Archive for the Media Category

When a Shutdown’s Not a Shutdown.

Posted in Conservatism, Economy, Environment, Health Care, Media, Politics with tags , , on October 8, 2013 by Cannon

Mark Steyn brilliantly puts the government shutdown crisis in perspective.  To wit:

This week’s “shutdown” of government, for example, suffers (at least for those of us curious to see it reduced to Somali levels) from the awkward fact that the overwhelming majority of the government is not shut down at all. Indeed, much of it cannot be shut down. Which is the real problem facing America. “Mandatory spending” (Social Security, Medicare, et al.) is authorized in perpetuity — or, at any rate, until total societal collapse. If you throw in the interest payments on the debt, that means two-thirds of the federal budget is beyond the control of Congress’s so-called federal budget process. That’s why you’re reading government “shutdown” stories about the PandaCam at the Washington Zoo and the First Lady’s ghost-Tweeters being furloughed.

Nevertheless, just because it’s a phony crisis doesn’t mean it can’t be made even phonier. The perfect symbol of the shutdown-simulacrum so far has been the World War II Memorial. This is an open-air facility on the National Mall — that’s to say, an area of grass with a monument at the center. By comparison with, say, the IRS, the National Parks Service is not usually one of the more controversial government agencies. But, come “shutdown,” they’re reborn as the shock troops of the punitive bureaucracy. Thus, they decided to close down an unfenced open-air site — which oddly enough requires more personnel to shut than it would to keep it open.

When the Democrats had control of both the House and Senate. as well as the White House, they pushed through the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.  No Republican voted for Obamacare.  If Obamacare were to come before lawmakers today, it certainly would not pass.  Yet, all we hear from supporters of the act is that it is established law, and debate should cease.  It sounds a lot like global warming (a.k.a. climate change).  Carbon’s destroying the environment.  It’s settled science, so shut up.

Do you get the feeling that we’re living in a time where molding perception is far, far more common that facing reality?  The federal government is running record deficits, piling up record debt.  Current entitlements are set to go broke in the years to come.  Just north of 63% of adults are participants in the labor force.  That’s the lowest rate since 1978.  However, we have to enact another huge entitlement we can’t afford because it’s “established law.”  Really?  That’s your best argument?  Obama’s unilaterally handed out exemptions even after the law was “established.”

Democrats are depending on most Americans being ignorant of what’s really going on.  They shutdown elements of the government which are easily highlighted in the media.  Hopefully, turning veterans and other citizens away from “an area of grass with a monument in the center” won’t just reflect negatively on Republicans.  It should reflect negatively on us all.  Some of us are being manipulated while others are willing perpetuators of a narrative that favors bolstering future political support through government programs over solving a fiscal dilemma that will certainly cause massive amounts of pain in the near future.

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Demonizing Republicans and Tea Partiers

Posted in Health Care, Media, Politics with tags , , , , , on March 25, 2010 by Cannon

Most media outlets (and I use that term loosely) have been less than subtle in trashing the tea party movement ever since they identified it as a threat to their collective left-wing agenda.  Since the passing of ObamaCare, that effort has only intensified.  However, with Republicans working to integrate much of the tea party element into their own base of support, these outlets are also doing their best to make the GOP look like those “crazies” whom they associate with the tea partiers.  We’re talking about the minuscule outer fringe.  Timothy Egan of the New York Times (surprise, surprise) illustrates my point by engaging in this rather trite exercise:

From the leader of the opposition, at least, was expected a level of decorum. But instead, Rep. John Boehner, the Republican who wants to be the next speaker of the House, predicted “Armageddon,” and shouted “Hell, no!,” his perma-tan turning crimson in rage.

Most of these vignettes are isolated incidents — a few crazies going off in a vein-popping binge. But the Republican Party now has taken some of the worst elements of Tea Party anger and incorporated them into its own identity. They are ticked off, red-faced, frothing — and these are the men in suits.

Having welcomed Tea Party rage into their home, and vowing repeal, the Republicans have made a dangerous bargain. First, they are tying their fate to a fringe, one that includes a small faction of overt racists and unstable people. The Quinnipiac poll this week found only 13 percent of Americans say they are part of the Tea Party movement.

I suppose Egan should get some credit for acknowledging that the most distasteful of his examples are “isolated incidents.”  Like his characterization of John Boehner’s speech, the Times writer’s assessment of the GOP opposition is completely off the mark.  While Egan sees Republican opposition as a hurdle in front of the liberal quest for better health care through the strong arm of the federal government, much of the country sees that quest for what it is:  a fantasy.  More specifically, it will cost trillions of taxpayer dollars, further empower the federal government and likely damage the positive aspects of the current health care marketplace.

WSJ.com’s James Taranto takes on a supposed examination of the right-wing fringe contingent that’s taking over the Republican Party:

“Scary New GOP Poll,” reads the headline at The Daily Beast. In the article, “Wingnuts” author John Avlon declares that “Obama Derangement Syndrome–pathological hatred of the president posing as patriotism–has infected the Republican Party.” The poll, he claims, “demonstrates the cost of the campaign of fear and hate that has been pumped up in the service of hyper-partisanship over the past 15 months. We are playing with dynamite by demonizing our president and dividing the United States in the process.”

There’s another methodological problem, which points to the nexus between the science and the art of polling. The survey includes only people who actually answer the crazy questions asked. So if your reaction to the guy on the street at the top of this column was to step up your pace and get away from him (which corresponds to saying “this is nuts” and closing your browser window), your opinion would not affect the outcome–but if you happen to be a Republican, Harris’s methodology imputes to you a likelihood of holding crazy views.

It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the survey was designed to make Republicans, and only Republicans, look unhinged. The press release states: “The very large numbers of people who believe all these things of President Obama help to explain the size and strength of the Tea Party Movement.” This presupposes that the tea-party movement centers on crazy beliefs about Obama, a view that the poll provides no evidence to support.

For balance, such a poll might have included a series of crazy statements about polarizing Republican figures like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney or Sarah Palin. This would at least give some indication of whether Republicans have a greater propensity than Democrats to believe “scary” things.

For better or worse, there will always be people at each end of the political continuum with over-the-top views on certain matters.  What I see in the conflation of the right-wing fringe with the core of the GOP and, really, most who oppose ObamaCare, is an effort to discredit the legitimate arguments against a vast government intrusion by slandering those who are putting forth said arguments.  I mean, that’s a whole lot easier than actually debating the opposition directly, especially if one doesn’t have an answer for their opponents.  This entire left-wing slander initiative should be filed under “if you say it enough, most voters may believe it to be true.”

The Obama-Fox Health Care Collision

Posted in Health Care, Media, Politics with tags , , , , on March 20, 2010 by Cannon

I’m not referring to the former Mexican president, Vicente Fox.  Earlier this week, Bret Baier of Fox News interviewed President Obama.  The topic of conversation, of course, was health care.  What else is there, right?  I’ll start by addressing Geraldo Rivera and others who feel that Baier failed to show the president the proper amount of respect.  If you watch the interview, you’ll see Baier pitch short, to the point questions followed by Obama unleashing long, vague explanations about the virtues of his reform.  On several occasions Baier interrupted the president’s filibuster attempt with hopes of steering Obama back to the question at hand.  That’s what I saw, anyway.  I suppose some are of the opinion that the president should not be interrupted at all costs, and that’s fine.  I just don’t know what the point of an interview is if that rule must be followed.  As Dana Perino – a person vehemently despised by much of the left-wing echo chamber – suggested, the administration should have scheduled a press conference during the hour of Baier’s show.  The Fox audience would have been reached, and the president would have largely avoided difficult questions.

The more important, and unsurprising, conclusion that one can draw from the interview is that Obama isn’t going to get into any specifics about how this health care reform thing is going to achieve its stated goals.  It’s supposed to save money by extracting inefficiencies from the current system.  Amazingly, the federal government hasn’t been able to perform this magic on the postal service, Medicare, Social Security or the plethora of other endeavors ventured into by politicians.  It’s unbelievable that Democrats can tout this selling point with a straight face; it’s so absurd.

But wait, people currently suffering without insurance will have insurance.  The reason why many don’t have insurance is that it’s cost prohibitive.  The president can’t wave a magic wand and make health coverage cheaper while simultaneously increasing the quantity of care.  Someone must pay in some form or fashion.  There have to be people profiting by directly providing care (think doctors and nurses), and there also have to be bodies providing financial backing (think consumers via insurance companies and/or the federal government).  It would seem that the sensible thing to do would be to streamline the system, making it easier for patients to obtain care while cultivating a system that’s attractive for providers.  The Democrats’ answer is to squeeze insurance companies and empower the helping hand of big government to take from some to provide for others.  Despite what proponents of the current plan(s) state, adoption of a bill resembling what’s passed the Senate will lead to both more deficit spending and a permanent drag on the private sector due to the government trying to recoup expenses through taxes of all kinds.  With no natural rationing device like price, the government will have to find a way to ration services unless more health care professionals can be produced to meet the needs of all the new customers.

You just know that there has to be all kinds of taxes, fees, dictates, etc. in what’s probably several thousand pages of political gibberish.  It’s kind of like a credit card application.  There are likely some draconian fees in there if you can just find them.  It does appear that Democrats aren’t going to use the “Slaughter rule.”  The use of the aptly named procedural tactic would be the perfect topping on already unseemly cake.

Missing the Point With “Too Big to Fail”

Posted in Economy, Media, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2009 by Cannon

If you’ve been paying much attention to financial and quasi-financial news, you’ve probably been bombarded on numerous occasions with the phrase “too big too fail.”  Matter of fact, I just started reading Andrew Ross Sorkin’s book by the same name which is really pretty damn interesting and worth checking out if you’re at all interested in the mortgage crisis.  Sorkin’s book is beside the point, however.  At some point in time, it was decided by the politicians, regulators, and the media that the size of the financial institutions are to blame for the melting down of the economy.  Supposedly, banks like Citigroup, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and related financial firms like Goldman Sachs and AIG are so large that their very existences put the rest of the financial system at risk.  We can’t let them fail due to the cascading turmoil which would likely infect the other, smaller institutions and eventually the entire economy.  It’s like the banking version of H1N1.

Without a doubt, these massive companies play an integral role in the American financial landscape.  I would hate to see one of them fail.  Banks provide much of the infrastructure for the business transactions which occurr every second of everyday.  Because they’re so important, the federal government stands behind them with the FDIC and the extremely powerful Federal Reserve.  If, perhaps, the bulk of depositors of any commercial bank were to decide one day to withdraw their funds for whatever reason, the bank in question could not cover them without the help of the Federal Reserve.  As everyone knows, a bank’s not just an elaborate-looking safe.  It must take the funds deposited there and loan them to others (businesses, individuals, municipalities, etc.) in order to be profitable.  That’s sort of banking at it’s most basic level.  Banking, however, has evolved – some might prefer the term devolved – over the years. Continue reading

Obama’s Strong-Arm Tactics

Posted in Media, Politics with tags , , , , , on October 23, 2009 by Cannon

Kim Strassel adeptly encapsulated the White House’s treatment of those who dare to disagree with their policies – talk radio, Fox News, politicians of both parties, and the Chamber of Commerce to name a few.  To wit:

What makes these efforts notable is that they are not the lashing out of a frustrated political operation. They are calculated campaigns, designed to create bogeymen, to divide the opposition, to frighten players into compliance. The White House sees a once-in-a-generation opportunity on health care and climate. It is obsessed with winning these near-term battles, and will take no prisoners. It knows that CEOs are easily intimidated and (Fox News ratings aside) it is getting some of its way. Besides, roughing up conservatives gives the liberal blogosphere something to write about besides Guantanamo.

The Oval Office might be more concerned with the long term. It is 10 months in; more than three long years to go. The strategy to play dirty now and triangulate later is risky. One day, say when immigration reform comes due, the Chamber might come in handy. That is if the Chamber isn’t too far gone.

White House targets also aren’t dopes. The corporate community is realizing that playing nice doesn’t guarantee safety. The health executives signed up for reform, only to remain the president’s political piñatas. It surely grates that the unions—now running their own ads against ObamaCare—haven’t been targeted. If the choice is cooperate and get nailed, or oppose and possibly win, some might take that bet.

While these smear campaigns and freeze outs may yield fruit in terms of rallying the liberal base, I can’t see it doing any long-term good with the bulk of voters.  Ms. Strassel is completely correct in her speculation that the president will likely want, or need, the help of some of the very people he’s chosen to vilify.  It may be easy for Obama and company to say one thing one day and then completely change course the next, but the memories of most are at least a bit longer.  He’s won the presidency.  It’s time to do a little more presiding and a little less campaigning.  Of course, the fray between the Obama team and Fox might also serve as a smoke screen of sorts to divert the public’s attention from the proposed health care bill.

I will give a tip of the hat to the major network’s and CNN for standing up to the White House and thwarting their plan to keep Fox from interviewing the “pay czar”  while allowing the others in the media pool time with Mr. Feinberg.  Go here to read more on that.  Whether you like Fox or not, the actions of the White House in limiting them access are way out of line.  It’s a far cry from the openness espoused by President Obama during his presidential campaign.  At least, the other major media outlets seem to be recognizing this now.

If Fox can be frozen out, the same tactics can easily be applied to other networks and journalists.  Either they stand up now or risk being pawns of the Obama team for the duration of the next four years.  Cowhering from a bully generally doesn’t result in a viable outcome for the one being bullied.  I wish “progressives” felt more of a call to bully those who want to destroy the United States (Iran comes to mind) instead of focusing their scorched earth techniques on domestic opposition (and perceived opposition) to their ideology.  What’s so “progressive” about wanting to squash civil debate, anyway?

Fun Political Quotation

Posted in Media, Politics with tags , , , , on October 22, 2009 by Cannon

From James Taranto of WSJ.com:

President Obama’s promise to empty the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has run into a little obstacle: It turns out the place is full of terrorists! Like everything else, this is not Obama’s fault. The terrorists are there because George W. Bush put them there, leaving poor Obama once again stuck cleaning up someone else’s mess.

I love sarcasm when done correctly.  This is sarcasm mixed with a lot of truth.  Beautiful.

Mark Levin Writes Wildly Successful Book, Beacons of Liberal Media Don’t Review It

Posted in Conservatism, Media with tags , , , on October 1, 2009 by Cannon

This news is oldish in nature, but worth pointing out.  Mark Levin, conservative radio show host and constitutional law expert, wrote a little book titled Liberty and Tyranny:  A Conservative Manifesto.  This particular read has now cleared the one million mark for copies sold, and it maintained the top position on the New York Times non-fiction bestseller list for 24 straight weeks.  It’s currently at number seven.  Funny thing, the New York Times and the Washington Post haven’t reviewed the book.  I guess since it wasn’t by Paul Krugman, or someone else of that ilk, the book should be ignored.

Well, I’m proud to have read Liberty and Tyranny a few months back, and it’s excellent.  I’m pretty close to reading it again.  Levin’s writing style is easy to follow and engaging, and the subject matter is extremely well researched.  “The Great One” knows what he’s talking about.  He’s put in the work, and it shows.  So, congratulations to Mark Levin.  If you haven’t read Liberty and Tyranny and want to better understand what modern conservatism is all about via one of the most intelligent conservative thinkers walking the earth, read it.