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.