Monday, July 26, 2010

The Media's co-ordinated attack on Sarah Palin

On Thursday, the Daily Caller published exchanges from a private forum called JournoList that showed how 400 top mainstream reporters and their activist buddies conspired in an attack against Palin the minute she entered the presidential race.

Wrote Daniel Levy of the Century Foundation: "This seems to me like an occasion when the nonofficial campaign has a big role to play in defining Palin, shaping the terms of the conversation and saying things that the official (Obama) campaign shouldn't say — very hard-hitting stuff, including some of the things that people have been noting here (on JournoList) — scare people about having this woefully inexperienced, no foreign policy/national security/right-wing christia (sic) wing-nut a heartbeat away."

"What a joke," added Jeffrey Toobin, a staff writer at the New Yorker and a senior analyst at CNN.

Ryan Donmoyer of Bloomberg News warned the forum bloggers that Palin's decision against aborting her baby with Down syndrome represented a threat to Obama because it was a "heartwarming" story. Politico's Ben Adler (now at Newsweek) said Palin should be criticized because campaigning would take her away from her baby.

Instead of calling Adler out on his 1970s-grade sexism, Human Rights Watch's then-chief of operations, Suzanne Nossel, suggested that McCain be called the sexist: "I think it is and can be spun as a profoundly sexist pick. Women should feel umbrage at the idea that their votes can be attracted just by putting a woman, any woman, on the ticket no matter her qualification or views."

"OK, let's get deadly serious, folks," wrote Ed Kilgore, managing editor of the Democratic Strategist. "Grating voice or not, 'inexperienced' or not, Sarah Palin's just been introduced to the country as a brave, above-party, oil-company-bashing, pork-hating maverick 'outsider.' What we can do is expose her ideology?"

And so it went — journalists from the Nation, Mother Jones, Time, Politico, Bloomberg cooking up approaches, arguments, "narratives" and templates to paint a false picture of the candidate.

There are so many things wrong with this, we hardly know where to start. Nominally competitors, these supposedly impartial media mavens colluded in a way that would put airline or insurance officials in the dock for anti-competitive practices. They engaged in activism instead of fact-finding and mixed incestuously with activists whom they also should have been covering impartially.

Worst of all, they deprived millions of Americans of the information they needed to size up this new face on the political scene and determine if she really was a candidate who represented their interests. That still remains to be done — and the country is poorer for it.



Too many laws, too many prisoners

Never in the civilised world have so many been locked up for so little

THREE pickup trucks pulled up outside George Norris’s home in Spring, Texas. Six armed police in flak jackets jumped out. Thinking they must have come to the wrong place, Mr Norris opened his front door, and was startled to be shoved against a wall and frisked for weapons. He was forced into a chair for four hours while officers ransacked his house. They pulled out drawers, rifled through papers, dumped things on the floor and eventually loaded 37 boxes of Mr Norris’s possessions onto their pickups. They refused to tell him what he had done wrong. “It wasn’t fun, I can tell you that,” he recalls.

Mr Norris was 65 years old at the time, and a collector of orchids. He eventually discovered that he was suspected of smuggling the flowers into America, an offence under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. This came as a shock. He did indeed import flowers and sell them to other orchid-lovers. And it was true that his suppliers in Latin America were sometimes sloppy about their paperwork. In a shipment of many similar-looking plants, it was rare for each permit to match each orchid precisely.

In March 2004, five months after the raid, Mr Norris was indicted, handcuffed and thrown into a cell with a suspected murderer and two suspected drug-dealers. When told why he was there, “they thought it hilarious.” One asked: “What do you do with these things? Smoke ’em?”

Prosecutors described Mr Norris as the “kingpin” of an international smuggling ring. He was dumbfounded: his annual profits were never more than about $20,000. When prosecutors suggested that he should inform on other smugglers in return for a lighter sentence, he refused, insisting he knew nothing beyond hearsay.

He pleaded innocent. But an undercover federal agent had ordered some orchids from him, a few of which arrived without the correct papers. For this, he was charged with making a false statement to a government official, a federal crime punishable by up to five years in prison. Since he had communicated with his suppliers, he was charged with conspiracy, which also carries a potential five-year term.

As his legal bills exploded, Mr Norris reluctantly changed his plea to guilty, though he still protests his innocence. He was sentenced to 17 months in prison. After some time, he was released while his appeal was heard, but then put back inside. His health suffered: he has Parkinson’s disease, which was not helped by the strain of imprisonment. For bringing some prescription sleeping pills into prison, he was put in solitary confinement for 71 days. The prison was so crowded, however, that even in solitary he had two room-mates.

Justice is harsher in America than in any other rich country. Between 2.3m and 2.4m Americans are behind bars, roughly one in every 100 adults. If those on parole or probation are included, one adult in 31 is under “correctional” supervision. As a proportion of its total population, America incarcerates five times more people than Britain, nine times more than Germany and 12 times more than Japan. Overcrowding is the norm. Federal prisons house 60% more inmates than they were designed for. State lock-ups are only slightly less stuffed.

The system has three big flaws, say criminologists. First, it puts too many people away for too long. Second, it criminalises acts that need not be criminalised. Third, it is unpredictable. Many laws, especially federal ones, are so vaguely written that people cannot easily tell whether they have broken them.

In 1970 the proportion of Americans behind bars was below one in 400, compared with today’s one in 100. Since then, the voters, alarmed at a surge in violent crime, have demanded fiercer sentences. Politicians have obliged. New laws have removed from judges much of their discretion to set a sentence that takes full account of the circumstances of the offence. Since no politician wants to be tarred as soft on crime, such laws, mandating minimum sentences, are seldom softened. On the contrary, they tend to get harder.

Some criminals belong behind bars. When a habitual rapist is locked up, the streets are safer. But the same is not necessarily true of petty drug-dealers, whose incarceration creates a vacancy for someone else to fill, argues Alfred Blumstein of Carnegie Mellon University. The number of drug offenders in federal and state lock-ups has increased 13-fold since 1980. Some are scary thugs; many are not....

Severe drug laws have unintended consequences. Less than half of American cancer patients receive adequate painkillers, according to the American Pain Foundation, another pressure-group. One reason is that doctors are terrified of being accused of drug-trafficking if they over-prescribe. In 2004 William Hurwitz, a doctor specialising in the control of pain, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for prescribing pills that a few patients then resold on the black market. Virginia’s board of medicine ruled that he had acted in good faith, but he still served nearly four years....

Much more HERE



Modern political prisoners in America: "When I was growing up, I learned in school that one of the reasons the United States of America was better than the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was because we didn’t hold political prisoners in our jails. That was something the bad, bad communists did. That was something that was done in communist countries to keep dissidents in line and to silence them. Such a thing could never be done in America. I don’t know if this is still taught in the schools, but if it is then I believe our children are being grossly misinformed. The United States of America has become the leading nation when it comes to jailing its citizens, and the vast majority of them have been jailed for non violent crimes. We are, in effect, being jailed by the political class for disobeying rules they have deigned necessary, not for actions that have harmed another human being or his property. Most of those jailed are, in effect, political prisoners.”

A law to prevent government bungling! (If only ...) "President Barack Obama will sign legislation today to limit erroneous payments by the government and announce a new goal of reducing improper payments by $50 billion before 2012, a White House official said. The Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act will help limit improper payments to individuals, organizations and contractors, according to the administration official. The White House said that in 2009 a record of almost $110 billion was paid by the government to the wrong person, in the wrong amount or for the wrong reasons."

A Russian milestone: First black elected to office: "People in this Russian town used to stare at Jean Gregoire Sagbo because they had never seen a black man. Now they say they see in him something equally rare — an honest politician. Sagbo last month became the first black to be elected to office in Russia. In a country where racism is entrenched and often violent, Sagbo’s election as one of Novozavidovo’s 10 municipal councilors is a milestone.”

US deficit heads toward record $1.47 trillion: "There is some good economic news. The red ink the US is swimming in is not as bad as projected in February. Yes, at $1.471 trillion, it’s still huge — 10 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product — but an improvement of $84 billion from earlier estimates. But bad news still looms large. In the next fiscal year, according to the mid-season review released by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Friday, the US deficit will be $150 billion more than earlier projections. It is expected to come in at $1.416 trillion, or 9.2 percent of GDP. The White House, which released the change in budget estimates, was careful not to overplay the changing numbers. ‘These are not substantial changes and nothing we want to make too big a deal about,’ said Peter Orszag, director of the OMB in a press call with reporters. ‘The economy remains weaker than we would like and the unemployment rate higher than we would like.’”

Battle over Bush tax cuts looms in Washington: "An epic fight is brewing over what Congress and President Obama should do about the expiring Bush tax cuts, with such substantial economic and political consequences that it could shape the fall elections and fiscal policy for years to come. Democratic leaders, including Obama, say they are intent on letting the tax cuts for the wealthy expire as scheduled at the end of this year. But they have pledged to continue the lower tax rates for individuals earning less than $200,000 and families earning less than $250,000 — what Democrats call the middle class. Most Republicans want to extend the tax cuts for everyone, and some Democrats agree, saying it would be unwise to raise taxes on anyone while the economy remains weak. If no action is taken, taxes on income, dividends, capital gains, and estates would all rise.”

Liberal tax revolt game-changer?: "The liberal tax revolt, as the Wall Street Journal is calling it, is a very important topic — especially for investors and small-business entrepreneurs. And for new jobs. The so-called revolt is comprised of three Democratic senators: Kent Conrad, Evan Bayh, and Ben Nelson. They want to extend all the Bush tax cuts. That includes taxes on the wealthy, or the top personal tax rate, the investment taxes on capital gains and dividends, and the estate tax. So is this revolt a game-changer, or merely wishful thinking?”

Doctors fleeing faster from profession, Medicare: "The exodus of doctors from Medicare (and, likely, from private practice altogether) is accelerating. The signs are undeniable: A 2008 poll by an independent Medicare commission found that 28 percent of seniors had trouble finding a primary-care doctor, up from 24 percent the year before. In Texas, 38 percent of primary-care doctors will take new Medicare patients. The Mayo Clinic is opting out of Medicare in several locations because the low payment rates don’t allow the organization to provide the quality care its culture demands. One financial planner reported that well over half of his physician clients have asked him to restructure their finances so they can retire in 2013 — the year before the main provisions of the new health overhaul law take effect.”

Abolish the Agriculture Department: "Amidst the big dispute between liberals and conservatives over race in the Shirley Sherrod controversy, I’d like to make a libertarian point: Rather than give Sherrod her job back at the Department of Agriculture, let’s instead simply abolish the Agriculture Department, along with all the socialist programs that enable those welfare-state bureaucrats to dole out other people’s hard-earned money to farmers.”

Money dominates: "Financial panics are usually followed by sharp economic snap backs. The post-Panic of 2008 has failed to follow this typical ‘V-shaped’ economic recovery pattern. After almost two years, the U.S. economy remains mired in an anemic recovery, with a current 2.4% year-over-year rate of growth. This paltry growth rate doesn’t even reach the U.S.’s long-term trend rate, and is well below the sizzling growth rate we should be observing (6%-7.5%). The picture is much the same in Europe, where growth is even more anemic. The fiscalists have reached for their standard elixir — larger government deficits.”

Bureaucratic brownies: "The Pentagon’s brownie recipe is 26 pages long. Among the ingredients: water that conforms to the ‘National Primary Drinking Water Regulations (Copies are available from the Office of Drinking Water, Environmental Protection Agency, WH550D, 401 M Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20460),’ eggs in compliance with ‘Regulations Governing the Inspection of Eggs and Egg Products (7 CFR Part 59),’ and baking soda ‘which meets the requirements of the Food Chemicals Codex.’”

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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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