Days of Change

Mail Time

March 5, 2015
1 Comment

It is apparently a big story that Hillary Clinton sent some number of job-related e-mails from a private domain where the mail server literally resides inside her house. This might be considered a smoking gun in an investigation of Benghazi and her involvement of a government. The reality is that it doesn’t matter.

I feel bad for Republicans because they still think they can find smoking guns on Democrats. These things don’t exist because the media already has a strategy to let smoking guns cool off enough so that Republicans are accused of bringing up old news when they do find evidence. We know that Clinton was either hiding something or woefully incompetent with regard to Benghazi. Even if we proved it with video tape, some people would never believe it anyway.

We know two important things. This administration has no shame and will find extra-legal ways to do what they want regardless of oversight. The only real stumbling blocks there have been in this era are budgetary. Government “shut downs” work, but they need to be long and they need to hurt. The GOP fears either aspect and the White House knows this. The reality is that it may be bad PR for the Republicans, it is the death of an agenda for Democrats.

You can chase e-mails all you want, but the wife of Slick Willie won’t have anything in them.


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That Was a Long Post

March 4, 2015
2 Comments

Last night’s post ended up a little longer, and a little more rambling, than I expected. Tonight’s will be shorter.

Remember the 60th vote in the Senate? Basically, Arlen Specter was tired of getting the stink eye when he sided with the Democrats, so he decided to just become one (again). That traitorous action (toward the country, not the GOP) led to all the impunity Obama believes is his. It also seems to have shaken the Republicans to the core. Once again, the leadership lied to its own constituents. They promised that they would leave DHS out of the Cromnibus so they could pass most of the budget without a revolt. Now, they’ve passed a DHS budget with all but a budget for amnesty, which is paid for by fees anyway.

The Republicans don’t have a filibuster-proof majority. Even if they lose 3 seats, they will have a majority. They need to stop letting bloodless politics prevail and start standing by something. Otherwise, the voters will be changing the Republicans to Democrats.


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Lying About Lies

March 3, 2015
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Bill O’Reilly has been under attack for years. Not as much during his time at “A Current Affair,” but during his time as a program host at Fox News. The focus on O’Reilly started in “earnest” with a book by writer turned actor Al Franken. O’Reilly tends to embellish (the whole Peabody vs. Polk award thing) and that made him perfect fodder for liberal hit pieces on him as a vindication of Brian Williams. These stories alone say two things about David Corn and others promoting it. First, that they consider Brian Williams a valuable media tool for the cause and that their morality is relative. If someone on the “other” side does something wrong, it is rendered morally neutral.

I have not come to praise O’Reilly or to bury him. He is not the face of Fox News reporting. Unfortunately, that honor goes to Shepherd Smith, whose drunk mugshot can be found around the internet. Instead, I wanted to write about a claim that Fox News won a court case so they could be allowed to lie.

The link to the article is here, but this site headlines the fact that “the media” and not just Fox, can lie. The story starts in 1996 when Fox News had just started and wasn’t even available in much of the country. Also, the player in this incident was a Fox Network affiliate, WTVT. Jane Akre and her husband were hired by the station and produced a story about Bovine Growth Hormone, used by the cattle industry to increase dairy yield.

The problem goes something like this. Akre and husband produced a piece about BGH and Monsanto’s role in manufacturing and marketing it. The story could have been about the widespread use of BGH or the health effects of using it in milk, which is under dispute. Monsanto learned about the story and contacted Roger Ailes, who was in charge of Fox News Channel and some news programming on the Fox Broadcast Network. WTVT planned to include responses from Monsanto and also requested the story be revised, presumably because of unverifiable claims. Akre claimed to make multiple revisions and threatened to take her story to the FCC if the story wasn’t aired. She and her (now ex) husband were terminated.

I’m going to break into the story to point out that while I don’t personally like Monsanto and their weird attempts to make individual farming impossible, several groups like the FDA, the NIH and the WHO have found no adverse health effects in humans from BGH use. However, some countries have banned it for the negative health effects on the cows themselves. By most objective standards, BGH is not a “bad” substance.

Anyway, Akre sued Fox for making them change the story and firing them for being whistle blowers. Here’s where it gets slightly interesting. From the site that claims network news can lie.

Akre was awarded a $425,000 settlement. Inexplicably, however, the court decided that Steve Wilson, her partner in the case, was ruled not wronged by the same actions taken by FOX.

Steve Wilson’s lack of an award is not inexplicable. Of all the claims made in New World Communs. of Tampa, Inc. v. Akre the case name that was not mentioned in the article, the only one that was accepted was that Jane Akre was terminated after threatening to go to the FCC for WTVT distorting the news. Her husband made no such claim, and was not awarded a settlement. WTVT’s stance was that they simply chose not to renew their contract.

This point is important. The jury only awarded a judgment that Akre should not have been terminated because she was in the process of blowing the whistle on a potential rule violation by her employer. They did not find that WTVT actually did lie. That was not their purpose in the trial.

On appeal, WTVT, the Fox Broadcasting Network, and several other television networks by amicus briefs, argued that whistle-blower laws can only apply to established rules and regulations and not policies. Essentially, the FCC made it a policy that news should not be distorted, but had no real way of objectively measure that distortion. They punted and only stated it should not be done. Akre’s award was dismissed because she was threatening to report her employer for distorting a story, something that could really not be proven. Activists (truthers, anti-vaxxers, conspiracy nuts) would have you believe that their crazy theories are objective truth. Fire can’t melt steel.

Here’s my point. Reporters have editors because news stations and newspapers want accountability. Editors often show bias, but there is little recourse to bias in media accept more voices in the media. Conservatives don’t like the mainstream media lies, but the last thing they want is some federal Board of Truth to decide what stories are distorted. We know what happens, the state will choose the stories that benefit them. The O’Reilly attack is a perfect example of why the government (especially the FCC, which wants to oversee all internet traffic) should not have that power. Most of the media is on the side of government and would have buried Brian Williams’ errors if they could.

If someone is lying, someone else will find out. That’s the great thing about a country where all citizens are created equal.


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The Address

March 2, 2015
1 Comment

Israel’s leader Benjamin Netanyahu will speak in front of a joint session of Congress in which a large number of Democrats will be absent. The topic will likely be a nuclear Iran and the threat it poses, not only to Israel but to the rest of the world. The White House is not only betting on Netanyahu’s political opponent in Israel, but a deal with Iran that would likely give them the ability to finish a nuclear weapon with few barriers.

Right now, nuclear weapons give countries with no clout automatic legitimacy. As the creepy empire of North Korea continues testing, we are forced to deal with them. A nuclear Iran means that they will also get economic benefits far beyond the cost of their nuclear program, but that isn’t even the worst part.

If Iran is part of the Middle Eastern crazy death cult caliphate, will they simply show their hand and use nukes on their enemies. In the history of the world, we have never fought a “hot” war where both sides had a nuclear weapon. The fight itself could be devastating, with nuclear fallout in multiple locations. Those are the stakes and we have the worst negotiator in American history trying to solve it.


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Media Circus

March 1, 2015
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Republican candidates and the featured speakers at CPAC, who are going to be the Republican candidates, all took their shots at the media. Scott Walker had the most to gripe about, having been confronted with out of nowhere questions and straight-up lies reported about him. Other candidates will have to face similar problems as they become more viable.

There is a difference between complaining about media and handling media. Bill Clinton had a generally adversarial relationship with the media from his first campaign. However, due to a lull in economic and foreign events during his term, there was very little to attack Clinton on for policies that the media generally agreed with. In politics, the media galvanized against Newt Gingrich.

George W. Bush tended to ignore the media’s legitimacy. He derided certain figures, refused to talk about what drugs he did or didn’t do as a younger man and flat-out denied allegations about his National Guard service that turned out to be falsified. His actions alone got him through September 11 and gave him a second term in 2004. Eventually, public perception tanked his approval rating, something that now goes backup every year.

Then we have Barack Obama. The media ignored the existence of Obama, leaving it to pundits and editorial writers to praise him without the pretense of objectivity. When he was running for the nomination, they attacked Hillary. In the general election, they attacked John McCain and Sarah Palin. Now that he’s the president, it seems that the media created some kind of respect for the office that lets them ignore his faults again.

What we should know by now is that no GOP news is good news. Everyone wants to talk to candidates, but few want to promote them. Even the Obama campaign relied heavily on friendly, left-wing media. The Republicans have much of the successful blogosphere, Fox News and nearly all of talk radio. I wouldn’t even pick up the phone for the New York Times. Tomorrow, the Times will be picking up yesterday’s fish.


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In Like a Lion

February 28, 2015
1 Comment

I have to admit that a lot of petty things have torn me away from politics. Red Eye 1.0 is ending, Spock died, it’s been colder where I live than any time in recorded history and I had a minor job crisis. Needless to say, February is kicking my ass. Frankly, I was expecting March for that.

CPAC this week was a sad reminder that the Republicans in Congress were supposed to come in like lions and instead ended up like lambs. DHS funding was always a minor inconvenience for the White House, since they have violated much stronger restrictions in the past. In a remarkably similar attitude to extremists like ISIS, this administration wants a battle. They either expect their opponent to eventually surrender or know they can win in the end.

Like war itself, any fight with this group will require a messy, painful standoff. The enemy’s supply lines must be cut off and that requires both a debt ceiling block and a budget showdown. Anything less will get the GOP slaughtered.


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The Age of Gutfeld

February 27, 2015
1 Comment

Yesterday, the story got out that Greg Gutfeld will leave Red Eye to host a weekend show on Fox, presumably taking Huckabee’s place for good. He came to Fox 8 years ago to host a different kind of show in a new kind of time slot. On February 5, 2007 at 2 am Eastern Time, Gutfeld sat at a table in front of a fake brick background and discussed the events of the day with a group of regulars and guests for an hour. The show was entertaining, often hilarious, and combined just the right amount of news and bizarre human interest stories.

Greg Gutfeld became a sort of go-to guy for Fox News. He guest hosted the O’Reilly Factor, Fox and Friends and other shows. Reruns of The Glenn Beck show pushed Red Eye back to 3 am, but the end of Beck’s show led to Greg’s second gig as a co-host of The Five, a show that bore some similarity to Red Eye itself.

Red Eye is also a good performer. Even at 3 am, its ratings are higher than those of evening shows on CNN and the morning show on MSNBC. Fox tried to air reruns of Red Eye on Saturday evening or new episodes on Saturday nights for most of 2013. That show may not translate, but Greg Gutfeld apparently has.

This is sad news for me because while I think Gutfeld is an amazing personality and writer and spokesman for the cause, (I’ve written about him a dozen times) I only really like Red Eye. I don’t watch The Five or O’Reilly. I hope Red Eye continues with a new permanent host. Many fans, however, think this is the end for the show.


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Anything But Neutral

February 26, 2015
1 Comment

The picture of FCC Chair Tom Wheeler grabbing the hands of the other two Democrats on the panel who voted 3-2 for a set of new Internet regulations told me all I needed to know about their new plans. It was another Obamacare moment, like when Nancy Pelosi and the soon to be fired Democrats paraded with a gigantic novelty gavel.

Net Neutrality is a concept that will most heavily apply to one company’s benefit. Netflix streams movies, something that the Internet was not really designed for, but is accomplished using a lot of bandwidth. It comprises something like 80% of all evening internet traffic. The content is actually pretty sparse, consisting of second run movies and old TV shows. It’s the equivalent of leaving the TV on for some people, except that instead of broadcasting to everyone, it is showing one thing at a time to every single person using it.

For the most part, Netflix has been able to do this with a little bit of increased fees to service providers, usually cable internet. What they really want, however, is net neutrality. That would mean they could use up to 100% of a customer’s bandwidth at any time, for any length of time. Even though ISPs offer plans by the connection speed, they have to pay by the total data. If they are required to allow full data traffic at a certain speed, they may respond by charging for every bit that is used. The FCC could not actually stop that.

To be honest, I don’t care about how businesses are hurt by these regulations. Wall Street threw their support behind Obama and they got what they deserve. However, I doubt that this regulation will stand or that it will save money. Remember when energy providers were required to allow other companies to sell electricity other than the provider? Did electricity bills go down? Remember the Cable Bill of 1992? Did cable bills go down?

The last thing any government will ever do is save you money.


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Mexican Standoff

February 25, 2015
1 Comment

It’s not that I think the Republicans can only do one thing to stop the runaway White House. They have a number of options at their disposal. There are political options, procedural options and limited negotiation. The real problem is that the Republicans in Congress are consistently bad at being consistent about anything.

For example, the Republicans have been rhetorically forced into the idea of a “clean” DHS funding bill that would fund the rest of DHS but not amnesty. The problem is that the amnesty plan from the president is paid for by fees collected outside of a government budget. Funding DHS makes it so that all money for everything is available. Should they fight it if it doesn’t matter? I don’t have a definitive answer, except that they should have decided this weeks ago. Now, they are probably going to try to stop funding, cave, and prove that in any standoff, Obama es mas macho.

For me, this all boils down to the art of the possible. The Republican establishment kind of accepted that they wouldn’t get Congress back after decades in the minority. It took Newt Gingrich to prove them wrong. It took Reagan to show that we didn’t have to just put up with the Soviet Union. When will someone have enough faith to know that fighting the president and taking away his entire checkbook is the solution for the country’s problems and the party’s problems?


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What the Government Givith

February 24, 2015
1 Comment

There’s still rangling over the DHS budget. This department would handle the de facto amnesty plan the Chief Executive Ordered into existence. It is a miniature version of the upcoming budget fight. The House has to pass a budget for money to be allocated. In the case of DHS, they won’t fund it if the executive order is followed. Congress can override these orders, but most Democrats still do what they’re told at the price of their elected offices.

Republicans tend to be the only party that even tries to cut funding. Democrats find ways around it, usually by throwing a bone to Republicans, like with the Stimulus that wasn’t. When confronted with a budget shutdown, they get meaner than a junkyard dog. Clinton and Obama responded to budget shortfalls from Congress by closing national parks, stopping Social Security checks and laying off workers. They never stopped funding studies about the viscosity of ketchup or the EPA saving some slug.

What this proves is that if you like something you “get” from the government, they can decide to take it way for political gain. If you get less stuff and keep your own money, the government would have to dissolve into a dictatorship to take what belongs to you. People have learned over the years that even money they pay into the system only sort of belongs to you. Social Security payments and deductions have changed multiple times, along with programs like Medicare.

Government freebies aren’t free.


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