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This is what “Al Qaeda on the run” looks like

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]

Now it’s the Intelligence Community’s fault. You know — that Clapper guy!

We know the President’s telling the truth because of how quickly he moved to fire that Clapper guy (James Clapper, the director of national intelligence). Which is to say, he didn’t fire him. When someone who serves at the pleasure of the President seems to be unfit for his or her office and doesn’t get fired, there’s a good reason. That person is the President’s fixer (Eric Holder, John Mitchell), or has information that could do the President in (Janet Reno, J. Edgar Hoover), or is the President’s fall guy. Given the state of the world (best summarized as “in flames”), the DNI makes a convenient fall guy. Read all »

Green Watch highlights corruption of Eric Holder & Company

Eric Holder, the U.S. attorney general whose tenure has been marked by extremism, racism, and corruption, is preparing to announce his resignation today, according to a report by the government’s National Public Radio.

Here is a sneak peek at the upcoming Green Watch, which examines the record of Holder’s Justice Department on environmental issues. At the Obama/Holder DoJ, the first rule is: Punish your critics and reward your friends.

Click HERE for the October issue of Green Watch.

Shut up! Just shut the heck up! argued Kennedy and the Warmers

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]

This may be the week the Global Warming movement jumped the shark.

In New York, where, in 1933, 250,000 marched down Fifth Avenue in support of the racist and fascist National Recovery Administration and where, in 1938, Nazis rallied at Madison Square Garden (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPGT7EaCiIY), the Global Warming community held its People’s Climate March on Sunday.

Organizers did little to hide the role of extremists and hate-mongers in the festivities: Featured participants included former Clinton/Gore consultant Naomi Klein, author of a new book on how Global Warming means the end of capitalism (This Changes EverythingCapitalism vs. the Climate); New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who supported the Soviet Sandinistas in Nicaragua and honeymooned in the socialist paradise Cuba; and Al Gore. Sponsors included not just the extreme Left (Greenpeace, the SEIU, MoveOn.org, the Union of Concerned Scientists) but self-described socialists (the Socialist Party USA, Socialist Alternative, Democratic Socialists of America, Ecosocialist Horizons, Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, the international Socialist Organization, the Freedom Social Party), anarchists (The Ruckus Society, the Anti-Oppression Forum Anarchist Collective, the Black Rose Anarchist Federation) , and outright communists (the Ben Davis Club [an openly Communist group named after a supporter of the mass murderer Stalin and of the Soviet invasion of Hungary], the Communist Party publication People’s World, and the Communist Party USA itself).

One wonders how the organizers explained the Communists’ sponsorship to Chinese-Americans, Cuban-Americans, Polish-Americans, Vietnamese-Americans, the Hmong, and others whose relatives have suffered under Communist oppression. One wonders how the organizers can align themselves with the Communist Party, which has murdered 100-150 million people. Then again, the Warmers support an anti-science ideology that, as it becomes the basis for economic policy, will trap billions of people around the world in abject poverty. Compassion and a decent respect for humanity are not exactly things that you associate with Warmers.

Among the prominent speakers at the March: the conspiracy theorist Robert Kennedy Jr. Read all »

Green Watch September 2014: Pyramid Scheme: Meet the “green” radicals who want to plan your menu

Pyramid Scheme
Meet the “green” radicals who want to plan your menu [PDF here]

By Erik Telford

“Has any attention been paid to farmers’ markets with respect to carbon footprint and sustainability?”

When a taxpayer-funded committee met recently to design the government’s guidelines for nutrition—nutrition!—the committee addressed that concern. As the Obama administration seeks to influence, even control, what we eat, the stuff of satire is now reality.

Meet the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC): 15 career academics hand-selected by the administration to set the government’s official guidelines for healthful eating. The professors of DGAC have a unique view of the world of nutrition, and it has more to do with the “green” movement’s quest for nirvana than food science and common sense.

Their work is the basis for the Food Pyramid, which in turn is used Read all »

Why scientist-activists are always wrong (Part 1)

The collapse of Global Warming theory puts a harsh spotlight on the involvement of scientist-activists in efforts to deceive opinion leaders and policy-makers.

Later this year, I’ll attempt to explain why scientist-activist groups are always—yes, always—wrong about politics and public policy. This week, here’s a quick look at one of the reasons: that scientists may be good at analyzing the results of replicable research and experimentation, but they’re not good at analyzing things that are unrepeatable.

Consider this problem in political analysis: The period of strong economic growth that began in late 1994/early 1995—Was it more the result of President Clinton’s economic plan, which became law in August 1993, or was it more the result of the election of a Republican Congress in November 1994?  Without one factor or the other or both, would the economy have grown faster or slower?  There is no way to determine the answer—not  in a scientific way.  We cannot rewind history, change one or two factors, and do the experiment over.  Scientists who get involved in public policy often get confused and frustrated, because they don’t understand the difference.  (Policymakers have little understanding of physical science, too, but that presents different problems.)

Even Albert Einstein, who sought to organize scientists for political causes, recognized the limitation of applying scientific methods to political problems.  In 1949, in the first issue of the Marxist publication Monthly Review, Einstein wrote:

It might appear that there are no essential methodological differences between astronomy and economics: scientists in both fields attempt to discover laws of general acceptability for a circumscribed group of phenomena in order to make the interconnection of these phenomena as clearly understandable as possible.  But in reality such methodological differences do exist.  The discovery of general laws in the field of economics is made difficult by the circumstance that observed economic phenomena are often affected by many factors which are very hard to evaluate separately.

Most political questions are unrelated to science.  Science may tell us something about the stages of development of a fetus, but it cannot answer the question of when a fetus (or an embryo) becomes a human being who should be subject to the protection of the law.  Thus, science has nothing to say about abortion laws or about whether the federal government should increase funding for embryonic stem cell research.  It may be able to tell us whether a particular spot on earth, at a particular time on a particular day of the year, has a higher temperature than on the corresponding day and time a year before.  But science has nothing to say about whether the U.S. should ratify the Kyoto treaty.

That limitation is particularly important in light of the fact that there is no evidence scientists understand politics any better than chicken farmers understand politics, or that scientists understand politics any better than politicians understand science. We should listen to what the scientific community says on political issues, just as we listen to the janitorial community or the truck-driver community, but no more so.

Einstein wrote that “we should be on our guard not to overestimate science and scientific methods when it is a question of human problems; and we should not assume that experts are the only ones who have a right to express themselves on questions affecting the organization of society.”  Einstein, who strongly endorsed centralized economic planning—perhaps the most discredited-yet-popular idea of the 20th Century—knew what he was talking about when he warned us “not to overestimate science and scientific methods.”

Richard Pipes, who headed the famous Team B of intelligence analysts during the Cold War, addressed the problem. [A note on terminology: “Idiographic” is a term from Kantian philosophy describing the effort to understand the meaning of contingent, accidental, and often subjective phenomena.  It is contrasted to “nomothetic,” a term that describes the effort to understand objective phenomena.]  In a chapter in the 1982 book Intelligence Requirements for the 1980s: Analysis and Estimates, Pipes wrote:

In the natural sciences, once you arrive at a validated law, any subsequent experiment will always yield the same result.  That assurance of repeatability is the essence of the natural sciences. Once you have found, for example, that water boils at a certain degree on the thermometer (atmospheric pressure being constant) it will always do that. In contrast, the idiographic sciences, of which history is one, have to deal with concrete situations which contain certain elements familiar from other phenomena but the combination of which is always unique and therefore unrepetitive.  For this reason, there can be no science of history.  There are certain ancillary disciplines within history, such as statistics and demography, which are close to science.  There may be a science of analyzing documents.  But the actual process of arriving at historical conclusions is never precisely the same because every situation is unique.  For this reason history is so very appropriate as training for intelligence analysts, in as much as the situations which confront the intelligence analyst also are forever concrete, unique, and unrepeatable

Pipes was too generous regarding statistics and demographics. For example, the U.S. census does a pretty good job manipulating information in those fields by, for example, targeting certain groups for inclusion in the Census and by creating or eliminating ethnic groups to create false impressions (e.g., the fake and racist “America will soon turn into a non-white country” meme). But his general point about the different types of science was correct.

To be continued.

The Push for State-controlled Media: For years the Left has fought to increase regulation of the news

The Push for State-controlled Media:  For years the Left has fought to increase regulation of the news

By Barbara Joanna Lucas, Organization Trends, September 2014 (PDF OT0914)

Summary:  Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission was slapped down when the public learned it had begun an investigation of decision-making in newsrooms.  The agency claimed it meant no harm to press freedoms, but in fact for years the Left has agitated for greater governmental control of the media. Obama administration officials have said as much for years, as did the president when he first ran for the office. 

If only enlightened central planners could have greater control over the mass media, they would ensure that the masses receive the correct information and prevent the wrong people from delivering political messages that might influence the public improperly.”

That’s the kind of thinking behind the “media reform” movement, which hopes to put the most benign spin on the idea of letting government supervise the press and forget about the First Amendment’s guarantees of free speech and a free press. Even more Orwellian: the group leading this effort is called “Free Press,” by which they mean a press free of corporate control. Free Press is allied with various other left-wing groups that claim to have the same hope to strengthen democracy and freedom by simultaneously weakening corporate control and strengthening government’s control.

Readers will recall the Federal Communications Commission’s notorious Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs (CIN), which sparked so much controversy in early 2014. The scheme was supposedly killed after public outcry from conservatives and journalists alike.

It’s absurd on its face to claim the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has any business determining what content the nation’s news media should or should not provide, but the Left’s invasion of newsrooms was simply a test to see how far they could push. Progressives do not give up; they simply regroup.

Progressives have long feared competition in the marketplace of ideas and, not surprisingly, they believe America simply has too much speech. To fix this perceived problem, the Left has agitated for campaign finance “reforms.” It has produced campus speech codes. It has demanded “Net Neutrality.” And as we’ll see, fear of speech motivates Progressives who want to ensure the media reports only news stories they find appropriate.

By contrast, conservative groups vigorously criticize liberal bias in the mainstream media, but they do not advocate for government intervention to make the media more balanced.

While the media reform movement isn’t plotting a full-fledged state-run media—even the most ambitious statists know that’s not currently achievable—the movement is fighting for an incremental agenda. In fact, the media reform movement is itself an incremental advance in left-wing speech control. The group Free Press was launched by a small group of left-wing funders shortly after they’d succeeded in a previous increment, namely, passing the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law of 2002.

As John Fund explained in the Wall Street Journal (Dec. 21, 2010), “Of the eight major foundations that provided the vast bulk of money for campaign-finance reform, six became major funders of the media-reform movement. (They are the Pew Charitable Trusts, Bill Moyers’s Schumann Center for Media and Democracy, the Joyce Foundation, George Soros’s Open Society Institute, the Ford Foundatino, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.)” (For more on this history, see “Pew and the Gang Ride Again,” Foundation Watch, April 2011.)

The media reform movement has everything a Progressive could want: government subsidies for media, identity politics, anti-corporate and class warfare rhetoric, and George Soros money supporting a who’s who of left-liberal nonprofits. The movement has four main stars, all of whom articulated the goals of the CIN long before it gained notoriety:

* Mignon Clyburn is an FCC Commissioner and the daughter of Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the House Majority Whip when Democrats last had control of Congress. She was acting FCC chairman for a time.

* Michael Copps, a former FCC Commissioner now spearheading the effort on media reform being made by the liberal group Common Cause. (For more on Common Cause, see Organization Trends, May 2014.)

*Robert McChesney, a radical professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, is the co-founder of Free Press; he’s a self-described socialist who’s “hesitant to say I’m not a Marxist.”

*Mark Lloyd, a former FCC chief diversity officer now in charge of the liberal New America Foundation’s Media Policy Institute.

“Angry, Hateful, Often Racist” Talk Shows
President Obama named Mignon Clyburn an FCC commissioner in 2009; she served as acting chairman of the FCC for most of 2013. A longtime advocate for government rules requiring minority ownership for broadcast licensees, Clyburn told the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters conference in October 2013 that the FCC needs better “hard and fast” data to establish a policy that will force increases in the number of minority-owned broadcast stations. She called for more data collection, because “A complete picture of the media landscape is necessary to entertain … any major policy adjustment in the short term” (Washington Examiner, Feb. 24, 2014).

In a speech delivered in February 2012, well before the CIN study became public, Clyburn said, “We are especially interested in whether the critical information needs of all Americans are being met. Does limited participation in the communications industry by women and minorities have an impact on whether all Americans have their critical information needs met? [The FCC] is committed to answering this question” (RBR.com, Feb. 7, 2012).

Implicit in these demands for “media diversity” is the Left’s belief that if minorities and women own more media companies, then conservative media voices will have less influence.

Clyburn added in her February 2012 speech that the FCC “must emphatically insist that we leave no American behind when it comes to meeting the needs of those in varied and vibrant communities of our nation—be they native born, immigrant, disabled, non-English speaking, low-income, or other.”

Earlier, in December 2011, she had complained that “The FCC needs more data,” because “the factual information that the Commission currently has is incomplete if developing policies to promote greater female and minority ownership is still a priority” (Broadcasting and Cable, Dec. 22, 2011).

During her 2009 confirmation hearing, Clyburn claimed to believe that “the Fairness Doctrine,” which for decades had been used by government officials to suppress conservative views on the airwaves, “should not be reinstated in any form, any way, shape or form.” She added, “The FCC, I believe, is not in the business of censoring speech or content on the basis of political views and opinions” (Washington Examiner, Feb. 24, 2014).

And yet Clyburn and others clearly want to use the power of government to shape what messages are reaching the public. Keep in mind that the words “Fairness Doctrine” have become toxic. But some on the left have sought to enact the same kind of policy through backdoor channels—such as ownership rules requiring “localism” or affirmative action quotas—in hopes that new requirements will effectively reduce the number of stations that air Rush Limbaugh and other conservative talk radio shows.

Advocates for media diversity say the number of African-American-owned broadcast stations has declined by 30 percent since 1998, and that today racial minorities own just 2.2 percent of commercial TV stations.

“I understand the Fairness Doctrine is not coming back, but why has the FCC sat by and allowed angry, hateful, often racist talk show hosts, 95 percent of whom are conservative, to poison the supposedly public airwaves?” Clyburn asked when speaking at the 2011 National Conference for Media Reform, sponsored by Free Press (Washington Examiner, Feb. 24, 2014).

Among those attending that year’s media reform conference were House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Copps of Common Cause, who at the time was still an FCC commissioner.

Clyburn also talked about imposing a new tax on corporate media and using the revenue collected “to create another ecosystem that would have more voices, independent voices.” The term “ecosystem” is frequently used to call for remaking the American media.

Obama Too Moderate for Activists
For conservatives, this entire movement may seem puzzling. Except for Fox News, talk radio, and some popular websites, the news media are still dominated left-leaning voices. Why is the Left desperate for still more left-wing media?

The answer lies in part in several aspects of the media reform movement that appeal to the Left. For example, the movement calls for blocking all mergers among media companies and talks endlessly about “fairness,” “diversity,” and “justice,” using rhetoric about “us against them,” “the people vs. the powerful,” and so on. This makes great bumper sticker language and could be a rallying point for low-information voters the Left hopes to drive to the polls.

For his part, President Barack Obama hasn’t impressed the leaders of the movement that much while in the White House, but he did champion their cause as a candidate for president. “I believe that the nation’s media ownership rules remain necessary and are critical to the public interest,” said candidate Obama, then the junior senator from Illinois, in September 2007.

“We should be doing much more to encourage diversity in the ownership of broadcast media, promote the development of new media outlets for expression of diverse viewpoints, and establish greater clarity in the public interest obligations of broadcasters occupying the nation’s spectrum.”

The following month, candidate Obama said of the FCC, “I object to the agency moving forward to allow greater consolidation in the media market without first fully understanding how that would limit opportunities for minority, small business and women-owned firms.”

In February 2008, Sen. Obama and senior Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin even wrote a letter together to the FCC demanding action (Moyers and Company website, Dec. 4, 2012). “Broadcast ownership rules directly implicate core American values such as diversity, localism, representation, and a competitive marketplace of ideas,” Durbin and Obama said.

Just words? Media reform advocates seem to think so. An April 4, 2013 letter to Obama by Copps, the head of Common Cause’s media reform effort and a former FCC commissioner, was signed onto by numerous other advocacy groups, many notably left-wing and all calling for Obama to make his next nominee to chair the FCC an aggressive reform advocate.

The letter, in fact, used the term, “critical information needs,” a mantra of the movement: “the critical information needs of many communities, including people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or visually impaired, remain underserved.”

The letter also highlights other policies the Obama administration should pursue. “The FCC must review all telecommunications and media mergers critically,” the letter said. It called on the FCC to enforce ownership rules and require all political ads to state who paid for the ad. “Those policies shape our commercial markets, our political discourse, our educational opportunities, and our social interactions.”

In addition to Common Cause, signers included: Alternate ROOTS, Center for Media Justice, Chicago Media Action, the Free Press Action Fund, Communications Workers of America, and United Church of Christ Office of Communications Inc. To give the letter a shroud of non-ideology, a few disability advocacy groups were also included.

Journalists Jumping Aboard
The fact that Progressives are frustrated by the lack of government control over political discourse is not surprising. What is rather surprising—and disheartening—is the number of journalists who support this movement. Liberal or not, you may think someone in the First Amendment business would object to the idea of government interfering with the media.

For example, during the 1980s battle over whether to restore the Fairness Doctrine, liberal CBS anchorman Dan Rather took the side of freedom and declared, “Not only the station manager but the newspeople as well were very much aware of this government presence looking over their shoulders. I can recall newsroom conversations about what the FCC implications of broadcasting a particular report would be. Once a newsperson has to stop and consider what a government agency will think of something he or she wants to put on the air, an invaluable element of freedom has been lost.”

Rather was right. Of course, he went on to disgrace, ousted from CBS after defending the network’s phony story on President George W. Bush’s National Guard record. Last year, he joined the bandwagon of leftists appearing in the documentary Shadows of Liberty, which premiered at the National Conference for Media Reform in Denver in April 2013. The film claims that corporations have taken control of the media, keeping important news away from Americans.

Progressive talk radio host Amy Goodman, co-host of “Democracy Now,” also attended the Denver conference. In 2008, Goodman used her show as a platform for Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, leaders of the terrorist Weather Underground group, to claim they never committed terrorism (Accuracy in Media website, April 5, 2013).

Another hero of the Left who supports media reform is Bill Moyers, a former press secretary to President Lyndon Johnson who became a talk show host on PBS. Speaking at the media reform conference of 2008, Moyers claimed the movement was born on his program when he interviewed McChesney and John Nichols, authors of Our Media, Not Theirs. He explained that the movement seeks “to build alternative and independent sources of news and information that people can trust.”

That idea sounds like it came from the conservative movement, which has worked for decades to establish alternative and independent sources of news in the face of the liberal mainstream media. But unlike Moyers and company, conservatives don’t seek an FCC on steroids to make their vision a reality.

“You represent millions of Americans who see media consolidation as a corrosive social force,” Moyers continued. “It robs them of their voice in public affairs, pollutes the political culture and turns the debate over profound issues into a shouting match of polarized views promulgated by partisan apologists who trivialize democracy while refusing to speak the truth about how our country is being plundered.”

Glenn Greenwald of Britain’s Guardian newspaper and Katrina vanden Heuvel of the Nation magazine have also attended the media reform conferences and voiced their support.

The Movement’s Architect
At the movement’s center is McChesney, the co-founder of Free Press, which sponsors the media reform conferences. He may have revealed the real motive of the movement when he wrote in the Marxist journal Monthly Review, “Our job is to make media reform part of our broader struggle for democracy, social justice, and, dare we say it, socialism.”

McChesney is the author of Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism Is Turning the Internet Against Democracy and, with John Nichols, Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America.

One of his first orders of business is “net neutrality,” a scheme to have the federal government regulate the Internet. McChesney told SocialistProject that net neutrality is part of an incremental agenda whose “ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists.”

“The benefits of the Internet economy accrue to a very small number of gigantic firms that all enjoy what economists traditionally characterize as monopoly status,” he griped in the Monthly Review article. “Three of the four most valuable publicly traded corporations in the United States are Internet-related firms, and thirteen of the thirty-three most valuable firms are primarily Internet firms. Several more of the thirty-three largest firms have significant digital operations … What that means is that these Internet giants control the outcomes on all policy debates that affect them, which increasingly covers most issues of fundamental importance, like taxation, regulation, labor and consumer rights, and trade.”

McChesney also demands that the movement work to elect far-left politicians at every level, as was done in successful campaigns waged to elect avowed socialist Kshama Sawant (now on the Seattle City Council) and leftist Bill de Blasio (now mayor of New York).

“In view of the centrality of communication to the political economy, media reform activists have to pull their heads out of the beltway and start talking to the people who elected Sawant to the Seattle City Council and voted Bill de Blasio the mayor of New York City,” McChesney wrote. “We need to capture the imaginations of people such that they believe politics can lead to radical improvements in their lives, and the lives of those they know and love. Then we can build an army that can shake the foundations of this rotting system.”

He went on to argue that journalism must be treated as a public good—sort of like a utility, subject to subsidies and regulation. “When advertising disappears, journalism’s true nature comes into focus: it is a public good, something society requires but that the market cannot provide in sufficient quality or quantity,” he wrote. “Like other public goods, if society wants it, it will require public policy and public spending. There is no other way. The marriage of capitalism and journalism is over. If the United States is to have democratic journalism, it will require massive public investments.”

Leftist Groups and Funders Behind the Movement
McChesney’s Free Press, the organization with the creepy Orwellian name that has been the primary voice pushing the agenda forward, has been funded by George Soros through two of his philanthropies, Open Society Foundations (formerly known as Open Society Institute) and Foundation to Promote Open Society. Together they have funneled $2,060,000 to the group since 2004.

Free Press was also one of 33 groups that drafted a 25-page petition asking the FCC to “initiate an inquiry into the extent and effects of hate speech in media and to explore non-regulatory means by which to mitigate its negative impacts.” The request continued, “Hate speech thrives, as hate has developed as a profit-model for syndicated radio and cable-television programs masquerading as ‘News’” (WND, July 18, 2010). To leftists, of course, hate speech is speech they don’t agree with.

Free Press is also funded by the Ford Foundation ($3,260,000 since 2004), Park Foundation ($2.4 million since 2004), Glaser Progress Foundation ($200,000 since 2004), Joyce Foundation ($80,000 since 2005), Nathan Cummings Foundation ($145,000 since 2005), Overbrook Foundation ($423,000 since 2003), Rockefeller Brothers Fund Inc. ($155,000 since 2004), Tides Foundation ($122,882 since 2005), Schumann Center for Media and Democracy Inc. ($4,883,000 since 2003), Sandler Foundation ($1,650,000 since 2008), and Surdna Foundation ($600,000 since 2005).

Free Press teamed with the left-wing think tank Center for American Progress (CAP) in 2007 to publish a report entitled, “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio.” The report’s dire assessment was that “right-wing talk reigns supreme on America’s airwaves,” and that government regulation should be used to “close the gap.”

Mark Lloyd, then a CAP senior fellow, attributed the “imbalance” to “the breakdown in the Federal Communications Commission regulatory system during the Reagan administration in the 1980s and the elimination of caps on ownership in telecommunications during the 1990s.” He called not for a return to the Fairness Doctrine, but for ownership caps (CNSNews.com, June 26, 2007).

Lloyd went on to serve as the “diversity czar” at Obama’s FCC. In addition, Obama’s first FCC Chairman, Julius Genachowski, hired Free Press spokesman Jen Howard to be the FCC spokesman.

After leaving the Obama administration, Lloyd went to work for the Media Policy Initiative at the New America Foundation, another Soros-funded group that has also been bankrolled by the Ford Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google (Accuracy in Media).

Common Cause, in the meantime, has declared media reform part of its “good government” agenda and established the Media and Democracy Reform Initiative, led by former FCC commissioner Michael Copps. “American media’s failure to provide diverse viewpoints and unbiased information is undermining the strength of our democracy and acting as a barrier to many needed reforms,” says the Common Cause website.

Common Cause has also been tough on Obama for failing to keep promises. “When President Barack Obama ran for his first term, he opposed further media industry consolidation, stressed the importance of a free and open Internet, and supported increased minority and small business media ownership,” Common Cause declares. “Yet his first term has come and gone with little progress on these fronts.”

“Huge media conglomerates have gobbled up hundreds of independent newspaper and broadcast outlets, more often than not cutting the newsroom staffs in order to finance the heavy costs of the merger or purchase transaction,” Copps adds in an Oct. 4, 2013 blog post.

“To make a bad situation worse, years of wrong-headed decisions by government—especially by the Federal Communications Commission (where I served for more than a decade, often as a dissenter)—blessed this merger-mania and went on from there to eliminate most of the public interest obligations that broadcasters were expected to carry out in return for their free use of the public airwaves.”

“A great place to begin real media reform would be to say no to some of these merger deals,” Copps continued. “To my way of thinking, we won’t get very far in meeting those other three challenges—big money, gerrymandering, and the filibuster—until we have a news and information infrastructure that presents these challenges to all of us in meaningful way—not as stories of personalities, horse-races, polling, who’s up and who’s down, but as substantive challenges to our ability to perform the practical art of self-government. Indeed, we may well have avoided the current government shutdown if the media had done a better job of explaining why the country was heading there in the first place.”

Almost CIN-ful
The media reform movement has desperately sought a broad-brush way to use the FCC for impose its agenda, and it nearly succeeded with the Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs, which initially attracted little controversy. The model for the study itself grew out of two Soros-funded institutions, the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Communication and Democracy, which together have received $3.7 million from Soros since 2000. The FCC asked the two Soros-funded schools to come up with criteria for what information is “critical” for Americans to have (FrontPageMag.com, Feb. 25, 2014).

The pilot region selected was Clyburn’s home state capital, Columbia, South Carolina. The idea was to examine “the process by which stories are selected,” the “perceived station bias,” and the “perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.”

“I’m not crazy about the federal government questioning reporters and editors about their news judgments,” said Bill Rogers, director of the South Carolina Press Association, which represents the state’s newspapers. “What is the relevance of news decisions as to whether small businesses can enter the broadcast industry? Viewers evaluate coverage for content and fairness, and the marketplace responds accordingly” (Columbia Journalism Review, Feb. 17, 2014).
The FCC planned to survey journalists with very intrusive questions, including:

* What is the news philosophy of the station?
*Who is your target audience?
*What are the demographics of the news management staff (HR)?
*What are the demographics of the on air staff (HR)?
* What are the demographics of the news production staff (HR)?
*How much news does your station (stations) air every day?
* Do you have any reporters or editors assigned to topic “beats”? If so how many and what
are the beats?

* Who decides which stories are covered?

* How much does community input influence news coverage decisions?

* How do you define critical information that the community needs?

The study was to include newspapers and the Internet, neither of which is regulated by the FCC—at least not yet. (As we went to press, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler threatened he is “seriously considering” the possibility of regulating Internet service providers like phone companies.) The CIN study was to examine eight “critical information needs” in the newsrooms it investigated, all of which could open up dangerous opportunities to bully the free press:

1. Emergency. This area of inquiry was the least dangerous, because only so many ways to cover police or fire/EMS stories exist. But even here one can imagine pressure to push a public union agenda into the news.

2. Health. This is clearly an area where coverage of Obamacare could be affected, as FCC bureaucrats look over the shoulders of reporters and editors.

3. Education. This area has endless possibilities for government bullying, ranging from the Common Core debate to demands from liberal teachers’ unions.

4. Transportation. Liberals strongly prefer other people (usually not them) take public transit.

5. Environment. Here one can be sure pressure would grow even more intense to tout the global warming agenda.
6. Economic opportunities. In this area government bureaucrats could push “inequality” and “one percent vs. the 99 percent” type stories.

7. Civil info. This area would permit local debates to be muscled into narratives that fit the progressive agenda.

8. Political info. The danger here is self-explanatory.

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai short-circuited this plot when he warned the country of the “study” in the Wall Street Journal (Feb. 10, 2014). “The American people, for their part, disagree about what they want to watch,” he wrote. “But everyone should agree on this: The government has no place pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories.”

Pai added that the “FCCs queries may be hard for the broadcasters to ignore. They would be out of business without an FCC license.”

Media critic Howard Kurtz, no conservative, said the study is a “trojan horse that puts federal officials in the newsroom, precisely where they shouldn’t be.”

The outrage spilled out of the media and into Congress when the House Energy and Commerce Committee demanded to know more about the FCC’s scheme. After the uproar, the agency decided to halt the newsroom invasion. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler assured the public the agency had “no intention of regulating political or other speech.”

Recall Bill Moyers’ claim that the media reform movement aims “to build alternative and independent sources of news and information that people can trust.” Ironically, what Moyers says he wants has actually happened, thanks to talk radio and new media outlets like TheBlaze, Breitbart, CNSNews.com, Daily Caller, Fox News, Newsmax, Washington Free Beacon, and others, which have begun to challenge the monolithic media narrative.

If the country is more polarized, it is largely because Americans are allowed to hear more than the one side of issues that CBS, NBC, and ABC were willing to provide. As a result, the Left wants to strike back in the only way they know how: government regulation. The First Amendment be damned.

Barbara Joanna Lucas is a writer in Virginia. She blogs at The SharpBite.blogspot.com.

OT

 

 

Trolling Facebook

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]

This week I’m giving our faithful blog-readers some insight into various aspects of deception and/or Big Government, as noted in comments I posted on Facebook.

► A friend posted this picture:

sja America sideways looks like a duck 140908 1509695_276960175794812_34656293_n

[My response, focusing on how our perception of images and ideas depends on perspective:] Try this: Take one of those beautiful “birth of stars” pictures from NASA, and turn it upside down (there is no “up” in deep space) and change the color scheme (which is artificial and computer-generated), and you can make it look kinda disgusting. In other words, the awesome beauty is there because someone put it there.

sja Hubble turn it around and change colors deception 140908 hubble-web1 http://saint-lucy.com/wp…/uploads/2011/03/hubble-web1.jpg

 

► A friend linked to this article: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/08/31/does-antarctic-sea-ice-growth-negate-global-warming-theory/

…which led to this exchange:

 [name redacted: Let’s call him “Bob”]  It is amazing to me that people whose main interest in life is politics, who have little interest or background in science, should be such experts on scientific matters because of scattered articles that seem to support their contrarian views. We Americans just can’t stop being know-it-alls, especially the most ignorant of us.

[Me:] Given the record of the “scientific community” in support of white supremacy and eugenics and the Population Bomb concept (resulting in China’s murderous one-child policy), and its support for the species collapse idea and Nuclear Winter and action-reaction arms control theory and homosexuality-as-a-psychological-disorder and spinach-as-rich-in-iron and canals on Mars and phrenology and scurvy-caused-by-bad-hygiene and ulcers-caused-by-stress, along with the “impossibility” of missile defense and of biological weapons and of the survival of 24-week fetuses and of continental drift, and its belief in SETI (based in part on a failure to understand math), you might think that the utter collapse of Global Warming theory would put an end to people trying to justify their extremist political positions (e.g., the War on Coal) with half-baked or fake “science.” But don’t worry. They’ll never run out of [baloney].

[Bob:] SJA: you might have added fusion energy. Your idea of science and mine differ. Science is self-correcting; lots of s**t is proposed, only the good stuff survives. And, yes, sometimes too long. The alternate to science is eternal truths everywhere, including that humankind need never worry about over-population or the end of fossil fuels or the harmlessness of spewing poisons into the air.

Read all »

Labor Watch September 2014: Union Power in the States = Less Pay, More Taxpayer Debt

Union Power in the States = Lost Pay, More Taxpayer Debt

How does your state rank on forced unionism, monopoly bargaining, and public pension shortfalls? (PDF here)

By Aloysius Hogan

Summary: New studies on the harms of American labor laws paint a grim picture. The laws drag down economic growth, suppress workers’ wages, and cause government debt to soar.

Could your family use an additional $13,100 a year? If you live in a forced-unionism state, that’s what the lack of a Right to Work law may be costing you.

At the same time, you’re harmed by the federal mandate that gives unions the power of monopoly (a.k.a. “collective”) bargaining. That federal mandate, it’s estimated, costs workers about 15 percent in forgone income.
In addition, unionization of government employees has helped add many billions of dollars to the unfunded liabilities of public employees’ pensions—a debt for which taxpayers will be held responsible.

Three new studies from the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), the Washington, D.C. think tank where I am a senior fellow, examine these harmful consequences of unionization and of laws that push unionization. The purpose of the studies is to identify the problems caused by union power in states across America; express the problems in numbers; rank the states based on the problems’ severity; and point the way toward solutions by comparing states to see what policies work. Read all »

The Hawaiian Recognition Scam

In 2000, Hawaii Senator Daniel Akaka proposed a bill known as the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act. The Bill aimed to “provide a process for the reorganization of the single Native Hawaiian governing entity and the re-affirmation of the special political and legal relationship between that native Hawaiian governing entity for purposes of continuing a government-to-government relationship.”

Every aspect of this proposal since its inception has been fraught with misinformation, legal fictions, and historical ignorance.

Aside from the now-retired Senator Akaka, the biggest proponent of this bill is the Organization for Hawaiian Affairs or OHA. The OHA is a state agency dedicated to advancing the interests of “native Hawaiians,” that is, Hawaiians of Polynesian descent. But its policies affect all Hawaiians, regardless of ethnicity. For this reason in 2000 the OHA came under fire from the U.S. Supreme Court for excluding non-Polynesian Hawaiians from voting in its internal elections and for creating benefits for which only Polynesians were eligible. This violation of the Equal Protection Clause was deemed unconstitutional.

In 2014, this issue has arisen once again. The OHA’s goal is to grant itself the authority previously denied to it by the Supreme Court and to recreate the former kingdom of Hawaii. In order to accomplish these goals, the OHA has been lobbying the federal government to grant native Hawaiians recognition as a sovereign tribe, similar to an Indian tribe. The Akaka bill, as it has come to be known, would allow the OHA to establish a sovereign government in Hawaii that is completely separate from the state government. It could even result in the secession of Hawaii from the United States. The OHA and its allies assert that the United States unjustly annexed Hawaii after WWII and claim that their agenda serves to correct this alleged injustice.

This time, however, the OHA is trying a different and more disconcerting approach than before. Instead of lobbying Congress to pass legislation, they are asking the Department of the Interior to take unilateral action on the issue. This would essentially be an executive order by the president to enact the Akaka bill. President Obama has already received harsh criticism for his excessive use of executive orders. In this case, the United States Commission on Civil Rights sent a Letter to President Obama stating that

“We believe that provisions of the Akaka bill are both unwise and unconstitutional. Executive action implementing provisions of the Akaka bill would be at least as unwise and unconstitutional.

“Neither Congress nor the president has power to create an Indian tribe or any other entity with the attributes of sovereignty. Nor do they have the power to reconstitute a tribe or other sovereign entity that has ceased to exist as a polity in the past. Tribes are ‘recognized,’ not created or reconstituted.”

The native Hawaiians cannot be legally recognized as a tribe because they do not meet the qualifications.  A tribe is a homogenous ethnic group that exists separate from the society it happens to reside in. Tribes must have their own political or governing body. The Federal government cannot “recognize” what does not exist.  The federal government cannot “re-affirm” or “continue” an intergovernmental relationship that never existed in the first place.

The argument that native Hawaiians are a tribe is a legal fiction. The OHA has been quite dishonest in its crusade.  It submitted a roll list containing the names of native Hawaiians. The OHA claimed that all persons on the list consider themselves to be members of the same tribe. It was later discovered that a large majority of the 126,000 names on the registry had been imported from other government registries, rather than being the result of persons voluntarily signing OHA’s special affidavit that states, “I affirm the unrelinquished sovereignty of the Hawaiian people and my intent to participate in the process of self-governance.”

Beyond being dishonest, the OHA’s overall mission demonstrates a profound ignorance of the history surrounding the issue. Even if one believes that the annexation of Hawaii was unjust, the Akaka bill does nothing to remedy the situation. The historical record shows us that the old Hawaiian kingdom was multi-racial in nature. Its subjects were not only Polynesian, but Caucasian and Asian as well.  A heterogeneous kingdom is not a homogenous tribe. The entity that the Akaka bill would create is not the same as the former kingdom.

Critics of the proposal have also raised concerns about the implications of having different sets of laws for different ethnic groups. Such a situation, they assert, is a clear contradiction of the principle of racial equality under the law. In short, the Akaka bill is a discriminatory act that was crafted on false premises and pursued through dishonest means.

The best source of information on this topic comes from Hawaii’s state think tank,  the Grassroot Institute. The Obama Administration has already begun the process of creating a new regulation that would require the U.S. Department of the Interior to “reestablish” a “government-to-government relationship between the United States and the Native Hawaiian community.” See the Grassroot Institute’s official comment on this proposed “rule,” as well as the critique by Hans Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation.

CRC has a report by Matthew Vadum on a previous such effort in Hawaii, and the May 2008 Foundation Watch analyzed a similar issue in the Aloha State.

 

The President’s deliberately deliberative policy of deliberation

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]

The word of the day is “deliberative.”

Last week, President Obama let slip that “we have no strategy’ for dealing with ISIS (also called ISIL, based on a variant translation of the group’s name). Lest anyone accused me of taking his out of content, here are 200+ words of the exchange with NBC’s Chuck Todd:

QUESTION: Do you need Congress’s approval to go into Syria?

OBAMA: You know, I have consulted with Congress throughout this process. I am confident that as commander in chief I have the authorities to engage in the acts that we are conducting currently. As our strategy develops, we will continue to consult with Congress, and I do think that it’ll be important for Congress to weigh in and we’re — that our consultations with Congress continue to develop so that the American people are part of the debate.

But I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet. I think what I’ve seen in some of the news reports suggests that folks are getting a little further ahead of where we’re at than we currently are. And I think that’s not just my assessment, but the assessment of our military, as well. We need to make sure that we’ve got clear plans, that we’re developing them. At that point, I will consult with Congress and make sure that their voices are heard.

But there’s no point in me asking for action on the part of Congress before I know exactly what it is that is going to be required for us to get the job done.

“We don’t have a strategy yet.” That’s an astonishing admission, given that one of the key jobs of the national security community is Read all »