A link at Insty pointed me to an excellent panel discussion on the illegality of Hillary Clinton’s email shenanigans.
“This is just staggering in the brazenness of evasion of the legal duty by everybody at the State Department, and especially the secretary,” [diGenova] said. “It is simply staggering; it’s unbelievable.”
No, it’s not unbelievable. Many of us have followed politics since the media shamelessly chose to take sides with Bill Clinton during his scandals. We know the dynamic:
- A scandal or obvious lie comes out: Bill Clinton’s perjury, Hillary’s Whitewater papers disappearance, Juanita Broderick’s rape accusations, Vince Foster’s suicide, Obama’s terrorist mentor, Fast and Furious gun-running, Harry Reid’s amazingly profitable “investments”, the IRS targets Tea Party groups, Benghazi, “if you like your doctor, you can keep him”, etc. ad nauseum.
- If the media can get away with it, they completely ignore the story.
If not, they do cursory, biased, and distorted reporting on it, minimizing and excusing the perp(s).
- If someone (e.g. Sharyl Adkisson at CBS or Lisa Myers at NBC) steps outside the bubble and actually finds something to report on, her superiors in the media spike the story, and ruin the reporter’s career if they can.
- After a few days or weeks, any attempt to raise the scandal is declared old news.
- During a Democratic administration, any illegality is studiously ignored. A faux investigation at DoJ drags out things for a few months, and then ponderously declares that there’s nothing further to investigate and no charges of consequence are ever filed. In egregious cases, someone might lose a job, but not their pension, and certainly not their liberty.
- Any attempt by a later Republican politician to re-open the investigation and really try to get to the bottom of it is declared by Democrats and the media to be “off limits”, “vindictive”, “mean spirited”, “a partisan witchhunt”, and other semantically meaningless but highly negative descriptions.
- The Republican politician is then punished by the media through a series of unflattering and often downright distorted feature and opinion pieces. This attempt to marginalize that politician forever often works, at least to the extent of shutting them up and cowing them for their rest of their term.
The choices for those wanting to punish illegal and intolerable behavior such as Hillary’s email project come down to:
1. Make some noise but don’t really do anything (heads, they win)
2. Once they have the power, push for legal punishment, be pilloried in the media for it, and probably never get enough allies to do anything because no one else wants to be pilloried (tales, you lose)
The Democrats have learned this lesson well. They can treat the media the way a perverted stepfather abuses his stepdaughter, and the media will never offer more than token protest. The media is determined to further their own leftist vision of justice and right, and that means backing the Democrats no matter how illegal or disgusting their behavior might be.
Hillary implemented her email plans knowing that she would almost certainly never pay a price for it. She knew the press and the rest of the Democrats had her back.
Our political system has devolved to the point that major players on the left know they can break the law in any number of ways, smear opponents, cover up past misdeeds, and lie outright as needed in every news conference. They can indeed “brazenly flout” laws and ethics. I don’t know what you call this system, but it’s certainly not the one they described to me in 8th grade civics class.
I did a couple of posts back in 2012 and 2013 about newspaper print circulation at major newspapers, compared to 2004. Seeing last year’s circulation figures made me curious about how things stand at the ten year mark. Here are the results:
|Newspaper||2004||2012||2014||+/- %, 10 years||+/- %, 2 years|
|NY Daily News||712671||389270||313178||-56.06%||-19.55%|
|Dallas Morning News||528379||345342||172690||-67.32%||-49.99%|
|Tampa Bay Times||348502||299393||217597||-37.56%||-27.32%|
As I explained in the previous posts, I focus on print circulation because, for major newspapers, that’s where most of the money comes from. Newspapers do get money from the web, of course. However, most of them have minimal web-only subscription revenue, and their advertising dollars on the web are only about 15% of their print advertising revenues and growing slowly according to Pew Research. That same report shows that overall advertising revenue (including online advertising) is down just a bit over 50% for the 2004-2013 period.
I ignore the web “circulation” numbers touted by newspapers, because they’re meaningless without a complete explanation of how they were measured. Unique visitors for the year? Well, people have multiple computers, and they clear their browser cache sometimes. Even when an explanation is given, those numbers can be gamed in various ways. The money is what counts, and newspapers have struggled to increase the amount of money they get from web publication over the last six or eight years. There’s no indication they’ll solve that problem.
Doing a bit of math on the above numbers, the drop in the aggregate circulation of these newspapers combined from 2004 to 2014 is just over 50%. Aggregate drop from 2012 to 2014 is about 20%.
Many dissipative phenomena in the real world have an approximate exponential decay shape to the graph. That is, the newspapers might lose, say, 10% of their readers each year, but that 10% is a lower number each year, so the decrease flattens out in actual counted numbers. That’s my best guess for the near term future of circulation for major newspapers.
However, dropping revenue also affects quality. This hit my hometown newspaper, the Tennessean, at least ten years ago. You could see it exposed unambiguously in grammatical and printing errors. I also think the quality of the articles dropped to the point that I wasn’t willing to invest time in reading them, but that’s a more subjective judgment. Except for local events such a major water outage last year, I don’t pay any attention to the Tennessean.
When that happens, the days of a newspaper are numbered. They enter a vicious cycle in which more people drop them because of their marginal or poor quality, and that erodes revenues further, which erodes quality further, and so on.
There’s no obvious way to reverse any of that, no matter how innovative they get on the web. Advertising revenue for want ads isn’t coming back; Craigslist and its smaller relatives have captured it and I see no way for newspapers to get it back. Not even middle aged people get newspapers for movie ads anymore because they can find anything they want to know on their phones immediately. Retail advertising continues to suffer as retail closures start to impact suburbia, and dead malls continue to pile up.
So, with that dead horse beaten to a pulp, what are the likely effects outside the newsrooms?
Right now, the New York Times and the Washington Post continue to have an outsize influence on political thinking. I don’t think either one is going to vanish any time soon. The left will no doubt find the Times so indispensible that it will find the money somewhere to keep the lefty editorial outrage and the slanted reporting pouring out of Times Square and setting the agenda for TV news reporting. The Post, under Bezos, seems to be becoming marginally more balanced, which is a good thing.
The Wall Street Journal maintains a decent hold on center-right readers, though it’s a lot more center than right these days. As the only major newspaper I read with any frequency (couple of times a month) I see the quality dropping. But for now it seems financially stable.
Almost all the others, though, are in trouble. I have to wonder if the recent successes of the GOP at the state and local levels have not been facilitated to some extent by the lack of effective opposition from the typically-liberal local newspapers. The fewer people who read them, the less able they are to torpedo Republicans and shield Democrats.
Naturally, you don’t see a lot of reporting on all this in the media. They don’t have much interest in exposing their own weakness. The reporting they do typically touts “total circulation”, which means they get to include their gamed web numbers. USA Today also started an insert program with a lot of local newspapers, so they like to pretend that this is equivalent to regular circulation. It’s rare for any of them to make their print declines front and center.
The main lesson here is that limited government types can afford to stand up to these biased media types more each year. I think that’s more true at the local level right now, but I also think there are a lot of people out there hungry to see the left-liberal twits of the major national newspapers put in their place as well.
*** Update 5 April 2015 ***
It occurs to me that, if the decay in readership of major newspapers is really a bit similar to exponential decay processes such as radioactive decay, then ten years would be the half life of newspaper readership. We might then use that half-life as a rough-and-ready estimator for future declines. It would suggest that by 2024, the newspapers will have lost around 50% of the remaining readers, and be at 25% of their 2004 readership.
Naturally, there are too many real-world factors to put much confidence in such an estimate, mainly because of the “death spiral” end game for such businesses. But it’s still an interesting first cut way to think about it, and it might help us detect the death spiral start point.
Over at Ace of Spaces, Ace writes:
I have long argued against a third-party split and the Nightmare Option of simply conceding the country to the liberals for 20 disastrous years.
Lots of us passed that point years or even decades ago. We’ve been called all sorts of names. We’re told we’re immature and unreasonable because we don’t support people who are much closer allies to their Democratic colleagues than they will ever be to those of us who believe in limited government.
Every election cycle we get inundated with all the tactical reasons that we simply have to support whatever stuffed-shirt, big-government-friendly, Democrat-lite candidate who made it through a nomination process mostly controlled by moneyed corporate interests, using their campaign contributions and media influence.
The battle cry of the GOP loyalists is “But the Democrats are Worse (TM)”. I’ve been through this before, so no need to rehash why I think that battle cry is worse than useless.
The main thing I would ask the GOP loyalists at this point is this: exactly what would cause you to give up on the GOP?
Suppose the GOP does win the White House and keeps Congress in 2016. What do you expect from them? Write it down. Decide on the minimum you’re willing to accept to continue supporting this party that has screwed you nine ways from Sunday for two decades at least.
Ace has reached his breaking point. He’s tired of the “Small government on the campaign trail, big government as soon as they get off the plane in DC” shell game.
For those GOP loyalists still left: If you have not reached that breaking point yet, what will cause you to? And could you at least admit that those of us who gave up on the GOP have a point?
“This isn’t about legalizing Latin American immigrants, it’s about legalizing Latin American-style government.”
That’s Dave Burge’s take (IowaHawk) on last night’s venture into banana-republic style government by Obama.
This isn't about legalizing Latin American immigrants, it's about legalizing Latin American-style government.
— David Burge (@iowahawkblog) November 21, 2014
Hard to beat that. So I just visualized it:
You just know he really, really wants to wear that suit, but Valerie Jarrett won’t let him
Please savor the irony of them sticking their heads in the sand to demonstrate their own ignorance, while thinking they are supporting the leftist climate agenda.
Next, Hillary Clinton apparently has worn out her welcome in Iowa, and there continue to be questions about her health.
Oh, sorry, wrong picture. Let me try again.
Yeah, this whole “Hillary is inevitable” thing probably has a sell-by date of about February 1, 2016. Or sooner.
Finally, a feminist sets a world record for demonstrating her own insecurities, all because of this shirt.
Included in this spectacular effort: envy of other women’s bodies, intelligence envy, sexual self-doubt, actual accomplishment envy, imaginary bad motives in her critics, pleasure at causing pain in others, and neediness for attention.
Most notable results of this harpy’s bloviating: 1. The guy in question cried during an apology, making this bint look like a bully and 2. the shirt is sold out. So trying to shame one guy into not wearing it causes a whole bunch of other guys to wear it just to piss off feminists. In other words, about the same results that leftist collectivism usually obtains.
Hope you’ve all had a great weekend.
*** Update 17 Nov 2014 10:30 AM ***
When it comes to the mid-terms, I’m about in the same place psychologically as McQ. But we might as well have some fun with this election. So I sat down and thought about what I expected from it, and came up with the following list:
- The Republicans will do well. They will likely retake the Senate and add at least a dozen seats to their House majority.
- Lots fewer people will care about that outcome than in previous cycles such as 1994 and 2010. More people are now cynical that the GOP doesn’t really intend to do anything of consequence.
The default strategy of the establishment GOP right now seems to be to give the Democrats a turn, knowing they’ll screw things up even worse. Then the voters will give the establishment GOP another chance, because they screw things up more slowly. Thus, the establishment GOP believes they are assured of another round of favoring their particular crony capitalists rather then the crony capitalists favored by the Democrats. Plus, they get the nice corner offices for a while.
- At least one Senate race will be close, and will go into protracted recounts. The Democrats will eventually win that race with questionable votes. (Bonus points on entertainment value if it’s Al Franken again.)
- The media will not report the questionable votes and tactics used to secure the Democratic victory in #3.
- The media will be surprised at the depth of loathing for Obama shown by the election. After all, everyone *they* know likes him.
- The media will only show a flicker of that surprise before they get back to covering for and pimping for Obama.
- At least one major media figure will use the phrase “temper tantrum” or a close synonym to describe what the voters did to cause the GOP gains.
- At least one incident at a polling place will involve blacks supposedly being denied the right to vote because of new voter ID laws. The media might have to manufacture, or at least exaggerate, that incident, but they’ll find one no matter how hard they have to search.
- There will be incidents of the opposite kind, like this one in 2008. Those will not be reported by the media, no matter how many there are or how egregious the violation of laws happens to be.
- November and December will see dozens of media stories on how the “ground game” failed for the Democrats. Some of those stories will infer that the Democrats’ ground game was sabotaged. There will be no stories in major media of how the Democrats and their ground game failed because Obama has become a laughing-stock.
- Opinion columnists in the major media will begin to excuse Obama’s almost total disengagement by blaming it on the new GOP dual majority in Congress. They’ll say things such as “Why should he even try, when they won’t cooperate with him?” (i.e. “bend over and do what he wants”) Some will push for Obama to use even more executive power to bypass the democratically elected majorities in Congress. Some of those will be the same ones who screamed about Bush’s “illegal war”, even though he sought and received authorization from Congress.
- Someone will attempt to spread rumors about an Ebola outbreak in key places to depress voter turnout by making people unwilling to go out in public. Either side is capable of this – both sides might do it.
- Ted Cruz will give a rousing speech shortly after the election on what the Republicans should do. It will be ignored by the major media, though they might run an out-of-context soundbite of it to try and make him look bad.
- Very stupid social science academics will shake their heads and wonder how the voters could dislike Obama since he’s such a great president. Then they’ll talk about how things go “back and forth” or “move in cycles” or some such meaningless blather, as if the GOP victories simply resulted from an inevitable force of nature and have nothing to do with Obama’s screwups.
- Allies of the establishment GOP, such as the bloggers at Hot Air, will immediately begin justifying why the new majorities can’t possibly do anything of consequence. I’m guessing their catchphrase will become “Don’t expect too much.”
- Allies of the establishment GOP will claim that the election results show definitively that the GOP needs to nominate a moderate for president in 2016. I can’t predict what tortured logic they will use for that conclusion.
OK, that’s enough for me. How about our astute and intelligent commenters add their own?
Via Instapundit and Bill Quick, I’ve noticed discussion about this Forbes article on why females are under-represented in technology companies.
As someone who has spent an adult lifetime in the tech industry, let me suggest an angle that I didn’t see in this article, and which I have not seen in other similar articles.
Most jobs of any consequence in tech companies require people to successfully write code at some point in their careers. Writing code is a very unusual human activity. In addition to logic skills and some other cognitive capabilities that the articles usually do touch on, there is one aspect of it most people outside the industry have never thought about: you must be comfortable being wrong and prepared to constantly acknowledge and fix your own mistakes.
You are wrong a few dozen times a day. The computer tells you (via a compiler error or problem in the running program) that you are unambiguously wrong, and you *must* figure out how to fix the mistake before you proceed. The mistake can’t be overlooked or ignored. It must be fixed, and to the exacting standards of a machine with no emotions.
And here’s where I think the problem results in disparate impact between males and females: the computer is invulnerable to pleading, sweet-talking, eye blinking, hair tossing, lip licking, or any of the other things a substantial fraction of young women have learned to use to get their way in the world, via persuading a male to take care of it or overlook it.
Think, for example, about all those famous stratagems for getting out of traffic tickets, and the jokes about wanting to use one and finding out the cop is female. Whether feminists like it or not, that behavior is common among young women, and it’s common because it works in many social situations.
Whether you think it’s cultural or genetic, woman are less comfortable in the harsh reality, hard edged world of writing code. I think it’s at least partially because it goes against how they have learned to deal with the world around them. Because the computer isn’t a person, and certainly not a male, their best social skills avail them nothing. Plus, they have to be completely comfortable being told flat out “you are wrong about this – deal with it” many times a day, every day.
This is hard. No one likes being told that they are wrong. I know plenty of men who can’t deal with it either. But I think women, on average, have less experience with it than men.
There is evidence to back that up. For example, there is research confirming that teachers pamper girls in school. So, from a young age, and given our current educational system, I think a male is less likely to have someone overlook their mistakes.
There are certainly amazing and talented women developers. I know some and I’ve hired some. In fact, I’ve hired a larger percentage of the women candidates who interviewed with me than men. I just don’t see that many of them.
I strongly challenge the idea that the disparate numbers are due to sexism at the level of the technology companies. In the ruthlessly competitive world of tech, we’ll take talent where we find it. I don’t care about a candidate’s gender, race, religion, sexual preference, or anything else irrelevant to the prime consideration: can they effectively write software?
In fact, given the current lop-sided proportion of men in the industry, in many cases a qualified woman actually has an advantage! Men are hardwired by eons of evolution to prefer to look at a woman across a conference table than another scruffy, bearded, overweight male nerd. Male decision makers, in my experience, simply never turn down a qualified woman due to sexism. (I supposed there are Neanderthal male decision makers out there who do, but in a long tech career, I’ve never met one.)
So, to the extent that gender matters at all, women typically have the better of it. But decision makers can’t afford to let that factor override the need to perform. Anyone running a software development team knows the dangers of having someone who can’t deal with the harsh realities of being told they are wrong and figuring out how to fix it many times a day. One of the prime characteristics I look for in interviews is defensiveness, which usually indicates an inability to deal with being wrong a lot. Such a person (male or female) not only fails to contribute much, they degrade the overall ability of the team to get things done.
I don’t know how to fix this comparative lack of women in the industry, and I would certainly like to see it fixed. But expecting university computer science departments or tech companies to do it is silly. Any solution is going to have to go a lot further back in a female’s life than young adulthood, and involve a much bigger effort than just encouraging more girls to enter science fairs.
(This screen cap done at 9:00 AM CST 15 June, 2014)
We’ve known that the New York Times has been part of the palace guard for Democrats for quite a while.* But this is a new low.
If 18 minutes of lost taped conversations in Nixon’s White House is good for weeks of coverage, surely close to two years of lost emails from someone accused targeting the president’s political opponents is even more important.
The story has been on the networks’ web sites since Friday (NBC, CBS, Fox) plus outlets like Forbes, the Fiscal Times, and lots of others. Given that, no serious, objective media outlet would ever ignore the lost IRS email story for two days, and leave it out of their biggest edition of the week. Not the “paper of record”. Not the publication that brags it contains “all the news that’s fit to print”.
But that’s exactly what the Times has done.
The Washington Post is marginally better. No front page story, as the story manifestly deserves. No original reporting, even though the story is in their own backyard. But they do have a couple of Associated Press reports in two sections Politics and Business (yeah, Business – I don’t get it either).
If you still think the Times and Post have not chosen sides politically, then you are a willfully blind, naive fool.
*Occasionally a decent article slips through, or perhaps is done as camouflage to bolster the idea that they are serious objective journalists. They stopped fooling anyone connected to reality quite a while back.
When something happens in the public sphere, we never know all the details. But usually we know enough to build a plausible mental model for how it all went down. Based on the actors’ previous actions, the context, and what we know about the ideological battles at any time, we think and hope we have some level of understanding.
But then something happens that makes no sense at all. It could only happen with a level of incompetence or malice that we intuitively don’t believe is possible, even in those public figures we despise.
The Bergdahl situation fits that description for me. Here are the links directly from Drudge on the whole thing, in case you’re not up on the latest:
Reintegration: Military hides Bergdahl from public view...
FLASHBACK: 'Converted to Islam And Taught Captors Bomb Making Skills'...
NYTIMES: Left note explaining desertion before going AWOL...
Pentagon knew whereabouts but didn't risk rescue for 'deserter'...
Never Officially Listed as POW...
CHARGE: Soldiers died searching for him...
Former fed prosecutor: Release of Gitmo terrorists impeachable offense...
CHENEY: U.S. will 'pay a price'...
Freed Taliban leaders given hero's welcome...
Toobin: Obama 'Clearly Broke Law'...
Three years since consulting Congress...
FATHER: 'I am still working to free all Guantanamo prisoners'...
WAS HILLARY IN ON IT?
You can get the gist from the headlines. This guy has been gone five years – notice that I don’t say “missing” because the NYT says he left a note that he was deserting before he left, and apparently his location was known. He was exchanged for five Taliban leaders in Gitmo who were welcomed as heroes back home – and it looks like that was done in clear violation of the law concerning Congressional notice about such releases.
On top of all this, the Taliban said back in 2010 that Bergdahl apparently converted to Islam and collaborated with the very people his unit was fighting.
If that’s all true – and there’s no indication otherwise at this point – then the Obama administration gave five enemy leaders their freedom to retrieve a traitor who went over the enemy voluntarily and didn’t seem in any hurry to leave. There is no conceivable upside for the United States that I can see.
Now, maybe all kinds of things will come out to challenge this interpretation. We’ll wait and see.
I rather hope so. Because as it stands, this simply doesn’t make any sense.
I can think of several ways this could get through the White House, but note of them seem any more likely than any of the others. Here are the possibilities I can think of off the top of my head:
- Nobody at White House knew the details on Bergdahl because they are all incompetent boobs who don’t know how to do due diligence on anything
- Somebody at White House knew, but was afraid to say anything because Obama (or Jarrett) had declared that they wanted this to go forward
- Somebody at White House knew, and put the information in a report, but Obama and Jarrett are both too lazy to read reports closely and realize what’s important
- Everybody knew, including Obama, but he simply didn’t care because he thought it could be spun as a triumph
- Everybody knew, including Obama, and he knew the real nature of Bergdahl would get out, but Obama simply didn’t care because it was an opportunity to poke congressional Republicans in the eye
All of these assume extreme incompetence or malice or both. But I can’t think of any way a competent White House that has the best interests of the country in mind and is operating in good faith takes a decision that gives these results. I’m leaning towards extreme incompetence; in fact, I’m waiting for today’s press conference where Obama tells us he found out all this stuff about Bergdahl the same time we did through press reports, since that shtick seems to work every time he tries it.
OK, sharp and excellent QandO commenters – what am I missing here?
A few months ago, the “Amazon Book Editors” put up a list with the description “100 Books to Read in a Lifetime: A bucket list of books to create a well-read life”.
It contains some good (1984, Pride and Prejudice, The Right Stuff), some decent-but-thought-provoking (Man’s Search for Meaning), some leftist cant (Silent Spring), and a disproportionate amount of lightweight fiction, books for children, and books for young adults. I’m guessing this is a consequence of Amazon editors skewing rather young.
I think the list lacks broad perspective. It is weak on science, with only the often-purchased-but-seldom-read Brief History of Time plus an obscure book on nutrition. There’s nothing on technology, nothing on business unless you count Moneyball, nothing military (though it does have two books about the victims of WWII), and weak on history.
Fittingly for a Seattle-based company, the list leans left. I mentioned that Silent Spring is there, which is disturbing given the damage and death caused by its inaccuracies and environmental hysteria. It also contains Fahrenheit 451, which is the soft lefty’s go-to entry when they think they just have to cite a science fiction book. I could name a hundred better science fiction books off the top of my head, but most are from authors who have a nasty habit of not leaning left.
While the list is worth browsing through, I thought the largest bookseller in the world should have done better. That started me thinking about the list I would recommend. My list would contain books that gave me some of the greatest return on investment in reading them. That might be by changing or refining my worldview. It might be simply great entertainment. Some of the very best combine both.
It would be the best books I could name from a wide variety of fields. Being easily bored, I’m more of a generalist than a specialist, and I like to read lots of different kinds of books. So I began composing a list, and extended and refined it several times over a few months.
Creating such a list involves some tough choices between certain books that cover the same territory. I have dodged that by having some of my entries be categories, in which I think a well-read person should be exposed to the category, but not necessary any single work in the category.
For some works and authors, I also included some follow-on suggestions.
I ended up with about 50 books and categories. Here, then, are the books I think ought to be a bucket list for a well-read person, in alphabetic order except that I separated out the science fiction and placed it at the bottom.
The ones that are also on Amazon’s list have an asterisk. No doubt I’ve left off some obvious works, and no doubt our sharp and excellent commenters will remind me.