Monday, September 26, 2016

The 3 Percent "Polls" and the "Who Cares" Debate

If I didn't know better I'd think that the only news worth reporting this weekend was tonight's scheduled presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Did you know that there was another terrorist shooting in a shopping mall in the Pacific Northwest over the weekend in which five people were murdered? Oh, and down in Texas yet another mass shooting.

No, instead we get non-stop pre-debate hype, interspersed with claptrap about the "peaceful" protests in Charlotte, NC, where an armed black man was shot by a black cop and bunches of white people were assaulted as a result. And property was burned, cops were attacked, the streets were full of gunfire, windows were smashed, cop cars were damaged, all in the name of "peaceful protest." Oh, and five white men were killed by police last week in the same time span as the shooting in Charlotte, but few Americans have heard of that.

Has it occurred to anyone else that the media is so self-insulated and removed from the rest of society that they don't know that we know they are full of crap and we can see for ourselves that what is really happening doesn’t mesh with what they are saying?

Instead, the media has to hype the debate, even though sometimes it is on only one network, because they hope there will be more debates on the other networks and if they make these debates appear important enough or entertaining enough, then they can sell ads at out-of-control rates and justify the bloated news readers' and "contributors" salaries.

Taken together this mish-mash of real news and media-generated propaganda has an ulterior motive, the end result of which is to get Hillary Clinton elected. The media has long been the propaganda arm of the Democrat Party and nothing has changed this year except that FOX News is so anti-Trump – with a couple of notable exceptions – that it now is lumped in with all the other media in terms of being seen as Clinton supporters.

Also, after NBC news personality Matt Lauer was vilified by his media colleagues for actually asking tough questions of Clinton in a Commander-in-Chief Forum last month it is highly unlikely that tonight's moderator, Lester Holt, will even consider anything remotely resembling fairness in his approach.

As far as the alleged polls that have Clinton ahead nationally, many outlets use the Real Clear Politics average, unless another poll comes along that more convincingly makes a point they favor. But the problem with the RCP average is that most of the polls they use to arrive at the average are done by … The Media!

In the case of the most recent RCP average going into the debate, Trump is a couple of points behind in the average. But that is only because one of the few non-media polls sampled, the McClatchy-Marist poll, had Clinton ahead by 7 points – as did the NBC poll – and which happened to skew the results heavily in Clinton's favor!

As usual, there was no true verification of the poll respondents who simply were contacted by "random" phone calls on their house phone or cell phone, asked who they were and what party they belonged to, which is hardly scientific to say the least. All the media relies on these polls, but a simple search of the methodology used shows that the NBC poll queried 45 percent of respondents who said they ranged from strong to leaning Democrat, and only 35 percent who said they were strong to leaning Republican, while a mere 13 percent identified themselves as independent.

Oddly enough the McClatchy poll methodology claims that 35 percent of voters nationally are Democrats, 30 percent are Republicans and 33 percent are Independents. When they query only "likely voters" they say that 37 percent are Democrats, 32 percent Republicans and 30 percent Independents.

Not only does the McClatchy poll raise serious questions about the NBC News poll, it also contradicts itself in that of its respondents 47 percent ranged from strong to leaning Democrat, while 42 percent said they were strong to leaning Republican and only 9 percent self-identified as independent. Meaning these polls are garbage and irrelevant.

So why are they used? Why do they drive every single news cycle? Well, one theory says that if you are going to tamper with the outcome of an election it is best to keep your tampering within the margin error of expected results. So if on Election Day the polls have Trump ahead by 3 points and the margin of error is 3.6 points and Clinton wins by 2.7 points – which is way outside the margin for an automatic recount – well, the media can say the polls had it wrong but only by the slimmest of margins.

This is important because professional analysts know their numbers and if results are out of skew they will jump on it hard and fast. Remember in 2004 when the media reported in late afternoon on Election Day that exit polls were showing John Kerry ahead of George Bush in some key districts? But analysts looked at the districts where those false exit poll numbers originated and knew right off the bat something was amiss.

So how do voters overcome this attempted manipulation of the public will? Do the same thing the English did in the Brexit vote last summer. Turn out in numbers that overwhelm the margin of error and vote in the person who should be voted in by such a large margin that any attempt at voter fraud will stand out like a neon sign.

Oh, and when all is said and done, the polls likely won't move a single point due to the debates. Check out George Bush in his presidential campaigns. Same amount of hype, all kinds of endless arguing about who won this one or that one and in the end, there was no change in the pre-debate status. Much ado, etc. Food for thought.
Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Cruz Wins Iowa; FOX Has Egg (Ethanol) on its Face

Despite the concerted and nearly overwhelming efforts of a mansion full of strange bedfellows who opposed him, Republican Ted Cruz won the Iowa caucuses Monday night, to the chagrin of Donald Trump and the mainstream media, especially FOX News.

FOX and other outlets, cable and network included, worked frantically, and hand-in-hand with Trump, in the weeks leading up to the vote to drive Cruz out of the race. Cruz is considered the one real maverick in the GOP field and campaigns on his independence from the GOP establishment.

The media and Trump failed abysmally but even though Cruz won hands down, you wouldn’t have known it from the media reports on the night. In fact, if you hadn’t paid attention to the race or the votes until sometime after 10 p.m. Monday night, you would have thought from the coverage that the real winner was Florida Senator Marco Rubio, the establishment favorite if they can’t have Jeb Bush. And they can't.

FOX had cast the race as a sure-win for Trump, and based on flawed – and horribly under-represented – polls, it was to be the death knell for the Cruz campaign. With Jeb Bush barely rating a shrug on the public interest scale, the establishment media fawned over Rubio and anointed him the newest, bestest favorite.

In its attempt to derail Cruz, FOX brought Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad onto hits shows twice to pass on false claims about ethanol and Cruz's opposition to government subsidies for the dirty, costly, alcohol-based fuel additive that doesn’t work. They also went spastic over a last-minute Des Moines Register poll that not only had Trump winning, but said that the bigger the turnout the bigger the win for Trump – based again on polls of a few hundred voters with somewhat vague identities.

But that isn't what happened. The turnout was huge, historic for Republicans, yet the more people who voted, the more who voted for Cruz. I guess the commercials run by Trump and Rubio touting their newfound Christianity – Trump even started carrying a Bible for God's sake, pun intended, in a blatant show of crass pandering – didn't fool very many true Christian Evangelists.

Every show, every major FOX personality – with the exception Andrea Tantaros and a couple of pundits on The Five who still have the courage to speak their minds – had it in for Cruz, far more so than Trump even. Now the media has another problem on its hands, that being what to do about Trump after they spent the summer bashing  him, and then warmed up to him over the holidays when it appeared he was going to prevail.

Warmed up to him may not be the right phrase. Sucked up to him, or circled the wagons around him in a blatant show of New York City liberal elitism may be a better way to describe it. Can we say Hypocrites?

But Trump faltered and Rubio still came in third, which means neither won. (See Trump's pre-Iowa comments on coming in second to see what last night really means.) So what does the media do know that its best laid plans have come unraveled?

Probably just ignore it all, make believe it never happened, make sure it goes away by never mentioning it again and head into New Hampshire with an altered sense of mission.

But before the rest of us sit back and smugly predict what will happen next, we should remind ourselves that there is a long, long road to the GOP nomination. Anything can happen, and anything probably will. Basically the way I see it, if either Cruz or Rubio comes out on top, we all win.

If anyone below them on the returns yardstick comes in first we may well have a problem. The trouble with Trump is that I don’t know which alter ego will show up if he wins it all – and he still might.

But is he a liberal in disguise, or a true convert to conservatism who will really do right for this country?

Either way, there is one thing I know for sure at this point. Ethanol is still a dirty, polluting, stinking expensive and inefficient biofuel that has become a source of Farmer in the Dell welfare for far too many people in the Midwest, and if Cruz gets elected, this is one source of welfare that will no longer be championed by Big Government.

Oh, and Trump should get serious about telling us who he is and what he stands for and stop bashing everyone opposed to him. Even base animals know you don’t poop where you eat and eventually you will need these people to back you, not back away from you.

And FOX News? You folks have to take a close look at your business plan boys and girls. It's crumbling. You have to start reporting the news and stop trying to manipulate the news; or making it.

And that's the truth!
Sunday, January 31, 2016

Establishment Media Backs Trump; Are Iowa's Evangelists Gullible? Hello One America News Network!

Texas Senator Ted Cruz was heading for front-runner status in the race for the Republican nomination for president back in December, until he referred to Donald Trump's "New York values" in one of the interminable presidential debates, this one hosted by FOX.

Cruz made the point that New Yorkers, which most thinking people understand means residents of New York City, not necessarily the rest of the state, are liberal in their thoughts and actions. Trump parried Cruz's comment not with a defense of his liberal positions on a variety of matters, but by bringing up the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 when the twin towers of the World Trade Center were hit by aircraft that had been hijacked by Muslim extremists and more than 2,000 people died.

Since then it has been rough going for Cruz, not out in the rest of the country, that also lost people and buildings on that day, but with the New York/Washington media cartel, which has spared no effort in painting Cruz as highly disagreeable and inappropriate to be President of the United States. This is remarkable in the sense that until Cruz uttered that phrase – which Cruz has plenty of statements from Trump himself to back him up – the very media that now is savage in its attacks on him, led by the FOX News Channel, had been equally vicious in its attacks on Trump.

Now, however, Trump, who boycotted the last FOX debate for GOP candidates ostensibly because he doesn’t like Megyn Kelly, one of the 'moderators,' (but more likely because he didn't want to lose support that close to caucus voting due to attacks from his rivals,) is solidly a New York/D.C media favorite. Even, or perhaps especially, FOX goes out of its way to paint Cruz in the worst possible light while giving Trump a pass on virtually everything.

We expect this of the Washington Post, New York Times – or any New York newspaper for that matter – and the television networks, not to mention MSNBC and CNN. But FOX claims to be Fair, Balanced and Unafraid. Unfair, definitely Unbalanced, and Job Scared should be its logo. (I should note that the Times endorsed Ohio Governor John Kasich, but frankly, I believe that was just for cover. They can't be serious.)

Take for instance Special Report on Friday night, when anchor Bret Baier did an interview with Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, in which Cruz's objection to government subsidies for ethanol arose. Although Baier briefly hit on the fact that Branstad's son is a highly paid lobbyist for ethanol, he allowed the governor to outright lie when he used the term "refineries" when referring to jobs involving the production of ethanol. Then the governor claimed that ethanol is cheaper than gasoline, and that objections to ethanol come from "Big Oil."

I say lie because Branstad knows that ethanol is not a fuel that is refined. It is moonshine corn liquor that is distilled, the same as any other spirits like bourbon, whiskey, sour mash or vodka, and only becomes ethanol when gasoline is mixed with it. And since the US Congress has mandated that "Big Oil" use no less than 32 billion gallons of ethanol domestically by 2020 – meaning a ready-made before-market outlet just in mixing gas with the moonshine – I don’t see how they can possibly have a problem with a government induced and government mandated and supported market.

In fact, the law requires that the moonshine (corn liquor) have gasoline added to it so the people who distill it won't be able to drink it between the distillery and the pump; not that there is any worry of that happening in a state where the Evangelical Christian vote is all powerful and FOX claims that more than half of the evangelicals are voting for Trump.

Then on FOX News Sunday, host Chris Wallace did an abominable interview with Cruz, repeatedly interrupting him when he was trying to answer Wallace's questions, and baiting him with false employment and job "statistics." Fortunately for journalism, Wallace came out on the short end of that stick.

That was followed by an incredibly fawning interview with Trump in which he was allowed to make several baseless and unchallenged attacks on Cruz. Wallace even let Trump get away with saying he didn't know where his money was going when he donated $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation, even though he has only donated $57,000 to veterans' causes prior to his run for president.

I thought Trump was the ultimate businessman. Yet he gives away a quarter-million dollars without knowing where it is going and for what purpose? Sounds like a classic Washington/Manhattan insider to me. Trump even brought up Cruz's citizenship again without mentioning that he is considering a lawsuit against Cruz! Without a peep from Wallace.

Wallace's one-two interview frankly was one of the most unprofessional I have ever seen despite working four decades in the media and related industries. It reminded me of disgraced CBS News anchor Dan Rather's self-promoting attacks on President Richard Nixon back in the 1970's – before Nixon resigned.

But worse, Wallace's 'panel of experts' which supposedly is comprised of media professionals with superior insight into the issues of the day, included none other than Branstad! And again he was allowed to bash Cruz unchecked – although he has lots of nice things to say about Trump – and again portrayed the ethanol industry as a boon to his state while falsely claiming Cruz is against renewable energy – with no challenge from Wallace or the panel.

Wallace, who also "moderated" the most recent debate in which his lack of professionalism was at its height – "This is a debate sir, and we'll set the rules" – knew that Cruz had answered that criticism by noting that he favors all forms of renewable energy but not government subsidies for any of them. Yet Wallace remained silent on Sunday then and again when Branstad referred to ethanol distilleries as "plants" instead of distilleries.

Which brings me to the question, are Iowa's evangelical Christians, as well as other voters, all that gullible? Are they so uninformed on ethanol that they don't know that half of their state's corn crop goes to making moonshine that then is mixed with gasoline to make a dirty, expensive and ineffective "biofuel" that American drivers are forced to buy to support their "industry?"

Do they not know that Donald Trump and Marco Rubio have been mostly silent on their new-found Christianity until they started running last-minute campaign ads hoping to influence the evangelical vote? Do they not know that many of Trump's positions are diametrically opposite of their professed beliefs?

I guess we'll find out Monday night after the caucus vote comes in.

Oh, and I have been a loyal viewer of FOX News and FOX News Sunday in particular since the late Tony Snow was the host. But after seeing the gross lack of professionalism on view this week in Iowa, building on plenty of previous instances, I will now be getting my news elsewhere. And, while one viewer may not matter, you can bet that if a loyal person like me has had it with FOX, plenty of others have too.

Say goodnight FOX; One America News Network seems like a good place to relocate.
Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Truth About Ethanol, Snow Storms and Ted Cruz

Prior to last week's blizzard I was more than confident that I could dig out without too much trouble, since my relatively new snowblower is in the words of one reviewer "a beast" that makes short work of even really heavy snowfalls.

Not to mention that right after the first heavy frost last fall put an end to lawn mowing, I moved the snowblower from the back of the garage to the front, changed the oil, cleaned the spark plug and started it to make sure it would run when I needed it. But that was in October and we didn't have a real snow storm until Saturday, January 23.

Nonetheless, on Friday afternoon I brought the 'beast' outside to start it just to make sure. But it didn't start. It didn't start when I primed it and pulled the starting cord a bunch of times, it didn’t start no matter how I adjusted the choke, it didn’t start when I used the electric start, and it didn’t start even after I cleaned the spark plug again.

By the time I was finished ruling out all the other factors it was dark and I knew that the issue was the fuel. Why?

Because small engine fuel across the US is the same fuel we put into our cars and it is laced with ETHANOL a corn/carbon based bio-fuel additive that the government requires because it is supposed to give us a cleaner alternative to refined gasoline at no reduction in performance. Which is BULL! Ethanol is dirty, creates pollution while being processed, does nothing for performance, and gums up our engines.[1]

Ethanol, which actually is distilled corn, which actually is moonshine, or 'corn likker' depending on where you live, is not the cure-all that the government and Iowa corn growers and distillers claim. Worse, if left unused too long it requires another additive to "stabilize" the gasoline/ethanol mixture so seasonal appliances such as lawn mowers or snowblowers will start even if they have not been used for several months.

Except, as I found out last weekend, the stabilizer additive breaks down over time too, especially if it is exposed to the heat of summer! This happens to most snowblowers because they aren’t used in most summers.

So Saturday morning I ended up outside on the frozen lawn, taking my snowblower apart as the snow was beginning to really come down on my head, ultimately draining a half-gallon of what had been perfectly good gasoline, and replacing it with gas I purchased that morning. All because since 1978, during the jimmy carter administration, the US government has been paying farmers and distillers – not refiners, distillers – through subsidies and tax breaks, to produce more and more of this crap, to gum up our engines and fuel lines, causing us to spend more to buy additives, all the while we are being taxed for each gallon of modified moonshine. (Distillers are required to mix the end product with gasoline before shipping to discourage people from drinking it.)[2]

The outright subsidies to this colossal rip-off ended in 2011, but Congress was sly enough to eliminate one tax and replace it with a sneakier means of getting our money. In 2005 Congress passed the Energy Policy Act, which requires the use of renewable motor fuel under a new mandate, the Renewable Fuel Standard.

The next year Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act which requires that by 2022, 36 billion gallons of renewable oil, which basically means ethanol, be added to US gasoline supplies each year.

Even though federal subsidies for ethanol were eliminated in 2011, the Renewable Fuel Standard remains in place, ensuring that each year the amount of ethanol produced increases, meaning that farmers who raise corn for ethanol and distillers who produce the moonshine that becomes ethanol will have a steady market, through government intervention, regardless of the viability of the product. Oh, and foreign ethanol is hit by a tariff the second it reaches US soil, so there is no foreign competition.[3]

Thus, when Ted Cruz says he is not in favor of ethanol subsidies, he is doing all American taxpayers a big favor. That is especially true if he is elected president and follows through by eliminating government support for this unnecessary product, which literally creates another welfare class, this time of corn farmers and ethanol distillers.

In my mind there is only one degree of separation between farmers who put their acreage into corn for ethanol, rather than using it to produce food, and an inner city hoodlum who collects food stamps to trade for drugs and alcohol. And while there may be jobs at the hundreds of distilleries that have sprung up in America's Corn Belt since 1978, those jobs wouldn’t be there if there was a real market for ethanol.

There is a ton of information on the Internet regarding ethanol, including how it creates more pollution to make it than it saves as a gasoline additive. Did you know that a by-product of ethanol production is carbon dioxide, which producers then sell? If there is a market for carbon dioxide why don't they just recover some of what is already in the atmosphere instead of creating more?

In fact, since Donald Trump bashed Cruz for not supporting ethanol subsidies, and since Iowa also is a state where the Christian Evangelical vote is huge, and Trump obviously believes he can squash Cruz both on trade and religion, I guess we have a question to ask the Evangelicals.

Do you believe that creating job revenue by supporting government subsidized production of the Devil's Brew, especially since it in turn is being used to support massive taxes on individual drivers through a false claim that it is beneficial to the environment, is a true testament to your faith?

If you do, then you are a hypocrite and God help you. If not, then you should rise up against those who spout false prophecies and flush that unused ethanol down the drain – if it can be done without polluting the earth. Up with hydrogen!
Tuesday, January 05, 2016

The Genius of Trump's Generalizations

Virtually since he announced his candidacy for President of the United States, Donald Trump has been subjected to a stream of demands that he issue specific plans on subjects ranging from national defense to immigration to tax reform.

With the exception of his economic plan, a field in which he has more than a passing acquaintance, Trump generally has avoided getting into "the weeds" as pundits and political operatives refer to the fine print, preferring to work in generalizations.

The media obsession with specifics was obvious on a recent broadcast of the O'Reilly Factor, hosted by FOX News political commentator Bill O'Reilly. Trump was being quizzed on his approach to the quickly unraveling situation in the Middle East where Saudi Arabia, ostensibly our ally, and Iran, definitely not an ally, are becoming increasingly belligerent toward each other.

O'Reilly wanted to know whether Trump would send troops to Saudi Arabia to help in case of war, and Trump would not give O'Reilly a definite yes or no, despite the host's insistence. "The American people want some unpredictability," Trump said several times, to O'Reilly's obvious displeasure.

Trump is taking the smart road in his response to the media and other candidates' incessant demands for specifics which, if he obliged them, would then be torn apart and ridiculed even if they are the best plans ever seen on the political stage. It is obvious that American leaders should not be announcing their plans for military action, as has been the case since the Johnson Administration gave our enemies in Vietnam a near daily security briefing on what we would and would not be doing.
Donald Trump

In fact, being specific on what you will or won't do in certain situations when you don't have access to all the background information, is pretty stupid. Trying to look like the class genius by having all the answers when you can't possibly have all the intelligence needed to make an informed decision actually makes you look like the class clown, or the class know-it-all. And candidates who do get specific on all manner of issues when they don't have the facts, not only look stupid, but they are playing right into the media's hands, as well as that of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

It is no secret that the media, including most commentators on FOX, don't like Trump and would love to see him knocked out of the box. Failing to get Jeb Bush to the top of the heap, the media, through use of phony polls, has attempted to help one or another of the other GOP hopefuls upset Trump, only to see them all fall. The most recent media darling on the GOP side – a grudging replacement for Bush – is Marco Rubio, a 2nd tier selection of the GOP establishment, who is faring no better than those who preceded him.

But so far Trump, and to a lesser degree Ted Cruz, are avoiding the trip wires and pitfalls. By not getting into specifics on what course of action he would take in the Middle East, Trump is leaving all options on the table and leaving our enemy, in this case Iran, which barely missed hitting one of our aircraft carriers in the Strait of Hormuz with a missile last week, unsure of what we will do if they keep jerking our chains under a Trump presidency.

President Obama by contrast, tells our enemies not only what we will or won't do in current situations, but broadcasts his intentions for weeks, months and years into the future; which is why America has become a laughingstock among the nations of the world.

Nonetheless, pundits regularly mock Trump, using his refusal to get specific as proof that he doesn't know what he is talking about. But it is the pundits who are lacking, not Trump.

He is well aware, through a lifetime of successful business dealings that you don't telegraph your punches and you don't show your cards. You don't do it in military situations, you don't do it in diplomatic situations and you don't do it when you are the president of what used to be the most successful country in the world. Period.

The aforementioned polls also are used as evidence that once past the primaries, voters will flock to Hillary Clinton if Trump is the GOP nominee. Aside from the fact that there still are a dozen GOP contenders for the nomination and no poll is immune from loyalties to other candidates swaying the opinions of respondents, the polls themselves are ridiculous in that many of them involve fewer people than the number of sycophants who turn out for a Clinton campaign appearance.

Mike Huckabee made that point on FOX recently, asking why he should care about the results of a poll that has only a couple of hundred respondents, or the opinions of myriad pundits who have been dead wrong about Trump every single time.

Trump is on the right track by keeping to generalities. He will rebuild the military, he will attack illegal immigration, he will rebuild the economy, he will restore greatness to America, and all he needs to convince most voters than he can do it, is a lifetime of doing, not talking.

And frankly, based on the rabid attacks on Trump from the full spectrum of the mainstream media, including FOX, and the massive turnouts at his campaign events, contrasted to the meager showings at Clinton's, I believe that if he is the GOP nominee he will trounce Clinton in the manner of Reagan vs. Mondale. And I believe that most in the media know that too, and are scared to death that it will happen.
Saturday, November 21, 2015

French Citizens Need to Play Cowboys and Terrorists

A week after the terrorist slaughter of 130 mostly French civilians and the wounding of another 350 in Paris, the French are still reeling and making pilgrimages to the sites of the shootings and bombings.

It would be uncivilized to deny the French their time of mourning or to pass judgment on what may or may not constitute responsibility for the murderous rampage that hasn't been seen in that magnitude since World War II. But at some point there has to be an analysis of the killings, how they occurred and why they occurred.

And I don't mean from the standpoint of the liberal whine "What did we do to them? Why don't they like us?"

One of the most shocking revelations concerning the orgy of slaughter in Paris was that it was carried out by only 8 Islamic terrorists, and most of the killing was done by psychopaths carrying AK-47 semi-automatic rifles. Also, according to eyewitness accounts from survivors of the horror inside the Bataclan concert venue, each of the gunmen had to stop shooting on occasion to reload.

Survivors and news reports are thus far silent on whether any of the approximately 1,500 patrons inside the Bataclan made an effort to rush the terrorists, who were calmly and precisely shooting their targets. Only when police forces finally charged the hall, where hundreds were still being held as hostages or playing dead while bleeding from their wounds, did the attackers die, one by blowing himself to bits.

Francophiles, those who devote their lives to all things French and have a reputation for disdaining anyone who does not believe that the US lags far behind Europe in cultural matters, have long bashed Americans for our "cowboy" mentality. But I can't conceive of an attack on a concert hall anywhere in the United States, packed with people rocking to the sounds of a heavy metal band of all genres, where the patrons would simply stampede for the exits or hide until the police arrived.

Even without weapons there would be a rush to tackle the shooters, similar to what occurred on Flight 93 on September 11, 2001, or on a high-speed train from Amsterdam to Paris last August when three American passengers took out a terrorist armed with a Kalashnikov, a pistol and a box cutter. Many, if not most, Americans have an ingrained sense of responsibility to do something in the face of certain death, even if that something means to die with honor while thwarting their attackers.

I realize that there are soft targets in the US where a terrorist attack would be more likely to succeed; cities such as New Orleans, Washington, D.C., New York or Chicago for instance. Those cities have extraordinarily tough gun control laws which have effectively disarmed the citizenry leading to out-of-control murder rates. They are sitting ducks for terrorist attacks.

But even in those cities it would not likely end well for terrorists to attack a concert by an emerging rap star for instance, if hordes of Chicago gang-bangers had decided their night out would include a few hours of live music.

Without question there are many people in France who love the United States and strongly believe in our centuries old alliance. But many also believe that most of us are of the Ugly American variety, and don't know the difference between a brasserie and a brassiere.

The point here is not to be snarky or to gloat, but simply to note that there are many philosophies in the world and sometimes it takes a blend to get things right. Take for instance the news report late last week where a French father was talking to his young son in front of a makeshift memorial piled high with floral arrangements.

The boy said, "The bad men have guns."

"But we have flowers," the dad responded.

Beautiful sentiment. Just the kind of peace-at-all-costs sentiment that will get both of them murdered by unrepentant Islamic extremists who see killing "infidels" as a holy calling. Unless the next group of victims is trained to defend itself.

There are ways to blend our national philosophies to the good of all. Perhaps if the Francophiles get down off their high horses, so to speak, and look at the good in America for a change, they can see how it can be applied to the betterment of the average Frenchman.

Perhaps the French educational system can add some foreign flavor to its philosophy curriculum in the future. Let the boys study philosophers such as Jean-Paul Sartre to understand existentialism, but throw in a little Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill Hickok and Billy the Kid for realism.

And if the typical French family includes a jeune fille who is enthralled with the lifestyle of Simone de Beauvoir, even the stories of her occasional ménage a trois, why not throw in a little Belle Starr and Annie Oakley for balance. At least they could shoot, n'est-ce pas?
Sunday, November 01, 2015

Biased Media Knows No Boundaries

Voters who tuned in to the Republican presidential debate on CNBC last week were treated to an unabashed display of media bias as interrogator after interrogator asked questions that were condescending, inaccurate, belittling and rude.

Until, that is, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz used his allotted time for one in a series of really stupid questions to go on the offensive rather than meekly submit to the attacks. Following the example set by Cruz the candidates rose up and called out the CNBC hacks for what they were. The backlash against the network ranged from the audience booing the questioners to the Republican National Committee severing its ties for further "debates."

But you don't have to wait for another national political event to see examples of media bias; it is all around us and in myriad formats.

Take for instance the race for First Selectman in Stonington, Connecticut where former Congressman Rob Simmons is the Republican candidate, facing incumbent Democrat George Crouse. Simmons, who has decided to continue his lifetime commitment to public service by serving his hometown, was endorsed by The Day newspaper as a man who can get things done locally and in the state Capitol.

But after receiving the endorsement from the largest newspaper in the area, Simmons was subjected to a scathing commentary from a reader in the newspaper's digital edition, which lead off by accusing Simmons of war crimes when he served in Vietnam a half century ago. Aside from the obvious veteran bashing, the accusation is a rehashed attack that was launched at Simmons by then incumbent Congressman Sam Gejdenson back in 2000, when Simmons successfully challenged Gejdenson for Connecticut's 2nd Congressional District seat.

At that time Gejdenson initially claimed his campaign had no connection to the attack on Simmons' credibility, but ultimately had to publicly apologize. Simmons served two tours in Vietnam, and then returned as an operative for the Central Intelligence Agency for an additional two years. He ultimately retired from the US Army Reserves as a Colonel in Military Intelligence.

Simmons has amassed a distinguished military and political career, and has been a lecturer at Yale University and the University of Connecticut as well. He was never accused of war crimes in any forum outside of gutter politics, yet the libel that was aimed at him remains in the commentary section of The Days digital edition.

Although most reputable news outlets require that readers identify themselves and refrain from launching unsubstantiated attacks on candidates in the last campaign days leading up to the election, The Day appears to have made no effort to remove the libelous commentary.

Apparently, racist, sexist, profane or otherwise unsavory commentaries are scrubbed from the website, but scurrilous libelous attacks on distinguished veterans are allowed to stand. The commentary was signed by the pseudonym R. O. Thornhill, who the Simmons campaign believes is actually a close adviser to the Crouse campaign.

Meanwhile, the town of East Hampton, Connecticut, home of the late Gov. Bill O'Neill saw its own version of media bias erupt this past week. The weekly newspaper Rivereast ran a front-page article on the local school board chairman, a Democrat, deciding to prohibit any town official from doing business with the school system.

This after the chairman "discovered" that nearly 18 months ago, Republican Mark Philhower, a member of the local Town Council who owns a Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning firm called Tech Unlimited, had done some work for the schools. The sudden announcement came in the form of a motion that was not part of the regular agenda for last week's school board meeting, just a week before the election.

The reason for the hasty action is, according to the chairman, because he had only just discovered this egregious violation of … something, although we're not sure exactly what … and had to act immediately lest it be repeated.

The problem with the coverage hits many buttons. First the chairman's point of view dominated much of the article, before Philhower's response is noted in the final graphs, half of which were on the jump page. More important, after contacting Philhower, I learned that two essential matters he had told the paper's editor were left out.

First, he isn't the only office holder who has done work for the town, especially for a department over which he has no control. For instance, the owner of a school bus company which has held millions of dollars worth of contracts with the town, also served on the local zoning board. Philhower could not recall the local democrats raising any issue about the propriety of this arrangement, especially in the days just before an election.

Second, the work Philhower did for the schools was of an urgent nature, amounted to about $6,000 and took place in February, March and May of 2014, mostly in the coldest part of the winter. Both of these items should have been noted, and Philhower's response should have been much higher in the story, rather than the supportive but not especially detailed comments from school board Republicans.

Obviously, on-line commentaries, libelous though they may be, and cheap political shots by small town politicians don't rise to the level of national news personalities attempting to sway a presidential election. But the principle is the same.

Our system of government springs from local politics and the people who take the time to serve on local boards and commissions deserve just as much consideration as should be given to national level office seekers. The local media has just as much responsibility to act ethically as the national and international media should … regardless of the less than stellar example set by what is called the Mainstream Media.

Otherwise, as Philhower noted, the cheap attack on his credibility and his business, exemplifies "why good people don't want to run for office."

Or, as Sen. Cruz said during CNBC's political debacle, ""The questions asked in this debate illustrate why the American people don't trust the media."


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