Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Posts Tagged ‘President Obama’

Dissecting media bias: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and the anatomy of propaganda as news reporting

Posted by sanityinjection on December 3, 2015

I call your attention to this superb piece by Emmy-winning investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson. In it, she uses the recent controversy over Donald Trump’s remarks about Muslims in New Jersey celebrating on 9/11 to illustrate the fundamental double standard the mainstream media applies to politicians they don’t want the American people to vote for.

It’s hardly a secret that many mainstream media reporters, editors, and talking heads abhor Mr. Trump and are appalled by the possibility of him becoming President. (I happen to agree with them.) Ms. Attkisson uses a technique she calls “the Substitution Game”, giving specific examples of how the media’s behavior would be very different if the person in question were someone they approve of such as President Obama or Hillary Clinton. She also points out how convenient it is for Ms. Clinton’s campaign to have the national media painting her potential election opponent as dishonest even as polls suggest that perecptions of her own dishonesty are one of her biggest problems with voters. Attkisson isn’t necessarily suggesting a well-orchestrated media conspiracy, but rather a culture of bias that permeates the major television news networks and newspapers.

If this bias were to be stated in its most naked form, it would be something like this: Dishonesty, in the form of intentional misrepresentation of facts or outright lying, is OK as long as it is in service of good liberal causes, but it’s abhorrent whenever it’s done by someone we don’t like or someone who disagrees with us. This fits in with a more general theme that the end justifies the means: that it is OK for the “good guys” (which in the view of so many influential media members means the liberals) are justified in lying, cheating, stealing, or doing whatever is necessary to advance their noble aims, but the “bad guys” – Second Amendments rights advocates, climate change skeptics, etc. –  are abhorrent if they use the same methods, because they have the wrong aims.

Attkisson is not saying that the media should not challenge counterfactual claims by public figures. Rather, she is questioning why they only seem to beat the drum about such claims when those figures are on one side of the political spectrum. When a huge segment of the broadcast and print media spends a lot of time making a huge deal out of controversial statements by Mr. Trump while deliberately downplaying and even ignoring those made by Obama and Clinton, even a relatively savvy news consumer who is not paying close attention can, over time, absorb that implication of what is important. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how propaganda works.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Charleston church shooting as gun control propaganda

Posted by sanityinjection on June 19, 2015

Sadly, President Obama lost no time in using the tragedy of the Emanuel AME church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina as propaganda for a renewed assault on the Second Amendment.

The shooter – presumably Dylan Roof – used a gun to murder his victims. According to the President, that means it should be harder for people to get guns. He believes that only hunters and sportsmen should have guns. Oh, and the the federal Department of Education, of course.

Perhaps the President would have been happier if Roof had simply set the church on fire, as white supremacists have done in the past to black churches? Is that form of mass murder healthier for our society? Or shall we place restrictions on purchasing lighters and matches?

The truth is that people who are determined to commit acts of mass murder will do so in any way they can. If they can’t use a gun, they will build a bomb (like the Tsarnaev brothers),  or release poison like the Aum cult did on the Japanese subway. Placing excessive restrictions on one type of weapon won’t stop that. It will, however, defeat the intent of the Founding Fathers to protect individual liberty by ensuring that Americans always have the means to defend their homes and their property from a tyrannical government, and from their fellow citizens when the government cannot or will not help them.

In 1933, a Dutch communist named Marinus van der Lubbe set fire to the parliament, or Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany. The German government – led by Chancellor Adolf Hitler – immediately seized on this act of terrorism to suspend civil liberties and implement mass arrests of their political opponents, including legislators. That left no one to oppose the Nazis when they ended democracy and freedom in Germany by a democratic vote of what was left of the Reichstag. Since then, “Reichstag fire” has become a metaphor for any tragic incident which is then used to cast blame on one’s political opponents.

President Obama is not Adolf Hitler. But he is actively seeking to do what Hitler did – seize upon an act of terrorism in order to assault the civil liberty of law-abiding American citizens – the right to keep and bear arms.

Posted in Domestic News, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

On this issue, I agree with President Obama!

Posted by sanityinjection on March 17, 2010

I may not agree with the President on a lot of things, but we are in substantial agreement when it comes to March Madness:

President Obama’s Bracket (Courtesy ESPN.com)

The President and I both predict Kansas will defeat Kentucky in the championship game. Our Final Four are the same except that he has Villanova in the South where I have Baylor. I view this as a good sign since President Obama correctly predicted last year’s champion.

Few experts appear to be picking #1 seeded Duke to reach the Final Four despite what is viewed as an easy draw. That reflects a record gained at the expense of an unusually weak ACC this year and a failure to notch many impressive out-of-conference wins.

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Matt Welch: Obama is a liar

Posted by sanityinjection on March 10, 2010

Matt Welch, the editor of libertarian magazine Reason, has a scathing piece up in which he details how President Obama has systematically broken his promises and repeatedly lied to the American people in his attempts to get health care reform passed.

Of course Welch, although non-partisan, loathes the idea of a government expansion tied to health care, so you might expect him to be unhappy with the President. But Welch touches on behaviors that transcend any one issue and speak to a larger model of public governance that is troubling. His criticisms are harsh, but they are also accurate.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Televised bipartisan health care meeting a good step

Posted by sanityinjection on February 8, 2010

As much as I have criticized President Obama and his Administration in this space, I have tried hard to give them credit when they do something right. The White House plans to hold a televised discussion on health care reform with Congressional leaders from both parties. This is a step toward fulfilling President Obama’s previous promises that health care legislation would be discussed publicly and crafted in a bipartisan fashion.

Of course, make no mistake about it, the Administration is only doing this because its hand has been forced – by disagreements within the Democratic caucus and by the loss of a Senate supermajority with Senator Brown’s election. Until recently, the Administration was only too happy to ignore its promises and try to ram through a partisan bill. Now that they can’t, it’s a new ball game, and Democrats are rightly worried that voters will punish them if they fail to keep their promises. As the saying goes, better late than never.

It’s possible that nothing may come of this conference. President Obama remains resistant to starting over from scratch on health care, and it seems unlikely that Republican opposition can be mollified by adding a couple of their ideas to a bill that they detest. Still, an open and inclusive process is an improvement in itself. Most of the biggest legislative achievements over the past hundred years or so came about with bipartisan support. Working with members of both parties tends to exclude extremist ideas and focus on those that can attract more broad support.  It also creates a give and take process – you get one of your ideas in the bill, we get one of ours. This can be time consuming, but as we have seen, one party rule is not necessarily fast or efficient either.

It’s a sad comment on the state of affairs in Washington when the occasion of Democrats and Republicans – and the Administration – actually talking to each other seems like progress. But progress it is, and let’s hope to see more of it.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Obama Administration after one year

Posted by sanityinjection on January 22, 2010

It’s a truism that political columnists and bloggers all tend to write about the same things at the same time. So it is no surprise that with the Obama Administration passing the first anniversary of its inception this week, the op-ed-osphere is full of articles assessing the performance of the President and his team after a full year in office.

Rather than add to the babble, I commend to you Mort Zuckerman’s column in US News and World Report, “The Incredible Deflation of Barack Obama.”  Zuckerman’s writing is notable not for the originality of what he has to say, but for his ability to summarize and present a good comprehensive picture of where the Administration is at and what it has – or has not – accomplished. It’s also extremely well written. His central point is that the President has not only failed to achieve progress in any significant area, but that this failure is heightened by the extremely high expectations he encouraged the American people to have for his Presidency.

Here’s a teaser:

“[Obama’s] gift for inspiration aroused expectations, stoked to unprecedented heights by his own staff, that he would solve the climate crisis on Monday, the jobs crisis on Tuesday, the financial crisis on Wednesday, the education crisis on Thursday, Afghanistan on Friday, Iraq on Saturday, and rest on Sunday.”

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Democrat Senators stand up for fiscal responsibility

Posted by sanityinjection on December 15, 2009

As much as I have castigated Democrat legislators in this space for irresponsibility, hypocrisy, and general stupidity, I take pride and joy in the occasions when I am able to praise individual Democrats for Doing The Right Thing.

In that spirit I would like to commend Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN), who yesterday called on President Obama to veto  the recently passed $450 billion spending bill:

“…Congress must be restrained. We have to take the credit card away from the politicians who just want to spend, spend, spend. More than $1 trillion of spending was just way too much. This may not win me a popularity contest in the halls of Congress, but it’s the right thing to do.”

I applaud Senator Bayh’s remarks.  Cynically, I might note that Bayh comes from a conservative state where this stance is more likely to help than hurt him, and that he may be eyeing a run for president in 2012 if Obama falters, giving him incentive to move toward the center politically. But Bayh isn’t known for being a liberal. I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt for now that he’s doing what he thinks is right.

Also voting against the spending bill were Democrat Senators Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, both of whom I have mentioned previously as examples of Democrat legislators who aren’t a waste of space.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Let Rio have the Olympics

Posted by sanityinjection on October 1, 2009

As you surely know if you have been watching Obamavision, I mean television lately, President Obama is traveling to Copenhagen, Denmark to lobby on behalf of his home city of Chicago’s bid to host the 2016 Olympics. Chicago is one of four finalists for the games along with Madrid, Tokyo, and Rio de Janeiro.

The President has received some criticism (especially from the Right, natch) as to whether this is appropriate or represents the best possible use of his time, as both foreign and domestic priorities loom large. The best line was from conservative activist Grover Norquist, who quipped that he has no problem with Obama going to Denmark, but he’s a little concerned that he might try to come back 🙂

Putting this question aside, I’d like to make my own pitch to the International Olympic Committee, should any of its solons happen to be reading. I urge the IOC to support not Chicago’s bid, but Rio’s. Here’s why:

  • Spread the love: Both the US and Japan have hosted multiple Olympic Games. Spain had the Summer Games in Barcelona as recently as 1992. No Olympics have ever been held in South America.
  • Local support: Recent polls suggest that about half of Chicagoland residents would prefer not to have the Olympics in their city. Brazilians on the other hand are very excited about the prestige and attention the Olympics would bring to their city and country.
  • Atmosphere: Rio is internationally known as a friendly city and a place to party. Chicago, while a great city, isn’t known for either. Plus Rio has better beaches.
  • Economics: Chicago is a city with a healthy economic base. Hosting the Olympics will probably cost as much in disruptions and preparations as it will gain in business. Rio, while prosperous in some ways, has areas of shocking poverty and is far more in need of the boost the Olympics would bring, as is Brazil generally. Furthermore, while athletes from Europe, East Asia and North America can afford to attend the Olympics wherever they are held, there may well be athletes in South America for whom having the games on their continent will make the difference as to whether they can compete at all.

It’s not that I am against having the Olympics in the US, or in Chicago if the city truly wants them. However, it’s a virtual guarantee that there will be another Olympic in the US within the next few decades. Brazil has no such guarantees, and the money Rio has spent to prepare its pitch for the games is far dearer to them than to the multiple US cities that apply every single year.

As an American, I would vigorously advocate for something that was important for the future of my country. This is an athletic contest. Fun, yes. Admirable, yes. Critical, no. Let somebody else have a turn.

Posted in Current Events | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Defense bill still has too much pork

Posted by sanityinjection on September 29, 2009

President Obama has cast himself as a budget reformer opposed to handouts for special interests and lobbyists. The reality has been somewhat different.

The pending defense budget bill offers a good example. Last month the President told the VFW convention, “If Congress sends me a defense bill loaded with a bunch of pork, I will veto it.” And indeed, the Administration did press successfully to have funding removed for extra F-22s and Presidential helicopters that the Pentagon doesn’t want.

However, the bill still includes all kinds of stuff the Pentagon didn’t ask for, according to Jeffrey Smith of the Washington Post. Now the White House is praising it with faint damns and it seems likely Obama will sign the bill because it includes the funding needed for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But consider the price tag: $1.7 billion for a destroyer DoD didn’t request. $2.5 billion for 10 C-17 cargo planes that aren’t needed. $3 billion shifted from operations and maintenance to projects the Pentagon did not request. All of this of course comes from legislators trying to steer money and jobs to companies and projects in their states. Funny, though, last time I checked the US military was more than just a government jobs program. Some of these Senators and Congressmen would happily fund military trinoculars with three eyeholes or fatigues with three sleeves and three pant legs; they could care less about giving our military the right tools to do its job. And it’s not a partisan issue: Republicans and Democrats are both guilty.

 Where is the threatened Presidential veto over this waste?

I am a long-time, vocal supporter of defense spending. I believe a strong national defense should be our number one budget priority, and I don’t mind running up the deficit if necessary when wars need to be fought. But those of us who advocate for defense spending have a duty to vigorously oppose waste as well. I would much rather see legislators turning down Pentagon requests on the grounds that they are too expensive than forcing our military to buy things they do not need!

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Best foreign policy analogy of the year!

Posted by sanityinjection on September 24, 2009

And the award goes to…Greg Sheridan of The Australian, who compares President Obama on the world stage to Richie Cunningham from the 70s TV show “Happy Days” –  liked by everyone, feared by no one:

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2009/09/24/waiting_for_a_fonzie_moment_in_obamas_richie_cunningham_presidency.html

Sheridan points out that when trouble reared its head, Richie always had to turn to his tougher friend the Fonz for help. Problem is, Obama doesn’t have a Fonz. He needs to *be* the Fonz.

Posted in Foreign Affairs | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »