Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Government Against Blacks
By John Stossel
The other day, I went to Times Square to ask people what government should do to help poor people. Most everyone agreed on the answer: "more social programs and a higher minimum wage."
It's intuitive to think that way. I used to think that, too. When President Johnson declared a "war on poverty," he said "compassionate government" was the road to prosperity for poor people. That made sense to me. At Princeton, I was taught that government's central planners had the solution to poverty.
But then I watched them work. Government spent trillions of dollars on poverty programs, and the poverty level stayed stuck at about 12 percent of the population. It's stayed there for about 40 years.
Now I understand that that government poverty programs encourage people to stay dependent. There's money in it. They policymakers would have known this 25 years ago had they read "The State Against Blacks." The author, an economist, said poverty programs destroy the natural mechanisms that have always enabled poor people to lift themselves out of poverty.
That author is Walter Williams of George Mason University. Williams, who is black, says "there's a huge segment of the black population for whom upward mobility is elusive, and it's because of the welfare state -- because of government."
Williams elaborates in a new book, "Race and Economics." A chief culprit, he insists, is the minimum wage.
"Let's not look at the intentions behind minimum wage," he said. "We have to ask, what are the effects? Put yourself in the place of an employer who must pay $7.25 no matter whom you hire. Will that employer hire a person who can only add $3 or $4 of value per hour?"
He will not. And so fewer young people get hired and "get their feet on the bottom rung of the economic ladder." This hurts all young people, but black teens most, he says, because "many of them get a fraudulent education in the public school system. So a law that discriminates against low-skill people has a doubly negative effect on black teenagers. The unemployment rate among black teens today is unprecedented in U.S. history. In the '40s, black teenage unemployment was less than white teenage unemployment."
And yet a Pew survey says 83 percent of Americans support raising the minimum wage.
"People have the misguided notion that the minimum wage is an antipoverty tool."
Economists understand the truth. A survey of the American Economic Association found that 90 percent of economists say the minimum wage increases unemployment.
Williams says the minimum wage law has also been a tool of racism. In his book "South Africa's War Against Capitalism," he studied that country's labor markets during apartheid:
"White racist unions in South Africa that would never have a black as a member were the major supporters of minimum wage laws. Their stated purpose was to protect white workers from having to compete with low-skill, low-wage black workers. In the United States we found some of the same reasoning for support of a super minimum-wage law," the Davis-Bacon Act, which forces taxpayers to pay union-like wages for government-funded construction projects.
Williams says other programs designed to help the poor -- like welfare payments -- have wrecked the lives of millions of black people. He likens the welfare state to a "drug pusher" that keeps people dependent and in poverty.
"The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery (and Jim Crow and racism) could not have done ... break up the black family. Today, just slightly over 30 percent of black kids live in two-parent families. Historically, from the 1870s on ... 75-90 percent of black kids lived in two-parent families."
Why does the welfare state create illegitimacy?
"(Without welfare,) people would decide, 'I'm going to go out and get a job, I'm going to live more responsibly.'" And that would include getting married before having children, something the welfare system discourages.
I believe the creators of the welfare state had good intentions, but good intentions aren't good enough. Even if deficit spending were not bankrupting America -- which it is -- America should end these programs.
To read another article by John Stossel, click here.
Posted by Brett at 11:52 PM
Hollywood Hates Conservatives
By Ben Shapiro
Discrimination is not a pleasant accusation to level at anyone. In particular, conservatives have a tough time stomaching such allegations -- we tend to think that for the most part, people treat each other rationally. After all, that assumption is the foundation of laissez-faire economics, which states that the market will ruthlessly weed out all those who practice non-rationality-based decision-making.
Sometimes, however, discrimination is very real. And in today's America, Hollywood is its epicenter.
There's a reason the product produced by the television industry is overwhelmingly biased to the left: Hollywood generally won't let anybody to the right get a job. As I show in my new book, "Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How The Left Took Over Your TV," Tinseltown is populated almost entirely by liberals who are motivated to use your television to propagandize on behalf of their favorite political causes. No matter what you watch -- "Sesame Street" or "Glee," "Sex and the City" or "Friends" -- television's creators are using your entertainment choices to proselytize you.
If conservatives get in the way -- and they always do -- the left simply cuts them out of the loop.
Just last week, Patricia Heaton, star of "The Middle" and "Everybody Loves Raymond," announced that she knows "for a fact there are some people who have said they wouldn't want to work with [me] because of [my] politics." Heaton told me the same thing a few months back when I interviewed her for "Primetime Propaganda" -- only at the time, she asked me to remove her from the book because she was afraid of losing work. Kelsey Grammer of "Cheers" and "Frasier" agrees that discrimination is a habit in liberal Hollywood. So do Dwight Schultz ("The A-Team"), Gary Graham ("Star Trek: Enterprise"), Evan Sayet (formerly a writer for Bill Maher), Andrew Klavan (author of "True Crime"), Lionel Chetwynd ("The Hanoi Hilton"), Michael Moriarty ("Law & Order"), and dozens of others with whom I spoke.
What's more, Hollywood's top non-conservative names admitted to me that such discrimination takes place on a regular basis. The producer of "Chicago Hope" and "Picket Fences," Michael Nankin, justified discrimination by stating that "scripted television is very liberal ... that's the personality that you need to succeed in that business." Allan Burns, co-creator of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," talked down to conservatives, explaining that artists are "the intellectual community, that's why [they're liberal]." David Shore, creator of "House," admitted that Hollywood was overwhelmingly leftist, and that discrimination happened on a regular basis: "I think people look at [conservatives] somewhat aghast, and I'm sure it doesn't help them," he said. Top executives admitted it. Top producers admitted it. Top writers admitted it.
Some even celebrated it.
Vin Di Bona, producer of "MacGyver" and "America's Funniest Home Videos," told me that the widespread perception of anti-conservative bias in Hollywood was "probably accurate and I'm happy about it, actually. ... If the accusation is there, I'm OK with it." Nicholas Meyer, director of "The Day After," as well as "Star Trek II" and "Star Trek VI," said he hoped conservatives were discriminated against.
The impact in the industry is breathtaking. Conservatives in Hollywood meet in the shadows, afraid to step into the sunlight for fear of being recognized and blacklisted. Liberals feel free to force their politics down the throats of moderate and conservative Americans. Discrimination against some has consequences for all, and discrimination against conservatives in Hollywood is no exception.
Over the coming days and weeks, we're going to be releasing audio of top Hollywood figures admitting to their industry's discriminatory practices. We're going to be releasing tape of them owning up to using their entertainment for propaganda. We are going to force them to recognize that their willingness to discriminate is a symptom of a deeper ill: Their willingness to fight a culture war against non-liberal Americans on a daily basis and to turn our favorite evening activity into "Primetime Propaganda."
To read another article by Ben Shapiro, click here.
Posted by Brett at 11:40 PM
Chasing Sarah: The Boys Behind the Bus
By Michelle Malkin
In the 1970s, "The Boys on the Bus" exposed how a clubby pack of male political reporters ruled the road to the White House and shaped the news. Four decades later, an outsider gal from Alaska has commandeered the 2012 media bus -- and left Beltway journalism insiders eating her dust. We've come a long way, baby.
Amid frenzied speculation over her potential presidential campaign plans, former GOP Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin launched an all-American road trip with her family this Memorial Day weekend. Establishment media types didn't get reserved seats or advance notice of her itinerary. Palin rubbed the Washington media mob's institutional sense of entitlement right back in its face. "I don't think I owe anything to the mainstream media. I want them to have to do a little bit of work on a tour like this," she jabbed.
Robbed of the reflexive genuflection customarily paid by publicity-seeking candidates to the political press, scribes, cameramen and producers on the campaign trail began howling louder than the Rolling Thunder Harleys that Palin rode along with on Sunday in Washington, D.C. One miffed CBS News producer, Ryan Corsaro, pouted that the O.J. Simpson-style media caravan giving chase to Palin had created hazardous working conditions for all the intrepid news correspondents.
"I just hope to God that one of these young producers with a camera whose bosses are making them follow Sarah Palin as a potential Republican candidate don't get in a car crash, because this is dangerous," Corsaro said. Puh-lease. As if traveling America's highways to historic tourist spots were akin to driving in an armored tank on Baghdad's road of death.
In Philadelphia, a pair of news helicopters braved treacherous conditions to monitor the enemy on the ground. Soon, editors tracking the story from their cubbies will be filing workers' comp claims asserting exposure to secondhand exhaust fumes from Palin's bus. And I'm counting the minutes until some cub reporter double-parks somewhere in hot pursuit of Team Sarah and demands that she pay his ticket. I mean, how dare Palin "make them follow" her!
As my friend and blogging colleague Doug Powers put it: "Reporters whining about Palin are like kids who can't reach the cookie jar because she keeps moving it."
For more than two years, Palin-bashing journalists (on the establishment left and the right) have mocked the conservative supernova while milking her for headlines, circulation, viewership and Web traffic.
They lambaste her as trivial, while obsessing over her shoes, glasses and hair -- and turning one of her misspelled words on Twitter into Watergate.
They label her a grievance-monger for calling out media double standards and then kvetch, moan and wallow in a pool of self-pity when she doesn't spoon-feed them coveted political scoops.
They call her dumb and then run around in circles trying to figure out her "mystery" tour and blame her for "faking them out."
They blast her for incompetence, but grudgingly acknowledge that she is a master of social media who has changed the rules of the presidential campaign game.
The Atlantic's Garance Franke-Ruta griped that "reality TV star Palin" was "treating pol reporters like paparazzi -- needing and hating, inviting and making chase." Perhaps Franke-Ruta needs a reminder of what a truly parasitic press-pol relationship looks like. I have stacks of Obama 2008 profiles exulting over his glistening pecs and soaring oratorical skills, followed by countless spurned-lover laments from reporters disappointed about the control freaks who stage-manage his every press appearance.
What makes Sarah stand out in the national GOP field is that she is beholden to no one and controls her own destiny. She doesn't need media kingmakers to make her. They need her. She doesn't need newspaper or TV producers to drive her story. She drives them. Crazy.
The unhinged reaction of the Palin-hating convoy reveals what its attendants fear most: a politician who doesn't fear them.
To read another article by Michelle Malkin, click here.
Sarah Has the Liberal Media on a String
By Aaron Goldstein on 6.1.11 @ 6:09AM
Consider if you will what I wrote last November after the reviews came in for Sarah Palin's Alaska:
Let them sneer at reality television and social networking to their heart's content. The fact of the matter is these things mean a great deal to people. Whether we like it or not, who wins Dancing with the Stars means more to people than our monetary policy. Whether we like it or not, people define themselves by their Facebook status. All Palin has done is to tap into this new reality. She is merely using the social networking medium the way Ronald Reagan used television when he hosted General Electric Theater. While Palin espouses traditional values she is not taking a traditional path to the presidency. The question is whether she can carve out her own path to electoral success.
Assuming Palin decides to take a run at the White House, she will undoubtedly do so with the knowledge that she will encounter enormous barriers along that path led by a liberal media (with a little help from some condescending conservatives) determined to keep President Obama in office. In fact, she should expect them to be a thousand times more arduous and vicious than those she faced in 2008. The difference now is that no one will stop her from clearing the brush. With her pioneering spirit, this time she gets to do things her way.
Well, now consider what Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake of the Washington Post have to say about Sarah Palin's impromptu bus tour which commenced over the Memorial Day weekend. They write, "What's clear from her bus tour, though, is that if Palin runs for president, she'll do it one and one way only: hers." And why shouldn't she? Would we expect Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty and Ron Paul to do it any other way? This is her name and her tour on her terms. In the spirit of Frank Sinatra (and for that matter Nina Simone), she is going to sing "My Way" her way.
Come to think of it, Palin's bus tour evokes another Sinatra song. When you consider the behavior of the liberal media in covering her latest journey, Palin is not only resolute in conducting it her way but in doing so demonstrates that she has them on a string. How many private citizens are capable of getting a hundred reporters to follow their every move on a moment's notice? Justin Elliott of Salon complains, "What would in a just world prompt a round of self-reflection by the national press corps will instead continue indefinitely until Palin gets bored." Alright, but who exactly is stopping the media from covering Sarah Palin? It's not like there aren't other things happening in the world. After all, Congress is debating whether to increase the debt ceiling, Egypt's new regime is as cruel as the one that preceded it and, of course, Lady Gaga's new album has just gone platinum.
But the liberal media has a vested interest in covering Palin. They passionately supported President Obama's election in 2008 and will vigorously support his re-election bid next year despite their disappointments (i.e. not closing Gitmo, increasing troop presence in Afghanistan and compromising with Republicans on tax cuts). If Obama is to be portrayed as hero and champion for the downtrodden, then by necessity there must be a villain who is to be portrayed as a lightning rod of discontent. For the liberal media, Palin is their straw man to be feared, loathed and ridiculed. She is simultaneously viewed as a symbol of a value system that threatens their cherished beliefs while at the same time is viewed as someone not intelligent enough to be in the same room with President Obama whether or not she seeks his office. Even if she doesn't challenge Obama there will be plenty of Palin to kick around. But therein lay the contradiction. If Palin is someone who isn't worthy of serious attention then why go to all the trouble of turning her into public enemy number one?
Three and a half years after becoming a national public figure, the liberal media still haven't learned how to treat Sarah Palin as a rational human being with a different set of values from their own. For three and a half years, Palin has been the target of their slings and arrows. Over time, Palin has been better able shield herself and to choose her battles more carefully. During the course of these battles, Palin has learned how and when to pull their strings. If Palin can pull the liberal media's strings, then imagine what she could do with President Obama's thin lines?
Posted by Brett at 11:37 PM
Has America Opened Its Last Frontier?
By Terry Jeffrey
Looking back from 2,000 years in the future, were a historian to see that America had sent men to the moon in the late 1960s and early 1970s and then never sent them back again, he would justifiably conclude that this nation had peaked as an historical force in the last half of the 20th century.
By the time America elected Barack Obama, this historian would see, it was already on the way down.
Were he to simultaneously examine the rise of the welfare state, he would notice a telltale trend: As socialism dug deeper into the soul of America, America's pioneering spirit waned.
Americans stopped wanting to open new frontiers -- to get there first. Rather than take bold risks and settle new realms, Americans had settled down to wait for the government's largesse.
Fifty years ago last week, a Democratic president gave a speech to a joint session of Congress in which he expressed a different view. In that speech, John F. Kennedy called for Americans to send a man to the moon and bring him back within the 1960s, and to do so not only as an expression of the superiority of freedom over tyranny but as a necessity for maintaining freedom over tyranny.
Six weeks before Kennedy gave this speech, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin had become the first man to orbit the Earth. Kennedy was clearly disturbed by the propaganda impact this had for Soviet communism.
"(I)f we are to win the battle that is now going on around the world between freedom and tyranny, the dramatic achievements in space which occurred in recent weeks should have made clear to us all, as did the Sputnik in 1957, the impact of this adventure on the minds of men everywhere, who are attempting to make a determination of which road they should take," he told Congress.
Kennedy was also concerned about whether freedom or tyranny would dominate realms beyond the Earth.
"Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of others," said Kennedy. "We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share."
Having framed the challenge this way, Kennedy said, "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth."
The historian 2,000 years from now will see, as we can see now, that the America of the 1960s did send men to the moon and back.
The historian will see that the Soviet Union collapsed two decades later.
But then what will he see?
He will see that the U.S. space program stopped being a U.S. space program. Rather than serve to make America first in space, it served as a platform for globaloney. Americans eventually could not even launch their own rockets to bring their own people to and from ... the International Space Station. They relied on Russians.
He will see that even as the U.S. space program declined, U.S. government spending rose as percentage of gross domestic product, pushing past 25 percent in the Obama years.
What he will see climbing into orbit is not U.S. spacecraft, but the U.S debt.
In the first half the 21st century, he will see the U.S. government borrowing tens of trillions -- not to defend the nation against foreign enemies or open new frontiers, but to finance massive entitlement programs.
Last week, former moon astronauts Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell and Gene Cernan wrote an op-ed in USA Today asking: "Is Obama Grounding JFK's Space Legacy?" Obama's 2011 budget proposal, they noted, defunded NASA's Constellation program, which called for returning men to the moon and eventually sending men to Mars. While Congress restored funding, the former astronauts pointed out, Obama's 2012 budget proposal reduced it again.
"Today, under the announced objectives (of the Obama administration), the voyage is over," wrote Armstrong, Lovell and Cernan. "John F. Kennedy would have been sorely disappointed."
But will Obama's vision -- or lack of it -- prevail?
Former astronaut Jack Schmitt -- who on Dec. 11, 1972, emerged from the lunar module in the Valley of Taurus-Littrow to became the last man to step onto the moon -- told me last week that NASA should be phased out so it can be replaced with a new National Space Exploration Administration (NSEA).
"I think the vast majority (of Americans) recognize that the United States represents liberty and freedom on this planet, and if it is not competitive in space, well then, liberty and freedom are in further jeopardy than they are for other reasons," said Schmitt, who also served as a Republican senator from New Mexico and as chairman of NASA's advisory council.
"The NSEA would be given the charter to explore deep space, which includes the moon, to settle the moon and ultimately potentially to settle Mars, and to help the private sector utilize the resources, the energy resources in particular, that we find on the moon," said Schmitt.
Schmitt, like me, is an admirer of the historian Frederick Jackson Turner, who argued that the unique success of freedom and representative government in America is tied to our pioneering heritage and the pioneering spirit it engendered.
Let's keep that spirit alive -- here and on the next frontier.
To read another article by Terry Jeffrey, click here.
Posted by Brett at 11:24 PM
Saluting Our Stellar Examples
By Chuck Norris
According to The Associated Press, Todd Weaver's idea of a romantic gift was not jewelry, roses or mushy cards. He preferred unique fancy gifts, for example, the time he celebrated the 21st birthday of his wife, Emma, by taking her skydiving.
The AP went on to say that Todd and Emma met in high school in Virginia. He was a popular baseball and football star. Right before leaving for a tour of duty in Iraq via his service in the National Guard, he ran outside in the rain in his socks to give Emma a kiss goodbye.
After Todd returned from his tour, the couple were inseparable. Todd joined the ROTC while attending the College of William & Mary. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 2008. Todd and Emma married and had a beautiful daughter, Kiley, who was only 9 months old when her father left for his second deployment to Afghanistan.
On Sept. 9, 2010, U.S. Army 1st Lt. Todd W. Weaver, 26, who was assigned to 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky., died serving his country in Afghanistan when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. Weaver was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
WTKR in Williamsburg, Va., reported that since Todd was killed in action last September, his widow, Emma, and his parents, Don and Jeanne Weaver, have been seeking to preserve his memory and sacrifice by raising money for a memorial scholarship in his name at William & Mary, an award that will fund a study abroad trip for a student every year. So far, they have raised $40,000 of the $50,000 needed to endow the scholarship.
It chaps my hide when people today belittle our military or say America doesn't have young people who display the brazen courage of men of old when our service members continue willfully to place themselves in harm's way and defend freedom to the point of death.
Last year, my wife, Gena, and I visited West Point, where the thousands of young cadets blew us away with how ready and eager they were to serve their country. And who can overlook the guts and nerve of our Navy SEALs as they took down Osama bin Laden? Beyond all these are the hundreds of thousands of patriots since America's founding like Todd Weaver, who literally have given up their very lives for their country and our freedom.
Each Memorial Day, we honor and commemorate all of our fallen warriors. The day holds a special meaning for all of us, and for the families of the fallen, it provides a profoundly proud yet painful remembrance.
My father fought and was wounded in World War II in the Battle of the Bulge. I served in the U.S. Air Force in Korea. I am also an honorary Marine. My brother Aaron served in the U.S. Army in Korea. And our brother, Wieland, served in the U.S. Army, as well, in Vietnam, where he paid the ultimate price on June 3, 1970. (His name is etched among the 58,000 fallen service members on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.) Wieland was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star with "V" device (first oak leaf cluster) for his heroism Aug. 27, 1970.
The official correspondence about the award from Adjutant General Thomas E. Minix details Wieland's heroism in this way: "For heroism in ground combat against a hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam on 3 June 1970. Private Norris distinguished himself while serving as assistant machine gunner in Company A, 2d Battalion (Airmobile), 506th Infantry, during combat operations near Fire Support Base Ripcord, Republic of Vietnam. When his platoon made contact with an enemy reconnaissance team, Private Norris volunteered to walk in the lead position to inspect the area after the enemy was engaged by aerial rocket artillery. Approaching the top of a hill, he noticed two hostile soldiers waiting in ambush. Private Norris immediately shouted a warning to his fellow soldiers, drawing the hostile fire to himself, mortally wounding him. His alertness prevented the insurgents from inflicting numerous casualties on his platoon. Private Norris' personal bravery and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army."
On the day Wieland sacrificed his own life, I lost my best friend and brother, and the hearts of my mother and my other brother, Aaron, and my own were torn in two. That day, we unwillingly joined the ranks of those families of fallen warriors.
It has been 41 years since my brother left for his heavenly home, and we miss him and are as proud of him today as we were back then. This Memorial Day week (which concludes with the anniversary of his death), we again honor and commemorate his sacrifice and courage, along with all our other valiant patriots.
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Todd W. Weaver and my brother Pvt. Wieland Clyde Norris are just two stellar examples of hundreds of thousands of fallen warriors who are worthy of our thanks and honor. They all serve not only as our heroes but also as reminders that our liberties and republic are worth fighting for.
About such patriots, Gen. George S. Patton was right: "It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather, we should thank God that such men lived."
To read another article by Chuck Norris, click here.
Chuck Norris Biography...
Chuck Norris is one of the most enduringly popular actors in the world. Chuck Norris has starred in more than 20 major motion pictures. Chuck Norris's television series “Walker, Texas Ranger,” which … read morecompleted its run in April 2001 after eight full seasons, is the most successful Saturday night series on CBS since “Gunsmoke.” It is seen in more than 80 countries worldwide, ranking as one of the top U.S. shows in both sales and audience.
A New York Times best-selling author of two books, including the 2004 autobiographical “Against All Odds,” Chuck Norris also has penned two books of fiction. Set in the Old West, the most recent installment of this series, “A Threat to Justice,” was published in September 2007. In 2006, Chuck Norris added the title of columnist to his illustrious list of credits with the launch of his popular Internet column on the independent news site WorldNetDaily.com. Norris’ commentaries have become so widely read that he was signed recently by Los Angeles-based Creators Syndicate to market his column to newspapers across the country. Among the leading commentators Creators Syndicate represents are Robert Novak, Mike Luckovich and Bill O'Reilly.
Chuck Norris first made his mark as a renowned teacher of martial arts and was a six-time undefeated world middleweight karate champion. Chuck Norris is the first man from the Western Hemisphere in the more than 4,500-year tradition of tae kwon do to be awarded an eighth-degree black belt grand master ranking. By the 1970s, Norris had completely revolutionized martial arts in the United States and was in the process of taking this exciting individual sport to a new level by transitioning it into a team event, when he was faced with a career choice: continue to build upon the team combat martial arts format he had pioneered or commit himself to a film acting career.
After starring in films such as “Delta Force” and “Missing in Action,” as well as writing the original screenplays for a number of his box-office hits, it is clear acting, writing and producing was the right choice.
Fortunately for martial arts enthusiasts, Chuck Norris did not forsake his vision of elevating his sport to a regional competitive team event like the NBA or NFL. In 2005, he launched the World Combat League. This professional combat martial arts league currently consists of eight teams representing two divisions, and it is now in its second season. It airs on the Versus television network.
Chuck Norris is a man of deep religious convictions and a giving spirit. Among his more rewarding accomplishments is the creation in of his KICKSTART program in 1992, which began in Houston, teaching 150 at-risk children martial arts as part of the physical education curriculum. Since that time, this program, which instills discipline and respect and raises self-esteem, serves more than 5,000 youngsters year round at 35 schools in Dallas and Houston. To date, KICKSTART has served more than 40,000 students, with many going on to college and becoming successful in their own right. Proceeds from his books, as well as his World Combat League, go to support this life-skills nonprofit foundation.
An in-demand public speaker, Chuck Norris has served as a spokesman for agencies such as the United Way and Veterans Affairs. Additional honors include Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Celebrity Wish Granter of the Year, the Veteran Foundation’s Veteran of the Year Award and the Jewish Humanitarian Man of the Year Award. In April 2007, Marine Gen. James T. Conway named Norris an honorary member of the Marine Corps, in recognition of his two “handshake” tours of our troops in Iraq within a one-year period. Also this year, leading strategic brand-licensing firm Brand Sense Partners will release a line of clothing called “C Force,” chronicling the legendary star and humanitarian’s remarkable career. Among the firm’s other clients are Dodge, Electronic Arts, MGM and Sheryl Crow.
A genuine Internet phenomenon, Chuck Norris has become the subject of countless Paul Bunyan-type fictional “facts” of his exploits, submitted by fans. There are currently more than 600,000 such “facts” floating around the Internet, with one “fact”-generating site receiving as many as 18 million visits a month. The larger-than-life image of Chuck Norris, based on his latest form of popularity, also has been featured in commercials for Mountain Dew and Honda.
Chuck Norris and his wife, Gena, have a home in Dallas and a ranch near Houston, where they divide their time, along with their 6-year-old twins, Dakota and Dani Lee.
Posted by Brett at 11:18 PM
Seductive Beliefs: Part II
By Thomas Sowell
The only thing surprising about Barack Obama's latest blow against Israel is that there are people who are surprised. As for a Palestinian homeland, that was never a big issue when the Arabs controlled that land, up to 1967.
Obama's declaration that Israel must give up the land it acquired, after neighboring countries threatened its survival in 1967, is completely consistent with both his ideology of many years and his previous actions as President of the United States.
Whether as a radical student, a community organizer or a far left politician, Barack Obama's ideology has been based on a vision of the Haves versus the Have Nots. However complex the ramifications of this ideology, and however clever the means by which Obama has camouflaged it, that is what it has amounted to.
No wonder he was moved to tears when the Reverend Jeremiah Wright summarized that ideology in a thundering phrase-- "white folks' greed runs a world in need."
Israel is one of the Haves. Its neighbors remain among the Have Nots, despite their oil. No wonder that Barack Obama has bent over backward, in addition to bowing low forward, to support the side that his ideology favors.
Whether at home or abroad, Obama's ideology is an ideology of envy, resentment and payback.
Israel is not simply to have its interests sacrificed and its security undermined. It is to be brought down a peg and-- to the extent politically possible-- insulted. Obama has already done all these things. His latest pronouncement is just more of the same.
One of the first acts of Barack Obama as president was to send money to the Palestinians, money that can be used to buy rockets to fire into Israel, irrespective of the rationale for the money.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. A photograph that should tell us a lot about Barack Obama shows him on the phone, talking with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Obama was seated, leaning back in his chair, with his feet up on the desk, and the soles of his feet pointed directly at the camera. In the Middle East, showing the soles of your feet is an insult, as Obama undoubtedly knows.
This photograph was no accident. Photographers cannot roam around White House, willy-nilly, taking snapshots of the President of the United States as he talks to leaders of foreign nations.
It was a photograph with a message. No one would have known who was on the other end of the line, unless Obama wanted them to know -- and wanted to demonstrate his disdain.
Prime Minister Netanyahu's visits to the White House have been unlike previous Israeli leaders' visits to the White House, and certainly unlike the pomp and circumstance accompanying other nations' leaders' visits to the White House over the years.
After one of his meetings with Netanyahu, Barack Obama simply told the prime minister that he was going upstairs to have dinner. You wouldn't say that to an ordinary neighbor visiting in your home, without inviting him to join you.
Obama knew that. Netanyahu knew that. It was a calculated insult. And the American public would have heard about it, if so much of the media didn't have such a hear-no-evil, see-no-evil and speak-no-evil attitude in its coverage of Barack Obama.
Visits to the White House by prime ministers of Britain-- our oldest and staunchest ally-- have likewise been downplayed and Obama's visit to the Queen of England was likewise conducted without the respect normally shown to a monarch. One of Obama's first acts upon reaching the White House was to return to the British embassy a bust of Winston Churchill, the most eminent statesman in Britain's history.
All of this is consistent with Obama's general approach to foreign policy-- selling out our allies to curry favor with our adversaries. He flew to Moscow, shortly after taking office, to renege on the American commitment to put a missile shield in Eastern Europe, in hopes of getting a deal with the Russians.
Obama is politically savvy enough to know how to get his point across without blowing his cover.
The fate of the United States of America may depend on how savvy we the people are in seeing what he is doing-- and how soon, before the situation becomes irretrievable.
To read Part 1 of this article by Thomas Sowell, click here.
Posted by Brett at 11:13 PM
On Celebrating the Death of Evil People
By Dennis Prager
Osama Bin Laden -- a man whose purpose in life was to inflict death and suffering on as many innocent people as possible -- was finally killed, and much of the Western world's religious and secular elite have expressed moral objections to those who celebrated this death.
Pastor Brian McLaren, named one of Time magazine's "25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America" in 2005, expressed this objection. Reacting to television images of young Americans chanting "USA! USA!" the night bin Laden's death was announced, the pastor wrote, "I can only say that this image does not reflect well on my country. ... Joyfully celebrating the killing of a killer who joyfully celebrated killing carries an irony that I hope will not be lost on us. Are we learning anything, or simply spinning harder in the cycle of violence?"
And CNN reported the objection of an Episcopal priest, Danielle Tumminio, whose Long Island neighborhood lost scores of people in the 9/11 attacks.
When she saw images of Americans celebrating, "My first reaction was, 'I wish I was with them.' ... My second reaction was, 'This is disgusting. We shouldn't be celebrating the death of anybody.' It felt gross."
Likewise, many Jews, including rabbis, have cited traditional -- though seemingly conflicting -- Jewish attitudes regarding how to react to the death of evildoers.
One frequently cited source is a famous one from the Talmud: "When the Egyptians were drowning in the Sea of Reeds, the angels wanted to sing. But God said to them, 'The work of my hands is drowning in the sea, and you want to sing?'"
Also cited is the biblical Book of Proverbs: "When your enemy falls, do not rejoice, and when he stumbles, let your heart not exult."
On the other hand, the Talmud also states, "When the wicked perish from the world, good comes to the world." And the Book of Proverbs also states, "When the wicked perish, there is joyful song."
So what is one to make of this mixture of sentiments?
I do not see them as contradictory. God may chastise angels for singing at the drowning of the Egyptian army. But God does not chastise Moses and the Children of Israel for singing at the Egyptians' drowning. People may do so; angels may not.
Secondly, it is one thing to celebrate the fall of one's personal enemy; it is quite another to celebrate the fall of evil individuals. The two Proverbs citations are not contradictory. The vast majority of our personal "enemies" are not evil people. Therefore, we should not exult at their downfall. And the vast majority of the truly evil are not our personal enemies. Bin Laden was not my personal enemy. He was the enemy of all that is good on earth.
It seems to me that if one does not celebrate the death of a truly evil person, one is not celebrating the triumph of good over evil. I do not see how one can honestly say, "I am thrilled that bin Laden can no longer murder men, women, and children, but I do not celebrate his death."
Yes, one can argue that bin Laden's arrest and life imprisonment would have also prevented his murdering anyone else. But keeping him alive would have inspired others terrorists to murder on his behalf or to take hostage innocent Americans and others in the hope of forcing America to release bin Laden.
Celebrating the death of bin Laden is a moral imperative. The notion that Islamists who celebrated 9/11 are morally equivalent to Americans who celebrated bin Laden's death is the essence of moral confusion. It equates the killing of 3,000 innocents with the killing of the person responsible for those 3,000 murders.
All those rabbis and others who think it immoral or un-Jewish to celebrate bin Laden's death will one day have to confront a Jew named Arie Hassenberg, a prisoner at Auschwitz-Birkenau. As quoted by Holocaust historian Saul Friedlander, after one of the Auschwitz sub-camps (Monowitz) was bombed by the Allies, Hassenberg's reaction was: "To see a killed German; that was why we enjoyed the bombing."
Was Hassenberg's reaction morally wrong or "un-Jewish" -- or "un-Christian," for that matter? I don't think so. What distinguishes Hassenberg from those who lament celebrating the death of the truly evil is that Hassenberg encountered the truly evil.
To read another article by Dennis Prager, click here.
Posted by Brett at 11:07 PM
Our World: Where Obama is Leading Israel
By Caroline Glick
In the aftermath of US President Barack Obama’s May 19 speech on the Middle East, his supporters argued that the policy toward Israel and the Palestinians that Obama outlined in that speech was not anti-Israel. As they presented it, Obama’s assertion that peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians must be based on the 1967 lines with agreed swaps does not mark a substantive departure from the positions adopted by his predecessors in the Oval Office.
But this claim is exposed as a lie by previous administration statements. On November 25, 2009, in response to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s acceptance of Obama’s demand for a 10-month moratorium on Jewish property rights in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, the State Department issued the following statement: “Today’s announcement by the Government of Israel helps move forward toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
We believe that through good-faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.”
In his speech, Obama stated: “The United States believes... the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”
That is, he took “the Palestinian goal” and made it the US’s goal. It is hard to imagine a more radically anti-Israel policy shift than that.
And that wasn’t Obama’s only radically anti-Israel policy shift. Until his May 19 speech, the US agreed with Israel that the issue of borders is only one of many – including the Palestinians’ rejection of Israel’s right to exist, their demand to inundate Israel with millions of foreign Arab immigrants, their demand for control over Israel’s water supply and Jerusalem – that have to be sorted out in negotiations. The joint US-Israeli position was that until all of these issues were resolved, none of them were resolved.
The Palestinians, on the other hand, claim that before they will discuss any of these other issues, Israel has to first agree to accept the indefensible 1967 boundaries as its permanent borders. This position allows the Palestinians to essentially maintain their policy of demanding that Israel make unreciprocated concessions that then serve as the starting point for further unreciprocated concessions.
It is a position that is antithetical to peace. And on May 19, by stipulating that Israel must accept the Palestinian position on borders as a precondition for negotiations, Obama adopted it as US policy.
SINCE THAT speech, Obama has taken a series of steps that only reinforce the sense that he is the most hostile US president Israel has ever faced. Indeed, when taken together, these steps raise concern that Obama may actually constitute a grave threat to Israel.
Friday’s Yediot Aharonot reported on the dimensions of the threat Obama may pose to the Jewish state. The paper’s account was based on administration and Congressional sources. The story discussed Obama’s plans to contend with the Palestinian plan to pass a resolution at the UN General Assembly in September endorsing Palestinian statehood in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
According to Yediot, during his meeting with Obama on May 20, Netanyahu argued that in light of the Palestinians’ automatic majority support at the General Assembly, there was no way to avoid the resolution.
Netanyahu reportedly explained that the move would not be a disaster. The General Assembly overwhelmingly endorsed the PLO’s declaration of independence in 1988.
And the sky still hasn’t fallen.
Obama reportedly was unconvinced. For him, it is unacceptable to be in a position of standing alone with Israel voting against the Palestinian resolution. Obama’s distaste for standing with Israel was demonstrated in February when a visibly frustrated US Ambassador Susan Rice was forced by Congressional pressure to veto the Palestinians’ Security Council draft resolution condemning Israel for refusing to prohibit Jews from building in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
Yediot’s report asserts that Obama refused to brief Netanyahu on the steps his administration is taking to avert such an unpalatable option. What the paper did report was how George Mitchell – Obama’s Middle East envoy until his resignation last week – recommended Obama proceed on this issue.
According to Yediot, Mitchell recommended that Obama work with the Europeans to draft a series of anti-Israel resolutions for the UN Security Council to pass. Among other things, these resolutions, which Mitchell said would be “painful for Israel,” would include an assertion that Jewish building in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria is illegal.
That is, Mitchell recommended that Obama adopt as US policy at the Security Council past Palestinian demands that Congress forced Obama to reject just months ago at the Security Council. The notion is that by doing so, Obama could convince the Palestinians to water down the even more radically anti-Israel positions they are advancing today at the UN General Assembly that Congressional pressure prevents him from supporting.
Since General Assembly resolutions have no legal weight and Security Council resolutions do carry weight, Mitchell’s policy represents the most anti-Israel policy ever raised by a senior US official. Unfortunately Obama’s actions since last week suggest that he has adopted the gist of Mitchell’s policy recommendations.
First there was his speech before AIPAC. Among other things, Obama used the international campaign to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist as a justification for his policies of demanding that Israel capitulate to the Palestinians’ demands, which he has now officially adopted as US policy.
As he put it, “there is a reason why the Palestinians are pursuing their interests at the United Nations. They recognize that there is an impatience with the peace process – or the absence of one. Not just in the Arab world, but in Latin America, in Europe, and in Asia. That impatience is growing, and is already manifesting itself in capitals around the world.”
From AIPAC, Obama moved on to Europe. There he joined forces with European governments in an attempt to gang up on Israel at the G8 meeting.
Obama sought to turn his embrace of the Palestinian negotiating position into the consensus position of the G8. His move was scuttled by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who refused to accept any resolution that made mention of borders without mentioning the Palestinian demand to destroy Israel through Arab immigration, Israel’s right to defensible borders, or the Palestinians’ refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist.
If Harper had not stood by Israel, the G8’s anti-Israel resolution endorsing the Palestinian negotiating position could have formed the basis of a US-sponsored anti-Israel Security Council resolution.
Israelis planning their summer trips should put Canada at the top of their lists.
THE FINAL step Obama has taken to solidify the impression that he does not have Israel’s best interests at heart, is actually something he has not done. Over the past week, Fatah leaders of the US-backed Palestinian Authority have made a series of statements that put paid any thought that they are interested in peace with Israel or differ substantively from their partners in Hamas.
At the Arab League meeting in Qatar on Saturday, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said the Palestinian state “will be free of all Jews.”
Last week the US-supported Abbas denied the Jewish connection to the land of Israel and claimed absurdly that the Palestinians were 9,000 years old.
Equally incriminating, in an interview last week with Aaron Lerner from the IMRA newsgathering website, Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath said that now that Hamas was the co-leader of the PA with Fatah, responsibility for continuing to hold IDF St.-Sgt. Gilad Schalit hostage devolved from Hamas to the PA. And the PA would continue to hold him hostage.
Shaath’s statement makes clear that rather than moderating Hamas, the Fatah-Hamas unity deal is transforming Fatah into Hamas.
And yet, Obama has had nothing to say about any of this.
Obama’s now undeniable antipathy for Israel and his apparent willingness to use his power as American president to harm Israel at the UN and elsewhere guarantee that for the duration of his tenure in office, Israel will face unprecedented threats to its security. This disturbing reality ought to focus the attention of all Israelis and of the American Jewish community. With the leader of the free world now openly siding with forces bent on Israel’s destruction, the need for unity has become acute.
MADDENINGLY, HOWEVER, at this time of unprecedented danger we see the Israeli media have joined ranks with Kadima in siding with Obama against Israel in a joint bid to bring down Netanyahu’s government. Yediot Aharonot, Maariv, Haaretz, Channel 2, Channel 10, Army Radio and Israel Radio’s coverage of Netanyahu’s visit and its aftermath was dominated by condemnations of the prime minister, and praise for Obama and opposition leader Tzipi Livni, who called for Netanyahu to resign.
The fact that polling data showed that only 12 percent of Jewish Israelis regard Obama as pro-Israeli and that the overwhelming majority of the public with an opinion believes Netanyahu’s visit was a success made absolutely no impression on the media. The wall-to-wall condemnations of Netanyahu by the Israeli media lend the impression that Israel’s leading reporters and commentators are committed to demoralizing the public into believing that Israel has no option other than surrender.
Then there is the American Jewish leadership. And at this critical time in US-Israel relations, the American Jewish leadership is either silent or siding with Obama. Right after Obama’s shocking speech on May 19, the Anti-Defamation League released a statement endorsing it. Stand With Us congratulated Obama for his AIPAC speech.
With the notable exceptions of the Zionist Organization of America and the Committee for Accuracy in Middle Eastern Reporting in America (CAMERA), leaders of American Jewish organizations have refused to condemn Obama’s anti-Israel positions.
Their silence becomes all the more enraging when placed against the massive support Israel receives from rank-and-file American Jews. In a survey of American Jews taken by CAMERA on May 16-17, between 75% and 95% of American Jews supported Israel’s position on defensible borders, Jerusalem, Palestinian “refugees,” Palestinian recognition of Israel’s right to exist and the right of Jews to live in a Palestinian state.
The refusal of most American Jewish leaders, the Israeli media and Kadima to condemn Obama today makes you wonder if there is anything the US president could do to convince them to break ranks and stand with Israel and with the vast majority of their fellow Jews. But it is more than a source of wonder. It is a reason to be frightened. Because Obama’s actions over the past two weeks make clear to anyone willing to see that in the age of Obama, silence is dangerous.
To read another article by Caroline Glick, click here.
Posted by Brett at 11:01 PM
Religiously 'Conflicted' Over Memorial Day
By Mark Tooley on 5.31.11 @ 6:07AM
Honoring the nation's war dead is discomfiting to many on the pacifist Religious Left. One Protestant theologian's fairly thoughtful Memorial Day ode to fallen veterans this year hailed their "sacrificial living." But Bruce Epperly, a United Church of Christ "process theologian" from liberal Lancaster Seminary, cautioned against "American exceptionalism" or "America first" ideologies in favor of embracing the "wellbeing of others, including the planet." After all, "We can celebrate our nation's fallen heroes without being nationalistic." And he concluded: "Memorial Day is about remembering, and then dedicating our own lives to a larger, greater good for those we love, our nation -- and this may mean protesting against military action, injustice, and enmity to immigrants -- and the planet as a whole."
Well, maybe. But most of America's fallen veterans were probably more focused on "American exceptionalism" than "the planet." Rev. Epperly's sentiment contrasts with C.S. Lewis's famous defense of patriotism against abstract humanitarianism. "I may without self-righteousness or hypocrisy think it just to defend my house by force against a burglar," Lewis explained. "But if I start pretending that I blacked his eye purely on moral grounds -- wholly indifferent to the fact that the house in question was mine -- I become insufferable."
More directly critical of Memorial Day than Epperly was a column last year by Episcopal author Diana Butler Bass. "Every Memorial Day, I remember how early Christians almost uniformly rejected any kind of military service -- and how little we have learned from their witness to peacemaking," she lamented. Bass suggested "it may well be good for our souls" to consider "what it means to be both a Christian and a soldier," which from her apparent perspective, is incompatible. Quoting her own recent book, Bass insisted: "Long before theologians Ambrose and Augustine argued for just war, Christians were not allowed to fight," and "no record exists that Christians served in the Roman army before 170." She perhaps overlooked the Gospel account of the Roman officer who sought Jesus to heal his servant, not to mention the New Testament account of Saint Peter's momentous stay with the Roman centurion Cornelius. There is, at most, insufficient evidence that Christianity in the first 3 centuries had any settled teaching on war, though the Apostles Paul and Peter both described temporal rulers as ordained by God to wield the sword.
Ignoring the historic Christian teaching about war, prominent Minnesota megachurch pastor Greg Boyd several years ago blogged critically about Memorial Day. Formerly a relatively conventional evangelical, he earned a New York Times story when he renounced his own once conservative politics and denounced the Right's supposed version of "Christian America." In 2007 he described Memorial Day as leaving him "conflicted." Boyd appreciated the U.S. military personnel who had "laid down their lives to protect this way of life," since "I benefit from their sacrifice, so it seems appropriate to remember them." On the other hand, the "taking of human life" is "demonically arrogant."
So Reverend Boyd is grudgingly grateful on Memorial Day to military demoniacs. "The fact that I personally benefit from some of the killing, because some of the killing is (at least is theory) supposed to protect the 'American way of life,' doesn't alter this assessment," he explained. "Jesus is my Lord, not the American way of life." He regretted that he continues to "benefit" from the "often barbaric and dishonest conquest of my ancestors over the American Indians and the enslavement of blacks." Boyd offered "solidarity" to families of fallen U.S. warriors. But he wants to "revolt against the demonic arrogance of violent-tending tribalism." Likely most service families would decline this pastor's brand of "solidarity."
Some years ago, prior to the World War II Monument's dedication in Washington, D.C. on Memorial Day, famed Christian pacifist Stanley Hauerwas of Duke University decried the injustice of the Allied cause because it was a "crusade" involving "intentional killing of civilians" and demands for "unconditional surrender." Of course, Hauerwas believes every war is unjust, though religious pacifists often exploit their version of Just War arguments. He granted that some soldiers "showed great bravery and attention to duty," but for a cause that faithful people must adamantly reject. Hauerwas complained that Saint Paul's admonition to submit to civil authorities was probably equally cited by German Christians to justify service to the Third Reich. He regretted that churches display American flags, in the mistaken notion that war-time sacrifice counts as Christian sacrifice.
In a similar vein just prior to Memorial Day six years ago, Religious Left activist Jim Wallis told his supporters that "even those of us who advocate nonviolence must recognize the humanity of those who, for many reasons, made the hard choice to join the armed forces." He explained that "as we protest a war and an occupation that has claimed as many as 100,000 Iraqi civilians' lives, we must have compassion for the suffering experienced on all sides."
How generous that the Religious Left recognizes the "humanity" of U.S. service personnel and will even reluctantly honor them who have fallen, even as it sees them as primarily victims, if not villains. The Religious Left's smug pacifism and grim rejection of most patriotism make Memorial Day, and most national commemorations, difficult if not impossible to affirm.
More traditional Christianity of course teaches that believers need not have such contempt for the nations in which Providence has placed them, nor decline military service to them in legitimate causes. Memorial Day was founded after the Civil War initially to honor slain Union veterans, whose "soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains." Freed slaves were reputedly among the most vigorous in commemorating the white and black soldiers whose deaths had lifted their bondage. They understood that wars can have moral consequences, and that fallen warriors often deserve more than reluctant respect.
Posted by Brett at 2:09 PM
Talk Radio Hosts Targeted in Ratings Scandal?
By Jeffrey Lord on 5.31.11 @ 6:10AM
"You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world."
-- Revolution, by The Beatles
"The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."
IT WAS THE MOST downloaded app when it was released in December of 2010.
For two days.
Apple scored it #1 for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad maniacs.
Who was moving these kind of numbers? What force of nature was blowing through the tech world with the force of a category five hurricane?
Say what? You guess Lady Gaga? Guess again.
The center of all this attention was none other than -- Rush Limbaugh.
That's right. The man liberal critics are trying to convince you is losing his radio audience is in fact at the head of a conservative radio revolution that is not only humiliating liberals all over again, this time he's doing it right under their noses.
As befits those who could never master the basics of talk radio (can you say Air America?) this time liberals haven't even begun to scratch their heads at what's happening because they haven't yet realized that it is happening.
And well beyond the story of a technological revolution led by talk radio, a question has now surfaced that raises the possibility liberal opponents have deliberately tried to fix radio ratings. Why? To give the decidedly false impression conservative talk radio is losing audience.
First, the Radio Revolution.
Limbaugh and conservative talkers Sean Hannity and Mark Levin are not only not losing their audience, as low-tech (or is that no-tech?) political critics are braying, the three are so far ahead of the communications curve that their liberal blogger and news outlet political foes are literally clueless even as the revolution unfolds right in front of them.
There is a stunning story here, a new one and a big one. How best to explain?
Let's start by taking a look at the cartoon of the legendary Wile E. Coyote, Super Genius as he tries yet again to do in his mortal enemy The Road Runner.
Wile has gone to extraordinary lengths to accomplish his task of obliterating Road Runner. A blueprint. Huge rock, small rock. Bait. Rope. Leverage angles. Telescope to see when his target approaches. And just as Road Runner appears -- the rope is pulled, the small rock gives way -- and the big rock falls backwards, flattening Wile. The Road Runner flashes by with his trademark greeting: Beep beep!
In short if slightly exaggerated form, this cartoon captures exactly what has happened here. With Rush, Sean and Mark playing the always sought after but never caught Road Runner.
The real story no one has yet understood began to surface with this curious February posting over at the liberal bastion the Daily Beast (aka Tina Brown town), where Limbaugh and conservative talk-radio foe John Avlon (Avlon is but the latest incarnation of Wile Coyote -- so many liberals have tried to sandbag Rush Limbaugh over the last 22 years it's probably just best to call them all by the same name) surfaced the idea that conservative talk radio was "dying."
Something was in the air, posited Mr. Avlon/Coyote. Something he was sure was Big News. A Big Deal.
Talk radio was losing its audience! Really! Can you believe it??!!! OMG!!! There was an almost orgasmic release from liberals everywhere. Rush hushed! Sean gone! Mark dark! Gasp!!!!!!!!!!!! No!!!! Can it be????? Ohhhhhhhhhh the humanity!!!!!
You could almost hear Mr. Avlon/Coyote tapping on his computer, repeating to himself with a congratulatory chuckle (as Wile does here in this short set-to with Bugs Bunny ): "Wile Avlon/Coyote, Super Genius."
Breathless, Avlon/Coyote zeroed in on Rush's ratings, excitedly pointing out that they were dropping at New York's WABC while those for his "packaged follow-up acts Sean Hannity and Mark Levin" had "narrowly declined and flatlined." On and on Mr. Avlon/Coyote went, excitedly positioning his big rock at the edge of the cliff.
There was, Avlon/Coyote gleefully penned, this problem with talk radio. And that problem. And another problem over there and, well, another and another and another. You get Avlon/Coyote's drift. His revelation was awash in techno-jargon of a sort. Program directors, you see, had their "spider-sense" tingling. There was the PPM and the trends. Don't forget the demographics and the time slots. Not to mention the market-by-market thing and the ratings. Ahhhhhhh yes, the ratings. The ratings, the ratings, the ratings.
He was not content to stop there. As he double-checked his blueprint for leveraging a falling rock on to the Road Runners of talk radio, Mr. Avlon/Coyote followed up recently, with more liberal yeast for The Beast. This time telling us talk radio was no longer dying it was --yikes! -- flaming out!
So the obvious, one would think, would be to ask: Why might this be? Why had talk radio gone from dying to flaming out? In mere months? Why was this tall tale spreading to the predictably lip-smacking precincts of the decidedly leftist Salon.com
(Wile E. Coyote.com?) and who-knows-where-else in the Internet liberal universe?
Because in his second story alleging a "flame-out" Avlon/Coyote, clueless that his rock was incorrectly leveraged, was still prattling on about demographics and "more accurate ways to measure audience. " He was gleefully snarking along (with that lovely tone of civility evidenced by those who bemoan the lack of civility) that Rush would be reduced to selling bedpans and resentment. And so Coyote.com… ahhhh, sorry, Salon.com… took the bait hook, line, sinker and all the rest.
Cue the sound of the falling rock. Then…SPLAT!
Mr. Avlon/Coyote and his lip-smacking conservative talk radio-hating friends are flattened -- worse, they are flattened and still clueless.
HOW DID THIS happen? What is the real rock that fell onto the Avlon/Coyote world and flattened the "talk radio is dying" old wives tale?
Technology is the rock. Technology in the hands of the very sophisticated and bold entrepreneurs who are today's conservative talk radio legends.
Here's a sampling of what that rock really represents in the world of what we might call not simply "talk radio" but "talk tech radio." (Full disclosure: I should note here that as with most who work in the media I have been on over a hundred talk radio shows around the country over time talking about this or that, bringing me into contact with not just the national "names" but the local and regional personalities, their producers and staff. This has provided a ground-level eye view of what these people are all about.)
• Streaming: For example, as explained to me by one talk radio show veteran in dismissing the attacks on conservative talkers, most stations that carry Limbaugh, Hannity, and Levin stream these shows on their own websites and push hard and successfully to increase listenership on those websites. Most of this is not included in the Arbitron ratings, which form the foundation for the argument conservatives are losing audience.
• Host Websites: Limbaugh, Hannity and Levin -- and they are not alone in this, Glenn Beck is another -- have their own websites. These websites promote that individual's own show. This allows people to listen to their favorites on their own schedule at their own convenience, not in real time.
• Satellite: Both Hannity and Levin are on XM/Sirius (Limbaugh could easily chose to do so but has not). And… that's right…. satellite talk radio is not rated.
There's more here, technically. Much, much more. But you get the picture. The fact of the matter is that the rapid and radical change in technology is something that has been recognized early on by conservative talk radio stars.
Because while millions may think of them in their on-air incarnations, these people are in fact that most American of personalities -- they are entrepreneurs. Excellent entrepreneurs. They understand their business, they know what they are doing, they are constantly looking for ways to maximize their audience and hence their message. As Americans have changed their listening habits and technology has advanced, conservative talkers have not only kept pace with their audience -- they have increased their audience size. They have been bold in quite deliberately moving forward to expand their reach and the reach of the conservative message on a vastly increased number of platforms well beyond the humble AM radio dial that Limbaugh in particular did so much to revive. And none or a very small fraction of these listeners are captured by Arbitron radio ratings for market X.
While the liberal Wile Coyotes plotted and planned ways to try and get them off of AM radio, stuck in a communications time warp from somewhere a few years back, the conservative Road Runners were supersizing the conservative talk radio message in every form imaginable from iPhones to satellites to their own web apps.
And when all is said and done, the proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating.
In this case this means the bottom line is -- the bottom line. In 22 years says another source familiar with the Limbaugh operation, Rush has never -- not once -- had a down year. With his tech empire rapidly and successfully expanding as was evidenced in December with the release of his web app and the Apple statistics, Rush is firmly at the head of this conservative talk-tech revolution. While liberal and anti-conservative operatives are trying to get away with saying his ratings are "dying," the fact is Limbaugh has already, in the first five months of 2011, enjoyed a 10% boost over 2010 in gross revenues, radio advertising, web subs, and more.
To borrow a phrase, a similar version of this is ditto for Hannity and Levin. They are massive commercial successes in expanding their conservative message through the use of technology well beyond the literal AM radio dial.
If in fact Limbaugh's audience -- or Hannity's or Levin's -- were decreasing in the dramatic fashion wished by his various Wile Coyote critics like John Avlon and Salon.com, the kind of very basic economic growth Rush is showing simply wouldn't be possible.
THIS STORY OF THE REAL-STORY behind the ratings of conservative talk radio has another angle as well.
Sitting down? The operative word here is scandal.
And it's an ugly one: a possible scandal involving race and ratings.
As reported in the New York Daily News back in December of 2009, Arbitron was threatened by New York Congressman Edolphus Towns over its Portable People Meter (PPM). The PPM, a small pager-like device that can be carried with ease, was hailed at the time as a new and more accurate way to measure radio ratings. When PPM burst onto the scene, the ratings for talk radio exploded. What took a dive in listenership ratings were urban and Hispanic formats. Towns, then the chairman of the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform, was furious. So too was House Judiciary chair and Democrat John Conyers, who organized a hearing on the matter, charging that the PPM system was discriminating against minorities.
But there's more here -- much more than meets the eye. And likewise this story has not been explored.
Arbitron, as a private business, is not -- understandably -- into the idea of sharing their trade secrets. This doesn't stop extremely knowledgeable people in the talk radio business from having a view as to how some of this business is conducted. As that story in the Daily News hinted and this transcript of the Conyers hearings demonstrate, a squeeze from liberals was put on Arbitron and their PPM system of measurement. To get out from under, one well-placed source tells me (another highly professional talk radio veteran who for understandable reasons has requested to be on background), the problem was resolved in the following fashion -- a fashion that could have little other outcome towards talk radio than generating the kind of headlines Mr. Avlon/Coyote and his liberal friends have produced.
Talk radio targets households making $75,000 or above. Participants in talk radio ratings surveys are paid $50 a month, not exactly a financial incentive if you are in this income demographic. But in the wake of the Towns/Conyers allegations -- which in fact involved a lack of participation by minority communities at the lower end of the economic scale -- something is said by this source to have changed to encourage that participation. The change? Pay more money to would-be participants. How much? The source is unclear but has been told personally the amount can be up to as much as $200 a month per household participant. If you have, say, 6 people in the household -- a household with an annual income of not $75,000 but $36,000 -- that's an extra $1200 a month.
What happened after this sequence of events? You got it. The financially struggling urban and Hispanic radio formats magically "returned" -- and the talk radio formats magically began to turn in lower rating numbers.
Is this exactly what happened? Certainly I can't say for sure given the understandable secrecy involved. But when one adds the quite public threats from powerful liberal members of Congress together with background information from talk radio veterans, this would seem not to take the proverbial rocket scientist to figure out how bad talk radio ratings are available for liberals and conservative talk radio foes like Avlon/Coyote to cherry pick for a headline. And by the by, remember this quote from Avlon/Coyote?
An apples-to-apples comparison of ratings between November '09 and November '10 in the New York area shows that Rush Limbaugh's ratings on WABC declined from 5.4 to 5.0 -- despite the crescendo of a GOP election year landslide. Likewise, year-end to year-end comparisons of the crucial 24 to 55 demographic show that Rush declined from 3.7 to 2.6 -- while his packaged follow-up acts Sean Hannity and Mark Levin narrowly declined and flat-lined, respectively.
Did you catch it?
Avlon/Coyote cites a year's worth of PPM ratings from… where? That's right. WABC -- in New York City. And where exactly is Congressman Towns from? That's right. New York City. And when were these ratings figures that Avlon/Coyote cites gathered? That's right: for 11 of the 12 months that followed the public warning by Congressman Towns, duly reported by the New York Daily News, that if Arbitron didn't hop to and do the Congressman's bidding on its rating system PPMs he was going to pass legislation to make them do it. And a year later? Presto! The ratings of Limbaugh, Hannity, and Levin have begun to shift. To chortling from Mr. Avlon/Coyote who seems totally innocent -- really -- of any knowledge of this decidedly questionable and serious ratings scandal.
Let's sum up, shall we? What do we have here?
1. Conservative talk radio stars are leading a radio revolution: Right under the noses of inept and clueless liberals, your favorites are not only not losing audience (a flat out lie), they are expanding, growing, highly commercially successful. Using by now highly refined skills as entrepreneurs, launching on everything from iPhones to satellite and the streaming idea and much more, they are attracting listeners in places that can never -- say again never -- be counted. Most importantly, these people -- who are competing with all manner of competitors from sports to prime-time TV lineups not to mention each other in some markets -- are making ocean liners of cash for their advertisers and sponsors.
2. A Potential Ratings Scandal Looms: There are serious questions out there on just how the ratings that showed the kind of drop precisely cited by the opponents of conservative talk radio came to be. While much attention was given to an Obama-run FCC bringing back the decidedly misnamed "Fairness Doctrine" or launching a push for "localism" to push the national conservatives off the air, in fact a quieter corruption may in fact have occurred. Unknowingly, John Avlon and others -- and it must be emphasized that unknowingly is the word -- fell for a set of ratings statistics that may in fact be the product of an old-fashioned political shakedown. Quite aside from the fact that a Rush or Sean or Mark Levin had the entrepreneurial smarts to use the tech revolution to their advantage, someone needs to run a serious-minded scandal investigation to see what's going on here for fact.
Does the name Congressman Darryl Issa -- the new Republican chair of the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee ring a bell? That would be the same perch from where, again according to the Daily News, the-then Democratic chair Congressman Towns issued his threat to Arbitron. It would seem that an attempt to arbitrarily fix the ratings with cash payments, fixed ratings designed to deliberately hurt the popularity of conservative talk radio as an institution if not the advertisers and personalities millions of Americans listen to every day -- if true -- is nothing if not a subject ripe for a congressional investigation.
IS THERE MORE? Sure. What Mr. Avlon/Coyote does have going here is an agenda to push so-called "Independent" politics on talk radio. His favorites, New York's John Batchelor and Philadelphia's Michael Smerconish (full disclosure: the latter a former colleague working at the late Jack Kemp's HUD), are in fact nowhere close to Limbaugh, Hannity, or Levin in the numbers of stations or audience. Indeed, neither Batchelor's WABC numbers in New York nor Smerconish's Philadelphia numbers are said to come close to Hannity's when he occupied nights in New York or afternoons on Smerconish's WPHT. But along with the "No Labels" crowd (of which he is a founding member), Avlon/Coyote believes the politics of Thomas E. Dewey, Bob Dole, and John McCain (among others) are sure winners in American presidential politics -- and in this instance, on talk radio. Another tale, another day.
Interestingly these attempts to take on the conservative talkers seem to coincide during slow news cycles. Imagine that.
But make no mistake.
Rush Limbaugh is not just a voice on the radio. He is a technological pacesetter.
Sean Hannity is not just a voice on the radio, he is a technological innovator.
Mark Levin is not simply the guy who makes the Constitution come to life on the radio, he is a technological entrepreneur.
All are on the cutting edge. They understand in their bones that communication is changing and have accordingly gone way out ahead of the curve. As a direct result their influence is spreading, their conservative message is spreading, and their clout, yes indeed, is increasing by leaps and bounds.
And something -- something -- appears to be afoot in the ratings game. With liberals and the anti-conservative talk radio crowd as clueless on the conservative technology revolution as they are gullible in taking the ratings bait. Yet make no mistake, this is a concerted and powerful effort to try and get conservative talk radio in any way it can be done. Bluntly put, when you can't beat 'em -- lie about 'em.
But as all the anti-talk radio Wile Coyotes have found out over the years as they have failed and failed again with one scheme after another to get them off the air, each of these personalities in their own way can be seen as the talk radio version of one of the most recognizable figures in American culture: the Road Runner.
Posted by Brett at 1:53 PM
Obama: American Idol
By Cal Thomas
DUBLIN, Ireland -- Observing the start of Lord and Lady Obama's (aka president and Michelle) grand European tour and the fawning press coverage, one might conclude they were imbued with royal blood.
The normally reserved and thoughtful columnist for the London Times, William Rees-Mogg, gushed about the president's speech before members of Parliament, comparing him to Winston Churchill. Obama is to Winston Churchill as Lady Gaga is to Ella Fitzgerald. Both are singers, but that's where the comparison ends.
In his parliamentary speech, which began with herald trumpets announcing his arrival (appropriate since Obama frequently toots his own horn by overdoing the personal pronouns "I" and "me") the president spoke favorably of Adam Smith, the patron saint of economic conservatives. Smith's philosophy is the antithesis of President Obama's "spread the wealth around" socialist philosophy. Smith is to Obama as Ronald Reagan is to Karl Marx.
Daily Telegraph columnist Bryony Gordon claimed to have had a conversation with an unnamed Secret Service agent. She quoted the agent as saying about Michelle Obama, "She has this glamour that I haven't seen before. She isn't just a first lady. She is Hollywood." Gush.
During the Obamas' brief visit to Dublin, I lined up with thousands of people waiting to get in to hear the president's speech in College Green. I was especially interested in what young people think of the president now, since it was American youth who fueled much of the enthusiasm behind his 2008 election.
A girl of high school age said she "loves" Obama and added without prompting, "I hate President Bush."
"Why?" I asked.
She stumbled, as if entering unexplored cerebral territory. "I hate all American presidents," she said (but obviously not Obama).
"Even George Washington?"
If this girl represents what is taught here, it would appear the state of Irish education is worse than American public education.
I interviewed a middle-age man, who was only slightly less enthusiastic than the high school girl. "What about his policies?" I asked. "He promised to close Guantanamo and quickly end wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."
That bothered him, but Obama's image clearly had gotten the best of his political judgment.
It was only after the Obamas had left for the G-8 meeting in France that a few in the British press began to recover from their fainting spell. Writing in The Telegraph, Andrew Gimson said, "Barack Obama's speech (to Parliament) failed to live up to his own high standards."
There were several factual errors in the president's speech, including his contention that since the War of 1812, when the British burned down the White House, "it's been smooth sailing" between the U.S. and Britain. Not exactly. Gimson cited one example: "Suez did not seem like plain sailing."
The president claimed, "...young men and women in the streets of Damascus and Cairo still reach for the rights our citizens enjoy." That is debatable, especially since the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood will be active, perhaps decisive, in the coming Egyptian election. And who knows what government will follow in Syria, should Bashar al-Assad stop killing protesters, or Libya with or without Gadhafi, or anywhere else in the Islamic world?
There were some emotional high points in the president's address, especially his reference to "the grandson of a Kenyan who served as a cook in the British Army to stand before you as president of the United States."
That brought applause, as it should have, but this is biography over which the president has no control, not policy, which he sets.
The Irish and British press put their skepticism on hold during the Obamas' visit, much as the American media regularly do with most Democratic presidents. In America, the big media have a political agenda, which is that of the Democratic Party. In Ireland and the United Kingdom, it was style over substance.
Forget Scotty McCreery, winner of TV's "American Idol." As host Ryan Seacrest might put it if he were announcing the arrival of President Obama in Ireland and England: "THIS is our 'American Idol.' "
To read another article by Cal Thomas, click here.
Posted by Brett at 2:01 AM
The Folly of Forsaking Our Friends in Israel
By Ken Connor
"Israel has no better friend than America, and America has no better friend than Israel." -Benjamin Netanyahu
In a speech before a joint session of Congress this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu affirmed what so many of us know to be true: Israel is the only true friend America has in the Middle East, and we should not take this friendship for granted. Yet this is exactly what it appears President Obama may be doing. After suggesting that renewed peace talks should begin with a return to the 1967 borders, Obama has spent the week attempting to clarify his words and mollify America's Jewish population.
Caveats about "land swaps" notwithstanding, it's unclear why the President would issue a statement so certain to rouse unease among our Jewish allies. If it was an ill-considered attempt at Arab appeasement, the President needs to get real. Aside from denying the legitimacy of the Jewish state and joining the Palestinians in their efforts to push Israel into the Mediterranean Sea, there can be no compromise with anti-Jewish forces in the Middle East. They are not interested in peace, and will never accept a two-state solution. This has been their position for more than sixty years.
Since President Truman became the first Head of State to recognize the Israel, America has been bound by a moral, ideological, and some might say theological commitment to the Jewish people. After witnessing the horrors of the Holocaust – the ghastly climax of centuries of unrelenting discrimination, persecution and ostracism in Europe and elsewhere – the United States came to recognize that the survivors of Hitler's unspeakable terror should be allowed to reclaim a place for themselves in their ancestral homeland.
Our support has been critical through the years, for without it, Israel truly stands alone and vulnerable, surrounded by antagonistic entities hell bent on her destruction. But America's reasons for supporting Israel are not merely sentimental. For those that question the strategic wisdom of the United States continuing its support for Israel in these precarious diplomatic times, it should be acknowledged that no other nation in the region exemplifies western liberal ideals better than Israel. President Obama, like his predecessors before him, often speaks of the flame of freedom that burns within the heart of each person, and the universal right of mankind to exercise this freedom in societies governed by the rule of law. Where can you find such freedom in the Middle East but in Israel? Netanyahu made this point forcefully in his speech to Congress:
My friends, you don't have to . . . do nation-building in Israel. We're already built. You don't need to export democracy to Israel. We've already got it. And you don't need to send American troops to Israel. We defend ourselves. . . . This path of liberty is not paved by elections alone. It's paved when governments permit protests in town squares, when limits are placed on the powers of rulers, when judges are beholden to laws and not men, and when human rights cannot be crushed by tribal loyalties or mob rule. Israel has always embraced this path in a Middle East that has long rejected it. In a region where women are stoned, gays are hanged, Christians are persecuted, Israel stands out. It is different.
Courageous Arab protesters are now struggling to secure these very same rights for their peoples, for their societies. We're proud in Israel that over one million Arab citizens of Israel have been enjoying these rights for decades. Of the 300 million Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa, only Israel's Arab citizens enjoy real democratic rights. Now, I want you to stop for a second and think about that. Of those 300 million Arabs, less than one-half of 1 percent are truly free and they're all citizens of Israel. This startling fact reveals a basic truth: Israel is not what is wrong with about the Middle East; Israel is what is right about the Middle East. Israel fully supports the desire of Arab peoples in our region to live freely. We long for the day when Israel will be one of many real democracies in the region – in the Middle East.
Why President Obama would say or do anything to jeopardize the invaluable friendship that's grown up between American and the Middle East's only true democracy is perplexing. Again, if the reason lies in some ideologically-driven desire to appease volatile forces in Palestine, Syria, and Iran, then the President is guilty of grand naivete, for these entities will not be satisfied with anything less than Israel's complete destruction.
Clearly, the Israel-Palestine conflict is not a simple issue, but the choice between alliance with radical anti-Semetic, anti-American factions and Israel should be an easy decision for the United States. There is nothing to be gained by forsaking our Jewish friends at this critical moment in time. Freedom and democracy will never thrive in the Middle East if America adopts an attitude of indifference towards the relentless campaign of terror being waged against the nation of Israel.
To read another article by Ken Conner, click here.
Posted by Brett at 1:50 AM