There’s been a lot of ink (digital or otherwise) by conservatives and libertarians about the lack of critical thinking on the part of much of the press regarding President Obama and his policies. I’ve been accused of just being paranoid (which may be true), but it looks like there is some validity to the argument.
In conversations with POLITICO, some of the left’s most influential voices in media said that, with the concerns of re-election over, they intend to be more critical of the president’s performance and more aggressive in urging him to pursue a progressive agenda as the clock ticks on his last four years in office.
“Liberals in the media are going to be tougher on Obama and more respectful at the same time,” Hendrik Hertzberg, The New Yorker’s chief political commentator and a former speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, told POLITICO. “He was the champion of our side, he vanquished the foe….. [but] now liberals don’t have to worry about hurting his chances for re-election, so they can be tougher in urging him to do what he should be doing.”
“In a tight election, people were sensitive to anything that would jeopardize the president’s re-election,” said Melber. “There’s no question that a second term changes the center of gravity for any administration: There is no reasonable argument that criticism will result in the defeat of Barack Obama.”
That’s the title of an opinion piece I wrote for The Daily Caller which you can read in its entirety here.
…in the market for political representation, the powerful thrive on market failure. Economics teaches us that (near-) perfect information is a prerequisite for well functioning markets. Thus, in the market for political representation, the press plays the critical role of finding and relaying information to the public it otherwise would not have, of correcting an information asymmetry. When the press cannot (or does not) do its job, or when the government will not allow it to do so, the government enjoys surplus political capital (support, votes, power) at the expense of the governed.
It is deeply troubling that reporters have succumbed so far to this paradigm of failure that an incident like Friday’s [kerfuffle between The Daily Caller’s Neil Munro and President Obama] shocked the status quo such that a veteran Washington reporter found himself castigated openly by his colleagues.
I hope you’ll read the rest, and share with your friends!
When I was six or seven years old, a new Nashville resident, I remember vividly going to the Nashville Fair Grounds with my parents to visit the flea market, and our family being approached by campaign volunteers for then-Mayoral candidate Phil Bredesen, a centrist Republican who never won on a Republican ticket until he switched parties years later. He would later become one of Nashville’s most popular Democratic mayors and one of Tennessee’s most popular Democratic governors; on a personal note, he played an instrumental role in bringing my beloved NHL expansion franchise Nashville Predators to the Music City in the late 1990s, and he and former First Lady Andrea Conte were vocal critics of Research in Motion CEO Jim Balsillie’s sneaky, manipulative coup to buy the Predators and relocate them to Hamilton, Ontario in the summer of 2007.
But I digress.
At the fair, we were given and wore white stickers and pin-on buttons that had depicted blue bones with a circle and diagonal bar around and over them; Bredesen’s opponent in that race was a man named Bill Boner.
What all the GOP candidates are after, are so-called ‘delegates.’Elected officials that will broker the convention of either party this fall. Officials are parcelled by the amount of votes, the candidates receive in the primary.
During Michigan’s primary recently, for instance, there were 30 official delegates, state-wide. Two were ‘at-large’ candidates, which meant they could be assigned individually to any winning candidate. The other 28 were ‘proportional’ ones, alotted through 14 congressional districts. During the push for the nominations in Michigan last night, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum spent millions of dollars to influence the voting population; with TV ads, pamphlets, media, interviews, rallies, stickers, and much more. Michigan’s grand sum of politcal expenditure was near six million bucks.
Delegates are what really counts at the GOP convention. What looks to be happening, is that no clear winner will come out victorious. There’s a righteous number: 1444 delegates will win any nominee the victory-nod of the Republican National Committee. Nationwide, 2169 delegates are extended for contestation, until the RNC celebration in Tampa, Florida. From the RN Committee, an additional 117 delegates are added into the mix, ostensibly to keep debate lively and clear-up dead locks. So what appears, on first looks, to be a rather hot-headed and fast paced Republican rocket-launch to the RNC, is more like a jammed or misfired pistol in a duel.
Momentarily, Mitt Romney is in the lead, with 167 total delegates. Rick Santorum is second with roughly half, at 87. Newt Gingrich won only one state and has 32, while Ron Paul has 19 carefully collected delegations. The count may reshuffle at any moment, since constitutionalism and populism together, ring alarm-bells in states such as Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.
Wikipedia will blackout on Wednesday to protest two controversial Internet piracy bills, founder Jimmy Wales announced on Twitter Monday.
“Student warning! Do your homework early. Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday,” Wales wrote.
The protest will apply only to the English version of the popular online encyclopedia and will last for 24 hours.
Wales estimated that the English Wikipedia receives about 25 million visits per day, but he said the site could receive even more visits during the blackout due to the publicity.
There you have it, folks. Now this protest actually will be effective. 25 million will see that Wikipedia is against SOPA, leading to 25 million who will also be against it. And that’s just a conservative estimate.
The Senate will vote on SOPA’s counterpart January 24. We need to let everyone in the Senate know how bad this bill is—and hopefully, with the weight of Wikipedia behind us, maybe they’ll sit up and take notice.
There are very few petitions that I think will actually do something. Usually, I simply don’t bother. Nobody reads them or listens to them. However, there are exceptions, and here is one of them.
Apparently, Wikipedia is considering going dark to protest the censorship monstrosities “Stop Online Piracy Act” and “Protect IP Act,” and DemandProgress has a petition website up where you can pledge to donate $1 if they do go dark, or simply sign a nonmonetary petition to do so. I have pledged the money, not only because I oppose SOPA, but also because I have used Wikipedia a lot over the years, and I would like to give back to that community.
We’ve been over why SOPA is a bad idea here many times. There are sincere technological problems with SOPA, along with political issues. It’s a cure that’s worse than the disease. The backers behind SOPA are pirates themselves. Wikipedia would also not be alone in this, if it does go through. All of these are reasons why we need to do something about this bill, and do it now.
It’s not often that the media give Ronald Paul (R-Texas) a chance to speak.
There were reasons, why I didn’t watch the second GOP debate on Sunday.
Ronald Paul cleared the field on Saturday, he was the last man standing! After some initial tampering with his microphone, and pitch, he opened his arguments by restating his offensive tactic on “big-government Republican”, Rick Santorum. The only two real Tea Party contenders: Ronald Paul and Rick Perry, were left to languish on stage for the better part of 15 minutes, until allowed to join the discussion.
Mitt Romney was busy arguing how many jobs were, lost and gained under his CEO leisure. Newt Gingrich quoted the New York Times. Paul smoothly stepped back, blocked Santorum’s smugness by raining down: “he voted to raise the debt [ceiling] five times.”
Rick Santorum let loose liberal counter-attacks, naming sources “leftist”, and calling Mitt Romney class-consciously dangerous. In so doing, Santorum looked less Republican, more like a blue-state lawyer from the Northeast. Neither Paul nor Romney delved deep into his attacks, mostly picking up on their own strengths. Santorum was a negative force, not a positivist in this debate, Saturday night January 7th.
When Ronald Paul raised his hand for a response, the slick Stephonopilis retorted back to Paul (his senior by quite a few years): “we’ll stay with the subject, don’t you worry.” Brilliance in public debate rarely comes to the fore, especially on television. Paul showed it by counterstriking first Santorum, then defecting the attack from Rick Perry, onto Santorum and Newt Gingrich.
Jon Huntsman decided not to attack. Mitt Romney largely left the debate unscathed. Only because Ronald Paul made no concerted effort to attack the former Massachusetts blue-state Governor. It was easy for Paul to slice-down the cryptic schizophrenity of Gingrich, whose attempted slur of Ronald Paul on “style”, many see as hearnestness.
Last Wednesday I had the pleasure of once again visiting the Cato Institute in downtown DC for a book forum. (As a bibliophile, I’m constitutionally required to go. “Constitutionally,” as in, my body would fall apart if I didn’t.) I was particularly interested in last week’s offering, Professor Tim Groseclose’s Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind, because it’s something that everyone talks about but no one really believes. What Dr. Groseclose was claiming to do—and really, after reading this book, I don’t think it’s really a claim, it’s proven—was to document this in numbers and math, and thus make it truly science.
I’m not going to repeat the video above; they go quite in depth into what the book is about, and I do encourage you to watch, although it is about an hour long, so get popcorn if you do. (Fortunately, I do not believe there is any threat of seeing my ugly mug, so don’t worry about spit takes on your monitor.) Instead, I’ll provide a few highlights and commentary.
The core idea of the book is, obviously, that there is liberal bias in the media, and moreover, that it actually affects our perceptions and our voting. He does say, though, that this is not from false statements, but bias is actually the choice of topics to cover. Someone with a conservative bias would naturally look to find stories that proved that free market capitalism is the best way to ensure prosperity for all, while someone with a liberal bias would naturally look for a story that showed a corporation ripping off people or poor people not being able to help themselves. No lies, just different focus areas.
I’ve been following the progress of the “Stop Online Piracy Act,” or SOPA, also known as the “Internet Blacklist Bill,” for some time now, but haven’t posted about it because I feel that other websites cover it far better. Recently, though, I’ve seen some news I feel I have to share to United Liberty readers, because it comes straight from the “Holy Crap I Never Saw THAT Coming!” department.
For a good summary of why SOPA is a bad law, you should read the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s explanation. You can also grab the actual text of the law here. In effect, the bill would criminalize “casual piracy”—linking a music video on Facebook would land you some stiff penalties, as well as penalties for Facebook. Goodbye Youtube, as well. For that reason, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Youtube, Google, and a host of other Internet giants have come out against the bill, in addition to groups like EFF, DemandProgress, CreativeCommons, and Mozilla.
It is with heavy hearts that United Liberty mourns the passing of political economist William Niskanen, former Chairman Emeritus of the Cato Institute in Washington, DC, and former acting chairman of President Ronald Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisors. He suffered a massive stroke at his home on Tuesday evening, October 25, 2011 while still recovering from heart surgery in September, and passed away yesterday in a Washington hospital.
“He was a giant of Public Choice,” said American University professor Laura Langbein, a long-time friend of Niskanen’s, in an email. “Bill spent a lot of his life pointing out, in an article published in the Journal of Law and Economics in 1975 and in later books, that, contrary to what he first wrote in [Bureaucracy and Representative Government (1971)], bureaus DON’T maximize budgets. Rather, bureaucrats (individual government employees) maximize a mix of output and slack. This is a far more generalizable model. Bill had a great mind, and he was a nice guy. He also had a fine sense of humor.”
Many other economists also lauded Niskanen’s commitment to scholarship, as noted by Cato:
Niskanen was granted a Professional Achievement Award by the University of Chicago Alumni Association in 2005, sharing the stage with fellow recipient David Broder, the late longtime Washington Post columnist, and philosopher Richard Rorty. The announcement of the award described Niskanen as “the embodiment of what the University of Chicago stands for in terms of scholarship, professionalism, integrity, and dedication.”