In today’s American Spectator, Jeffrey Lord refreshes our memories regarding the Alger Hiss/Whittaker Chambers controversy that graced the American political scene a few decades ago. At that time, New Deal progressives quickly and vehemently came to the defense of Hiss. That kind of reaction seems not at all unlike the vindictiveness establishment Republicans have recently exhibited by excoriating Congresswoman Michele Bachmann for her straightforward inquiries into the thoroughness of State Department security clearance vetting. As Lord asks in “Is Huma Abedin the New Alger Hiss?“:
Is Huma Abedin to the Muslim Brotherhood what Alger Hiss was to the Soviet Union?
Why are Republican Senator John McCain, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rodgers (R-MI) acting in the growing Abedin controversy as Washington Establishment Democrats of the 1940s did in the Hiss episode? Which is to say, writing off the dangers of a foreign enemy whose goal is to infiltrate the U.S. government — because, well, the people in question are part of the Washington Establishment?
And last but certainly not least, why is the Republican Establishment pursuing a losing strategy in the war against Islamic radicalism? Is it returning to the losing strategy it pursued during the Cold War — a strategy that was overturned over Establishment opposition by Ronald Reagan’s victorious “we win, they lose” strategy?
The article is well worth reading in its entirety for both its description of the current brouhaha and as an Alger Hiss controversy primer, including Richard Nixon’s treatment at the hands of the Establishment for his part in the Hiss investigation when he was a young Republican Congressman.
However, left out of the analysis is another major event associated with the Cold War that is not often mentioned nowadays: Nixon’s trip to China. If we consider China’s American-boosted rise as an industrial and military power, the Middle Kingdom’s seemingly incessant hostility towards the U.S. that includes continuing and ubiquitous espionage efforts, and ask ourselves what have the Chinese ever done that’s been to our strategic benefit, another question comes to my mind:
Was Henry Kissinger Richard Nixon’s Alger Hiss? Just wondering.
Proof! Establishment media is controlled by Democrat operatives
There was a rather low-key confession made in the New York Times last week that deserves to be blared throughout this country so that every American understands what they are reading in the establishment's ultra-controlled, government-managed "press" - and I use that last word loosely indeed.
The admission came in the form of a story by Jeremy Peters on the politics page of the Times July 16. I've been waiting for others to point it out, discuss it, debate it, express shock and exasperation over it. But I've waited for naught.
What this shocking story reveals is that even I - one of the kingpins of the new media and a refugee from the state-controlled spin machine - underestimated the utter and total corruption of the euphemistically called "mainstream press."
It shows that most - not some - members of the print media establishment with access to the White House submit their copy to government officials for review, "correction" and approval before it reaches the American people!
Even "progressive" WND columnist Ellen Ratner agrees - media under a spell! Here are some key excerpts from the piece, if you think I'm exaggerating:
"The quotations come back redacted, stripped of colorful metaphors, colloquial language and anything even mildly provocative."
"They are sent by e-mail from the Obama headquarters in Chicago to reporters who have interviewed campaign officials under one major condition: the press office has veto power over what statements can be quoted and attributed by name."
"Most reporters, desperate to pick the brains of the president's top strategists, grudgingly agree. After the interviews, they review their notes, check their tape recorders and send in the juiciest sound bites for review. The verdict from the campaign - an operation that prides itself on staying consistently on script - is often no, Barack Obama does not approve this message."
"Now, with a millisecond Twitter news cycle and an unforgiving, gaffe-obsessed media culture, politicians and their advisers are routinely demanding that reporters allow them final editing power over any published quotations."
"Quote approval is standard practice for the Obama campaign, used by many top strategists and almost all mid-level aides in Chicago and at the White House - almost anyone other than spokesmen who are paid to be quoted. (And sometimes it applies even to them.) It is also commonplace throughout Washington and on the campaign trail."
"Many journalists spoke about the editing only if granted anonymity, an irony that did not escape them."
"From Capitol Hill to the Treasury Department, interviews granted only with quote approval have become the default position. Those officials who dare to speak out of school, but fearful of making the slightest off-message remark, shroud even the most innocuous and anodyne quotations in anonymity by insisting they be referred to as a ‘top Democrat' or a ‘Republican strategist.'"
"Those [reporters] who did speak on the record said the restrictions seem only to be growing. ‘It's not something I'm particularly proud of because there's a part of me that says, Don't do it, don't agree to their terms,' said Major Garrett, a correspondent for The National Journal."
"It was difficult to find a news outlet that had not agreed to quote approval, albeit reluctantly. Organizations like Bloomberg, The Washington Post, Vanity Fair, Reuters and The New York Times have all consented to interviews under such terms."
I could go on and on. I urge you to read the entire story. This may be the most important story broken by the New York Times in years.
News Versus Propaganda
Since so many in the media cannot resist turning every tragedy into a political talking point, it was perhaps inevitable that (1) someone would try to link the shooting rampage at the Batman movie in Colorado to the tea party movement, and that (2) some would try to make it a reason to impose more gun control laws.
Too many people in the media cannot seem to tell the difference between reporting the news and creating propaganda.
NBC News apparently could not resist doctoring the transcript of the conversation between George Zimmerman and the police after the Trayvon Martin shooting. Now ABC News took the fact that the man arrested for the shooting in Colorado was named James Holmes to broadcast to the world the fact that there is a James Holmes who is a member of the Tea Party in Colorado.
The fact has since come out that these are two different men, one in his 20s and the other in his 50s. But corrections never catch up with irresponsible news broadcasts. The James Holmes who belongs to the Tea Party has been deluged with phone calls. I hope he sues ABC News for every dime they have.
This is not the first time that the mainstream media have tried to create a link between conservatives and violence. Years ago, the Oklahoma City bombing was blamed on Rush Limbaugh, despite the absence of any evidence that the bomber was inspired by Rush Limbaugh.
Similar things have happened repeatedly, going all the way back to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which was blamed on a hostile right-wing atmosphere in Dallas, even though the assassin had a long history of being on the far left fringe.
But, where the shoe is on the other foot -- as when the Unabomber had a much marked-up copy of an environmentalist book by Al Gore -- the media heard no evil, saw no evil and spoke no evil. If people in the media cannot decide whether they are in the business of reporting news or manufacturing propaganda, it is all the more important that the public understand that difference, and choose their news sources accordingly.
As for gun control advocates, I have no hope whatever that any facts whatever will make the slightest dent in their thinking -- or lack of thinking. New York's Mayor Bloomberg and CNN's Piers Morgan were on the air within hours of the shooting, pushing the case for gun control laws.
You might never know, from what they and other gun control advocates have said, that there is a mountain of evidence that gun control laws not only fail to control guns but are often counterproductive. However, for those other people who still think facts matter, it is worth presenting some of those facts.
Do countries with strong gun control laws have lower murder rates? Only if you cherry-pick the data.
Britain is a country with stronger gun control laws than the United States, and lower murder rates. But Mexico, Russia and Brazil are also countries with stronger gun control laws than the United States -- and their murder rates are much higher than ours. Israel and Switzerland have even higher rates of gun ownership than the United States, and much lower murder rates than ours.
Even the British example does not stand up very well under scrutiny. The murder rate in New York has been several times that in London for more than two centuries -- and, for most of that time, neither place had strong gun control laws. New York had strong gun control laws years before London did, but New York still had several times the murder rate of London.
It was in the later decades of the 20th century that the British government clamped down with severe gun control laws, disarming virtually the entire law-abiding citizenry. Gun crimes, including murder, rose as the public was disarmed.
Meanwhile, murder rates in the United States declined during the same years when murder rates in Britain were rising, which were also years when Americans were buying millions more guns per year.
The real problem, both in discussions of mass shootings and in discussions of gun control, is that too many people are too committed to a vision to allow mere facts to interfere with their beliefs, and the sense of superiority that those beliefs give them.
Any discussion of facts is futile when directed at such people. All anyone can do is warn others about the propaganda.
The Implicit Errors in Debts to Society Arguments
Suppose–purely hypothetically–a prominent politician uses the following argument to explain why we should pay more taxes:
"If you are rich, you relied upon background infrastructure, social norms, institutions, the rule of law, and so on, in making your money. In the state of nature, life would be nasty, poor, brutish, and short. But you life is pleasant, rich, civil, and long, thanks to these background institutions, many of which are provided by government. So, pay us more taxes."
These kinds of arguments try to establish that you owe a debt to society, and then try to establish that paying more taxes is the right way to repay this debt.
The problem is that they assume–without argument–that the society to which you owe a debt just happens to be the nation-state. There is no reason to assume that. In fact, it’s more plausible that my debts, if I have any, are both more local and more global than the nation-state.
Consider that I was educated in public schools in Tewksbury, MA, and Hudson, NH. I now drive on roads provided by certain counties in Virginia and by Washington, DC. Etc. If I owe a debt for my education, why think this indebts me to America (or the federal government) rather than Hudson, NH?
I benefit from the positive externalities created by an extended system of trade. Why think this indebts me to America (or the federal government) rather than almost the entire world?
Suppose I were to buy a loaf of bread. If I trace the history of that bread, Leonard Read “I, Pencil”-style, I’ll find that in producing the bread, a wide range of governmental services were used. These services come from local, state-wide, and federal governments, both domestic and foreign. It would be bizarre, then, to assume that in buying the loaf of bread, I acquire some special debt to the US Federal Government.
Another major error is to assume that people must repay their debts through taxes. I don’t know what Thomas Edison paid in taxes. But I can safely assume that he did more to repay his “debt to society” through his inventions than by paying taxes. A similar point will apply more weakly to many of the rest of us.
A final problem with the hypothetical politician’s argument is that it does not establish how much people should pay. The argument above (and the real-life argument to which I allude) do not tell us at all what marginal tax rates should be. Perhaps I owe the government 95% of my income. Perhaps I owe it 5%. The argument does not say. One might try to argue that I owe the government everything, since life would be lousy in the absence of government. But we could just as easily say that the government owes us everything, since it couldn’t function without us.
ADDENDUM: I forgot to list another mistake the argument makes. Consider that my kids probably owe me a debt for raising them. To repay that debt, when they are adults, they should probably at least visit or call once in a while. However, while they owe me this debt, I will not be entitled to force them to pay it. So, another problem with the debts to society argument for increased taxation is that it doesn’t establish that society may force us to pay our debts.
What’s not forbidden is mandated: "I was headed to the local county building department to try and obtain permission for my client to build a warehouse on a large piece of rural property that he owned. They call this permission a 'building permit,' and unless you are granted one of them by the local bureaucracy, it is a criminal offense to build. Both my client and I had recently jumped on a new fad in architectural design, that is, building out of used shipping containers. Economically speaking, the shipping container is a great architectural tool; it is large, spacious, structurally sound and you can buy them cheap. I had designed a warehouse for him which utilized two shipping containers to act both as main structural elements as well as large storage spaces. It was a design that was simple and economical, integrating an unrelated element into a unified package; in other words, it was innovative. And that's why we couldn't build it." (07/23/12)
Why governor calls shooter “Suspect A”: "Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper had the right idea when he refused to utter the suspected gunman's name in the Aurora multiplex theatre shootings that left 12 dead and 58 wounded. Instead of naming the alleged killer, Hickenlooper referred to him only as 'Suspect A.' At a prayer vigil Sunday, Hickenlooper read the names of each of the 12 people killed in the incident. After each name, the crowd repeated the refrain, 'We will remember.' ... 'We want to focus on the victims, survivors and first responders,' the governor's spokesman Eric Brown explained. 'Not the killer"
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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)