Tuesday, February 17, 2015

True Lies

Brian Williams, Dan Rather, Fareed Zakaria, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Lena Dunham etc.  The lies from the Left never stop

“NBC Nightly News” anchorman Brian Williams frequently fabricated a dramatic story that he was under enemy attack while reporting from Iraq. NBC is now investigating whether Williams also embellished events in New Orleans during his reporting on Hurricane Katrina.

Williams always plays the hero in his yarns, braving natural and hostile human enemies to deliver us the truth on the evening news.

Former CBS anchorman Dan Rather tried to pass off fake memos as authentic evidence about former President George W. Bush’s supposedly checkered National Guard record.

CNN news host Fareed Zakaria, who recently interviewed President Obama, was caught using the written work of others as if it were his own. He joins a distinguished array of accused plagiarists, from historian Doris Kearns Goodwin to columnist Maureen Dowd.

Usually, plagiarism is excused. Research assistants are blamed or clerical slips are cited – and little happens. In lieu of admitting deliberate dishonesty, our celebrities when caught prefer using the wishy-washy prefix “mis-” to downplay a supposed accident – as in misremembering, misstating or misconstruing.

Politicians are often the worst offenders. Vice President Joe Biden withdrew from the presidential race of 1988 once it was revealed that he had been caught plagiarizing in law school. In that campaign, he gave a speech lifted from British Labor Party candidate Neil Kinnock.

Hillary Clinton fantasized when she melodramatically claimed she had been under sniper fire when landing in Bosnia. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, was more overt in lying under oath in the Monica Lewinsky debacle. Former Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.) was caught plagiarizing elements of his master’s thesis.

President Obama has explained that some of the characters in his autobiography, “Dreams From My Father,” were “composites” or “compressed,” which suggests that in some instances what he described did not exactly happen.

What are the consequences of lying about or exaggerating one’s past or stealing the written work of others? It depends.

Punishment is calibrated by the stature of the perpetrator. If the offender is powerful, then misremembering, misstating and misconstruing are considered minor and aberrant transgressions. If not, the sins are called lying and plagiarizing, and deemed a window into a bad soul. Thus a career can be derailed.

Young, upcoming lying reporters like onetime New York Times fabulist Jayson Blair and The New Republic’s past stable of fantasy writers – Stephen Glass, Scott Beauchamp and Ruth Shalit – had their work finally disowned by their publications. Former Washington Post reporter Janet Cooke got her Pulitzer Prize revoked for fabricating a story.

Obscure Sen. Walsh was forced out of his re-election race. Biden, on the other hand, became vice president. It did not matter much that the Obama biography by Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Maraniss contradicted many of the details from Obama’s autobiography.

Hillary Clinton may well follow her husband’s trajectory and become president. The Rev. Al Sharpton helped perpetuate the Tawana Brawley hoax; he is now a frequent guest at the White House.

Why do so many of our elites cut corners and embellish their past or steal the work of others?

For them, such deception may be a small gamble worth taking, with mild consequences if caught. Plagiarism is a shortcut to publishing without all the work of creating new ideas or doing laborious research. Padding a resume or mixing truth with half-truths and composites creates more dramatic personal histories that enhance careers.

Our culture itself has redefined the truth into a relative idea without fault. Some academics suggested that Brian Williams may have lied because of “memory distortion” rather than a character defect.

Contemporary postmodern thought sees the “truth” as a construct. The social aim of these fantasy narratives is what counts. If they serve progressive race, class and gender issues, then why follow the quaint rules of evidence that were established by an ossified and reactionary establishment?

Feminist actress and screenwriter Lena Dunham in her memoir described her alleged rapist as a campus conservative named Barry. After suspicion was cast on one particular man fitting Dunham’s book description, Dunham clarified that she meant to refer to someone else as the perpetrator.

Surely the exonerated Duke University men’s lacrosse players who were accused of sexual assault or the University of Virginia frat boys accused of rape in a magazine article in theory could have been guilty – even if they were proven not to be.

Michael Brown was suspected of committing a strong-arm robbery right before his death. He then walked down the middle of a street, blocking traffic, and rushed a policeman. Autopsy and toxicology reports of gunpowder residuals and the presence of THC suggest that Brown had marijuana in his system and was in close contact to the officer who fired. Do those details matter, if a “gentle giant” can become emblematic of an alleged epidemic of racist, trigger-happy cops who recklessly shoot unarmed youth?

The Greek word for truth was “aletheia” – literally “not forgetting.” Yet that ancient idea of eternal differences between truth and myth is now lost in the modern age.

Our lies become accepted as true, but only depending on how powerful and influential we are – or how supposedly noble the cause for which we lie.



Lies the Media Told Me

Marshall McLuhan's claim that ‘the medium is the message" is a rule of thumb adopted by today's news media. Truth is optional, and the means by which it is delivered to the public has become a matter of "style" and bias. If truth does not comport with an established narrative, falsehood is permissible. After all, the public, to whom the news is directed, doesn't know the difference.

Truth, in the news media, is becoming more and more as rare as a halal hamburger in Riyadh, or a wine list in a Tehran restaurant.

If a news event doesn't fit the New York Times's printable meme or mantra, it isn't going to be reported without slanting and bias so severe that even a cursory examination of it will capsize the story to reveal the rust and barnacles on its hull. The same rule of thumb goes for most news organizations and outlets, including the Washington Post and other "major" dailies. Almost every one of them delivers messages, not news.

Most of them don't even pretend to be paragons of journalism anymore. What, after all, is a journal? It is a record of significant or noteworthy events, entered without prejudice for or against the things in the events. The news media couldn't even report Paul Revere shouting "The British are coming!" without injecting some squib about gay rights, because some of the British officers were perhaps gay, and any shots fired at them could be said to be "homophobic."

"Cow bites milkmaid" won't be reported by the New York Times without some subtle, sub-textual message about animal rights or gender exploitation. Virtually the only realm of unbiased news reportage left in any medium is the obituaries, and sometimes even those are skewed when the deceased was a celebrity or a politician whose true character is not only suspect but so reeking with scandal (e.g., the passing of Ted Kennedy) that toxic fumes leak from the person's casket. That's another kind of "odor of sanctity." It can't be dispersed or disguised by a gallon of eau de cologne spritzers.

The phony war stories of Brian Williams are but the tip of the media practice and culture of rearranging reality to suit a fantasy world of political correctness and to satisfy a hankering for a "perfect" world. Perhaps he thought that if Hillary Clinton could get away with lying about her "dodging bullets" in Bosnia for so long before being found out, he could get away with claiming that the helicopter he was riding in Iraq came under RPG fire, when no such thing happened. Hillary claimed that she "misremembered" the imaginary sniper fire episode in Bosnia in 1996. "Misremembering" things seems to be as common a thing as zits on a high school sophomore.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Williams was photographed in waders sloshing thru flood waters. He claimed to have seen bodies floating under his hotel window, and that gangs had invaded his hotel and he was frightened. None of this happened, except for the photo-op. The rest was his imagination. He and his ilk can always claim, when the truth contracts their assertions, that the problem is a matter of "misremembering," or symptoms of "post-combat mental trauma."

As Daniel Greenfield put it in his FrontPage article of February 9th, "Brian Williams for President," about the major news networks abetting the "misdemeanor" of lying to the public because the lies help to advance the Progressive agenda of turning America into a minimum security correctional facility:

"Brian Williams is in trouble for lying, but he was part of a media culture of deceit where lies were acceptable for a good progressive cause. Williams isn't really in trouble because he lied, but because he got caught. Worse still, the lies were self-serving. They served Brian Williams; they didn't serve the left.

Williams had failed to draw the line between the "good lie" (ObamaCare is making life better) and the "bad lie" (I swam the flooded French Quarter with puppies on my back during Katrina while Al Qaeda shot RPGs at me). But the borders between the "good lie" and the "bad lie" have been vague when it comes to the titans of the left."

If he thought he could get away with another whopper, Williams probably would have also claimed that he hurt his index finger by sticking it into all fifty dikes and flood walls during Katrina to help stop the flooding.

For the longest time, for decades, in fact, I grew to despise news anchors. It began with the hectoring voice of Walter Cronkite in the 1950's. But Brian Williams is representative of the smarmy, sneering, cynically sanctimonious, slickly groomed face also telling me "that's how it is." Their offensive, know-it-all styles of delivery made them personalities, not newsmen, actors, not conveyers of truth, perhaps a rung and a half up from carnival barkers.

This false news reportage has become a tradition among news anchors, continued by the likes of Peter Jennings and Dan Rather, to whom news reportage/lying to the public is a "crude art form," akin to a Jackson Pollack canvas. These people are so desperate to adhere to their politically correct agenda, and want to be remembered as the electronic heralds of a "new world order," that they are willing to fabricate a glittering monstrance and substitute their glossy, patent leather faces for a eucharist.



A Blow to Illinois Unions Is a Win for Jobs

While it’s debatable whether anything politically good can come out of Chicago, something good came out of the Illinois state capital of Springfield this week. In a blow to the state’s bloated government unions, newly elected Republican Governor Bruce Rauner signed an executive order Monday allowing state workers to opt out of paying union dues.

At issue is Illinois' lack of a “right to work” law, meaning workers can be required to pay either union dues or fees as a condition of employment. As a result, most government employees in Illinois have to dish out part of their paycheck to a union as a condition of getting that paycheck. And even those who refuse to join a union are required to pay “fair share” dues. After all, they “benefit” from union contracts.

Citing First Amendment protections of freedom of speech and association, however, Rauner took issue with this practice, saying compulsory payments to unions require some workers to “subsidize and enable union activities that they do not support,” and he ordered the state “to immediately cease enforcement of the Fair Share Contract Provisions.”

Naturally, unions aren’t taking this well. According to the state’s largest public union, “The governor’s proposal to bar public employees from participating in our democracy would further tilt a playing field weighted heavily in favor of big business and the wealthy.” Of course, participatory democracy has nothing to do with this. Instead, unions are downright petrified they’re going to lose their money.

Public unions play leading roles in the Prairie State’s corruption drama. While collecting forced dues from government workers, unions use the dough to lobby the government for more pay and benefits in a relationship Investor’s Business Daily aptly terms “incestuous.” In fact, The Heritage Foundation’s James Sherk notes, “State employees in Illinois make 26 percent more than comparable private sector workers. They enjoy particularly generous retirement benefits.”

Meanwhile, the state’s pension system is the most underfunded in the country, and taxpayers are squeezed, dishing out the second-highest property taxes in the nation in a failed attempt to fund it all.

But it gets even better. To grease the skids, public unions donate heavily to lawmakers' re-election campaigns, meaning legislators have little impetus to fight union demands. The Illinois Policy Institute reports that between 2002 and 2014, a whopping 86% of state legislators received campaign contributions from government unions, including more than $1 million that went to the state speaker of the house – who also happens to be chairman of the Democrat Party of Illinois.

Of course, this dance doesn’t benefit Illinois residents, who bear the financial brunt of paying for the ongoing rendezvous. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the state’s economic situation is downright abysmal. While nationwide employment growth from 2003 to 2014 was 7.3%, in Illinois, it was 0.2%. And the state ranks consistently low in business climate, too.

Still, unions aren’t going to take this blow lying down. But proving he’s no dummy, Rauner coupled his executive order with a preemptive lawsuit asking a federal district court to uphold the order. There is precedent, too. In the 2014 Supreme Court case of Harris vs. Quinn, the Court raised the question of whether forced payment of union dues is constitutional.

At the very least, however, Illinois' public unions are now on the defensive and scrambling to keep the money and power that are their raison d'être. If Rauner’s actions are any indication, though, unions are fighting a losing battle.


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


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog

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