Giving Leftist Link-Baiting Trolls the Attention They Deserve: Slim

Originally, I was thinking that such cretins should receive no attention, but at some point their outrageous claims need to be refuted. However, the problem in today’s world of social media is of giving them too much attention. In the digital age, the bomb-throwers (let’s be honest, this occurs on the right too) are usually affiliated with some website or online publication. These venues take in revenue from online advertising, which is determined by traffic to the sites – the more traffic, the higher the rates to place an ad and the more money the site makes. Thus, in large part, the value of a “writer/journalist” can be measured in the amount of mouse clicks and online comments he or she generates, regardless of the quality of the writing. Case in point, Salon.com’s David Sirota. This hack created quite a social media reaction with the following tweet:

Unfortunately, I was hoping to avoid any link to the article in which Sirota expounds on his point; however, it was embedded in the offending Twitter tweet. As expected, there were many responses…even to the point that “#BlockedByDavidSirota” was trending on twitter (and seen as a badge of honor) and his two articles on the topic had generated over 20 pages of comments each.

Unfortunately, all of this activity likely had the opposite effect of that intended, and Sirota was probably laughing as his piece generated hit after hit and social media trends – adding more value, not less, to his employers. In these days, overly complaining and trying to refute someone is less effective than plain ignoring him or her.

The problem is finding the right balance. I firmly believe that such outrageous assertions must be refuted, but a line must be established so that we are not encouraging, enabling and enriching these trolls. While finding that line can be difficult, I think William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection found the right balance:

I’m not going to link to it.

It’s just more David Sirota link bait.

Forcing a rant about “white privilege” and white men into any situation, no matter how ridiculous, has become his schtick.

No link, just look and laugh:

David Sirota - Lets hope Boston Marathon bomber white American
Salon.com mcveigh_bin_laden-620x412

Perhaps that’s the best way, acknowledge/refute the claims without falling for the link bait.

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Not For The Faint Of Heart: Documentary On Gosnell’s House Of Horrors

Even though the legacy MSM is virtually ignoring the Kermit Gosnell murder trial, the new media (especially right-leaning sites) have recently taken up the slack. While anyone with a conscience has been horrified over the testimony in the case, it’s one thing to read about the horrors, but to actually hear and see what was going on at 3801 Lancaster in Philadelphia takes one’s outrage to a different level. The documentary was made before the trial, but provides the evidence that led to Gosnell’s arrest. Not for the faint of heart:

(h/t Denny Burk)

Thoughts On “The Right Wing Echo Chamber”

An “echo chamber” is a situation in which information, ideas, or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by transmission inside an “enclosed” space. This would typically occur when an individual or group of individuals immerse themselves only in one side of an argument, essentially being only exposed to a certain view on a topic. Media, both new and legacy, is peppered with talks of the “Right-Wing Echo Chamber” and the “Left-Wing Echo Chamber” and whatever other echo chamber of which you can think. For the most part, it is meant in a derogatory way, with center-right outlets talking about the left-wing, and center-left outlets talking about the right-wing.

Recently, though, I found myself thinking about the concept of the echo chamber, and if perhaps it might be something that could be used constructively (as in concrete ways to avoid it) in order to design arguments for the300px-Portrait_of_Dana_Loesch_ conservative viewpoint that may be more persuasive to the general public; in other words to help prevent us from simply “preaching to the choir” and reach a broader audience.

By way of background, the event that got me thinking about this topic was an appearance by Dana Loesch on the Piers Morgan show, discussing gun control:

300px-Piers_Morgan_-_2011_cropped

To be clear, Dana did a great job defending the conservative view of gun ownership and the 2nd Amendment, especially in light of the fact that not only did she have to contend with Morgan talking over her, but that “intellectual heavyweight” Van Jones doing so as well. Judging by the various pundits in the Right-O-Sphere, I was not alone in my assessment, and Twitter was abuzz with praise for the performance.

However, judging by the responses from the left regarding the interaction, it was clear that they did not view the argument as persuasive, and in fact thought that Morgan and Jones came out on top. As a result, I got to thinking about how there could be such wildly differing views on the same discussion. Of course, the left are pre-disposed to be convinced by its own arguments (the Left-Wing Echo Chamber), but typically, when there is a clear-cut winner in a debate, everyone knows it. Perhaps we are so used to hearing our own arguments over and over that when he hear them presented well, we are automatically convinced we “won.” Add to that the large number of prominent voices declaring the same thing over and over again, and the thought is more deeply reinforced.

However, maybe we ought to take a look at the way we are making arguments, in order to better to expose the absurdity of the leftist position. For instance, one of the big “wins” in the above video was getting Morgan to “admit” that he wanted gun confiscation. I’m not sure that he really ever did, and let’s face it, a lot of people who watch him are okay with that (the argument over magazine capacity and how many deaths were acceptable were unpersuasive for the same reason). Rather, a more effective line of argumentation would have focused more on the leftist answer for everything – more laws.

I submit that a more persuasive argument would have gone something like this:

“So tell me Piers, was Adam Lanza obeying the law when he performed his grotesque shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary?”

[No.]

“Was he obeying the law when he murdered his mother and stole her lawfully obtained guns?”

[No.]

“In other words, there are already laws against murder and theft, and did Lanza obey them?”

[No.]

“So, if Adam Lanza was intent on breaking any law that would prevent him from carrying out that tragic deed, can you name one law that would have prevented the massacre?”

[No expected over much protestation.]

While it’s not a perfect argument (and I’m sure there are plenty of people who could  refine it much better than I, getting Morgan to admit that laws would not have prevented the tragedy gets right at the heart of the leftist action plan. Admitting defeat on that front may then get more people to question their current views, and leave them open to alternatives. However, in order to do so, we need to step out of the echo chamber to find out how the leftists think, and their hot-buttons on the issues rather than just focus on arguments that are convincing to those who think the same way as we. That’s going to require us citizen-activists to broaden our regular reading to include leftist media (and not only the legacy media)*.

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*To that end, I’m going to begin including links to left-wing sites here to add perspective.

Awash In The Cult Of Personality/Celebrity

In my day job, I work for a large (and I mean large) multi-national company with locations throughout the U.S., and headquartered in New York. Why should you care? Actually it doesn’t really matter if you do or not, but the CEO of this company (someone relatively well known, that I’m guessing you’ve heard of) has been visiting the company locations in Texas this week. Today, he visited my office, and the spectacle was surreal – throngs of employees (there are over 1,000 at my location) lining the parking lot with signs, cheering with looks on their faces not unlike a fanboy crush (as an aside, I was at my desk observing this display).

Barack Obama

So it got me thinking; this was just the CEO of a company (albeit a well-known one on the par of say a Jeffrey Immelt), why were all of these people carrying on like star-struck fans? Then I thought about the current unpleasantness between the Obama administration and Bob Woodward over who is responsible for sequestration. The response from the lapdog media has been essentially the same as the employees at my company (not that it hasn’t been this way for the past four years). To some extent I can understand being in awe of a U.S. President, but to do his bidding without a second thought like an adoring fan? Something more is happening.

It seems like each year the Cult of Personality/Celebrity just continues to grow unabated. I mean when more people know who Snooki and Honey Boo Boo are than they do Bob Woodward (I’m looking at you, The Nation), you know something’s wrong with society.

President John F. Kennedy, Jr. in the Oval Office of the White House.

I’ve seen suggestions that this phenomenon becomes more pronounced in difficult times, but it seems to me that it transcends that explanation. The last time there was such a cult surrounding the president, JFK and Jackie lived in the White House. Those days were before my time, but it seems like the cult was even stronger with that president, as it seemed the whole country was enamored of the Kennedys, and the psychological concept of “Groupthink” was borne out of that administration and the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Also, who could forget the images of all those sreaming teenagers going absolutely bananas over the Beatles and Elvis?

beatlescream

Rather, I think it might have to do more the the cultural Zeitgeist. Back in the ’50s and early ’60s, it was a much more (I hesitate to say) innocent time, in that people were not bambarded with television, social media, 24 hour news cycles and the like. There were less distractions, and when something “unique” like the “Beatles” or other British-invasion bands came around, it was an entirely new experience, so it’s no wonder that people would get overly excited for such new experiences.

distract

In the 21st Century, we seem to have the exact opposite problem: as a whole, we are distracted to no end. Add to that years of children being raised to believe that nothing bad is their fault and we have a population that’s forgetten personal responsibility and would rather lose themselves in their little distractions. Basically, people would rather forget how horrible they’ve made their own lives by living vicariously through people who are famous for no reason other than being famous and/or rich and dream about living like them, or we can take the opposite route and check out Snooki and whoever to convince ourselve that at least we’re not as stupid and bad off as them.

Little wonder, then, that when we have a historic president who’s fairly charismatic that people (including the media) would loose themselves in the Cult. It’s especially bad for the media because they’re supposed to be the watchdogs, not the lapdogs; but hey, they get to hob nob with the famous people (and maybe grab a little fame), and when they do what they’re told to do in exchange for some scraps from the hoi poloi, it’s not their fault if something goes wrong – they were just following along.

Somebody, anybody, needs to shake this country out of its stupor…and fast.

Overboard Obamaquester Obfuscations

By now, anyone who’s been paying attention, even casually, knows what sequestration is (even if he or she can’t pronounce it). We also know that the “cuts” included in the sequester amount to a staggering 2% of federal spending (is actually a reduction of future baseline spending – more will still be spent next year). We’re all also painfully aware that Obama is once again demagoguing the issue and trying to shift blame to the GOP.

Let’s not forget that the media has been a willing accomplice in this blame game. In fact, we’ve been so conditioned that this is an issue between Obama and Rupublicans in Congress that when a recent Washington Post/Pew survey left off a crucial choice in their question of who to blame if the Obamaquester “cuts” go into effect:

wapo-pew-question

I couldn’t even recognize the ommission (Democrats in the Senate – h/t Ed Morrissey). For more information on the sequestration timeline, there is an informative infographic at the bottom of the post (due to its size).

As the sequester approaches, Obama has fully implemented the “Washington Monument Strategy” and ratched-up his doomsday speech, suggesting that thousands of teachers will have to be laid off, and sending out his surrogates to describe the catastrophic effects of this 2% budget cut such as decreased border security and travel delays:

In my mind, such a display suggests Obama is the worst executive imaginable if a 2% reduction in future spending necessitates the above-described purge of essential services and personnel. Amy Payne at Heritage give a more graphic description:

If you had to cut your family’s budget, where would you cut?

Would you immediately start starving your children and stop wearing shoes? Of course not. You would look at the extras in your life—whether they were coffee shop lattes, movie tickets, or restaurant meals.

It’s a good thing the President wouldn’t be handling your budget. As Dan Holler of our sister organization, Heritage Action for America, has said: “If President Obama were making the decision for your family… he’d tell you to stop buying gas for your car and explain how you could only eat five days a week.”

However, it also brings up a very relevant question. Namely, is sequestration a good way to go about cutting federal spending? I think that I’m in the majority when I say no, because the sequester only targets non-mandatory, discretionary spending and leaves the prime driver of our debt (entitlement spending) untouched.

In his article this morning, David Brooks (in addition to creating a Twitter hashtag bonanza with his “My Dream Obama”) echoes this, but predictable blames Republicans:

Moreover, I think Republicans could be persuaded that it’s crazy to harp on discretionary spending, which is a deficit sideshow. They should focus their energies on entitlements.

Might I remind the purveyor of perfectly creased pants that under the guidance of Republicans, the House has passed two bills to replace the sequester cuts with common sense, responsible cuts and spending reforms: 1. H.R. 5652, Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act; and 2. H.R. 6684, Spending Reduction Act of 2012. Notably (in light of the poll question above) the Democrat controlled Senate refused to consider either.

One thing is clear, though. There is no need to cut essential services and personnel over a 2% reduction in future spending. Amy Payne further observes:

It makes no sense to hit defense the hardest with these cuts, while sequestration leaves major entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicaid untouched. Congress should reprogram these spending cuts to target the waste and inefficiencies it has already identified in federal agencies—like those listed above. Heritage’s Patrick Louis Knudsen, the Grover M. Hermann Senior Fellow in Federal Budgetary Affairs, even helpfully outlined places to find $150 billion in spending cuts that would make a lot more sense.

So no, we don’t have to fire firefighters and teachers and airport screeners. What Congress should be doing is what every American family does—tightening its budget by cutting things that are unnecessary.

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) noticed one specific area that could be cut back to help “save” some of the essential personnel on Obama’s chopping block:

Coburn, in a letter to Acting Office of Management and Budget Director Jeff Zients, wrote Monday that there are 10 “non-essential” job advertisements running on the government’s hiring website, http://www.usajobs.com. Coburn said freezing hiring for these positions alone would save $1.4 million.

On the list are ads for 10 State Department drivers, a Labor Department receptionist earning up to $81,204 a year, a human resources position at the Department of Agriculture paying up to $179,000 a year and an Air Force museum official making up to $165,300 per year.

“Are any of these positions more important than an air traffic controller, a border patrol officer, a food inspector, a TSA screener, or a civilian supporting our men and women in combat in Afghanistan?” Coburn wrote.

“Instituting such a hiring freeze and re-assigning any of the necessary duties associated with each to current employees will allow federal agencies to adapt to the current fiscal realities without laying off or furloughing civil servants who are performing truly critical or absolutely necessary functions,” he added.

Just another example of the thoughtless, wasteful spending by this administration. Looks like sequestration can’t come soon enough. After all, as you can hear right from the lips of the man himself (Senator Coburn, that is), the fear and panic over the Obamaquester (like most everything to do with this president) is way overblown:

Parting thought: I am convinced that the amount of fear mongering coming from Obama and his minions of sequestrations is the direct result of their fear that the “cuts” will happen, then life will go on as normal, it won’t be the end of the world. People will then begin to realize that cutting government spending isn’t so bad after all, and that Obama was doing nothing but trying to scare everyone over nothing. Essentially, Obama will become the “boy who cried wolf” one too many times, and he will start losing his bully pulpit (especially after the Obamacare taxes and fees start to hit). What do you think?

sequester_timeline

The World’s Tiniest Violin for the MSM

Just when you think you’ve heard it all with the media, something new comes around to make you laugh, cry, or just scratch your head in wonder. This time, it comes courtesy of Ed Morrissey over at Hot Air. He has the thoughtfulness of running down a joint piece at Politico by Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen discussing Obama’s media strategy.

Specifically, they lament that Obama’s manipulation of media coverage has tipped the balance of power towards the administration by essentially limiting his media exposure to softball interviews and friendly fluff pieces (Entertainment Tonight, Pimp With a Limp, anyone?). The current press “outrage” du jour is that only Golf Digest got access to Obama’s golf outing with Tiger Woods, while everyone else was shut out. Cry me a river, MSM.

Of course, this isn’t the fault of an overly compliant press, willing to carry Obama’s water on every little statement or speech he gives, they argue. However, Ed begs to differ:

When George W. Bush went more than a month without a press conference, the political press made sure to accuse the White House of being afraid to have him answer questions, mocked Bush’s ability to communicate, and painted the Bush administration as insular. We’re lucky to get four actual press conferences a year from Obama, and yet only occasionally has the political press made an issue of it — and usually only after an obviously intentional slap on a non-issue, like the Tiger Woods story.
[…]
Then why are we only hearing about this now? It seems that the press only really cares about that when a Republican lives in the White House.
[…]
Well, who exactly lets the White House get away with that? Would Steve Kroft have tossed softballs to a President Mitt Romney the way he did with Obama? Hardly.

One might almost feel bad for these media-ites..almost. However, as Ed astutely observes, it was their own fault in allowing Obama to get away with anything he wanted, and came back to bite them in their collective derriere. Not to mention that it was only two days ago that the media were up to their usual antics with the GOP. Serving as a perfect example of the above, via JustTurnRight at the Two Heads Are Better Than One blog:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

When guys like John McCain are the ones getting into fights with the press, my world is officially upside-down. Just last week, it was Lindsey Graham who was outlining the many areas where the Obama White House has been, let’s say, …”reticent“…, in answering Benghazi-related questions. Both McCain & Graham have been like hungry bulldogs with a steak on this subject: they’ve got a hold of it and they aren’t giving it up until they’re done.

Conversely, since our media is so assiduously incurious as to why our men were left to die in Benghazi, it’s not hard to figure out why Obama & Co. feel no pressure whatsoever to be more forthcoming.

Don’t get me wrong, I have sympathy for the guys who have actually tried to question Obama and hold his feet to the fire: the Ed Henrys, Jake Tappers and Major Garretts of the press). However, for the rest of the knee-pad wearing media lapdogs, you’ve made your bed and now you can lie in it. Is that the world’s smallest violin playing just for you?

Update

I seem to be having some difficulty with embedded video – I’ll fix it as quickly as I can. Sorry.

Update II

The videos seem to be working now; sorry it took so long to fix.