Thursday, July 29, 2010
The New Journalism
The consumer backlash against the House of Cronkite
‘The high standards and wise judgments of people like Walter Cronkite once acted as a national immune system, zapping scandal mongers and quashing wild rumors,” wrote former “green jobs czar” Van Jones in Sunday’s New York Times.
This may be one of the most unintentionally hilarious lines in recent memory. Jones, you may recall, left the White House when his background — not just as an alleged 9/11 truther but as a self-confessed Communist and revolutionary — became grist for the Fox News mill. Mainstream publications mostly ignored the controversy until after he was fired, and then focused on the fact that he directed an expletive at Republicans in a YouTube video.
Now Jones, with billets at Princeton and the Center for American Progress, casts himself as yet another victim, just like Shirley Sherrod, the Department of Agriculture employee fired after Andrew Breitbart released a misleadingly edited video of her. (Breitbart, a friend of mine, insists to me that he did not edit the video himself.)
You’ve just got to love a former member of STORM (Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement), a Mao-influenced organization with a professed “commitment to the fundamental principles of Marxism-Leninism,” giving Walter Cronkite — the dashboard saint of American bourgeois conformity — his due as the bulwark of decency. Yes, yes, Jones says he’s grown and is no longer the Red he was even a few years ago. But come on.
For generations, conservatives lamented the decline in standards. When Hollywood portrayed glandular instincts as the new moral compass of the secular age, conservatives waxed nostalgic over the lost decency of the “studio system.” When the education industry shelved the great books in favor of hugs, conservatives lamented the demise of the three R’s and the “closing of the American mind.” When the Left became enamored with a “riot ideology” that mistook lawlessness for political protest, conservatives invoked “law and order.” Name a front in the political and culture wars, and conservatives defended the authority of authority and the tradition of tradition, while liberals and leftists defended sticking it to the man.
But now that the legacy media is one of the last resources the Left still has at its disposal, even Comrade Jones isn’t immune to mossy nostalgia for Walter Cronkite (who, by the way, is easily one of the most overrated American icons).
And that’s the irony: The Left only believes in sticking it to the man when it isn’t the man. Teachers unions and tenured professors, now that they control their guilds, are darn-near reactionary in their white-knuckled grip on the status quo. Liberal legal scholars are a cargo cult to stare decisis, for the simple reason that the precedents are still on their side.
The essence of the culture war today is a battle over whose “gatekeepers” are legitimate and whose are not.
Nowhere is this more true than in the temples of journalism, where the high priests are barricading the doors with pews and candelabras to fend off the barbarians.
Among the liberal Brahmins of the legacy media, probity, standards, and restraint are the order of the day for inconvenient news. Feeding frenzies are reserved for the fun news (i.e., the news that reinforces liberal assumptions).
So, when the Climategate e-mails were released, the New York Times’s chief environmental correspondent refrained from posting private e-mails, a standard he would never have taken with internal e-mails from, say, BP. The leak of Valerie Plame’s identity: a shocking scandal that tore at the heart of the Bush administration. The leaking of vital state secrets: great journalism.
The house Cronkite built did many fine and noble things. It also locked out competing points of view, buried inconvenient bodies, spun the news with centrifugal force, and racked up a formidable list of Shirley Sherrods all its own. The New York Times whitewashed Stalin’s genocide. Cronkite misreported the significance of the Tet Offensive to say the Vietnam War was unwinnable. Dan Rather, Cronkite’s replacement, began his career falsely reporting that Dallas schoolchildren cheered JFK’s murder and ended it falsely reporting on forged National Guard memos. The Rodney King video was misleadingly edited; the Tailwind story was not true. And that’s only a snippet of the list.
The media environment today is dizzying not because of one revolution but two complementary ones. First there’s the churn of the Internet, from Wikileaks to wilding bloggers. But there’s also a second revolution that amounts to consumer backlash against the House of Cronkite. It has fueled the rise of Fox News and the new alternative media.
This pincer movement can be scary. But it’s progress.
Pelosi, Reid: Divorced From Reality
Leadership: A major poll just gave Congress a favorability rating of 11% — lowest in history. Never, it seems, have our representatives in Washington been so disconnected from the people they purport to serve.
The disconnect was most evident in separate comments made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at a conference of the far-left group Netroots Nation last weekend in Las Vegas. Both weighed in on vital topics. Both revealed why they're so out of touch with reality.
Pelosi told the audience she adamantly opposes raising the retirement age for Social Security and said the Depression-era program shouldn't be cut to help reduce the deficit. "When you talk about reducing the deficit and Social Security, you're talking about apples and oranges," she said.
She has it exactly backward. The No. 1 problem facing this nation is the massive deficit we face over the next 75 years, due almost entirely to the expansion of Social Security and Medicare. The only way to address the deficit is to address entitlements.
Social Security and Medicare trustees estimated last year that the unfunded liability — that is, future expected deficits — of the two programs is $107 trillion, or 7 1/2 times the size of our entire economy. If not addressed immediately, these shortfalls will require a tripling of payroll taxes to 37% by 2054 from 12.4% today.
Governments as diverse as Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, France and Great Britain face similar scary arithmetic and are already lengthening the amount of time workers have to work to get a public pension. They're making other cuts as well.
When the U.S. lags behind reform enacted even by the soft-socialist countries of Europe, it's a sign of how radical and beholden to special interests our Democrat-controlled government has become. To assert, as Pelosi has, that we don't need to alter Social Security in any way is the fiscal equivalent of joining the Flat Earth Society.
Meanwhile, the speaker had the chutzpah — or maybe it was twisted humor — to tell the Netroot folks that Democrats are "moving on all fronts to reduce the deficit."
"Moving on all fronts"? Last we saw — and it's hard to keep up — the U.S. this year is slated to have a deficit of $1.5 trillion, or 10% of GDP, and an additional $1.4 trillion, or 9.2% of GDP, next year. Anticipated deficits, all from Democratic policies, will add $10 trillion to $13 trillion to our national debt over the next decade.
Just Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office again warned that U.S. deficits are "unsustainable." Apparently, the free-spending Democrats don't think so.
In the recent debate over a $35 billion extension of jobless benefits, Republicans merely asked that the bill be paid for with cuts elsewhere — as the Democrats' own pay-go rules, passed earlier this year, require. Democrats refused. Instead, the GOP was slandered as racist and accused of hating poor Americans.
Reid's comments, made to the same Netroot group, were equally absurd — and no doubt offensive to voters.
After his party insisted during more than a year of debate over the health care overhaul that they did not want a single-payer public option, Reid gloated to the Netroot gathering: "We're going to have a public option. It's just a question of when."
As with Pelosi's comments, Reid's fly in the face of what's going on around the world. Europe, in particular, has been forced to face up to its debt problems, and countries there are actively attacking their governments' involvement in health care.
Take Britain, the country most often cited as a model for Obama-Care. The government-run National Health Service is going through massive cuts, and "some of the most common operations — including hip replacements and cataract surgery — will be rationed" to save money, according to Britain's Telegraph.
Meanwhile, the new conservative government is pushing the biggest reform of Britain's health care system since its 1948 founding, with a plan to decentralize the bureaucracy to the local level.
Nor does Reid, like Pelosi, get that Social Security is in a deep crisis. He called it "the most successful social program in the history of the world." Successful? A program that socks future generations with trillions in higher taxes and lower standards of living? A program that's already running in the red and whose unsustainable finances promise to push the U.S. to the verge of bankruptcy?
The arrogance of Reid's and Pelosi's remarks underscore the problems that the Democrats have with the electorate. They promised moderation and fiscal responsibility. Instead, we got a radical expansion of government power — with trillions of dollars in spending, thousands of pages of costly regulations, a government takeover of vast swaths of the private economy and deficits stretching into the future as far as our best forecasts can see.
The country has seen what arrogant, untrammeled rule looks like. And as the polls show, it doesn't care for it at all.
Obama Debt Commission will Call for Trillions in Tax Hikes
The Democrats are looking to get Republicans to endorse raising taxes. Some might be stupid enough. Remember George Bush senior and his lying lips
Obama debt commission member, Republican Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, launched a scary trial balloon on ABC News. Gregg suggested the debt commission will likely recommend a massive $26.7 trillion tax increase. Here are Gregg’s actual words:
“Everything has to be on the table – there’s no question about that… Erskine Bowles, one of the co-chairmen of the commission, has suggested a 75-25 split — 75 percent of the savings being in spending, and 25 percent in revenues… I think it’s likely that there will have to be a revenue component, but it should be significantly, dramatically — and a 3-1 ratio is pretty dramatic — dramatically less than the initiatives in the spending side of the ledger.”
According to an analysis by Americans for Tax Reform if Bowles wants $3 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax hikes then the tax increases will be larger than anyone expects:
“Bowles and Gregg can only be talking about cutting $3 in promised Social Security and Medicare benefits in exchange for $1 in tax increases. In other words, 1/4 of the unfunded liabilities of Social Security and Medicare would be paid for with tax hikes. So how big is that? According to the 2009 Social Security and Medicare Actuaries’ Report, the long-run insolvency of the Social Security and Medicare systems is $106.8 trillion (with a “t”) over the infinite horizon. To close this gap with one-quarter tax hikes is, therefore, to raise taxes by $26.7 trillion. Of course, this number is undoubtedly higher since the Obama Administration is sitting on (read: hiding) the 2010 version of the report (it’s nearly six months overdue).”
On the heels of a huge tax increases included in the over-2000-page ObamaCare package, together with over-2000-page so-called “Financial Reform Package,” together with the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, Obama’s economic policies have guaranteed a double-dip recession.
Strap on your safety belts, because the anemic economic recovery of 2010 is about to become a government-induced second recession or double-dip in 2011. This outcome is baked in the cake even before any tax increases from the Obama debt commission are enacted.
If they are so greedy as to also try — by passage of a climate control bill — increases in energy taxes then this second recession will likely lead to deflation and a collapse into a government-sponsored depression. The economy cannot afford more money being redirected from investments toward government spending.
Clearly from this evidence alone it is plain to see that Obama isn’t judging his success based on a record of economic growth, but instead he is pursuing a program of economic redistribution. The administration has no focus on expanding the economic pie; instead, they are concerned with devouring every piece of the pie.
Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, has been watching the Obama debt commission closely, and he concluded after hearing reports of Sen. Gregg’s comments:
“It’s been clear from the beginning that the purpose of this Commission was to put GOP fingerprints on a tax hike, likely a VAT… Gregg seems to be giving them all ten fingers… The true agenda of this commission has always been to hide the ball on a tax hike until after the November elections – hence the December reporting date. Gregg’s gaffe today tips their hand,”
Higher taxes are never the answer. With the economy so weak, Congress should be making the Bush tax cuts permanent. Taxes on capital formation and investment should be eliminated all together. America should be encouraging small business, individual investors and entrepreneurs to be taking risks to increase economic growth in the private sector. Instead, Obama and the socialists in Congress are embarked on a dangerous expedition to punish success. This will end badly.
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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)
Posted by JR at 8:24 PM