“The Most Closed, Control Freak Administration I’ve Ever Covered” (David Sanger, liberal NYT Reporter)

If that statement isn’t enough for you, I refer you to another story written by Nancy Benac, a liberal reporter for the AP, headlined “Obama Limiting Press Access in Ways that Past Administrations Wouldn’t Have Dared”.  See link below:



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The Genius of Ted Cruz?

I’m not a fan, but could his obstructionist actions be his best political move ever?

So far, and it is certainly early, Obamacare appears to be a disaster.  If it is as bad as I predict it will be, Ted Cruz will run campaign ads for his own run for Presidency showing him, a lone wolf, standing at the podium for 21 hours criticizing the program and demanding de-funding.  Gone from everyone’s memories will be the government shutdown he caused, and standing before us will be the one man who appeared to have the guts to stand up to one of the most destructive pieces of legislation in American history.  It will be the kind of ad that could launch him to the Presidency.

As for the current state of Obamacare, consider the following:

1.  The President has granted waivers to hundreds of organizations that are his political supporters.  The President, who constantly rails against special interests, caters more to them than any President in our memory.  Make no mistake, granting “waivers” to friends means, in essence, “I’m not going to make you guys suffer under this program like most people will.”

2.  The President, and Kathleen Sebelius, cannot tell us how many people, if ANY, have signed up on the health exchanges made available on October 1.

3.  The Exchange web sites, as shown in a previous post of mine, are non-functional, making it nearly impossible to sign up.

4.  The President, breaking the law, unilaterally decided to delay the Corporate Mandate until after the mid-term election in 2014.  More on this in another post, but how have the American people missed the magnitude of the implications of such a decision?

5.  The President has issued subsidies to members of Congress which no other citizen will have, giving them $5,000 for a single person, $11,000 for a family, to make up for the lack of coverage and high deductibles in the Exchanges.  

6.  The cost of Obamacare, which will not be known for some time, will at least (per capita) be double or triple the false numbers the President has provided.  The cost curve will bend up (not down as he has said), patients will not be able to keep their doctors in a very large number of cases, and quality of care will go down.

The VOR will stay on the job on this, and if Obamacare surprises me and is better than I estimated, I’ll say so.  However, if there was someone who could take the bet, I would bet every asset I have on an Obamacare debacle.   

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Obamacare in One Screen Shot

Obamacare in One Screen Shot

My attempt to create and account with the Obamacare New York Health Exchange 3 years after the bill became law.

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Obama and the Debt Ceiling

Keep in mind that President Obama, as a Senator, did worse than try to negotiate before raising the debt ceiling.  He voted against raising it.  And I quote….

“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that “the buck stops here.” Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.”

–Illinois Senator Barack Obama, 2006

Now to be clear, the VOR is not advocating not raising the debt ceiling, but I want to point out the hypocrisy of a man who was, is, and likely always will be, a charlatan.

Time to extend, negotiate, and for both sides to compromise.  I predict both sides will.  





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“Limiting Press Access in Ways No Previous Administration Would Have Dared”

A news article (not an editorial) by a normally liberal reporter from the AP, Nancy Benac:

WASHINGTON (AP) — A photo of the Obamas hugging that was released on Election Day 2012 has become the world’s most popular tweet on Twitter. A dressed-up version of Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech, packed with charts and graphs, is huge on YouTube. A playful picture of the president cavorting with a 3-year-old in a Spiderman costume is a favorite online.

It’s all courtesy of the Obama image machine, serving up a stream of words, images and videos that invariably cast the president as commanding, compassionate and on the ball. In this world, Obama’s family is always photogenic, first dog Bo is always well-behaved and the vegetables in the South Lawn kitchen garden always seem succulent.

You’ll have to look elsewhere for bloopers, bobbles or contrary points of view.

Capitalizing on the possibilities of the digital age, the Obama White House is generating its own content like no president before, and refining its media strategies in the second term in hopes of telling a more compelling story than in the first.

At the same time, it is limiting press access in ways that past administrations wouldn’t have dared, and the president is answering to the public in more controlled settings than his predecessors. It’s raising new questions about what’s lost when the White House tries to make an end run around the media, functioning, in effect, as its own news agency.

Mike McCurry, who served as press secretary to President Bill Clinton, sees an inclination by the Obama White House to “self-publish,” coupled with tactics “I never would have dreamed of in terms of restricting access” for independent news organizations.

“What gets lost are those revealing moments when the president’s held accountable by the representatives of the public who are there in the form of the media,” says McCurry.

Obama himself took note of complaints about limited access in his jokes last month at the Gridiron dinner, an annual event where political leaders, journalists and media executives poke fun at one another.

“Some of you have said that I’m ignoring the Washington press corps, that we’re too controlling,” Obama said. “You know what, you were right. I was wrong and I want to apologize — in a video you can watch exclusively at whitehouse.gov.”

Three days later, it was no laughing matter when the White House live-streamed on the Internet Obama’s meeting with his export council and allowed just one reporter in the room.

Still, the White House rejects the notion that it is turning to new media it can control at the expense of the old, instead describing an all-of-the-above strategy.

“From press conferences to interviews with national, regional and constituency press, to new social media platforms, we have worked to both expand the scope of communication and also deepen the level of engagement between the American people and the work of the White House,” says Jamie Smith, deputy press secretary.

Statistics compiled by Martha Kumar, a political science professor at Towson University in Maryland who studies presidential communication, show how Obama’s strategy has differed from his predecessors.

In his first term, Obama engaged in 107 short question-and-answer sessions with reporters during events in the Oval Office, the Cabinet Room and similar settings. President George W. Bush, by contrast, had 354.

By the same token, though, Obama held twice as many solo press conferences as Bush: 36 compared with 17. And in the first term Obama did 674 interviews — TV, radio, Internet, print — compared with 217 for Bush and 191 for Clinton.

With interviews, the president has more power to choose his timing, questioners and format, in hopes of delivering a certain message in a setting that’s not always hard-hitting. In impromptu Q-and-A sessions, the questions fly about anything and everything from the national press corps — and these wide-open opportunities to challenge the president on the events of the day have become increasingly rare.

Even in regional interviews, though, Obama can and does sometimes get asked about breaking or embarrassing news of the day.

“There’s no question that he’s opening and closing the door at his choice,” says Gerald Shuster, a professor of political communication at the University of Pittsburgh. “He’s controlling the flow as much as he can.”

The will for presidents to get their story out without media intervention has always been there.

What’s different now, says Mark Jurkowitz of the Pew Research Project for Excellence in Journalism, is new technology that allows the White House to distribute its own content far more widely and effectively than past presidents could. At the same time, it’s getting harder for cash-strapped news outlets to resist using photos, video and other content supplied by the White House.

Obama’s strategy is part of a broader mass communications trend in which politicians, corporate leaders and others in public life are using digital tools to send their messages directly to the public without a media filter.

“It’s all about control,” says Eric Dezenhall, an image consultant who has worked for years with politicians, celebrities and business people.

“Why put your CEO on ’60 Minutes’ when he can record something that appears on the corporate website? That way he can’t be accused of not commenting but he doesn’t have to stand up to the withering scrutiny you might face in an investigative TV show.”

Obama’s communications strategy works well for him, Dezenhall says, but sometimes at the expense of the “rowdy, boisterous scrutiny that the free press is based on.”

So it was that when defeated presidential candidate Mitt Romney met with Obama for lunch at the White House after the 2012 election, there was no press access. The only photo was a White House handout that showed the two men talking in the Oval Office, clearly the president’s turf. And when bipartisan congressional leaders met with Obama for crucial budget talks in November 2010, the only coverage was a White House photo showing the president with his hand on the shoulder of Republican Rep. Eric Cantor as other lawmakers stood by, the president at center stage.

When the president got complaints that his live-streamed meeting with his export council was open to just one reporter, press secretary Jay Carney responded: “Everyone in America with electricity and a computer could see it.”

That’s true, but the lone White House camera offered just one view.

And while plenty of news organizations cover the president’s State of the Union address, the commentary that accompanies the White House’s “enhanced” version is more one-sided.

When viewers choose the White House as their news source, “what people are being exposed to is highly selective,” says Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center. “They’re not getting the balance of the alternative points of view. They’re not getting the criticism that asks, ‘Is this accurate?’ It’s not being put in historical context.”

Jamieson says the White House-generated content can be highly seductive, particularly when people feel they’re developing a “direct relationship” with White House officials who send out chatty mass emails and solicit feedback through social media.

Democratic and Republican veterans of the White House alike say it makes sense for the Obama administration to maximize its use of digital advances to communicate directly to the public, but they warn that something is missing when “the administration’s feet are not held to the fire” in certain settings, in the words of Ari Fleischer, who served as White House press secretary under George W. Bush.

Kumar, the Towson professor, warns that the administration can even delude itself if it puts too much emphasis on self-reinforcing content.

“They start believing what they’re creating,” she says. “They need to hear a lot of voices and they need to hear them early.”

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Jim Carrey is Right

If our society believes our violent movies don’t contribute to incidents like Sandy Hook and Aurora we need our heads examined.

Jim Carrey has dropped out of the publicity campaign for his latest movie, Kick Ass 2, because post Sandy Hook he believes it is too violent and sends the wrong messages.  Good for him, hopefully more of his otherwise liberal cohorts in Hollywood take a stand themselves, and maybe even start a movement to stop producing such gratuitous violence in the first place. 

We live in the most violent civilized society in history.  If you look at our movies and television shows, which are also the most violent media depictions in history, one finds a clear instinctive correlation between this media and violence in our country.  Whichever side of the argument you take on media violence you can find a study that supports your position, but clearly the majority of studies show that violence in media lowers the inhibitions of those who might (or do) commit violence in real life. 

My unscientific (but correct) view on this was formed most starkly after Columbine.  No one can explain to me how those two teenaged boys (I will not say their names or give them more public mentions) could commit such blatant, intimate violence and the real life gore it must have presented to them had they not been dulled by years of playing violent video games in which the very acts they committed were simulated over and over again on their home televisions and game consoles.  What kind of leap is it for a teenager to shoot a real 15 year old girl in the head point blank and laugh, from having done so hundreds of times in a video game?  I’m sure we can agree on this– it is much less of a leap than if they hadn’t played the video games (or seen such things in movies).

When I have debates with people about such things I am amazed at the consistency in arguments based on self interest and extensive irrational rationalization.  Those who say video games have no effect are avid video game players.  Those who say movies have no effect are avid movie fans or actors themselves.  The “unbiased”, meaning people like me who would be happy if video games had no negative effects, or who would enjoy dramatic movies much more if we knew violence had no effect, are almost all nearly certain that violence in our media and games contributes to large scale violence in our society.

I close this post with an example from Youtube worthy of a click.  Warning, though these scenes are from “successful” PG13 and R rated movies, there is excessive violence in the attached:



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“Stand Your Ground” Had NOTHING To Do With This Verdict

Eric Holder, the sleaziest Attorney General in modern history, blasts “Stand Your Ground” knowing that it had nothing to do with this case or verdict. Why is this administration so full of charlatans?

Just imagine that everything that took place in Florida over the last 18 months took place in New York instead. New York has no “Stand Your Ground” laws. Would the verdict have been different? Let’s consider this prospect.

The jury saw this case in light of the evidence presented, and that evidence is summarized as follows: George Zimmerman, the elected head of his Neighborhood Watch program, saw a person (race unknown) walking through his neighborhood suspiciously. Knowing there had been 420 occasions in the previous 12 months that the police had been called to this gated community of 250 homes, that there had been 8 burglaries in that same timeframe, as well as 3 thefts and 1 shooting, Zimmerman was right to be vigilant. He called 911. The 911 operator said the police were on their way. Martin saw Zimmerman, and Martin ran. Now being very confident that this was a likely criminal, and knowing it would take time for the police to arrive, Zimmerman decided to follow Martin. Zimmerman told the 911 operator he was going to do so, and the operator (NOT the police), told him “you don’t need to do that sir”. But Zimmerman did it anyway, likely for just the reason he said to the operator: “These a&^% (no allusion to race) always get away”. This was all recorded and the transcripts were available for the jury as they are for all of us.

From here we (and the jury) are left with only the following evidence:

1. George Zimmerman says he couldn’t find Martin, and as he was returning to his vehicle Martin jumped him, forced him to the ground, and was beating him.

2. An eyewitness said that Martin was straddling Zimmerman and beating him on the face and slamming his head against concrete.

3. One witness says Martin was crying for help, but MARTIN’S FATHER and multiple witnesses say it was Zimmerman who was crying for help.

4. George Zimmerman had a bloodied back of his head, and a bloody if not broken nose (since the nose is cartilage and skin, you don’t x-ray for a broken nose).

5. Trayvon Martin had bruises and cuts on his fist, but no other injuries. Except of course, sadly, the gunshot wound that killed him. A gunshot wound that the forensic expert said was consistent with having been fired into him as he was “leaning over” someone, which further supports Zimmerman’s testimony.

First, could you convict Zimmerman of murder or manslaughter based on this evidence? No fair jury, black or white, would do so.

Now, tell me where “Stand Your Ground comes in”? Sure, in retrospect Zimmerman shouldn’t have followed Martin. But if I had a carry permit for a gun here in New York, and I tried to follow someone in my crime-ridden neighborhood until the police arrived to arrest him, and he jumped me and started pummeling me and pounding my head against the pavement (I’m only stating what the evidence showed), and I was able to reach my gun and I shot the person who was beating me, would I be any more likely to be convicted of murder 2 or manslaughter than George Zimmerman was? Absolutely not! I would have been viewed by any fair-minded jury as having made a bad decision to follow the suspect, but a reasonable decision to shoot before my head caved in.

But still, our dividers in the White House talk as if the evidence I described didn’t exist. They won’t come out and say it was a racist killing, and they won’t come out and say it wasn’t, they’ll just walk the middle ground and let tempers, anger, and division simmer. Their hedging creates controversy and conflict, and divides us further.

And today, 2 days after the verdict, Attorney General Eric Holder sees fit to blast “Stand Your Ground” laws as if they had something to do with this case, and by implication as if they have something to do with racism. It is shameful behavior from someone whom we now expect nothing but shameful behavior. This is what a charlatan is.

It troubles me that so many in this country will not do their homework, will absorb the headlines but not the detail, will jump to conclusion without knowing any of the key facts. And that our President and his Administration will throw coals on the ignorant fire for their own benefit as they refuse to lead the country they have been elected to lead.

Trayvon Martin’s death is a tragedy. George Zimmerman’s acquittal prevented yet another.

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