Author Archives: M. Noonan

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What Media Bias? Part 198

There is a Media Research Center study which shows that from January 1, 2006 to August 31, 2006 the MSM reported on Bush’s crumbling poll numbers 124 times.  Fast forward and between January 1, 2014 and August 31, 2014 the MSM has reported on Obama’s equally crumbling poll numbers a total of nine times.

This is what media bias is all about: its not so much the outright lies (though they are a problem – and an increasing problem), but the way that the same sort of story will be reported quite differently depending on whether it involves a Republican or a Democrat.  Take, for instance, when a politician is arrested – you can just about bet your life savings on it that if a Republican politician is arrested, his party affiliation will be front and center. Meanwhile, if a Democrat is cuffed, you’d have to read to the last paragraph where it is revealed that the offender may have had some slight connection to the Democrat party.

This is common across all elements of the MSM – doesn’t matter what organization, they all report things pretty much the same way. There is, however, no cure for this – the hard left people who make up the MSM simply will not change.  The only thing we can do, as conservatives, is to create a duplicate MSM to compete.  Fox News has shown the way, but we need a genuinely conservative news network; we need newspapers and magazines and all that MSM infrastructure which drives the narrative. And we need to start ignoring what the MSM is saying because it is all presented in a manner to help the Democrats and harm Republicans.

Obama’s Non-War

The usual course of action is that when the guns go off, we citizens are to rally ’round the flag and back our forces in the pursuit of victory. But that is a bit impossible right now – Obama and his Administration are telling us, over and over, that this isn’t a war. That we’ll be bombing the heck out of things and that lots of people will die horrific, violent deaths at our hands doesn’t count: per Obama and Co, war is only in existence is U.S. troops are on the ground doing the fighting.

So, no war – and thus no rallying ’round the flag. And even if we decided – correctly – that Obama and Co are just full of “stuff” and that this is a war so we’d better rally anyways, what would we be rallying for? Not for victory, because there can be no victory in this non-war. Its not like the enemy commander can offer to surrender to a drone. We’ll bomb a lot and kill a lot of people and this will help those who are fighting the people we’re bombing – and that, in turn, might lead others to victory. A Kurdish victory would be ok, as the Kurds seem a lot of very decent people – but it could also lead to Assad’s victory in Syria and Iran’s victory in Iraq; not exactly ideal outcomes for us. It could also lead to victory for non-ISIS, non-Assad forces in Syria, this might not work out well, either. Let’s just say I have my doubts about Administration assurances that they can pick the non-Islamist-screwball forces in Syria for us to back.

We can also get the worst of all worlds – we blow a lot of stuff up and kill a lot of people with attendant video showing what a bunch of hideous war criminals we are but after all that, Assad still rules his part of Syria, ISIS still rules vast tracts of Syria and Iraq and Iran has secured itself the part of Iraq it cares about (ie, Baghdad plus the oil fields). That sort of outcome is made doubly bad because if ISIS survives in any form, it will become the Islamist hero as it stood up to us, endured a pounding and emerged from the welter of slaughter with victory. Of course, all of this won’t fully come out until after Obama leaves office, so he probably doesn’t care in the least about it, even if he’s aware of the possibility.

This whole thing is the terribly bad decision of a man – Obama – who knows nothing of history, nothing of the world and yet sits assured that he’s the smartest guy in the room. I hope it works out – and I hope our losses are small. But the rule of thumb for war is that you either go all in, or stay all out. Our choices for ISIS were two:

1.  Go all out to war against them until they are all killed or taken, regardless of cost.

2.  Surrender to them and allow them to do as the wish.

Either course of action can have rational arguments to back them up. We have failed to choose between them – we’re just going to bomb a bit and hope for the best. I believe we will be disappointed – and maybe in a vastly worse geo-strategic situation two or three years from now.

UPDATE: Reeling from criticism about us not being at war, the Administration has decided we are at war with ISIS, just as we are against al-Qaeda. Meaning? I guess that six years from now ISIS will be around and a threat, just as al-Qaeda is still around and a threat after six years of Obama…

If You Really Want to Fight ISIS…

…then you’d better be willing to go to war. I mean real war. With two million American personnel over in the Middle East for a decade and a complete re-casting of Middle Eastern life under American rule for a long while.

As regular readers know, with Obama in the White House I have become a peacenik – all I am saying, is give peace a chance because I’m dead certain that any war Obama commands will be a lost war. But, maybe I’m wrong and Obama will turn into a regular Abraham Lincoln as war leader – and, so, let’s get to fighting, if that is what you want. After all, if ISIS isn’t worth fighting, then there’s never any cause to fight, ever.

But if we do this, then think about a few things. Don’t get upset about how long it takes: it will take a long time. Don’t get upset about harsh measures: harsh measures will be necessary. Don’t get upset about civilian deaths: civilians will die (especially as most of the people who would put up the stoutest fight are certain to use civilians as shields).  Think about what you want to accomplish: just to kill some ISIS guys, or to actually get to a general settlement of the Middle East?  Killing ISIS guys is fine; but just killing them won’t get rid of what created ISIS – which was not, by the way, Bush’s invasion of Iraq but a series of decisions of the past 1,000 years by the overall Muslim world as affected by various outside forces.

Resign yourself to a long, grinding, expensive fight among people who will alternately hate us or be resentful of us (with just maybe a few groups of people actually catching on that we’re helping them – these people will be invaluable to us). Or, just give it up and let things take their course.  Our choice. But let no one choose lightly. On either side is death and destruction – in a sense, there are no right answers to the problem.  There are a series of wrong answers, and we’d just be trying to find the least wrong thing to do, with a hope that we’ll eventually put things to right.

 

The Official Unemployment Rate is, Well, Bogus

For lack of a better word:

The U.S. jobs report, a key measure of how well the economy is doing, has gotten increasingly less accurate in the past 20 years. The fix for that problem could be in a surprising place: Twitter.

Those are the conclusions of two separate reports out this month. The first report, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that the unemployment number released by the government suffers from a problem faced by other pollsters: Lack of response. This problem dates back to a 1994 redesign of the survey when it went from paper-based to computer-based, although neither the researchers nor anyone else has been able to offer a reason for why the redesign has affected the numbers.

What the researchers found was that, for whatever reason, unemployed workers, who are surveyed multiple times are most likely to respond to the survey when they are first given it and ignore the survey later on…

This works out to an under count of the unemployed and/or an over count of people not in the labor force – the bottom line is that the official unemployment rate doesn’t really reflect the unemployment picture. This is something we’ve known for a while just by the labor force participation rate: if we are in a recovery, it should not be going down. The fact that it is down means that something is off – and calculations of unemployment based upon, say, a 2007 level of participation would still likely have the official rate in double digit territory. But now we see that aside from that, the basic survey is just flawed.

I’ve long had grave doubts about the whole methodology we use to judge the state of the economy.  We aren’t quite as bizarre as Spain, which is apparently set to use transactions in, shall we say, ladies who work in a very specialized form of entertainment, as part of their GDP, but we’re close. To me, there is something absurd in counting government spending as part of GDP, let alone counting what a lonely man blows a hundred bucks on. Real economic strength should be judged by what we make, mine and grow.

If the economy is improving, we’ll see it in statistics of corn production, gasoline refined, tons of iron ore mined, and things like that. These things can’t lie and they can’t be fudged. Did we, or did we not, produce more steel in July of 2014 than in June of 2014? July of 2013? July of 2004?  If the answer is “less” then that would be a bad indicator.  It still might be partially explained by other factors (maybe we’re more efficient in our use of steel, for instance), but the bottom line is that if the production is up, then things are better than if production is down…because people don’t produce for customers that don’t exist. I want to know the measure of production for real goods that people use – I want to know what it is last month, the month before that, the year before that and ten years before that…this way I can see how things are going in both the short and long term; and no need to seasonally adjust: each July will be pretty much like all other Julys. Just tell me what was made, mined and grown – I’ll then see for myself if things are worse, better or just the same…and that will also inform me of what the employment picture is like. If we’re producing less steel, it is a cinch that we’ve got less steel workers, and so on.

We don’t need to know how many people are working in the legal industry – it produces no wealth. Don’t need to know how many people are working in the tourist industry – it also produces no wealth, once you understand that wealth is not a casino mogul in Vegas raking it in hand over fist, but a farmer in the midwest growing corn. The reality is that the entirety of our economy – all of that government and law firms and casinos, etc – is dependent upon the ability of the United States to make, mine and grow things. If we don’t make, mine and grow enough things, then the economy is doomed, no matter how much money the Fed prints to keep things going for years after the economy collapsed. So, let’s start counting what matters and see what our economy is actually like – it’ll tell us what we need to do.

 

A Progressive (Sorta) Figures it Out

But cut him some slack on being 7 years or so later than the non-Progressives – after all, he’s a highly respected and credentialed academic and so his knowledge of reality is on the low end of the scale. Anyways, Cornel West has some gripes about The One:

No, the thing is he posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency. The torturers go free. The Wall Street executives go free. The war crimes in the Middle East, especially now in Gaza, the war criminals go free. And yet, you know, he acted as if he was both a progressive and as if he was concerned about the issues of serious injustice and inequality and it turned out that he’s just another neoliberal centrist with a smile and with a nice rhetorical flair…

Brother Cornel’s real problem is that he, himself, is shackled to Progressive thought as much as Obama is. It never occurred to Professor West that the reality is that Progressives are the Ruling Class.  And as such, they defend the status quo because any change to that means Progressives will be out of power and out of wealth. People like West think they are still out there getting ready to storm the barricades of the Ruling Class never realizing that they are the merest tools and foot-soldiers of the Ruling Class.  The Ruling Class likes people like West – they provide a patina of intellect to a class of people who are only in it for the money, power and fame. They also cook up arguments which allow the Ruling Class to pretend they are on the side of the people.  If West were to actually sit down and think about it all, now that he’s seen Obama for the fraud that he is, then he’d also start to realize that his Progressive ethic is the foundation of the fraud (seen more clearly in the way West – and the rest of the left – turn reality on ts head and find themselves on the side of bloodthirsty tyrants in Hamas vs the liberal democrats of Israel).

I actually have all sorts of sympathy for Mr. West.  He’s sincere. He really believes what he believes.  He really wants justice and mercy and equality to prevail – but he’s also been suckered his whole life by a left wing narrative and he’s so far proven himself incapable of breaking out of it, even when the stark, cruel truth is right in front of him. If he’d just realize that Obama hasn’t conned people any more than Reid or Pelosi or Sharpton or Jackson or Biden or Clinton (both of them), etc, etc, etc then he’d be on the route to being useful in the fight for liberty and justice for all. Solzhenitsyn noted this problem with Progressives in his Gulag Archipelago. Writing about the true-blue communists that Stalin, in his humor, raked in along with the “kulaks” and “wreckers”, Solzhenitsyn noted this inability to draw conclusions.  The communists remained convinced that the communist system was good; that Stalin was good – they couldn’t go from Step A to Step B and realize that if a gross injustice is carried out under the authority of those who claim to be for justice, then maybe they aren’t telling the truth. West is still stuck in the rut – certain that Obama is a fraud, he can’t go past that and realize that Obama is just one of many frauds…and maybe, just maybe, some on the right are better allies?

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve got some blind people on the right, as well – but they are only a small minority compared to the blind on the left. In reality, you have to be a bit blind just to be of the left. You have to ignore some basic facts about humanity and history in order to really think, for instance, that a set of bureaucrats in DC could, say, craft a health care system for all Americans. But I still take it as encouraging that someone like West has at least partially awakened – and it makes me hopeful that maybe over 2014 and 2016 we can do some genuine good…that we can really get some hope for change.

A Lesson from Ferguson: Our Criminal Justice is Broken

This is just astounding:

Ferguson is a city located in northern St. Louis County with 21,203 residents living in 8,192 households. The majority (67%) of residents are African-American…22% of residents live below the poverty level.

…Despite Ferguson’s relative poverty, fines and court fees comprise the second largest source of revenue for the city, a total of $2,635,400. In 2013, the Ferguson Municipal Court disposed of 24,532 warrants and 12,018 cases, or about 3 warrants and 1.5 cases per household.

Was Brown stopped just so the police could write a revenue-generating ticket?  That is something we need to determine as the investigation goes on – regardless of how the shooting is ruled or what happens to the police officer.

It has been growing on me for years now that we are massively over-law’d in the United States. There are too many laws, too many fines – and the police and prosecutors have too much discretion in deciding whom will enter the meat grinder of our criminal justice system.  Of course, as long as you have money, you’re going to be ok – OJ Simpson, after all, got away with double murder because he had the scratch to hire an all-star defense team. But for some poor body in the inner city who gets pulled over for a traffic violation or gets picked up for minor drug possession?  Forget it: he’s screwed…and once the criminal justice system gets hold of him, it won’t let him go.  Remember, if you don’t appear in court (and maybe you don’t because you have a job you can’t get out of – or have children you can’t find a sitter for and the judge won’t let you bring them into court), you get a warrant for your arrest…and if arrested, you’ll get more fines on top of the original fine.  And if you can’t pay, then you just get in more trouble.

Things like this really make me wonder – do murders go unsolved because there’s no revenue upside for the city?  Are high crime areas ill policed because the cops are out writing tickets? Last time I got a ticket (figured that STOP meant Short Tap On Pedal) the officer was about 20 minutes writing me up.  Twenty minutes he wasn’t out patrolling the streets. He writes 10 tickets per shift and how much time does that leave for the actual job of the police?  Additionally – when we hear someone has a criminal record, does that mean he’s a murderer, or just someone who got busted for pot?

We really need to rethink this – most importantly, the fact that the revenues from fines goes to the municipality which issued the ticket. There’s just too much incentive for cash-strapped cities and counties to see fines as a means to revenue rather than a tool for law enforcement. Maybe make fewer fines and more community service, instead?  I don’t know, but we need to think about this – and I think we might have a situation where the poor, especially the urban poor, are caught in a bind.

I Think it is Time We Go to War

The brutal murder of James Foley puts things in very stark relief. This is ISIS and it explains the sort of people who have gone to war with us – they are not just cruel, but glory in their cruelty. There is no act of barbarism they will not commit, and then brag about committing it. These are not people amenable to reason; not people we can negotiate with; not people we can share the world with.  They are enemies of the human race, plain and simple – and the sooner they are dispatched into the hereafter the better it will be for everyone.

If we can’t fight people who do this sort of thing – and this is after they have massacred thousands of foreigners and engaged in all manner of savagery – then we can’t fight anyone. Fight these ISIS barbarians. Kill them. Let them know that there is no safety for them against an aroused United States of America. Bomb them when we can get them in our bomb sites; send in troops when we’ve got a fair prospect of killing a lot of them. Arm anyone we reasonably think will go about the process of killing them for whatever reason they think best. No Geneva Convention. No Gitmo. No trials in the United States.  Just fight them and kill them until they are destroyed.

Sure, it won’t solve the whole problem. It won’t create peace and justice in the Middle East – but wiping out ISIS will do the world a favor, not least the Muslim world…and doing so will provide a useful lesson to those who seek the death of Americans: you can go just one step too far, and then all bets are off and there’s no bag limit.