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Democracy in peril in Chattanooga

Former Capital Research Center senior editor Matt Patterson has a powerful op-ed about Volkswagen’s ongoing betrayal of its own workers in Chattanooga.

Here it is:

 

Democracy in peril in Chattanooga

By Matt Patterson, April 12, 2014

Chattanooga’s Volkswagen workers were given the opportunity to vote on United Auto Workers (UAW) representation.

They declined representation, 712-626, in an election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

One would think this would have settled the matter. But not quite. Even as you read these words, the union is petitioning the government to overturn the election, while Volkswagen management is looking at every avenue that would allow them to accept the union in spite of the express wishes of their employees.

Let’s be clear about what this means: An election is in danger of being overturned through bureaucratic fiat in the United States of America.

And on what grounds is the union petitioning Obama’s labor authorities to trample democracy? Because, union reps claim, “outsiders” influenced the election. Outsiders like Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Gov. Bill Haslam who dared weigh in on a subject of great import to their constituents.

This “outsider” charge is a laughable pretext through which the union is venting its true totalitarian colors. And it is not even true.

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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: How a U.N. group manipulates science to “prove” Global Warming

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
How a U.N. group manipulates science to “prove” Global Warming (pdf here)
By Kevin Mooney

Summary: The most prestigious international group claiming we face a global warming crisis has a history of twisting the scientific evidence involved in the controversy. It is so duplicitous that it has even misrepresented the findings of its own reports.

W hy do so many people believe in Global Warming theory? Global Warming theory isn’t just that the earth is getting warmer, any more than the theory of evolution is that things evolve or the theory of relativity is that everything is relative. There’s a lot more to it than just warming. Global Warming theory (sometimes fudged as “climate change” theory), in the words of Green Watch editor Steven J. Allen, is “that the earth as a whole is getting catastrophically warmer due not to natural causes but to ‘greenhouse gas’ emissions—especially carbon dioxide (CO2)—from human industry, transportation, and energy generation, and that the looming catastrophe of Global Warming can be averted with policies that are compatible with peace, prosperity, freedom, and democracy.” That’s a lot of believe, and it’s inconsistent with what we know about both physical science and human behavior.
Earth’s temperatures have been stable since about 1998, according to satellite [click here for the rest]

Overton Park and the twisting of words

Overland Park and the twisting of words

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

As soon as it hit the news of the shootings in Overland Park, Kansas, political activists started playing the blame game. People on the Left hoped that they’d be able to pin the shootings on conservatives or Tea Partiers, and conservatives and Tea Partiers began to worry that someone would somehow link them to the murders.

As people on both sides know, no evidence is necessary for the Left to make this link.

Remember how Sarah Palin was connected to the shootings of Rep. Gabby Giffords and others? That was a lie concocted by a left-wing website (The Daily Kos) that, just before the shooting, posted an attack on Gifford that could be read uncharitably as a death threat (Giffords, the left-wing blogger declared, was “DEAD TO ME”). On the Sunday morning political talk shows following the tragedy, the focus of the discussions was the  false idea that the tragedy was caused by “incivility” by Tea Partiers and conservatives.

Remember what happened after the 2012 massacre in Aurora, Colorado? Read all »

Media bias: Rigging the game

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

Writers, editors, and producers of the national news media usually claim to be objective. They contend that they just report the truth.  They argue that the personal political philosophy of a journalist has no more effect on his or her work than on, say, the effort of a scientist to determine the speed of light in a vacuum.  Facts, they say, are facts.

But to report on taxes or healthcare or national security is not like counting the clicks on a Geiger counter or calculating the distance from the center of the earth to the surface of the moon.  Journalism is inherently subjective; a journalist’s approach to a story invariably reflects his or her opinions.

No one would accept the claim of a Ku Klux Klansman, in line for a judgeship, that he is able to apply the civil rights laws objectively without regard to his personal opinions.  Yet the argument is advanced by members of the media that a reporter can cover Barack Obama and the Tea Party movement fairly even if he thinks that Obama is the smartest president ever (swoon!) and that Tea Partiers are fascist, neo-Confederate, war-mongering plutocrats.

The problem is that the so-called mainstream media are full of people who aren’t mainstream at all.  If they were, in fact, members of the mainstream, their values and backgrounds would more closely reflect those of the American people.

The not-so-mainstream media aren’t mainstream at all. Almost all reporters, producers, on-air “talent,” et al. are liberals; more specifically, most are Progressives. Polls indicate consistently that under 10 percent of American adults are Progressives.[i]   About 20 percent call themselves “liberals.”

That left-wing views dominate Big Media is apparent from examining the lineups of the Sunday morning political talk shows. With the occasional exception of Newt Gingrich and, on rare occasions, Laura Ingraham, these programs ban reporters and commentators with pro-Tea Party and anti-RINO views from their analyst rosters. “Republicans” are represented by, say, David Brooks of PBS and the New York Times or Matthew Dowd, a Democrat-turned-GWBush-supporter who usually takes the RINO line. That bias is true even on Fox, which is said to be a conservative-oriented network, but which absurdly attacked Ted Cruz for his efforts to stop implementation of the Obamacare disaster.

Keep in mind:

  • A 2011 poll indicated that between 25 and 30 percent of American adults identified more with the Tea Party movement than with the leaders of either major political party, and that most Americans consider the advent of the Tea Party movement to be a good thing for the country.  Polls earlier this year indicated that, among people with an opinion one way or the other, the portion who consider themselves supporters of the Tea Party is identical to the portion who consider themselves supporters of the Republican Party. (That was true even as the Republican Party was beating the Democratic Party on the generic congressional ballot.)  This is despite one of the most despicable smear campaigns in American history—from the hoax that Tea Partiers called civil-rights hero John Lewis the N-word to Saturday Night Live’s depiction of Tea Partiers as murderous psychopaths to the weird anti-Tea Party rants of Karl Rove.
  • Year after year, the Gallup poll has shown some 38-42 percent of adults calling themselves “conservatives,” usually one-and-a-half to two times the number of liberals, with conservatives in any given year outnumbering liberals in 48, 49, or all 50 of the 50 states.

Yet I would suspect that there’s not a large or medium-sized newsroom in the country where conservatives outnumber liberals, or where a significant number of reporters have views in line with the Tea Party.  Good luck finding someone in a newsroom who opposes same-sex marriage, or backed George W. Bush on the Iraq War, or takes a pro-science position on Global Warming, or opposes racism in hiring and college admissions. (I should note that there are a few issues—I’ll let you figure out which—on which I happen to disagree with many of my fellow conservatives. But that disagreement doesn’t stop me from recognizing bias when I  see it, even when, once in a while, it’s a bias toward a position that I share.)

Since the days when I was a reporter, diversity, except in the most shallow sense, has almost vanished from the nation’s newsrooms.

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The Bezos Family Foundation: Mr. Bezos goes to Washington

The Bezos Family Foundation:  Mr. Bezos goes to Washington

By Jonathan Hanen, Foundation Watch, April 2014 (PDF here)

Summary: The foundation that bears the name of Jeff Bezos, founder of online retailing giant Amazon, provides insight into the political vision he will bring to Washington. The Bezos Family Foundation does advocate for some smart opportunity education policies, such as charter schools and testing, and Bezos has managed thus far to combine social liberalism with fiscal conservatism. But the far Left’s hope that Bezos will be a transformational post-partisan figure, as well as the center-right’s hope for a progressive reformer are overblown. The self-interested lobbying activities of Bezos’s PAC, as regards the Marketplace Fairness Act, reveal a pattern of Beltway politics as usual.

Jeff Bezos, 50, is best known as one of America’s greatest innovators and entrepreneurs of the Internet age. He is the face of the dotcom 1990s who founded Amazon, the online retail sales giant that raked in $27.2 billion in revenue for 2013. Forbes currently lists Bezos as 15th on its list of most powerful people, 12th on the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans, and 19th on the same magazine’s list of the world’s billionaires.

Bezos was born on January 12, 1964, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He showed an early interest in electronics, according to Biography.com. In his teenage years, after his family moved to Miami, he developed a love for computers. He excelled in school, became the valedictorian, and started his first business, “the Dream Institute, an educational summer camp for fourth, fifth and sixth graders.”

Bezos graduated summa cum laude from Princeton in 1986 with a degree in computer science and electrical engineering. “After graduation, he found work at several firms on Wall Street including Fitel, Bankers Trust, and the investment firm D.E. Shaw where he met his wife Mackenzie and was named the youngest vice president in 1990.” Bezos was well-compensated on Wall Street, but in 1994 he took what was then a great risk by going into the brave new world of electronic commerce. He quit Wall Street and moved to Seattle to open an online bookstore.

Amazon opened for business on July 16, 1995, and took off like a rocket. Within two months, Amazon was selling books in the U.S. and 45 other countries at a clip of $20,000 weekly. Amazon had its initial public offering in 1997 and became a top e-commerce company in only two years. Amazon diversified its business in 1998 by adding compact discs and videos to its online offerings. The company subsequently partnered with other retailers to offer clothes, electronics, toys, and a cornucopia of other products.

Many profitable “dotcoms” of the early to mid-1990s have long since vanished, but Amazon has prospered and survived to become one of the greatest successes, with sales expanding from $510,000 in 1995 to over $17 billion in 2011.

Bezos is not merely a CEO with a gift for supply chain management; he is also an inventor who likes to take risks in order to innovate and evolve. In 2007, Amazon released the Kindle, the revolutionary digital book reader that allows users to download books with the touch of a button. Bezos entered the tablet computer marketplace with the Kindle Fire in 2011, and in September 2012, he announced the new Kindle Fire HD, the company’s next iteration of the tablet designed to compete against Apple’s iPad.

All of this commercial success would be enough to ensure Bezos a place among America’s greatest businessmen since the industrial age. Bezos, like his industrialist forbears, has now moved into the arena of political action. His own political views are the subject of intense speculation. The consensus amongst the commentariat is that he is some sort of left-leaning libertarian, or perhaps a social liberal and fiscal conservative.
Bezos donated an undisclosed sum to Reason Foundation, the publisher of the libertarian Reason magazine, and in 2010 he donated $100,000 to a successful campaign to stop a proposed tax hike on individuals earning over $200,000 per year in Washington State. In 2012, he and his wife donated $2.5 million to support a successful ballot initiative for same-sex marriage in Washington State. This donation far surpasses that of Bill Gates, one of Bezos’s peers in the pantheon of computer age entrepreneurs. The New York Times reports, “Bill Gates and Steven A. Ballmer of Microsoft each gave $100,000 to the referendum campaign, according to its officials.”

Apart from fighting an income tax hike, donating to Reason Foundation, and supporting same-sex marriage, Bezos has kept his political cards close to his chest in his public speeches and interviews. He hasn’t given much to political campaigns. He has donated just $15,000, and it was about equally split between Democratic and Republican candidates, according to Slate’s Dave Weigel, who wrote an article headlined, «Jeff Bezos, Inscrutable Libertarian Democrat.”

Amazon, for its part, has been aggressively lobbying Congress since 2011 on issues regarding telecommunications, copyright law, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and most controversially, the Internet sales tax (the proposed Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013) and individual state Internet taxes. In 2003 the Bezos Family Foundation, based in Mercer Island, Washington, was launched to promote excellence in education and leadership training for the young. In August 2013, Bezos purchased the Washington Post for $250 million. This report aims to determine Bezos’s comprehensive political intention as it comes into focus by examining the projects and funding decisions of the Bezos Family Foundation (BFF) and in Amazon’s political action committee and lobbying efforts.

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Philanthropy Notes: April 2014

Singer Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation is in the news because it blew big bucks on overhead expenses while devoting hardly any of its resources to actual charitable endeavors. The foundation of the New York-based entertainer, whose real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, raked in $2.66 million in 2012, “but paid out just a single $5,000 grant, while spending $50,000 on social media,” the Daily Mail reports. The philanthropy spent more than $500,000 on its 23-event “Born To Be Brave” bus tour, which supposedly sought to reach out to disillusioned young people. It also spent $406,552 on legal fees, $300,000 for “strategic development,” and $150,000 for “philanthropic consulting.”

First Lady Michelle Obama has thrown her lot in with the movement, started by Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and promoted by Girl Scouts USA, to ban the word “bossy.” Mrs. Obama tweeted that she was “encouraging girls to lead #BanBossy.” Sandberg, who wrote the book Lean In to push “women to pursue their ambitions,” says that “leadership is not bullying and leadership is not aggression.” But as TruthRevolt.org notes, “the bossy women now trying to boss everyone into not saying the word ‘bossy’ seem immune to the irony of their position. More and more, the left seems to equate the word ‘leadership’ with following the crowd and doing only what is prescribed as politically correct.”

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Briefly Noted: April 2014

Lois Lerner, the former head of the IRS’s tax-exempt division, orchestrated a crackdown on Tea Party and conservative groups and then attempted to scapegoat those nonprofits during the 2010 and 2012 election cycles, blaming them for the harsh treatment they received at her instigation, according to an official report released last month by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “Many questions remain, including the identities of others at the IRS and elsewhere who may have known about key events and decisions she undertook,” the report stated. “Americans, and particularly those Americans who faced mistreatment at the hands of the IRS, deserve the full documented truth that both Lois Lerner and the IRS have withheld from them.” President Obama has said that there was not even “a smidgen of corruption” in the IRS affair.

After Federal Communications Commission member Ajit Pai revealed that the Obama administration was planning to do a study and “send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run,” People for the American Way’s “Right Wing Watch” blog shrugged off civil libertarians’ concerns about the disturbing plan. On Feb. 20, PfAW blogger Kyle Mantyla tried to spin the story by claiming that the FCC was “not going to be stationing agents in local news stations all over the country in order to monitor their reporting, as the Right has been frantically proclaiming.” But after a fierce backlash, the very next day an FCC spokeswoman said the agency was withdrawing the plan after its chairman determined “that survey questions in the study directed toward media outlet managers, news directors, and reporters overstepped the bounds of what is required.” She added, “Any subsequent market studies conducted by the FCC, if determined necessary, will not seek participation from or include questions for media owners, news directors or reporters.”

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Jeremiah Denton: Defiant

[CRC’s Dr. Steven J. Allen first came to Washington 33 years ago to serve as press secretary to Jeremiah Denton, who died last week at age 89. This is Dr. Allen’s tribute to Denton, an American hero.]

What makes someone a quintessentially American sort of hero? – not just a hero, but a hero in the tradition of George Washington, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln.

Heroes come in many varieties, from the soldier who runs into a hail of gunfire to rescue a fallen comrade, to the whistleblower who endangers her career to call attention to wrongdoing, to the citizen who protests peacefully in the face of a very real threat of violence.

As I see it, one characteristic above others is associated with American-style heroism. That is defiance – defiance when the adversary has the odds stacked in his favor – defiance when one’s life and honor and at stake, when one has little to gain for oneself, when everything is at risk, and when most men and women would meekly acquiesce – defiance grounded in a motto attributed to Franklin and adopted by Jefferson: “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.”

Just as a person can be American in spirit without being an American literally (Alexis de Tocqueville, Margaret Thatcher), U.S. citizenship is not necessary for a person to be an American-style hero.  Think of the man who stood in front of a column of tanks during the Tiananmen Square protest.  Or the man who refused to join the crowd in giving the Nazi salute at the 1936 launch of a naval training vessel. (Believed to be a fellow named August Landmesser, he’s featured in posters with the caption “Be this guy!”)

There’s a reason so many of the world’s dimwits ridicule Americans as cowboys: We do the things for which they don’t have the, uh, brazenness.

In my life, I have known some great men and women; I have known heroes; but the most quintessentially American hero I have known is a man named Jeremiah Denton.

On July 18, 1965, Navy Commander Denton’s plane was catapulted from the deck of the carrier Independence in the Gulf of Tonkin.  This was during the Vietnam War, in which communist North Vietnam, with the aid of the Soviet Empire, invaded (and eventually conquered) South Vietnam.

The U.S. had come to the aid of South Vietnam, and Denton’s mission was to lead 28 aircraft in an attack on enemy installations.  As his bombs fell, his plane was hit, and he ended up, severely injured, in the Ma River.  He was captured and would spend the next seven years and seven months as a Prisoner of War – four years of that in solitary confinement.  He slept on a concrete bed and was tortured almost beyond human endurance.

One torture he endured, as described by another POW, was this: Read all »

In Memoriam: Noel Sheppard

Media critic and blogger extraordinaire Noel Sheppard lost his brief battle to cancer on March 28.

My friend was only 53.

An irrepressible, energetic blogger, Noel set the standard for media criticism at NewsBusters.

In short, he took no prisoners in his daily battles with left-wing journalists.

Sheppard was a one-time Capital Research Center contributor and he was cited in our work many times over the years.  Sheppard co-authored “Inside the Disinformation Machine:  A Look at the Left’s New Media Operation,” which appeared in the September 2008 issue of Foundation Watch.

Other tributes to Noel:  Thomas Lifson at American Thinker; Matt Sheffield at NewsBusters; Brent Bozell at NewsBusters; and Debra Heine at Breitbart News.

Dismantling Self-Government: The Brennan Center’s Election Fraud Offensive

Dismantling Self-Government:  The Brennan Center’s Election Fraud Offensive

By Alexander J. Kroll, Organization Trends,  April 2014 (PDF here)

Summary:  Named for a Supreme Court Justice whose jurisprudence undermined the Constitution, the Brennan Center at New York University is best known for its attacks on efforts to stop voter fraud.  The underlying principle in the work of the center and its judicial namesake is simple: the rule of law should not be allowed to interfere with the liberal agenda.

Late last year, undercover agents for New York City’s Department of Investigations showed up at 63 polling places attempting to vote. The agents posed as individuals who had died, moved out of town, or were serving prison sentences. Not one of the prospective voters was legally eligible to cast a ballot.

In 61 of these instances (97 percent), the agents were permitted to vote. In one case, a 24-year old female agent who identified herself as someone who had passed away in 2012 at the age of 87 was given a ballot with no questions asked. DOI published its findings in a 70-page report accusing the city’s Board of Elections of incompetence and lax procedures.

This investigation in the Big Apple demonstrates how easy voter fraud is to commit. Combined with countless examples of actual voter fraud, it is easy to understand why Americans are concerned about the fairness and validity of their elections.

Yet one powerful organization has waged a relentless campaign to convince the public that voter fraud is a “myth.” This group’s talking points have been accepted, echoed, and bolstered by the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the rest of the mainstream media. That organization is the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.

The Living Constitution
William Joseph Brennan Jr. was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956, shortly before that year’s presidential election. A Roman Catholic Democrat from the Northeast, Brennan appealed to Eisenhower advisers who thought he could attract critical voters in the upcoming election. Eisenhower’s attorney general, Herbert Brownell, also attended a speech given by Brennan. The talk convinced Brownell that Brennan was a conservative, especially concerning criminal matters. He was deeply mistaken.

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