I am so impressed.
Archive for Media Morons
Barack Obama is a great orator, but he is the worst president I’ve ever seen when it comes to explaining his achievements, putting them in context, connecting with people on a gut level through repetition and thereby defining how the public views an issue.
Oh Tom! And you were doing so well!
As it is, everything in this brief passage is wrong, if not an outright lie. Obama is not a great orator—he’s an above average teleprompter reader. And what good is oratory anyway if it’s just empty rhetoric, or, in Obama’s case, self-love expressed in heightened language?
Maybe, Tom, he can’t explain his achievements on a gut level (or any other level) because he hasn’t achieved anything, or nothing worth crowing about. Socialized medicine was supposed to become more popular (or less unpopular) as people learned to live with it, like herpes. That hasn’t happened. And it’s really got nothing to do with Obama. People don’t like it, they don’t like the whole socialist agenda. They may like him (or think they do), but his policies are losers, every one.
I don’t even like him, but then I have a thing against narcissistic bullies. Funny me.
But the most bizarre thing Friedman writes—a nearly impossible feat—is that Obama, or anyone, can define how the public views an issue. The public views it however it views it (usually fragmentedly): Obama’s “definition” of that view is irrelevant at best, fascistic at worst. He can interpret, and his success at interpretation is measured at election time (not so hot as of November 2010).
When I take out emotion (mostly fear), the preponderance of evidence calls for a Republican win this November. In that sense, Friedman is correct, if only accidentally. Obama has not connected, and he will lose. To lapse into emotion, here’s hoping.
PS: A Republican sweep will mean nothing, however, if Romney et al aren’t wise leaders. I would say the Constitution offers decent guidance: limited government (of negative liberties), responsible budgeting, strong national defense. Americans are old-fashioned that way.
Cleavon Little or Mitt Romney?
He talked about the new Crossroads GPS ad focusing on the economy, showing the entire ad to his audience and two guests. But then, before cutting to guest Cynthia Tucker, he says something like this:
“Without getting too nasty about a white woman here, apparently a single white woman, no mention of spouse or partner of any kind, no male around the house there, that’s the group he’s going for…”
What on earth does he mean by “without getting too nasty about a white woman here?” Was he trying to bait his guests, both African-Americans, into suggesting that there’s a subtle racist undertone to the ad? Is he saying that single women as heads of household are loathsome? Or is he implying that Mitt Romney is loathsome for targeting them?
I realize Chris MatthEWs is the reincarnation of Chuckles the Clown—a little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants—but isn’t this creepy and bizarre even for him? But then, how would I know? I watch more Keith Olbermann than I do Chris MatthEWs, and I watch no Keith Olbermann (no one watches Keith Olbermann).
Next time I write about Michelle Obama, I’m going to preface my remarks by writing “without getting too nasty about a black woman here”, just to keep my PC bona fides in order. And then I can be as nasty as I want.
Do you like museums? Aggie’s a nut for them, if I may so divulge. When I’m in New York, I almost always save time for a trip to the Frick. Not only for the brilliance of its collection, but I like to support the fruits of raw capitalism.
[As Wikipedia notes: "Once known by his critics as “the most hated man in America," — Portfolio.com named Frick one of the "Worst American CEOs of All Time"— he has long been vilified by the public and historians for his ruthlessness and lack of morality in business." As opposed to Mark Zuckerberg, say?]
Anyhow, there’s a pretty cool online museum of discredited columnists spouting outdated ideas. It’s called the New York Times op ed page (though it costs you if you visit more than 20 time a month, I believe).
Here’s one of the exhibits: thomas absurdium friedmanus
Political power is always a double-edged sword. The more of it you amass, the more people expect you to use it to do big things, and, when you don’t, the more ineffectual you look. That’s the dilemma in which Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu of Israel finds himself. He avoided early elections by adding a new centrist coalition partner to his right-wing cabinet, giving him control of 96 of the 120 seats in Parliament. There are Arab dictators who didn’t have majorities that big after rigged elections. What is unclear is whether Bibi assembled these multitudes to be better able to do nothing or be better able to do something important to secure Israel’s future.
The stakes could not be higher — for him and Israel. Ami Ayalon, the former commander of Israel’s Navy and later its domestic intelligence service, put it to me this way: “I imagine a book called ‘Jewish Leaders in Recent History’ that one day Bibi’s grandson will be reading. What will it say? In one version, I imagine the section about the State of Israel will say that Herzl envisaged it, Ben-Gurion built it and Netanyahu secured it as a Jewish democracy.” But there is another version that could also be written, added Ayalon. “This version will describe Herzl and Ben-Gurion in the same way, but it will say of Netanyahu that he was the only Israeli leader who had the political power and he missed his moment in history” — and, thereby, created a situation in which Israel is not a Jewish democracy anymore. “Now is his moment to decide.”
Now, I don’t know this Ami Ayalon, but Danny Ayalon (Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs) feels quite differently. (You can see him answering a question on “settlements” here.) Ami comes from the military and domestic intelligence, but that means nothing in political terms. Just as being Jewish means nothing in terms of Israeli politics, neither does being Israeli.
And if you aren’t suspicious about why Friedman’s citation of his remarks drop in and out of quotation marks, you should be. I don’t know what his beliefs are, but I sure know Friedman’s. And they are unpleasant in the extreme:
… Bibi — either through brilliant bluffing that he will bomb Iran or a sincere willingness to do so — has managed to make stopping Iran’s nuclear program a top U.S. and global priority.
As if stopping Iran’s nuclear program isn’t a US and global priority on its own? As if “Bibi” is a puppeteer, making global leaders dance to his tune? How is Friedman’s language different from Walt, Mearsheimer, Buchanan, and all the other stinking antisemites who see tentacles and webs and mysterious cabalistic forces?
But he’s just getting started:
So what to do? Here I think Ayalon has the best new idea: “constructive unilateralism.”
In an essay in this newspaper on April 24, Ayalon and two colleagues argued that Israel should first declare its willingness to return to negotiations anytime and that it has no claims of sovereignty on any West Bank lands east of its security barrier. It should then end all settlement construction east of that barrier and in Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem and establish an attractive housing and relocation plan to help the 100,000 Jewish settlers who live east of the barrier to relocate within Israel’s recognized borders. The Israeli Army would remain in the West Bank until the conflict was resolved with a final-status agreement. And Israel would not physically force any citizens to leave until an agreement was reached, even though relocations could begin well before then. Such an initiative would radically change Israel’s image in the world, dramatically increase Palestinian incentives to negotiate and create a pathway for securing Israel as a Jewish democracy. And Bibi could initiate it tomorrow.
“Heroic peacemaking is over,” says Ayalon. It is time for “coordinated” and “constructive” unilateralism. The way is there. Does Bibi have the will?
So, this “constructive unilateralism” sounds like the pig “unilateral surrender” with lipstick smeared on. Israel is to take every step—backward, toward retrenchment and retreat—while nothing is required of the Arabs. Why, this is the Saudi plan, which Friedman also pimped, with a kippah on its head instead of a tablecloth. It is unilateral, all right, just as the relocation of Jews throughout history has been unilateral. With the exception of the founding of the state of Israel (and a period of American immigration history), such relocations have been expulsions, something Friedman & Co. evidently want to see happen again, in the Jewish state. Never mind the return of the Sinai, never mind the Jewish expulsions from Gaza (turning it into Lebanon-lite), the West Bank must be made judenrein, too.
The Arabs have been offered a peace along these lines before, and have rejected it. That, to me, is a lucky favor. Israel still has a chance to extend its sovereignty over all of Judea and Samaria (my preference), or at least over the largest Jewish populations. That, too, would be “unilateral” and “constructive”, and with the benefit that Friedman’s ghettoization lacks: secure borders.
I told you he was a museum relic. As with the Killing Field museum I cited earlier, not all exhibits are pretty pictures.
PS: Friedman also lies when he makes reference to demographics. Israel would still be a majority Jewish democracy if it annexed Judea and Samaria today. And birthrates currently favor the Jews holding on to their majority for the foreseeable future.
How stupid is the American public? How deep is the ocean?
New claims for unemployment benefits fell slightly last week, government data on Thursday showed, suggesting the labor market continues to expand at a moderate pace.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 370,000, the Labor Department said. The prior week’s figure was revised up to 372,000 from the previously reported 370,000.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims unchanged last week. The four-week moving average for new claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends, dropped 5,500 to 370,000.
According to this, this week’s claims will be adjusted up to 372,000, so that next week’s claims can come in unchanged at 372,000.
I’ve taken to listening to NPR. I’m not sure why, or even when this deviant behavior began, but I’ve developed an interest in the culture. For example, a couple days ago, on the BBC News Hour, which NPR presents locally, I heard a wonderfully obnoxious interview/discussion between a male British vegan and a female American vegetarian. The interviewer was quite fascinated in what sorts of people each of them would consider dating. The vegan wouldn’t have anything to do with anyone who consumed meat or animal products. What if he kissed someone who had animal parts in her teeth? The vegetarian said that she didn’t care, she would potentially date a butcher, even a hunter! Maybe on the hunter. Plus she herself consumes fish. The vegan bitterly explained that consuming fish caused great suffering to the fish. There was a certain level of animosity between them, and to my ears, the vegetarian at least sounded sane. But then, but then… the vegetarian pipes up, rather defensively I thought, and proclaims, I would date a hunter but there is one person I would never date – a Republican.
So the following day I heard a bit of an interview with Tom Ashbrook, who does a talk show for our local NPR affiliate, and the subject was the fact that there were more babies-of-color than babies-of-white born in the US last year. Mr. Ashbrook was interviewing some “experts” on race relations. The part I heard had to do with the novel idea that young people across races are in more agreement with their peers on this topic, than with elders within their own “race”, their specific “of-color”. (Strange, I thought. Young people feel differently than older people, and more like each other. I don’t recall that phenomena in the 60s and 70s.) Then, out of the clear blue sky, an arrow sailed into my car window, just missing my jugular. The Tea Party, we learned, is both older than 40, and racist. But they will die. To be replaced by young people who are not at all racist. And all will be good. Seriously, they talked about a racist Tea Party that would die soon. I am not exaggerating.
Oh my, I thought. The Tea Party has nothing to do with race, everything to do with fiscal responsibility. Why is a federally tax supported radio station putting on programming that slams perfectly reasonable citizens? Or, put another way, why are we certain that on NPR we won’t hear a sentence like: The Black Church is both older and racist. But they will die. … Or one person I would never date is a Democrat? I would never even hang out with a Democrat.
Finally, last night I heard a bit of Terry Gross interviewing an African American actor. Mostly what they discussed was race. That’s fine, except when you consider the context that all is race on that station. Is this about the election, or do they really just talk about race all day, every day? I am reminded of the period in the 90′s when John Grisham books were very popular. At one point, it looked as if his were the only books that could possibly sell – ever. All anyone wanted to read was legal thrillers.
So I thought it might be fun to remember and record some of these nasty little attacks that our tax dollars provide. If you, or any of your friends, ever listen to this claptrap, we would like to hear from you. Send us a short description of the offensive, race-baiting, tearing us apart from the inside-out, conversation and we’ll start a regular feature.
Unless you’re a credulous rube, it sure does look like Obama told his literary agency that he was born in Kenya for some reason. And the false information wasn’t corrected until April 2007, a couple of months after he launched his presidential campaign.
“But wait,” you protest. “How do you know Obama wrote that? How do you know he ever even saw it? Shut up!” Well, we all know that Obama is the exception to every rule, so maybe he’s the exception to this one too. Author and television producer Steve Boman writes at Breitbart.com about his own mid-’90s working relationship with literary agent Miriam Goderich, the woman who now claims the “born in Kenya” misinformation was somehow a “fact-checking error”:
Now let me say right up front: when it comes to Obama, I’m not going to speculate who wrote what, when. Dystel had assistants, one of whom is now her partner, Miriam Goderich, who says the whole Obama-born-in-Kenya thing was a fact-checking mistake by her. And I cannot speak specifically to the mechanism of Dystel’s publicity. (Alas, Dystel was unable to sell anything I wrote, so she had no reason to promote me, but I’m getting ahead of myself.)
I can speak of what she was like to work with and how she generated material. In my dealings with Dystel, I found her exceptionally thorough and very professional. She had a template she wanted non-fiction writers to follow, and my writing partner and I followed her template closely. She was rather fastidious, going so far as to mail a personal “Season’s Greetings” card in December.
All material she used in our proposals came directly from me and my writing partner. She edited our rough-draft proposals and gave us feedback, but the final versions were all ours. Our final versions, bio included, were then simply photo-copied, by us, and distributed to potential publishers. This was back in the pre-Google days, recall.
It is helpful that the writer worked with the same agent and was able to provide the basic template. I just can’t figure out how anyone could confuse Kenya with Hawaii.
According to archive.org, a website that caches websites on a regular basis, the Dystel.com website – the official website for Dystel & Goderich, Obama’s literary agents – was using the Barack Obama “born in Kenya” language until April 2007, just two months after then-Senator Obama declared his campaign for the presidency.
Archive.org shows that the Dystel website used the following biography for Obama as of April 3, 2007:
BARACK OBAMA is the junior Democratic senator from Illinois and was the dynamic keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. He was also the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. He was born in Kenya to an American anthropologist and a Kenyan finance minister and was raised in Indonesia, Hawaii, and Chicago. His first book, DREAMS FROM MY FATHER: A STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE, has been a long time New York Times bestseller.
Obama launched his presidential campaign in February 2007.
By April 21, 2007, the Obama bio had been changed to state that Obama was born in Hawaii:
BARACK OBAMA is the junior Democratic senator from Illinois and was the dynamic keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. He was also the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. He was born in Hawaii to an American anthropologist and a Kenyan finance minister and was raised in Indonesia, Hawaii, and Chicago. His first book, DREAMS FROM MY FATHER: A STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE, has been a long time New York Times bestseller.
Obama had already been a national figure for three years, since the Democratic National Convention in 2004, by the time the biography was changed; he had been a sitting Senator for over two years.
They are not even showing this on yahoo finance at the moment, and several other sites fail to mention that the numbers were revised upward by 3,000 new applicants.
The DOL reports:
In the week ending May 12, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 370,000, unchanged from the previous week’s revised figure of 370,000. The 4-week moving average was 375,000, a decrease of 4,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 379,750.
The previous week was revised up from 367,000 to 370,000.
So we were right. And on the theory that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, I’ll wager that this week’s claims will also be adjusted upward by roughly 3,000 poor sods.
President Obama’s claim that the GOP is mounting a war on women has proven to be a failure. A month into his assault on the Republicans and Mitt Romney, the new CBS-New York Times poll shows that the GOP presidential candidate now leads among women–and men.
Since April, women have gone from strongly backing Obama to endorsing Romney. In April, Obama held a 49 percent to 43 percent lead among women. That has now flipped to 46 percent backing Romney with 44 percent for Obama, an 8-point switch.
Ironically, Romney’s support among men has dropped, but he still edges Obama 45 percent to 42 percent.
And here’s a surprise: Despite the media hyping the so-called war on women, no major outlet today noticed Romney’s new lead with women voters.
“This is unbelievable,” said conservative consultant Greg Mueller. “The CBS story manages to not mention the change in women numbers,” he said, adding sarcastically. “No media bias here — Obama is getting fluffy stories about his commencement speech to women at Barnard — so we better bury the reality.”
They are going to go ballistic if Romney wins. Should we stock up on food and bottled water?