The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Stories The Media Tells Itself

November 8, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Yglesias is irked by them:

Back when Republicans were unpopular because of the poor economy in late 2008, Barack Obama’s calm demeanor amidst economic crisis was said to be key to his popularity. Then when Democrats became unpopular because of the poor economy in late 2009, Barack Obama’s calm demeanor amidst economic crisis was said to be the key to his unpopularity. But if the economy improves, then conventional wisdom about every single aspect of Obama’s personality and policy agenda will pivot around that fact. With the economy in the dumps, the health care bill is liberal overreach. If the economy improves, the health care bill will be said to demonstrate the genius of pushing a moderate proposal with no public option. Just you wait.

Having been through this cycle a couple more times than Matt has, even I have been struck by the lame predictability of the media's sudden turn.

Nothing we didn't know - but confirmation nonetheless: too many in the media don't have any view but what is outside themselves. They're afraid to be biased, and therefore too quick to jump on what seems like the majority mood at any time. I remain of the view that Obama's temperament is still a great asset; as his attention to policy; and his obvious mixture of great egotism and epistemic modesty. I think he understands that playing the GOP political narrative game can trap you. Politics is not a game, in his view. And in the end, I suspect Americans will go with the adult, not the swooning adolescents.



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The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

California Votes Itself Into Insolvency

November 8, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 


One of the unfortunate aspects of the recent elections were the results from California. The electorate literally voted to commit economic suicide.

First of all, there’s the resurgence of Governor Jerry Brown, a tax-and-spend Leftist who did a great deal to make California a hostage of the public employee unions by being the first governor to allow unionized state employees to donate to politicians. He won decisively, along with his fellow Democrats in most statewide offices, including former San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsome as Lieutenant Governor.

Brown and his partners in crime are armed with several initiatives the voters passed. Prop 25 destroys one of the few protections left to the voters - the requirement of a two thirds majority to pass a budget, which essentially neuters the few conservatives in Sacramento, puts the staste under one party Democrat rule and leaves the way open to all sorts on things eligible to be included in the budget; tax increases, bond proposals, more draconian environmental regulations, you name it.While Governor Brown insists that he’ll go to the voters with any new tax increases, let’s just say that his record of veracity on such things is almost non-existent.

The chief target will likely be Proposition 13, an initiative passed in 1978 that limits the percentage and frequency with which property taxes can be raised. Brown and his fellow Democrats see that there is still some cash in California’s homes and business properties, and like Gollum in Lord of the Rings, they wants it, they wants it, My Precioussss.

The voters also defeated Prop 23, which would have suspended AB32, California’s ridiculous ‘greenhouse gas’ bill until California’s unemployment is back down below 5.5% for four consecutive quarters. The voters also passed of Prop 24, which repeals one of the few tax breaks given to businesses in California. Both actions will kill jobs and worsent th e state’s already poisonous business climate, the worst in the country. And AB32 will raise energy and food prices and hasten the state’s demise, especially in the hands of a hard line environmental ideologue like Jerry Brown .

One small bright spot in the carnage was the passing of Prop 20 and the defeat of Prop 25, which means that a non-partisan civilian panel will do redistricting rather than the State Legislature drawing the lines. That may help in time, but with more of the more productive classes - those that can sell their homes and businesses and get out- leaving every day, that may not matter so much in the end.

The State of California is essentially bankrupt. It faces a huge budget deficit of almost $ 70 billion, massive underfunded public-employee obligations in pensions and health care to the tune of $ 500 billion and huge costs associated with the influx of illegal aliens. The state is borrowing around $ 40 million per day from the feds already just to fund unemployment benefits to the one in eight Californians out of a job, and will have to somehow come up with a $ 362-million payment to Washington by the end of next September.

The public schools which used to rank among the best in the nation have deteriorated to the point of being near the bottom of the list in test scores, although California is still near the top of the list when it comes to tax dollars spent per pupil. Even the state’s once burgeoning agricultural industry is failing thanks to environmental regulations that shut off badly needed water to the farmers in the state’s rich Central Valley to protect the homes of the two-inch Delta smelt.

Instead of dealing with reality, California’s voters not only chose to continue along the same path but voted to turn up the music by voting for politicians who are actually going to accelerate the run up to insolvency.

The rude awakening will come when the state turns to DC for a bailout. While Obama might be willing to turn on the printing presses and comply, Red State voters are unlikely to be willing to screw over their own economies to pay for the party.

Elections have consequences, and the sound you just heard was a once great state flushing itself down the toilet.The people of California have spoken.


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J O S H U A P U N D I T

“I myself take joy in the kill itself. It’s a tradition.”

November 7, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

He said this in connection with sacrificing a lamb, but kuffar may be pardoned for having a Juan-Williams-like reaction to statements like that from Muslims. In any case, here is a Muslims-are-victims story designed to compel Ontario to revise its livestock slaughtering laws to accommodate Muslims. Once again, the accommodation is always one way and one way only. “Lamb sacrifice fines worry Ottawa Muslims,” from CBC News, November 6 (thanks to James):

Some Muslims in Canada’s capital region are worried that they may be fined for sacrificing lambs during November’s Eid al-Adha celebrations.

Since 2005 it has been illegal in Ontario for anyone but the owner of a licensed abattoir to buy livestock and slaughter it independently. Last fall, a Muslim man was fined $ 2,000 for slaughtering and distributing lamb, and another man is scheduled to appear in court next week for killing a pig.

Abed Abufarha used to celebrate Eid by going to farms to slaughter lambs himself. But this year he will head to an abattoir in Pakenham, Ont., to get his lamb meat. He said the regulations have changed a tradition he used to bring his family to.

“It’s getting really serious. They’re just so sharp about it. They want to stop it right away,” said Abufarha. “There’s big fines for slaughtering meat outside of a slaughterhouse.”

Many Muslims in the Ottawa area have begun booking lambs to sacrifice for their Eid feast on Nov. 16, and say they’ll risk killing the animals themselves. Akram Elmuradi has already paid for 10 live lambs he plans to sacrifice with friends.

“I myself take joy in the kill itself,” Elmuradi said. “It’s a tradition. … Nobody’s going to stop you from doing something you believe in.”…

Jihad Watch

Fox News Pats Itself On The Back, Announces Promotions

November 4, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Fox News’s Deputy Bureau Chief Bryan Boughton on Thursday sent a memo to his staff congratulating them for “stellar performance” on Election Night and announcing promotions.

“Fox News had an amazing political season leading up to our stellar performance on election night,” Boughton writes in the memo obtained by Hotline On Call. “We averaged seven million viewers and put together comprehensive coverage throughout the day. Your work helped make this possible and you should be proud of your role in this amazing feat.”

With the 2010 election cycle behind them, Boughton writes that Fox News needs to be “moving forward” to “focus on our next major goal 2012.” He added that “it promises to be another amazing campaign to see who will reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave and a renewed battle for control of Congress. … Some of the challenges will be the stories we cover others come as we continue to change the way Fox News operates.”

Boughton notes that FNC will be “rebuilding” their Master Control Center in order to make it possible to “transition to a tapeless newsroom.”

Boughton also announced a few staff promotions in the DC bureau.

Doug Rohrbeck, who is currently senior producer on “Special Report”, moves up to the Executive Producer slot.

Dave Shott will now manage Special Events coverage and FNC’s role in the pool reports.

Catherine Loper helms the newsroom team while Anita Siegfriedt jumps up to Senior White House producer of the White House unit.

And Peter Doocy, FNC anchor Steve Doocy’s son, will joins the DC bureau’s team of reporters.

Full memo after the jump.

Hotline On Call

Gawker Tries To Explain Itself

October 30, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

The universal, or nearly so at least, criticism directed at Gawker for its tawdry Christine O’Donnell “exclusive” prompted a response from the publisher in which they try to justify publishing what nearly everyone considered a pretty cheap shot:

Yesterday, we published the anonymous account of a young man from Philadelphia who had a naked sleepover with Delaware GOP senatorial candidate Christine O’Donnell three years ago. Some people did not like that! Here’s why we’d do it again.

Three general lines of argument have emerged attacking the post: 1) Politicians’ intimate sexual encounters—or at least this intimate sexual encounter—ought to be off-limits; 2) O’Donnell is a woman, and publishing accounts of her sexual behavior amounts to sexist “slut-shaming”; and 3) Nothing in the account we published directly contradicts O’Donnell’s public stances.

(…)

What’s missing from most of the criticism is this essential bit of context: Christine O’Donnell is seeking federal office based in part on her self-generated, and carefully tended, image as a sexually chaste woman. She lies about who she is; she tells that lie in service of an attempt to impose her private sexual values on her fellow citizens; and she’s running for Senate. We thought information documenting that lie—that O’Donnell does not live a chaste life as she defines the word, and in fact hops into bed, naked and drunk, with men that she’s just met—was of interest to our readers.

(…)

Our problem with O’Donnell—and the reason that the information we published about her is relevant—is that she has repeatedly described herself and her beliefs in terms that suggest that there is something wrong with hopping into bed, naked and drunk, with a man or woman whom one has just met. So that fact that she behaves that way, while publicly condemning similar behavior, in the context of an attempt to win a seat in the United States Senate, is a story we thought people might like to know about. We also thought it would get us lots of clicks and money and attention. But we thought it would get us clicks and money and attention because it was exposing her lies.

I know that I’m being more than a little naive to expect journalistic standards from a website that panders to people’s base desires, but the logic employed here is extraordinarily weak.

For one thing, the idea that O’Donnell has made chastity an issue in her campaign at all is simply untrue. It doesn’t appear on her website, it’s never come up during a debate, and as far as I know it isn’t part of her stump speeches or campaign literature. The only reason we know about it is because of the tapes that Bill Maher released of her appearances on Politically Incorrect in the 90s. Those tapes are fair game in the campaign, of course, and they’ve revealed a woman who, in her thirties, appeared on television talking about witchcraft, evolution, and her opposition to masturbation. Does that make them a campaign issue, though, and does it mean that we’re free to delve into the most personal aspects of someone’s life ?

I don’t think it’s any secret what I think of Christine O’Donnell. She’s not a serious person, she takes positions on issues that are simply unsupported by law or history, and she still refuses to answer serious questions about her past campaigns for pubic office. If I lived in Delaware, I wouldn’t vote for her (I probably wouldn’t vote for Chris Coons either, just to be clear about it). None of that means, however, that I find it acceptable for a media outlet to publish an anonymous article about an incident that may or may not have occurred three years ago, at least not when it’s an article about something that’s purely personal. What Christine O’Donnell may or may not have done in private on October 31, 2007 isn’t relevant in a campaign for the Senate in 2010.

Like I said, I don’t expect a site like Gawker to have very much integrity, journalistic or otherwise, but to try to justify what was clearly just a sleazy personal attack as a legitimate foray into the political world is, I think, beyond the pale.

And let’s be honest here. Gawker didn’t publish this article because of some desire to inform the voters of Delaware. They published it to get web traffic. I hope they enjoyed the one day jump in traffic the article gave them, because it also managed to find away to get me, Sarah Palin, Chris Coons, the left and right blogosphere, and the National Organization for Women on the same side in recognizing that Gawker is a site run by cheap hacks.




Outside the Beltway

Simplicity itself

October 30, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

(Paul)

The Washington Post ran an article today about Newt Gingrich called “Out of the Wilderness and into the Mix for 2012.” The writer, Karen Tumulty, seems confident that Gingrich is interested in running for president, and I have no reason to doubt that he is. I also agree with Tumulty’s suggestion that if Sarah Palin decides not to run, Gingrich’s prospects for gaining the Republican nomination might be pretty good.

Gingrich would bring considerable strengths and considerable weakness to the race. In this respect, he’s like all of the other presumed main contenders. So why shouldn’t he be in the mix, if that’s what he wants?

Gingrich has always been a big picture idea guy. This, I suppose, is both a strength and a weakness for him.

According to Tumulty, Gingrich’s latest big idea is that “2+2=4.” It has the virtue of being true.

The point, apparently, is to present a simple affirmation that conservative principles are grounded in fact. As a slogan, it beats “I’m right and you’re wrong.”

Gingrich reportedly has called 2+2=4 “the most important governing concept over the next 20 to 25 years.” If you say so, Newt; you’re the big idea guy.




Power Line

UNRWA distances itself from the truth

October 26, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

A couple of days ago, an outgoing UNRWA official said something that was actually useful, for once:

Andrew Whitley, due to soon leave his post as director of the United Nations Refugee and Works Agency’s New York office, told the National Council for US-Arab Relations’ annual conference that…Palestinians must start acknowledging that the refugees will almost certainly not be returning to Israel, so that they can improve their situation.

Palestinians have long maintained a “right of return” to Israel and the homes they – or their ancestors – fled during Israel’s 1948/49 War of Independence. The issue has been one of the most difficult to resolve in peace negotiations.

If one doesn’t start a discussion soon with the refugees for them to consider what their own future might be – for them to start debating their own role in the societies where they are rather than being left in a state of limbo where they are helpless but preserve rather the cruel illusions that perhaps they will return one day to their homes – then we are storing up trouble for ourselves,” he declared.

Whitley acknowledged that few Palestinians or even officials in his own organization have been willing to publicly discuss the issue.

“We recognize, as I think most do, although it’s not a position that we publicly articulate, that the right of return is unlikely to be exercised to the territory of Israel to any significant or meaningful extent,” he said.

“It’s not a politically palatable issue, it’s not one that UNRWA publicly advocates, but nevertheless it’s a known contour to the issue.”

So how predictable was this? From UNRWA:

UNRWA unequivocally distances itself from the statements made by the Director of its office in New York, Andrew Whitley, at the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations in Washington on 22 October 2010. These statements in no way reflect the policies or positions of the Agency and are the personal views of Mr Whitley.

Because it is better to pretend a problem doesn’t exist than to tackle it.

Elder of Ziyon

U.S. Has Only Itself to Blame for Tourist’s Murder: La Jornada, Mexico

October 22, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

The investigation into the disappearance of U.S. tourist David Hartley by narco-trafficking pirates in Mexico has raised the hackles of U.S. officials, who are exasperated by the lack of progress in the probe and the general lawlessness across the border. But according to this editorial from Mexico’s La Jornada, Mexicans hold the United States responsible - not only for Hartley’s presumed death, but for the entire drug war that may have caused it.

The editorial from La Jornada says in part:

It is fitting here to recall that this phenomenon is the price Mexico has been obliged to pay in consequence of a war that’s essentially alien to us. This war has gestated, on the one hand, due to the production and trade of firearms and the insatiable demand for drugs on U.S. territory; and on the other, by the policies of prohibition and frontal attack on the production and distribution of narcotics that, with support of governments that have given in to its demands, Washington has managed to impose on the region.

Thus, while social, political and institutional normalcy in Mexico is collapsing as a result of the actions of criminal groups, the trafficking, distribution and consumption of illegal narcotics continues as usual in U.S. cities, without news of shootings, executions and drug-related kidnappings in that country.

Moreover, the consternation and dismay expressed by the U.S. secretary of state on the occasion of this murder is in stark contrast to the lack of similar words expressed about the countless cases of Mexicans killed in the neighboring country, be it by xenophobic groups, criminal organizations or the authorities themselves. Significantly, since the founding of the entity in 1924, no member of the U.S. Border Patrol has been declared culpable of homicide, and only two of its agents have ever appeared in court accused of murder. This, despite the many cases of unjustified deaths of migrants - many of them Mexican - at the hands of that organization.

READ ON AT WORLDMEETS.US, your most trusted translator and aggregator of foreign news and views about our nation.


The Moderate Voice

Conservative Latino Coalition Distances Itself From Founder And His Ad Telling Latinos Not To Vote

October 21, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Today, Capital Wire posted a press release issued by the conservative Latino Coalition denouncing the controversial ads released by Latinos for Reform, another right-leaning political group, which told Latinos not to vote. Latino Coalition president Hector V. Barreto stated:

The Latino Coalition believes in holding all our elected representatives accountable, by actively participating in the democratic process. At the heart of this process is our right and duty as citizens to vote. That we have not achieved Comprehensive Immigration Reform, yet, should motivate us to deepen our participation, not withdraw to the sidelines. [...] What is clear is that any message of abstention to Latinos is terribly ill-founded and contrary to our best interests.

Earlier this week, the president of Latinos for Reform, Robert de Posada, tried to tell MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell that the Spanish-version of the ad was more tempered and only called on Latinos not to vote for candidates who betrayed them (the Spanish ad vaguely makes this point, but later clearly tells them not to vote at all). Also, when O’Donnell pointed out that “there are no other Latino organizations on board with this,” de Posada told him that he was simply listening to “a group of [Latino] leaders in Washington, DC who depend on access to the White House.”

Watch de Posada’s interview on MSNBC:

The Latino Coalition’s statement debunks de Posada’s first claim: “the spot’s Spanish translation deviates significantly from its English version, by widening blame to both political parties –as opposed to its English counterpart, which focuses on Democrats – and urging Latino voters not to vote in any election, as opposed to the specific instruction in the English-language spot not to vote in Congressional races only.”

Furthermore, the Latino Coalition also doesn’t have much to do with the current White House. In fact, what their press release curiously doesn’t mention is that the Latino Coalition was founded and led by Robert de Posada himself.

De Posada told Talking Points Memo earlier this week that he created the Hispanic Business Roundtable in 1994, which later became the Latino Coalition which he led until 2007. In fact, when Barreto became president, de Posada issued a statement saying “As national chairman, Hector Barreto will be a leader that helps set the
community on the right course to greater prosperity.”

Wonk Room

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