Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Main Stream Media And the Void It Leaves Behind

There has been a lot of discussion recently about media bias. Liberals point to the fact that the media has become consolidated among a relatively few big corporations and therefore, has a bias to the right. Conservatives point to the fact that most people in the media, based on surveys, are registered democrats and vote consistently for the democrat candidate, thereby displaying a bias to the left.

In fact, neither of these claims proves media bias. It is ludicrous to say that because the media is consolidated among a few corporations that it is, therefore, biased to the right. Historically, corporations have donated as much to democrat candidates as to republican ones. There are as many democrats who run big corporations as there are republicans.

For example, according to, these corporations all contribute significantly more to democrats than republicans; Comcast, General Electric, Boeing, Verizon, Capital Group Companies, Exelon Corp. In fact, most corporations hedge their bets and contribute just about the same amount to democrats as they do to republicans. For the ones that actually take a stand and make a point of going to one party over the other, most actually contribute more to democrats than to republicans! The idea that corporations are interchangeable with republicans is a myth.

Similarly, to say that because most people in the media vote for democrats does not prove bias either. It is possible to vote predominantly for democrats (or republicans) and still be an objective reporter (possible but in practice, not likely). The only way to prove media bias is to look at what the media actually does – What does it cover? How much time does it devote to certain stories? How does it frame those stories?

It is clear that the Main Stream Media (MSM), which consists of ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, The New York Times and the overwhelming majority of print and broadcast media, including most of the entertainment industry in Hollywood as well as news magazines such as Time and Newsweek, devotes time to some stories and neglects others. The decision to neglect certain stories has created a void for those stories. An alternative media has sprung up out of necessity to fill that void. The alternative media consists mostly of Fox Cable News and talk radio. The internet has been successfully used by both the MSM and the alternative media.

Looking at actual stories, it is clear that the Jeremiah Wright controversy was not going to be looked into with any investigative zeal by the MSM. What the MSM failed to realize is that a large number of people cared about this story. People were enraged at the hatred this reverend demonstrated towards the United States and they questioned why a presidential candidate would sit in a church for over 20 years and listen to rants against the very country that the candidate wanted to be the president of!

Recent quotes pulled out of “Journolist” which is a listserve (think of it as a long email chain) show that journalists were actively seeking to bury the Reverend Wright story. These were not just people writing on a blog. They were journalists with the power to effect the editorial decisions of major newspapers, networks and magazines.

For example, Michael Tomasky, who writes for the Guardian, said to other members of “Journolist”: “Listen folks–in my opinion, we all have to do what we can to kill ABC and this idiocy (ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos had the nerve to bring up the Wright issue) in whatever venues we have. This isn’t about defending Obama. This is about how the (mainstream media) kills any chance of discourse that actually serves the people.”

Who is Michael Tomasky to decide how to “serve the people”? A reporter’s job is to ask questions and to get at the truth. When a story is “uncomfortable” to your belief system, is it appropriate to bury the story and smear those who want to get to the bottom of it? Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent tried to create a climate of fear so that no one would dare talk about the Wright story. He said on “Journolist”, “Pick one of Obama’s conservative critics, “Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists.” In fact, this very scandal is now a story in and of itself but don’t hold your breath waiting for the MSM to cover it. If Fox news, however, threatened to arbitrarily smear people for talking about certain stories, the MSM would be on it and there would probably be a congressional investigation!

For many people, a “smoking gun” email chain wasn’t necessary to prove media bias in the MSM. People have observed this through the years such as in 1994 when Peter Jennings described the republican takeover of the house as a “temper tantrum”. Dan Rather was willing to put doctored documents on the air in an effort to put George Bush in a bad light. The funny thing about “Rathergate” was that it wasn’t much of a story, even if were true! It just goes to show what lengths reporters will go to in order to put someone they don’t like (conservatives) in a bad light. When Newt Gingrich received a bonus for a book he was writing while he was an active member of congress, the MSM criticized him endlessly for it but when Senator Clinton got an even bigger bonus the only thing heard was crickets. The examples are endless.

More recently the MSM has ignored horrific details in Obama’s healthcare bill and “stimulus” plan. They’ve misrepresented the situation of the Shirley Sherrod firing and slandered Andrew Breitbart for daring to post a video of the speech. Just for the record, days before Breitbart posted that video; the NAACP said that the Tea Party had racists in their group. This statement was given with no proof whatsoever but the MSM reported it dutifully.

Whatever context the Sherrod video was in, it showed that NAACP members were laughing when Sherrod spoke about “sending a white person to one of his own”. That is an outrageous statement and the reaction by members of the audience to the speech was telling. Yet no one in the MSM brought up that angle of the story. Now the MSM is talking about Sherrod as if she is a hero and Breitbart as if he is Satan. But Breitbart did a service to the truth showing that those who condemn others of racism should clean their own house first.

The alternative media has risen because of simple supply and demand. People on the left don’t seem to understand supply and demand when it comes to basic economics so it’s not surprising that they don’t quite catch the connection when it comes to the media. Bill Press, who wrote a book about bringing back some form of the “Fairness doctrine” to talk radio, said on an interview recently that his book was only concerned about talk radio and not about biases on television or newsprint. Yet one cannot talk about the success of conservative talk radio in a vacuum.

Conservative talk radio has succeeded because there is a ravenous hunger for information. People are tired of seeing the MSM misrepresent who they are and what they believe in. They are tired of the condescension shown by the MSM to anything religious or patriotic. They are tired of having their views and beliefs belittled. Not only at news networks but in the movies, conservative characters are presented as evil. It may be one unnecessary line or part of the main theme of the movie but it is there more often than not. It may be at a concert where all you want is to hear the music but have to listen to the singer denigrating the things you hold dear to your heart.

People can say whatever they want. Free speech is a good thing but choice of where to get information is also a good thing. People have turned away from the MSM and flocked to other sources because their priorities of what is important are not the same as those held by people in the MSM. People in the MSM don’t seem to care. Those who don’t share their vision of the world and what is important are just mere troglodytes. The MSM will never change to satisfy the needs of their audience for information because that kind of information is “beneath” them. In the minds of people in the MSM, they have a “higher” calling which only they get to define and only they get to judge.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Slavery And Racism – Is The United States To Blame?

There is a lot of antagonism toward the United States in certain segments of the African American community. People such as Louis Farrakhan have made hatred of the United States “fashionable” and “cool”. President Obama has been a part of this community, much of it originating in Chicago, where Jessie Jackson, Farrakhan, Jeremiah Wright, Williams Ayers and Reverend Michael Pfleger have spouted this anti-Americanism in the name of both real and perceived past wrongs.

Barack Obama’s pastor of over 20 years, Jeremiah Wright, has said the following things about America:
“Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run!…We (in the U.S.) believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God.”

“The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no, God damn America!”

Recently, the US Justice Department dropped a case against members of the New Black Panther party for “lack of evidence”. Members of the New Black Panthers were accused of intimidating voters at a polling place in Philadelphia. There was clear video evidence of the incident. J. Christian Adams, who was involved in the prosecution of the case, quit the justice department alleging that people in the justice department were told to ignore cases where the defendants were black and the victims were white.

Last summer, Barack Obama criticized the police in Cambridge, Massachusetts saying that the police acted “stupidly” in arresting black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. He made this accusation in a prime time speech after he just admitted in the previous sentence that he didn’t know all the facts of the case.

Does Obama’s view of the US differ from that of Jeremiah Wright or the New Black Panther party? Obama’s policies are often prefaced with the phrase “an even playing field”. In reality, however, it amounts to “Getting even”.

Of course there has been slavery and discrimination in the United States. Slavery is a stain on humanity but it didn’t start with the US. Physical Evidence of slavery dates to around 11,000 years ago in southern Africa. Western slavery goes back 10,000 years to Mesopotamia. Egyptian hieroglyphics show that they practiced slavery. Where is the hatred of Egypt for originating such a vile practice? Where is the demand of Egypt for reparations?

In ancient times, conquering armies in Europe and Asia found it more profitable to enslave captives than to massacre them. Black slavery between antagonistic tribes existed in Africa long before the advent of the Portuguese in the 1400s. Portuguese slave trading began in 1442, particularly on the west coast of Africa in an area that became known as the ‘Slave Coast’. Soon the Spanish entered the slave trade in 1517, followed by the English (1553), the French (1624), and then by Holland, Denmark and the American colonies.

Once the United States was formed as an independent nation, it inherited the mess of slavery. Obama should be familiar and sympathetic to the idea of inheriting messes since he reminds us each day that he inherited a mess and that it takes time to solve such things (whether he inherited or caused the mess is another question for a different day). Slavery was a mess that was created over 10,000 years ago so solving it while trying to create and unify a new nation was no easy task.

The United States was a nation built on compromise and yes, there were many people in the new country that owned slaves. Yet the people who wrote the constitution did recognize the inconsistency of creating a nation based on equal rights and opportunities while allowing an evil such as slavery to exist. Unfortunately, in order to unify the Unites States as one nation, they had to compromise on the issue. Yet written into the constitution in Article 1, Section 9 is a mandate that slavery would be outlawed by the year 1808.

So slavery existed for over 10,000 years and this new nation, while trying to fend off foreign threats, unify disparate views and create a constitution to live by, did as one of its first priorities, write into the new constitution that slavery would be outlawed within 32 years of its founding. In fact it was the United States and England, the two nations most accused of practicing slavery, that were the most involved in ending it!

They were not completely successful but their intentions were clear. John Jay wrote in 1786:
"It is much to be wished that slavery may be abolished. The honour of the States, as well as justice and humanity, in my opinion, loudly call upon them to emancipate these unhappy people. To contend for our own liberty, and to deny that blessing to others, involves an inconsistency not to be excused."
Patrick Henry wrote:
"I believe a time will come when an opportunity will be offered to abolish this lamentable evil. Everything we do is to improve it, if it happens in our day; if not, let us transmit to our descendants, together with our slaves, a pity for their unhappy lot and an abhorrence of slavery."

It of course is true that the founding fathers owned slaves and this has caused many in the African American community to have contempt for these “dead white men”. The founding fathers were not perfect people but they inherited slavery, they didn’t cause it. They knew it was wrong, and were the first in over 10,000 years history to take real steps to end it. For this they deserve praise, not criticism.

There are those who will say that the wealth of America was built on the backs of slavery. If this is the case, why didn’t all the other countries who practiced slavery achieve wealth and success? Why didn’t Egypt, which had thousands of years of a head start on slavery, not become the world’s foremost economic power? Portugal was the first country to be involved in the African slave trade to the new world so why didn’t that country produce the wealth and innovation that later came out of the United States? Spain and Portugal brought slavery to South America so why didn’t any countries on that continent generate success comparable to the United States?

The wealth and success of the United States is due to a system that recognizes the rights of the individual. It is due to a unique idea that says the government governs only by the CONSENT of the people. Thomas Jefferson once said:
“When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.”

The reason why so many major inventions and patents have come out of the United States is because people know they can invest their own time and money in an idea and if successful, reap the rewards from it. People have been able to feel confident that the success or failure of their idea is up to them and not on some arbitrary person in government who may decide on a whim to change the rules. There is a reason why people risk their lives to come to the United States. It is amazing that people would call this a racist country while at the same time fighting in every way possible to come here and enjoy the opportunities it provides.

Like every country on earth, the United States has done shameful things. While the United States didn’t create slavery, segregation existed in this country well into the 1960s. That is a stain on this country that can’t be ignored. And yet, while imperfect, it is a country with a conscience. It eventually ended slavery and while far too late, eventually ended segregation as well.

The “Get even” battle being fought against America by the likes of the New Black Panther party, Louis Farrakhan and Reverend Wright is not a battle against the forces of racism. That battle has already been fought and won. Ironically, the battle being fought by this “Get Even” crowd is a battle against all that is GOOD about America. They are actually fighting against the very forces that were able to eliminate the evils of slavery.

Barack Obama seems to be a part of this “Get Even” crowd. He demonstrates this by his actions, his words, and by who is friends are. His vision of “change” would be to remove the principles that ended slavery and replace them with the ideas that tolerated and caused slavery. Skin color, social rank, and class all play prominent roles in Obama’s agenda. These are the evils that were behind slavery and what the constitution put in place to eliminate. It took almost 200 years to finally get it all working properly and now Obama and his “Get Even” crowd would have us go backwards again.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Radicalism Of Moderates And Independents

There seems to be an unwritten rule, in the minds of many, that being a Political Independent makes a person more “reasonable” than people on the extremes of the political spectrum. Many on the right look to “soften” their views in order to gain acceptance from the MSM (Main Stream Media). They may say things such as “I’m a fiscal conservative but a social liberal”, or the all too popular “I’m neither a republican nor a democrat”.

People on the left don’t need to soften their views because the MSM never views a far left view as “extreme”. The only time politicians on the left look to soften their views and move to the right is during election time which shows that either consciously or subconsciously, they know that it is THEIR views that are not in the main stream. Yet people who are independent of both parties seem to have a special arrogance as if they are more reasonable than people on the left OR the right.

One of the worst offenders of the “I’m an Independent and therefore better than the rest of you” mentality is FOX pundit Bill O’Reilly. If O’Reilly criticizes Michael Moore, he may also feel obligated to criticize someone associated with the right such as Ann Coulter. When O’Reilly criticizes far left websites such as moveon or the DailyKos, he seems to feel obligated to say that he also criticizes far right websites. He is constantly bloviating about being an “Independent”.

Bill O’Reilly, to his credit, has been at the forefront of a number of controversies. One of his uncompromising issues is child abuse and the need for laws to protect children. O’Reilly would never feel the need to justify his uncompromising stance in protecting children by saying something such as “We need to look at the underlying reasons that cause a person to commit child abuse.” There is only one issue and that is the protection of children. O’Reilly gets this here but on issues such as healthcare, the environment, the economy, national defense, taxes and many others he bends over backwards to show his “independence”.

The issue here is not that everyone on the right must agree on every issue. The left is far more intolerant of people within their ranks. They basically threw Joe Lieberman out of the democrat party because he disagreed with them on one issue – national defense. The right does, and should, tolerate differing views on all issues. However, what is happening today is that people on the right, by constantly justifying and rationalizing their views, cede the moral superiority to the left.

If someone on the right points out that Reverends Jeremiah Wright or Al Sharpton are racists, he may feel obligated to point out that he would feel the same way if they were white racists. Former KKK member David Duke has not been in the news for years but his name keeps popping up, as in “I would feel the same way about Jeremiah Wright as I do about David Duke.” Do the filthy words of Jeremiah Wright not stand on their own? Does it make it acceptable to criticize a minority as long as you throw a white racist former KKK member into the sentence?

When Bill O’Reilly points to extremes, he falls into the same trap that the MSM does. For example, in the Michael Moore-Ann Coulter comparison, saying that one is on the far left and one is on the far right gives them both equal status. Michael Moore has been caught lying many times. David T. Hardy in his book “Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man” documents these deceptions. There are NO deceptions of a like status in any of Ann Coulter’s writings. People can debate what she says but there aren’t misrepresentations in her writings. There is a far greater difference between these two people than “far left” and “far right”.

Sometimes the truth is crazier than fiction. If this is the case do you turn the truth into fiction in order to sanitize it and make it more believable? If I said that Barack Obama is fundamentally trying to change this country from a constitutional republic where the government is put into place and run only by the consent and the permission of the people, into one where the government doesn’t care whether or not the people consent to how they are being governed and, in fact, is closer to a dictatorship in that the people have practically no say at all in what the government could do to them, you might say that I am being a radical. Certainly, politicians such as Barney Frank or Anthony’s Weiner would label me as “extreme”.

Perhaps the solution is to say “Barack Obama is gaining dictatorial power but David Duke is a racist and I’d feel the same way if he were gaining dictatorial power.” There is no need to rationalize the truth! Republicans seem to live in constant fear of what democrats and the MSM may say about them. Ronald Reagan was loved by the right because he never rationalized his beliefs. He stated his case eloquently and wasn’t intimidated by how the democrats or MSM characterized what he said. John McCain, Bill O’Reilly and many others labeled as “moderate republicans” or “independents” are looked at with suspicion from the right because they sometimes seem to look at the right with the same condescending attitude that the democrats and the MSM does.

There is a radicalism to Independents that rivals any on the right or the left. There is a need to take any situation and find an alternative to it to show that there MUST be another side to the argument. Ayn Rand spoke about this issue. She said:
There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil. The man who is wrong still retains some respect for truth, if only by accepting the responsibility of choice. But the man in the middle is the knave who blanks out the truth in order to pretend that no choice or values exist, who is willing to sit out the course of any battle, willing to cash in on the blood of the innocent or to crawl on his belly to the guilty, who dispenses justice by condemning both the robber and the robbed to jail, who solves conflicts by ordering the thinker and the fool to meet each other halfway. In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit.

Today, the strategy being used by democrats is to label all criticism of Obama as “extreme”. During the election, John McCain did not bring up a number of vital campaign issues because he didn’t want to be divisive. McCain failed in his duty as a candidate in the same way that a lawyer might fail in his responsibility if he left out critical evidence that could have exonerated his client. The citizens of the US are not children and they have the right to know the truth no matter how strange the truth is!

It is not radical to ask the President of the US and the leader of the free world (if there is such a thing anymore) to put forth the same paperwork as a person applying for a job at a local bank. Yet republicans run from this by saying it is not a winning strategy. Maybe it’s not, but it’s not a crazy idea to want to know the truth! And this truth involves much more than Obama’s birth certificate. It involves organizations he was part of, his sealed college records, his associates over the years and much more.

Republicans and conservatives will never be successful until they learn how to defend their vision, rather than excuse it. Bi-partisanship is not a virtue when you give up your principles in order to be perceived as a “moderate”. Again, according to Ayn Rand:
Moderation in the protection of liberty is no virtue…When people call themselves moderates, ask yourself: “Moderate—about what?” Since the basic question today is freedom versus statism, or individual rights versus government controls, to be a moderate is to advocate a moderate amount of statism, a moderate amount of injustice, a moderate amount of infringement of individual rights. Surely, nobody would call that a virtue.

People on the right need to stop worrying about how they are perceived. To lie even when the truth and the facts are on your side makes people doubt what the truth and facts are. Informed people will respect a person who honestly fights for his convictions. Let the left and the democrats lie – they need to!