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Daily Archives: April 12, 2010

Ezra Klein discovers Democratic cynicism

You may recall my post yesterday when I pointed to the probability of some sort of action on immigration after the Easter break because the Hispanic vote isn’t very enthusiastic about Democrats right now and November is approaching?

Well, Ezra Klein has picked up on the vibe too:

I’d say it’s pretty unlikely that comprehensive immigration reform happens this year. But then, who cares what I think? Harry Reid is in charge of the Senate, and he says he’s got 56 votes, and it’s gonna happen. “We need a handful of Republicans,” he told an immigration rally in Las Vegas.

The cynical take, of course, is that Reid is running for reelection in a state that’s about 20 percent Hispanic. But that suggests an important change in the political reality: The cynical thing for Democrats to do in an election year might be to pursue immigration reform. And that would make immigration reform a much likelier addition to the agenda.

Now granted it doesn’t take the equivalent of a political rocket scientist to figure this out.  Congressional Democrats are wildly unpopular, November midterms threaten to wash them out of the Congress like you might wash all the pollen on your driveway down the sewer and they’re casting about anywhere for a way to re-energize their base.  And, if you look at the last election, Hispanics went for Obama with 67% of their vote.

Reid claims he has 56 votes.  He also says he needs “a handful of Republicans”.  Obviously Democratic Senators up for re-election in ’10 are going like the idea.  But needing that handful of Republicans means at the moment he probably hasn’t got any – well, maybe Lindsey Graham.

And note who Reid is talking too – certainly not Tea Parties, but instead “immigration rallies”.  The guy who draws 100 people to a campaign event in his hometown is out addressing immigration rallies – yeah, back to that “political rocket scientist” crack.

So it appears the argument I was making yesterday and Klein is making today, seems to have some legs.  I gave you part of the game plan yesterday as to why Democrats want to introduce it now and Klein repeats it.  But, speaking of cynical, he lays out some other reasons as well:

If Democrats actually pursue immigration reform, their [Hispanics -ed.] participation becomes likelier. And if Republicans — or tea partyers, or conservative talk radio — overreact to the prospect of immigration reform, their participation becomes virtually assured. That last bit also suggests another reason Democrats might want to see immigration on the agenda: It’s got the possibility to tear the Republican coalition apart. Beltway Republicans are very, very concerned about losing Latino voters, and so they try to be careful on the issue.

Or – the GOP base will be pushing one way and the assumed spineless Beltway Republicans will be tiptoeing another while the very outcry drives Hispanics to the polls.

I can’t refute or dispute Klein’s prediction at this point – we’ve seen similar things happen in the past.  But I do agree completely that it is a cynical plan – but then that’s politics isn’t it.  As many are fond of saying, “it ain’t bean bag” and, as is often the case – getting re-elected, by whatever means necessary (to include “let’s pretend we’re doing something on immigration and the GOP are the bad guys”) usually takes priority over any real concerns about what is good for the people of the country.


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Out with the old, in with the new

Print and broadcast journalists aren’t at all happy with the direction of or future of journalism according to a Pew poll. The decline stated with the internet boom and hasn’t let up.  Most print and broadcast editors think that without a new revenue stream (traditional advertising isn’t what it used to be by any stretch of the imagination) their employer will go out of business 5 to 10 years.

Almost all of them blame the internet for their problems. For instance:

In an era of shrinking newsrooms, 58 percent of the editors said journalism was headed in the wrong direction. Sixty-two percent said the Internet had changed the profession’s fundamental values, with most citing a loosening of standards.

Someone – anyone – how did the internet make them “loosen” their “standards”?  Note the word used is “make”, not “cause”.  “Make” has a completely different connotation than does “cause”.  And yes, I’m in the weeds on semantics, but it is important.  If, in fact, those 62% actually said (or believe) “the internet made me do it”, then you have found the reason “journalism”, as we know it today, is in decline and it has nothing to do with the internet whatsoever.

Remember the “three layers of editors” comment years ago that was thrown out there as a reason journalists were better than the pajama-clad blogging hoards?  Remember how that’s been thrown back in the face of the MSM countless times since?

The editors complain about being unable to find a way to charge their on-line readers as one of their problems.  Of course, the unknown there is whether present on-line readers deem their free stuff worth paying for.  My sneaking suspicion is they know they don’t.  There’s nothing particularly unique to be had on their site (exceptions being newspapers focused on local communities) that can’t be found for free elsewhere.  That’s the real dilemma – what can they offer that is unique and sought after in terms of information, that the public is willing to pay to access?

To this day, most have said “not much”.

So what are we seeing here?  We’re seeing the buggy whip industry go out of business.  We’re seeing the creative destruction for which capitalism is so famous.  News is beginning to be delivered in a way that has fundamentally changed that industry.  What used to be the exclusive realm of the news providers (with source subscriptions which were prohibitively high for most independent subscribers) has now found its way into the realm of news consumers.   I can read AP just as well on the net as I can in a newspaper.  There is no reason for me to subscribe to the paper to read what I can on-line.  So the local paper is no longer my first choice to read the news AP provides.

This is no different than what cable news has done to network news.  For decades, TV news was delivered by appointment.  That is, you had to make time at 6pm or so to sit down and watch was presented or you’d miss out on what was happening in the news.   Along comes CNN and appointment news is dead.  Now, when you’re ready, you can sit down and catch up on what’s happening in the world.  The appointment TV business model was essentially dead (although it still doesn’t seem to know that, even as its rating numbers seem to confirm it).

But even with cable TV, we were only apprised of what they deemed newsworthy.  If they chose not to run it, it wasn’t news.  Along comes the internet, and that breaks up their journalistic monopoly of steering the news agenda.  Now, as we’ve seen a number of times, stories the media buries are surfaced and given visibility that eventually forces those known as the MSM to pay attention and cover them.  That screws with both their agenda and their credibility.

As for opinion journalism, the net has also broken that monopoly up as well.  There are literally millions of opinions available now with the democratization of publishing the net offers through blogs.  And as many have found, you don’t have to be a journo grad to write well or have a worthwhile opinion.  So now, instead of having a limited number of opinions available, we have more than we could ever read.

So while the old media laments its decline and most likely it’s eventual demise, let’s remember there’s a new media out there in the midst of founding and forming itself.  Some smart person will eventually put the business model together that works and makes a good profit.  This isn’t about the news media going silent, that will never happen.  It is about the break up of virtual monopolies of news delivery because of technology.  When the old media enjoyed those semi-monopolies (they were really very high bars to entry into the market) what they delivered was worth the money they charged.  Now, because the same thing can be found for free thanks to technology, their product doesn’t have the same worth and is losing its subscriber base.

I’m reminded of the Gutenberg bible.  Ironically it’s a legend in the printing industry because through the invention of the printing press, which enabled the printing of hundreds of copies of the bible, the monopoly of the clergy as the sole possessors of “the word” was broken – as was their power as the sole interpreters.

This is exactly the same process in action now.  The MSM needs to realize that the “old days” are dead and are never coming back – ever.  And they had better realize that instead of  thinking of themselves as a news broadcast or a newspaper, they need to understand that they have to be in the business of providing news that is unique and valuable (valuable enough consumers will pay for it) or they’ll go the way of those buggy whip companies I mentioned earlier.


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Our politically correct Orwellian national security

First they eliminated the fight against global terrorism and reduced it to collection of “overseas contingency operations”. Terror events are now called “man-made disasters”. We’re no longer confronted with “Islamic extremism”. How do I know this? Because it has been dropped from use as acceptably describing our enemy in the National Security Strategy . So has “jihad” and “Islamic extremism”. We now, apparently, confront “violent extremism”. I would appear that it can just pop up anywhere without any real basis for its being.

Mona Charen reports that the decision has been made to no longer describe rogue nation North Korea as a rogue nation. I have to tell you, if NoKo is a “rogue” nation, there are no rogue nations. NoKo has been a rogue nation since it became a nation. It is a tyrannical kleptocracy – a pirate state – but not “rogue”. Apparently that’s a bit to harsh. And we certainly don’t want to refer to Iran as that.

God forbid we actually call our enemies of the world that which they really are.  That might put them on notice that we’re on to their game and aren’t happy about it.

And there’s really no level to which this foolishness isn’t being extended. Heck even the GITMO inmates apparently need a name change:

The detainees in Guantanamo, too, have had a name change. They will no longer be called “enemy combatants.” The new name hasn’t been chosen yet, though cynics might just use “former clients of Obama Justice Department lawyers.”

Yes political correctness gone mad, but look where it is being applied. At the executive level of the government of the United States. Euphemisms that ignore the specific problem or nation in favor of non-discriminatory (everyone can be a latent “violent extremist” so we don’t have to specifically single out those who are) word salad.

Bottom line: We are fighting Islamic fundamentalist extremists who have had a jihad against us for decades. They are stateless terrorists. They get some of their support from rogue nations.

Why in the world is it so hard to say it like that? Or better yet, what’s the utility in ignoring it?  Why are the specifics of the truth deemed too offensive or antagonistic to state? And what purpose is served by ignoring those specifics in favor of broad categorical words that do very little to define the problem we actually confront?

And, finally, if those words are out of bounds, how does one put a specific strategy together to confront the real security problem facing us vs. some nebulous and useless piece of bureaucratic crap with this “approved” language which ends up doing a one-over-the-world hand-wave and calling itself our “strategy”?


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