Get PJ Media on your Apple

Ed Driscoll

Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal

‘It’s the Libertarian Left Behind’

September 17th, 2014 - 6:35 pm

ayn-rand-as-che-10-3-09-2

I read many skeptical reviews of the first Atlas Shrugged movie in 2011, went in to the theater with absolutely zero expectations, and as I wrote here on the blog, I was mildly surprised at how watchable it was. Anthony Sacramone of the Intercollegiate Review says much the same about his response to the first two Atlas movies, before running absolutely roughshod over the latest edition, asking along the way, “This Is John Galt?”

There’s a reason why Atlas Shrugged is rife with railways and natural resources and raw materials. It’s a bombastic prose poem to the original Industrial Age, when great men built a nation out of what they could pull from the earth and refine and refashion. It’s primal. It’s passionate. It’s as real as the car you drive or the building you live in.

And even though I am no Randian today, having long ago come to terms with the many contingencies and interdependencies of life, I nevertheless understand the appeal, the excitement, engendered by the author’s ideas and lust for life. And the 1949 film adaptation of The Fountainhead was pretty good, with a screenplay by Rand herself, direction by King Vidor, and performances by Patricia Neal and the one and only Gary Cooper as Howard Roark, the visionary and uncompromising architect.

Which is why I think, dare I say it, that the original Atlas, for all its flaws, deserved better than this film. My libertarian friends deserved better. My eyeballs deserved better. That Native American who appeared in those anti-littering commercials back in the 1970s with a tear rolling down his cheek deserved better and I don’t even know why. He wasn’t even Native American—he was Italian.

It takes a while for Sacramone to get going, but his review is well worth your time; definitely read the whole thing. Or as Mark Hemingway tweets:

CNN Gets Mugged By Reality

September 15th, 2014 - 7:08 pm

The National Labor Relations Board, one of FDR’s alphabet soup programs designed to prolong the Depression by dramatically bloating the size of government* “has ordered CNN to rehire 100 workers and compensate 200 others for a labor dispute that originated in 2003,” according to show-biz house organ Variety:

The 11-year dispute stems from CNN’s decision to replace a unionized subcontractor called Team Video Services, which provided the network with audio and video technicians, with an in-house nonunion work force in its Washington and New York bureaus.

The decision comes weeks after CNN’s top boss Jeff Zucker hinted at additional job cuts at the Turner-owned [ultimately Time-Warner-owned -- Ed] news channel, which employs over 2,000 people.

“We are going to have to do what we do with less,” he said in a memo to CNN employees. “As a result, that means there will be changes. No final decisions have been made.”

It’s unclear how the NLRB’s ruling will impact the expected restructuring at the news operation.

The Labor Board found “overwhelming” evidence of anti-union animus in CNN’s failure to bargain with the union about the decision to terminate the subcontracts. The org also found CNN had implemented a hiring plan designed to limit the number of discharged TVS employees to avoid a successorship bargaining obligation.

A CNN spokesperson said, “CNN disagrees with the NLRB decision and we are evaluating our options.”

Really? CNN admits that a Roosevelt-era federal government agency in the Obama era can make a mistake? CNN won’t be having its anchors bake cakes or fist-bump on-air in celebration of this decision? It won’t hire a children’s choir as human shields to sing its praises? Talk about burying the lede — this may be a first for the struggling, little-watched network.

I wonder if anyone at CNN has said, “What right does government have to do this to us?” Now if only we could get them to ask, “What is it that the American government shouldn’t be allowed to do?”

To paraphrase Irving Kristol, a conservative is a liberal that’s just gotten mugged by reality. Of course, it will take far more than this to awaken CNN from their decades of ideological torpor — but then, an angry bureaucracy in the waning days of the Obama era likely has far more to dish out, as well.

* Well, that’s how it ultimately worked out. As socialist Stuart Chase said when dreaming up Roosevelt’s New Deal, “Why should the Soviets have all the fun remaking a world?”

With headlines like “Obama’s Scariest ISIS Comment Yet: ‘I’m Not Going to Anticipate Failure’” — even the Obama fanboys at the New Republic are beginning to catch on to the SCOAMF-y-esque* nature of our recently retired former president:

Over the past month, President Obama has weathered frequent criticism for his comments about the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Most notable was his “gaffe” on August 28 when he said, “We don’t have a strategy yet.” Two weeks later, the president announced a plan to strike ISIS in Syria and provide military aid to moderate rebels. But those days in between were a devastating blow to our place in the world. Or, you know, maybe Washington pundits were overstating the significance of Obama’s comments.

In fact, though, Obama did make a serious error on ISIS recently. They weren’t public comments and they didn’t garner huge coverage, but they represent a dangerous mindset as the country embarks on another multi-year military engagement in the Middle East.

President Obama made the comment in a private, off-the-record meeting with a select group of journalists before his prime-time speech last week. On Sunday, Peter Baker, who was not at the meeting, reported in the New York Times about what was said there. Among other things, Obama was reportedly asked how he would adjust his strategy if his new plan proved unsuccessful. “I’m not going to anticipate failure at this point,” Obama responded, according to Baker’s report.

We’ve seen this movie before, haven’t we? Why, yes we have:

When the tech geeks raised concerns about their ability to deliver the website on time, they are reported to have been told “Failure is not an option.” Unfortunately, this is what happens when you say “failure is not an option”: You don’t develop backup plans, which means that your failure may turn into a disaster.

That’s from former Obama supporter Megan McArdle’s piece at Bloomberg (unexpectedly!) View on Obamacare last year titled, “Hope Is All Obamacare Has Left.”

In the 1920s and 1930s, as the “Progressive” socialists who had followed Woodrow Wilson into transforming America into a socialist state blanched at America’s return to normalcy, “We planned in war” became the rallying cry that led to the New Deal, staffed with Wilson-era retreads, who saw the New Deal as “The Moral Equivalent of War,” albeit in peacetime.

Gee, that worked out swell for everyone, didn’t it? See also, the busted flush of the “Stimulus” program, aka Obama later discovering that “there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects.” and the Obamacare meltdown, with the former president reduced to muttering, “What we’re also discovering is that insurance is complicated to buy,” and “One of the things the federal government does not do well is information technology procurement.”

But if you’re going to plan for a real battle, and not the moral equivalent thereof, having a contingency plan for what to do if things go completely pear-shaped is usually a good idea. Fortunately though, as past performance on the “Stimulus,” Iraq, and Obamacare each indicates, our current president is far too smart to let that ever happen:

* Sorry Ace.

Quote of the Day

September 12th, 2014 - 5:01 pm

In previous posts I’ve introduced the metaphor of the attrition mill–a machine in which two steel disks, rotating at high speed in opposite directions, crush between them the grain or other substance to be milled. Our society is caught in a gigantic attrition mill, with one disk being the Islamic terrorist enemy and the other being the “progressive” Left within our own societies–some of whom are wishful thinkers who deny uncomfortable realities, an alarming number of whom forthrightly despise their own societies and the majority of their fellow citizens. Without the existence of the second disk, the terrorist threat would be serious, inconvenient, and dangerous, but would not be an existential threat to Western civilization. But it is the interaction of the two disks, despite the differences in their stated philosophies of life*, that increases the societal threat by orders of magnitude.

“9/11 Plus Thirteen Years,” David Foster, the Chicago Boyz Website, yesterday.

* The key word in that sentence being stated. The two ideologies actually have much in common.

From a Command Economy to a Command Reality

September 12th, 2014 - 1:24 pm

“Democratic thinking [typically unfolds] in three stages,” Jeff Bergner writes in “The Party of Reason?” at the Weekly Standard:

1) Policy is predicated on reality as one wishes it to be, not as it is. (2) That policy fails. And (3) its advocates explain the failure by demonizing their opponents. The demonization of political opponents to cover policy failures is an all too reliable indicator that the policies rest on unsound, anti-scientific, irrational foundations.

As Bergner concludes:

Because the left wishes to eliminate poverty by redistribution, it assumes reality can be made to conform. Because it judges fossil fuels bad, they must be allowed no future. Because it insists on human causation for global warming, dissenters must be hounded. Because the left favors unrestricted access to abortion, a woman’s right to choose must be enshrined.

The words of today’s political left are much like ancient incantations. They are magic. But there is one difference: Ancient incantations reflected an underlying belief in an external world that was difficult to control, a world in which humans had at best a modest measure of influence.

Liberals have long favored the notion of a command economy; today they operate in nothing less than a command reality. For the modern liberal, we humans have the power to deconstruct and reconstruct reality as we please. In this brave new world, words are all that is required for a new reality to leap into existence. To speak about an issue is to resolve it. Good intentions suffice. If the results of programs created with good intentions disappoint, it doesn’t matter. Disastrous policy results do not reflect a misunderstanding of reality, but the evil machinations of political opponents.

This of course is not reason; it is hubris. The great power of modern science arises from the understanding that we gain a degree of mastery over natural forces and ourselves only by conforming our thoughts and actions to the nature of reality itself. The incantations of the modern left notwithstanding, reality is not easily bent by words alone.

No, sometimes really devastating magical thinking requires the willing aid of a faux newscaster as well:

‘Gearing Up for the Post-Radio Shack World’

September 10th, 2014 - 2:00 pm

It’s “Mourning in America” for Scott Ott, as he watches the slow and painful death of a once ubiquitous American institution:

Then, most Wednesdays, if we didn’t need a haircut at the barbershop — a Princeton: tight on the sides, longer on top, looped over with a generous handful of Vitalis — it was off to one of three destinations in the Doylestown Shopping Center:

1) W.T. Grant: a five-and-dime, if we needed school clothes or supplies, or to look at the tropical fish, chameleons and pet rodents.

2) Sears: where my brothers and I played Pong, or fished through the discount 45′s bin while Pop shopped for tools.

3) Radio Shack: AKA Heaven for Boys

While the first two had their charms, it was Radio Shack that cast a spell on us, drawing us in at a dead run.

Gadgets and kits, lights and switches, buzzing and whirring and crackling — things that were cool before “cool” became “bad” or “sick” or “ridiculous” or whatever “cool” is now.

There was nothing like Radio Shack.

Today, I read that Radio Shack is sick — actually sick, perhaps dying — almost certainly headed for bankruptcy.

Troubled electronics retailer RadioShack Corp’s shares have lost nearly a third of their value since brokerage Wedbush Securities said on Tuesday the company could file for bankruptcy soon, making the stock worthless by the end of this year.

The stock fell as much as 20 percent to 76 cents on Wednesday, adding to a 23 percent plunge on Tuesday.

“Our price target reflects our expectation that creditors will force a reorganization and wipe out RadioShack’s equity,” Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter wrote in a note.

I too grew up spending many hours as a kid pouring over Radio Shack catalogs, wiring together 150-in-one Electronics Projects kits, where I was sure I would ultimately craft the device that saves planet earth from an all-out interstellar alien attack. A few years later, the first personal computer I ever owned was a Radio Shack TRS-80 Model I, which I eventually tricked out with a blazing 300 baud Hayes modem and connected to CompuServe and various BBSs in the early 1980s. Good times.

But in a way, having played a major role in birthing the personal computer revolution a generation ago, Radio Shack in the 21st century is an unwitting victim to that industry’s staggering success. At the start of the year, Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute spotted a 1991 Radio Shack ad featuring “13 electronic products for $5k (and 290 hrs. work) can now be replaced with a $200 iPhone (10 hrs.):

Buffalo (NY) journalist and historian Steve Cichon has an article on the Trending Buffalo website (“Everything from 1991 Radio Shack ad I now do with my phone“) featuring a full-page Radio Shack ad from the Buffalo News on February 16, 1991 (see graphic above). Of the 15 electronics products featured in the Radio Shack ad, 13 of them can now be replaced with a $200 iPhone according to Steve’s analysis. The 13 Radio Shack items in the ad (all-weather personal stereo, AM/FM clock radio, headphones, calculator, computer, camcorder, cell phone, regular phone, CD player, CB radio, scanner, phone answering machine, and cassette recorder) would have cost a total of $3,055 in 1991, which is equivalent in today’s dollars to $5,225. Versus only $200 for an iPhone 5S.

In hours worked at the average wage, the 13 electronics items in 1991 would have had a “time cost” of 290.4 hours of work at the average hourly wage then of $10.52 (or 7.25 weeks or 36.3 days). Today, the $200 iPhone would have a “time cost” of fewer than 10 hours (9.82) of work at the average hourly wage today of $20.35, and just one day of work, plus a few extra hours.

MP: When you consider that an iPhone can fit in your pocket and has many apps and features that were either not available in 1991 (GPS, text messaging, Internet access, mobile access to movies, more than 900,000 apps, iCloud access, etc.) or not listed in the 1991 Radio Shack ad (camera, photo-editing), it’s amazing how much progress we’ve made in just several decades, and how affordable electronic productions have become.

Which dovetails nicely with an observation by David Harsanyi in the Federalist today that “Global Warming was Worth It:”

In a piece in the Atlantic, adapted from his new book, “Sustainability: A History” (which I haven’t read), historian Jeremy Caradonna challenges prevailing notions regarding the Industrial Revolution. Was the explosion of industry and subsequent rise in productivity and technology good for humanity? Not if you believe there are too many people living way too long and emitting way too much carbon into the atmosphere. And this “ecological crisis” – the greatest threat to ever challenge mankind – has its roots in the Industrial Revolution.

So if, for some reason, you embrace a “narrative” that says the rise of laissez faire economics – and the resulting efficiency and technological advancements – were moral because they freed millions from poverty and made modern life possible, you’re not thinking clearly. If you cling to the narrative that prosperity creates economic stability which in turn creates an environment that makes political stability possible, you’re just being didactic.

As Steve Green writes in response, “For 50 years now at least, progressivism has been about casting one’s self-loathing with a wide enough net to cover all of humanity. That’s self-evident of any ideology wanting far fewer (if any) people in the world, most in suffering under state-mandated shivering destitution.”

And don’t forget the notion that James Delingpole of Ricochet and Breitbart UK, dubs “The Drawbridge Effect.” Leftwing wealthy elitists have theirs; they want to dramatically reduce the odds that anyone else will succeed on a similar level:

You’ve made your money. Now the very last thing you want is for all those trashy middle class people below you to have a fair shot at getting as rich as you are. That’s why you want to make energy more expensive by opposing Keystone XL; why you’re all for environmental land sequestration (because you already own your exclusive country property); and Agenda 21 — which will make all Americans poorer, but you not so much, because you’ve enough cash to cushion you from the higher taxes and regulation with which the greenies want to hamstring the economy.

Finally, to return to the nostalgic opening of Scott’s post, while I love the Internet, tablets, the PC, the Web, and the ubiquitous 21st century technology we take for granted, I will miss the shopping mall — shopping for CDs at Sam Goody’s and Tower Records, DVDs and books at Borders, and gadgets at Radio Shack. I realize it’s all available at Amazon (which I also love), but the afternoon walking through the mall is often a pleasurable activity as well. Will we miss it when it’s gone?

this_is_progress_2-28-14

mussolini_obama_lerner_forward_6-13-13-1

“Breitbart News says IRS targeted company for audit,” Glenn Reynolds notes today adding, “Who could have seen this one coming,” Glenn adds. “And who could hear this without laughing?”

The agency said in a statement: “Federal privacy laws prohibit the IRS from commenting on specific taxpayer situations. The IRS stresses that audits are based on the information related to tax returns and the underlying tax law — nothing else. Audits are handled by career, non-partisan civil servants, and the IRS has safeguards in place to protect the exam process.”

As Glenn notes, “Nobody believes this anymore. Which is, as I warned it would be, a real loss.” That post went up at 8:00 AM eastern today at Instapundit. It makes for quite a juxtaposition with the opening paragraphs of this post timestamped 1:53 PM EDT today at the establishment left blog on Congress, The Hill

During another grueling hearing on the ObamaCare rollout, the head of the Internal Revenue Service tried to offer lawmakers an assurance about the soon-to-open enrollment period.

“Whenever we can, we follow the law,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told the House Ways and Means subcommittee on health on Wednesday.

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), who leads the subcommittee, immediately expressed his concern with the remarks.“I encourage you to follow the law in all instances,” Brady said.

Nobody believes they do anymore. Which is indeed a real loss.

If the attitude of those in power — when in the national spotlight, under oath, being grilled by Congress — is “whenever we can, we follow the law,” why should they expect everyone else to hold a different attitude? Or to put it another way, “You cannot have a viable society where the backbone of the country thinks that following the rules and the law is for suckers and chumps. “

Which is exactly what the head of the IRS, his predecessor, and their boss on Pennsylvania Ave. are saying about — and to — the American public.

Vercotti Brothers

“The company that runs the conservative Breitbart.com news site says the IRS has selected the network for an audit, in a move company executives suggest is politically motivated,” Fox News reports:

A copy of the IRS notice to Breitbart News, obtained by FoxNews.com, asked about the company’s financial information for calendar year 2012.

The IRS asked for a litany of documents, including logs of its receipts and expenses, but also its partnership agreement and a “written narrative” of the business.

Larry Solov, president and CEO of Breitbart News Network said: “We stand ready to cooperate with the Internal Revenue Service on its audit of our company, but this will not deter us in the least from continuing our aggressive coverage of this president or his administration.”

The company was founded by the late media entrepreneur and conservative activist Andrew Breitbart.

The main website, Breitbart.com, houses a number of offshoot sites including Big Hollywood and Big Journalism. The website played a key role in breaking the scandal over former Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner sharing sexually explicit photos on Twitter.

I’m sure the Economist, which this week is running a cover story on “The Criminalization of American Business,” Bloomberg News and other agencies largely staffed by Democrat operatives with bylines would chalk all of the above up as occurring  “unexpectedly,” despite the fact that Mr. Obama “joked” about siccing the IRS on his political enemies in 2009.

Related: “A senior communications aide to Attorney General Eric Holder seemingly called House oversight committee chairman Darrell Issa’s staff by accident and asked for their help spinning new revelations about the IRS scandal, Issa said in a September 8 letter to Holder.”

The Economist Meets the Underwear Gnomes

September 9th, 2014 - 11:13 am

economist_9-9-14-1

Complete with its headline, “The Criminalization of American Business,” the cover of the latest issue of the Economist stared up from the magazine rack at the local Safeway yesterday. 

Gee, how did American business become so criminalized in recent years? Some of the mile-markers along the way are pretty frightening stuff. Incidents such as the raids on Gibson Guitar and other businesses. Siccing the IRS on small businesses after “joking” early in his administration that he’d do just that. Operation Choke Point. And small-time videomakers being tossed into jail. It’s not like the Economist would condone such actions, would they?

Oh, right:

economist_obama_covers_2008-2013_6-6-13-2

Economist Obama covers through the years. Click to enlarge.

As I’ve written before, you can a pretty good sense of the arc of the left’s Obama worship by checking the various Economist covers from 2008 through the present.  The outlier in the collage above is the image of a punch-drunk and bandaged Obama after the bruising fight to pass ObamaCare in 2010; but note that the Economist was firmly back in the tank by 2011. Nice touch having Michele Bachmann waving at the president while brandishing a sniper rifle; take two Krugmans out of petty cash, boys.

So to review how we got here, let’s borrow from a beloved meme from TV’s South Park:

  1. Support a socialist-loving community organizer turned tyro senator who had completed less than a full term before choosing to run for the White House blindly, pretend, like most Democrat operatives with bylines, that he walks on water.
  2. ?
  3. Wonder why American business has become increasing criminalized.

When it was obvious as early as mid-2009 that Mr. Obama was having more than a little trouble staying afloat while walking on water, Mark Steyn wrote:

This is the point: The nuancey boys were wrong on Obama, and the knuckledragging morons were right. There is no post-partisan centrist “grappling” with the economy, only a transformative radical willing to make Americans poorer in the cause of massive government expansion. At some point, The Economist, Messrs Brooks, Buckley & Co are going to have to acknowledge this. If they’re planning on spending the rest of his term tutting that his management style is obstructing the effective implementation of his centrist agenda, it’s going to be a long four years.

And how about this?

In an accomplished press conference this week, Mr Obama reminded the world what an impressive politician he can be. He has a capacity to inspire that is unmatched abroad or at home.

Oh, dear. That’s so January 20th it makes these toffee-nosed Brits sound like straw-sucking hayseeds.

And I wasn’t exaggerating about the Economist believing that former President Obama walked on water. Recall their cover last fall, during the disastrous rollout of Obamacare, which itself will further criminalize millions of small businesses:

economist_walk_on_water_cover_11-21-13

As I noted last November, “Hey rubes! Considering that the only people who thought that Obama could walk on water in the first place was the MSM, the Economist tacitly flashes back to their naïveté. Which would be charming, if its end result hadn’t been so destructive to the country.”

Which brings us to the Economist’s latest cover. But I doubt they’ll connect the dots and point a few fingers at themselves.

Update: A very good rule indeed:

“This was the week when global warming jumped the shark. Just like it did last week. And the one before…”, James Delingpole writes at Breitbart London:

Doctors at a Washington, D.C. paediatric clinic are increasingly prescribing sunshine and outdoors – “nature time” – for their young clients, reports Lynne Peeples for HuffPo.

But the story isn’t as heartwarming as you might think from the first paragraphs. That’s because stalking this charming scene like a ravening, blood-crazed, razor-fanged death creature with a sinister cowl kind of like a wicked evil monk’s probably concealing a grinning death’s head face and an evil as old as time, is climate change.

Yes, Peeples has managed to find at least two eco campaigners so shameless and utterly desperate that they have been prepared to put their names to quotes suggesting that “climate change” is threatening to make outdoors a no-go zone.

“Nature is critical to health,” says Martha Berger, a children’s health officer with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Climate change, she added, could “further alienate kids from nature.”

“One of the things contributing to [kids not getting enough play outdoors], along with many societal factors, is that some of the conditions are becoming more difficult to deal with,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, during a media call last month for the group’s report, “Ticked Off: America’s Outdoor Experience and Climate Change.”

As Delingpole writes, “Soon children will have forgotten what outdoors looks like, claims HuffPo.”

Yes, it could happen as soon as 1978 — because in 1968, Bobby Kennedy was making these exact claims in his presidential campaign ads, which repudiated the New Frontier optimism of his late brothers. In ten years, JFK thought we’d be landing on the moon. In ten years, Bobby believed we’d all be wearing gas masks outdoors:

As I noted in 2011, while Jimmy Carter didn’t make his infamous “Malaise Speech” until 1979, the intellectual rot and box canyon thinking that drove its depressing assumptions had seeped into the left shortly after it was obvious that LBJ’s Great Society was a failure — and as the excerpt above from James Delingpole’s post above spotlights, the left haven’t yet found a way to break the endless Mobius Loop they’ve been trapped in ever since.

For my interview in April with James on his Little Green Book of Eco-Fascism, click here to listen.

Breaking News from 2005

September 6th, 2014 - 12:09 pm

This just in: “TV is increasingly for old people,” the Washington Post’s Cecilia Kang discovered yesterday:

The median age of a broadcast or cable television viewer during the 2013-2014 TV season was 44.4 years old, a 6 percent increase in age from four years earlier. Audiences for the major broadcast network shows are much older and aging even faster, with a median age of 53.9 years old, up 7 percent from four years ago.

These television viewers are aging faster than the U.S. population, Nathanson points out. The median age in the U.S. was 37.2, according to the U.S. Census, a figure that increased 1.9 percent over a decade. So to put that in context of television viewing, he said TV audiences aged 5 percent faster than the average American.

“TV is increasingly for the old, and the Internet is for the young,” Kang began her article. Yes, we know — In 2005, I wrote a post titled “The Graying of Big Media’s Audience,” in which I quoted George Will, who noted:

The combined viewership of the network evening newscasts is 28.8 million, down from 52.1 million in 1980. The median age of viewers is 60. Hence the sponsorship of news programming by Metamucil and Fixodent. Perhaps we are entering what David T.Z. Mindich, formerly of CNN, calls “a post-journalism age.”Writing in The Wilson Quarterly, in a section on “the collapse of big media,” he rejects the opinion of a CBS official that “time is on our side in that as you get older, you tend to get more interested in the world around you.” Mindich cites research showing that “a particular age cohort’s reading habits do not change much with time.”

I also quoted from my then-recent interview with Brian Anderson of City Journal, who told me:

Let’s consider the media universe. With news and opinion, a lot depends on where people are gravitating for their information, and here the traditional or mainstream media, overwhelmingly liberal in orientation, are losing sway–with astounding rapidity. Writing in the New Yorker recently, the media critic Ken Auletta pointed out something I hadn’t noticed: the commercials on the Big Three network newscasts are frequently hawking drugs like Viagra and Mylanta, and the broadcasts themselves often focus on health issues. There’s a reason for that emphasis on infirmity: the average age of a network news watcher is now 60; only about 8 percent of viewership is between 18 and 34. Ten years ago, 60 percent of adult Americans regularly tuned in to one of the network newscasts. Now it’s only about one in three. And people have lost trust in the mainstream outlets. A Pew Research poll last year found that just 21 percent of its respondents viewed the New York Times as a trustworthy news source–a figure below that of Fox News, it’s worth noting.Americans are increasingly turning to new media to get informed. About 40 percent of Americans now watch cable news broadcasts. One in five Americans, maybe even more, look to political talk radio for knowledge of the world. Around 12 percent–26 million Americans–are now reading political blogs, a medium that didn’t really exist a few years ago (and even more are using the Internet more broadly for information). And in the new media, the Right either dominates (as with talk radio and increasingly cable news, where Fox News is the ratings giant) or has at least as much influence as left-of-center sources (as with the Internet and Blogosphere).

As George Will concluded:

The future of the big media that the young have abandoned is not certain. But do you remember when an automobile manufacturer, desperately seeking young customers, plaintively promised that its cars were “not your father’s Oldsmobile”? Do you remember Oldsmobiles?

Oldsmobile produced its last car in 2004; the brand-name didn’t even survive until 2009 when the Obama administration seized General Motors and effectively took, at least for a time, government control of a formerly independent corporation. Of course these days, most TV network employees — certainly most TV on-air talent — are effectively Democrat operatives with bylines. But as they indicated in a column back in February, the far left Salon would be happy to see the television networks — and the film industry as well – officially under state-run control.

Sure, nationalized socialism didn’t work out so well for Germany. And the Soviet Union. And pre-Thatcher post-war England. And China. And North Korea. And Cuba. And Venezuela. And

But it’s gotta work here, right?

Just NBC the Hypocrisy

September 4th, 2014 - 10:41 am

Past performance is no guarantee of future results:

“Katie Couric and Matt Lauer Blame Hurricanes On Global Warming.”

—Headline, NewsBusters, September 21st, 2005.

“Matt Lauer’s helicopter rides to and from his Hamptons mansion are ‘paid for by NBC’ – despite earning $20million a year.”

—Headline, the London Daily Mail, today.

And I hope Matt doesn’t leave any lights on his mansion:

Related: “The 5-ton, 12 mile/gallon [Mercedes-Benz Unimog Truck] Arnold Schwarzenegger bought after signing strict emissions law goes on sale for $273,250.”

 

“Via Weasel Zippers, we learned the Los Angeles Times has a new term for illegal aliens in the work force: they’re ‘informal workers,’ and that doesn’t mean they don’t arrive on the job in a tuxedo,” Tim Graham quips at NewsBusters:

Times reporter Tiffany Hsu (a “UC Berkeley grad”) began her Saturday story with the new I-word (and illegal immigrants also “labored unofficially” in “gray employment”):

Informal workers are growing part of California’s economy — a shift keenly felt in the construction industry, where 1 in 6 workers is either off the books or misreported, new research has found.

Construction businesses in the state employ roughly 895,000 workers, according to a report by downtown Los Angeles research group Economic Roundtable that was released Sunday. In 2011, 143,900 of those workers labored unofficially

In specialty trades such as drywall and flooring, a quarter of laborers are considered informal, according to the Economic Roundtable.

The L.A. Times was the newspaper that helped popularize the term “funemployment” back in 2009 to describe the “benefits” of their boss’s economic policy (which includes adding plenty of “informal workers” to help spread additional “funemployment” across the nation formerly known as America), so it’s not at all surprising to see Mr. Obama’s fellow Democrat operatives with bylines continue their creation of politically correct Orwellian euphemisms.

Related: “DHS Lost Track of 6,000 informal workers Foreign Nationals Overstaying Visas While Our Govt. Ignores Border Security.”

What If There’s No There There?

August 29th, 2014 - 2:58 pm

Jay Cost is asking if the clothes have no emperor, in the Weekly Standard:

Toward the end of Ronald Reagan’s second term, a friend of Vice President Bush encouraged him to think carefully about what a Bush presidency should look like. According to Time, Bush responded, “Oh, the vision thing.” Fairly or unfairly, this phrase came to characterize the Bush 41 tenure. Despite his impressive résumé spanning three decades in government, he seemed not to have a clear view of what he wanted to do.

When Barack Obama campaigned for the White House in 2008, that hardly seemed like his problem. Obama would take in the whole sweep of American history in his speeches to suggest that his candidacy was its culmination. His heavy-handed propaganda​—​from the Greek columns to Shepard Fairey’s “Hope” poster​—​suggested a man with a vision surplus.

In the sixth year of his presidency, it is clear that Obama does not have much of a vision at all. Sure, he is a man of the left and possesses a commitment to its goals; he thinks government should grow larger and taxes should increase. Beyond that, he does not seem to have a firm sense of the reforms he should implement, how to implement them, how he fits into the constitutional schema, what a sensible U.S. foreign policy should be or how to execute it.

This is not to say that the White House does not offer positions on the issues. We are inundated with Obama positions. We are also treated periodically to longer “think pieces” from sycophantic authors granted extraordinary access to reinforce the point that this is a president deeply engaged in the issues of the day, struggling to bring order from chaos.

Yet the constant positioning and propagandizing belie deep-rooted ambiguities in this administration, which​—​it must be noted​—​has taken flak from left and right for years. Radical academic Cornel West recently suggested that Obama is a corporatist stooge, while Rand Paul fretted about the “socialist nightmare” the president is creating. Some might think these critiques accidentally demonstrate that the president is down-the-center. More likely they point to the absence of “the vision thing.” Sometimes he’s a corporate crony, sometimes a socialist; it all depends on what side of the bed he wakes up on.

Read the whole thing. Of course, corporatism and socialism have been deeply intertwined by their very nature since the days of Otto Von Bismarck, as Jonah Goldberg noted in Liberal Fascism. And as Jonah writes in his latest G-File regarding Mr. Obama’s own lack of the vision thing:

The reality, alas, is that Obama is — and has always been — out of his depth on the international stage. Given the prestige of the presidency and the incredible institutional forces behind the office, particularly when a liberal is elected, it takes time to burn through all of the political capital that comes with the job. But Obama has been throwing that political capital on an Oval Office bonfire like so much kindling on a clean and safe Anchorage night. In yet another metaphor that threatens to burn out the dilithium crystals , the credibility inferno is reaching China Syndrome proportions (“You should have said ‘literally’ a lot! Literally means ‘pay attention to how smart my metaphors are.’ Wheeeeee!” — Joe Biden). For a depressing but brilliant analysis of this meltdown, see Bret Stephens’s piece in the new Commentary coincidentally titled “The Meltdown.”

Remember the famous SNL clip where Phil Hartman plays Ronald Reagan? He’s an amiable dunce in public, but get him behind closed doors and he’s a master strategist? Well, maybe that stuff about Obama being the liberal opposite of Reagan is true. Out in public, he seems like he’s the Chess Master (though I never saw it). But get him behind closed doors and he’s in the chair next to Biden shouting “I can spin faster than you!”

Unlike Reagan, who was a master orator at the podium, while the introverted GWB was often painfully inarticulate on the world stage (there are many, myself included, who sympathize deeply with his fear of public speaking), as left-leaning pundit Jonathan Rauch noted in the Atlantic back in 2003 in “The Accidental Radical,” Bush #43 came to Washington with a clear vision of reform, much of which came from observing the mistakes his father made, and set about executing his plan.

In his new article, Cost compares the distance between Obama’s mesmerizing performance on the campaign stump in 2008 and 2012 and behind-the-scenes, his sleepwalking haze as chief executive to FDR and LBJ, who were excellent campaigners and could shape policy behind closed doors. But FDR had been Assistant Secretary of the Navy and governor of New York before becoming president, and LBJ spent decades in both houses of Congress before circumstances thrust him into his own role as an accidental radical.

In sharp contrast to the long careers of both men, Obama made three brilliant calculations to leapfrog so quickly into the White House: One: Since the McGovern debacle, Democrats often nominate a chameleonic newcomer to the national scene onto whom they can project whatever policies they wish to advance that year. Two: Race trumps gender on the left, and a majority of Americans would be thrilled to vote for a black president, provided he wasn’t a radical far left bomb thrower in the Al Sharpton/Jesse Jackson mold. And finally, even though Obama was precisely that, given the background he marinated in all his life, from his radical parents to his years at the foot of Rev. Wright, that the media would be similarly thrilled to push all of that aside for him. And he was certainly right about that:

As MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough told Hugh Hewitt a couple of weeks ago, the memoirs to come from Obama White House insiders will make for astonishing reading, once the former president makes it official and leaves office:

This president wants yes men around him. And again, I hear that from my Democratic friends, I hear that from his own former chiefs of staff. If anybody steps out of line, they’re immediately insulated and pushed out. You know, I said this on set after the cameras were turned off to a couple of people who I knew wouldn’t say it on the air. I said guys, you know as well as I do that the second this administration is over, the books are going to come from former secretaries of state. The books are going to come from former chiefs of staff. The books are going to come, and this president is going to have to deal with 20-30 years of disparagement from his own side, calling him one of the least effective presidents, because he’s one of the most insulated presidents.

I suspect the material that emerges will be alternately thrilling, terrifying, and laugh-aloud funny, often within the same sentence. Not the least of which being when we discover how the famous conclusion of Robert Redford’s 1972 movie The Candidate played out in real life, once a real-life far left tyro senator won the biggest political title in the land in 2008:

Spot the Correlation

August 26th, 2014 - 11:48 pm

Shot:

Chaser:

 

Earlier: How to Lose Friends and Alienate Customers.

Related: “If I have understood this ridiculous situation correctly, the EPA is now in a position in which it may have to admit in court that some of its previous official statements about ocean acidification were not supported by available evidence.”

And from Roger L. Simon: “Climate Change to the Rescue?”

Quote of the Day

August 25th, 2014 - 6:23 pm

“The only difference between the ideology of the French socialist minister and the Ferguson looter is scale. That and the immensely superior quality of the Frenchman’s comestibles. But the principles which govern both are the same. Eventually you run out of other people’s money and other people’s patience.  And that’s starting to happen all over the world right about now.”

Richard Fernandez at the Belmont Club today.

—Not to mention the same urge to declare Year Zero to banish all knowledge that came before, or what happens next. Or as the Weasel Zippers noted yesterday, “CBS Report: People In Ferguson Will Loot And Destroy Businesses Until Businesses Give Them Jobs:”

We live in an era that is more accepting of disability but still dubious about vulnerability and foibles in a leader. Would Roosevelt have made it as far as the governor’s race in 1928? In a world that second-guesses every politician’s decisions on an almost minute-by-minute basis, would he have tried?

I put both questions to Richard Moe, who knows politics — he was chief of staff for senator and then vice president Walter Mondale — and is the author of the recently published “Roosevelt’s Second Act,” an account of the president’s decision to seek a third term. Moe tells that story so well that it becomes weirdly suspenseful, even though you begin reading with a pretty good idea of who’s going to win the 1940 election.

“Whether big personalities like FDR would be inclined to pursue similar careers today is a separate question because we both know there are plenty of reasons for anyone to avoid politics today,” Moe responded in an e-mail. “That’s one of the great tragedies of the political system we have.

“But, even so, I have no doubt that someone who had many of FDR’s characteristics and abilities — to pick strong people, to see the core of an issue, to make bold decisions and to articulate them compellingly — could prevail today. In fact I think many people are hungering for his kind of leadership.

Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt asks, “Could America accept another FDR?”

Gee, I thought we already had one:

time_obama_fdr_12-24-2008-3

Certainly, our new FDR and his “New New Deal” has delivered similarly disastrous economic results as the old New Deal. Of course, perhaps leftists wouldn’t be looking a new FDR today, if they hadn’t been so quick to had the moniker to an untried tyro senator whose chief aim for expanding government was dreamed up by his speechwriters looking to trump his fellow Democrat rival for the White House on the debating circuit. But then, as Steven Hayward wrote yesterday at Power Line after Maureen Dowd finally commented on her boss’s obsession with golf, “Behold, among Obama’s hidden talents is his ability to make liberals even more foolish and incoherent than usual.”

Tina Brown Could Not Be Reached for Comment

August 25th, 2014 - 3:33 pm

“Daily Beast Slams ‘Benedict Arnold’ Burger King for Planned ‘Inversion’” via a merger with the Canadian Tim Hortons chain, Ken Shepherd writes at Newsbusters:

Patriotism may be the last refuge of a scoundrel, as Samuel Johnson put it, but a lack of it may be the last refuge of corporate executives who have run out of ideas on how to improve their business,” groused Daily Beast global finance editor Daniel Gross in the open of his 9-paragraph screed “Burger King Plots Canadian Invasion to Save His Faltering Kingdom.” “It’s one thing for a fairly anonymous company that sells pumps or valves or industrial products to other businesses to renounce its citizenship for the sake of saving a few bucks on taxes. It’s quite another when you’re an iconic American consumer-facing company that relies on fickle consumers for a large share of its business,” Gross fumed.

Gosh. Wait’ll Gross discovers that the Daily Beast, the Website he writes for, was founded by a woman who left her country of origin in search of better business opportunities, and presumably, lower taxation, eventually becoming a citizen of her newly adopted homeland. How can he work for a corporation born of such scoundrelly* origins?

* Yes, it’s a word, according to cads and bounders and scalawags at the Oxford dictionary.

Update (8/26/14): “This is Awkward:” Warren Buffett, “who President Barack Obama has lauded and named a signature proposal after, is helping finance a deal that would allow Burger King Worldwide Inc. to reincorporate in Canada and potentially reduce its U.S. tax bill through a so-called inversion, the Journal reported late Monday.”

No word yet on how former President Obama will question his supporter’s distinct lack of patriotism.

Glenn Beck: Conquering Hero?

August 25th, 2014 - 1:27 pm

“Glenn Beck’s The Blaze Talks to Time Warner About Replacing HLN,” show-biz Website The Wrap claimed on Friday:

In an ongoing effort to revamp HLN, Time Warner’s CNN has been talking to Glenn Beck‘s The Blaze as a possible partner, an individual with knowledge of the talks told TheWrap.

The Blaze is a conservative 24-hour news and entertainment network funded by subscriptions and founded by Beck, a right-wing talk show host who built a huge following on Fox.

An insider told TheWrap that The Blaze gave Time Warner two proposals, but neither went anywhere. Another individual with knowledge of the talks said the possibility of a joint venture is not dead — they’re just not active. Under the proposed partnership, Beck’s Blaze would take over HLN’s spot on the proverbial TV dial.

The Blaze is available on 70 television providers nationwide. In the first half of 2014, the distributor base for The Blaze has grown by 50 percent. TheBlaze.com, which features written content, receives more than 25 million unique visitors per month.

Early 20th century American playwright Wilson Mizner is credited with saying, “Be nice to people on your way up because you’ll meet them on your way down.”

Because no one at The Wrap has heard of Wikipedia or Google apparently, they didn’t bother to report that Beck started his cable TV career on Headline News, and then left for Fox, in part because, as he told Newsmax in 2009:

Do you know what a pariah I was? The [CNN] management  was always very good, but going around what I called ‘the pit of despair,’ the people in the newsroom that are just typing…

I was walking through the newsroom one time and [a reporter] looked up and said, ‘yuhhck!’

I said, ‘That’s not necessary.’ And she said, ‘Oh, you expect it.’ And I said, ‘I do — and isn’t that sad?’

That year, Time-Warner-CNN-HBO, Headline News’ parent organization, kicked Beck on the way out with this cover on Time magazine:

Unlike other cable TV hosts who stayed in that medium long after their sell-through date had expired, Beck left Fox News to start his Blaze Internet TV channel and Website. The risk paid off in spades — in 2011, Forbes described Beck as a “$100 million man.” So I’m sure Beck acquiring a stake in Headline News, both to compete with Fox, and for a little payback for crapping on him during his salad days. Too bad The Wrap apparently couldn’t be bothered to research any of this, as it would made their article much more powerful.

Sadly though, on Saturday, CNN-Money — and they should know, right? — claims, “Glenn Beck sought out CNN deal, but talks died fast.” Because we wouldn’t, you know, those people tuning into CNN and increasing their viewership, right? Far better to lay off 550 jobs instead and maintain ideological purity.

In 2012, Beck had previously attempted to acquire Al Gore’s Current TV, but talks fell through, because like Time-Warner-CNN-HBO, Al also wouldn’t want the wrong people watching his former channel. Which is too bad — because (a) Beck would likely bring in far more than the pitiful 17,000 viewers who are currently watching Al Jazeera America. And (b) he’d likely pay his bills faster as well. And (c) little risk of Beck’s staffers breaking out the scimitars, as well.

Related: “Not Watching For The Asteroid.”

“Bank Of America Reaches Record Settlement Over Mortgage Meltdown,” NPR reports. (Link safe, goes to the Brothers Judd blog):

The settlement “addresses allegations that Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, and Countrywide each engaged in pervasive schemes to defraud financial institutions and other investors in structured financial products known as residential mortgage-backed securities, or RMBS,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said.

The securities typically included a high percentage of subprime mortgages and the sellers misrepresented to investors the degree of risk involved, Justice alleges. When the housing market collapsed, many of the RMBS became worthless.

Holder said the subprime mortgages bundled into the securities “contained material underwriting defects; they were secured by properties with inflated appraisals; they failed to comply with federal, state, and local laws; and they were insufficiently collateralized.”

Even so, he said, “these financial institutions knowingly, routinely, falsely, and fraudulently marked and sold these loans as sound and reliable investments. Worse still, on multiple occasions — when confronted with concerns about their reckless practices — bankers at these institutions continued to mislead investors about their own standards and to securitize loans with fundamental credit, compliance, and legal defects.”

As one of the Brothers Judd’s commenters notes:

Holder’s statement is ahistorical. BofA bought Countrywide (who no doubt did defraud) and Merrill (much less clear on fraud) at the virtual demand of the US Government.

Perhaps Eric should have asked his pals Jamie Gorelick. Franklin Raines, Jim Johnson, Rahm Emanuel, and Andrew Cuomo about mortgage standards and fraud. Or he could have checked with Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, and Maxine Waters.

Exactly. Who pushed banks to the high-risk low-income housing market in the first place? But hey, government is just another word for the things we do together to wreck economies: