Media critic

Hair on Fire

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough commented yesterday that tea party patriots complaining about taxes "have their hair on fire" over nothing.I'm one of the very few Americans that ever watches Morning Joe for any length of time. Living in Colorado, that means I'm up at 4:00 a.m. to check on the day's liberal spin.  Joe and Mika both have admitted on air they get frequent emails during the show from White House staffers, so its a great source if you're interested in what story lines Rahm and David and the gang want put forth for the day. With few exceptions such as a great interview with NJ Gov. Chris Christy this week, Joe entertains the same old crowd of cronies, day in and day out.  Political heavy hitters such as White House correspondent, Chuck Todd, who keeps a daily watch on the Soup de Jour that is served in the West Wing cafeteria, John Meacham, editor of Newsweek and of  We're All Socialists Now fame and Gayle King, Oprah's sidekick who thinks Obama's greatest achievement has been the repairing of all our foreign relationships.  Maybe she's watched too many of her boss' episodes, but she loves being loved by the world.   None of these usual guests, along with most others, have ever had a decent thing to say about the Tea Party Patriots movement.  In fact, most talking heads on MSNBC have dug deep into their rhetorical arsenals for the most crude, improper, slanderous descriptions they can find to insult their fellow Americans.    One year ago, our President claimed he was "unaware" that tea parties were held across the nation, including a huge gathering right outside his door on the Washington Mall.  This year, Mr. Obama can't figure out why the tea partiers aren't thanking him.  Mr. Scarborough apparently agrees.  Afterall, no one earning under $250,000 per year has had a tax increase under the Obama watch, right?.  Why all the protest and noise?  Washington insiders can't figure it out, so as a member of the unwashed, chattering class, I'll attempt to enlighten them on some key points of dissent:

THE HEALTHCARE REFORM LEGISLATION that was passed inspite of the objection of the electorate is a big one.  Back room deals, Chicago-style political threats and arm twisting, elected government representatives selling their convictions and their souls in order to win political favors and more prompted many Americans to take to the streets on Thursday, April 15.  Oh, and the by the way, Joe, there's also the little matter of the $940 billion dollars (conservative estimate) this monster will cost which we actually don't have.  Where will the money come from?  Taxes, penalities and premium increases levied against the middle class, of course!

47% OF AMERICANS NO LONGER PAY FEDERAL INCOME TAX, yet under Obama, more and more people are collecting  and consuming federally funded benefits and entitlements.  This isn't sustainable, Joe.   We are bracing for another big foreclosure  fiasco, both in homes and in commercial real estate.  We already know how our president will respond to that--a bailout charged to the middle class for generations to come.

MARGINAL TAX RATES ARE ON THE RISE FOR THE DECREASING NUMBER OF AMERICANS THAT ARE STILL PAYING OUR WAY.  We've noticed, Joe, that this administration stops at nothing to carry out its agenda.  We know our tax rates are headed upward, the Death tax will return, along with reinstatment of the marriage penalty.  Young families will get a smaller child tax credit.  More and more people will qualify for the Earned Income credit, but fewer among us will be picking up the slack, Joe. 

THE CAP AND TRADE BILL that is being quietly crafted in the model of the healthcare legislation (secret deals, doors slammed in the faces of Republicans asking to participate, using the Pelosi method of  'wait till its passed and then you'll see what's in the bill', and other honorable methods of ruling the people) will impose enormous taxes on all Americans.  It will become either very costly or impossible to buy and sell real estate which will likely equate to the Fed's buying up all private property.  Costs for energy will soar, while GE gets the contracts to produce all the new appliances and electric motors required for government compliance.  By the way, Joe, did you happen to hear that GE doesn't owe any taxes this year?  Apparently, they made all their money overseas and showed losses in the U.S., so that worked out well for your employer, right?  Good thing it wasn't a Big Oil company or Halliburton that didn't pay taxes, otherwise your guests would be rabid about the unfairness and demanding Congressional hearings. 

INCREASED DISCRETIONARY SPENDING BY THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION has risen by 24%, except for spending for the military and defense, which shows no increases even though our president reminds us that terrorism remains our biggest threat (please don't refer to the terrorists as Islamic extremists, though).  Somebody will pay for the increased spending.

THE CBO PREDICTS PUBLIC DEBT WILL GROW TO 90 % OF OUR GDP WITHIN THE NEXT FEW YEARS.  Who suffers, Joe?  Who pays the interest on the debt?  Which future generation gets hit the hardest and pays the dearest price for this administration's complete disregard for fiscal responsibility and the caretaking of our financial future?  Who will listen to us, Joe?  We write our representatives and get form letters thanking us for our support and interest in return.  What else can be done besides grabbing a flag and heading out to a tea party?  We have no recourse until November, at which time the great bell of liberty will toll.

STIMULUS BILLS, BANK TAKE-OVERS, GOVT./ UNION TAKE-OVERS OF THE AUTO INDUSTRY and other big-government, Marxist-inspired interventions into the private sector and the private lives of Americans have outraged the general public.  We know the administration would love to take over the media and internet.  We know they are plotting bail-out's for failing newspapers instead of realizing the market drives whether or not a publication succeeds or fails.  If the govt. owns the big news corporations, they control what is disseminated to the people.  Fewer dissenting voices can be heard until they are silenced altogether. 

LIBERAL JUDGES LEGISLATING FROM THE BENCH is another outrage that has Americans saying 'enough'!  We expect all branches of our government to exercise their duties, yet refrain from over-stepping their Constitutionally mandated boundaries.

AMERICANS ARE PRETTY TICKED OFF, JOE, about high unemployment also.  Did you hear that our Chairman of the Federal Reserve just stated recently that unemployment will likely stay high for a good while longer and that the ONLY WAY TO OFFSET ALL THE INCREASED SPENDING OF THIS ADMINISTRATION IS TO RAISE TAXES!  Paul Vocker agrees and tells us a VAT tax is really going to be needed, otherwise we can't sustain all the new spending.  Hair on fire over taxation, indeed!

CHINA AND OUR OTHER DEBTORS are worried about our ability to repay our massive debt, yet we have an administration that continues to pile on more and apparently, what we can't get in credit, we just print. 

WE ARE KINDA WORRIED ABOUT OUR 2ND AMENDMENT RIGHTS, TOO, Joe.  Seems gun ownership isn't too popular amongst you Washington elites.  When we hear about proposed restrictions on gun ownership and our rights in general, we speak up, and since no one in Washington listens anymore, we take to the streets to defend our Constitution and Bill of Rights when we see them ignored, too.  We know liberals in Congress and the White House don't read bills anymore, and we know you guys in the media don't hold them accountable, so we have decided to hold all of you accountable for your failures.

UNDESERVING PEOPLE THAT CONTINUE TO REAP THE BENEFITS OF THE HARD WORK OF OTHERS is another reason the folks are upset with this administration.   People that have worked hard all their lives to provide for their families and to be able to offer a charitable hand to neighbors truly in need are now considered selfish if we don't gladly pick up the tab for food, housing, clothing, transportation, health care, education and more for a growing number of people here legally and not, that use their addictions, laziness and entitlement mentalities to drain the rest of us.   The more they take, the less there will be for those that sincerely need assistance.  The media didn't have reports from the tea parties of violence or disorderly behavior, so instead, they have now decided to simply call all of us racists.  They are certain that the only people getting out in their communities in protest are white, older, wealthy Americans.  The tea parties I've attended include Americans of all ages, religions, income levels and races, but the camera crews for MSNBC never seem to find the cross section of faces or hear our voices.   

It is impossible for Barack Obama and the media types in his servitude to comtemplate the idea that his policies are dividing the country and more and more people from all backgrounds and walks of life are joining those old, white rich folks in city parks and courthouse squares to say NO to both the quiet, creeping take-over's and the blatant, overt assaults on the American way of life, our free markets and our personal freedoms given by God at birth.  By the way, Joe, the numbers of  'rich' people dwindle daily.

Joe Scarborough will never 'get it', but I wish he'd at least stop claiming to be a conservative Republican.  He gives the brand a bad name. Many of us are trying to improve our standing in the public eye by supporting true conservatives and those that take their oath to uphold the Constitution with integrity and commitment.  People like Joe keep setting that effort back.  Maybe we'll get lucky and he'll join his friend, fellow Floridian, Charlie Crist, and go Independent where its easy to sit on the fence and nod in agreement with those on both sides, never standing with our Founders and sticking to their guns.

The Hurt Locker and Hollywood

Last night I watched my first Oscars telecast since at least 2004.  I will admit to having developed a profound distaste for the event during the Bush years, when poorly educated, overpaid actors professed their opinions (and feigned knowledge) of international politics and foreign policy.  These opinions -- from the likes of Sean (Jeff Spicoli) Penn, George (ER) Clooney and others -- were harsh, anti-Bush and, at a time when American is at war, anti-American.  And when coupled with the snarky comedy of David Letterman and Chris Rock was enough to make me ask repeatedly:"Where have you gone Billy Crystal"? The 2010 edition of the Academy Awards seemed to represent a change -- if not of political perspective, certainly of attitude.  Not only did "The Hurt Locker" -- a film about the U.S. military in Iraq -- run away with the evening, but it's victory was accompanied by an acceptance speech from the film's director that actually paid tribute to American soldiers in harm's way.  While in previous generations such a statement of support might not have been anything unusual, in today's leftist Hollywood the speech by Best Director recipient Kathryn Bigelow is significant, indeed.  Her words, greeted by polite applause by the audience, were not echoed by the film's producers who also accepted the Best Picture award, leaving Bigelow to again repeat her "thanks" to "those who serve" a second time, though this time she did seem a little sheepish (saying "sorry to reiterate") and then throwing firemen, hazmat teams and others who keep us safe.  In a telecast with admittedly very low expectations, and even with Bigelow's slight temporizing at the end, it was a significant moment for Hollywood.

But what does it really mean?  Bigelow herself has called the film "anti-war" -- which may have swayed some dovish voters to support it, though when I saw the movie I did not come away with that message at all.  The Academy may have been rewarding a female director who has gotten herself out of the outsized shadow of her ex (fellow Best Director nominee James Cameron), or it may have found a movie that allowed it to tell the rest of America that it is "pro troops" even as it remains anti-war.  Or maybe in a crowded field where Avatar and its computer generated characters took the air out of the room, the movie was simply "the best of the rest".

We will never know the collective reasoning of the Academy, of course.  But could it mean that Hollywood has begun to tire of the leftist diatribe it has been on for the past decade?  Roger Simon at Pajamas Media asks this question in a piece entitled: "Did the 2010 Academy Awards mark the end of liberal Hollywood"?

The 2010 Academy Awards may not have marked the end of “liberal Hollywood” as we know it, but they certainly put a solid dent in it. With the pro-military “The Hurt Locker” winning over the enviro-pabulum of “Avatar” and Sandra Bullock garnering the Best Actress Oscar for a Christian movie, the times are a-changin’ at least somewhat, maybe even a lot.

But one thing is now certain. It is time for conservative, center-right and libertarian filmmakers to stop feeling sorry for themselves and go out and just do it. Their “victocrat” days are over. No more excuses. “The Hurt Locker” and “The Blind Side” have proven that it can be done. Get out of the closet, guys and gals. If you want to make a film with themes you believe in, quit whining about Industry prejudice and start writing that script and trying to get it made. That’s not an easy thing, no matter what your politics.

Right siders can take inspiration too from Sunday’s Oscar ceremonies themselves. They weren’t defamed for a moment. Missing in action was the usual libo-babble, no extended hymns to the cause du jour or ritual Bush-bashing. And Barack Obama wasn’t even mentioned. Not once. But the troops were – several times by Kathryn Bigelow.

We are obviously long removed from the Hollywood of John Wayne, who embodied American patriotism in film, or of Jimmy Stewart, who heroically flew a B-17 in combat in the real war against Germany. But it is possible that we've turned a bit of corner in the vehement anti-Americanism that Hollywood has taken up since 9/11, though I certainly wouldn't call the success of the Hurt Locker last night a sea change.  As Donald Douglas has recently pointed out, there is an effort underway by Robert Greenwald's  Brave New Films to fund a series of "hardline leftist films on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars" that use U.S. veterans to pursue a very typical anti-American line of exploitation and imperialism.
If past is prelude, I'd say that Greenwald will need a big star or some gratuitous nudity to find a large audience for his leftist fare: previous anti-American films on Iraq have fared badly at the box office, and have failed to find an audience -- let alone win mainstream cinema awards.  The Hurt Locker's appeal stems in part from its avoidance of policy and its gritty, realistic portrayal of young American soldiers in battle.  In fact, I found the Hurt Locker to be a patriotic film -- not in the "Flying Tigers" or "Hellcats of the Navy" genre, but rather in it's portrayal of American kids showing courage, ambivalence and even fear under fire.   These are things that ordinary Americans can relate to, and that is in part why the film has been so well received.

Bankruptcy for owner of Denver Post

You have to read closely to see it, so elegant are the euphemisms, but the company that owns the company that owns the Denver Post is taking bankruptcy to get out from under $1 billion in loans it can't repay. ("Pact lets Post's owner cut debt," Jan. 16.) I note this with sadness, not any sort of pleasure, because Denver and Colorado need the Post -- all the more so after we lost the Rocky Mountain News a year ago -- and because I admire press lord Dean Singleton, whose MediaNews Group is the nation's second-largest newspaper publisher in terms of circulation and who is one of the world's true visionaries about where journalism is going in the digital age.

As today's story explains, MediaNews is in relatively better shape than most other struggling or bankrupt newspaper owners, and given Singleton's proven virtuosity there is reason to think he can pilot the company through current storms into sustainability when industry trends smooth out. For Colorado's sake and in the interest of informed self-government, let's hope so.

Disclosure: I am a Denver Post columnist.

Do tell: Who pushed Ritter out?

Kid-glove treatment by the Denver Post on Gov. Bill Ritter's decision not to run again, makes me miss the Rocky Mountain News as never before. And it increases my gratitude for the feisty skepticism still alive and well in talk radio and the blogosphere. In three days of coverage on the Ritter story by the Post, Monday night to Wednesday morning, online and in print, I haven't seen a single mention of the Governor's ethical and legal exposure over close aide Stephanie Villafuerte changing her story on the 2006 campaign controversy over leniency to illegal aliens.

Doubly odd since the Post itself, with suddenly-invisible reporter Karen Crummy in the lead, doggedly drove this issue and forced Villafuerte to pull her nomination for US Attorney. Triply odd since reputable news organizations such as Examiner.com have reported on the growing talk of possible impropriety in her personal relationship with Ritter.

The Post, last man standing among Denver's major daily papers, owes the public extra vigilance in that role. Instead, for some reason, it has morphed from watchdog to lapdog in this latest chapter of the Ritter melodrama.

Thankfully, Peter Boyles of KHOW in the morning has stayed on the Villafuerte angle. Dan Caplis & Craig Silverman, KHOW in the afternoon, have a different but equally probing take, speculating there was a Ken Salazar / Barack Obama coup to force the vulnerable Ritter out and hand the nomination to Salazar. Jon Caldara observed in an email this morning that sometimes "family priority" is code for a straying spouse trying to make things right. But not a hint in the Colorado's print journal of record, the Post, on any of these plausible and relevant possibilities.

Did Bill Ritter really jump by his own volition, as a sympathetic Lynn Bartels piece in today's Post has it? Or was he pushed -- by powerful Democrats here and in Washington, or by looming revelations of scandal? A truly free and independent press needs to be asking those questions.

"Don't wet on my leg and call it rain," LBJ used to say when someone tried to gull him in obvious fashion. (Actually he said it in more earthy terms.) Politicians try to do that all the time, of course, to each other and to us. They can't help themselves. That's where the First Amendment and the watchdog media come in. If there's no entity left in Colorado to do that with ink and paper in l'affaire Ritter, at least we're fortunate that some in the new and alternative media are staying in the hunt.

MSM easier on jihadists than Christians

The despicable terrorist act that Major Hasan committed was no doubt awful. Our prayers go out to the families that have lost their loved ones. Outside of his heinous act what is also disturbing is the media’s treatment of the role that his religion played. Let’s be honest with each other and understand that his religion did play a role in his decision to kill innocent soldiers. How could it have not played a role? In order to understand this point, let’s look at religion in another context.

Dr. George Tiller was murdered in May of 2009 by Scott Roeder, a crazy nut. The media had no problems talking about how Roeder’s radical actions and his radical beliefs played a role in his decision to murder Dr. George Tiller. In not so many words Roeder should be condemned for what he did and he should and will face the consequences of his actions in our legal system. Regardless of whether someone is for or against abortion does not give that someone the permission to take the life of another simply because they disagree. Roeder made a decision to end the life of a human being because he disagreed with Tiller’s actions. Roeder’s radical religious beliefs obviously played a role in his decision to end a life. How could Roeder’s radical beliefs not be an important part of his decision? Ponder this for a moment.

Now back to Major Hasan. His radical beliefs must have played a role in his decision to murder these soldiers. How does one thin He fundamentally hated the USA and in his own way declared jihad on American soldiers. Let’s stop tip toeing around the role radical religion played in this horrible terrorist attack.

When the FBI and the Army already had information that he was a radical, this