Wednesday, September 3, 2014

When Democrats Have No Answers . . .They Make Stuff Up

The Democratic Party knows that the gas that Obama put in the tank in 2012 has about run out.  Most likely, they counted on the Hillary rollout earlier this year to help boost their brand.  For the first time, she stepped on the national stage unencumbered by powerful men such as her husband and Obama.  Unfortunately for her, the book tour turned into a book snore.  She came away looking both out of touch and saddled with painful reminders that foreign policy devolved into a mess under her stewardship.

Hillary was the last chance for a Democratic Party that has clung more to appearances than accomplishments.  But she turned out to not have nearly the political savvy of her husband, which most had assumed whether they supported her or not.  Without Hillarymania, Democrats have nothing on which to hang their hat.  No one wants to own either Obamacare or the rapidly deteriorating foreign policy disasters.

What is a Democrat to do?  When you don't have the facts, just make something up.

Liberal media coordination showed its weird face again last week.  Almost simultaneously, Think Progress, MSNBC, Atlantic, and other outlets posted stories about the Republicans planning a government shutdown over possible executive order amnesty for illegal immigrants.  This naturally took the GOP by surprise, since it is confident that voters will oppose Obama enacting law on his own.

The Daily Caller and other conservative media exposed the crude ruse yesterday.  Quickly following this came White House word that Obama had backed off on his amnesty proposal, calling for a national debate before doing anything.  The Daily Caller's Neil Munro speculated that this is a retreat, if not a white flag.

Did the White House gin up a fake concern, lead supporting media by the nose, and then start to dump the whole issue?  Maybe not, but clearly someone made up the shutdown story for some purpose they thought would benefit the Democratic Party.

This all came only weeks after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spent weeks wasting the Senate's time grousing about two Americans promoting their ideals within the letter of federal and state laws.

With many predictors indicating Republican control of Congress after this election, desperate times must have called for desperate measures from the Democratic Party.

West Virginia is not immune.  Natalie Tennant's campaign actually brought in anti-coal Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts to campaign with her.  No sane campaign official could have thought this would help Tennant against Capito; it seemed more of a rally for Warren's possible presidential run than anything for Tennant's benefit.

After Warren's visit, Capito increased her polling lead dramatically.

Meanwhile, Nick Casey's campaign against Alex Mooney has also gained no traction.  From Stephen Elkins to Jay Rockefeller to Patrick Morrissey, the Mountain State's supposed prejudice against outsiders has usually proved illusory. Polls indicate that prior residency is still not an issue in this race.

Casey's supporters have tried to paint Mooney as anti-coal, based in part on his opposition while state senator to putting a trash incinerator within literal shouting distance of a national battlefield.  Also Casey, owner of five separate houses, has tried to cast himself as a frugal common man.  He slammed Mooney in the past because he, like many other West Virginians, rented his home instead of owning it.

The WVGOP has enjoyed poking fun in particular at Casey's claim that he only buys black shoes and socks.  Some criticized the party for making a point of showing that he indeed had other colors of shoes and socks, but state Republicans have made the Casey campaign look trivial in the spat.  Mooney talks about jobs; Casey talks about his socks.

Capito, Mooney, Evan Jenkins, and David McKinley all run on common sense proposals that would help the state and national economy while enhancing our security.  Tennant, Casey, and others try to run on the tired old stereotypes of the rich Republican, seemingly unaware that Obama has made the Democrats the party of golf and Kobe beef.  More damningly, they are also the party of rich environmental elitists putting working men out of jobs.

Nationally, Democrats face the same set of crises.  They followed left wing policies on health care and the environment, only to see them lead straight to what the GOP predicted. They exploited the easy politics of the cult of personality, until that personality was shown to be bankrupt of ideas and listless in action.  Republicans do not have a beautiful image to rally behind, just a set of tried and true ideals that most people happen to agree with.

And Democrats have no real or imaginary answers to both their upcoming political defeat and the escalating crises facing the US.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What Story Could Link the Shadier Parts of the Internet to Apple's Corporate Image?

Last weekend, the news broke that nude pictures of a large number of female celebrities had been swiped from iCloud.  The list includes Kate Upton, Jennifer Lawrence, Mary Kate Olsen, and many others.

Deadspin reported that a reader approached them weeks ago with a tale of a Facebook offer to trade nude pictures of Jennifer Lawrence for similar pictures of his girlfriend.  This has led some to believe that these pictures have actually been in circulation for a long time in the nether regions of the internet.

The pictures have turned up mostly on a site called 4chan, a site dedicated to picture sharing.  According to the Washington Post, one particular area of the site known for graphic images of sex and violence hosted most of the leaked celebrity pictures.

Users of 4chan tried to use the leaked pictures to launch a campaign to get young women to pose nude in sympathy for Jennifer Lawrence and other victims of the leaked pictures.

If they are celebrity pictures.  Some of the victims have taken to social media and shown that the images are fake.  Others may be genuine.  The FBI has launched an investigation, particularly in the case of specific victims. And Kirsten Dunst, another possible target, publicly lashed out at Apple.

Another related issue for the stars does not simply come from the breach of privacy, but also comments made on the pictures themselves.  Emma Watson condemned anonymous comments that she said "lacked empathy."

Dunst's choice tweet directed at Apple, calling them a sliver of excrement, could symbolize a backlash against the ubiquitous use of that company's products.  If consumers start to question the safety and wisdom (which they should!) of putting most of their lives into the digital realm, this could take a bite out of Apple's plans to link everything, including your microwave and crockpot, to the internet.

Putting nude images in something called a cloud should seem like a bad idea to begin with.  The cloud is a digital community as safe or unsafe as a tangible one.  If you put something up there in high demand, like naked pictures or Quentin Tarentino's next script, it could very well be stolen.

It's a violation of rights to steal celebrity pictures, or anything else, from the cloud. Those who did this ought to be prosecuted. But the crime is tantamount to someone stealing a car with the keys in it.  The victim did not take sufficient care to protect his or her property.  Apple is a company that mastered the art of planned obsolescence.  It is less a moral force and more of a company that short ends its consumers in the same manner as US automakers in the 1950s. Can such a company really be trusted with your secrets?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Three Speeches That Destroyed Presidencies

Andrew Johnson's speech on Washington's Birthday 1866.  He compares himself to Christ and his Radical Republican political opponents in Congress to the recently defeated Confederates.

Jimmy Carter's "Crisis of Confidence" or "Malaise" speech.  He lays out a laundry list of demoralizing American problems with no solutions and no real hope of success.

Barack Obama's stunning admission, after a summer full of golf and vacations that he has no strategy for ISIL revolutionaries.

CNN: Living Proof That Market Dominance Does Not Necessarily Last

People under 30 probably have no direct memory of it, but at one point, CNN equaled news.  And if you did not believe that, Darth Vader told you so.  This week, however, layoffs and "managerial changes" are convulsing the network.

When movies wanted to include realistic news references in the early 1990s, they cited CNN.  They were everywhere and showed everything.  Why wait for Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw's updates at the top of the hour or their full broadcast at 6:30?  You could see it now on CNN.

The era of CNN's ownership of modern news came only a little over a decade after the retirement of CBS' Walter Cronkite.  It also came in most major newspapers' most profitable years.

What happened?

Part of the problem emerged in the 1990s when a personal friend of President Bill Clinton's was chosen to lead CNN.  Regardless of the resulting coverage, this created at least the perception, if not the outcome, of a conflict of interest. 

A real or perceived liberal bias opened the market for competition.  This included the conservative leaning Fox News and (at the time) the even more conservative MSNBC.

Does anyone remember when MSNBC featured Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, and Tucker Carlson?

Viewers latched onto Fox News, which eventually became the leading cable television news outlet.  Others turned away from television (and tangible newspapers) altogether and started using the internet as a primary news source.

CNN struggled to adapt while trying to maintain their image as the "real" news source.  A 2012 Pew survey praised CNN for keeping 55 percent of its broadcast focused on news (as opposed to 45 percent for Fox News and less than 10 percent for MSNBC.) 

Recent hires should have helped.  Jake Tapper headlines one of CNN's premiere spots.  He is one of the few media figures respected from all ideological points of view.

Problems, however, continued. Reports of extravagant overspending in times of declining ratings dog the news of layoffs.  And these layoffs and early retirements affect many of CNN's most senior, most experienced, and core personnel.

Whatever the problems are, clearly CNN has still not discovered the solution to its viewership and profitability woes in this competitive media age.  The network built its reputation and market dominance in an era of no competition. Only figuring out a way to regain competitive advantage can bring it back towards what it once was.