Saturday, March 11, 2017

Presidential Payback For Media Hubris | Hoover Institution

Presidential Payback For Media Hubris | Hoover Institution

Sadly, the contemporary mainstream media—the major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN), the traditional blue-chip newspapers (Washington Post, New York Times), and the public affiliates (NPR, PBS)—have lost credibility. They are no more reliable critics of President Trump’s excesses than they were believable cheerleaders for Barack Obama’s policies.

Trump may have a habit of exaggeration and gratuitous feuding that could cause problems with his presidency. But we would never quite know that from the media. In just his first month in office, reporters have already peddled dozens of fake news stories designed to discredit the President—to such a degree that little they now write or say can be taken at face value.

No, Trump did not have any plans to invade Mexico, as Buzzfeed and the Associated Press alleged.

No, Trump’s father did not run for Mayor of New York by peddling racist television ads, as reported by Sidney Blumenthal.

No, there were not mass resignations at the State Department in protest of its new leaders, as was reported by the Washington Post.

No, Trump’s attorney did not cut a deal with the Russians in Prague. Nor did Trump indulge in sexual escapades in Moscow. Buzzfeed again peddled those fake news stories.

No, a supposedly racist Trump did not remove the bust of Martin Luther King Jr. from the White House, as a Time Magazine reporter claimed.

No, election results in three states were not altered by hackers or computer criminals to give Trump the election, as implied by New York Magazine.

No, Michael Flynn did not tweet that he was a scapegoat. That was a media fantasy endorsed by Nancy Pelosi.

In fact, Daniel Payne of the Federalist has compiled a lengthy list of sensational stories about Trump’s supposed buffooneries, mistakes, and crudities that all proved either outright lies or were gross exaggerations and distortions.

We would like to believe writers for the New York Times or Washington Post when they warn us about the new president’s overreach. But how can we do so when they have lost all credibility—either by colluding with the Obama presidency and the Hillary Clinton campaign, or by creating false narratives to ensure that Trump fails?

Ezra Klein at Vox just wrote a warning about the autocratic tendencies of Donald Trump. Should we believe him? Perhaps not. Klein was the originator of Journolist, a “left-leaning” private online chat room of journalists that was designed to coordinate media narratives that would enhance Democratic politicians and in particular Barack Obama. Such past collusion begs the question of whether Klein is really disinterested now in the fashion that he certainly was not during the Obama administration.

Recently, New York Times White House correspondent Glenn Thrush coauthored a report

about initial chaos among the Trump White House staff, replete with unidentified sources. Should we believe Thrush’s largely negative story?

Perhaps. But then again, Thrush not so long ago turned up in the Wikileaks troves as sending a story to Hillary Clinton aide John Podesta for prepublication audit. Thrush was his own honest critic, admitting to Podesta: “Because I have become a hack I will send u the whole section that pertains to u. Please don’t share or tell anyone I did this Tell me if I f**ked up anything.”

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post has become a fierce critic of President Trump. Are his writs accurate? Milbank also appeared in Wikileaks, asking the Democratic National Committee to provide him with free opposition research for a negative column he was writing about candidate Trump. Are Milbank’s latest attacks his own—or once again coordinated with Democratic researchers?

The Washington Post censor Glenn Kessler posted the yarn about Trump’s father’s racist campaign for New York mayor—until he finally fact-checked his own fake news and deleted his tweet.

Sometimes the line between journalism and politicians is no line at all. Recently, former Obama deputy National Security advisor Ben Rhodes (brother of CBS news president David Rhodes) took to Twitter to blast the Trump administration’s opposition to the Iran Deal, brokered in large part by Rhodes himself. “Everything Trump says here,” Rhodes stormed, “is false.”

Should we believe Rhodes’s charges that Trump is now lying about the details of the Iran Deal?

Who knows, given that Rhodes himself not long ago bragged to the New York Times of his role in massaging reporters to reverberate an administration narrative: “We created an echo chamber They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.” Rhodes also had no respect for the very journalists that he had manipulated: “The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

Is Rhodes now being disinterested or once again creating an “echo chamber”?

His boss, former UN Ambassador and National Security Advisor in the Obama administration, Susan Rice (married to Ian Cameron, a former producer at ABC news), likewise went on Twitter to blast the Trump administration’s decision to include presidential advisor Steven Bannon in meetings of the National Security Council: “This is stone cold crazy,” Rice asserted, “After a week of crazy.”

Is Rice (who has no military experience) correct that the former naval officer Bannon has no business participating in such high strategy meetings?

In September 2012, Rice went on television on five separate occasions to insist falsely to the nation that the attacks on the Benghazi consulate were the work of spontaneous rioters and not a preplanned hit by an al Qaeda franchise. Her own quite crazy stories proved a convenient administration reelection narrative of Al Qaeda on the run, but there were already sufficient sources available to Rice to contradict her false news talking points.

There are various explanations for the loss of media credibility.

First, the world of New York and Washington DC journalism is incestuous. Reporters share a number of social connections, marriages, and kin relationships with liberal politicians, making independence nearly culturally impossible.

More importantly, the election in 2008 of Barack Obama marked a watershed, when a traditionally liberal media abandoned prior pretenses of objectivity and actively promoted the candidacy and presidency of their preferred candidate. The media practically pronounced him god, the smartest man ever to enter the presidency, and capable of creating electric sensations down the legs of reporters. The supposedly hard-hitting press corps asked Obama questions such as, “During these first 100 days, what has …enchanted you the most from serving in this office? Humbled you the most…?”

Obama, as the first African-American president—along with his progressive politics that were to the left of traditional Democratic policies—enraptured reporters who felt disinterested coverage might endanger what otherwise was a rare and perhaps not-to-be-repeated moment.

We are now in a media arena where there are no rules. The New York Times is no longer any more credible than talk radio; CNN—whose reporters have compared Trump to Hitler and gleefully joked about his plane crashing—should be no more believed than a blogger’s website. Buzzfeed has become like the National Inquirer.

Trump now communicates, often raucously and unfiltered, directly with the American people, to ensure his message is not distorted and massaged by reporters who have a history of doing just that. Unfortunately, it is up to the American people now to audit their own president’s assertions. The problem is not just that the media is often not reliable, but that it is predictably unreliable. It has ceased to exist as an auditor of government. Ironically the media that sacrificed its reputation to glorify Obama and demonize Trump has empowered the new President in a way never quite seen before. At least for now, Trump can say or do almost anything he wishes without media scrutiny—given that reporters have far less credibility than does Trump.

Trump is the media’s Nemesis—payback for its own hubris.

16 Fake News Stories Reporters Have Run Since Trump Won

Journalists, media types, reporters, you have two choices: you can fix these problems, or you can watch your profession go down in flames.
By Daniel Payne
FEBRUARY 6, 2017
Since at least Donald Trump’s election, our media have been in the grip of an astonishing, self-inflicted crisis. Despite Trump’s constant railing against the American press, there is no greater enemy of the American media than the American media. They did this to themselves.

We are in the midst of an epidemic of fake news. There is no better word to describe it than “epidemic,” insofar as it fits the epidemiological model from the Centers for Disease Control: this phenomenon occurs when “an agent and susceptible hosts are present in adequate numbers, and the agent can be effectively conveyed from a source to the susceptible hosts.”

The “agent” in this case is hysteria over Trump’s presidency, and the “susceptible hosts” are a slipshod, reckless, and breathtakingly gullible media class that spread the hysteria around like—well, like a virus.

It is difficult to adequately sum up the breadth of this epidemic, chiefly because it keeps growing: day after day, even hour after hour, the media continue to broadcast, spread, promulgate, publicize, and promote fake news on an industrial scale. It has become a regular part of our news cycle, not distinct from or extraneous to it but a part of it, embedded within the news apparatus as a spoke is embedded in a bicycle wheel.

Whenever you turn on a news station, visit a news website, or check in on a journalist or media personality on Twitter or Facebook, there is an excellent chance you will be exposed to fake news. It is rapidly becoming an accepted part of the way the American media are run.

How we will get out of this is anyone’s guess. We might not get out of it, not so long as Trump is president of these United States. We may be up for four—maybe eight!—long years of authentic fake news media hysteria. It is worth cataloging at least a small sampling of the hysteria so far. Only when we fully assess the extent of the media’s collapse into ignominious ineptitude can we truly begin to reckon with it.

Since Trump’s election, here’s just a small sampling of fake news that our media and our journalist class have propagated.

Early November: Spike in Transgender Suicide Rates
After Trump’s electoral victory on November 8, rumors began circulating that multiple transgender teenagers had killed themselves in response to the election results. There was no basis to these rumors. Nobody was able to confirm them at the time, and nobody has been able to confirm in the three months since Trump was elected.

Nevertheless, the claim spread far and wide: Guardian writer and editor-at-large of Out Zach Stafford tweeted the rumor, which was retweeted more than 13,000 times before he deleted it. He later posted a tweet explaining why he deleted his original viral tweet; his explanatory tweet was shared a total of seven times. Meanwhile, PinkNews writer Dominic Preston wrote a report on the rumors, which garnered more than 12,000 shares on Facebook.

At Mic, Matthew Rodriguez wrote about the unsubstantiated allegations. His article was shared more than 55,000 times on Facebook. Urban legend debunker website Snopes wrote a report on the rumors and listed them as “unconfirmed” (rather than “false”). Snopes’s sources were two Facebook posts, since deleted, that offered no helpful information regarding the location, identity, or circumstances of any of the suicides. The Snopes report was shared 19,000 times.

At Reason, writer Elizabeth Nolan Brown searched multiple online databases to try to determine the identities or even the existence of the allegedly suicidal youth. She found nothing. As she put it: “[T]eenagers in 2016 don’t just die without anyone who knew them so much as mentioning their death online for days afterward.”

She is right. Just the same, the stories hyping this idea garnered at least nearly 100,000 shares on Facebook alone, contributing to the fear and hysteria surrounding Trump’s win.

November 22: The Tri-State Election Hacking Conspiracy Theory
On November 22, Gabriel Sherman posted a bombshell report at New York Magazine claiming that “a group of prominent computer scientists and election lawyers” were demanding a recount in three separate states because of “persuasive evidence that [the election] results in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania may have been manipulated or hacked.” The evidence? Apparently, “in Wisconsin, Clinton received 7 percent fewer votes in counties that relied on electronic-voting machines compared with counties that used optical scanners and paper ballots.”

The story went stratospherically viral. It was shared more than 145,000 times on Facebook alone. Sherman shared it on his Twitter feed several times, and people retweeted his links to the story nearly 9,000 times. Politico’s Eric Geller shared the story on Twitter as well. His tweet was retweeted just under 8,000 times. Dustin Volz from Reuters shared the link; he was retweeted nearly 2,000 times. MSNBC’s Joy Reid shared the story and was retweeted more than 4,000 times. New York Times opinion columnist Paul Krugman also shared the story and was retweeted about 1,600 times.

It wasn’t until the next day, November 23, that someone threw a little water on the fire. At FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver explained that it was “demographics, not hacking” that explained the curious voting numbers. “Anyone making allegations of a possible massive electoral hack should provide proof,” he wrote, “and we can’t find any.” Additionally, Silver pointed out that the New York Magazine article had misrepresented the argument of one of the computer scientists in question.

At that point, however, the damage had already been done: Sherman, along with his credulous tweeters and retweeters, had done a great deal to delegitimize the election results. Nobody was even listening to Silver, anyway: his post was shared a mere 380 times on Facebook, or about one-quarter of 1 percent as much as Sherman’s. This is how fake news works: the fake story always goes viral, while nobody reads or even hears about the correction.

December 1: The 27-Cent Foreclosure
At Politico on December 1, Lorraine Woellert published a shocking essay claiming that Trump’s pick for secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, had overseen a company that “foreclosed on a 90-year-old woman after a 27-cent payment error.” According to Woellert: “After confusion over insurance coverage, a OneWest subsidiary sent [Ossie] Lofton a bill for $423.30. She sent a check for $423. The bank sent another bill, for 30 cents. Lofton, 90, sent a check for three cents. In November 2014, the bank foreclosed.”

The story received widespread coverage, being shared nearly 17,000 times on Facebook. The New York Times’s Steven Rattner shared it on Twitter (1,300 retweets), as did NBC News’s Brad Jaffy (1,200 retweets), the AP’s David Beard (1,900 retweets) and many others.

The problem? The central scandalous claims of Woellert’s article were simply untrue. As the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Ted Frank pointed out, the woman in question was never foreclosed on, and never lost her home. Moreover, “It wasn’t Mnuchin’s bank that brought the suit.”

Politico eventually corrected these serious and glaring errors. But the damage was done: the story had been repeated by numerous media outlets including Huffington Post (shared 25,000 times on Facebook), the New York Post, Vanity Fair, and many others.

January 20: Nancy Sinatra’s Complaints about the Inaugural Ball
On the day of Trump’s inauguration, CNN claimed Nancy Sinatra was “not happy” with the fact that the president and first lady’s inaugural dance would be to the tune of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” The problem? Nancy Sinatra had never said any such thing. CNN later updated the article without explaining the mistake they had made.

January 20: The Nonexistent Climate Change Website ‘Purge’
Also on the day of the inauguration, New York Times writer Coral Davenport published an article on the Times’s website whose headline claimed that the Trump administration had “purged” any “climate change references” from the White House website. Within the article, Davenport acknowledged that the “purge” (or what she also called “online deletions”) was “not unexpected” but rather part of a routine turnover of digital authority between administrations.

To call this action a “purge” was thus at the height of intellectual dishonesty: Davenport was styling the whole thing as a kind of digital book-burn rather than a routine part of American government. But of course that was almost surely the point. The inflammatory headline was probably the only thing that most people read of the article, doubtlessly leading many readers (the article was shared nearly 50,000 times on Facebook) to believe something that simply wasn’t true.

January 20: The Great MLK Jr. Bust Controversy
On January 20, Time reporter Zeke Miller wrote that a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. had been removed from the White House. This caused a flurry of controversy on social media until Miller issued a correction. As Time put it, Miller had apparently not even asked anyone in the White House if the bust had been removed. He simply assumed it had been because “he had looked for it and had not seen it.”

January 20: Betsy DeVos, Grizzly Fighter
During her confirmation hearing, education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos was asked whether schools should be able to have guns on their campuses. As NBC News reported, DeVos felt it was “best left to locales and states to decide.” She pointed out that one school in Wyoming had a fence around it to protect the students from wildlife. “I would imagine,” she said, “that there’s probably a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies.”

This was an utterly noncontroversial stance to take. DeVos was simply pointing out that different states and localities have different needs, and attempting to mandate a nationwide one-size-fits-all policy for every American school is imprudent.

How did the media run with it? By lying through their teeth. “Betsy DeVos Says Guns Should Be Allowed in Schools. They Might Be Needed to Shoot Grizzlies” (Slate). “Betsy DeVos: Schools May Need Guns to Fight Off Bears” (The Daily Beast). “Citing grizzlies, education nominee says states should determine school gun policies” (CNN). “Betsy DeVos says guns in schools may be necessary to protect students from grizzly bears” (ThinkProgress.) “Betsy DeVos says guns shouldn’t be banned in schools … because grizzly bears” (Vox). “Betsy DeVos tells Senate hearing she supports guns in schools because of grizzly bears” (The Week). “Trump’s Education Pick Cites ‘Potential Grizzlies’ As A Reason To Have Guns In Schools” (BuzzFeed).

The intellectual dishonesty at play here is hard to overstate. DeVos never said or even intimated that every American school or even very many of them might need to shoot bears. She merely used one school as an example of the necessity of federalism and as-local-as-possible control of the education system.

Rather than report accurately on her stance, these media outlets created a fake news event to smear a reasonable woman’s perfectly reasonable opinion.

January 26: The ‘Resignations’ At the State Department
On January 26, the Washington Post’s Josh Rogin published what seemed to be a bombshell report declaring that “the State Department’s entire senior management team just resigned.” This resignation, according to Rogin, was “part of an ongoing mass exodus of senior Foreign Service officers who don’t want to stick around for the Trump era.” These resignations happened “suddenly” and “unexpectedly.” He styled it as a shocking shake-up of administrative protocol in the State Department, a kind of ad-hoc protest of the Trump administration.

The story immediately went sky-high viral. It was shared nearly 60,000 times on Facebook. Rogin himself tweeted the story out and was retweeted a staggering 11,000 times. Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum had it retweeted nearly 2,000 times; journalists and writers from Wired, The Guardian, the Washington Post, Bloomberg, ABC, Foreign Policy, and other publications tweeted the story out in shock.

There was just one problem: the story was more a load of bunk. As Vox pointed out, the headline of the piece was highly misleading: “the word ‘management’ strongly implied that all of America’s top diplomats were resigning, which was not the case.” (The Post later changed the word “management” to “administrative” without noting the change, although it left the “management” language intact in the article itself).

More importantly, Mark Toner, the acting spokesman for the State Department, put out a press release noting that “As is standard with every transition, the outgoing administration, in coordination with the incoming one, requested all politically appointed officers submit letters of resignation.” According to CNN, the officials were actually asked to leave by the Trump administration rather than stay on for the customary transitional few months. The entire premise of Rogin’s article was essentially nonexistent.

As always, the correction received far less attention than the fake news itself: Vox’s article, for instance, was shared around 9,500 times on Facebook, less than one-sixth the rate of Rogin’s piece. To this day, Rogin’s piece remains uncorrected regarding its faulty presumptions.

January 27: The Photoshopped Hands Affair
On January 27, Observer writer Dana Schwartz tweeted out a screenshot of Trump that, in her eyes, proved President Trump had “photoshopped his hands bigger” for a White House photograph. Her tweet immediately went viral, being shared upwards of 25,000 times. A similar tweet by Disney animator Joaquin Baldwin was shared nearly 9,000 times as well.

The conspiracy theory was eventually debunked, but not before it had been shared thousands upon thousands of times. Meanwhile, Schwartz tweeted that she did “not know for sure whether or not the hands were shopped.” Her correction tweet was shared a grand total of…11 times.

January 29: The Reuters Account Hoax
Following the Quebec City mosque massacre, the Daily Beast published a story that purported to identify the two shooters who had perpetrated the crime. The problem? The story’s source was a Reuters parody account on Twitter. Incredibly, nobody at the Daily Beast thought to check the source to any appreciable degree.

January 31: The White House-SCOTUS Twitter Mistake
Leading up to Trump announcing his first Supreme Court nomination, CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jeff Zeleny announced that the White House was “setting up [the] Supreme Court announcement as a prime-time contest.” He pointed to a pair of recently created “identical Twitter pages” for a theoretical justices Neil Gorsuch and Thomas Hardiman, the two likeliest nominees for the court vacancy.

Zeleny’s sneering tweet—clearly meant to cast the Trump administration in an unflattering, circus-like light—was shared more than 1,100 times on Twitter. About 30 minutes later, however, he tweeted: “The Twitter accounts…were not set up by the White House, I’ve been told.” As always, the admission of mistake was shared far less than the original fake news: Zeleny’s correction was retweeted a paltry 159 times.

January 31: The Big Travel Ban Lie
On January 31, a Fox affiliate station out of Detroit reported that “A local business owner who flew to Iraq to bring his mother back home to the US for medical treatment said she was blocked from returning home under President Trump’s ban on immigration and travel from seven predominately Muslim nations. He said that while she was waiting for approval to fly home, she died from an illness.”

Like most other sensational news incidents, this one took off, big-time: it was shared countless times on Facebook, not just from the original article itself (123,000 shares) but via secondary reporting outlets such as the Huffington Post (nearly 9,000 shares). Credulous reporters and media personalities shared the story on Twitter to the tune of thousands and thousands of retweets, including: Christopher Hooks, Gideon Resnick, Daniel Dale, Sarah Silverman, Blake Hounshell, Brian Beutler, Garance Franke-Ruta, Keith Olbermann (he got 3,600 retweets on that one!), Matthew Yglesias, and Farhad Manjoo.

The story spread so far because it gratified all the biases of the liberal media elite: it proved that Trump’s “Muslim ban” was an evil, racist Hitler-esque mother-killer of an executive order.

There was just one problem: it was a lie. The man had lied about when his mother died. The Fox affiliate hadn’t bothered to do the necessary research to confirm or disprove the man’s account. The news station quietly corrected the story after giving rise to such wild, industrial-scale hysteria.

February 1: POTUS Threatens to Invade Mexico
On February 1, Yahoo News published an Associated Press report about a phone call President Trump shared with Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto. The report strongly implied that President Trump was considering “send[ing] U.S. troops” to curb Mexico’s “bad hombre” problem, although it acknowledged that the Mexican government disagreed with that interpretation. The White House later re-affirmed that Trump did not have any plan to “invade Mexico.”

Nevertheless, Jon Passantino, the deputy news director of BuzzFeed, shared this story on Twitter with the exclamation “WOW.” He was retweeted 2,700 times. Jon Favreau, a former speechwriter for Barack Obama, also shared the story, declaring: “I’m sorry, did our president just threaten to invade Mexico today??” Favreau was retweeted more than 8,000 times.

Meanwhile, the Yahoo News AP post was shared more than 17,000 times on Facebook; Time’s post of the misleading report was shared more than 66,000 times; ABC News posted the story and it was shared more than 20,000 times. On Twitter, the report—with the false implication that Trump’s comment was serious—was shared by media types such as ThinkProgress’s Judd Legum, the BBC’s Anthony Zurcher, Vox’s Matt Yglesias, Politico’s Shane Goldmacher, comedian Michael Ian Black, and many others.

February 2: Easing the Russian Sanctions
Last week, NBC News national correspondent Peter Alexander tweeted out the following: “BREAKING: US Treasury Dept easing Obama admin sanctions to allow companies to do transactions with Russia’s FSB, successor org to KGB.” His tweet immediately went viral, as it implied that the Trump administration was cozying up to Russia.

A short while later, Alexander posted another tweet: “Source familiar [with] sanctions says it’s a technical fix, planned under Obama, to avoid unintended consequences of cybersanctions.” As of this writing, Alexander’s fake news tweet has approximately 6,500 retweets; his clarifying tweet has fewer than 250.

At CNBC, Jacob Pramuk styled the change this way: “Trump administration modifies sanctions against Russian intelligence service.” The article makes it clear that, per Alexander’s source, “the change was a technical fix that was planned under Obama.” Nonetheless, the impetus was placed on the Trump adminsitration. CBS News wrote the story up in the same way. So did the New York Daily News.

In the end, unable to pin this (rather unremarkable) policy tweak on the Trump administration, the media have mostly moved on. As the Chicago Tribune put it, the whole affair was yet again an example of how “in the hyperactive Age of Trump, something that initially appeared to be a major change in policy turned into a nothing-burger.”

February 2: Renaming Black History Month
At the start of February, which is Black History Month in the United States, Trump proclaimed the month “National African American History Month.” Many outlets tried to spin the story in a bizarre way: TMZ claimed that a “senior administration official” said that Trump believed the term “black” to be outdated. “Every U.S. president since 1976 has designated February as Black History Month,” wrote TMZ. BET wrote the same thing.

The problem? It’s just not true. President Obama, for example, declared February “National African American History Month” as well. TMZ quickly updated their piece to fix their embarrassing error.

February 2: The House of Representatives’ Gun Control Measures
On February 2, the Associated Press touched off a political and media firestorm by tweeting: “BREAKING: House votes to roll back Obama rule on background checks for gun ownership.” The AP was retweeted a staggering 12,000 times.

The headlines that followed were legion: “House votes to rescind Obama gun background check rule” (Kyle Cheney, Politico); “House GOP aims to scrap Obama rule on gun background checks” (CNBC); “House scraps background check regulation” (Yahoo News); “House rolls back Obama gun background check rule” (CNN); “House votes to roll back Obama rule on background checks for gun ownership” (Washington Post).

Some headlines were more specific about the actual House vote but no less misleading; “House votes to end rule that prevents people with mental illness from buying guns” (the Independent); “Congress ends background checks for some gun buyers with mental illness” (the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette); “House Votes to Overturn Obama Rule Restricting Gun Sales to the Severely Mentally Ill” (NPR).

The hysteria was far-reaching and frenetic. As you might have guessed, all of it was baseless. The House was actually voting to repeal a narrowly tailored rule from the Obama era. This rule mandated that the names of certain individuals who receive Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income and who use a representative to help manage these benefits due to a mental impairment be forwarded to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

If that sounds confusing, it essentially means that if someone who receives SSDI or SSI needs a third party to manage these benefits due to some sort of mental handicap, then—under the Obama rule—they may have been barred from purchasing a firearm. (It is thus incredibly misleading to suggest that the rule applied in some specific way to the “severely mentally ill.”)

As National Review’s Charlie Cooke pointed out, the Obama rule was opposed by the American Association of People With Disabilities; the ACLU; the Arc of the United States; the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network; the Consortium of Citizens With Disabilities; the National Coalition of Mental Health Recovery; and many, many other disability advocacy organizations and networks.

The media hysteria surrounding the repeal of this rule—the wildly misleading and deceitful headlines, the confused outrage over a vote that nobody understood—was a public disservice.

As Cooke wrote: “It is a rare day indeed on which the NRA, the GOP, the ACLU, and America’s mental health groups find themselves in agreement on a question of public policy, but when it happens it should at the very least prompt Americans to ask, ‘Why?’ That so many mainstream outlets tried to cheat them of the opportunity does not bode well for the future.”

Maybe It’s Time to Stop Reading Fake News
Surely more incidents have happened since Trump was elected; doubtlessly there are many more to come. To be sure, some of these incidents are larger and more shameful than others, and some are smaller and more mundane.

But all of them, taken as a group, raise a pressing and important question: why is this happening? Why are our media so regularly and so profoundly debasing and beclowning themselves, lying to the public and sullying our national discourse—sometimes on a daily basis? How has it come to this point?

Perhaps the answer is: “We’ve let it.” The media will not stop behaving in so reckless a manner unless and until we demand they stop.

That being said, there are two possible outcomes to this fake news crisis: our media can get better, or they can get worse. If they get better, we might actually see our press begin to hold the Trump administration (and government in general) genuinely accountable for its many admitted faults. If they refuse to fix these serial problems of gullibility, credulity, outrage, and outright lying, then we will be in for a rough four years, if not more.

No one single person can fix this problem. It has to be a cultural change, a kind of shifting of priorities industry-wide. Journalists, media types, reporters, you have two choices: you can fix these problems, or you can watch your profession go down in flames.

Most of us are hoping devoutly for the former. But not even a month into the presidency of Donald J. Trump, the outlook is dim.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Race And Racism | According To Hoyt

Race And Racism | According To Hoyt

There is one thing in which liberal activists are right: everyone is racist. There is one thing in which they’re wrong: everyone is racist.

Racism is not confined to white people — and the idea that it equals prejudice plus power is an interesting (and stupid, as usual) Marxist distortion we’ll deal with later — it’s a characteristic of being human.

Why? Oh, like most other things because it was evolutionarily sound. I.e. those who had it survived and had more kids.

The thing is it’s not so much “racism” as in discriminating against another race. It’s “Fear of the stranger.”

And even if it involves just-so stories, it really doesn’t take much to figure out why people who have a fear of the stranger survive and have more children more than those who don’t. Even in modern society, the teen who will hitchhike and get in the car with just anyone has a higher chance of ending up dead. But long before that, the little kid who approaches panel vans driven by strangers, has a good chance of ending up dead. (NOT as high was our media makes it out to be, but high enough their scares are justified.)

In pre-human times, with many bands and tribelets living close enough for kids to stray, the name for a kid who thought that his family or strangers were equivalent was — at least if we go by how our closest relatives, the chimps, treat young from other bands — “dinner.”

Oh sure, in times of stress and famine, the chances that your own band would tuck in were fairly high, but still the chances that dear old mom would eat you were not nearly as high as that a stranger would eat you.

The thing is, this fear of the stranger activates more the more the stranger looks like you and your family. No, seriously. When is the last time anyone was accused of racism towards another species (Okay, fine, Harambe, but that’s an exception and also liberals be cray.) This makes perfect sense, because even toddlers (at least those not desensitized by stuffed animals and parents’ being idiots) understand that large animals are dangerous.

Okay, so being afraid of cows might be a new one, and I sort of invented it (I have no idea why as a child I thought cows and horses were both man-eaters. None. But then I thought there were sharks with chainsaws under my bed ready to lop off any limb that extended over the edge, so we might as well admit as a proto-writer I was already rather Odd) but most kids are afraid of anything large and furry that charges towards them. This is not racism, it’s survival.

The fear of the stranger that goes under “racism” in our society is the fear of people like us and yet not like us.

And it’s not racism in the sense that the media and liberals (who be cray) portray it. If you believe racism as they portray it, then you believe paler people are born with an instinctive fear of African features and dark skin. For the party that claims to be for “science” this is odder than believing in chainsaw sharks. What is their evolutionary reason for it, precisely? Is it the sort of fear as that of the Aliens in Arthur C. Clark’s Childhood’s end? Are people of African descent thought to bring about the apocalypse and does time run in a circular fashion?

Oh, I know, they say we all internalize racism and self-racism. Both those things are stupid. We absorb all sorts of prejudices from the society we live in, but for the last several decades we’ve been pounded with anti-racism. It works too. I was reading a mystery from the eighties where the teen wishes she were black, because you know, black people are so much cooler and don’t oppose other people. Yep, the book was written in the eighties. (And I thought “Rachel Dolezal, we hardly knew ya”) and the writer thought this was a perfectly sane character to sketch. And who knows, it might be, given the barrage of anti-racist propaganda. (More on that later, too.) But racism, true racism, is “fear of the stranger.” The myths and attacks come from THAT and it’s one of the basic instincts of humans. BTW it also makes “internalized racism” even dumber. You don’t fear yourself as a stranger, unless you’ve had one of those strokes that make it impossible to recognize yourself in the mirror.

So if the fear isn’t of dark skin or African features, what is it a fear of? “People who are not like my family/tribe/village to whom I’m accustomed” is a better way to describe it.

When I was a little girl, living in Portugal, I saw all kind of distinctions when I first entered elementary school. Some of my classmates were much darker than I, some were blond. Some were tall, some were short. Being sort of medium, I never had that trigger fear of the “stranger” or at least not towards appearance.

It took going back after 30 years here to realize as a child I’d seen differences that weren’t there. For one, Portuguese “blond” is a medium brown hair (unless enhanced with dye.) I myself was often called “ruiva” by guys calling from street corners, because my dark brown hair threw off red highlights in the full sun. Oh, sure there was a Viking in the wood pile there, and if I’d been in the sun a lot, my hair would look flame red when fully lit (acutally bozo-red. My kids make fun of those pictures.) BUT in the shade hair was dark brown (now it is whatever I feel like coloring it, being a rather ugly iron-grey since I was 28.)

It took my going back after 30 years here and getting stuck watching some sort of multi-school gymnastics competition to have the stunning realization of “Heavens, all these kids look like cousins.”

This is because the human brain in a highly homogeneous population will find the most minor differences to attach “stranger danger” to.

As for big differences… I was six the first time I saw a blond man. I mean REALLY blond. He must have been a tourist. In those days there weren’t many tourists in the north of Portugal, and at any rate, I was only taken to the city when I needed to buy shoes or something else my parents couldn’t find in the village.

So I’d never seen a blond. As I remember, I screamed, and tried to run. I also had nightmares for days. In my mind, I decided he was one of those molded plastic dolls, hair and skin the same color, that had come to life. But that came after for the nightmares. The first reaction was pure fear of the stranger.

The thing about that? Fear of the stranger — duh — goes away with familiarity. I had a blond friend in college (real blond, even if dark blond. Her parents were not from around there. At least her dad wasn’t.) My husband’s best friend for twenty years, whose kids were raised with ours as “cousins” was blond. His kids are blond. I don’t run screaming from them.

If kids are raised together in a great variety of skin colors and hair colors, they don’t even notice them. My kids who attended an urban school, rarely remembered to tell me the race of their friends. Which really wasn’t an issue, except when the friends did the same and their parents did have an issue with friendships between races.

Because again, it is fear of the stranger. Take an American kid who was raised with all skin colors, though, and introduce someone who dresses funny and the fear of the stranger activates. Which is why we’re now using (and fostering) “racism” for things that have bloody nothing to do with race.

I’ve become a different race before my very eyes, for instance. Worst, my family, abroad, has internalized/believes this. Oh, not a different race from them, but that we’re all a minority and despised.

Look, I grew up thinking of myself as “White.” This is a broad church in Portugal. I have a cousin who looks considerably more African than Obama’s Reverend Wright, but was also considered “White.” You’d really need to look pretty dark not to be considered “white.”

Yes, there were hints that some people already considered Portuguese “Latin” when I came here thirty years ago. Like, my first boss in the US thought Portugal was a city in Mexico (and he didn’t like Mexicans.) Someone (at a Mensa meeting for Bob’s sake,) was so sold on me as “Hispanic” that he heard my accent as that of Ricky Ricardo’s. Those of you who heard me (or search sings the blues in this blog, where there is a reading) should be jaw-dropped. Portuguese LOOKS like Spanish written, but sounds nothing like Spanish, so the accent is markedly different. Oh, and when I got my social security card they tried to put “Hispanic” in the field. I’d have taken Latin, but there was no such classification and Spanish I’m NOT.

The Hispanic/Latin classification in governmental things isn’t STRICTLY a race. There are Hispanic whites (one of our friends was an exchange student from argentina, whose family were first generation immigrants from Italy. If they’d immigrated here they’d be “white” but they hadn’t, so she was “Hispanic.”) and black Hispanics and everything in between.

At least that was the idea. BUT the problem when you paint a target and say “this is different” you’re going to activate the human instinct for “fear of the stranger.” And remember that this fear of the stranger can and does pick up minute differences.

So, over the last thirty years, I’ve watched Latin become a race. I’m still not 100 percent sure what people are picking up on, and sometimes what they do pick/don’t pick is bewildering. I’ve more than once been in a line/situation where my two kids are picked as “Latin” but I’m not. Given they’re a mix of me and their very white anglo-saxon looking father, this is somewhat bewildering. Though I’m happy — ???– to report as times go on, I too am picked out as Latin by strangers who don’t even ask before writing “Latin” in the form or saying “Hey, you’re Latin.” (To be fair, whatever the heck the marker is might have been there from the beginning, witness first boss, and social security lady.But it’s now more prevalent. People are more alert to the signs.)

It’s more prevalent now, though. People used to mistake me for Russian (this sometimes still happens, if they hear me before taking a good look at me), Greek, Italian, or Arab. But now, nine times out of ten it’s “Latin.”

Sure there are manners, there is a culture. I can laugh at “you’re so Cuban” jokes because they’re remarkably similar to what “you’re so Portuguese” jokes would be. And maybe what people are picking up on is gestures, a way of standing, but it’s all getting both highlighted by saying “look at this minority here” (seriously, guys, we could do this with redheads or people who have freckles by deciding they were an oppressed minority) and made “racial” instead of cultural. (Part of this is the liberal — liberals be cray — confusion between race and culture. They have come to think these are the same and culture can’t be changed, which is why making someone learn/speak English is racist. As someone who learned English at 14 I’m here to tell you calling Harambe’s death the result of racism is SANER.)

Because of that there is a tendency to consider “white” only blond and blue eyed, which frankly excludes even my husband.

The justification for this is the delightful Marxist illusion that racism= prejudice + power. Have I mentioned I thought Marx — who at any rate is not the originator of this illusion. That’s his followers trying to make his crazy cakes theory work — and his followers are all some form of Aspergers, and unable to see things outside what they’re classified as?

They seem to think — be honest, most sf writers do too — that power equals institutional/economic/government power.

Power in human societies is a matter of one on one interactions. Even if all black people in the US were held in menial positions, do you know how much power those can have? Yep, a cook can spit in your food. But more than that, a daycare worker can wreak havoc among her charges and mess with their self-image for years, even though she’s ultimately a low paid drone. But of course, because of various affirmatives, black people are disproportionately represented in the machinery of our government, both local and federal. And if you think that a DMV worker has no power over you, you don’t drive.

Even if racism REALLY were a thing of power and prejudice, it would apply to every “race” of human, ever. But it’s not. Racism is a fear of the stranger.

And our industrial-education-entertainment complex has the ability to cut out entire groups of people, point them out as different and thereby CREATE racism against them, which then requires intervention to make them “non discriminated against.”

It’s as old a game as any. “Divide and conquer.” If people are dependent on the government to keep them from each other’s throats, then they won’t notice the government is planting a foot more and more firmly on their necks. And if they do, they won’t unite to topple that government.

Sure, you’ll always experience “stranger danger” when you meet someone who is truly different. But stranger danger doesn’t shove people into groups and then train them to fear every other group. By rights, Reverend Wright should be part of the great indistinct majority of people who can be “Whatever” if everyone, himself included, hadn’t been trained to think of african features as meaning “different race.” (Older son gets considered black as often as Latin. It’s the features.)

Stranger danger is not racism as the ideologues proclaim it, but it’s the only form of non-government-induced racism, and the basis of what they use to try to claim that everyone is racist (like that heinous experiment with infants.) Stranger danger is a leftover instinct, not particularly useful in our society except to keep children from panel vans.

Fortunately it can be defeated by living in a varied society with people of all sizes and colors. After a while the alarm stops ringing.

Of course, you’ll still react to someone who ACTS weird comes to town. But seriously, would you want to stop that? Often it is a sign of danger, in fact, as often “acting weird” has to do with mental illness.

More importantly, when that leftist activist comes to town, do you want to think of her as just another human being, even as she lectures you on your “toxic whiteness”? Think of the lost opportunities to point and laugh.

Snowflakes Melting: Huge Rise in Personality Disorders Among Millennials

Ace of Spades HQ

Saturday, March 04, 2017

When Dogs Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Dogs - Watcher of Weasels

When Dogs Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Dogs - Watcher of Weasels

Presidential Payback For Media Hubris | Hoover Institution

Presidential Payback For Media Hubris | Hoover Institution

Kidnapping and Torture of White Male by 4 Black Gang Bangers is Savage and Racist (UPDATED) | PUMABydesign001's Blog

Kidnapping and Torture of White Male by 4 Black Gang Bangers is Savage and Racist (UPDATED) | PUMABydesign001's Blog

Chicago PD has arrested the four gang bangers responsible for the two-day kidnapping and torture of a mentally disabled white male.

The gang of four who live streamed their acts of depravity which has left their victim traumatized have been charged with committing a hate crime among other charges.

Brittany and Tanishia Covington, Jordan Hill and Tesfaye Cooper are all charged with kidnapping, aggravated battery and aggravated unlawful restraint. Three of the four thugs detained were also charged with burglary.

Be sure to watch CPD press release below breaking down the string of events which lead to the arrest of these thugs. Talk about insanity.
What are the odds that the court will throw the book at these thugs? Don’t hold your breath.
With any luck, Jeff Sessions once confirmed, will not allow this case to be swept under the rug. Black on white violence must for once be reigned in.


The Chicago Police Department, so politically correct, can’t find the words, are either afraid or just refuse t0 call this attack by its name. Instead, after decades of the inmates running the asylum, Chicago PD is attributing the kidnapping to boys being boys, correction, “kids will be kids.”


There are those who refuse to call this racist attack by its name. Who are they? The same race baiters who by no fluke are profiteers of the grievance industry. You see, while there is money to be made in what is ordained “white on Black violence,” it has been officially declared that there is no money to be made or crime in “Black on white violence.”

Those dismissing this attack by refusing to call it by its name have a vested interest in dismissing the act because it does not fit their narrative and they see no profit.

Comments across social media and so-called new reports by government sanctioned propaganda machines continue to reflect as much.

Where Liberals Go Wrong on 'Discrimination'

Where Liberals Go Wrong on 'Discrimination'

Just Because Liberals Call Something ‘Discrimination’ Doesn’t Mean It Actually Is

The biggest problem with current sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) laws—including “Fairness for All,” which proposes a grand-bargain compromise between SOGI laws and religious liberty—is that they do not appropriately define what counts as discriminatory.

As I explain in a new report for The Heritage Foundation, “How to Think About Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Policies and Religious Freedom,” these are the laws that are being used to shutter Catholic adoption agencies, fine evangelical bakers, and force businesses and public facilities to allow men into women’s locker rooms.

The problem is that liberals are calling anything they dislike “discrimination.” But liberals are getting it wrong. To illustrate this, consider several different cases of putative “discrimination.” The law must be nuanced enough to capture the important differences in these cases.

Invidious and Rightly Unlawful Discrimination

Racially segregated water fountains were one form of discrimination that took race into consideration—in a context where it was completely irrelevant—and then treated blacks as second-class citizens precisely because they were black. The entire point was to classify on the basis of race in order to treat blacks as socially inferior.

As a result, such actions were rightly described as invidious race-based discrimination, and—given the entrenched, widespread, state-facilitated nature of the problem—they were rightly made unlawful.

Likewise, throughout much of American history, girls and women were not afforded educational opportunities equal to those available to boys and men. This form of discrimination took sex into consideration and then treated girls and women poorly precisely because of their sex, barring them from education in certain subjects or at certain levels despite being otherwise qualified.

As with invidious racial discrimination, such treatment took a feature (in this case, sex) into consideration precisely to treat women as less than men. The law rightly deemed such actions invidious sex-based discrimination, and—again, given the entrenched, widespread, and state-facilitated nature of the problem—Title IX of the Education Amendments was enacted to ensure that girls and women received equal educational opportunities.

Appropriate and Rightly Lawful Distinctions That Are Not Classified as Discrimination

When Title IX was enacted in 1972 and its implementing regulations were promulgated in 1975, the law made clear that sex-specific housing, bathrooms, and locker rooms were not unlawful discrimination. Such policies take sex into consideration, but they do not treat women as inferior to men or men as inferior to women. They treat both sexes equally because they take sex into consideration (they “discriminate”—in the nonpejorative sense of “distinguish”—on the basis of sex) precisely in a way that matters: by appreciating the bodily sexual difference of men and women in things such as housing, bathroom, and locker room policy.

Would we really be treating men and women equally in anything but an artificial way if we forced men and women, boys and girls, to undress in front of each other?

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in her majority opinion for the Supreme Court forcing the Virginia Military Institute to become co-ed, wrote that it “would undoubtedly require alterations necessary to afford members of each sex privacy from the other sex in living arrangements.” Yet we certainly would be treating people unequally if access to intimate facilities were based on factors wholly unrelated to privacy, such as race.

As a result, policymakers did not consider sex-specific intimate facilities as discriminatory in the first place, and laws explicitly reflected that commonsense understanding while rightly declaring racially segregated facilities to be unlawful.

The lesson here is that not all distinctions in fact should be deemed unlawful discrimination.

Not Discriminatory at All

If sex-specific intimate facilities are an example of lawful, legitimate policies that take sex into consideration, pro-life medical practices are examples of policies that are legitimate and lawful because they do not take sex into consideration at all.

That only women can get pregnant has no bearing whatsoever on the judgment of the conscientious doctor or nurse who refuses to kill the unborn. The insistence of LGBT activists that men actually can become pregnant highlights the point: Pro-life medical personnel refuse to do abortions on pregnant women and “pregnant men” (i.e. women who identify as men).

>>>For more on this, see Ryan T. Anderson’s new book from Oxford University Press, “Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination”

Thus, we can identify three different types of cases:

  • Cases of invidious discrimination, in which an irrelevant factor is taken into consideration in order to treat people poorly based on that factor, as with racially segregated water fountains;
  • Cases of distinctions without unlawful discrimination, in which a factor is taken into consideration precisely because it is relevant to the underlying policy and people are not treated poorly, as with sex-specific intimate facilities; and
  • Cases with neither distinctions nor discrimination, in which a particular factor simply does not enter into consideration, as with pro-life doctors.

Any proposed policy intended to address the documented needs of people who identify as LGBT must take these categories into account without conflation.

SOGI Discrimination: Real and Imagined

Consider a florist who refused to serve all customers who identify as LGBT simply because they identified as LGBT. That would be a case of invidious discrimination because the mere knowledge that they identify as LGBT should have no impact whatsoever on the act of the florist selling flowers, because there is no rational connection between the two.

Now consider Baronelle Stutzman, the 71-year-old grandmother who served one particular gay customer for nearly a decade but declined to do the wedding flowers for his same-sex wedding ceremony.

Baronelle Stutzman lost her case and is appealing to the Supreme Court. (Photo: Alliance Defending Freedom)
Baronelle Stutzman lost her case and is appealing to the Supreme Court. (Photo: Alliance Defending Freedom)
The customer’s sexual orientation did not play any role in Stutzman’s decision. Her belief that marriage is a union of sexually complementary spouses does not spring from any convictions about people who identify as LGBT. When she says she can do wedding flowers only for true weddings, she makes no distinctions based on sexual orientation at all.

This is seen most clearly in the case of Catholic Charities adoption agencies. They decline to place the children entrusted to their care with same-sex couples not because of their sexual orientation, but because of the conviction that children deserve both a mother and a father.

That belief—that men and women are not interchangeable, mothers and fathers are not replaceable, the two best dads in the world cannot make up for a missing mom, and the two best moms in the world cannot make up for a missing dad—has absolutely nothing to do with sexual orientation.

Catholic Charities does not say that people who identify as LGBT cannot love or care for children; it does not take sexual orientation into consideration at all. Its preference for placing children with mothers and fathers is not an instance of discrimination based on sexual orientation—and the law should not say otherwise.

Purported gender identity discrimination presents similar problems. The Washington Post recently reported on a woman who was suing a Catholic hospital for declining to perform a sex reassignment procedure on her that entailed removing her healthy uterus. In that report, the Post captures the conflation of real and imaginary discrimination.

“What the rule says is if you provide a particular service to anybody, you can’t refuse to provide it to anyone,” said Sarah Warbelow, the legal director for the Human Rights Campaign. That means a transgender person who shows up at an emergency room with something as basic as a twisted ankle cannot be denied care, as sometimes happens, Warbelow said. That also means if a doctor provides breast reconstruction surgery or hormone therapy, those services cannot be denied to transgender patients seeking them for gender dysphoria, she said.

The two examples given, however, differ in significant ways. A hospital that refuses to treat the twisted ankles of people who identify as transgender simply because they identify as transgender would be engaging in invidious discrimination, but a hospital that declines to remove the perfectly healthy uterus of a woman who identifies as a man is not engaging in “gender identity” discrimination.

The gender identity of the patient plays no role in the decision-making process: Just as pro-life physicians do not kill unborn babies, regardless of the sex or gender identity of the pregnant person, doctors do not remove healthy uteruses from any patients, regardless of how they identify themselves.

As for the Human Rights Campaign spokesperson’s claim that emergency rooms “sometimes” refuse to treat the twisted ankles of transgender patients, there is no evidence—including on their own website—that it or anything similar in fact happens. Furthermore, insofar as this “sometimes happens,” it seems reasonable to think that the media would focus so much attention on it that the hospital would reverse course within hours. It therefore seems highly unlikely that this alleged problem merits a governmental response.

Need for Policy Shapes the Nature of Policy Response, Definitions, and Protections

My new Heritage report argues that any justified government policy must not penalize valid forms of action and interaction or burden the rights of conscience, religion, and speech. We can see this principle in action.

Because there was such widespread, entrenched systemic and institutional racism throughout American society in the 1960s, for example, and because social and market forces were not sufficient to remedy the problem, it was appropriate for government to respond. That response was properly tailored to meet this need. It defined discrimination to include racially segregated accommodations, places of employment, and housing providers while providing thin religious liberty protections.

Because the justification for antidiscrimination laws based on race was so strong and the need was so great, the law was appropriately broad with limited exemptions.

By contrast, consider laws that address discrimination based on sex. Because the nature of sex and the history of sexism did not represent an exact parallel to racism, the law did not treat them in entirely the same ways. Discrimination was legally defined so as not to include sex-specific intimate facilities, and much broader—and in some cases total—religious liberty exemptions were included. And to this day, sex is not a protected class for federal antidiscrimination law as applied to public accommodations.

In sum, because the justification for laws against sex-based discrimination was weaker than the justification for laws against race-based discrimination, the legal response was more modest: It covered less terrain, defined discrimination more narrowly, and provided greater protection for religious liberty.

Any proposed policies intended to meet the needs of people who identify as LGBT would need to be crafted in a similar manner. Without greater evidence of the justification for specific policy responses—greater documentation of what the needs truly are—it is hard to be specific. In general, however, the need clearly seems weaker than the need for policies designed to deal with discrimination on the basis of race and sex.

A policy response would therefore need to cover less ground, target discrimination more narrowly, define discrimination accurately, and avoid undermining the rights of conscience, religion, and speech. Alas, laws proposed by liberals today do not do this.

"Privilege" again

JJR-PC Watch

A major obsession on the Left at the moment -- particularly in the universities -- is "white privilege" It is alleged that just being born white gives you privileges not available to others. And whites are supposed to feel shamed and humbled about that and -- ideally -- give all their money to non-whites. It is part of the general and quite deranged attack on mainstream people that caused many Americans to become totally disgusted with the Obama/Clinton Left. They were ready to vote for ANYBODY who would stop the rot. So Donald Trump got the job, despite his hair and many other faults.

I pointed out recently that the "white privilege" concept is racist -- very similar to Hitler's thinking about Jews. In both cases we see hostility to people purely on the basis of their race.

So let me relate a true story about a privileged person I know. L. is an elderly Jewish man who recently had a bad turn. An ambulance was called to take him to hospital. When they were loading him on board, they asked him which hospital he wanted to go to. Brisbane has some big centrally located government hospitals plus a lot of excellent private hospitals scattered about. L. said to take him to WXY, a highly regarded private hospital with about 500 beds.

But after about 15 minutes the ambulance had still not driven off. The ambulancemen said that it was a very busy time with a lot of hospitals "on bypass" (full up) -- and WXY was one of those on bypass. So the ambulancemen had been ringing around to find a hospital with an available bed. L. said not to bother with that. Just ring hospital WXY and tell them whom you have got on board. The ambulancemen did that and L. was promptly whisked to his preferred hospital. He was taken in where others were not.

So was that Jewish privilege? Many people would leap to that conclusion. And Jews are often generous donors to all sorts of charitable causes. So that could have been it. It might have reflected gratitude to a donor. But that was not it at all.

Even though he is in his '80s and has had a stroke, L. has that restless energy we so often see in Ashkenazi (Western) Jews. After his stroke he could have just stayed at home all day and watched TV. He likes watching football on TV so that would have had some appeal.

But that was just alien to him. He wanted to be active and to contribute something to others. So he became a hospital visitor. With his own recent experience of stroke he felt sympathy for people lying in bed all day waiting to get better. So, by arrangement with the WXY hospital, he would spend days just walking around the wards and looking for people who felt like a chat. He is himself a cheery, flexible, positive person who is a good listener so he brightened the days of many.

So you see why everybody at the WXY hospital knew him, appreciated him and leapt to help him when he needed it. The "privilege" he had is the privilege of being a good man. He EARNED his privilege. He is just a good natured conservative man who likes to contribute to the society in which he lives.

And so it is with most privilege. What you do to earn privilege can vary greatly. You can even inherit it. But privilege is not random and is not assigned just by something as incidental as the color of your skin. There are many trailer park denizens -- poor people -- who just get by from week to week even though they are white. Where is their privilege? It doesn't exist because they have done nothing to earn it. Just being white earns you nothing -- JR

Sorry Envious Left, 'Trickle-Down' Economics Is Real, And It's Everywhere

Sorry Envious Left, 'Trickle-Down' Economics Is Real, And It's Everywhere

The late, great Cuban immigrant Roberto Goizueta was named CEO of the Coca-Cola Company in August of 1980, and ran it until his untimely death from cancer in October of 1997. During that time, and according to a 1997 essay about him by the Wall Street Journal’s Nikhil Deogun, the market value of Coca-Cola surged from $4 billion all the way to $145 billion. Thanks to the ongoing globalization of the company’s brand on his watch, Goizueta died nearly a billionaire due to the rise in the value of Coke shares.

Deogun also noted that Goizueta had little time for civic affairs in Atlanta (where Coke is based), or around the world. The alleged “social justice” measures that excite the left plainly didn’t spark excitement within Goizueta. Deogun reported that the CEO focused his energies almost singularly on enriching the shareholders he served. Thank goodness for Goizueta.

Indeed, thanks to the stupendous rise in the value of Coke shares, Atlanta’s Emory University now has one of the largest endowments in the world that has made it possible for the school to give out plentiful scholarships to needy applicants, not to mention all the buildings and professorships Coca-Cola wealth has funded. Atlanta’s Robert Woodruff Foundation, massively enriched by its Coke holdings, has given out many hundreds of millions with an eye toward “investing in health, education, economic opportunity, and community vitality” in Georgia. Maybe most appealing of all from a human interest standpoint, is the story relayed by Deogun about retired Atlanta pediatrician Bill Warren. Warren inherited Coca-Cola shares, and during Goizueta’s time as CEO saw the value his inheritance soar. Enriched by the stratospheric rise in Coke shares, Warren closed his pediatric practice in order to devote his time to helping inner-city Atlanta families with their medical struggles.

This story always springs to mind when pundits and/or politicians attack “tax cuts for the rich.” When they do, the alleged lie that is “trickle-down economics” is trotted out to pour cold water on more economic freedom for the economically productive and/or the prosperously born. And while anecdote should never be confused with fact, the story of Coca-Cola helps disprove the emotional arguments against trickle down. With Coke we see how an immigrant rose to near billionaire status in concert with voluminous job creation, staggering amounts of educational and charitable opportunity, and even more giving by the inheritors of great wealth.

Importantly, the story hardly ends with Coke and Goizueta. If anyone doubts this, they need only walk the streets of American cities, along with the campuses of American universities. Cities are rich with hospitals and hospital wings named after rich donors, along with museums and all manner of other cultural enhancements. A look at society pages in newspapers and magazines reveals splashy parties for the rich that lead to huge charitable donations directed toward those who aren’t. As for universities, visitors are quite simply overrun with evidence of rich donors (earned and inherited) funding countless buildings, chairs, stadiums, scholarships, athletic scholarships, gymnasiums, etc.

Considering a city like Seattle, while prosperous today, in the early 1970s it was essentially left for dead. Formerly a manufacturing locale, the departure of the factory work of the past (are you listening, Donald Trump?) rendered the Emerald City the 70s version of Detroit. But then Bill Gates and Paul Allen, Seattle natives both, relocated what was then called Micro-Soft from Albuquerque, NM to their hometown. A city once on its back soon enough became a destination for the talented. The economy in Seattle rages to this day (success begets success and talent, including Jeff Bezos’s decision to locate Amazon in Seattle), and individuals of varied skills find abundant work opportunities. And while some may disagree with his decision to pull so much of his wealth out of economy, living standard and life-enhancing production, Gates, the richest man in the world, is a prominent player in The Giving Pledge whereby billionaires promise to give away at least half of their wealth to charity.

Notable about Gates is that his software innovations helped lead a surge in personal computer ownership. While IBM’s first mainframe computer retailed for over $1 million in the 1960s, thanks to Gates and other billionaires like Michael Dell, exponentially more powerful computers can be had today for under $200. Considering automobiles, before Henry Ford they were as rare as millionaires; meaning near non-existent. Ford grew rich transforming the unimaginable-to-own auto into a common good; his cars powered by gasoline brought to market by the arguably the richest man in history: John D. Rockefeller. Notable about Rockefeller is an earlier fortune for him sprung from his having made kerosene broadly affordable. Days that used to end at night were soon extended by light. Nowadays the superrich arouse our envy since they fly private jets while we suffer the indignity of the TSA. Ok, but readers can rest assured that there’s a billionaire in our not-too-distant future who will get that way by virtue of creating airplanes for the masses. Bank on it.

Trickle-down is a hoax? Let’s be serious. If by trickle-down we mean that all of our lives get better the more that individuals grow exceedingly rich, then it must be said that trickle-down quite simply is. To deny its reality amounts to willful blindness. And it's more than trickle down. It's realistically a flood. As the definition of rich surges into the stratosphere, the lives of everyone improve markedly. Life would be unrelentingly cruel without the rich, whether earned or inherited.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Bill Nye’s Embarrassing Face-off with Tucker Carlson on Climate Change

Since the premiere of his new nighttime show, Carlson has frequently confronted the dogma of man-made global warming, pushing “experts” to cite data and evidence to back up their claims rather than allowing them to repeat well-worn platitudes about a scientific consensus and the planet’s impending doom. In January, Tucker took on California State University professor Joseph Palermo, who wrote, “If President Trump and his cohort believe the science of global warming is bogus, then they shouldn’t be allowed to use the science of the Internet for their Twitter accounts” based on the commonly accepted factoid that “98 percent of all scientists” believe the climate is changing because of human activity. When Carlson repeatedly asked Palermo to give the source of that figure, which Carlson correctly said was unknowable, the professor couldn’t do it. Climate fail.

But it was Carlson’s takedown of Bill Nye the Science Guy, a television personality and celebrity climate promoter, that exposes the intellectual chicanery behind this crusade. During an interview on Carlson’s show on February 27, Nye goofily claimed that people who question claims about global warming suffer from cognitive dissonance: “We in the science community are looking for information why climate change deniers, or extreme skeptics, do not accept the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change.” Nye went on to say that denial is denial, the evidence is overwhelming, and the question of whether humans are causing climate change is “not an open question, it’s a settled question.”

Now usually when these charges are made by someone who purports to possess expertise in climate science (Nye has a degree in mechanical engineering), the interviewer acquiesces, immediately surrendering the debate to the climate activist. But Carlson wouldn’t back down: “To what degree is climate change caused by human activity? . . . Is it 100 percent, is it 74.3 percent? If it’s settled science, please tell us to what degree human activity is responsible.”

Nye started to get uncomfortable, well aware he had no certain answer to this so-called settled question, since climate scientists cannot agree how much human activity contributes to climate change. (Even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is suitably vague on this issue; the IPCC’s 2013 report states that it is “extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together. The best estimate of the human-induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period.”)

This is when Nye went off the rails, refusing to specify the degree to which people cause climate change and instead blaming us for the speed that climate change is happening: “Instead of happening at time scales of millions of years or let’s say 15,000 years, it’s happening on a time scale of decades and now years.” Or, you know, whatever. He went on to tell Carlson humans are “100 percent” responsible for the rate of climate change and it’s happening catastrophically fast. This spun him into a really weird (and unscientific) spot where he started lamenting the fact that global warming has caused us to avoid another Ice Age — perhaps unaware that most people would consider freezing to death a horrible fate — and told Carlson another Ice Age “ain’t gonna happen because of you and me.” Yay CO2!

Sensing he was getting cornered by Carlson, Nye pivoted to the next tactic often used by uninformed and misleading climate activists: the personal attack. “Let me ask you this. Why aren’t you concerned about it? Don’t you have four children? Why aren’t you concerned about climate change?” Because if you don’t care about climate change, you don’t care about your children.

Then right before my eyes, Nye turned into my old college political-science professor, who — no matter what the subject was at the time — would end his lecture by ranting about the Vietnam War. Nye babbled about the weather back in 1750, grape growers in Europe, pesticides in the Midwest, and something about pine-bark beetles in Wyoming. (This is another common tactic of climate alarmists, they talk over you while throwing out unverifiable factoids that make them sound informed when they’re usually just making stuff up.)

While it’s easy to dismiss Nye’s interview as a kooky one-off appearance from an unprepared celebrity scientist, he sadly represents the lack of integrity by most climate-change pushers. They move goalposts, manufacture facts, resist honest debate, and resort to smear tactics when confronted with specific questions they cannot answer. As Carlson said to Nye, “You really don’t know, and you bully people who ask questions.” Good thing Carlson is there to bully back for once.