People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Monday, October 05, 2009

I'm Not Sure I Understand The Argument

The Roanoke Times editorial team is all orgasmic this morning over a piece that liberal New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote recently (entitled "The Wizard of Beck") in which he tries to convince the public (and himself?) that America's conservative talk radio hosts - Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, Ingraham ... - represent a tiny minority of the American populace and that they hold very little sway when it comes to public opinion.
David Brooks had an excellent column in Friday's New York Times making the point that the evidence indicates that, while the extreme right wing in this nation has a loud voice - Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck - evidence indicates it is a very tiny minority, unable to have much of an impact on anything, not even Republican primaries ...

Despite this, though, Brooks points out that the myth of influence endures, and becomes somewhat self-fulfilling: "And the saddest thing is that even Republican politicians come to believe it. They mistake media for reality. They pre-emptively surrender to armies that don’t exist." [link]
Am I the only one who finds this argument to be a little odd?  If Limbaugh, et al. are not influential, why are Brooks and the Times editorialists writing about them?

A bit of wishful thinking maybe?

It's worth noting that, while Brooks's New York Times readership is plummeting (see "New York Times Circulation Plummets"), Rush Limbaugh (the big daddy of talk radio) finds his listenership skyrocketing (see "Rush's Ratings Bonanaza").

It's also worth noting that, while the very liberal New York Times had an average 475,548 readers in its (very liberal) hometown last year, the very conservative Limbaugh is drawing an average daily audience of 693,000In the New York Times's back yard.

Want to talk about influence?

Nationwide, Limbaugh has anywhere from 14 million to 20 million listeners each week.  Most of whom, it's fair to say, are loyal to his cause.  Hannity, 13 million.

No influence?

There's got to be some reason these hordes are tuning in.  And my guess is, it ain't for the yucks.

And, as Rush said, in reply to Brooks's attack: "How many Americans know who David Brooks is?”

But to my main point, again: If conservative talk radio isn't influential, why are David Brooks and the kids over at the Roanoke Times expending precious ink (and bytes) on them?

Does the term "Whistling past the graveyard" mean anything?

- - -

Also, let me pick this bone with Brooks, who wrote:

"Over the past few years the talk jocks have demonstrated their real-world weakness time and again. Back in 2006, they threatened to build a new majority on anti-immigration fervor. Republicans like J.D. Hayworth and Randy Graf, both of Arizona, built their House election campaigns under that banner. But these two didn’t march to glory. Both lost their campaigns."

True enough.  But there was this little thing called the Iraq War that had a little something to do with both losses, you might have added.  Besides, where did the effort on the part of George Bush & John McCain & Congress & The Media to legalize illegal immigrants end up?

It was talk radio that killed it, genius.

And shall we talk about ObamaCare?

How's That Stimulus Working Out?

Investor's Business Daily suggests the answer is: Not so well.

From "Stop The Spending And Cut The Taxes":
Americans were told early this year that passing the stimulus was vital, that it would put us back on the path to economic growth and that joblessness would top out at 8.5%. Now we're looking at 10%.

Politicians may act surprised, but they shouldn't be. They caused it. Policies based on massive government spending, higher taxes and costly regulation don't work.

We've warned since last year that any "stimulus" built on Keynesian spending is doomed to fail. The idea that there's a multiplier effect — that is, a net GDP gain — from the government taking your money and spending it for you is, quite plainly, absurd.
It seems we read the words "politicians" and "absurd" in the same story a lot these days. But then we all know that Washington D.C. is the land of the ridiculous.

This Is No Way To Fight A War

I remember once being given instructions by the CEO of the company I was working for at the time while he and I were standing at the urinals in the men's room at corporate HQ.  Odd, but he had important things going on elsewhere and had only a few minutes for me.

That recollection is bouncing around in my brain cavity this morning as a result of having read the following.  Boy, I know how four-star General Stanley McChrystal feels.  He too had his meeting-at-the-urinal moment the other day.

From "Security Adviser Calls Troop Increase McChrystal’s Opinion" in this morning's New York Times:
General McChrystal, whom President Obama installed this summer, has said that 40,000 troops are needed for a counterinsurgency strategy that protects civilians, clears Taliban-held territory and holds it while Afghan soldiers are trained. He said in an unusually blunt speech in London that a “counterterrorist focus” — the kind advocated by Mr. Biden — was a recipe for what he called “Chaos-istan.”

He outlined his strategy on Friday in Copenhagen in a 25-minute meeting with President Obama on Air Force One while it was parked on an airport tarmac. [my emphasis]
That, of course, is the trip that Obama took to convince the International Olympic Committee that it should hold the 2016 games in Chicago because ... well, because Obama wanted them held there.  McChrystal was given all of 25 minutes to lay out America's war strategy (!) to a president who considers McChrystal and his war nothing more than distractions from more important things - like Obama talking about himself to adoring fans at the IOC meeting in Denmark.

25 whole minutes.  A plane parked on a tarmac.  Between gigs.

No word on whether that 25 minutes included time at the urinal.

I'm In Good Company

When the Wall Street Journal says its a problem, it's a problem.  But what's with this?
Record Teen Unemployment: Only WSJ Seriously Looks At Minimum-Wage Hikes As Cause
By Tom Blumer, NewsBusters

Based on the data, the current job situation for teenagers in America is the worst on record.

According to Uncle Sam's Bureau of Labor Statistics:

* Seasonally adjusted teenage unemployment hit 25.9%. That is the highest rate in the nearly 62 years BLS has been reporting this number. The previous record was last month's 25.5%. The record before that was 24.1% in November and December of 1982. A graphic of the complete history of the teenage unemployment rate that will open in a new window is here.
* Unemployment among black teens not enrolled in school is over 50%.
* The rate among 20-24 year-olds is also alarmingly high at 15.1%.

Almost alone among establishment media publications -- and even then in an editorial, not a regular news report -- the Wall Street Journal commented on this distressing set of circumstances, identified the most likely cause of the problem, and worried about its longer-term consequences. [link]
Almost alone?  I wrote on this subject a week ago (see "The Demise of the Entry Level Job").

I suppose we could argue over whether From On High is an "establishment media publication," but I did offer up this at the time:
The inclination is to blame Obama for this.  But the last increase in the minimum wage was signed into law by George Bush.

However, Obama is on record as favoring another raise.  To $9.50 an hour.  I guess 52.2% of our young people being unemployed isn't enough for him.
I beat the Wall Street Journal by a week. 

And they didn't even give me attribution ... 

Quote of the Day

From a meteorologist at a CBS affiliate in Harrisburg, PA:
So, when I see humans trying to blame weather cycles on something other than nature, I get incensed. I don’t know what’s more arrogant: Saying we caused it or saying we can stop it.

Truth is, we can’t keep a stray shower from ruining your picnic, so how are we going to stop global weather patterns?

Ironically, the same people who tease me about not getting the seven-day forecast correct totally believe in the faulty science that says we can predict the weather 100 years from now.
Tom Russell, "Cooling off: time to take a different look at global warming," Penn Live, October 4, 2009