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How AOL covers the mayoral primaries in the nation’s largest city

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 1:18 am - September 11, 2013.
Filed under: Media Bias,Random Thoughts

Last night, recalling that New York City voters were going to the polls yesterday to pick their parties’ nominees for various local offices, I went to Drudge to learn the results. He linked this piece, providing the actual tallies.

In the Democratic primary, the latest totals show Bill de Blasio with a huge lead over all of his rivals, likely with a high enough percentage of the vote (40%) to avoid a runoff. He won more than eight times as many votes as former Congressman Anthony Weiner who appeared to have received (at least in national reports) the greatest amount of news coverage.

Instead of heralding de Blasio’s solid showing, AOL highlighted Mr. Weiner:

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The “news” media today.

In light of Obama’s Syria struggles,
Democrats Should Reassess Their Critiques of W’s Foreign Policy

Quite frequently it seems that if there is any principle guiding President Obama’s foreign policy, it is the desire not to do what  his predecessor did.  He and his national security advisors and officials, in public at least, have acted as if Mr. Bush’s foreign policy were an absolute disaster, needing, in their view, a “reset” in relations with Russia and requiring them to distinguish their policies from his.

They would exercise “smart power,” a term which implies that Bush’s team acted without consideration for the consequences of its actions.  Yet, much as Democrats  faulted that team for a supposed “go-it-alone” foreign policy, George W. Bush and his top national security advisors did take time to cultivate relationships with a great variety of world leaders.  And when they failed, the problem wasn’t entirely (and sometimes not even remotely) related to their efforts, but due instead the posturing of other nations.

In short, Obama and his team critiqued Bush’s foreign policy not as it was, but as it was depicted in the editorial pages of left-leaning newspapers and in their own party’s talking points.  Despite France and Germany’s refusal to join the coalition to liberate Iraq, Bush and his team did succeed in building a coalition of forty nations to enforce United Nations resolutions and to hold that then-rogue nation to account for violating the terms of the 1991 cease-fire ending the Gulf War.

Obama and his team may have “reset” relations with Russian and operated under the assumption that they were using “smart power,” but they have failed to build the kind of coalition in response to events in Syria than Bush’s team built in response to Iraq’s violation of international agreements.  And President Obama is now blaming the international community for his failure to muster a coalition to act against the Syrian regime:

Obama said Wednesday that “my credibility is not on the line — the international community’s credibility is on the line.” (more…)

Congress shouldn’t let Obama Pass the Buck On Syria

When I first heard that President Obama was asking Congress to vote on a resolution authorizing him to act against Syria, I thought he was doing the right thing, but then the more I considered the issue, the weaker I realized the move was. And the more political.

My gut sense is that Obama really doesn’t want to take action against the Syrian regime.

And perhaps he is hoping that this move will further divide Republicans. And a Republican Party at war with itself can’t do a good job taking the fight during in the 2014 election cycle.

And should a coalition of libertarian Republicans, partisans who put bucking Obama ahead of the national interest and dovish Democrats opposed to any flexing of American muscle manage to defeat the (unnecessary) legislative authorization, Obama will blame not his fellow Democratic, but the opposition Republicans for denying him the ability to act.

My advice to Speaker Boehner would be to ask all House Republicans to make statements similar to this one: “I don’t think the president needs our approval to act. (President Bill Clinton didn’t ask for congressional authorization before initiating airstrikes against Yugoslavia on behalf of Kosovo.) But, the president has asked for our permission. We are voting for the resolution to show we recognize his responsibility in the matter; we hope he will act in the best interest of the country.”

This at least would make it more challenging for Obama to blame Republicans. And the explanation would help prevent this from becoming a precedent, potentially hamstringing future presidents.

Obama could have delivered a speech similar to that Secretary Kerry gave.  And with that, authorized our armed forces to attack Syrian airbases.  Or he could have explained why it was not in our national interest to act.  Instead, he has advertised his indecision on the matter.  Never a good strategy for a leader.

ADDENDUM:  A test of Obama’s sincerity on the matter will be how aggressively he lobbies Congress on behalf of this resolution.  If he doesn’t actively lobby legislators to pass the bill, then he shouldn’t blame them for its failure.  (Bear in mind my word choice; “shouldn’t” doesn’t mean “won’t.”)

RELATED:  Shortly after posting this piece, I caught a related editorial in the Washington Times: (more…)

The primary evidence of conservative racial prejudice. . .

. . . is liberal prejudice, their assumption that opposition to the president and his policies is based on race. And this assumption grows out of ignorance, a basic unfamiliarity with Republican ideas and conservative arguments.

Must be that “smart power” of which we’ve heard tell

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:10 pm - August 16, 2013.
Filed under: Obama Incompetence,Random Thoughts

The Pentagon Has Lost Its Leverage with Egypt. Now What?

A brief refresher on the meaning of “smart power.”

Has EMILY’s list ever asked anyone to apologize for calling Sarah Palin “Caribou Barbie”?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:41 am - August 16, 2013.
Filed under: Liberal Hypocrisy,Random Thoughts

Been a crazy, odd past few weeks. Apologies for not blogging.

This just showed up on my Facebook:

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Has the group ever called on a liberal blogger — or public figure — to apologize for mocking the accomplished immediate past governor of Alaska?

Why is Bob Filner not the media face of his party?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 1:53 pm - July 26, 2013.
Filed under: Media Bias,Random Thoughts

You know the answer because the Mayor of San Diego, accused by multiple women of sexual harassment is a Democrat. If he were a Republican, as Jim Geraghty observes in today’s Morning Jolt, available by subscription:

he would already be at least as well-known as Todd Akin, with his face on the cover of Time magazine under the headline: “PARTY OF CREEPS: WHY THE GOP’S PROBLEMS WITH WOMEN KEEP GETTING WORSE.”

UPDATE: George Will gets it:

I will not dwell on the fact, although it is a fact, that if these two men, Filner in San Diego and Wiener here, were Republicans, this would be part of a lot of somber sociology in the media about the Republican War on Women. . . . I will skip that.

Watch the video at the link.  (Via Instapundit.)

Living in the present in challenging times

Several of my Facebook friends like to post inspirational and thought-provoking quotes on a regular basis.  Two or three of them have recently posted a quote which has been attributed to Lao Tzu which reads:

If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.

As someone who has lately been bouncing back and forth between these states of mind, I can appreciate the essential wisdom of the quote.  Most of my feelings of depression lately have been spurred on by my regrets about things I wish I had done differently in my life, and so in that regard, they are an instance of dwelling in the past.  Most of my anxiety stems from my concerns about where our country is headed under its current leadership (or lack thereof), and my feelings of uncertainty or even paralysis as to what is or should be the best path for me to take from this point forward.  The more I think about it, the more overwhelming the many different options start to become.

Partly because of the circumstances which have fueled both my recent feelings of depression and of anxiety, I also have to wonder whether or not the “living in the present” endorsed by the quote is really so desirable after all.  When things are going well, yes, that sounds ideal, but isn’t there the risk of a sort of complacency which can result in self-indulgence, lack of ambition and disengagement?
I thought of these points and more yesterday when Glenn Reynolds linked to a post by Sarah Hoyt entitled “If You Don’t Work, You Die.”  In the post, Hoyt reflects on the importance of what she refers to as envy and striving for growth and life, which, to my mind suggests a certain resistance to complacency.  She reflects on an experiment in Denver in the 1970s with a guaranteed minimum income and the finding that a certain segment of the population was content to live on it and to stop striving to better their lives, and she speculates that it is partly an inherited trait which had value in the conservation of social energy.  The part of the post that fascinated me the most was when she described herself in the following terms:
Some of us are broken.  We were given both envy and high principles.  We can’t even contemplate bringing others down to level things, but instead we work madly to increase our status.  (No, it’s not how I think about it, but it’s probably what’s going on in the back of the monkey brain.)  Most of humanity however is functional.  Give them enough to eat, and a place to live, and no matter how unvaried the diet and how small/terrible the place, most people will stay put.
It seems to me that she has hit on something crucial there because although I’m often tempted to focus on being content with things the way are, every so often something happens to jar me from that state of mind, either by making me feel depressed or anxious or by throwing me off balance completely with some new dream or hope.
I’d like to write more about the disruptive power and potential value of such dreams, but for the time being, I’d like to pose a question for our readers.   When we live in difficult and challenging times, how can one try to remain “in the present” without falling into complacency or without becoming disengaged from the sorts of issues and problems that threaten to make existence even more trying and difficult?

Why the media focus on the Zimmerman Trial?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 12:58 pm - July 2, 2013.
Filed under: Media Bias,Random Thoughts

In today’s Morning Jolt, Jim Geraghty asks a question getting at the nature of media bias in contemporary American society, Why Are the News Networks Serving Us Round-the-Clock Coverage of the Zimmerman Trial?

Yesterday morning, I tuned in to Daily Rundown . . . and found most of the show’s opening was consumed by George Zimmerman trial discussion, and soon pre-empted by live trial coverage. I had been scheduled to appear on The Lead with Jake Tapper as part of their roundtable today . . . and was told Monday evening that they’re likely to be pre-empted by live trial coverage this afternoon.

Egypt’s got a widespread, increasingly violent uprising — Turkey and Brazil, too, the death toll in Syria just hit six figures, the Obamacare implementation train wreck continues, and we get nonstop coverage of every witless witness in this case.

Also available via subscription.  (Read the whole thing.  He offers some great thoughts toward the end.)

Wondeer if the decision of the networks to play up the racial aspects of this trial is related to why the editors at Yahoo! decided to include the graphic they did in featuring the headlined article on their home page today:

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How telling stories helps us define the meaning of marriage

Back in February and March when I was re-reading and reading* Madeline L’Engle’s Time Quintet, I recalled the author’s bittersweet Two-Part Invention.  The subtitle helps show my interest in the book:  “The Story of a Marriage.”

At the time, I thought it was the best book on marriage I had ever read.  Later, when I re-read the Odyssey, I realized Homer’s epic still holds that title.  (And perhaps always will.)

Given that I underline in my books and often write notes in the margins and fly-leaves, I thought that by reviewing this book, I might quickly locate a few insights, a few conclusions she has made about that ancient and honorable institution to help me craft a post on gay marriage similar to that Megan McArdle, as Jane Galt, wrote eight years ago, A really, really, really long post about gay marriage that does not, in the end, support one side or the other.

But, L’Engle’s book was about marriage primarily in the sense that she reflects on her life, her relationship with her husband Hugh, farmed in part around his death from cancer in 1986 .  To write movingly about marriage, she deals not in abstractions, but in anecdotes, sharing certain experiences with us as she recalls her feelings and her reflects on her and her beloved’s interactions.   And as I reviewed my notes, I wondered if what has been bothering me so much about the debate on gay marriage is that most people do the opposite of what L’Engle did in this book, that is, they talk mostly in abstractions.

Marriage is about love, say the advocates.  Gay marriage will destroy the institution, say the opponents.  The former hardly discuss how love can sustain a life-long partnership.  The opponents don’t tell us how exactly same-sex unions will undermine the institution.

And their tired cliches sound increasingly empty each time another individual repeats them anew.   What L’Engle teaches us is that to really get at the meaning of marriage, you need do more than recite rehearsed bromides, you need to tell stories.

No wonder that when Homer reunites Odysseus and Penelope after twenty years of separation, he has Athene delay the dawn so that the married couple can both delight in the pleasure of love-making and share each other’s stories. (more…)

Thoughts on Rubio’s Rationale for pushing the Schumer Bill

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 12:09 pm - June 28, 2013.
Filed under: Marco Rubio,Random Thoughts

Should the Senate immigration bill (or something similar) pass the House and be signed into law by President Obama, Marco Rubio’s political career will likely end with the 2016 elections. Conservatives in the party will be upset and will likely put up a candidate to oppose him the 2016 GOP primary (for the charismatic incumbent’s U.S. Senate seat).

Should Congress fail to pass comprehensive immigration reform, by the time the 2016 elections roll around, most people will have forgotten the past few months of negotiations and debate (on this issue) and will remember Senator Rubio for his conservative record and his Reaganesque manner of speaking.

My sense (and this is just a sense) is that Rubio is banking on the House to hold the line and not pass an immigration bill as sweeping as that he championed in the Senate.  (Watch him in the coming weeks; if he puts pressure on the House to move, then it will show that there is little substance to this sense.)

He championed this issue not so much because he wanted to see the Schumer bill pass, but to break ranks, on a major issue, with the conservatives who have embraced him  He wanted to present an image of a politician willing to work in a bipartisan manner, one who does not march in lockstep with his party.

And the man whom the Democrats and their allies in the mainstream media recently (ridiculously) derided for drinking water has now earned respect in their circles.  Oh, they’ll pull out the knives again as soon as the Floridian points out flaws in Obamcare or challegnes the administration on its foreign policy (or lack thereof).

But, for now these purveyors of public opinion see him as a principled reformer willing to buck his party.

And Marco, bear in mind, what happened to the media’s favorite Republican when he secured his party’s presidential nomination back in 2008. (more…)

The gay marriage decisions & the gay marriage debate

I find it a somewhat delicious irony that on the day the Supreme Court hands down its gay marriage decisions, a day I had planned on blogging about the debate on gay marriage.  But, I had been planning that before knowing that on the actual day, I would be more focused on writing the first chapter of the second part of my epic.

I have long thought the debate on this important issue, this fundamental social institution, has long been particularly lame.  And from reading my Facebook feed, see that it has become ever more so, with all too many (but fortunately not all) treating the decisions not so much as constitutional interpretation and social policy, but as personal validation — as if they needed some government body to decide the “right” way so they can feel recognized.  But, that feeling of approval will fade.

That said, I have seen two statements on Facebook which do get at the meeting of the decision, from people on opposite sides of the political aisle.  And I’m sure that in due course, I will discover some thoughtful blog posts and editorials.  But, for now, while I have much to say about marriage, my mind is on my book.  At the end of May, I finished the first draft of the first part of the book (over 150,000 words) and spent the better part of this month revising it, having intended today to print out the whole thing and take it to a printer (so I can share it with friends).  (As I begin serious work on the second part.)

So, let me offer the meaningful Facebook post for your consideration.  My friend Harmeet Dhillon (my predecessor as president of the U-VA Federalist Society) offered this on the standing issue which served to overturn Prop 8:

As a political law practitioner, the broader implication of today’s Prop 8 ruling is 1) a narrow interpretation of standing and 2) apparently there is no recourse by the citizens if their elected constitutional officers (here, the Attorney General) simply refuses to enforce a law passed by the majority of voters. The former is likely an artifice of the Court trying to dodge a merits decision on a very controversial issue, but the latter severely undercuts the power of the citizen-sponsored proposition in California, regardless of subject matter or what political persuasion is affected. A sobering reminder that your vote on propositions sort of matters sometimes, while your vote on who is the Attorney General matters a whole lot. And not enough of you vote!

Our left-of-center reader Rob Tisinai gets that state recognition of marriage is about more than just “rights”: (more…)

Why release global warming speech to liberal supporters (before delivering it)?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 1:02 pm - June 25, 2013.
Filed under: Climate Change (Global Warming),Random Thoughts

Interesting:

The public won’t officially see or hear President Obama’s climate change speech before he delivers it this afternoon at Georgetown University, but liberal supporters already have it — and are even commenting on it hours in advance.

Did W ever release a speech to conservative supporters before delivering it?  Just askin’.

Wouldn’t have thought a post-partisan kind of guy would do a thing like this.

As Gabriel Malor notes at Ace:

The President, still in search of a topic change, will today give a speech about global warming. He’s going to sidestep Congress and crack down on power plants via the EPA.

Seems like the guy is trying to rally his liberal base.  Wonder why that is.

You don’t say

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 12:00 pm - June 21, 2013.
Filed under: Democratic Scandals,Obama Watch,Random Thoughts

And this on AOL’s (AKA Huffington Post) homepage:

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Is Obama’s Neverending Campaign Hurting his Reputation?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 12:18 pm - June 20, 2013.
Filed under: HopeAndChange,Obama Watch,Random Thoughts

Take a gander at this screen capture.  Interesting juxtaposition between ad and article, no?

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Question for the day: does his perpetual campaigning help compromise the Democrat’ “Reputation for Integrity”?

And please tell me how did Mr. Obama acquired such a reputation? Through his actions? (What specific actions helped him earn it?)

Now if Sarah Palin had made this mistake . . .

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 6:24 pm - June 13, 2013.
Filed under: Democrats & Double Standards,Random Thoughts

. . . it would not only be news, but proof of her unfitness to hold elective office or make public comment on issues of consequence.

But, Ms. Landrieu is a Democrat, so it’s just a slip of the tongue.

Senator Mary Landrieu: South Dakota Borders on Canada, You Know

President lashes out at protesters in polarized country

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 1:18 pm - June 9, 2013.
Filed under: Civil Discourse,Politics abroad,Random Thoughts

Sound familiar?

Recep Tayyip Erdogan traveled to two cities where unrest has occurred and again condemned his detractors as “a handful of looters” and vandals.

In the southern city of Adana, where pro- and anti-government protesters clashed Saturday night, Erdogan greeted supporters from the top of a bus before lashing out at his opponents in the highly polarized country

If he wanted to defuse the situation, he might do well to acknowledge the protestor’s grievances rather than insult them.

Another nation’s leader said that Erdogan, the prime minister of Turkey, “is one of the few foreign leaders with whom he has developed “’friendships and the bonds of trust.’

If Al Qaeda is on the run, why do we need such intrusive surveillance?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 5:24 am - June 8, 2013.
Filed under: Random Thoughts,War On Terror

Over at Ace, CDR M asks the important questions about the Obama administration’s surveillance program:

If the War on Terror is over and the administration views terrorism through a pre 9/11 prism, why is the administration assembling and wielding the most powerful and intrusive systems of surveillance ever conceived?

Is revelation of phone data gathering “scandal” a (kind of) distraction?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:46 am - June 7, 2013.
Filed under: Democratic Scandals,Random Thoughts

UPDATE (early Monday morning 06/10/13):  Looks like my random thoughts were really quite random.  It appears the White House didn’t leak the information.

Please note the inclusion of this post in the Random Thoughts category.

Yesterday afternoon, taking a break from editing the now-completed first half of my novel, I learned about the reports of the federal government gathering data from various phone services, notably Verizon, and thought it yet another of the administration’s many scandals, but later caught Andrew C. McCarthy’s piece on National Review’s  Corner saying this was being blown out of proportion.

Later, caught a few minutes of “On the Record with Greta van Susteren” where Karl Rove was giving the president the “benefit of the doubt” on this issue. Just before bed, via Instapundit, learned that University of California at Berkeley law professor John Yoo who “served as deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department of President George W. Bush” offered a view similar to McCarthy’s claiming that this “data collecting isn’t unconstitutional because the Fourth Amendment only protects the content of phone calls and not information on the dialed numbers, length of the calls, etc.

Do wonder if someone in the White House deliberately leaked the information to the Washington Post (which broke the story) knowing it would be blown out of proportion and so creating a large audience for administration flacks when they set the record straight.  And when people learn that this story, sucking (at present) the air out of other administration scandals, has been blown out of proportion (if indeed it has), they might be more likely to discount those other scandals.

Just a thought.  And now concluding where I began, you know why I include this in the “Random Thoughts” category.

UPDATE:  Glenn reports that Ann Althouse offers similar thoughts to those expressed above:

ANN ALTHOUSE ON WHY THE DATA-MINING SCANDAL LEAKED: “I suspect it was someone who wanted to distract us from the IRS scandal (and other scandals) so that the scandal of the moment would be one that’s about Bush.” (more…)

Will we ever see flawed gay characters on American television[*]?

In today’s Morning Jolt today (available by subscription), Jim Geraghty reflects on “the latest offering from the Family Channel”, a drama called “The Fosters” featuring an interracial lesbian couple raising a “brood of adopted, biological and foster children.”

“After watching the pilot, where the parents come across so saintly,” Geraghty suspects . . .

. . . that the writers will be terrified about portraying them with any flaws, either because they’ll be afraid they’re portraying gay parents negatively, or because they fear their audience will be even momentarily repelled by characters that the entire show’s purpose is to get you to love and accept.

In other words, if Hollywood is afraid to portray a gay character as human, with strengths and failings, moments of character and moments of weakness, and so on . . . are they really being all that groundbreaking or brave or honest in their creation?

Reading that concluding question, I recalled an essay that both Bruce and some eaders shared with me, Bret Easton Ellis’s overlong, but insightful rant, “In the Reign of the Gay Magical Elves,” where the novelist also wondered about Hollywood’s depiction of gays:

The reign of The Gay Man as Magical Elf, who whenever he comes out appears before us as some kind of saintly E.T. whose sole purpose is to be put in the position of reminding us only about Tolerance and Our Own Prejudices and To Feel Good About Ourselves and to be a symbol instead of just being a gay dude, is—lamentably—still in media play.

. . . .

Where’s the gay dude who makes crude jokes about other gays in the media (as straight dudes do of each other constantly) or express their hopelessness in seeing Modern Family being rewarded for its depiction of gays, a show where a heterosexual plays the most simpering ka-ween on TV and Wins. Emmys. For. It?  . . . . But being “real” and “human” (i.e. flawed) is not necessarily what The Gay Gatekeepers want straight culture to see.

Interesting how the views of a conservative pundit and a non-conservative gay iconoclast parallel each other. (more…)