Monday, November 23, 2015

Looks like Trump was right

Or at least not wrong.

He stirred up a hornets' nest by saying that people in New Jersey celebrated right after 9/11. People in the media -- including conservative media outlets -- have roundly criticized him and flatly contradicted him, claiming that no one in New Jersey celebrated 9/11. WaPo's fact checker claimed that The Donald just made this up.

It turns out that Glen Kessler doesn't read the newspaper he works for. According to a Washington Post story on September 18, 2001, In Jersey City, within hours of two jetliners’ plowing into the World Trade Center, law enforcement authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river.

Trump said he saw "thousands" of people in Jersey celebrating 9/11 on the news. I doubt that. But the hysterical reaction from the media that no one -- NO ONE!! -- was celebrating is likewise false. And self-defeating. It does no good to answer an intense exaggeration based on facts with an equally intense exaggeration that contradicts the facts. All that does is make the original exaggerator look legitimate; after all, he used facts.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

This is What Happens When You Address the Symptoms Instead of the Cause

Since Obamacare first passed in 2010, I have said that its focus on expanding coverage rather than reducing costs is akin to treating pneumonia with cough medicine instead of antibiotics. While it's true that pneumonia causes people to cough a lot, the coughing itself is caused by the pneumococcus bacteria. If a doctor identified the real problem as the patient's cough, rather than the bacteria causing the cough, her prescribed treatments would be ineffective, and potentially fatal.

Similarly, Obamacare's architects' identification of the health insurance "coverage gap" as the problem has proven similarly ineffective. (The cost of insurance in general continues to explode, but in the exchanges set up by Obamacare, millions of now-nominally insured people can't afford to use the insurance they're officially "covered" by because it's so expensive.) It may also prove fatal.

UnitedHealthcare, America's largest insurer, has officially given notice that it's seriously considering pulling out of the Obamacare exchanges altogether, because the poorly conceived system is just too damn expensive.
UnitedHealth Group’s chief executive, Stephen J. Hemsley, said ... it is pulling back on marketing its exchange products, as open enrollment is currently under way for plans that will take effect in 2016. And the insurer said it is “evaluating the viability of the insurance exchange product segment and will determine during the first half of 2016 to what extent it can continue to serve the public exchange markets in 2017.” UnitedHealth had previously expanded its exchange offerings to 11 new states for 2016, and said in October it had around 550,000 people enrolled.
Tens of millions of people didn't have insurance largely because it was too expensive for them. Focusing on reforms that bring the cost of health care down (including treating health insurance like actual insurance, meaning pooled risk funds used only to cover catastrophic costs, rather than a general third-party payment system) would make insurance less expensive, which would entice people to buy it. Thus, the coverage problem would be solved naturally, using the same market forces that closed the "automobile coverage gap", the "cell phone coverage gap", or the "TV coverage gap" (cars, cell phones, and TVs being, of course, items that were once luxuries but which are now ubiquitous, even among the poor -- all without coverage mandates or government assistance).

Instead, we have a system that not only doesn't address the actual cause of the problems it was ostensibly designed to fix, but actually makes those problems worse.

Because this is government and not the market, though, true reformers now have to face both the inertia inherent to any existing policy and the entrenched special interests who have a stake (financial, ideological, or both) in Obamacare remaining the way it is.

Ain't politics grand?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

This is an Idea I Can Get Behind

Milo Yiannopoulos has a fabulous idea that allows the people calling for the US to take in thousands of Syrian refugees to give their compassion a tangible outlet: crowdfunding homes for refugees in the Liberal enclaves where they live.
Bleeding-heart liberals in the media keep telling us we should open our hearts to these poor souls. So let’s do it. These facilities will collectively be called Milo’s Home for Wayward Jihadis. We will include all the creature comforts of home, such as a halal kitchen, a basement shooting range and living quarters equipped with a variety of whips, bats and ropes with which our young bucks can subdue local white girls.

The great thing is we won’t need to struggle to find the appropriate locations to house our Yiannopoulos urban warfare achievers: just listen for where liberals are crying loudest for them to be let into America. I say charity starts at home–their homes, specifically.

Surely Rachel Maddow, Sally Kohn and other Mother Gaia figures from the American political Left will jump at the chance to inject some vibrant multiculturalism into their local communities? Just don’t let the kids out after dark unsupervised, obviously. Those western school uniforms can be unacceptably suggestive.
He then goes on to list several places where Milo's Home would be a perfect fit:
We might need several Milo’s Homes in Manhattan, of course, so our naughty boys can visit the UN whenever necessary, and maybe Brooklyn, where the hipsters live. ...

California has several likely spots, including Bel Air and Beverly Hills, from which celebrities love to call for an influx of refugees but never seem to have space in their own mansions. Meanwhile, San Francisco can surely take a few hundred thousand new residents, though they may need to rename Haight-Ashbury to Hate-Ashbury. ...

I’d suggest placing a Milo’s Home in Hillary Clinton’s town, but she seems to move “home” every time she runs for office and we can’t afford to move facilities that often.
Sounds like a great idea, to me.

Common Sense Advice from ... Mother Jones?

Mother Jones has a great article by Kevin Drum about why it's suicidally stupid for Dems to mock the GOP for wanting to stop letting Syrian refugees into America after the Paris attacks.
Here's the thing: to the average person, it seems perfectly reasonable to be suspicious of admitting Syrian refugees to the country. ... So to them it doesn't seem xenophobic or crazy to call for an end to accepting Syrian refugees. It seems like simple common sense. After all, things changed after Paris. Mocking Republicans over this—as liberals spent much of yesterday doing on my Twitter stream—seems absurdly out of touch to a lot of people. ... It validates all the worst stereotypes about liberals that we put political correctness ahead of national security. It doesn't matter if that's right or wrong. Ordinary people see the refugees as a common sense thing to be concerned about. We shouldn't respond by essentially calling them idiots. That way lies electoral disaster.
Clear thinking and common sense from one of the Leftiest of all Lefty magazines? I suppose miracles will never cease. I looked out my window, just to make sure the Four Horsemen weren't riding through the sky; it was all clear.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Liberals LOVE to Patronize Muslims

I often see accounts of Liberals indignant about one person explaining things to another person in a way that's patronizing. (Take what they call "Mansplaining", for example.) The irony, of course, is that Liberals are some of the worst offenders of this. Their interactions with violent Muslim extremists are a case in point.

After horrific acts like the ISIS massacre in Paris, Liberals rush in to proclaim that the one thing radical Islamic terrorism is not about is Islam. "Islam is a religion of peace," we hear these folks say. "This isn't real Islam!"

Except that the members of ISIS -- and the tens of millions of Muslims around the world who support them -- are very clear that Islam is precisely what they are about.

If this were, say, white conservatives using the words of black leaders like Fredrick Douglass or Martin Luther King, Jr. to explain to Black Lives Matter why their actions aren't really in solidarity with the aims of black Americans, Liberals would lose their collective shit over how wildly patronizing (and, they would likely add, bigoted) this was.

For some reason, though, Liberals seem 100% unaware that they do the same thing. A lot.

The result, as one person has hilariously observed, absurdly resembles a Monty Python skit.

UPDATE: Here's another similarly hilarious summary of Lefties' patronizing attitudes towards ISIS:

Monday, November 16, 2015

Are the Mizzou/Yale protests the best thing to happen to the GOP this year?

The Dems' base is in love with the protesters, so Democratic candidates can't afford to put too much daylight between them and the radicals, let alone disavow them.  But most people -- including many Liberals, methinks -- are disgusted by the protesters, whose claims to be uniquely oppressed and marginalized are belied by the attention they're getting and the swift action their protests have led to.

But the Dems are in a real bind here. Because they have gone all-in for the "coalition of the ascendant" (which only turns out in presidential elections, apparently), they have effectively nationalized their elections, drastically reducing their flexibility to deal with local issues in local ways.  They can't inspire blacks and hispanics to vote by catering to the needs of working class whites, for example, so they increasingly just don't cater to the needs of people outside their base.

But, as Sean Trende has noted, the Obama coalition that the Dems are banking on to bring them a lasting majority isn't a very wide coalition; it's just very deep.  That means they have to boost turnout to ever higher levels, because they're increasingly unable to reach outside their base for support.  Instead of being a springboard, though, this focus on the "coalition of the ascendant" looks more and more like an anchor, weighing Democrats down and reducing their mobility.

Because of this, the GOP looks like it will have the "These college protesters are delusional" vote all to themselves going forward.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Hillary Clinton's glass jaw

There are many people who see Hillary making history in 2016 in the same way Obama did in 2008: the first of their kind in the Oval Office (Hillary as a woman, Obama as an African-American). The people who make this prediction see it as inevitable, especially given how Hillary can wrangle enough of the enthusiasm that propelled Obama to propel her to the White House.

I am not among these people. In fact, I see Hillary's overt allusion to her gender as one of her largest vulnerabilities.

A large part of Obama's appeal was his race. Black voters wanted to elect a fellow black person to make history; white voters wanted to elect a black person to prove they aren't racist (and, to a lesser extent, to make history). The Obama campaign knew this, and they exploited it deftly. What they didn't do, however, was state it outright. Obama never said, "Vote for me because I'm black." When asked what his qualifications were, he never listed his race. He let the reality of his race be in the background, something everyone knew and no one had to state. This made it powerful.

Hillary Clinton, being both significantly less politically savvy and more politically ham-fisted than Obama, has repeatedly stated outright that what qualifies her to be president is her gender, and that her gender is a sufficient reason for people to vote for her.

This, to put it mildly, is a huge problem for her campaign. And we are beginning to see event committed Lefties see aspects of that.

At the most recent Democratic debate, Hillary justified the shameless millions in Wall Street cash that she's raked in by citing 9/11 and citing her gender, and even Slate -- SLATE!! -- was weirded out by it.

Assuming the GOP has a competent nominee, they will be able to absolutely clobber Hillary for doing this. She has very little to run on, so her unofficial campaign slogan (and response to most probing questions) is effectively, "Because I have a vagina."

Talk about uninspiring.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Why Abortion is the New Slavery

There is a pervasive myth that undergirds the practice of abortion, the foundation on which it rests and without which it couldn't continue to exist as a widely accepted activity. That myth is that unborn children are not human beings.

The same kind of myth undergirded the practice of slavery in America: that blacks and those of Afrcian descent were not human beings. Without belief in that myth, the institution of slavery crumbled, because there's no way to deny the evil involved in stealing the freedom of another human being or treating a human being as property instead of as a person.

Abortion is vulnerable to the same demise. Hence the massive pushback from the Left against the videos of Planned Parenthood workers mutilating and dissecting the bodies of dead babies in order to harvest their body parts for money.

Jayme Metzgar over at The Federalist has made a compelling case for drawing a straight line between the evil of abortion and the evil of slavery.
The Planned Parenthood videos—and the surrounding debate over the use of fetal tissue—have revealed just how closely abortion parallels the last great moral evil enshrined in American law: slavery. And like that immoral institution, very few of us have clean hands. It’s easy to demonize those directly involved in the practice, but if we refuse to acknowledge the reality of what these videos show us about ourselves, we have no right to condemn our 19th century forebears.
Metzger identifies three ways in which our attitudes and behavior towards abortion are almost exactly like our attitudes and behavior towards slavery.

1. Abortion deepens our hypocrisy about the humanity of the unborn.
Abortion requires us to pretend that an unborn child is just a collection of tissue -- unless the mother wants to keep her baby. In that case, we're allowed to believe that the unborn child is a precious little person growing inside of her. This parallels the nonsensical slave state/free state treatment of blacks under slavery, in which the same black man who was non-human property in Alabama magically became a human being with rights in Vermont.

2. It reveals the inherent violence and cruelty of abortion.
Most people don't think too deeply about abortion because they understand, even if only on an unconscious level, that it's the ending of a unique human life. It makes them uncomfortable, so they don't think about it too much. Pro-choice folks used to acknowledge that in slogans like "Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare," or by calling abortion "a necessary evil." That's how slavery was discussed and treated in America through the 1830s or so. But beginning in the 1840s, pro-slavery folks pushed back and insisted that slavery was a positive, not a negative, practice. They unashamedly promoted it, and insisted that anyone who disagreed with them was a zealot who hated property rights. That's where most pro-choicers are today: pushing back against reluctant defenses of abortion, proclaiming that abortion is a good thing that shouldn't ever be restricted. Today their slogan is "Abortion on demand, and without apology!"

3. It ingrains a need for abortion in our way of life.
American life in the late 1850s depended a great deal on slavery. Southern society completely depended on it, but most northern states depended on it more than they wanted to admit. Southern cotton kept the mills in New England running. Foreign markets for Southern cotton and tobacco created an appetite for American goods that kept helped keep northern merchants in business and built the portfolios of the northern banks that lent to them. This vision of economic sectors completely dependent on a horribly inhuman practice is what Metzgar sees potentially developing in the R&D departments of biotech firms and giant academic research centers that use dead babies' organs and body parts for research. The biotech industry has a huge appetite for fetal organs and tissue -- for legitimate, highly valuable research. Just like northern mill owners had a huge appetite for southern cotton that created legitimate, highly valuable jobs raised millions of immigrants out of poverty. That need blinded people to the clear necessity to end the awful practice used to meet it. So it may be here.

It's an excellent article and I didn't convey half of it. You should read the whole thing.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

2016 Primary Season: The Democrats' Reckoning

Donald Trump is currently pointed to as an example of the fundamentally dysfunctional nature of today's GOP. There's a lot of truth to that point, but it's ultimately made less relevant by the fundamentally strong and enduring nature of the GOP's current position nationally (26 governorships, control of 30 state legislatures, a 58-seat majority in the House of Representatives, and control of the US Senate) as exhibited by the wealth of other major candidates for President.

That wealth is conspicuously lacking among Democrats. Under Obama's tenure, the Democrats' cupboard is bear. As a result, there are very limited ways for the increasingly frustrated components of the Dems' ruling coalition to find expression and influence.

Jonah Goldberg has a great new column laying this out.
The trouble for [Hillary] Clinton and the Democrats generally is that while Barack Obama was able to unite the factions of the left to get himself elected, it's not clear anyone else can.

Obama wanted to be a Reagan of the left, a "transformative" president who moved the magnetic poles of American politics leftward. The jury is out on that project, but he did succeed in at least one sense. Reagan united foreign policy hawks, social conservatives and economic conservatives — the famous three legs to the stool of the conservative movement.

Obama did something very similar on the left. He united the civil rights or identity politics wing, the economic or egalitarian wing and the more elitist technocratic wing. Obviously, these movements overlap — just as the different factions of the Reagan coalition overlapped — but each has its own priorities and passions.

Aided by his experience as a former community organizer and his historic status as the first black president, Obama held the coalition together through force of personality.

The Democratic Party has always had internal conflicts. Franklin D. Roosevelt's coalition contained socialist Jews and blacks and Southern segregationists. That coalition held for 20 years after his presidency. But the Obama coalition seems to be fraying while he's still in office, and none of his presumptive heirs have the charisma or skills to repair or sustain the coalition.
He concludes by saying, "The GOP's Trump problem will eventually melt away. I suspect the Democrats' troubles are far more durable."

I couldn't agree more. People talk about the demographic wave about to overtake the GOP, but the future belongs to those who show up. The irony here is that, while taking their triumph-by-demography for granted, Democrats have put themselves at real risk of becoming marginalized as a viable national party for a generation or so.

Gay vs. Trans: The Revolution Eats Its Own

The Stonewall Riots, which started on June 29, 1969, are generally considered to mark the beginning of the Gay Rights Movement -- and, by extension, of the LGBT movement.

Regardless of one's convictions or feelings about homosexuality, it seems clear to me that the way gays and lesbians were treated in those days was unbecoming a civilized society. (LGBT folks may have appropriated and twisted the word "tolerance" to mean "outright acceptance and affirmation", but that doesn't mean that the rest of us must follow suit. Gays and lesbians deserve to be tolerated in a pluralistic society -- i.e., not affirmed but otherwise allowed to live as they see fit, assuming their actions don't directly infringe the rights of other citizens.)

Now Roland Emerich has made a movie commemorating the Stonewall Riots, and it's being savaged as horrible and controversial ... by the LGBT movement.

That's right. LGBT folks now consider the history of Stonewall to be anti-transgendered because it places the lion's share of the credit for the riots with the vast majority of people who were there: young, white gay men. Because Emerich's film apparently retells that widely accepted history, it is also being tarred as anti-trans.

Revolutions, man. Outside of the American Revolution, they just about always eat their own.

Friday, July 31, 2015

When does farce itself become a threat?

That's the question The American Interest asks about the Obama administration's continued bumbling in Syria, after word got out that our trained Syrian troops -- already an embarrassment because there were only 60 of them when we had promised to find and train 4,500 -- were attacked by an al Qaeda affiliate and nearly half of them were captured or killed.
The Middle East is a region where perceptions of strength matter—almost as much as actual strength. And the image of a bloated, remote superpower that can only field 60 fighters (at the cost of millions), loses nearly half of them, and seems not to know it, is one that projects weakness and invites further attacks.

Of course, one of the reasons Washington isn’t a-flutter about these developments is that we know they’re trivial—that we could change things in an instant on the ground if we really wanted to. But therein lies the rub: If the Administration never stirs itself to act, all our potential might adds up to nothing more than 60 (now 37) guys, and impotence.
The next president is going to have a hell of a time repairing our reputation abroad, and in the Middle East specifically.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Anti-Racism: America's new national religion

John McWhorter, in typically excellent fashion, lays out exactly how today's anti-racist consensus has all the trappings of a full-blown religion.

Read it. You'll be glad you did.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Is feminism turning men gay?

Hoo boy. I'm glad a gay man wrote this article, because a straight guy wouldn't have the identity-based freedom to give this story of a man proud of being a cuckold the full-on contempt it deserves.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Revolution Eats Its Own

Drag queens are now persona non grata in the LGBTQ alliance. They aren't being allowed to march in a major British gay pride parade. It's only one parade, but given the reasoning behind it -- to avoid making transgendered or "questioning" people feel uncomfortable -- I don't see any logical stopping point on this train. Drag queens are now officially out of favor with the Alphabet Soup Alliance.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Making money by harvesting dead babies

So, Planned Parenthood is now on record as making real money by selling dead babies' body parts.

And the reaction is not universal horror and disgust.

In fact, on the Left the urge seems to be to mitigate the problem or parse the situation morally so it doesn't really look so bad.

That tells you all you need to know about how morally bankrupt Progressivism is.

Listen, there are major issues of morality regarding economic justice that deserve to be considered and acted on. And many on the Right are on the wrong side of those issues. I readily concede this fact. But the harvesting of the bodies of those you have murdered is primal, morally speaking, and any attempts to add nuance to an analysis of it shows just how dead the consciences of those who would add nuance to it are.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

How cultural Christianity baptizes blind spots

Here's an excellent piece from Rod Dreher comparing the guilt-free acceptance of racism by Christians in the pre-Civil Rights South (in complete violation of scripture) to the guilt-free acceptance of gay marriage and gay sex by millennial Christians (in complete violation of scripture).
It is hard for people who weren’t raised in the South in a certain era to understand how white Christians could have believed the things they did about black people. ... Born in 1967, I’m just old enough to remember the vestiges of the ideology of white supremacy, and how a lot of older people I grew up knowing and respecting as Christians were genuinely blind as bats when it came to race. The important point to keep in mind is that there was no apparent tension within themselves about it. I can’t know their minds, obviously, and most of them I knew are dead. But it seems to me that they simply ignored all the Biblical texts that challenged white supremacy, and weren’t aware of how much of the Bible they had to dismiss in order to justify what they wanted to believe about race. It simply never came up. They were aware that plenty of Christians outside the South judged their position as un-Christian, but they dismissed those Northerners as liberals who had no idea what they were talking about, and didn’t have to be taken seriously. ...

I recall a complete ease about racism among the older Christians I knew. It was just the way the world was. To them, the Biblical righteousness of their position on race relations was so plain to them that they did not see how anybody could in good conscience disagree.

I have seen the same thing playing out among Millennial Christians in the South. For many of them, the moral acceptability of gay sex and gay marriage is not even a question — and certainly not something to worry about in context of Christian thought and life. It is not even a matter of contention. Those who object are conservative bigots, period, end of story. What’s interesting to me is that the same confidence I observed in older churchgoing whites about race, despite the Bible’s clear teaching, I now observe in younger churchgoing whites about homosexuality, despite the Bible’s clear teaching.
Read the whole thing.

Monday, July 13, 2015

If Black Lives Mattered to Lefties ...

... you'd hear more about Jamiel Shaw's murder.
But you won't, because black lives only matter when it benefits Democrats. And anything that makes illegal immigrants look bad doesn't benefit Democrats.

So you won't hear much about Jamiel Shaw from the usual suspects who cried bloody murder about Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin.

Forget Global Warming. Global Cooling is now a thing.

Apparently, the best numbers we have suggest that we're on the cusp of another Little Ice Age:
A mini ice age could hit the Earth in the 2030s, the first such event to occur since the early 1700s. New mathematical models of the Sun's solar cycle developed at Northumbria University suggest solar activity will fall by 60 percent, causing temperatures on Earth to plummet. ...

If correct -- further study is naturally required -- Zharkova's prediction would mean a return to freezing temperatures last seen 370 years ago. During that period the River Thames froze to such an extent that regular "frost fairs" were held during the winter, with market stalls and ice skating a common sight on the river.

During the winter of 1683-84 the river was frozen solid for two months at a thickness of 28cm, according to historical records. Solid ice was also reported extending for miles off the coasts around England, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
This is why so much of the Anthropogenic Global Warming movement is bullshit. The simple truth is that we don't know what we don't know about the climate, but AGW proponents don't want to hear that. They insist that we do know enough about it to say definitively what's going on and what's the best way to fix it. Their proposed fixes involve finding ways to artificially lower global temperatures.

As we can see from this new data, though, that might be the worst possible things we could do. Or it might not, to be honest. We just just don't know. Until we do have definitive (enough) knowledge, it's beyond reckless to do anything that intentionally affects global temperatures on a broad scale.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The OPM hacking: more competence from Obama's top men

Who does the president have guarding federal employees' sensitive personal information? Top men.

Top. Men.
Hackers stole Social Security numbers, health histories and other highly sensitive data from more than 21 million people, the Obama administration said Thursday, acknowledging that the breach of U.S. government computer systems was far more severe than previously disclosed.

The scope of the data breach — believed to be the biggest in U.S. history — has grown dramatically since the government first disclosed earlier this year that hackers had gotten into the Office of Personnel Management’s personnel database and stolen records for about 4.2 million people. Since then, the Obama administration has acknowledged a second, related breach of the systems housing private data that individuals submit during background investigations to obtain security clearances.

That second attack affected more than 19 million people who applied for clearances, as well as nearly 2 million of their spouses, housemates and others who never applied for security clearances, the administration said. Among the data the hackers stole: criminal, financial, health, employment and residency histories, as well as information about their families and acquaintances.
When was the last time America had people in charge who were THIS incompetent, but who almost no one in the press wants to admit is this incompetent?

I'd say these people are such a joke, but now 21 million federal employees and their spouses are at risk of identity theft if they're lucky; if they're not, they're at risk for blackmail. If only it was just about what a joke Obama and his cronies are. If only.

You know Hillary's lying, because her lips are moving.

The headline of the article says it all: Clinton Denies Being Subpoenaed; Investigators Release Subpoena

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Reality catches up with Obamacare

20-40% premium rate hikes for Obamacare plans? Who could possibly have seen this coming?

What's that you say? Everyone without their heads in the sand could see it coming?

Well, I mean ... that's just racist.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Lying liars, and the lying stories they tell

Major news outlets' response to Obama's scandals
I've gone back and forth with my Lefty friends over the past few years about the Obama administration's scandals, and they've almost always mocked the idea that anything Republicans called a scandal -- the IRS targeting conservative nonprofits, Fast & Furious, Benghazi, etc. -- was truly scandalous.

If there was a real scandal, they argued, there would be more outrage.  No outrage = no scandal.

When I pointed out how much the media had ignored or downplayed the administration's actions, my friends ridiculed the very idea that the media would do that.

And yet, we keep getting concrete evidence that major, respected media outlets -- networks, national newspapers, major regional newspapers -- routinely refuse to cover stories that clearly show that the administration's actions were very scandalous.
What happens when the news media catch the White House in a demonstrable lie? That depends entirely on whether they like the administration. If they loathe the administration, it’s front-page news. If they like it, they spike the story. ...

That is exactly what the national media have done to an important story about the White House’s intimate working relationship with MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, who helped craft the Affordable Care Act. You may remember Gruber from his infamous videotapes, the ones in which he called the American public too stupid to understand the law. He added their stupidity was helpful to Obama, Pelosi, and Reid in passing the law.

The Obama administration snapped into action. At a press conference, the president noted that Gruber was not employed by the White House and said flatly that he had not played an important role in drafting the law. Nancy Pelosi said the same thing. On background, senior White House officials reinforced the story. They vaguely remembered somebody named Gruber or Goober or something but, fortunately, he played only a marginal role in health care. Thanks for asking. Next question?

Now, this may surprise you, but it turns out the White House knew Gruber very well and knew he played a crucial role in the health care bill. The White House simply decided to lie about it. ...

How do we know about Gruber’s role? Not because the White House released any documents, not because the media dug into it, but because the House Oversight Committee, chaired by Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz, got MIT to turn over the relevant emails. There were 20,000 pages of emails back-and-forth between Gruber and the White House in the crucial months when the bill was being crafted and passed.

The Wall Street Journal just revealed the news about the Oversight Committee getting these emails in a major story. The key points are that Gruber was deeply involved in crafting the health care law, he worked very closely with the White House, and, when he became a political liability, the president and his senior aides simply lied about it.

Is that a big story? Not if you are a national TV network or major U.S. newspaper. Except for the Wall Street Journal, they maintained radio silence. Not a peep.
Most people don't follow the news closely.  That's why, as Andrew Breitbart said, what's important isn't what gets reported (since, in the era of bloggers, very little is completely covered up) but what gets repeated (the stories that are on the front page and leading the news shows every night).  Repeated stories create a narrative, and the narrative is what pierces people's consciousness.  No narrative = no awareness.

Even when major media types can't avoid admitting that an administration they like has done something scandalous, they still avoid coming down on it they way they would on an administration they don't like. What's worse, they go beyond refusing to call a spade a spade and actively spin the news in favor of the administration.
What happened on Morning Joe was fascinating. One of the hosts, Mika Brzezinski, called attention to the Journal story. Her co-host, former GOP Rep. Joe Scarborough, followed up. Turning to Mark Halperin, who is the co-managing editor of Bloomberg Politics and a former senior reporter at Time, Scarborough asked if the story was inconsistent with White House statements. “I owe my Republican sources an apology,” Halperin said, “because they kept telling me he [Gruber] was hugely involved, and the White House played it down.”

Then Scarborough asked the money question: “Did the White House lie about that?”

“I think they were not fully forthcoming.”

That answer did not come from a White House official or a Democratic operative. It came from a big-time reporter. And not just any reporter. It came from a reporter to whom the White House had deliberately lied in background briefings. Does he call them out? Nope. He spins for them.
The effects of this kind of systematic bias are truly insidious, rotting journalism from the inside out. Glenn Reynolds calls reporters "Democratic operatives with bylines," and it's hard to deny it in instances like this.

One insidious of this journalistic rot is that, by effectively colluding to keep stories from being reported on, major media outlets create the narrative that a story that's "only" covered by Fox News and the Wall Street Journal isn't trustworthy.

"If it was real news," the narrative goes, "it would be reported by real, unbiased news outlets like NYT and WaPo, not just by the right wing echo chamber."

The truth, as we can see above, is sometimes the exact opposite.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Hillary Clinton: Dishonest AND Greedy

I'm very familiar with the workings of nonprofit fundraising. Paying a fee to have a famous speaker at your gala event is often par for the course, but for smaller nonprofits it can get dicey. Most speakers give smaller nonprofits a break when it comes to speaker fees.

Hillary and Bill Clinton aren't most speakers, though. They've made almost $12 million over the past 14 years just from speaking fees they've charged to smaller non profits.
When Condoleezza Rice headlined a 2009 fundraising luncheon for the Boys and Girls Club of Long Beach, she collected a $60,000 speaking fee, then donated almost all of it back to the club, according to multiple sources familiar with the club’s finances.

Hillary Clinton was not so generous to the small charity, which provides after-school programs to underprivileged children across the Southern California city. Clinton collected $200,000 to speak at the same event five years later, but she donated nothing back to the club, which raised less than half as much from Clinton’s appearance as from Rice’s, according to the sources and tax filings.
Instead, Clinton steered her speaking fee to her family’s own sprawling $2 billion charity. ...

The groups range from smaller charities like Long Beach’s Boys and Girls Club and an AIDS service provider, Chicago House, to public policy advocacy groups, large universities and trade associations. ...

Few of the groups talked publicly about their payments for Clinton speeches, citing concerns about angering the family or violating provisions in the speaking arrangements.

But fundraising experts and people affiliated with some nonprofits on the list — including the Boys and Girls Club — grumbled that the hefty price tag for securing a Clinton speech is a significant drain on small charities’ fundraising and that community-based nonprofits could put the money to better use.
But remember: she's here to fight for the little people!

What a joke.

China & Russia hacking our government: the apotheosis of the Obama era

Jim Geraghty, in his Morning Jolt daily e-newsletter, laid out today why China's epic theft of blackmail material on millions of high-level US government workers and Russia's decryption of stolen data compromising US and British intelligence operations is the capstone in a long line of failures and incompetence by Progressives in government under Obama.
The story of the Obama era is the story of one colossal federal-government train wreck after another. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms shipped guns to Mexican drug cartels in Fast & Furious., allegedly designed to promote openness and accountability, ended up filled with bad data.

The stimulus “was riddled with a massive labor scheme that harmed workers and cheated unsuspecting American taxpayers.”

The president stood in front of the White House, urging the American public to use when it wasn’t working.

The U.S. Secret Service, which began the Obama presidency by allowing the Salahis into the White House and stumbled through one humiliating scandal of unprofessional behavior after another.

The Obama administration toppled the government of Libya -- without any supporting act of Congress -- then sent Americans there and ignored the security requests from our ambassador.

The NSA hired Ed Snowden and gave him the keys to the kingdom after a month.

Veterans died, waiting for care, while the branch offices of the VA assured Washington everything is fine.

We traded terrorists for a prisoner, sealing the deal with an assurance to the public that Bowe Bergdahl “served with honor and distinction.”

The IRS data breach. The postal-service data breach. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration hack. The data breach at federal contractor US Investigations Services, which performs background checks on DHS, ICE and border-patrol units.

And now, the epic OPM hack.

We are governed by progressives who have an infinite faith in the federal government’s ability to manage enormously complicated tasks and almost no interest in ensuring the government actually does those tasks well.
That last sentence is the kicker, for me. It's one thing to have wide-ranging Progressive government that works well. Minnesota and Wisconsin are generally good examples of this. Folks like me oppose governments having that much control or say over people's lives, but I admit that it's easier to live under when it works. At the very least, you feel like you're getting your money's worth as a taxpayer.

But to have expensive, wide-ranging Progressive government that fails to fulfill on the basic aspects of its role, especially when it insists that it MUST have control over you, well that adds fatally wasteful insult to the already-tyrannical injury. Think of the failures in California, Illinois, Maryland, DC, New York, or New Jersey. (Or the federal government, naturally.)

These examples illustrate the sad reality that the people who demand the most power and control for government care the least about using that power and control well. That about sums up the Obama presidency, right there.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Ferguson Effect: making cops think like insurance companies

At the beginning of the month, Heather McDonald wrote an Op-Ed for the Wall Street Journal making the case for what she called the Ferguson Effect: the spike in violence due to cops' reluctance to engage in proactive police work in the face of Ferguson-style anti-cop riots. Not surprisingly, her article created a bunch of controversy.

Today she responds to many of her critics, and accuses them of attempting to explain away the significant spikes in violent crime seen in many different cities since Ferguson.
A sharply critical response from some quarters greeted the article. It belonged to a “long line of conservative efforts to undermine racial equality,” wrote Columbia University law professor Bernard Harcourt in the Guardian, decrying the article as “crime fiction” intended to undermine “the country’s newest civil rights movement.” Charles Blow of the New York Times called me a “fear-mongering iron fist-er” who was using “racial pathology arguments” and “smearing the blood running in the street onto the hands holding the placards.” The article was part of a “growing backlash against police reform,” an attempt to “shame people who dare to speak up about police abuse,” wrote journalist Radley Balko in the Washington Post. ...

These criticisms speak volumes about how activists, members of the media and many academics understand crime and policing.

It is true that violent crime has not skyrocketed in every American city—but my article didn’t say it had. It has gone up in enough places, though, and at startling-enough rates, to warrant close attention. Law-enforcement officials share that opinion.
A big part of what caused the 20-year drop in crime was proactive police methods in formerly crime-ridden cities like New York and LA. It went beyond responding to already-committed crimes and focused on identifying and stopping people likely to commit crimes in the immediate future.

McDonald continues:
“The reactive policing of the early 1990s was easy,” Lou Turco, president of the Lieutenants Benevolent Association in New York City, told me in an interview. “You waited for a complainant to tell you that they’ve been a robbery victim. The hard thing is to get someone off the corner before there’s a victim.” It is this proactive policing, when there is no complainant, that can get you in trouble now, Mr. Turco says. “Every cop today is thinking: ‘If this stop turns bad, I’m in the mix.’ ”

An officer in South Central Los Angeles described the views of his fellow cops: “Guys and gals in coffee shops are saying to each other: ‘If you get out of your car, you’re crazy, unless there’s a radio call.’ ”
This is not good. It risks cultivating in cops an attitude towards crime-fighting similar to insurance companies' attitude towards illness: "Only devote resources once it's clear there's a problem."

People complain that insurance companies will pay for statins to treat high cholesterol but not for proactive therapies and treatments that would prevent high cholesterol in the first place. I think we're seeing this same dynamic evolving among the police, and -- just as with medical care -- it leads to lots of preventable suffering.

The biggest difference here is that insurance companies didn't stop paying for preventative measures because they were demonized for doing so. That seems to have been the case with the police, though. Having seen their brothers in blue put on trial -- literally and figuratively, even for legitimate preventative police work -- they have become reluctant to do anything without evidence that there's already been a crime.

As McDonald notes, the people most affected by proactive policing seem to have the least problems with it.
Many residents of high-crime areas don’t look at proactive and public-order enforcement the way their alleged advocates do. In a recent Quinnipiac poll of New York City voters, 61% of black respondents said they wanted the police to actively enforce quality-of-life laws in their neighborhood, compared with 59% of white voters.
Alas, though. Their advocates don't have time to get their actual opinions. They're too busy making a difference to bother making high-crime areas safe.

America: Officially Losing the Cyber-Terror War

Last week, we learned just how bad the news of China hacking into OPM's databases is. And the answer is: REALLY FUCKING BAD.
The hackers who breached the US Office of Personnel Management accessed a second set of even more highly sensitive data, it was widely reported Friday, in revelations that make the breach one of the biggest thefts of data on federal workers. ... The second set of data files likely included highly sensitive information from forms filled out by people applying for jobs that require security clearances. The 127-page questionnaires ask about criminal and arrest records, mental illnesses, drug and alcohol problems, and financial data for the applicant and often family members, friends and acquaintances. 
Chinese hackers (meaning, in all likelihood, the Chinese military) now have the most intimate and personal information on over 14 million current and former federal employees. If you've ever had a security clearance, malicious hackers now have all your information, and a bunch of information on the people close to you.

But this bad news gets even better worse!

Apparently, Russia and China have managed to decrypt the encrypted files Edward Snowden brought with him, and now all of our spies and covert personnel overseas (and Britain's too, it seems) are compromised
Russia and China have cracked the top-secret cache of files stolen by the fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden, forcing MI6 to pull agents out of live operations in hostile countries, according to senior officials in Downing Street, the Home Office and the security services.

Western intelligence agencies say they have been forced into the rescue operations after Moscow gained access to more than 1m classified files held by the former American security contractor, who fled to seek protection from Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, after mounting one of the largest leaks in US history.

Senior government sources confirmed that China had also cracked the encrypted documents, which contain details of secret intelligence techniques and information that could allow British and American spies to be identified.
I saw that over the weekend, Hillary identified America as not only the one country able "to meet traditional threats from countries like Russia, North Korea, and Iran -- and to deal with the rise of new powers like China" but also the only one "prepared to meet emerging threats from cyber attacks, transnational terror networks like ISIS, and diseases that spread across oceans and continents."

What the hell is she smoking? America isn't equipped to counter cyber attacks. We just allowed China and Russia to rob us of our most vital security and personnel secrets! This is a massive defeat in the cyber-terror war. MASSIVE! This is the allies losing the Battle of France. This is bad.

It's even worse when you consider that, under Obama, we've shown ourselves completely unable to credibly respond to traditional threats from Russia and Iran.
  • Russia sliced off a chunk of Ukraine and all we did was bleat about how Putin is on the wrong side of history.
  • Iran pushes forward towards a nuclear weapon and spits in Obama's face by jacking up their provocations in the Middle East, and Obama forbids his people to criticize the mullahs at all.
Nobody fears or respects us right now. We're in at least as bad a spot now as we were in 1980, when Carter's weakness prompted Russia to invade Afghanistan and Iranian radicals to occupy the US embassy. The Middle East is on fire, China is heating up things with its Pacific neighbors, and Russia invades and occupies its neighbor -- and the lady who helped construct this massive clusterfuck is now doing her best Kevin Bacon impression by telling us that everything is fine?

No. I'm sorry. We've been losing pretty much all the wars we're involved with (including Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria). We're now also officially losing the cyber-terror war.

This is bad. This is very, very bad.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

CNN connects the dots on Hillary's failure in Libya

CNN is doing something to Hillary that the Lefty MSM almost never does to Democrats: connect the dots between individual news stories to create a larger narrative about the candidate.

I'm honestly (though quite pleasantly) shocked.
Hillary Clinton has another Libya problem.

She's already grappling with the political headaches from deleted emails and from the terror attack that left four Americans dead in Benghazi.

But she'll face a broader challenge in what's become of the North African country since, as secretary of state in 2011, she was the public face of the U.S. intervention to push out its longtime strongman, Moammar Gadhafi.

Libya's lapse into the chaos of failed statehood has provided a breeding ground for terror and a haven for groups such as ISIS. Its plight is also creating an opening for Republican presidential candidates to question Clinton's strategic acumen and to undermine her diplomatic credentials, which will be at the center of her pitch that only she has the global experience needed to be president in a turbulent time.
How about that? The media doing actual journalism on a major Democratic candidate! Will miracles never cease?

Read the whole thing here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The question Democrats can't afford to have blacks ask

The hubris of Obama infected the Democrats, and they look poised to feel nemesis's swift and harsh judgment.

Eight years ago, the Democrats were operating out of a sense of inevitability. Demography was destiny, and the trends all pointed up for the Left. The "coalition of the ascendant" -- non-whites, single women, Millennials, and Liberal college-educated urban whites -- would shift America to the Left and guarantee Democrats a national majority for a generation at the least.

When this coalition elected Obama -- and then bucked a century of precedent by reelecting him with fewer votes 4 years later -- the narrative of inevitability seemed established. The Democrats had cracked the code and would have a national majority for 20 years.

Things haven't turned out that way, to put it mildly.

Instead of a generational majority, Democrats lost the House and several governorships and state legislatures 2 years into Obama's presidency. They suffered an even worse massacre 4 years later, losing the Senate, falling further behind in the House, and losing even more governorships and state legislatures.

Today, their brightest hope for holding the White House is an old, rich, white lady with questionable ethics, massive baggage, and whose main asset is her famous husband. The ascendant groups they were counting on to keep them in power have become weary and jaded, and now verge on feeling hopeless and used. Six years of Hope and Change have just given them More of the Same ... or worse.

Blacks in particular are key for Democrats to maintain their edge. If blacks don't vote in the historic numbers and at the historic rates that they did for Obama, Democrats are screwed, plain and simple. And today they're asking the kind of questions that Democrats simply cannot afford for them to ask. Questions like, "Is voting even worth it?" or "Will voting make a difference?"

People who ask those kinds of questions don't make voting history, and Democrats need blacks to make voting history (or come damned close) every election for them to have a chance.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Liberals continue to be delusional about human nature.

To the surprise of precisely zero people with any knowledge of either recent history or human nature, crime in New York City has spiked since the NYPD cancelled "stop and frisk" stops.

This is another example of Liberals assuming that civilization and law & order are the default conditions for humanity. They aren't. Hobbes's state of nature is much closer to humanity's default conditions.

If you assume the peace and prosperity we enjoy in the West are inevitable, then you feel free to strip away policies and safeguards -- like good policing policies -- that make such things possible. Wr went through this in the '60s and '70s, and we gained some hard fought wisdom -- or so I thought. Apparently, Liberals never really learned that lesson.

Hopefully it doesn't take as much chaos and death before we stop these mistakes this time.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Fudging data -- it's the new "science"!

Problem: The data shows the globe hasn't been warming since 1998, despite climatologists' predictions.

Legitimate Scientists' Solution: Adjust the model to conform to the data.

Climate Scientists' New Solution: Adjust the data to conform to the model.

NOAA has a new article out purporting to solve the global warming problem since 1998 ... which, for climatologists, is that there's no data indicating that the globe has been warming since 1998. NOAA's solution? Adjust the data from surface temperature reading stations to make it look like the warming trend never stopped. You can read this detailed analysis of how they did it.

Basically, though, it comes down to this:

Sounds like a great idea, guys. Keep up the good work. Yay, "Science"!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Germany has eaten its seed corn.

When I speak with my Lefty friends about the fundamental unworkability of European social welfare policies, my friends scoff at my skepticism. If these policies are so unworkable, my friends say, how have European countries been making them work for so long?

That's pretty easy: they've been eating their seed corn. Originally, their policies ate up their economic dynamism. Now they have eaten up the next generation of workers.

Put Germany on the ballooning list of European countries without a rising generation of workers large enough to pay for their cradle-to-grave welfare state. In the next 10 years, Germany's workforce is going to begin dwindling. By mid-century, it will have collapsed.

I've said it before: the fatal paradox of the European welfare state is that, while it requires societies to have 3 or 4 children per couple in order to maintain itself, the benefits it provides encourage couples to have fewer than 2 children apiece. When they fail -- as virtually all European welfare states are in the process of doing -- they discourage people from having kids even more.

Maybe there's a generous welfare state system that provides ample benefits without requiring people to have lots of kids to make it work. If so, however, it doesn't look like anyone's figured it out yet. We certainly haven't. Neither has Germany.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The "Ferguson Effect" is really the "Obama Effect"

One of my biggest problems with Liberals and Progressives is that they have very little understanding of what makes society work. Whether it's market economics or crime, Liberals and Progressives take the hard-won gains of Western culture for granted. They assume that a low-crime, prosperous society is the default state for humanity, and that it will continue to exist no matter what they do.

We see a prime example of this in the Ferguson Effect: the withdrawal of police presence in major US cities in response to being demonized by black activists and Liberal Democrats.
The nation’s two-decades-long crime decline may be over. Gun violence in particular is spiraling upward in cities across America. In Baltimore ... [g]un violence is up more than 60% compared with this time last year. ... In Milwaukee, homicides were up 180% by May 17 over the same period the previous year. Through April, shootings in St. Louis were up 39%, robberies 43%, and homicides 25%. Murders in Atlanta were up 32% as of mid-May. Shootings in Chicago had increased 24% and homicides 17%. Shootings and other violent felonies in Los Angeles had spiked by 25%; in New York, murder was up nearly 13%, and gun violence 7%.
Liberals have, for decades, lionized urban criminals. Since at least the days of the Black Panthers, there has been a persistent sense among a significant percentage of Liberals that violence is somehow one of the most authentic form of self-expression for racial or ethnic minorities. Thus, Liberals had surprising tolerance for criminal violence in cities from the 1960s through the 1980s. Oh, they would agree that such violence wasn't good, but they didn't think it was that bad. Certainly not bad enough to use significant force to stop it.

Millions of people died in urban crime waves over those decades, with tens of millions more living in fear in the cities. But not only did Liberals and the Democrats never do much to really fix the situation, they viciously attacked the efforts of people who did. Eventually, Americans got fed up, and began voting out politicians who refused to take these crime waves seriously and empower law enforcement to address it.

The Democrats who got elected during this time promoted "tough on crime" policies, because they had to. They had no choice. They knew voters had run out of patience for politicians who emphasized understanding or empathizing with criminals rather than making sure crimes were punished.

And -- surprise, surprise -- crime rates collapsed. America went through over 20 years of low crime that created an urban renaissance. Throughout the country, big cities became livable again.

Well, Liberals being Liberals, they viewed that 20-year decline as the inevitable reversion to the mean rather than as a hard-won, and precarious, victory. Since 2005 or so, the hardcore Progressives in the Democratic Party have been disparaging the law enforcement victories across the country under Bill Clinton and in cities like New York under Rudy Giuliani. They've also been agitating against law enforcement tactics like "stop & frisk" that have demonstrably lowered violent crime and property crime in cities like New York.

In 2008, they finally elected one of their own into the White House. Since his inauguration, Obama has been working to undercut law enforcement's efforts to prevent and punish violent crime (even as he's turned a blind eye to their use of massive NSA-style surveillance, an irony that has massively increased cynicism about the police).

Over the past few years, we've seen a meme of police oppression of non-whites take hold in the mainstream consciousness. This meme was established often using ambiguous reporting of murky events (Trayvon Martin's death) or false reporting of events (the dishonest "Hands up, Don't shoot" movement in response to Michael Brown being killed for attacking an officer).

These false and ambiguous reports have been promoted by the Progressives' man in the White House, Barack Obama. The result has been the demoralization of urban police forces throughout America, and the subsequent explosion of violent crime, as criminals know that cops are confused and reluctant to use force, for fear of being the next Darren Wilson.

This is Obama's new legacy: fear, violence, and crime. The Ferguson Effect is really the Obama Effect.

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Media and the Big Ideological Sort

Ben Domenech's opening thoughts in today's Transom (which you should subscribe to if you haven't already):

Over the past thirty years, we’ve witnessed the ideological sorting of the two parties. The conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans have slowly but surely been dispatched from both parties, leaving a much clearer divide between left-moderate and right-moderate groups. The cultural elite, academia, and the media have at the same time become more free to blast away unrelentingly at the right, bereft as it is of any reasonable voices and consisting of a population with which they have fewer and fewer things in common – not church, not NASCAR, and definitely not reality TV. It’s a lot easier to consider people to be nuts when you have no shared priorities, language, or activities.

The result has been a society in which the cultural elite, the academy, and the media are all pretty much on the same team – not just in an ideological sense, but in a partisan one. And it’s this latter fact which leads to all sorts of problems for the right, as conservatives become more resentful and frustrated at the prospect of never getting a fair shake. This is not news – the George Stephanopoulos thing is just the latest example. What is more interesting and less noticeable to this point is the problems this clear demarcation of “teams” creates for the left – a major change in the partisan moral hazard for Democrats.

This is what’s so amazing about the Clinton Foundation’s activity and the coverage of it, as well as the coverage of a host of Democratic scandals of small and large order over the past few years. Could a conservative academic identify as an American Indian and still become a party leader? Could a prominent conservative journalist donate tens of thousands of dollars to a politician’s foundation and fail to disclose that while strongly and repeatedly defending them onair? Could a conservative Secretary of State have a spouse and Foundation taking money while at the same time greeting the same people as they lobbied her office and not be politically toast?

The point is not that a conservative scholar, journalist, or statesman is above such things. Of course many are not! But the point is that the consequences for them would be very different than the consequences for those politicians and figures who are on the correct team. What becomes a career-ender for those on the right is merely an embarrassing month for the left. And this is an indication that the risks for those on the left are now dramatically different than they are those on the right. They know the media will not hold them to account the same way as they do those on the wrong team.

This is all you need to understand about Hillary Clinton’s treatment of the media, Barack Obama’s total flip-flop on transparency, or Harry Reid’s “Romney paid no taxes” lie. They do these things and get away with them because they know they can. The media won’t bury the story completely of course – one still has to write about stained dresses, after all, as the people demand – but the more intricate and less salacious the scandal, the more likely you can get away with it as a politician on the left. (There are expections: David Vitter is still around, and Mark Sanford too, but Aaron Schock isn’t.)

The point is that leading liberals just don’t have to price in the same risk-cost analysis for their actions. This moral hazard problem creates more distrust of the media, and allows bad actors to go further in their behavior, undermining the very aspect of a free press that we need in a time of mistrust for so many American institutions. The media has it in its power to check the temptations to corruption among elected officials, but increasingly they are only checking those temptations among one party. That’s not going to prove a victimless editorial choice in the long run. And 2016 may present us with the most obvious case of this problem yet.

It likely will.

It seems to me that The Big Sort has produced a dynamic in America at large that's very much like that created by corrupt police departments in major cities like Baltimore, with similar results:

  • Almost half the community feels disenfranchised and marginalized.
  • Members of the favored group are rarely held accountable for their actions the same way members of the disenfranchised group are.
  • The dynamic breeds resentment and cynicism among the disenfranchised, arrogance and entitlement among those in the favored group, and fear of the other side in both groups.

This is about the last thing we need in America today, but it's what we have.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Clinton Foundation: the gift that keeps on giving

Nemesis & Hubris
I don't know if it's possible to imagine a more fitting nemesis for the hubris of Democrats and MSM-types (but I repeat myself) who criticized Romney for his outrageous wealth in 2012 than Hillary Clinton as the de facto Democratic presidential nominee in 2015.

Bill and Hillary Clinton enjoy outrageous wealth, and have no problem flaunting it. They've shielded a lot of that wealth from taxes using shell companies, and by using their foundation as a piggy bank. The Left was clear in 2012 that doing this was eeeeevil. But that was when a Republican was the culprit. In 2015, now that the presumptive Democratic nominee is the guilty party? Eh, it's apparently not a big deal.

Now we learn from the IB Times that the State Department under Hillary Clinton approved massive arm sales to governments after they donated to the Clinton Foundation.
Under Clinton’s leadership, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the Clinton Foundation, according to an IBTimes analysis of State Department and foundation data. That figure -- derived from the three full fiscal years of Clinton’s term as Secretary of State (from October 2010 to September 2012) -- represented nearly double the value of American arms sales made to the those countries and approved by the State Department during the same period of President George W. Bush’s second term.

The Clinton-led State Department also authorized $151 billion of separate Pentagon-brokered deals for 16 of the countries that donated to the Clinton Foundation, resulting in a 143 percent increase in completed sales to those nations over the same time frame during the Bush administration. These extra sales were part of a broad increase in American military exports that accompanied Obama’s arrival in the White House. ...

In all, governments and corporations involved in the arms deals approved by Clinton’s State Department have delivered between $54 million and $141 million to the Clinton Foundation as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments to the Clinton family, according to foundation and State Department records. The Clinton Foundation publishes only a rough range of individual contributors’ donations, making a more precise accounting impossible.
But wait! There's more! Private defense contractor companies got in on the free-for-all, too.
American defense contractors also donated to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state and in some cases made personal payments to Bill Clinton for speaking engagements. Such firms and their subsidiaries were listed as contractors in $163 billion worth of Pentagon-negotiated deals that were authorized by the Clinton State Department between 2009 and 2012.
And this in spite of the State Department's criticism of some recipient nations' human rights abuses.
The State Department formally approved these arms sales even as many of the deals enhanced the military power of countries ruled by authoritarian regimes whose human rights abuses had been criticized by the department. Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar all donated to the Clinton Foundation and also gained State Department clearance to buy caches of American-made weapons even as the department singled them out for a range of alleged ills, from corruption to restrictions on civil liberties to violent crackdowns against political opponents.

As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton also accused some of these countries of failing to marshal a serious and sustained campaign to confront terrorism. In a December 2009 State Department cable published by Wikileaks, Clinton complained of “an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority.” She declared that “Qatar’s overall level of CT cooperation with the U.S. is considered the worst in the region.” She said the Kuwaiti government was “less inclined to take action against Kuwait-based financiers and facilitators plotting attacks.” She noted that “UAE-based donors have provided financial support to a variety of terrorist groups.”
The IB Times article ends this section with, All of these countries donated to the Clinton Foundation and received increased weapons export authorizations from the Clinton-run State Department.

I think the only reasonable response to that kind of brazenness is, Holy shit.

What will prove to be perhaps even more brazen, however, are the myriad ways the Democrats and the mainstream media will find to downplay, explain away, or flat-out ignore these quid pro quos.
  • We can see it in the media's choice of title for articles reporting on this. The Associated Press, reporting on the Clintons' use of shell companies to avoid income taxes, title their report, Bill Clinton company shows complexity of family finances. The complexity of their finances? In 2012, Romney's use of similar legal tax shelters was proof that he was a tax cheat. The Clintons' use of it is merely proof that their family finances are complex.
  • You can also see it in the media's assessment of the IB Times article. Slate, for example, insists that the article doesn't provide "smoking gun" (not the greatest metaphor to use when discussing weapons sales), though (in a phrase worthy of Understatement of the Year) it does concede that this is more proof that Hillary Clinton, "has often been willing to tolerate high-stakes conflicts of interest."
If a Republican candidate -- let alone the GOP's presumptive nominee -- had done any of this, the coverage would be wall-to-wall, non-stop, and unambiguously critical. The media understands that its power lies in establishing a narrative. As Andrew Breitbart said, "What's important is not what's reported but what's repeated." The media generally hammers home statements by or news about Republicans' or Conservatives' that are unfavorable, thus creating a narrative. They generally tend to merely report similar statements by or news about Democrats and Liberals as one-off stories, thus making it hard for people to connect the dots.

The media are doing their damnedest to avoid establishing a narrative of a corrupt, entitled politician who thinks she's above the law and can't be trusted with power, but the never-ending revelations about her and Bill's corrupt, entitled, we're-above-the-law behavior is making it difficult for them to avoid doing it.

**UPDATE 5/30/15**

And the hits just keep on coming.
To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Petra Nemcova, a Czech model who survived the disaster by clinging to a palm tree, decided to pull out all the stops for the annual fund-raiser of her school-building charity, the Happy Hearts Fund. ...

The gala cost $363,413. But the real splurge? Bill Clinton.

The former president of the United States agreed to accept a lifetime achievement award at the June 2014 event after Ms. Nemcova offered a $500,000 contribution to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. The donation, made late last year after the foundation sent the charity an invoice, amounted to almost a quarter of the evening’s net proceeds — enough to build 10 preschools in Indonesia. ...

Happy Hearts’ former executive director believes the transaction was a quid pro quo, which rerouted donations intended for a small charity with the concrete mission of rebuilding schools after natural disasters to a large foundation with a broader agenda and a budget 100 times bigger.

“The Clinton Foundation had rejected the Happy Hearts Fund invitation more than once, until there was a thinly veiled solicitation and then the offer of an honorarium,” said the former executive director ...

“This is primarily a small but telling example of the way the Clintons operate,” said Doug White, who directs the master’s program in fund-raising management at Columbia University. “The model has responsibility; she paid a high price for a feel-good moment with Bill Clinton. But he was riding the back of this small charity for what? A half-million bucks? I find it — what would be the word? — distasteful.”
Wonderful. Read the whole account of this stereotypically Clintonian story, which is running in the New York Times of all places.

No, the Clintons aren't making ignoring their corruption very easy at all.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Mask Slips

It turns out that much of the Ferguson riots last summer were effectively staged, the work of paid activists.
Yesterday, Katie Pavlich, Debra Heine, and Ed Driscoll drew our attention to a demonstration, unmentioned in the mainstream media, that took place in St. Louis and eventuated in the occupation of the offices of an outfit called MORE – Missourians for Organizing Reform and Empowerment. MORE is an offshoot of ACORN, and it is funded in part by George Soros’ omnipresent Open Society Institute (which has spent something like $5 billion supporting such outfits in recent years).

What makes this particular demonstration newsworthy is the fact that the demonstrators were demanding that they be paid, as promised, for the work they did in organizing demonstrations in Ferguson last summer. ...

Do you remember Occupy Wall Street? The demonstrations that the community-relations division of the Department of Justice helped organize against George Zimmerman in Florida? The riots in Ferguson, Missouri? The disruptive demonstrations in the Supreme Court building regarding Citizens United as the court began its last session? Those that recently interrupted Senate hearings? The demonstrations in New York and Boston that took place in the wake of Eric Garner’s death? And the recent riots in Baltimore?

The press has treated all of these as a series of spontaneous eruptions occasioned by understandable outrage on the part of the demonstrators. What we learned yesterday shows that much of what happened in Ferguson was theater. ... I would be willing to hazard the guess that virtually every demonstration and riot along these lines that we have witnessed in recent years was, at least in part, bought and paid for. And I would not be surprised to learn that the “reporters” dispatched to these various venues to cover these demonstrations and riots by Pravda-on-the-Hudson, Pravda-on-the-Potomac, and Pravda-on-Television in its various, more-or-less indistinguishable forms know a great deal more about the manner in which all of this was staged than they have told us.
I'd say I'm surprised, but that would be a lie.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Hillary Clinton: officially skipping the foreplay

Hillary Clinton will, barring an unprecedentedly massive collapse, almost certainly be the Democrats' 2016 Presidential nominee. Usually at this point candidates, even prohibitive favorites, are still doing the little kabuki dance for the rank-and-file and the media boosters (for Democrats) to maintain the illusion that they really want to honor what those people want in order to get their support.

But Hillary isn't doing that. Hardly at all.

Sure, she's mouthing Lefty pieties about how the system is rigged, but she's not even trying to hide how much she and Bill have been involved in rigging it.

This past Friday, Hillary's campaign dumped a bunch of documents that show how much Hillary has been enriching herself personally -- not enriching herself indirectly through "donations" to the Clinton Foundation, but accepting six-figure gifts directly -- through massive gifts from companies that have pressing business before the government.

It's so bad that even Vox -- as reliably defensive a Liberal rag as there is -- can't stand it.
During Clinton's tenure as secretary of state, Corning lobbied the department on a variety of trade issues, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The company has donated between $100,000 and $250,000 to her family's foundation. And last July, when it was clear that Clinton would again seek the presidency in 2016, Corning coughed up a $225,500 honorarium for Clinton to speak.

In the laundry whirl of stories about Clinton buck-raking, it might be easy for that last part to get lost in the wash. But it's the part that matters most. The $225,500 speaking fee didn't go to help disease-stricken kids in an impoverished village on some long-forgotten patch of the planet. Nor did it go to a campaign account. It went to Hillary Clinton. Personally.

The latest episode in the Clinton money saga is different from the others because it involves the clear, direct personal enrichment of Hillary Clinton, presidential candidate, by people who have a lot of money at stake in the outcome of government decisions. ...
There's a reason government officials can't accept gifts: They tend to have a corrupting effect. True, Hillary Clinton wasn't a government official at the time the money was given. But it is very, very hard to see six-figure speaking fees paid by longtime political boosters with interests before the government — to a woman who has been running for president since the last time she lost — as anything but a gift.
But Hillary knows the Dems have no other legitimate options. She's their only hope. So, no foreplay this time. No whispering sweet nothings to voters to maintain the illusion that she really respects them, and isn't using them at all. No wining and dining the media to help them pretend they aren't whoring themselves out for the Democratic candidate. She's taking their support for granted, and she isn't remotely ashamed of doing so.

"Straight to the action, please, sweetheart," you can almost hear Hillary saying. "I'm in a hurry."