Archive for November 23rd, 2008

November 23, 2008

Fear itself

Tom Friedman hits the panic button:

This is the real “Code Red.” As one banker remarked to me: “We finally found the W.M.D.” They were buried in our own backyard — subprime mortgages and all the derivatives attached to them.
Yet, it is obvious that President Bush can’t mobilize the tools to defuse them — a massive stimulus program to improve infrastructure and create jobs, a broad-based homeowner initiative to limit foreclosures and stabilize housing prices, and therefore mortgage assets, more capital for bank balance sheets and, most importantly, a huge injection of optimism and confidence that we can and will pull out of this with a new economic team at the helm.
The last point is something only a new President Obama can inject. What ails us right now is as much a loss of confidence — in our financial system and our leadership — as anything else.

Again, the endorsement of more Keynesian “stimulus,” like Theodorick of York prescribing another bloodletting.

Watch more Saturday Night Live videos on AOL Video

November 23, 2008

Our unbiased media

Mark Halperin’s ruminations on this year’s blatant pro-Obama bias, and the attempt by some in the media to defend their grossly unfair coverage of the campaign, prompts Ace to say:

They have no defense. To ladle additional lies upon a breathtaking record of dishonesty adds insult to injury.

To Ace, and everyone else enraged by media bias, let me offer what I conceive as the underlying rationale of this bias, which comes in two parts:

  • THE FOX EFFECT — The rise of Fox News as the No. 1 cable news outlet has resulted in ideological counterprograming. The success of a conservative news network has had an effect that might be best understood by reference to Newton’s third law of motion. At first, there was the “equal effect” — chastened by Fox’s success, most networks sought to rein in their traditional liberal bias. But then, after the 2004 election, the “opposite effect” kicked in. Network executives figured, “Hey, Fox already has a monopoly on conservative viewers. Let’s let our freak flags fly and give liberals what they really want.” I really noticed this phenomenon during the 2006 campaign, when the media (a) pretended that the contributions Jack Abramoff’s clients made to Democrats were meaningless, and (b) presented Mark Foley as the GOP poster boy. The existence of Fox News provides a ready-made excuse for liberals in the media to think of their bias as “balancing” Fox.
  • “IT’S THEIR TURN” — What is the most elementary definition of “fairness”? Taking turns. So, Clinton had his 8 years in the White House, then Bush had his 8 years, and now — by the taking-turns definition of “fairness” — it’s time for another Democratic president. The careful observer will note that liberal bias was somewhat ameliorated in 2000, when Al Gore sought the “third Clinton term.” Eric Alterman seized on negative coverage of Gore (two words: “earth tones”) to suggest that in fact the media has a conservative bias, but it was really more of a case of Clinton fatigue in the Washington press corps. Plus the fact that Gore is such a notorious phony.

This is how the media rationalizes blatant unfairness as being true fairness. Remember: They went into this business to “make a difference” (see note at end) and keeping Republicans from holding the White House for an unfairly long time is the kind of difference they most wish to make.

The fact that the next Democratic president is black made the media double down on the taking-turns rationale: Hey, let’s let the minorities have a shot! To reply “no” to that proposition was, to the liberal mind, irrefutable proof of racism.

Well, then, what does this mean for media coverage of politics going forward? First of all, the Media Research Center and others need to recognize how the Fox Effect is helping drive hyperliberalism in the non-Fox media, and call this to public attention, because the appeal of ideological counterprogramming is so strong. Look:

  • ABC World News — 7.9 million viewers
  • NBC Nightly News — 7.9 million viewers
  • CBS Evening News — 5.9 million viewers
  • Fox: O’Reilly Factor — 4.0 million views

Which is to say, the major network evening news programs have an audience have a combined viewership of 21.7 million — more than FIVE TIMES LARGER than the audience of the highest-rated Fox News show. Conservatives cannot afford to ignore this kind of basic math and allow their viewpoints to be walled off in the Fox News “ghetto.” The existence of Fox — which reaches less than one-sixth of the TV news audience — ought not give the other media a license to conform their reporting to DNC talking points.

Second, the “make a difference” media types ought to be reminded of another cliche, namely, “speaking truth to power.” With the Democrats now running the whole show in Washington, the media need to maintain their adversarial watchdog stance if they want to maintain any shred of credibility. They cannot be complicit in any cover-up of wrongdoing by the Obama administration or the Democrats in Congress.

Third, conservative spokesmen and Republican leaders in Washington need to find a safe line of attack against the new regime. If I were John Boehner, I’d call a huddle and give ’em a simple three-word message: “It won’t work.” Whatever the Democrats propose, the Republican response is, “It won’t work.” Whether it’s the next round of bailouts, a proposed health-care program, or some neo-Keynesian make-work boondoggle, Republicans should reply to every Democratic idea by predicting that it won’t solve the problem it’s aimed at, and will likely make matters worse.

The beauty of this is that it’s true. Nothing proposed by Obama, Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi can possibly make a dime’s worth of difference in solving the current economic crisis. These aren’t “new ideas” at all, they’re just gussied-up versions of obsolete liberal tax-and-spend policies from the era of Hubert Humphrey, ideas that weren’t even really new when J.K. Galbraith and Michael Harrington proposed them half a century ago. These ideas have always failed before, and they’ll fail again.

If conservatives will elaborate and reiterate that message — the Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute and Americans For Prosperity can supply the statistics and specifics — then they will look like prophets when, as predicted, Obama’s economic policies fail. And the credibility gained from this accurate prediction ought to give them leverage to attract better media coverage.

Oh, one final point: Some Republican staffers on Capitol Hill ought to make an effort to locate the favorite watering holes of the Washington press corps and never miss an opportunity to buy the next round. You might be surprised how much goodwill can be purchased with a $200 bar tab. I’m convinced that a GOP “whiskey offensive” could have a significant positive impact on the quality and quantity of the Republican Party’s news coverage.

NOTE: Despite 22 years in the news business, I never bought into the “make a difference” mentality. I became a journalist because, as Hunter S. Thompson said of his own career, “sportswriting was the only thing I could do that anybody was willing to pay for.” (And, yes, I was a sportswriter for five years.) Super-serious save-the-world crusaders bore me to tears, and there is no trend that’s hurt journalism more than the cliched five-part Pulitzer-bait series examining some Important Social Issue Of Our Time: The pathetic plight of left-handed Latino lesbians, etc. A major reason the newspaper industry is circling the drain is because of its preference for pretentious “in-depth” features to the detriment of basic meat-and-potatoes reporting — which usually does more to “make a difference” than that other stuff.

UPDATE: Linked by Ed Driscoll — thanks!

November 23, 2008

Bailout fever goes viral

Michelle Malkin notes that the state of Pennsylvania has secured $35 million in federal money to bail out the Boscov’s regional department store chain:

Gov. Ed Rendell announced today that the state will direct $35 million of federal Housing and Urban Development money to Al Boscov and his family to help them purchase the bankrupt department store chain.
Rendell said the money will help Boscov secure the funds to complete the purchase in bankruptcy court.
Without the money, the department store chain may not be able to survive, he said. It has 39 stores and 9,000 employees in the mid-Atlantic region. Rendell said there are 25 stores and 5,000 employees in the state. Boscov’s is based in Reading.
“It would be devastating in the state of Pennsylvania to lose Boscov’s,” he said.

This is economic idiocy of the first magnitude. If Boscov’s can’t compete with Macy’s (or Costco or Wal-Mart), how is that any concern to federal taxpayers? Retail entities rise and fall routinely without governments lifting a finger, simply because retailing is so competitive and innovative, and consumer preferences are so fickle. The people who used to shop at Boscov’s, but who now shop somewhere else, are not going to be lured back by anything that an injection of taxpayer millions can accomplish, and this is a perfect example of government pouring money down a rathole to no purpose.

At some point, people need to realize that businesses fail for a reason and that attempting to prop up failed enterprises is a waste of taxpayer resources. I’m reminded of Ronald Reagan’s description of liberal economic policy: “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. If it stops moving, subsidize it.”

November 23, 2008

Can we deport Arianna Huffington?

Just saw that idiotic woman on ABC’s “This Week,” and as always, it was like fingernails on a blackboard. George Will had just referenced the year 1937, when industrial production plummeted — eight years after the Crash and five years into the New Deal — as evidence that the New Deal did not actually solve economic problems. At which point Arianna cut in with, “Oh, George, zat’s vun of zee meeths of conservatives . . .”

No, Arianna, it’s not myth, it’s a fact. And I hope you invested all the ill-gotten gains of your divorce settlement in Citigroup, GM and Wachovia stock.

UPDATE: Here’s video:

Two books of particular relevance are Amity Shlae’s The Forgotten Man and Burt Folsom’s New Deal Or Raw Deal.

November 23, 2008

A (short) list of liberal accomplishments

In my post about the National Review Institute, I complained:

Too many of the NRI panelists were willing to cede ground to global warming, the biggest liberal hoax since the “homeless crisis” of the 1980s. Besides the specific evidence of fraudulent statistical manipulation and the problematic assumptions of climate “modeling,” the very fact that liberals passionately believe in global warming is an argument against the theory. When have liberals ever been right about anything?

That last taunt prompted a troll to respond:

Let’s see, off the top of my head:
Civil rights (and abolition, for that matter)
Ending child labor
40 hour work week
Rivers tend not to catch afire anymore
There are still bald eagles
Read “The Jungle” next time you eat a steak

I suppose other examples might be added, but let’s go with this list for starters. Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” was published in 1906 and the Pure Food and Drug Act was passed that same year. Child labor was outlawed and the 40-hour week was mandated by the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. The Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught fire in 1969. The Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1970, and the Endangered Species Act (credited, rightly or not, with saving the bald eagle) was passed in 1973. Slavery was abolished by the 13th Amendment (1865) and the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964.

Shall we credit all of these measures as “liberal”? U.S. Grant and W.T. Sherman might eschew that label, and both the EPA and the ESA were signed into law by Richard Nixon. Shall we credit all these measures as successes? After all, we have not abolished child labor, merely outsourced it to the Third World, and you can ask the average professional (say, a young lawyer) when the last time was he worked a 40-hour week.

Yet call all of these measures unalloyed successes and credit them all to liberalism, and it’s still a pathetically short list of achievements, most of them accomplished 70 or 100 years ago. And I fail to see how today’s liberals can really claim credit for a food-safety law passed before any of them were old enough to vote. Will liberals next claim their opposition to the crucifixion of Christ as evidence that we should trust them about global warming?

Liberals promote a sort of Whig history of continual progress, wherein everything good and beneficial is credited to crusading liberals and all failures and shortcomings are the fault of their opponents. And this mantle of historical liberal virtue is then draped around the shoulders of the next liberal crusade, so that to oppose liberalism is analogous to opposing progress — not merely the “progress” proposed today, but centuries-old “progress,” as well.

It’s a scam, a dishonest hustle, and if all the myriad measures that liberals say are necessary to “progress” today were enacted tomorrow, the liberals would come back the day after tomorrow with a new list of demands. This fact — the absolute endlessness of the liberal appetite, the sheer voraciousness with which they seek new legislation — is why it’s so much easier simply to oppose liberals in everything.

November 23, 2008

Holiday Books: Blacklisted by History

Only 32 shopping days until Christmas!

The 2008 Holiday Book Sale continues with Stan Evans’ blockbuster, Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies. Evans spent decades compiling this definitive account of one of the most controversial men in American history and his courageous crusade to expose how Communists and Soviet agents had penetrated the U.S. government. Evans debunks the liberal lies with page after page of never-before-published documents.

Books make excellent Christmas gifts, and with Amazon.com, you get discount pricing with delivery anywhere in the country. Why wait? ORDER NOW!

PREVIOUSLY:

November 23, 2008

Impotent Netroots deny impotence

Jamie Kirchick in the New York Daily News:

Barack Obama isn’t even President yet, and he’s already angering some of his most devoted followers on the party’s left wing. This is the mark of what could be a very successful presidency.
“With its congressional majority, the Democratic Party has refused to seriously try to end the war, to stop the bailout and to stop the trampling of civil liberties, just to name a few off the top of my head,” wrote David Sirota on the popular liberal blog OpenLeft, decrying the serial betrayals of Obama and the congressional Democratic majority. The Democratic Party, he wrote, has “faced no real retribution” for its manifold heresies, something that Sirota believes he and his band of angry bloggers must change. “We better understand why this happened,” he fumed.
Allow me to provide an answer. You don’t matter.

Kirchick goes on to detail the failure of left-wing bloggers to force Senate Democrats to punish their longtime nemesis, Sen. Joe Lieberman, for his support of Republican John McCain. This is evidence, Kirchick says, “that the leadership of the Democratic Party isn’t as petty, vindictive and small as its left-wing supporters.”

Naturally, the “petty, vindictive and small” bloggers are angry — at Kirchick. So what do they do? Gay-baiting:

He’d be a classic Uncle Tom is he was African-American. Instead he’s a very unhappy gay wingnut, a sad species indeed, forever obsessed with trying to justify his pitiful existence.

That’s from a left-wing blogger whose post is headlined, “Jamie Kirchick Poops His Panties Because He Wants Attention.” Exactly how is Kirchick’s sexuality related to the topic at hand? Not at all. But this is how the Netroots operate, lashing out venomously at anyone who criticizes or opposes them. Tomorrow, they’ll be back to bashing conservatives as “homophobes,” without irony.

(Cross-posted at AmSpecBlog.)