Friday, September 26, 2014

Holder's Resignation: Can He Still Claim Executive Privilege?

Attorneys General usually don't stay on for eight years. Even six years is a pretty long hitch. They might have an ideological ax to grind but usually it's all about name recognition and stepping up to the most lucrative legal opportunities this country provides. Holder is frothing at the mouth to cash some big checks.

The reason Holder held on so long is the same reason the embezzler never takes a vacation. Holder has dirty, if not bloody, hands. At the very least, Holder is guilty of contempt for Congress. He might also be guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice. He has been less than cooperative with Congress and someone in a high place squelched the Fast Furious investigation and sidetracked the IRS Lerner Gang investigation. Know anything about those things, citizen Holder?

Pundits have called Holder "Obama's Bobby Kennedy." How heartwarmingly fraternal. I suggest that a more apt comparison would be with John Mitchell, Richard Nixon's corrupt AG who ultimately served nineteen months in prison. If a Republican with a spine (oxymoron?) is elected president in 2016, Holder could be in as much trouble as Mitchell found himself long ago.

Bye bye Eric. Can't say I will miss you.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Man shot over suspected seat belt violation

Sean Groubert, 31, a lance corporal who was fired from the Highway Patrol after the shooting incident, now faces 20 years in prison if convicted of wrongfully shooting the driver, Levar Jones. The deep thinking Trooper Groubert was fired shortly after the September 4 shooting which occurred during a stop for a suspected seat belt violation. The video was released at his bond hearing and bond was set at $75,000. Groubert's attorney says the shooting was justified because the officer feared for his life. Would that excuse have worked for the victim?

Phelim McAleer Blast From The Past


Walking To Copenhagen


Saying No to Kool-Aid


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Great Ad But Obviously Bogus

Obots will not turn on their cult leader no matter what. They may or may not approve of NSA spying but they will rationalize past the point of the ridiculous to either excuse or exclude their deity. In real life, the Obot's love is unflagging, unfailing and unending. Nice concept though.


Priceless: Is God Mocking Al Gore?

You might have heard about The Gore Effect, the idea that Al Gore brings a cold front wherever he speaks against global warming. It has its own Wikipedia citation.

In this speech, the Vice President quotes Luke and the microphone dies at the utterance of the word "hypocrite." I cannot think of a more Divine Intervention.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Journalists: If You Can't Beat Them, Buy Them

We can speculate about The Fourth Estate's motives and loyalties and our conclusions can be dismissed as partisanship but two facts scream bias. 1. The Obama Administration has hired a record number of mainstream reporters to work for them. 2. The Obama Administration has employed at least four relatives of high level news people.

Let's examine the second statement first. David Rhoades is the president of CBS News. His brother, Ben Rhoades is a White House national security battle.

Virginia Mosely is a CNN Vice President and Washington Bureau Chief. She is married to Tom Nides, a Deputy Secretary of State in the Obama Administration.

Former White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, is married to ABC News senior national correspondent, Claire Shipman.

Another president of a network news division, Ben Sherwood of ABC News, is the brother of special adviser to Barack Obama, Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall.

In the old days, we would call this graft. This behavior might be legal but it is highly unethical. Whatever credibility the Fourth Estate might have had left in its account, it has squandered it in the Obama Administration.

Not quite as egregious is the Obama Administration practice of hiring journalists on a scale never before seen. That practice has a long tradition and I am not of the opinion that reporters should be blackballed but the Obama Administration exceeds with excess.

On May 5, 2009 Ed O'Keefe of 'The Washington Post” wrote an article on the bumper crop of administration jobs awarded to news people. Eleven lucky recipients not counting David Axelrod, who is a former reporter at “Chicago Tribune.” One of the mentioned was a Bush Administration holdover, Geoff Morrell.

On February 17, 2012 Paul Bedard of the “Washington Examiner” listed 19 reporters and news executives who had gone to work for the Administration. Bedard reported that to be a record number of news people hired by an administration.

Records are made to be broken. On September 12, 2013, Elspeth Reeve reported at The Wire that the Obama Administration had hired its 24th journalist, former “Time” managing editor, Rick Stengel.

Not mentioned in any of the articles listed above are the graduates who went to work in media. Robert Gibs was hired at MSNBC before founding The Incite Agency. His successor, Jay Carney ended up at CNN. Peter Gosselin went from “Los Angeles Times” to speechwriter for Timothy Geithner to Senior Healthcare Analyst for “Bloomberg Government.”

The miasma of Ted Baxters serving the Obama Administration was rationalized by a poor economy and mainstream media's vanishing audience in both print and electronic media as well as the opportunity to participate in the highly noble mission of creating the most transparent administration in US History (insert laugh track here.) But it does seem in the examples of Gibbs, Gosselin and Carney, that old media has plenty of jobs for Obama loyalists. Institutional back scratching is alive and well.

The Fourth Estate

Ultimately, this is a story about the news media. In this century, the news is the news. McLuhan's “the medium is the message” takes on a more literal meaning.

Truth for truth's sake has been displaced by advocacy journalism. “Just the facts” faded away with Joe Friday. Today's reporters see themselves as moral arbiters on matters large and small. No longer can we enjoy escape as an unfettered luxury. Yesterday's sportscasters gave us plays and analysis. Today we endure finger-wagging sophists who lecture us on gun policy, spousal abuse, child rearing, the dangers of club drugs and much, much more.

American journalism is still amazing when it wants to be. Case in point, September 11, 2001. Every news outlet provided an accurate narrative. This is what happened and this is how it happened. The only punditry was an echoing of the theme, “we got to wake-up.”

Time passed and the editorial displaced the narrative. The media would prop up the imposition of the Patriot Act, indefinite detention and the creation of a money-burning terrorist organization named Department of Homeland Security. Fingers would point at Bill Clinton for passing at the chance to nab Osama Bin Laden and for hitting the snooze button after the first World Trade Center bombing and again after the suicide bombing of the USS Cole. These charges would be countered with claims that the Bush family and the Bin Ladens were cozier than we had imagined, the president ignored his security briefings and George W. Bush was fundamentally stupid and inherently evil. Objectivity was extinguished and has yet to be reignited.

Some observers have attributed the Fourth Estate's inordinate affection for Barack Obama to political bias and only political bias. It is my position that this is more about zealotry than ideology. I will have to subject the reader to a semantic interlude. Please bear with me.

There is a popular idea that America is an ongoing tug of war between Liberalism and Conservatism. I reject that model for a multitude of reasons and I will briefly summarize. Conservatism is not an ism in the same sense that other isms are isms. Conservatism is a contextual ism.

Conservatism is an attitude that invites respect for tradition, skepticism about untested or unproven ideas and a reverence for those principles, themes and institutions that have worn well over time. Conservatism takes the long view of history. Beyond political philosophy, be it business, finance, art, entertainment, education, the management of athletic institutions, etc., the conservative approach is to be wary of fads and trends and magic beans.

To reiterate, Conservatism in all of its many forms, is contextual. American Conservatism does not equal Russian Conservatism does not equal Iranian Conservatism does not equal Ugandan Conservatism. Their respective histories shape the same clay into vastly different sculptures.

American Conservatives mistake a political coalition for a political philosophy. The Republicans of the Nixon-Reagan era were able to coax four cartels to sleep under the same tent: The national security conservatives, the fiscal conservatives, the social policy conservatives and the law and order conservatives were able to endure each others company long enough to keep the GOP in the White House for twenty of twenty four years. When each group realized that the other groups did not share their agenda, the tent just was not as spacious as it had once seemed.

Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter and Michael Savage love to bash liberals. On a commercial level that is an excellent strategy. Us vs. them. Good vs. evil. One devil only. People have gotten absurdly wealthy off this formula. Accuracy be damned.

The liberal bashers stack the deck. Any and all human vice, flaw and folly is labeled, what else? Liberalism. The Limbaugh world view has some glaring oversights. I attended Catholic schools and most of my teachers were people who had taken vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. Their political beliefs, to the extent that they expressed them, were largely consistent with their vows. They were socially conservative, law and order types. Unlike Limbaugh's caricature, they were suspicious of, if not hostile to, the premise of free enterprise. They did not like warfare and tended to be wary of the Pentagon.

These people were not political anomalies. New Deal Democrats were mostly religious folk who believed in law and order and a strong America. Liberalism is by no means the antithesis of conservatism. In the broadest sense, liberalism is the belief that every person is important. Liberalism, in the John Locke sense of the term, has never been popular.

There are a few liberals around. Let's see, there's Nat Henthoff. There's Alan Dershowitz but he's retiring. There's Bernard Goldberg. I'm sure there are other famous liberals but none come to mind.

There are people who call themselves classical liberals but they are also few in number. There is Richard Epstein and John Stossel and the late F. A. Hayek and the late Milton Friedman and umm...if they held a convention of classical liberals, it could probably take place in an elevator without disrupting the other passengers.

Almost as soon as Locke had said his bit about a natural right to life, liberty and property, the movement was hijacked by Leftists. I shudder to use the terms Leftist and Leftism because it implies that its antithesis is Rightism or Right Wing ism. The problem there is that even though Leftism has maintained a consistent meaning, the right wing does not designate a core set of principles. The right wing is a hodgepodge of any and all who are critical of the Left.

I don't know who compiled the first Left/Right political spectrum but I am certain it was a Leftist. How did the Right get stuck with Hitler? He was the leader of The National Socialist Party (NAZI) and all other socialists get stuck on the far left end of the spectrum. Why can't Adolf join Papa Joe and The Chairman on the sinister wing where he belongs? Similarly, why do all racists get filed left except white racists, who are sorted to the right?

Maybe it's our love of duality that makes us preserve the left/right simplism. Richard Nolan designed a two dimensional Nolan Chart to categorize political thought. I have also heard of an eight point chart and one that incorporates religion into the Nolan Chart that expands into three dimensions. More complexity might not be the answer. Who wants to summon GPS to describe their political leanings?

Still, the one directional, one dimensional model is frustrating. I have seen at least three books called “Beyond Left and Right” (usually followed by a subtitle) that now seem to be out of print. As we speak, Amazon lists at least four books entitled “Beyond Left and Right” (all with different subtitles.)
Beyond Left and Right” is the subtitle to another book. There are variations that incorporate Left and Right into the title or subtitle and one clever marketeer called his book “Beyond Right and Left...” That's the way to distance yourself from the mob.

If a one dimensional political model is necessary then probably the best model would route totalitarianism to one terminus and individualism to the other. The continuum loses its relevance with the playing of favorites, loopholes and the exceptions to rules. For thee and not thou and for thou and not thee turns an arrow into a plate of spaghetti.

I propose a model of Centralism/Decentralism. Centralism does not equal centrism as defined by the one dimensional model. Those "clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right," "let's put the swing back into swing vote" who are never swayed by extremism in any form and whose lack of bias allows them to spot the flaws in the major political players. That's not who we are referring to.

Across year and mile two characteristics have defined the Left: elitist authoritarianism and authoritarian elitism. That is not mere word play. The two concepts are not identical but they are close enough in meaning that for now, we can lump them together in one bin, the one labeled "authoritarian elitism."

One might be tempted to use the term, herd or flock or school to describe Centralists but those are egalitarian collectives. The caste system Centralism so esteems is more characteristic of a colony or a hive. They consciously embrace hierarchy and to further those ends they produce bureaucracy, celebrity, dynastic political families and legacy admissions to institutions of higher learning.

Centralists naturally believe in Centralism: Central planning, central banking, centralized power, a common core long before there was a Common Core. In Centralist utopia the capitol is the nexus for all capital. Every penny is ideally tracked to the central wheelhouse, where it is then wisely rerouted according to the judgment of the central engineers.

Centralism parts company from believers in natural law or God-given rights. Centralists sanction select freedoms and grant them only to deserving parties. Theirs is a top-down management housed in concern for the less fortunate. However, Centralist compassion is always limited to those demographics who can be used as political pawns.

Centralism is premised on centralized thinking. A muddled but intolerant style of thinking is at the core of Centralism. That style is reflexive, impulsive, visceral, dualistic, simplistic often to the point of silliness and the style is sometimes self-contradictory. The style has infiltrated every facet of the news media. News people, best as they are able, transform the bubbling cauldron of Centralist feeling into text, symbol, pixel and video. What emerges is Fourth Estate Orthodoxy.

Fourth Estate Orthodoxy is the dominant orthodoxy of the day. Its breadth and depth is underestimated, if it is estimated at all. So too is the power of its influence. For most of us most of the time Fourth Estate Orthodoxy is our default setting. If we rarely or never think about a given subject we usually adopt the media consensus viewpoint and adopt that as our own.

Marsha Linehan is a giant in the field of clinical psychology. She formulated Dialectical Behavior Therapy and is highly respected for her work with borderline personality disorder and her work with suicidal people. In one of her training videos she talks about the rationalization of the self-destructive mind. They think things will get better if they kill themselves. They will go to heaven or be reunited with lost relatives. Then Linehan says something that is both ironic and fervently anti-ironic. Addressing the suicidal patient's beliefs, Linehan says she has not read such things in the “New York Times.”

Chuckles ripple but an afterthought never fades. The “New York Times” is indeed the gospel truth for a lot of people, especially educated people. The most powerful and influential people in the country are adherents to Fourth Estate Orthodoxy. That would include most of academia, most elected office holders, captains of industry and dwellers of upscale suburbs. Old media might have lost market share but she still has the attention of movers and shakers and the people formerly known as the best and the brightest.

Fourth Estate Orthodoxy is broad in its scope. Religions should be seen and not heard. Paranormal activity does not exist. The Warren Report is infallible. Social scientists are experts on just about everything. Men are bad unless they act like women. Racism is good and noble and just unless it is practiced by white people and then it becomes the very worst of evils. Guns are not to be treated as inanimate objects. Drugs either. Global warming exists and if it doesn't we will call it climate change and pretend that it does. And on and on and on. The Laws of Leviticus were nowhere near as extensive.

Let us return for a minute to the term “right wing.” As previously stated, that term has always been a catch-all, quite unlike the authoritarian elitism that has always defined what was called the Left. In the past decade the media have stepped up the use of the “right wing” label. A social conservative is called a right winger. So too is the constitutionalist. The LaRouchian. The conspiracy theorist. The self-identified conservative. The libertarian. The Golden Dawn political party. The anti-illegal immigrationist, the anti-abortionist, the Tea Party activist, the global warming denier....

These might look like unaffiliated and even unrelated entities but to the Centralist mindset, they are one and all “Not Us.” The tightly compressed Centralist hive sees every outlier and straggler in every direction, as a giant collective Gaijin. In the philosophical realm, the antithesis of Centralism is Decentralism. In the real world the opponents of Centralism are Non-Centralists or “Not Us” or “Right Wingers.” The Fourth Estate has dutifully identified the barbarians.

Years ago I wrote a little essay called “The Three Universal Biases of The News Media.” I recycled the column a couple of times, the last time at my blog, Post Obotomy Syndrome on June 29, 2009. The essence holds up but times have changed my perspective. I had underestimated the Cult of Obama's influence on The Fourth Estate.

The original three universal biases were:

  1. Bias for simplicity.
  2. Bias against dissent.
  3. Bias against resistance.

To that I would add a fourth bias that now eclipses all else. We are now witness to Bias for The Divinity of Barack Obama.

Let's review the status of the original biases.The bias for simplicity has evolved for lack of a better term. Yes, there is still a bias for simplicity but there has emerged an even stronger bias for simplism. We have already made that distinction elsewhere so I won't rehash that now. I am reluctant to classify simplicity and simplism as separate biases because it is usually a matter of degree, not kind.

The bias against dissent has strengthened beyond belief. We find a Cheryl Atkisson here and there but they are aberrations. Never before has the all forone/one for all, circle the wagons, we are all in this together mentality bounded the media so tightly. Unity is achieved! Consensus on all matters! We will never expose the Obama Halo and the Fainting Woman theatrics and of course we will not discuss voter fraud, the Benghazi cover-up and the IRS scandal—the biggest scandal in United States History! We are Borg!

Bias against resistance. That has changed. There was a time when Jimmy Olsen charted the course of lesser resistance. Grab a big enough megaphone and you were as a border collie unto a stray lamb. That changed with Barack Obama. Despite dwindling audiences and competition from the Fifth Estate, the news media have remained loyal to Obama. How is it that possible? The emergence of a fourth universal bias.

The fourth universal bias of the news media is the bias for the divinity of Barack Obama. More specifically, the belief in the unique metaphysical qualities of Barack Obama. That bias is, as the pundits say, a game changer.

To review the four universal biases of The Fourth Estate:

  1. Bias for simplicity (Has gotten more extreme. Simplism often displaces simplicity.)
  2. Bias against dissent (Stronger than ever.)
  3. Bias against resistance (Not what it once was but let's not shroud him just yet.)
  4. Bias for the divinity of Barack Obama (This bias now eclipses all others.)

Before we move on, I would like to single out one book that captures the hows and whys of the emerging Fourth Estate Orthodoxy. “The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS” by Michael Fumento is not one more AIDS theory and it is not even a little bit homophobic. Written in 1993, it is an analysis of the media coverage of a tragic epidemic.

Fumento identifies significant trends. One, the triumph of advocacy journalism over truth. Two, the rise of political correctness, which is Fourth Estate Orthodoxy in its most ridiculous manifestations. The bias for simplicity, the bias against dissent and the bias against resistance are displayed in vivid detail.

Most importantly, Fumento meticulously illustrates how an elaborate hoax can be advanced without the telling of one overt lie. Half-truth and the willful omission of significant fact are all that is needed to distort reality in a big, big way. There are parallels to the media coverage of the AIDS epidemic and yes, their later coverage of the life and times of Barack Obama. This book was discussed at this blog before.

Barack Obama might not be remembered for anything presidential other than his record deficits that will be felt for decades. The ACA will either be repealed or trimmed to a scale model of itself or it will collapse under its own weight. There will be nothing like a Hoover Dam to honor Obama's legacy. No moon landing. No Pax Americana. The country is on course for eight years of stagnation.

Where Barack Obama will leave his mark will be seen in his impact on the Fourth Estate. We will lay witness to a startling pair of “Before” and “After” snapshots. Whether or not anyone shouts out, “Ill take a bottle!”remains to be seen.