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Challenging the media narrative and the results of the challenge

Bains, a long time commenter here at QandO, and someone who I enjoy reading, put out a rather lengthy comment on the post about the CBS News poll that showed the majority rejected the narrative that heated political rhetoric caused the Tucson shooting.  I thought I’d give the bains comment some further visibility because it has some tasty parts that I think deserve discussion.  Here’s the comment in its entirety:

I’m noticing something else at play here. A theory of mine that recent events support, perhaps even validate. This will be long so please bear with me.

In 2008 I was in an argument with my father. I was lamenting that if only the media did its job, the nation might have a better idea of just who Barack Obama was, and where he wanted to take this nation. As with many of my friends, and evidently a good number of voters, he would have none of my criticism. Pop was, and still is, mired in a hatred of George W Bush. As such, he entirely missed the point I was trying to make. When news media becomes an advocate for a person, or a position, or a policy, we can not trust that media. It is not just that they are no longer ‘objective’; no, they have become willing disseminators of propaganda. Most here know this.

In a fit, I said that his reliance upon the MSM would come back to bite. All the blowback to the partisan blame-naming that we have seen over the past several days is a good indication of that “bite”.

No, it is not that the MSM is heavily biased leftward (they are). Rather, that those who have studiously ignored, and many have denied, this bent have seriously damaged their own cause. When one agrees with an author, or commenter, or pundit’s point of view, it is quite easy not to call them out on the inaccuracies they use in promoting their cause. And for forty years, the major media outlets have rarely been taken to task for their inaccuracies. That the narrative was acceptable was/is all that is important – facts be damned. And for a long time, this worked: Bork was Borked, Gingrich shut down the government, Limbaugh was responsible for the OKCity bombing, Reagan and Bush’s support of Israel caused 9-11, Humans cause global warming, and evil corporations (supported entirely and only by the right) caused all of our economic woes.

Instead of saying “wait a minute MSM, what proof do you have to make that statement” far too many folks nodded in agreement. Not because of a compelling argument, but because of an overwhelming agreement with how the conclusion could change the course of politics. Bork et al were/are bad solely because their views were/are in opposition to the enlightened, and therefore, brilliant judgments of the political “vanguard” – the Left.

Now what this has led to is a media, and the political left ill-suited to make compelling arguments. All this time, they have been living in an intellectually cloistered tabernacle, only hearing praise for all their illogical and un-provable prognostications. All their “brilliant” arguments are merely juvenile and facile, applauded only because they “proved” the proper position (approved by the ‘right’ cocktail circuits in the ‘right’ locations with the ‘right’ dignitaries approving).

Pundits of this ilk, say Paul Krugman and many others, have been living in a world of masturbatory bliss. Egos massaged, they willingly shelve any intellectual acumen for further gratification. They proudly spout the approved line, support the approved policy, advocate the approved politician,  fighting evil in the name of (party approved) decency and Nobility.  Hell, a Nobel Prize proves they must be brilliant (and Noble)! But therein lies the (nasty sandpaper) rub. There will come a time when they will not be able to hide their intellectual inadequacies behind a screaming choir.

This is why we see, I surmise, Krugman, his hosting broadsheet, and so many others, going off the deep end regarding the shooting in Tucson. They are loosing their grip on the narrative, and are petulantly lashing out at those who are more and more willing to reject not just the politically motivated narrative, but also those who mindlessly foist that narrative.

Bains’ theory is similar to the thoughts I’ve had (although I’d hesitate to call mine a theory, so ill formed are those thoughts at this moment) about the state of the media.  I think bains raises some interesting points.  As my brother has said to me, the internet’s democratization of publishing and commentary is as “important as Gutenberg’s invention of moveable type”.  The more I observe what is happening, the more I agree.  Bains takes that a step further to point out the impact and implications that “invention” is having.

Gutenberg took the Bible away from those who controlled it’s narrative at the time – the Church.   It was the beginning of the end of the Church’s power.  No longer were they the sole possessors of the written word or the narrative.   Now many, many more could directly possess what only the wealthy church could previously possess (since Bibles at the time were all hand made and hideously expensive) and they were also able to offer their own (and competing) interpretations as well.

For a few centuries, the “media” has been – in some form or another – pretty much the sole provider of “news”.  It chose the topics, it chose how they were treated and it chose how they were presented, followed up and talked about.  Or, as bains points out, they controlled the narrative.

That’s big power.  And for the most part, they had no competition except within their own industry.  So people like Krugman, et al, became used to having their opinion accepted as “the” opinion and were able to push whatever narrative their ideology demanded as the “common wisdom”.

But there was a true revolution brewing that they missed completely.  As Al Gore’s internet stood up in the mid to late ‘90s a challenge developed to the “official narratives” that were then considered conventional wisdom.   No longer were the keepers of the narrative unchallenged.  The first thing I remember – and this was before blogs or just as blogs were beginning to develop – was the “Tailwind” scandal where CNN’s Peter Arness was brought down over a lie that US troops used poison gas in Cambodia (I believe – this is from memory).

Then came Rathergate, when blogs came into their own and destroyed the story a major news organization was pushing as true and accurate.  It wasn’t.  

Since then and with the rise of the democratized press, bains theory seems to describe well what has and is happening.  Krugman seems to me to be the perfect example of the establishment media’s reaction to the situation.  

Certainly there have been vast changes in the media itself.  The rise of radio then television.  The death of “appointment TV” with the rise of cable news. Etc.  But all of those still had an insular media in charge of the narrative and able, for the most part, to do what bains describes.

Not anymore – with the bar to entry lowered so that anyone with an internet account can challenge the big boys and their narrative the monopoly on information deemed “news” is over.   The decision as to what is or isn’t “news” is not something the traditional media can dictate anymore.   Proof of that are the many stories essentially ignored by the traditional media, kept alive in the blogosphere and finally and reluctantly covered by the MSM.

Anyway, seemed a great topic for discussion – go for it.

~McQ

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Fools rush in to define Giffords tragedy politically

Even before the blood had dried in the Safeway parking lot in Tucson, both sides and the media were attempting to paint the tragedy of the shooting of Rep. Giffords and other innocent bystanders in a way that boosted (or defended) whatever agenda talking point they wished to advance.

Politicization of an event – any event – that political advocates, activists or politicians see as useful is almost instant anymore. And make no mistake about it – what has been done from the beginning is to politicize this shooting (and that includes the Sheriff of Pima County AZ). Doing so has almost become standard operating procedure. Well that and demanding the event not be politicized. And then, in the post mortem, arguing about which side politicized it first.

Any long time observer of politics, especially in this day of mass communication, knows the speed by which information and opinion move. They also know that those who try to shape opinion have learned they must move quickly in order to see information shaped as they’d prefer to see it.

Of course, in the case of Rep. Giffords, one meme immediately surfaced – "vitriol" as a generic reason was cited as the cause – as in "political vitriol". The unstated (for the most part, at least immediately) source of that vitriol was supposed to be understood by knowing the political party of the victim. Reports were sure to stress "Democratic" Representative Giffords as the one shot.

This before the shooter had even been identified. And I can promise you, cold-blooded political strategists were sizing up the "opportunity" to see how much political throw-weight it had for their issue, agenda or politician.

For example:

One veteran Democratic operative, who blames overheated rhetoric for the shooting, said President Barack Obama should carefully but forcefully do what his predecessor did.

“They need to deftly pin this on the tea partiers,” said the Democrat. “Just like the Clinton White House deftly pinned the Oklahoma City bombing on the militia and anti-government people.”

Note that this operative couldn’t care less if it really was "overheated rhetoric" or the fault of the Tea Party. That’s the farthest thing from his mind. It is a political opportunity to take advantage of a tragedy to "deftly pin" something outrageous on a political enemy.  He, or she, obviously counsels taking advantage of the opportunity.

And:

Another Democratic strategist said the similarity is that Tucson and Oklahoma City both “take place in a climate of bitter and virulent rhetoric against the government and Democrats.”

This Democrat said that the time had come to insist that Republicans stand up when, for example, a figure such as Fox News commentator Glenn Beck says something incendiary.

So very quickly, without any proof, this became the equivalent of the Oklahoma City tragedy (something which has yet to be proven to have anything to do with virulent rhetoric – McVeigh said it was because of Waco) and it is the job of Republicans to stop it.  Just as Rush Limbaugh was named as a cause of Oklahoma City, the new bête noir of the left, Glenn Beck, is automatically fingered as the reason for this tragedy.  Right out of the playbook.

Finally:

“Today we have seen the results” of “irresponsible and dangerous rhetoric,” former Democratic senator and presidential candidate Gary Hart wrote on Huffington Post. “Those with a megaphone, whether provided by public office or a media outlet, have responsibilities. They cannot avoid the consequences of their blatant efforts to inflame, anger, and outrage.”

Nonsense.  There was absolutely no proof at the time Hart wrote his piece that the shooter was motivated by “irresponsible and dangerous rhetoric”.  In fact, I’d suggest the most irresponsible rhetoric I saw was from those such as Gary Hart who immediately jumped to that conclusion without knowing much at all about the shooter.  Obviously there are responsibilities for those “with a megaphone.”  Ironically Hart most expertly demonstrates how not to fulfill those responsibilities and be exactly what he denounced – irresponsible.

Everyone needs to calm down and quit trying to pin the blame on the other side and take the time to find out the real motivation of the shooter before going off half cocked.  To paraphrase a famous quote about cigars, sometimes a nut is just a nut.  In the future I’d like to see us take a moment, let the information develop and then make conclusions based in fact vs. this new and continuing tendency to jump into something driven by ideology and immediately try to shape the argument to fit the agenda.

It makes those  who do that look like the fools they are.

~McQ

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Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2011.

For those of you who never thought you’d make it this far, I know the feeling – but here we are.

A quick note of thanks to the loyal  QandO readers.  We rolled past 7,000,000 visitors this last year (that’s a little over a million for each year we’ve been online) and we’re about roll past 11,000,000 page views according to Sitemeter.  Our server stats give us much higher numbers, but since Sitemeter is a common to many sites we’ll just mention the numbers it gives.

Although writing for QandO is a lot of fun, I really enjoy the comments and I especially enjoy our loyal band of commenters.  It is an excellent community and part of what makes the blog popular. You make my day many times and I appreciate both the fact that you comment frequently and, for the most part, leave well reasoned and many times humorous takes on the posts/topics of the day.

2011 promises to be an interesting year both politically and personally.  New opportunities on both horizons make the year promising, at least on the first day.  We’ll see how it pans out.

So, here’s hoping you, your family and other loved ones have a great and prosperous New Year in 2011.  And again, thanks for reading QandO.

~McQ

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TPM’s manufactured “right-wing freak out”

Must be a slow day at TPM.  They’ve decided the “latest right-wing freakout” has to do with Obama’s plan to give Manhattan back to the indians.

Seriously.

Apparently this was all spawned by a World Net Daily article which one has to assume TPM feels represents all of the right-wing.  Yes, according to TPM:

The outrage began after the President announced on December 16 that the U.S. would reverse course and support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. The Declaration was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 2007, but the U.S., under President Bush, opposed it.

Really?  Outrage?  Hell, I never even heard of it until TPM brought it up.  And WND is not exactly a site I read or feel represents the views of most that consider themselves to “right-wingers”.  It is sort of the National Enquirer of the right side of the political spectrum.

But hey, what’s a 1,000 words or so in an effort to falsely paint the right as “freaking out” over something that most thinking people know is never going to happen.  Give always?  Sure – government, especially under a liberal like Obama, is going to try to take from one side (the successful side) and “spread it around”.  But come on – give Manhattan back to the indians.  Only a liberal would consider that even remotely possible.

And, of course, it is the liberal side of the blogosphere that are commenting on (and running with) the story: Alan Colmes (Liberaland), Dennis G. (Balloon Juice), Ron Chusid (Liberal Values), Alex Parnee (Salon), Zandar (No More Mister Nice Blog) and Joan McCarter (Daily Kos).

Oh, wait, there was one more person, supposedly on the right, who commented.  Bryan Fischer.  Yeah, you remember him – the fellow who said the Medal of Honor was being “feminized”.  Right – he belongs in the same place as WND.

Two mentions by a marginal right publication and personality and somehow the left weaves it into a right-wing freakout and conspiracy theory.

Except it is 7 liberal blogs pushing the nonsense.

Who exactly is “freaking out” here?

~McQ

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Why you have to react to every story about government overreach

No, this isn’t a story about the “War on Christmas”, it’s a story that uses Christmas and its symbols as an example of government overreach.

A bank in Oklahoma was forced by federal bank regulators to remove Christian verses and symbols because the Federal bank examiners thought they were “inappropriate”.

Really?

This is the “separation of the church and state” and “non-discrimination” gone wild.  Last time I checked, most banks were private enterprises which were regulated by the federal government.  Furthermore the supposed doctrine of “separation of church and state” doesn’t apply to private enterprises.  It is a prohibition aimed at the  federal government.  And yes, I know it’s not found in the Constitution per se, but the phrase “freedom of religion” is enough for me to agree that the state should not be promoting a single religion.

That said, it has absolutely no say over what a private enterprise might promote or favor.

Which brings us to “non-discrimination”, which one assumes is the real basis for the ruling by the feds here.  The reason for the federal bank examiners decision is a regulation penned by bureaucrats with apparently no understanding of private markets and no concern whatsoever about the impact of their regulation on the real world.  And they essentially decided to interpret those regulations any darn way they feel like interpreting them:

Specifically, the feds believed, the symbols violated the discouragement clause of Regulation B of the bank regulations. According to the clause, "…the use of words, symbols, models and other forms of communication … express, imply or suggest a discriminatory preference or policy of exclusion."

The feds interpret that to mean, for example, a Jew or Muslim or atheist may be offended and believe they may be discriminated against at this bank. It is an appearance of discrimination.

BS.  Here’s a dirty little secret about private enterprises such as banks – if people feel “discriminated” against, they can go elsewhere.  Yup, they actually have a choice.   Don’t like bible verses and Christian crosses, bank at a bank that doesn’t have them.  There is no requirement for a Muslim or atheist to bank there.  None.  Don’t like the Perkins County Bank for that reason?  Go across the street to the Stroud National Bank for heaven sake.

When did the possibility that someone might be offended become the top problem we face, such that the federal government feels the need to move preemptively to ensure that doesn’t happen.

What’s next, the removal of all pork products from grocery stores because they may offend Muslims?  The removal of crosses from church steeples because atheists traveling by may take offense?  This is lunacy.

But, to the point of the title – this little story was picked up and blasted around the blogosphere.  Guess what?

The small-town bank in Oklahoma will be able to restore its Christian signs and symbols after all, thanks in part to public outcry against the Federal Reserve.

That’s right – the bureaucrats backed down.  Why?

The story garnered national attention overnight from bloggers and Twitter users who posted links to KOCO.com’s story.

This is the power of the blogosphere – something that is a force to be reckoned with when riled up and one that people seem to take rather lightly at times.  It’s also an example of why even the smallest stories of government overreach should be addressed.   In fact, it puts and exclamation point on the saying “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance!”

~McQ

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Always nice to find things like this

Guide to Online Schools has compiled its list of their pick of the top 50 political blogs.  It is an interesting list as much for who it included as who  it didn’t.  Anyway my favorite part was this:

The Top Five Political Blogs
  • Barefoot and Progressive: Barefoot and Biting would be another fitting name (or even Barefoot and Snarky, but that’s not alliterative). B and P writes a sharp liberal blog with a slight emphasis on Kentucky politics.
  • Beers with Demo: A good conservative blog for newcomers, this is, "a blog for people who don’t read blogs." Beers with Demo tells the story without letting his opinion crowd out the facts.
  • Think Progress: Think Progress is a liberal blog with multiple, well-informed authors. All authors write in a professional manner about their respective topics, but none are afraid to let their feelings show.
  • Pundit and Pundette: A la the 1940’s plucky reporters, Pundit and Pundette laude or rend passing current events. This blog combines typical blog entries with Tumblr style image, video and article sharing.
  • Questions and Observations: Politics from the oft-overlooked libertarian perspective. Q and O holds the guilty accountable and is unafraid to intelligently rip into their opponents.

Yeah, that’s right – "top 5". And even if you don’t agree with the other four, that last blog is definitely belongs in the top 5.

Heh…

Anyway, thanks to Guide to Online Schools for the honor.  And because of it, we’ll pop their widget up there – at least for this post:

Hopefully those who go there to use the resources of the website will also discover QandO.

~McQ

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A note to RedState.com

I probably should make it clear that while I’m pointing to RedState.com in the title I’m addressing a particular blogger there.   That would be Aaron Gardner who has penned a post entitled “A note to GOProud and other libertarian Tea Partiers”.  The crux of his message is that the appeal by GOProud and other members of the Tea Party  petitioning the new Republican majority in the House not to get wrapped around the social conservative axle but focus on limited government and fiscal sanity isn’t  welcome or appropriate.

As he chooses to put it, these groups have “decided to tell the GOP to put SoCons in the back of the bus”.

Gardner then appoints himself the sole arbiter of what is or isn’t acceptable for the GOP after essentially scolding those who asked the SoCon agenda be secondary to that of the issues that got the GOP elected.

Or to put it another way, as with any successful movement those that had no  part in its success now want to dictate how it will be run.  And in this case, that would be the SoCons.

Gardner then issues this  rather interesting graphic warning.

Let me break this down as simply as I can below the fold.

If we abort this:

gop-pro-life-300x199

Then, this dies with it.:

teaparty4-300x238

Choose … wisely.

 

Huh. Let me see if I can return the favor graphically:

 

The GOP enjoys the majority it now has because of this …

teaparty4-300x238

Without a word about this …

gop-pro-life-300x199

Choice made.

~McQ

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QandO hits 7,000,000 visits

Somewhere in the night, QandO rolled 7,000,000 visits. We continue to get about 1,000,000 a year.   Not what some of the “big boy” blogs get, but a pretty darn good average. Along with those 7,000,000, we’ve now surpassed 10,000,000 page views. That’s about a page and a half viewed per visit.  And our average visit length is 1:43 – which is pretty darn good.

Thanks to all that have and continue to visit, thanks to all the commenters who keep a vibrant and entertaining community alive. So, let’s work on 8,000,000.

~McQ

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Internet down

Sorry about the delay in posting but the hamster apparently died last night and the internet is down at the house.  I’m sure they’re training a new hamster to take over.  In the meantime

I’m at the local coffee shop getting ready to do my thing.

~McQ

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