The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Even a Democrat has to admit it

When I was growing up in New York City, the New York Post, which my parents regularly read, was a liberal Democratic paper, published by Dorothy Schiff and putting Herblock's cartoons from the Washington Post on its editorial page. After a couple of changes of ownership, it is now, under Rupert Murdoch, a solidly conservative and Republican paper; Murdoch may be a lot of things I do not like, but he's well to the right of the ownership of the Post in my youth. But the column from the Post that I saw today, entitled “See no evil,” was by Phil Mushnick, who describes himself as a “registered but less-than-loyal Democrat.” And it deserves quoting, because it really goes to show how biased most of the media are today:

As a registered but less-than-loyal Democrat, I long scoffed at the long-held notion that the news media have a left-leaning, anti-Republican bias.

I didn’t believe it, primarily because I chose not to believe it. Plus, the media confirmed for me that mine was the noble side. Heck, there was no other side.

But I now know — and have for some time — that I was pulling my own leg. The notion of such a bias is not merely a notion; it’s true.

Our news media, especially as seen and heard during nationally broadcasted news, engages in highly selective story-choosing, story-telling and subsequent indignations and outrages that are first weighed on political scales.

After this preamble, Mushnick goes to the specific incident that led to this conclusion:

David Plouffe helped Obama get elected in 2008, and rejoined his campaign this year. In between, he cashed in.

Early this month a spectacular story was given tiny attention, and none, as far as I watched, on nightly national newscasts.

In December 2010, David Plouffe, soon to be reappointed a senior adviser to President Obama, gave two speeches in the desperately poor country of Nigeria.

Speeches for which he was paid a total of $100,000.

Holy moly! What did he have to say in Nigeria that was worth 100 grand? He must have revealed the cure for a country ranked 158th among 177 in economic development, a country in which an estimated 70% of humanity live — barely, and not for long — in severe poverty and in the mortally unhealthy conditions that accompany nothingness.

But, no, that wasn’t it.

Plouffe was invited and paid by MTN, Africa’s largest wireless-phone operator — and a company that does business with nuclear weapons-headed, radical-Islamized Iran.

Oh, so he must be a telecommunications wizard, a guy whose take on tech is well worth, oh, $50,000 an hour, even in Nigeria.

But no, that wasn’t it, either.

So, why was Plouffe paid $100,000? What could he share with MTN and Nigeria? Shoot, for 100 grand MTN could have landed KC and the Sunshine Band!

According to MTN, Plouffe was in demand “because of his expertise and knowledge of the US political scene.”


A penny for your thoughts? For 100 grand, this fella should have been registered as a foreign agent, or at least as a reverse lobbyist for a large international business.

A few months later, Plouffe rejoined the Obama administration as a top adviser.

But MTN wasn’t Plouffe’s only questionable off-season client. In 2009, during his first break from being an Obama adviser — Plouffe managed Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign — Plouffe accepted $50,000 to speak to a group in Islamic, oil-rich Azerbaijan.

Turns out this group was connected to Azerbaijan’s occasionally democratic, occasionally despotic and often corrupt government.

When human-rights organizations protested Plouffe’s acceptance of such big dough from such a connected group — as if a senior White House advisor had no idea with whom he was dealing and knew nothing about the country in which he was speaking — Plouffe donated his fee to the purportedly nonpartisan National Democratic Institute.

So, Plouffe floats in and out, in and out: In as a top advisor in the Obama administration White House, out to give big-ticket speeches carrying insights on dealing with US politics and governance to dubious audiences in faraway places. And he’s now back in again.

Incredible stuff.

Yet, nine days ago, White House spokesperson Eric Schultz insisted that any attempt to suggest that Plouffe is not on the up-and-up or that there are any strings attached to the man is “simply misplaced.”


But that’s plenty good enough for the vast majority of the news and political media, as this Plouffe story never generated the attention it deserved — and still deserves. It was dead on arrival.

Now, imagine if a senior advisor in the last Bush administration — either Bush administration — had done as Plouffe has. Imagine if a top, inside Bush operative and persuader had such a résumé, eager for personal foreign business enrichments in exchange for “his expertise and knowledge of the US political scene.”

Woo, boy, fireworks! All over the nightly news! For weeks! Forever! And for good reason!

Nearly everyone, as opposed to just a few, would be familiar with the name David Plouffe — surely the caper would have been branded “Plouffegate” — and Plouffe would be forced to resign.

Take it from a registered Democrat no longer in denial: Fireworks!

And while the Plouffe story was mostly being ignored, Mitt Romney was in Israel, where he had the audacity to note, with gentle yet indisputable accuracy, the “cultural” achievement in that country compared to the rest of that part of the world.

Now that caused fireworks.

TV news and political reporters not only characterized Romney’s truth-telling as “a gaffe” — hard evidence that the GOP presidential candidate speaks first and thinks later — they gathered before him, offering him — shouting to him — an opportunity to “apologize.”

It was the late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, stuck to describe pornography, who famously said, “I know it when I see it.”

Similar goes for news media bias in this uninspected, widely ignored Plouffe intrigue: I know it when I don’t see it.

It's a shame that this is so, but when I look at the whole picture, I think Mushnick has something there. I knew about this story, because I read it in the Washington Examiner, which is one of the exceptions to this leftist bias of our newspapers. But as he said, it got little press. Doing a Google search (using "david plouffe" nigeria as my key), I found several stories about this, but none of the top ones were in the sites of well-known publications. All were on relatively little-known sites. So I think Mushnick is confirmed.

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