In the Henhouse

Regarding the latest kerfuffle between the White House and Fox News….

First, the mission of Fox News–like every other television news agency in the known universe–is to attract viewers and sell advertising. Journalism is not a mystical calling.  Cable news programs do not provide either their hosts, guests, or viewers mystical enlightenment. CNN, MSNB, FOX, and Al Jazeira do not compete for TRUTH they compete for viewers. If Fox News leans to the right, it’s because that’s the market niche they’ve focused on. Rupert Murdoch is a businessman; if he could make more money by pandering to the left, he would. Why does Fox News lean to the right? Because that’s how they make money. Fox News is winning the competition for ratings. The White House is probably helping.

Second, the White House is behaving boorishly.

As ridiculous and offensive as some Fox “personalities” are, none of them wield a terrible swift sword. Barack Obama commands enormous actual power–he’s Commander in Chief of the U.S. Military. Fox News is a freaking television show. In his capacity as Chief Executive, the President exercises prosecutorial discretion over the entire federal legal apparatus. If you don’t like the President, tough. If you don’t like Fox News, change the channel.

Finally, so what if Fox News is partisan? Are we supposed to imagine that the White House isn’t partisan?

If democracy is ever to work (an open question) it requires vigorous debate. Not more toadying.

Nobel

So Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize.

On the same day he bombed the Moon! He’s an interplanetary warmonger!

But seriously, from the Times:

The award of this year’s Nobel peace prize to President Obama will be met with widespread incredulity, consternation in many capitals and probably deep embarrassment by the President himself. Rarely has an award had such an obvious political and partisan intent. …

the prize risks looking preposterous in its claims, patronising in its intentions and demeaning in its attempt to build up a man who has barely begun his period in office, let alone achieved any tangible outcome for peace. …

Mr Obama becomes the third sitting US President to receive the prize. The committee said today that he had “captured the world’s attention”. It is certainly true that his energy and aspirations have dazzled many of his supporters. Sadly, it seems they have so bedazzled the Norwegians that they can no longer separate hopes from achievement. The achievements of all previous winners have been diminished.

If this doesn’t scare you,

Please tell me why it doesn’t scare you.

There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care.  These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation.  Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.

This is a dissident database. Secret, permanent and protected by executive privilege.

a wet, lurid breeze

I thought this administration was supposed to be a breath of fresh air. Clean the swamp, fight corruption, Hope™ and Change™ and all that….

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. has backed off his plan to investigate wrongdoing by the liberal activist group ACORN, saying “powers that be” put the kibosh on the idea.

Mr. Conyers, Michigan Democrat, earlier bucked his party leaders by calling for hearings on accusations the Association of Community Organization for Reform Now (ACORN) has committed crimes ranging from voter fraud to a mob-style “protection” racket.

“The powers that be decided against it,” Mr. Conyers told The Washington Times.

The chairman declined to elaborate, shrugging off questions about who told him how to run his committee and give the Democrat-allied group a pass. — Washington times

Hunh.

Mr. Conyers is the chairmain of the House Judiciary Committee. Who would have the power to call off his investigation?

“The powers that be decided against it.”

I bet they did.

Yay, democracy!

Cato video

“Congress is supposed to be the lead dog…” Yes, but who holds the whip?

Biden to lead the way on the recovery! Yay! Biden is… sma… well, you see, he’s really cohere… we trus… he’s got white hair! (What’s the number of that website again?)

The comments about the war on terror and the war in Afghanistan are excellent.

I like, stuff…

Ed Driscoll, Rendezvous with Scarcity:

http://blip.tv/play/gopD75VHhe4M

But hey! Obama will unveil a budget that will reduce the deficit in half in four years. You know, that’s the deficit that he doubled in four weeks.

So, the stimulus plan will “save or create” jobs and the budget will “double or halve.” It’s a wild, woolly, double-speak world!

These are my favorites:

“If your family earns less than $250,000 a year,” he said, “you will not see your taxes increased a single dime. I repeat: not one single dime.” Unless you count taxes like gas taxes, sales taxes, excise taxes, or taxes on miles driven.

And there’s this:
dilbert cartoon

(Note: I’m moving the order of the last couple posts around because I really liked my Friend Me post and think that the photos of bat soup are really icky.)

OK, Joe…

I find the following video clip heartening. Biden and Obama are in the process of swearing in White House senior staff and apparently it’s the Vice-President’s job to administer the oath. Who knew?

At first, Biden forgets that he’s the one to administer the oath, but he quickly remembers. He then quips, “My memory’s not as good as Justice Roberts’ … Chief Justice Roberts.” Referring, of course, to the flub of the Oath that Obama took at the inauguration.

Ha … Ha. Chuckles all around.

Except for Obama, who’s clearly not amused. Watch closely and you’ll see Obama reach out, grab Biden’s elbow, and steer funny ole Joe back to business, even shaking his head at someone off camera.

Why heartening? Biden’s joke wasn’t off-color, or even rude. It wasn’t particularly funny either… but it was–as so much modern political humor is–a needless, pointless, partisan jibe. Obama didn’t scold Biden, he just… steered him back to business, sending a message that I read as, “OK, enough. We’ve got work to do.”

Despite all the rhetoric, there will be plenty of partisan wrangling in the next four years. That’s a good thing, by the way, partisan differences are real and important, they shouldn’t be brushed aside easily. But civility and decorum are important too and Obama seems, in at least a small way, truly committed to engaging his opposition with dignity.

Good for him.