Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Great article by Jonah Goldberg.  Anyone can make a mistake -- even a so-called "professional" journalist.  But, how is it that Brian Ross even thought to look for the Colorado psycho on the Colorado Tea Party website in the first place?

If ABC News does fire Brian Ross, he could always find a job working for Aaron Sorkin.

Ross, a veteran investigative reporter for ABC News, blew it Friday morning when he suggested that the Aurora, Colo., shooting suspect, James Holmes, might be connected with the Tea Party.

“There is a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado, page on the Colorado Tea Party site as well, talking about him joining the Tea Party last year. Now, we don’t know if this is the same Jim Holmes,” Ross ominously informed Good Morning America host George Stephanopoulos, who thought the news “might be significant.”

Or it might not.

Actually, it definitely isn’t significant. The fiftysomething tea-party Holmes, we soon learned, wasn’t the same guy as the twentysomething mass-slaying suspect.

Brent Bozell of the conservative watchdog outfit the Media Research Center calls Ross’s statement a “brazen attempt to smear the Tea Party.”

And other conservatives, particularly tea-party members, have every right to be angry. The list of calumnies and distortions about them is too lengthy to recount here. They’ve been cast as dangerous, racist, fascistic, and murderous.

The most famous example is the seemingly instantaneous effort — ginned up by partisans but given ample credence by the mainstream media — to turn Jared Lee Loughner, the suspect in the 2011 Tucson shootings that killed six people and wounded former representative Gabrielle Giffords, into a right-wing golem conjured by Fox News, Sarah Palin, and the Tea Party.

That said, I still don’t think Bozell & Co. are quite right when they see Ross’s “reporting” as deliberate. For that, Ross would have needed to know what he was saying was untrue. I have to believe Ross didn’t want to get the story wrong.

It would be nice to know if Ross checked to see if there were any Jim Holmeses around Aurora who were connected to the Occupy Wall Street movement or any who were Muslims. Or was the Tea Party simply the first place he looked? And if so, why?

One possible answer is that even allegedly “objective” journalists follow certain narratives based on their own unspoken ideological assumptions. For instance, when a Muslim shouting “Allahu akbar!” mows down colleagues at Fort Hood or tries to blow up strangers in Times Square, the reflex is to seek proof that it was an “isolated incident” or a “lone wolf.”

But when a white non-Muslim shoots up a political rally or a movie theater, the media reflex is to prove their suspicions of sinister right-wing plots. Going with your gut can be great advice for sleuthing out stories, but awful guidance for reporting them.

Which brings us to Sorkin, the creator of HBO’s The Newsroom, perhaps the most execrable pop-culture agitprop since Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. In Sorkin’s fantasy show about a news program that breaks with the media herd, smugly liberal reporters almost always have the right instincts.

Sorkin accomplishes this in part by giving himself the benefit of hindsight, by setting Newsroom in 2010. Hence, when the Times Square bomber is apprehended, the news team congratulates itself for choosing to do the “boring version of the story” in which the “system worked” and the terrorist “acted alone” — something they couldn’t possibly have known yet.

Meanwhile, the real story for Sorkin’s fantasy journalists is exposing the pernicious threat of the Tea Party (and its James Bond–villain backers, the Koch brothers) as they peacefully unseat incumbent Republicans in primaries. Holding the actual government accountable isn’t a big priority for Sorkin’s Fifth Estate because, after all, the system works when liberals run it. The job of the media is to keep a weather eye on the existential threat from the American Right.

That’s a great way to do journalism when you’re playing make-believe and cherry-picking two-year-old facts to suit your ideological agenda. It’s quite another thing when you’re a real reporter working in real time. Ross learned that lesson the hard way in what amounted to an audition for The Newsroom. We can only guess at Ross’s motive for his mistake, but if the media followed Sorkin’s advice, we can be sure we’d see a lot more like it.

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review online, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of The Tyranny of Clichés. You can write to him by e-mail at, or via Twitter @JonahNRO. © 2012 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

"If self-reverence were a crime, [Obama] would be facing a life sentence."

Great editorial from the San Diego Union Tribune

Presidential busts: The worst of all: Barack Obama (2009-?)

He took office at a time when the U.S. economy was on its worst slide in 75 years, but pushed policies using borrowed money that were more meant to preserve government jobs than broadly help the private sector where the great majority of Americans work, ensuring the jobs crisis continued.

He railed against the heavy spending and big deficits of his predecessor, but blithely backed budgets that had triple the deficits ever seen in American history.

He promised a smart, sweeping overhaul of the U.S. health care system, but ended up giving us a Byzantine mess promoted to the public with myths: that offering subsidized care to tens of millions of people would save money; that people would keep their own doctors; that access to care wouldn’t change; and that rationing would never happen.

He promised a more sophisticated approach to the economy than that of his predecessor, but had so little common sense that his health law actually gave businesses a big financial incentive to discontinue providing health insurance to their employees.

He offered hosannas to genius entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs in his prepared remarks, but when speaking off the cuff betrayed his faculty-lounge view of the world, saying of businesspeople, “if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.”

He swore to bring overdue oversight and honest accounting to the corporate world, but made flagrantly dishonest claims about General Motors paying back its government loans that would have triggered a criminal fraud investigation in the private sector.

He promised to set a high new standard for ethics in the White House, but used a baffling claim of executive privilege to shield his embattled attorney general from the repercussions of a cover-up involving the death of a federal law enforcement officer.

He denounced his predecessor for permitting harsh interrogation tactics with suspected terrorists, but once in office somehow concluded that a better, more moral approach would just be to use drones to assassinate such suspects without getting any information from them.

He presented himself as a shrewd student of Washington politics, but once in office displayed a counterproductive standoffishness to many Democratic lawmakers eager to embrace him, never developing the broad range of personal relationships that often mark a successful presidency.

He ran as a unifying force who would bring in a new era of civility and racial healing to Washington, but once in office embraced ugly, Chicago-style political hardball that saw nothing wrong with his supporters’ loathsome practice of depicting opposition to his policies as being driven by racism.

He constantly offered praise for the wisdom and insights of the American public, but reacted to the broad discontent over Obamacare, high unemployment and vast deficits by saying it was a failure of his administration to properly explain its glorious record to a confused populace – not a predictable reaction to his struggles and ineffectiveness.

And in December 2011 – at a time in which one-quarter of American adults who wanted full-time work couldn’t find it, after a year in which the federal deficit was a staggering $1.3 trillion – here was what Barack Obama had to say for himself in a CBS interview: “I would put our legislative and foreign policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president, with the possible exceptions of Johnson, FDR and Lincoln.”

Unbelievable. If self-reverence were a crime, our current president would be facing a life sentence. For the good of America, let’s pray we have someone else in charge of the federal government come Jan. 20, 2013.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tragedy Strikes – And Leftists Shame Themselves
July 23, 2012 - 4:30 am - by Andrew Klavan

“Of that which we cannot speak,” the philosopher told us, “we must pass over in silence.”

As of this writing, twelve people are dead because of the theatre shooting in Aurora, Colorado.  One was a six year old child, Veronica.  Three were young men who threw themselves over their girlfriends and saved their lives.  There was an Air Force veteran.  A devoted Dad.  All of them were people who went out to enjoy the communal pleasure of a big movie opening, and should be at home right now, bragging about being the first on their block to see The Dark Knight Rises.

Of all the commentary that has followed this disaster, one remark by a public figure has struck me with its truth.  The star of the film, Christian Bale, said in a statement, “Words cannot express the horror that I feel.  I cannot begin to truly understand the pain and grief of the victims and their loved ones, but my heart goes out to them.”  Readers of this blog will know I don’t usually turn to movie actors to find wisdom, but Bale got it exactly right.  I don’t understand.  My heart goes out.  Words cannot express.  That is literally all one can rightly say.

And yet within minutes of the news first breaking, celebrated leftists, smelling in the blood of innocents some chance for political advantage, began to appropriate the corpses of their fellow citizens for soapboxes.  ABC “newsman” Brian Ross slandered an innocent man in the hope of using the killings to perpetuate the media lie that the Tea Party movement is violent.  Lefty politicians like Senator Frank Lautenberg and Mayor Michael Bloomberg began to beat the drum for anti-gun laws, despite the fact that Aurora already has stringent gun control.  Brain-dead celebrities like Bill Maher and Cher found in the shattering grief of their neighbors a tremendous chance to insult America and Mitt Romney.

Does the ABC News team think a dead six year old is a prop for their disinformation campaign?  Do Senator Lautenberg and Mayor Bloomberg think a community’s trauma is nothing more than a political opportunity?  Do Bill Maher and Cher think anything?  Do they know anything even exists outside the wonderlands of their own narcissism?

What these lefties reveal in moments like this — and they reveal it again and again — is that human beings — real live actual human beings with individual lives and desires and dreams and fears — do not mean a thing to them.  Not a thing.  To them, the Aurora massacre is not about the dead and the mourning, it’s about getting one in on the Tea Party!  It’s about getting their hands on the Second Amendment!  It’s about getting off a sarcastic remark!  The victims and their families are just convenient stepping stones on the path to where they want to go.

I do not hear anyone on the right talking like this.  This sort of moral vacuity is a product of the leftist philosophy – a philosophy that does not understand the worth of individuals, that does not conceive of each person as being a point and purpose in and of himself.  We’re all just theoretical pieces in the puzzle of their perfect world.  Never mind that we may not fit where they want us to.  If we’ll just give them the power to push and push us enough, why, we’ll surely snap into place and, ah, what a beautiful life it will be then.  It’s a way of thinking that deadens you to other people’s pain.

Twelve people are dead.  A six year old child.  Ordinary guys with the hearts of heroes.  Sons and daughters.  Lovers.  Friends.  Is it too much to ask of these chattering elites that they refrain from grandstanding on our neighbors’ bodies?  Offer your condolences.  Express your grief.  Then shut your fat flapping faces.  You’re not going to improve the situation.  You’re not going to prevent it from happening again.  You’re not going to do anything but show yourself to be so much less than what, with all your power and wealth and privilege, you really owe it to us to be.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"Ultimately, Mrs. Clinton cannot be held accountable for the failures of a president she understood (earlier and better than most) as a lightweight.  But the choice to serve him was hers, and the administration's foreign policy record is hers, too.  It's a record that looks good only because it is set against the backdrop that is the Obama presidency in its totality."

Great column by a great columnist, Bret Stephens.

The Hillary Myth
Can anyone name an achievement to justify the adulation of our secretary of state?

Suddenly we're supposed to believe that Hillary Clinton is a great secretary of state.

Eric Schmidt of Google calls her "the most significant secretary of state since Dean Acheson." A profile in the New York Times runs under the headline "Hillary Clinton's Last Tour as a Rock-Star Diplomat." Another profile in the current issue of Foreign Policy magazine is titled, wishfully, "Head of State." The two articles are so similar in theme, tone, choice of anecdote and the absence of even token criticism that you're almost tempted to suspect one was cribbed from the other.

The Hillary boomlet isn't a mystery. She never lost her political constituency. In the cabinet she looks good next to Janet Napolitano and bright next to Joe Biden. She looks even better next to her boss. Democrats belong to the party of hope, and Barack Obama is hope's keenest disappointment.

So Mrs. Clinton is back, resisting appeals for her to run in 2016 the way Caesar rejects the thrice-offered crown. No doubt she would have made a better president than Mr. Obama. But is that saying much? No doubt she's been a hard-working and well-briefed secretary. But that isn't saying much, either.

What would make Mrs. Clinton a great secretary of state is if she had engineered a major diplomatic breakthrough, as Henry Kissinger did. But she hasn't. Or if she dominated the administration's foreign policy, the way Jim Baker did. But she doesn't. Or if she had marshaled a great alliance (Acheson), or authored a great doctrine (Adams) or a great plan (Marshall), or paved the way to a great victory (Shultz). But she falls palpably short on all those counts, too.

Maybe it's enough to say Mrs. Clinton is a good secretary of state. But she isn't that, either.

Mrs. Clinton is often praised for her loyalty to her boss, even when she loses the policy argument—as she did over maintaining a troop presence in Iraq.

Loyalty can be a virtue, but it is a secondary virtue when it conflicts with principle, and a vice when it's only a function of ambition. Cyrus Vance resigned as Jimmy Carter's secretary of state when the president, facing a primary challenge from Ted Kennedy, authorized a disastrous rescue operation in Iran. Would that make Vance a lesser public servant than Mrs. Clinton?

Mrs. Clinton is also given high marks for her pragmatism. But pragmatism can only be judged according to the result. Is the reset with Russia improving Moscow's behavior vis-à-vis Syria? Has a "pragmatic" approach to China moderated its behavior in the South China Sea? Is the administration's willingness to intervene on humanitarian grounds in Libya but not Syria a function of pragmatism or election-year opportunism?

What about the rest of the record? It would be nice to give Mrs. Clinton full marks for the Libya intervention, except she was an early skeptic of that intervention. It would be nice to give her marks for championing the Syrian opposition, except she has failed to persuade Russia, China or Mr. Obama to move even an inch against Bashar al-Assad. It would be nice to give her marks for helping midwife a positive transition in Egypt. But having fecklessly described Hosni Mubarak as a "friend of my family" in 2009, it's no wonder Egyptians take a dim view of the Obama administration.

Then there's Iran. In the administration's fairy tale/post-facto rationalization, the U.S. was getting nowhere internationally with Iran under George Bush. Then Mr. Obama cunningly offered to extend his hand to the mullahs, knowing that if they rejected it the U.S. would be in a better position to act internationally.

Nearly everything about that account is false. The Bush administration was able to win three U.N. Security Council votes sanctioning Iran, against only one for this administration. The "crippling" sanctions Mr. Obama now likes to brag about were signed against his wishes under political duress late last year. Since then, the administration has spent most of its time writing waivers for other countries. Even now, negotiations with Tehran continue: They serve the purposes of a president who wants to get past November without a crisis. They also serve the mullahs' purposes to gain time.

Now Iran is that much closer to a bomb and the possibility of a regional war is that much greater. The only real pressure the administration has exerted thus far has been on Israel, whose prime minister is the one foreign leader Mrs. Clinton has bawled out. She should try doing likewise with Vladimir Putin.

Ultimately, Mrs. Clinton cannot be held accountable for the failures of a president she understood (earlier and better than most) as a lightweight. But the choice to serve him was hers, and the administration's foreign policy record is hers, too. It's a record that looks good only because it is set against the backdrop that is the Obama presidency in its totality.

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