Friday, May 31, 2013

We still need better media critics

Three lies in nineteen words.

NPR’s On the Media tackled the Obama scandals and the media coverage surrounding them.

The Three-Headed Scandal Monster
Actually OtM tackled the “scandals”: Like the White House they decided that there was no there there.

Unfortunately, their incisive commentary rested on a foundation of ignorance and disinformation.

The IRS scandal centers on a feckless, unsupervised, overworked office in Cleveland tasked with assessing a group's nonprofit status.
That is an astounding sentence. Brooke Gladstone manages to make three mistakes in 19 words. She is even confused about the location of the IRS office. Anyone who has spent fifteen minutes on this story knows that the IRS office was in Cincinnati, not Cleveland.

The rest of Gladstone’s work leads me to believe that she did not spend even fifteen minutes researching the story. The piece sounds like she read the early journolist talking points dismissing the matter and decided to do a story about media-driven summer “scandals”.

In other words, a news anchor calls something a scandal without quotes, a newspaper puts it in a headline and it's a scandal because we say it is.
Had Gladstone really tried to keep up with the story she would have known that the “overworked” and “unsupervised” excuses were now inoperative. Nor would she have suggested that the Tea Parties were over-reacting:

The IRS Chief, later fired, said that the profiling wasn’t political. Keywords were used to shortcut the process. And it turns out some liberal groups with “progress” in their names were mistreated too.
Gladstone did not want to analyze the story as it unfolded. She had other objectives.

If you want to do a piece of high-brow agit-prop explaining that your boy friend in the Oval Office did nothing wrong--- COULD DO NOTHING WRONG--then those obsolete lefty talking points were all the research you need. They are just the thing to reassure your listeners that the “scandal monster” was the creation of those mean, old Republicans.

The NPR bubble is a wondrous thing.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Just a coincidence, I'm sure


"The System Worked:" Former EPA Head Lisa Jackson Hired by Apple, Which Was Just Beaten Up By Democratic Politiicans

Obama and Nixon (UPDATED:

Ryan Lizza tried to bring perspective to this weeks Reliable Sources:

LIZZA: Can I just -- at the risk of being in the position of the scandal I care about is more important than the scandal you care about, the IRS and Benghazi are very important. Long-term, though, what the Justice Department did the search warrant, they crossed a line that no administration has ever crossed. The Nixon administration didn't do it, the Bush administration considered doing it and there was an uproar --


KURTZ: And in talking about that line, let's make that line bright, red, and clear. This search warrant referred to James Rosen, widely respected FOX News correspondent, as a co-conspirator or potential co- conspirator. He hasn't been charged. He's not going to be charged. It was a way of getting at his e-mails to track this leak investigation.

That in and of itself is a sea change you're saying?

LIZZA: It's a sea change. I would challenge the last parted of that, Howie. I think if you look at all -- everything they did in the early parts of this investigation, they were pursuing a criminal conspiracy between James Rosen and Kim. Some people are saying, oh, they were never going to charge Rosen to begin with. I'm not so sure about that. If you read the language of the warrant, they were saying this guy is engaged in espionage with the State Department official and we've got to go get his e-mails.

If you look at what separately they went into federal court and they said we can't tell Rosen ever about the search warrants because we may need to go back and monitor his e-mail account indefinitely if we find evidence of further crimes.

So, that's the line that they crossed. They suggested that potentially you could indict a member of the media for doing routine reporting.
John Mitchell's DOJ never tried to criminalize reporting. J. Edgar Hoover wasn't willing to use the Espionage Act to go after leaks like the Pentagon Papers. No FBI man was willing to go before a judge and claim that Jack Anderson was a dangerous spy.

If Nixon had had Eric Holder, Ronald C. Machen, Jr, Bob Mueller and Special Agent Reginald Reyes on his team, there would have been no need for the Plumbers. No Plumbers, no "White House horrors", hence no White house cover-up of the Watergate break-in.

No impeachment.

Eric Holder believes that Nixon could have got what he wanted legally.

It's bizarro world.


Obama 'worse than Nixon' for press freedoms

President Barack Obama is the biggest threat to press freedom, one of the hallmarks of a true democracy, the United States has seen since former President Nixon, according to attorney James Goodale, widely seen as “the father of reporters' privileges.”

Goodale is best known for using the First Amendment of the US Constitution to successfully defend the New York Times after the paper published the Pentagon Papers in 1971.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Benghazi: The high price of rampant knowingness

A couple weeks ago I posted this:

How we live now: The rule of the inept experts

The distinctive feature of coercive “experts” like Joe Biden or Joe Salazar is that they are credentialed, not proficient. They assume the right to make decisions for others, but that assumption is based on “media consensus” and insider back-scratching. It is not, demonstrably in the case of Biden and Salazar, based on proven expertise or knowledge.

Ours is an age of Knowingness Rampant.
I suspect that this is one of the reasons for the Benghazi disaster. Three clews for consideration by your inner Sherlock:

Benjamin Rhodes. Failed novelist. Key national security advisor.

ABC’s reporting revealed that Ben Rhodes, who has a masters in fiction from NYU, called a meeting to discuss the talking points at the White House on September 15, 2012….

Ben Rhodes, a 35-year old New York City native and former Giuliani staffer who has worked for Obama since the president’s tenure in the U.S. Senate, has established himself as a hawkish force on the Obama foreign policy team, advocating for military intervention in Libya during the president’s first term and reportedly advocating for intervention in Syria, as well.

But despite his hawkish views, Rhodes identifies himself first and foremost as a strategist and mouthpiece for the president’s agenda.
Tommy Vietor. Bus driver. NSC spokesman. Decision-maker?

The Counterterrorism Security Group: Not convened

Under presidential directive, an interagency task force called the Counterterrorism Security Group (CSG) is to be convened when emergency terrorist events are suspected. According to a public military document, it's part of a plan to "synchronize the efforts of all the government agencies that have a role to play in the Global War on Terrorism." But on Sept. 11, 2012, the Obama administration did not convene this body of terrorism expert advisers.

One official associated with the State Department now acknowledges that the CSG would probably have advised decision makers that FEST "was not just backup generator and radios." Said the official: "the CSG could have made the argument, they were upset that they weren't heard." Another former Defense Department official says he finds no merit to using the CSG. "I'd like to hear them say what they could have done."

Last October, National Security Council (NSC) Spokesman Tommy Vietor told CBS News that the CSG wasn't needed because consultations were quickly underway at the highest levels. He indicated that, under the Obama administration, the function of the CSG has become a "lower level group" that "does different tasks" than under the Bush administration. "From the moment [President Obama] was briefed on the Benghazi attack, the response effort was handled by the most senior national security officials in government. Members of the CSG were of course involved in these meetings and discussions to support their bosses," said Vietor.

However, absent the CSG's collective advice, there's evidence that some high-level decision makers were unaware of all available resources. In October, on a phone call that included then-Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough (now White House Chief of Staff), Vietor initially told CBS News: "I don't know what [FEST] is... it sounds antiquated."
Bryan Preston (a one man Woodward and Bernstein on this story):

By the way, this National Security Council spokesman, Tommy Vietor, does not hail from the military or any intel agency or even the State Department. He’s a lifelong Obama loyalist who started out as Barry’s bus driver.

We’re in the very best of hands, indeed.
The man in the Oval Office:

American Narcissus

But Obama’s faith in his abilities extends beyond mere vote-getting. Buried in a 2008 New Yorker piece by Ryan Lizza about the Obama campaign was this gob-smacking passage:

Obama said that he liked being surrounded by people who expressed strong opinions, but he also said, “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.” After Obama’s first debate with McCain, on September 26th, [campaign political director Patrick] Gaspard sent him an e-mail. “You are more clutch than Michael Jordan,” he wrote. Obama replied, “Just give me the ball.”

In fairness to Obama, maybe he is a better speechwriter than his speechwriters. After all, his speechwriter was a 27-year-old, and the most affecting part of Obama’s big 2008 stump speech was recycled from Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, with whom he shared a campaign strategist. But it’s instructive that Obama thinks he knows “more about policies on any particular issue” than his policy directors. The rate of growth of the mohair subsidy? The replacement schedule for servers at the NORAD command center? The relationship between annual rainfall in northeast Nevada and water prices in Las Vegas?

How Barack Obama’s ‘Tone’ Left Americans Defenseless and Abandoned in Benghazi

Barack Obama and many of his supporters believed that his election to the presidency would essentially end the war on terrorism. That belief rears its head here. What other tasks besides counterterrorism and security should the Counterterrorism Security Group be doing? Why was it pushed down the food chain? What are its current tasks? If they’re not counterterrorism and security, why does it still exist?

Tommy Vietor keeps turning up conspicuously in the Benghazi scandal, in part because the president sets the tone. Obama’s loyalist bus driver was heavily involved in the talking points discussion, playing the pivotal role of looping the State Department into what started as a vetting of intelligence-based talking points and quickly became a political discussion. The eventual outcome of that was a product that was useless on the facts, misleading to the public, but helpful to Obama and his tone on terrorism….

Here we’re seeing the effect that even just setting the tone is having. Barack Obama really believes that his election was so transformative that it would end the war. It hasn’t, but this president consistently downplays terrorism and demotes its importance in his government to convince Americans that it has. His government plays games with words and organizational charts to wish the war away.

When crisis struck and one of his ambassadors may have become a hostage to jihadists, the choices that flowed naturally from the tone Obama had set had serious consequences. Four Americans including that ambassador were murdered.

Is it possible that David Brooks was wrong?

Remember Dealer-gate?

Michelle Malkin from 2009:

The statistical gurus at financial blog Zero Hedge have taken a hard, long look at the question of Dealergate and cronyism. They’ve made their preliminary findings available here. Using regression analysis, they tackled the relationship between dealership survival and Clinton donor status – and found a significant correlation
See also here.

Michael Barone in 2011:

Punishing enemies and rewarding friends -- politics Chicago style -- seems to be the unifying principle that helps explain the Obamacare waivers, the NLRB action against Boeing and the IRS' gift-tax assault on 501(c)(4) donors.

They look like examples of crony capitalism, bailout favoritism and gangster government.

One thing they don't look like is the rule of law.
Hmmm. Vast governmental power wielded to punish enemies and reward friends. It is almost as if the IRS scandal is not the first time this White House has played this game.

In the words of Auric Goldfinger:

Mr. Bond, they have a saying in Chicago: 'Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it's enemy action.'

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Making (big) government work

Jonah Goldberg:

Obama's "Idiot" defense

But, suddenly, when the administration finds itself ensnared by errors of its own making, the curtain is drawn back on the cult of expertise and the fantasy of statist redemption. Early on in the IRS scandal, before the agency's initial lies were exposed, David Axelrod defended the administration on the grounds that the "government is so vast" the president "can't know" what's going on "underneath" him. Of course, it was Obama who once said, "I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors."

That is, when things are going relatively well. When scandal hits the fan, he goes from "the government is us" to talking of his own agencies the way a czar might dismiss an injustice in some Siberian backwater. The hubris of omnicompetence gives way to "lighten up, we're idiots."
This brings to mind a point David Gelernter makes in his book 1939: The Lost World of the Fair

The Right doesn't like to acknowledge that the power and authority of government can be a good thing, up to a point, in the hands of a genius. The Left doesn't like to acknowledge that geniuses are few and far between.
Gelernter offers us a picture of what ‘genius’ looks like in the person of New York mayor Fiorello La Guardia.

La Guardia the crusading and compassionate liberal was also in the habit, when he witnessed city workers great or small behaving incompetently, of firing them on the spot. (Sample story: He finds a group of park workers lounging during working hours. He fires sixty of them for "loitering.") The city is to be run tautly, seriously, and whining drives La Guardia the crusading liberal crazy. I pay no attention, he declares, to "political whiners." Merit is a sacred idea to La Guardia the compassionate liberal.
I suspect that La Guardia would not have found out about Lois Lerner’s campaign against conservatives by listening to MSNBC. Nor would he have stopped with routine expressions of outrage.

At a Lower East Side relief station, La Guardia dropped in unaccounted. He was enraged by lackadaisical bureaucrats he discovered. A supervisor wandered over to see what the fuss was, and mistook the visitor for another out-of-work troublemaker. The mayor knocked the hat off his head. 'Take off your hat when you speak to a citizen."
BTW, La Guardia fired his surly, lazy bureaucrat on the spot.

OTH, maybe the White House reacts as it does because its big government liberalism differs from La Guardia’s crusading, compassionate, and pragmatic liberalism.

James Pierson offers an interesting take on liberalism’s evolution over the last half century in Camelot and Cultural Revolution. He argues that FDR/La Guardia style liberalism has been replaced by “Punitive Liberalsm.”

In the years after Kennedy’s death, liberals recast their understanding of reform from an instrument of progress to an instrument of for punishment…. The idea developed that the nation deserved punishment and chastisement for its manifold failures to live up to its stated ideals. From this point of view, reform was called for as an instrument for corrections.


The new liberals now held that Americans had no good reason to feel pride in their country’s past or optimism about its future. The began to argue that the purpose of national policy was more to punish the nation for its sins than to build a brighter and more secure future for all.
For a punitive liberal, the IRS did exactly the right thing to exactly the right people.

Mark Steyn on the Woolwich attack

To the Slaughter
British lions come up lambs in Woolwich.

To David Cameron, Drummer Rigby’s horrific end was “not just an attack on Britain and on the British way of life, it was also a betrayal of Islam. . . . There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act.”

How does he know? He doesn’t seem the most likely Koranic scholar. Appearing on David Letterman’s show a while back, Cameron was unable to translate into English the words “Magna Carta,” which has quite a bit to do with that “British way of life” he’s so keen on. But apparently it’s because he’s been up to his neck in suras and hadiths every night sweating for Sharia 101.
It is worth noting that politicians rarely make these reflexive defenses of other faiths when their adherents place them in a bad light.

How many non-Catholics race to the microphones to remind us that a few bad priests should not tarnish the image of the Church?


The root causes of Islamaphobic hysteria

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Why does Candy Crowley still have a job?

And why is CNN treated as a serious news organization?

Austin Bay:

Four Pinocchios: A Cute Way of Saying Obama Lied

Glenn Kessler, who writes the Washington Post's fact-checker column, now informs his readers that the president's claim he called the Benghazi attack an "attack of terrorism" rates four Pinocchios. That's Kessler's cute way of calling our president a complete and thorough liar.
So now that claim is the worst sort of falsehood according to our professional fact checkers. What are we to say about Candy Crowley’s debate “moderation” when she “fact-checked” those lies as though they were true and Mitt Romney was misleading the public?

And remember—her network and most of her media peers supported her actions.

CNN circles the wagons (UPDATED)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Susan Rice and the Talking Points

This Politico story purports to explain why Amb. Susan Rice was the sacrificial lamb who who had to go on five Sunday talk shows to push the discredited talking points.

Why Hillary Clinton didn’t do Sunday shows after Benghazi
Throughout the piece Glenn Thrush puts the most benign interpretation possible on the facts in front of him.

Why did Hillary refuse to do the interviews?

[Hillary] has a standing refusal [to do Sunday shows]. She hates them. She would rather die than do them,” said one aide on condition of anonymity. “The White House knows, so they would know not to even ask her.”
Could Hillary have political reasons for avoiding interviews where Benghazi would be topic 1, 2 and 3?

None of the officials was willing to speculate on why the secretary wouldn’t make an exception after such an extraordinary event — or whether Clinton had wanted to avoid a controversy that could have compromised her political future.
Thrush asked three people, couldn't get an answer, and decided to drop the subject. See, that's big league journalism, boys and girls.

Why Susan Rice?

Rice, who was close to the president’s team and regarded as a disciplined messenger who could be relied on to the deliver the talking points without going off message.
Thrush takes no notice of Rice's past history which might have made her the ideal choice for the White House's purposes:

Susan Rice and Benghazi
Our fearless journalist does give us two nuggets of pure gold. First, Rice was asked to "take one for the team" by "her friend Ben Rhodes, an influential National Security Council aide entrusted with Benghazi push-back duties." That would be the same Ben Rhodes who is the brother of the president of CBS News.

The second nugget explains why General Petraeus was a bad choice to repeat the talking points:

It was common knowledge around the West Wing and Foggy Bottom that Petraeus thought the sanitized talking points — scrubbed of references to Ansar al-Sharia, a Libyan group suspected in the attack, at the request of a Clinton subordinate — were “a joke” and “utterly useless,” as one former administration official told POLITICO.

In a September 15th email obtained by CBS News, Petraeus wrote that “he doesn’t like the talking points” and he would prefer the administration “not use them.”
So the White House knew that the head of CIA thought the "CIA Talking Points" were a joke after State got through revising them. Yet, they sent Rice out there to repeat the "utterly useless" talking points.

And no one at the White House was willing to force Hillary Clinton to stand behind those talking points after her department turned them into a joke?

Thrush never raises the possibility that Hillary shared Petraeus's view of the revised talking points. That's a shame. It seems like an important question.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Why Benghazi is not Watergate

Last June, the Washington Post convened a series of panels to discuss Watergate on the fortieth anniversary of the break-in. Fred Thompson was on one of the panels and said that four factors caused Watergate to end in Nixon’s resignation. (Watch here)

1. An aggressive press eager to pursue the story.

2. Deep Throat--A highly placed source whose leaks could keep the story alive and moving forward.

3. John Dean’s public testimony.

4. The Watergate tapes--Incontrovertible evidence of Nixon’s wrong-doing.
It is no surprise that Benghazi lacks heft as a scandal because the MSM has been anything but aggressive. Most of it has been bored by the story and too lazy to dig into the details. A significant minority has advanced the White House’s spin and abetted the cover-up.

They are happy to play the role of scandal condom for the Obama administration.

If we look at Thompson’s other points, it is clear that Benghazi has ripened faster than the Watergate scandal. We have three public whistle-blowers who are not tainted as Dean was by participating in the cover-up. Gregory Hicks, Mark Thompson, and Eric Nordstrom are willing to tell their stories in front of the Congress and the whole world; they eschewed anonymous leaks and late night meetings in parking garages.

We also have the same bread crumbs the Washington Post followed when they were the only paper on the Watergate trail:

If they’re clean why don’t they show it? Why are there so many lies? I’ll tell you why. Because you’ve got them.
The last four days make this David Halberstam quote especially pertinent:

Time was on the side of Woodward and Bernstein. A story like Vietnam or Watergate has a balance of forces of its own. At first the charges are deniable, the existing structure holds, powerful men with powerful positions can keep their troops in line. All the weight is on one side, and reporters like Woodward and Bernstein are a tiny minority, seeming puny by comparison. But there is the momentum, The denials slowly weaken, events undermine the denials so there have to be more denials, and each denial is a little weaker than the previous one. … Slowly the people who are issuing denials lose credibility, and the reporters begin to gain credibility.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Benghazi ARB: The return of the modified, limited hang out

Victoria Toensing:

Administration Relying on Shoddy Benghazi Report to Absolve Itself of Blame


Accountability, Clinton style

Steyn on Benghazi: Not to be missed

It's too good to excerpt. Every paragraph is a gem.

The Benghazi Lie
A failure of character of this magnitude corrodes the integrity of the state.

The MSM puts Fox in the Ghetto. Just like Anita Dunn told them to.


Why is it so important for the liberals to push out the only reporter who covered Benghazi?

"Ghettoization." If the "neutral media" -- actually liberal as hell -- can present a unified party line on stories, always supporting one another and never showing a crack in the wall, they can sneer at stories they don't like by saying "Only Fox claims that."

R. S. McCain:

All of that ridiculous “PlameGate” nonsense was taken very seriously by the mainstream media, as though it were a real scandal that might implicate the president in High Crimes and Misdemeanors, and yet it was transparently absurd from start to finish.

So fast-forward: Terrorists kill a U.S. ambassador and four other Americans in an attack on the consulate in Benghazi, and Obama administration officials — obviously concerned about political fallout during an election year — begin stacking up lies like cordwood. Everything we know about the matter leads to the conclusion that the administration failed before, during and after the attack, that they consistently lied at every step of the way, and that they’re quite likely still trying to hide the truth, especially in regard to who gave the “stand down” order to cancel a Special Operations rescue.

According to Alex Koppelman, however, this was just a “Republican obsession” until Jonathan Karl of ABC reported it, even though Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard had previously reported the same basic story about the edited Benghazi talking points.
One this week's Reliable Sources, well-traveled hack Margaret Carlson admitted that this is going on:

CARLSON: And rat on the bosses. And say what really happened. We didn't have another face to put on Benghazi and now we have it. The other thing back to your point is that because the right wing went so far on this story, it's Watergate, it's impeachable. We couldn't hear Steven Hayes in the "Weekly Standard." It did take somebody who is just a meat and potatoes reporter.

GERAGHTY: Don't cite the nut job and Steven Hayes is not to be listened to. This is a huge conspiracy. The president should be indicted and aliens are involved and my dog is talking to me. You can find that for any story in the whole wide world. You can use it as an excuse to not cover something.

CARLSON: It was just a constant drum beat and they weren't doing any reporting.
Note, especially, that the MSM is now using the "Bad Fox, Bad Rush" gambit to justify their epistemic barriers to all right-wing writing. Carlson's argument boils down to "Glenn Beck is crazy so I don't read the Weekly Standard".

Speaking of Glenn Beck, I first heard about Anita Dunn and the White House's war on Fox on his old FNC TV show. You remember Anita Dunn right? She was the Obama point woman when the effort to discredit Fox started::

“What I think is fair to say about Fox — and certainly it’s the way we view it — is that it really is more a wing of the Republican Party,” said Anita Dunn, White House communications director, on CNN. “They take their talking points, put them on the air; take their opposition research, put them on the air. And that’s fine. But let’s not pretend they’re a news network the way CNN is.”

Sunday, May 12, 2013

This explains a lot

Presidents of ABC and CBS News Have Siblings Working at White House With Ties to Benghazi

"CBS News President David Rhodes and ABC News President Ben Sherwood, both of them have siblings that not only work at the White House, that not only work for President Obama, but they work at the NSC on foreign policy issues directly related to Benghazi."
So now this makes a lot more sense:

CBSNews Bigs Fret That Sharyl Attkisson is Coming "Dangerously Close to Advocacy"
"Dangerously close to advocacy"

That is CBS speak for "Hey! You're making my brother look bad"

Saturday, May 11, 2013

How we live now


These are the bad old days, come again. Wake up and smell the Chicago.
Daniel Drezner:

So, in all, this has been a pretty crappy week for people who dislike conspiracy theories.

Is there a de-virgining process as well?

The MSM owes Ron Ziegler an apology.

On Friday, Jay Carney put on a display that was breath-taking in its arrogance and dishonesty. Nixon's flack could never muster up the sangfroid Carney showed as he offered up one tedious, bald-faced lie after another. When he was called to account for his own previous deceitful statements ("only stylistic changes", he reached Clintonian depths of cynicism and shamelessness.

It was a bravura performance by a political hack who loves his work.

Here's the thing--

It was not that long ago that Time magazine told us that Carney was an honest, non-partisan seeker after the truth.

They have some explaining to do.


How does that re-virgining process work again?

A spectre haunts the sleep of the MSM

Is this why Comcast/NBC wants rid of Jay Leno?

The White House has a new slogan when it comes to Benghazi: Hope and Change... the subject. #LenoMono

Friday, May 10, 2013

Benghazi and the other presidential debate

Benghazi figured prominently in the second debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney. In that case, CNN’s Candy Crowley lied her ass off to blunt Romney’s attacks on the Administration’s lies and incompetence. It now turns out that Benghazi figured in the defining moment of the final debate, albeit more as subtext than explicit issue.

In that debate, Romney tried to make the case that the Obama administration was hollowing out America’s defenses:

Our Navy is smaller now than at any time since 1917,” Romney said. “The Navy said they needed 313 ships to carry out their mission. We're now at under 285. We're headed down to the low 200s if we go through a sequestration. That's unacceptable to me.”

“I will not cut our military budget by a trillion dollars, which is a combination of the budget cuts the president has, as well as the sequestration cuts,” he added. “That, in my view, is making is making our future less certain and less secure.”
The president parried Romney’s attacks with a combination of snark and lies.


But I think Governor Romney maybe hasn't spent enough time looking at how our military works,” Obama said. “You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military's changed.”
For the record, Obama was factually incorrect about the bayonets.

Obama is wrong. we have hundreds of thousands more bayonets now? than in 1916.

“First of all, the sequester is not something that I've proposed,” Obama said. “It is something that Congress has proposed. It will not happen.
We now know, based on Bob Woodward’s reporting, that sequestration was something the president proposed.

I think the really interesting point is the statement made by Obama as part of his snark offensive:

“We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them,” Obama said. “We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.”
In terms of Benghazi, the Joplin Globe understood the issue six months ago:

Recall the old question that presidents usually asked during times of international tensions: “Where are the carriers and Marines?”

We just had a national crisis in Benghazi. But we have no carriers in the entire Mediterranean Sea.
So, the president was right, we do have these things called aircraft carriers. We just did not have any where we needed them during the Benghazi attack. As the administration pleads their case that there was nothing they could do to save the Americans attacked by terrorists, they are also confessing that Romney was right that their policy had depleted American military forces to a dangerous level.

No way to treat a hero

Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Used as Photo Prop for Obama

President Obama had nothing to say to the moonwalker and didn’t seem to want to hear anything from Aldrin on the long flight to Florida. So Aldrin sat in the back of Air Force One and never saw Obama – until it landed.

When it landed, Aldrin said he was summoned to the front of the plane. But he found out it was not to talk about space policy. Instead, President Obama wanted Aldrin to emerge from Air Force One next to Obama for a photo op. The moonwalker was to be a mere prop.
Not a unique occurrence:

"You guys make a pretty good photo op,”

Soldiers did not join the military to be props to an egomaniac’s photo-shoot. Soldiers join to protect family, friends, and the Constitution — the foundation of America.

An Isolated Man Trapped in a Collapsing Presidency

Everybody else, including members of his Cabinet, have little face time with him except for brief meetings that serve as photo ops. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner both have complained, according to people who have talked to them, that they are shut out of important decisions.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

That's going to leave a mark

Greg Gutfeld wins quote of the day: ‘The media is Obama’s scandal condom’
Everyone should have goals in life. Of course, when the inevitable layoffs come, they are going to need another goal.

I wonder what the interior monologue sounds like.....

Unemployment sucks and no one seems to take my experience seriously. But at least we Journolists were able to keep those awful conservatives from besmirching the Chosen One.

Benghazi: The story they can't kill

Bryan Preston:

7 Things We Learned from the Benghazi Whistleblower Hearing
The hearings turned out to be revelatory.

For instance:

Ambassador Stevens’ reason for going to Benghazi has been cleared up. Hicks testified that Ambassador Stevens traveled to Benghazi to fulfill one of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s wishes. Despite the fact that security was worsening in Benghazi for months leading up to the 9-11 attack, Clinton wanted to make the post there permanent. Her State Department had denied repeated requests from the U.S. team in Libya to upgrade security there, but she wanted to use the permanent post as a symbol of goodwill. Stevens was committed to that goal and told Clinton he would “make it happen.” He was in Benghazi on 9-11 furthering Clinton’s goal. She had denied requests to beef up security at Benghazi and then blamed his death on a YouTube movie. Hicks’ testimony raises the question of Clinton’s competence and grasp on reality, strongly suggesting that she put political perceptions ahead of the facts on the ground in Benghazi.
The hearings also turned over a rock and found another Susan Rice lie:

On Sept. 12, Ambassador Susan Rice told the first of her many untruths, claiming in an email that the FBI investigation into the attack was already underway. It would not actually get underway for 17 days after the attack, by which time the scene of the attack had been compromised and contaminated.

Another reason the Patriot-News deserves its fate

If you are going to call your readers stupid-- make sure your big blue hired gun gets his facts straight.

Columnist Dick Polman denies Gosnell trial cover up, yet misstates charges

An idea too smart for the stupid party


THE HILL: Republican leader rips the media for ‘shoving us in the corner.’ “House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) ripped the media in a speech Tuesday to the Ripon Society, arguing press coverage is partly responsible for the GOP’s messaging woes.”

You want to punish ‘em? Mandate cable unbundling, which is the right thing to do anyway — and popular, to boot.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Susan Rice and Benghazi

Bryan Preston gets to the heart of the matter with Benghazi:

5 Benghazi Mysteries that Must Be Solved
RTWT. It is the best summary of the key questions/issues that I’ve read.

For example:

During her talk show appearances, Rice claimed that the attack was not premeditated and that it happened due to a spontaneous protest of a barely seen “hateful” movie that had been posted on YouTube months before the attack. Why did Rice mischaracterize the attack? Was she aware of the original talking points, and how they had been altered? Were Rice or Clinton the senior officials on whose behalf State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland had the talking points scrubbed of references to al Qaeda and terrorism? Why was Rice the face of the Obama administration that day, when she was the US ambassador to the UN, not Libya?
As we assess Rice’s role it is worth reading this piece:

Who Was UN Ambassador Susan Rice Before Benghazi?

But her tenure at the Clinton Administration was not without controversy. In a 2001 Atlantic Monthly article, Samantha Power, a human rights journalist who is now an Obama administration adviser, criticized Rice's response to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda during her first years in the Clinton administration. Power wrote that Rice wondered on a conference call how the use of the word genocide would affect the November elections if the U.S. failed to intervene, appearing to be more preoccupied with the domestic political ramifications of the tragedy than in stopping the violence.

Rice has since said she deeply regrets the U.S. inaction in Rwanda. …

In 2007, she joined the first Obama presidential campaign as Senior Adviser for National Security Affairs. Rice was a staunch, outspoken surrogate for the president, and according to her detractors, maybe too outspoken.

In a 2008 Huffington Post blog, she sharply criticized Obama's primary opponent, then-Sen. Clinton, for voting for the Iraq war, saying it proved Clinton wouldn't be ready for a "3 a.m. call" in a national security emergency….

Her loyalty and blunt-speaking manner has been appreciated and rewarded by allies, such as Albright and President Obama. When he took office he named Rice as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
From this we learn three critical facts: 1. Susan Rice is a diplomat who had no qualms about considering domestic politics when making diplomatic decisions. 2. She is an Obama loyalist who was an early passenger of the Hope and Change Express. 3. Her loyalty to Obama made her quite willing to kneecap her old patrons the Clintons.

So, are we to believe that the White House ignored all that when they chose Susan Rice to go on the Sunday shows to deflect blame after the disaster at Benghazi?

Niall Ferguson's public burning

Jonah Goldberg:

Keynes Was Gay Not That There’s Anything Wrong with That

What I find interesting about the Ferguson controversy is how disconnected it is from the past. Even academics I respect reacted to Ferguson’s comments as if they bordered on unimaginable, unheard-of madness. I understand that we live in a moment where any negative comment connected to homosexuality is not only wrong but “gay bashing.” But Ferguson was trafficking in an old theory that was perfectly within the bounds of intellectual discourse not very long ago. Now, because of a combination of indifference to intellectual history and politically correct piety he must don the dunce cap. Good to know.

Friday, May 03, 2013

The real reason Rahmbo had to beg the gangs to stop shooting kids

They are a key part of his coalition.

Instapundit pointed to this Chicago Magazine article which details the murderous corruption of Mogadishu on Lake Michigan.

Gangs and Politicians in Chicago: An Unholy Alliance

While they typically deny it, many public officials--mostly, but not limited to, aldermen, state legislators, and elected judges--routinely seek political support from influential street gangs. Meetings like the ones Baskin organized, for instance, are hardly an anomaly. Gangs can provide a decisive advantage at election time by performing the kinds of chores patronage armies once did.
There seems little doubt which group holds the whip hand:

At some of the meetings, the politicians arrived with campaign materials and occasionally with aides. The sessions were organized much like corporate-style job fairs. The gang representatives conducted hour long interviews, one after the other, talking to as many as five candidates in a single evening. Like supplicants, the politicians came into the room alone and sat before the gang representatives, who sat behind a long table. “One candidate said, ‘I feel like I’m in the hot seat,’” recalls Baskin. “And they were.”

The former chieftains, several of them ex-convicts, represented some of the most notorious gangs on the South and West Sides, including the Vice Lords, Gangster Disciples, Black Disciples, Cobras, Black P Stones, and Black Gangsters. Before the election, the gangs agreed to set aside decades-old rivalries and bloody vendettas to operate as a unified political force, which they called Black United Voters of Chicago. “They realized that if they came together, they could get the politicians to come to them,” explains Baskin.

The gang representatives were interested in electing aldermen sympathetic to their interests and those of their impoverished wards. As for the politicians, says Baskin, their interests essentially boiled down to getting elected or reelected. “All of [the political hopefuls] were aware of who they were meeting with,” he says. “They didn’t care. All they wanted to do was get the support.
It is no surprise, then, the players in the game are compelled to minimize the danger posed by gangs:

Many forms of political corruption--taking bribes, rigging elections, engaging in pay-to-play deals--are plainly unethical, if not illegal. But forming political alliances with gangs isn’t a clear matter of right or wrong, some say. In many Chicago neighborhoods, it’s virtually impossible for elected officials and candidates for public office not to have at least some connection, even family ties, to gang members. “People try to paint this picture of bad versus good--it’s not like that,” says a veteran political organizer based in Chicago who specializes in getting out the vote in minority areas. “Everybody lives with each other, grew up with each other. Just because somebody goes this way or that way, it doesn’t mean you’re just gonna write them off automatically.
No one wants to insult the real power brokers in the city.

Somehow, I can’t see a reporter accepting such a nuanced picture of killers and criminals if the gang in question was the KKK or Aryan Brotherhood. It’s probably worth quoting the great Stanley Crouch here:

[Between 1980 and 2002] street gangs have killed 10,000 people in Los Angeles, which is three times the number of black people lynched throughout the United States between 1877 and 1900, the highest tide of racial murder in the history of the nation.
(Reconsidering The Souls Of Black Folk)
I’m shocked, SHOCKED, that politicians who are willing to beg for gang support at election time sometimes make questionable decisions:

Most alarming, both law enforcement and gang sources say, is that some politicians ignore the gangs’ criminal activities. Some go so far as to protect gangs from the police, tipping them off to impending raids or to surveillance activities--in effect, creating safe havens in their political districts. And often they chafe at backing tough measures to stem gang activities, advocating instead for superficial solutions that may garner good press but have little impact.
Coddled politicians become corrupt politicians. Corrupt politics leads to dangerous cities.

Two police sources--a former gang investigator and a veteran detective--bluntly acknowledge that even if the police know of dubious dealings between an alderman and a gang leader or drug dealer, there is little, if anything, they can do, thanks to what they say is the department’s unofficial rule: Stay away from public officials. “We can’t arrest aldermen,” says the gang investigator, “unless they’re doing something obvious to endanger someone. We’re told to stand down.” The detective concurs: “It’s the unwritten rule. There’s a two-tier justice system here.”

Meanwhile, the city’s inspector general can’t--by design of the City Council--investigate council members. (In May 2010, the council, under pressure to curb its corruptible ways, created its own inspector general. The job went unfilled for more than 18 months, until last November, when the council picked a New York lawyer for the part-time position, which has a minuscule budget and no staff and which critics have decried as window-dressing.)
Chicago may be an outlier (maybe*) but I think this article helps to explain why Nanny Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns has such appeal to politicians. They cannot address the lawlessness of their cities because the criminals have friends and families who vote. Just as in Chicago, the gangster’s camp followers represent a sizable bloc of voters.

It is so much easier to blame the crime on the gun, not the criminal. After all, the laws MAIG wants to pass mainly target gun nuts outside the city limits. I. e. they can’t vote for mayor.

As I read this report I kept wondering, “what is wrong with the GOP in Illinois?” Why don’t they make Chicago’s lawlessness and corruption an issue in every election? Make the Democrat-gang alliance in Chicago part of the Democratic brand for suburban voters and downstate conservative Democrats.

* Philadelphia has had its own history of corrupt politicians and politically powerful killers.


And yet Mark Thompson knew nu-think!

Who knew that the New York Times was filled with Sgt. Schultzs?

Yawn: The BBC Had Another Very High-Profile Serial Pedophile/Rapist That It Somehow Failed to Detect

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

No, the market does not make newspapers liberal

Matt Welch schools Garance Franke-Ruta.

Are Big City Newspapers Inevitably Liberal Due to Market Forces?
He hits on several key points about the evolution of newspapers and the economics of their decline.

The elephant in the room

Ask yourself this: Of all the one-newspaper cities in America, how many are served by a daily that's more conservative than its readership? Pretty hard to come up with one, right?* Now do the same exercises for newspapers that are more liberal than their cities, and see how quickly you run out of fingers and toes.
GF-R argues that newspapers are liberal because they are located in liberal cities. As Welch points out, newspapers lean left no matter what the political climate in their home town. A point also made here:

I’ve lived in a bunch of different places over the years. Some were liberal communities (Madison, Wisconsin) while others were conservative (Carlisle, Charlotte). In every city and town, however, the local paper was and is more liberal than the community it serves.
Consolidation and liberal privilege

Like so many American dailies, including the Los Angeles Times (my former employer, and the plum property in the Tribune roster), the [Houston] Chronicle was a strongly conservative newspaper as recently as the 1950s, before more a more progressive breed of journalist began gaining a foothold in the 1960s. Crucially, the transformation from right to left, from crassly political to high-mindedly "fair," went hand in hand with the paper benefiting from and engaging in newspaper consolidation. It was the classic deal between mostly liberal newsrooms and mostly conservative boardrooms: Close down the competition and use the profits to professionalize the news divisions, instilling a more liberal ethos even while embracing the advertising-friendly pose of objectivity. Then sit back and enjoy the 20 percent profit margins for four decades.
See also here:

Carroll’s golden age coincides with the rise of the one newspaper town. Why was that a good thing? How could New York be better off when the Times did not have to compete with the Herald-Tribune? Why is journalism the rare business where monopolies serve the customer better than competition?

I doubt that the reading public was or is better off. The owners were because monopolies provide a nice stream of predictable earnings. The newsroom liked that the owners were fat and happy because as long as the income statement looked good the owners did not interfere with content. Editors and reporters were free to chases awards, collect bigger paychecks, and indulge their ideological obsessions. Local monopolies also gave journalists bigger megaphones and a de facto victory in “explanation space”.

The golden age, in short, rested on a temporary set of conditions in which economics and technology favored news monopolies. The readers never wanted it. That much became clear when technology began to offer more choices.
The agency problem

Journalists from newspapers all over the country want to work for The New York Times, even if their byline never gets within 100 miles of Gotham. Regional newspapers everywhere pattern their writing, their subject matter, their mores, on the Paper of Record.
Journalists usually justify their career-polishing antics with hoary clich├ęs about telling the public what they need to know, not what they want to here. It is worth noting that such castor oil journalism has no place at the New York Times.

In 2003, Brooks got a call from New York Times editorial-page editor Gail Collins inviting him to lunch. Collins was looking for a conservative to replace outgoing columnist William Safire, but one who understood how liberals think. “I was looking for the kind of conservative writer that wouldn’t make our readers shriek and throw the paper out the window,” says Collins. “He was perfect.”
William Jacobson weighs in here:
Writer aboard Titanic worried about who’s buying other ocean liners
Clueless in the bubble