April 2010

Where does the mainstream broadcast media get the vapid, insipid and incurious “talent” who infest the national media outlets?

[I only very occasionally watch network news or news-oriented programming. I went "off" these programs years ago, when I spotted the then subtle media bias that was infecting these programs and the stories that they purveyed. So for me, any present day crossing of paths with the news as presented by ABC, NBC or CBS (and to a large extent on CNN and an utterly ubiquitous extent on MSNBC) is an eye-opening experience. I'm not going to name names, but you can be almost 100% guaranteed that the news reader or news presenter or news reporter is marginal at their craft...and ideologically rather than skill driven in their craft.]

There are two problems with these folks and the jobs that they do in their chosen careers. First and foremost is that they are not journalists in any conventional sense. A journalist is defined by their intellectual curiosity and their willingness to tackle any story in a vigorous, tenacious manner — even if the story meshes with their personal and political sensibilities. Journalism is a relentless search and revelation of the TRUTH. It is a no-holds-barred teasing out of FACT from sometimes elusive and disparate sources, and it can chafe against their preconceived notions. It can be thankless, dirty work. But what job worth doing isn’t?

The faux journalists that we encounter on the broadcast networks can be safely described as news readers. They regurgitate news stories that have been homogenized and processed by the safe consumption of the news hungry public. Part fluff and part propaganda, the information provided by the network newsies is an affront to those who claim the title journalist. And when you add in the not so hidden political leaning and agenda, these news programs become wholly unwatchable to discerning consumers of hard news.

The second pervasive problem with these newsfolk is that they are seemingly insensate to true meaning of the facts that they are presenting. They say one thing…bolster their facts with seemingly contradictory information…yet their story elicits another contradictory conclusion from the viewer. I call this the 2+2=5 syndrome. What I mean by this is that these ersatz journalists will use any method to support their deep-seated and long-standing political or personal beliefs, even if their method(s) are unmistakably wrong. They use flawed logic or partial recitation of facts or downright omission to get across or bolster their viewpoint.

But no, the de rigeur method of reporting the news is to strongly color it with the reader’s political bias or sensibilities. They resort to a hybrid of fact and opinion to get their preconceived point across. Two perfect examples are the mostly favorable coverage of the Obama administration and the (lack of) coverage of the unraveling global warming debate including the “Climategate” controversy. In these two examples and many others as well, the news “coverage” is merely a recitation of self-serving facts and glaring omissions.

So, what we’re left with is a conundrum. Do we accept the status quo and allow our first amendment gatekeepers to provide us with flawed and duplicitous information packaged as “the news?” Do we allow ourselves to swallow what is presented to us as fact without questioning the stories or teasing out motives? Will we automatically assign credibility to anyone who sits in a broadcast studio in front of a video green screen and uses their Constitutional rights to free speech to co-opt our God-given right to hear the truth? I pray the answers are “no”, “no” and “no!” But in fact, many millions of Americans receive 100% of their daily news from the broadcast media. Unfortunately this means that many if not most of these folks get a skewed view of reality, a view crafted by the news organization that they choose to watch. The news they are provided is defective, yet out of ignorance (in a lack of knowledge sense rather than a pejorative slur) these news consumers don’t know what they don’t know.

The old axiom “ignorance is bliss” is appropriate when applied to the consumers of broadcast news and their views of reality. There are many erstwhile intelligent individuals who lead blissful existences while bathed in their carefully provided world views. We can only hope that one or both of two possible things occur. The first is that people start to become consumers of the wider array of news available to them in print, on cable or on the internet. Certainly some of the conclusions from the varied sources will be contradictory, and threaten the consumer’s world view. But that will leave it to the consumer of news to ferret out the TRUTH — rather than remaining comfortably numb in a situation where they receive only propagandized news and information.

The second occurrence may take longer, but will ultimately be the most satisfying in the end. Since it is assumed that people may only be treated as suckers for a finite amount of time, it may be possible that the broadcast news might get its ultimate comeuppance because of its willful duplicity. With so much truth out there for them to see, read and hear, consumers of the news will eventually catch on and modify their news-gathering habits or abandon broadcast news all together. In fact, over the past ten years or so consumption of the broadcast news has steadily decreased to the point where there have been reductions and cut backs in these organizations. And their stature as trusted sources of information/news is decreasing with time. Could it be that an increasingly savvy population of news consumers just doesn’t find value in the information being presented to them by the broadcast MSM?


But most likely it is a change in lifestyle and news gathering habits that is occurring. The internet has provided folks with the capability of obtaining their news 24/7 and at their leisure. They don’t have to be anchored to a schedule (for example 6 and 11pm) to watch the news. Hopefully, the rise of the internet means things are changing and a new day is coming where news consumers are more discerning and more questioning of their sources of information.

If this is the case, the broadcast MSM will be forced to change with the times (and report unvarnished news again as they once did) or vanish in favor of a more “democratic” alternative. It is an exciting possibility for the future of news and it cannot happen fast enough!

The FDA has announced that as a part of our new nanny state that they will more vigorously look after our collective health by regulating the amount of sodium contained in prepared foods. That’s right…seemingly we individual Americans can be only trusted to vote without verification or regulation, but when it comes to anything else, including eating, we need the help and guidance of a benevolent government to get things right.

You know what? Leave my damn salt alone. And that goes for my sugar too! I’m a big boy now…I can dress myself and earn an honest living — I even read and write on my own, so why can’t I be expected to make the right decisions regarding my life — including the consumption of minerals, seasonings and sweeteners?

I can, and dammit, I will!

Personally, I don’t use salt, and I limit my consumption of foods containing sodium. I always get my Chinese food sans MSG. I don’t like the thumping heart rate that sodium-laden food gives me…never have, never will. It’s not a health issue, it’s a matter of like or dislike on my part. You know, those quaint old concepts called personal freedom and liberty.

I don’t need my government dictating to me how much sodium that I may or may not consume. I can figure that out for myself. I’m sure others can and will make similar choices as well. For example, my father-in-law LOVES salt, and he uses it liberally on his food. He doesn’t have any circulatory- or heart-related health issues, so why can’t he go for it if he wants? It’s his free-willed personal choice. Right? He doesn’t need the FDA to insinuate itself between his hand and his salt shaker.

I’d prefer my government concentrating on the very limited set of powers that is vested in it in the Constitution. If the Founders wanted the federal government to limit our access to salt licks and such, then I think they would have been quite explicit in their wishes.

Apparently they weren’t…so leave me the hell alone!

The Congress is now, in my learned opinion, exerting fraudulent legislative power over the American people because of generous interpretations of their powers as set forth in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution and a complicit, non-confrontational Supreme Court.

I’ve railed in the past about the generous interpretations of the words “welfare” and “commerce” and the assumed powers that these interpretations give to Congress. These “lawyerly,” scholarly interpretations are an affront to the average citizen’s rights given the (actual, put on paper) very limited set of duties and powers assigned to the Congress by the Founders. Over the past decades in the modern era (post-1900), Congresses have been on a political power grab to achieve legislative primacy over the American people, and the American people have been numbed by the residue of the cumulative legislation and “grateful” for the goodies that have been unleashed by these laws as well. We have been incrementally transformed from a nation of natural freedoms, rights and liberties to a nation where freedoms, rights and liberties are granted by our generous government. This transformation is a perversion of the intent of the Founders, and it sets us on a path of ultimate national failure due to our governmental excesses.

If we review Section 8 in a literal sense, our Congress has few real legislative powers. They don’t have the assigned power to, say, mandate our purchase of health care or manipulate our energy policy. They do however, have a fraudulent, assumptive power that WE have allowed them to assume. Congress’ powers have been assumed and accumulated over time due to the laziness and lack of oversight of the American citizen/voter. We have been lax in our oversight of our elected representatives, and we have with time replaced vigilance with dependence. Our representatives are expected to bring home the bacon rather than be vanguards of our collective Constitutional rights.

Simply put, the federal Congress should have little influence over our daily lives. The Constitution allows that the state that we live in is responsible for enacting legislation that affects our lives. Not the federal government. Any laws enacted should be done as close to the influence of the individual as possible…not at the stratospheric federal level by a detached legislature.

What better explains the reason why many Congressmen/women state that they don’t care about the Constitution? If the Constitution and it’s relationship to the average citizen doesn’t matter to them…or a piece of legislation is more important than the Constitution that it is supposed to be subordinate to, then we have definitely chosen our representatives unwisely, and they definitely have powers to legislate that are wrongly assigned or fraudulent in nature.

It has taken a long time for this situation to come into existence, so it will take a long time for us to reverse this legislative mindset. But this will only occur if we act soon. There has been much talk of tipping points in regards to establishing a permanent citizen-government political co-dependency in our nation. Trust me folks, we are almost there now!

But it is not too late yet. We need to change our expectations of what our federal government is or isn’t. We need to educate our children in the lost art of personal Constitutional vigilance. How can we expect to be vigilant over our rights and liberties if we are ignorant of the particulars of the Constitution?. We shouldn’t be dependent upon legislators, judges and lawyers to be the stewards of our rights and liberties. They are NOT the vanguards of our rights, etc., that we expect them to be as they are creatures of the SYSTEM. The desperately flawed and manipulated system. The system crafted in part by the fraudulent powers assumed by our Congress! This means that individually we need to become more active in the process of governance, regardless of how much time it takes from our private lives or our leisure. If we aren’t watchful, or don’t place a high value on our legislative governance process, then we can expect to be fleeced of our rights and liberties in order to satisfy those special interests who are.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…the choice is yours and yours alone. I can’t make you become engaged and vigilant, nor can anyone else. But mark my words — if you abdicate your Constitutional responsibilities to an elected politician, then be prepared to accept the results. And since you only exercise your responsibilities on Tuesdays in November, then you heartily deserve to be used and abused.

Your inaction and passivity is your own reward.

I heard a pretty funny call in to yesterday’s Dennis Miller Radio Show. The female caller said she had attended a Tea party rally on April 15th (tax day) and saw a sign that she thought that Dennis would think was funny:

I Can See November From My Front Porch.

Funny stuff. There are a lot of simultaneously angry and humorous protesters out there in America. These aren’t right-wing nut jobs or neo-Nazi supporters who are one synapse away from shooting up their fellow man. Nor are they the socially-defective, racist swine as they are portrayed to be by the mainstream media.

No, contrary to what Obama and his über-Democrat/liberal/socialist minions think, I think that they are patriots in the most sincere sense. They represent the best in us, and they are willing to do the heavy lifting required to put our country back on the right track.

I just hope that that rally attendee’s sign is more prescient than they could ever hope for.

Article I of the Constitution provides the power to legislate to the Congress as well as to the legislatures of the various states. But because Congress is given this authority, must they necessarily use it constantly?

Listen, some of the members of Congress experience a one-off affront or circumstance, and they have legislation drafted to regulate the situation within a week. So as a result, they’re going to ‘punish’ 300+ million citizens because of a single or small minority example/instance/infraction? Why? To what end, except to exert political force, does legislating or regulating our lives help us as a result?

Sometimes, many times, enough is simply enough. How much onerous liberty-tugging or tax burdening legislation are we expected to endure? How long are we supposed to ignore the plain English words contained in the Constitution in favor of the politically skewed interpretations that have given the Congress almost godlike power over the life of the average American citizen?

I hope that the growing discontent with all things government, as exemplified by the Tea Party protests, gives many legislators a “come to Jesus” moment regarding their roles as a legislators. They must come to realize that they simply cannot ignore the Constitution or the legitimate grievances of the citizens whom they purport to represent. And they mustn’t under any circumstances use legislation as a flail or a bludgeon.

The implementation of an agenda that includes wisdom and vision does not always require action to make it successful. Sometimes inaction or the ability to control oneself are the hallmarks of successful leadership. A less aggressive Congressional legislative agenda would certainly fit this mold.

I pray for such successful leadership coming from our leaders in Washington for the foreseeable future.

I was thinking today about leadership in relationship to the presidency. I’ve always felt that a true leader is someone who can convince those he leads to follow them almost anywhere, based on cogent, honest and open discussions and information. It’s also been a longtime observation of mine that leadership cannot be learned; you’re either a leader or you’re not. Sure, the military has officer’s candidate schools like West Point or the US Naval Academy where they cultivate leadership skills, but there is a rigorous winnowing process involved at these institutions and the process of leadership is usually spread across a chain of command.

I also believe that the act of being elected president doesn’t make the successful candidate a leader. The act of having sixty-three or so million people vote for them confers the title and responsibilities of leader upon them, but it does not imbue the person with the quality of leadership. We can use Barack Obama as a prime example of this.

Nothing that this man has done as president fits the proper definition of leadership. He has performed his duties with an often aloof and ham-handed approach, preferring to rule rather than to lead. It is apparent that he views leadership in a paternalistic way: To him a leader has all the answers and is correct in all his assumptions. His idea of a leader is someone who rallies his “troops” by lecturing them and force feeding them bogus information — even when his troops aren’t buying what he’s selling. In a effort to gain our political favor and approval (we) the masses get frequent oratorical nostrums and platitudes, but little in the way of direction and goals.

Sure, a leader can be expected to rally the troops…to increase morale and to set or reset expectations. But the rallying should be troop-centric rather than leader-centric. But in regards to Obama’s leadership ability, we’ve been WAY too leader-centric in the rallying that’s been going on. But our president has been using the rallying process to bolster his standing rather than prepare us for the battles ahead.

And now we have been subjected to the ultimate leadership faux pas by Obama. He recently announced his new “strategy” on the use (or lack thereof) of nuclear weapons. His idea of nuclear weapons is one where they are NEVER used — not even as a retaliation to a first strike against us. Jim Jones or the Hale Bopp comet guy were ersatz leaders who convinced their troops to commit suicide towards some higher purpose: But that isn’t leadership, it’s cult-of-personality insanity! Perhaps our president has a death wish or he may have some misconception about deterrence against violence in a dangerous world, but I assure you that this type of leadership is more about attrition than it is about strength. Nuclear weapons by virtue of their existence are the ultimate tools of deterrence.

In the final analysis, a leader is someone who would prefer that all his troops survive a battle. A leader rallies his troops by LEADING them into battle — a battle that has no restrictions placed upon it for political reasons. A no-holds-barred skirmish where the troops aren’t hamstrung by instructions to play by the Marquis of Queensbury rules when the opponents have no such restrictions and, worse, are throwing battery acid at and kicking the troops with spike-laden boots.

However, I think we all get the impression that our fearless leader would sound the charge, but stay behind the lines to direct the troops rather than join the battle. For Obama, narcissism and self-preservation trump integrity and valor. And I think if push came to shove, our aloof president would opt for a “shove” strategy — he would be likely to lead us to the cliff’s edge then push us over it if it were beneficial to his own self interests and preservation. Haven’t we seen this right before our eyes with the recent passage of the health care “reform” legislation? The passage of Obamacare assured him of some historical “legacy”, but in order to achieve this the rest of us were shoved into a life of servitude and obedience to a more powerful government.

But honestly, isn’t that what we come to expect from our “leaders” in this new political and social reality?

American citizens are a curious lot. We are caring and generous, yet almost simultaneously we can be selfish and petty. It’s no surprise that we have both high highs and low lows, we’re human beings who carry all the frailties of humanity. So the spectrum of emotions and actions we exhibit is not unexpected. However, beyond the virtues and the sins, we are a trusting people. Very trusting…trusting to a fault.

My case in point is the trust that we put in our elected representatives and public officials to do what’s right and proper. By right and proper I mean, and forgive me for my recent strict Constitutionalist jag here, according to the actual words contained in the Constitution. Let me use the titles from two stories that appeared on the news wires this morning as illustrations of what I propose are specious, extra-Constitutional, authorities (over aspects of our lives and livelihoods) that have been given to or assumed by our Federal government:

1.) Fuel efficiency rules aimed at advanced vehicles, by Ken Thomas of the Associated Press, and

2.) Loan changes to help students, community colleges, by Darlene Superville of the AP.

Okay, now here is the education part. If someone can disabuse me of my strong notion that neither of these activities (setting vehicle mileage standards nor loaning money for student loans) falls under the strict Constitutional responsibility of the federal government, I’d like to be educated otherwise.

Let me play apt student here and say that the authority to set the fuel efficiency rules comes from our old friend the squishy commerce clause. Vehicles are part of commerce, so the government has the authority to set whatever standards need apply. The same twisted rationale probably applies to the authority to administer student loans. Or perhaps the creators of the legislation though that student loans were under the legislative umbrella of “welfare.”

In either case, let me tell you it’s a stretch…and the authority to do either of these activities stands on pretty shaky ground if you ask me. The only reason we have the government assuming these roles is the perverse layer-cake strata of precedent and established law that have allowed this authority in the Constitution to stand over time. Not that, mind you, the (actual) Constitution has any bearing on some laws or some powers granted to the federal government any more. No, a lot of what we are forced to deal with gains its force of authority from many historical layers of judicial and legislative assumptions, presumptions and wild-assed guesses (if one were to really consider the rigid constitutionality of say the National Park Service).

This might be jurisprudence and our legal system…but it isn’t right, and it isn’t, strictly speaking, loyal to the Constitution. I mean the only thing we have to rely on are the actual words the Founders put to paper and their writings previously and subsequently to this action to understand their motives and frames of mind. We can’t have jurors and legislators trying to act the part of contemporary “Founders Lite” and have them assign authorities and powers not found in the actual words in the Constitution out of thin air. Can we?

Well, up to now we have, because we have allowed this to happen. And bit-by-bit, piece-by-piece, we’ve been left with this layer cake-like structure of laws and regulations that rule almost every aspect of our daily lives. It would be comforting to know that each layer was connected to the next with strong cement, the cement of strict Constitutional fealty. However, we actually have layers that are connected with less permanence and integrity. We generally stand on very shaky ground when we look to the Constitution for the genesis of most federal power and authority.

So, when we as citizens and individuals with a keen interest in the application of OUR Constitution, we are presented with a federal government hierarchy that exists for and of the hierarchy. We’ve allowed them to be custodians of the rules AND make them up as they go along. Certainly there is more to the situation than my obviously jaded statement. But in the end, the Constitution belongs to all of us, we the people, and we are entitled to a rigorous explanation and rationale for the assumption of powers by the federal government.

The explanations better be cogent and  and logical, steeped in strict Constitutional, compliance otherwise there comes the appearance of assumptions and presumptions…and even ulterior motives. We can’t have this and the average American shouldn’t just shrug their shoulders and stand for this craven manipulation. After all, it’s OUR Constitution…our life line to the freedoms and liberties given to us by God and codified by our Founders.

Otherwise, we should just reject the pretense and issue Ouija boards and tea cups so that our lawmakers and judiciary can do a proper job of divining the original intent of the Constitution. If we’re not going to use (and remain loyal to) the actual words, using the meaning in effect at the time of the Founders, then we need to use something more reliable than just guesswork. So, let’s pick our poison if we’re going to live with this rickety and dangerous structure of laws…let’s agree to accept the logic of the Ouija board or the fate of the tea leaves than live with some of the more corrupt and contemptible laws and subsequent legal rulings arrived at without the use of these handy-dandy decision makers.

We probably couldn’t do any worse than what we have right now, right?