Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What the Old News Media Risks From Its Bias

Somewhere during this campaign the old news media reached the tipping point and their bias meter slid into the red zone. Have their owners considered the possible unintended consequences of this? Somewhere, perhaps with the now famous Saturday Night Live skit that lampooned the softball questions asked of Senator Obama during the primary debates, the old news media was outed as unequivocally favoring Obama. Since then, their bias has become even more prevalent and obvious. Today, they make no attempt to hide it, and the public is noticing. On Monday, July 21, 2008, Rasmussen Reports stated that,
The belief that reporters are trying to help Barack Obama win the fall campaign has grown by five percentage points over the past month. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey found that 49% of voters believe most reporters will try to help Obama with their coverage, up from 44% a month ago.

Americans are not stupid, and most believe in fairness. We're watching this bias unfold, and we won't forget it. Here's just one example of what bias looks like. The July 21 cover of USA Today features an above-the-fold, color photo of Senator Obama with Afghan President Karzai. Page 2 features three black & white photos. One of Senator McCain and Rudy Giuliani at a baseball game. Beneath that photo but above-the-fold is a photo of Obama greeting U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Then, below that Obama photo is yet another one of Obama with Senators Chuck Hagel and Jack Reid, along with Gen. James Lovelace in Kuwait last Friday. In the first two pages of the paper - three Obama photos and one of McCain. About the only way McCain will be able to match Obama's media coverage is if he robs a convenience store, gets caught, and does a public perp walk.

Meanwhile, Drudge reports that, after printing an op-ed piece that Obama submitted, the New York Times editors threw one submitted by McCain back at him saying that it needed to "mirror" Obama's. (And all this time many of us were thinking elections should be competitive events.) You know that the bias has become undeniable when an Associated Press television reporter writes a piece entitled "Is media playing fair in campaign coverage." Now there's a rhetorical question!

So what's the risk to the old news media? What are the long-term unintended consequences from its obvious bias? If Obama is elected, those news outlets most openly biased toward his candidacy will inherit partial responsibility for his performance as POTUS. Their ad revenues and Nielsen ratings could initially bump-up after January. But, if things turn ugly for an Obama administration due to circumstances within or outside their control, the old news media will be looking for someplace to hide. And there will be no such place, because Americans have memories.



Another win for flat tax

I recently interviewed the instigator of the world's lowest flat tax, Svetla Kostidinova, director of the Institute for Market Economics located in Sofia, Bulgaria. Ms. Kostidinova insists that the most amazing part of her story is that the Bulgarian government is still overtly socialist. Nonetheless, she and her colleagues managed to persuade politicians that replacing the existing tax system with a 10% flat tax would increase revenues and give the government extra money to finance social programs and unfunded pensions. If only Nancy Pelosi were as amenable to economic logic and the lessons of the real world.

Ms. Kostidinova, who speaks English with a thick Eastern European accent, tells me: "The situation was getting desperate in Bulgaria. We were losing our population and our best workers. They were leaving for Western Europe to find jobs and the No.1 form of foreign capital came from remittances." All that began to change when the corporate tax was cut to 10% in 2007 and the personal income tax to 10% in January of this year. "We told the politicians that it was symbolically important for Bulgaria to have the lowest flat tax. We were surrounded by flat tax countries, we wanted to be the nation most friendly to capital and business."

Result: A country that ten years ago had a 12% unemployment rate now has a 6% jobless rate. Instead of people leaving Bulgaria to find jobs, "now it is the reverse. Western Europeans now come to Bulgaria for jobs. We're gaining population now," she says.

Bulgaria is one of 24 nations, most of them in Eastern Europe, that have adopted the flat tax. A unique feature of the Bulgarian system is an absence of exemptions -- everyone pays the 10% tax regardless of income. Because the rate is so low, Ms. Kostidinova says, the plan's promoters figured that everyone could afford to pay. But don't lefties insist that the rich should pay more? "Of course, many do, and they want to raise the rates, but most understand that the flat tax gives us more jobs and more revenues."

If avowed socialist politicians in East Europe are open to new ideas about how to make their tax systems more growth-oriented, why aren't Republicans or Democrats in Washington? Says Richard Rahn, former chief economist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and now an economic consultant in Eastern Europe: "These countries understand that the flat tax is the key to their prosperity -- even the former communists." Only stultified political tactics -- certainly not clear thinking -- explains why somebody like Barack Obama could be running on a platform of making America's tax rates among the highest in the world when other nations are proving the competitive advantages of flatter tax systems.



American liberalism, 2008

In 2008 we find ourselves grappling with an ideological flesh-eating parasite in modern liberalism. It champions determination, drive, resourcefulness, grit and plain old-fashioned ballz - only in promulgating itself, and for no other purpose. In that singular endeavor of self-reproduction, it never wanes, fumbles or retreats. Holding high the banner of itself, it shows all the "patriotism" for which it shows theatrical horror elsewhere, including the resolve to seek out, interrogate and punish the desultory and apathetic.

It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

All the energy and heat of an erupting volcano; All the single-minded determination of any wild, starving predator; All the stamina of water wearing away on a rock; The power of a tidal wave.

All these forces of nature reserved for simple reproduction of the idea. And only for that, for the idea is nihilism. We are not good, we don't belong where we are, and nothing is worth anything, for we are undeserving of whatever it is.

What peaceful people they'd be if they were consistent about this. Because then they'd say "well, we should get out of this war because it's just too dang painful and hard, but if there's other folks who disagree about that and they outvote me, that's quite alright. What's the use of arguing. Heck, I'm not too sure I should have an opinion about it anyway."

Quite the difference between that hypothetical product of consistency, and what we see them do every day and every week, no? Wouldn't it be nice if they worked up one-tenth as much anger toward radical terrorists as what they have in reserve for conservatives, "neocons," and other ideological opponents?




I am still looking for a co-blogger for EDUCATION WATCH. Mike Pechar helps out occasionally but it is such a big field that the existing blog just scratches the surface.

European Union abolishes the British acre: "The acre, one of Britain's historic imperial measurements, is to be banned from use under a new European directive. The measurement, which will officially be replaced by the hectare, will no longer be allowed when land is being registered. After being agreed last week, the new ruling will come into force in January 2010. The Tories are angry that unlike some other EU countries, who sent Cabinet-level ministers to the meeting on 15 July, the Government only sent Jonathan Shaw, a junior minister at the Department for Environment Farming and Rural Affairs, to represent Britain's interests. Mark Francois, the Shadow Europe Minister said: "It is this kind of pointless interference into the nooks and crannies of our national life that frustrates people about the EU. Whether we use hectares or acres should be a matter for Britain to decide, not the EU."


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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