Tag Archives: news media

2020 Resolution: Get Out of Media Echo Chambers

Suffragettes

Feminism Portrayed as a War With Nature

Tucker Carlson is currently enjoying his 15 minutes of fame in our hyperbolic, fact-challenged media world. Thus, his recent proclamation on feminism made headlines:  “I don’t think anything has changed our society more for the worse … What we are describing is a war with nature.”

Carlson issued his invective during an interview with Suzanne Venker, and in response to Ms. Venker’s declaration that “we had that study several years ago that came out and showed that women are decidedly less happy than men after of course this last 40 years of supposed so-called liberation.”

First, let’s hope that Ms. Venker is happy, in spite of the fact that she can vote and is free to compete in the market place as a successful author and relationship counselor.

Secondly, let’s note that the echo chamber ran with Carlson’s declaration. The Washington Examiner published an opinion piece, sequel to Carlson’s interview with Ms. Venker, listing ills of feminism such as ideas that women don’t need men and children don’t need fathers. Those ills, Ms. Venker said have led to complete breakdown of marriage, relentless gender war, an explosion of kids in day care and home alone, and a full-scale war on men.

Thirdly, these dire proclamations sell well in conservative circles, just like grim predictions of climate change advocates sell in left-leaning spheres. Climate change alarm acts as a successful method of exercising control over populations. Attacks on the undefined principle of “feminism” serve the same purpose. Promoters of both issues are not shy about spurious claims, like climate change is the cause of deadly wildfires or feminism is the cause of today’s overflowing jails.

The Just Vote No Blog has discussed the view of climate change as method of control. Now, here are a few thoughts on the alleged evils of feminism.

That Study Several Years Ago

The study to which Ms. Venker refers is titled The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness, written by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, and published in May 2009 (a decade ago).

The study is really quite interesting. It documents changes over time in women’s responses as to how happy they are. Indeed, the responses allude to a decline in happiness that coincides with the period in which women’s participation in the workplace increased. However, as expected of any bona-fide scholarly paper, the study does not take political or social sides. It only provides possible explanations for the apparent decline in women’s happiness during 1972 – 2006. Here are some of the principal explanations in the study.

* Women experienced increased participation in the market, but no decrease in responsibilities at home. This is the “Second Shift” syndrome discussed by Arlie Hochschild and Anne Machung in their best-selling 2003 book.

* Men were no longer solely responsible for providing for their family’s financial support. Women acquired some of that responsibility, along with the accompanying worries previously suffered mostly by men.

* Contraceptives decreased the incidence of shotgun marriages, and increased the pressure for out of wedlock sex.

* Women’s competitive arena grew, and so did inevitable comparisons of abilities and performance.

* The period under study was a time of economic and wage volatility – stagflation in the 1970s, inflation and the savings and loan institutional crisis in the 1980s, recession as well as great prosperity in the 1990s, and the dot-com bust in the early 2000s.

None of these findings in the study in question appear to have anything to do with women suddenly feeling they did not need men or fathers for their children. Even more damning for the blame-it-all-on-feminism crowd is one of the study’s conclusions:

If the burdens of entering the workforce are playing a role in declining female happiness then perhaps the decline in happiness will be concentrated among women who are employed. [But] both women who are employed and those who are not have experienced roughly similar declines in subjective well-being …

Once again, we see similar trends in happiness across these groups, casting doubt on the hypothesis that trends in marriage and divorce, single parenthood, or work-family balance are at the root of the happiness declines among women.

So much for the study as proof women choosing other lifestyles than full-time homemakers is the cause of much societal evil.

More Economic Reasons for Unhappiness

The study discussed above offers several economic reasons that could result in women’s unhappiness. One more economic event could be added, globalization and the migration of manufacturing jobs out of the U.S.

Jobs in manufacturing, mostly held by men, were the backbone of America’s middle class. Those jobs started to migrate out of the U.S. around the 1970s. Contrary to the prediction of the hopeful manufacturing workers did not easily flow into emerging technology industries. Not only did manufacturing workers lose well-paying jobs, but they also lost benefits such as health insurance.

Households affected by globalization need to regroup, which might mean two working parents and children in day care or home alone. This is hardly a problem with feminism.

Two Reasons Other Than Economic

Besides the economic events mentioned above, there were two legislative decisions that forever transformed our society.

Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty

The War on Poverty, a cluster of legislation implemented during the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, could easily be described as the war on the poor. It decreased the tragedy that concerned President John F. Kennedy, children going to bed hungry, but it unleashed the welfare state – the curse behind much of the societal dysfunction that Tucker Carlson attributed to feminism.  The following quote is from a Forbes article published May 2014, The War on Poverty Wasn’t a Failure – It Was A Catastrophe.

… the War on Poverty has not just been a failure, it has been a catastrophe. It was supposed to help America’s poor become self-sufficient, and it has made them dependent and dysfunctional.

What turned the War on Poverty into a social and human catastrophe was that the enhanced welfare state created a perverse system of incentives, and people adapted to their new environment.

The adaptation of the working-age poor to the War on Poverty’s expanded welfare state was immediately evident in the growth of various social pathologies, especially unwed childbearing.

Richard Nixon’s War on Drugs

President Richard Nixon established the Controlled Substance Act of 1970. In 1971 he declared drug abuse “public enemy number one.” In 1973 he established the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), a special police force that targets illegal drug use and drug smuggling. Thus the War on Drugs was born. It popularized swat teams, filled up prisons, and removed Dads from homes.

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, 45.3% of inmates are incarcerated for drug offenses. For comparison, that percentage is followed by 19.2% of inmates in prison for offenses involving weapons, explosives and arson.

Understanding the Word “Feminism”

The word “feminism” should not be used without specific context, since it describes several distinct events. To say that feminism is a “war with nature” is to say that women should not be allowed to own property, vote, go to college, or make decisions on behalf of their family. This is control in the name of saving children and the family.

Controlling any group means preventing members of the group from effectively obtaining rights and privileges enjoyed by individuals outside the group.

Feminist events, often called “waves,” gradually afforded to women rights and privileges enjoyed by men.

The First Wave:

The middle 1800s brought women basic individual rights such as owning property and filing patents under their own name. During the 1800s universities started allowing women to attend. Prior to that few women attained higher education, and those who did attended female institutions.

The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ratified in 1920 granted women the right to vote, previously enjoyed only by men.

The Second Wave:

Historians usually view the Second Wave of Feminism as a movement that started in the early 1960s and ended in the early 1980’s. Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique and President John F. Kennedy’s Commission on the Status of Women are considered the movement’s first salvos.

In her book, Friedan reported anxiety and discontent experienced by suburban homemakers. As a result of her research, Friedan helped found the National Organization for Women (NOW), which lobbied for and achieved several landmark pieces of legislation, such as the Women’s Educational Equity Act of 1972, and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974.

Kennedy’s Commission on the Status of Women, enacted in 1963, recommended legislative action to correct inequities experienced by women. Among the most notable recommendations was expanded adult education, public childcare, equal opportunity employment practices, expansion of widows’ benefits under Social Security, and paid maternity leave.

The Third Wave:

This latest wave is said to have started with the Anita Hill incident during Clarence Thomas’ Senate confirmation hearings. A journalist by the name of Rebecca Walker wrote in Ms. Magazine,

So I write this as a plea to all women, especially women of my generation: Let Thomas’ confirmation serve to remind you, as it did me, that the fight is far from over. Let this dismissal of a woman’s experience move you to anger. Turn that outrage into political power … I am not a post-feminism feminist. I am the Third Wave.

Unlike the First and Second Waves, the Third Wave deals with numerous micro-issues affecting micro-populations.  The First Wave won the major Constitutional battle — women’s right to vote.  The Second Wave won major legal battles of equal protection under the law.  Therefore, the Third Wave is left to fight a myriad of disparate social issues that go far beyond the early objectives of the First and Second Waves.

From the day of its publication, Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique was criticized by more radical feminists for being elitist. The charge arose out of the fact that the book dealt with suburban homemakers who were mostly white, well educated and relatively well-off economically.

The Third Wave moved beyond those constraints and became open ended. Today battles for transgender rights, for fluidity of gender identification, against perceived male social aggression, and numerous other issues dominate what was once a movement for equal Constitutional and legal rights.

Suggested Resolution for 2020

Being informed of latest events is a good thing. However, today’s purveyors of news appear to reside in compartmentalized echo chambers that encourage their audiences to become equally compartmentalized.  Tucker Carlson’s recent attack on “feminism” is an example of a sound-bite pretending to stand for a wide and complex subject.

A good New Year’s resolution might be to acquire more of a 2020 vision, and think of alternative reasons for events described by your favorite news sources.

Culture Wars Rage on Social Media

Scene from WC Movie

Pictured:  Scene from one of W.C. Fields’ immortal movies, You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man.  Well, you can’t fool voters who don’t want to be fooled either.  But…, read on.

Twitter Calls it Quits on Political Ads

Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO, made news on October 30th when he Twitted,

We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally. We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought.

The ban, which will contain some exceptions, will take effect November 22. Guidelines will be published November 15, according to Jack Dorsey.

The Twitter Announcement is Big News

Banning political ads on any social media platform these days is not only big but huge.
Commercial TV viewing is not what it used to be. Cable networks do not need to abide by the same rules as do broadcast networks (requirements for equal time afforded to opposing views and prohibition of “censorship” do not apply to Cable political ads). A vast number of people obtain their “news” from social media platforms.

Advertisers, including political advertisers, are able to pitch their message to highly targeted audiences when advertising on social media. As everyone should know, targeted ads are the holy grail of all advertisers. A candidate for political office will search for targeted audiences as fiercely as will a seller of baby playpens.

These factors make social media platforms valuable assets in raising awareness for candidates, legislation, issues, and most importantly cultural trends.

The Cultural Initiative

In an earlier post on the Just Vote No Blog there was reference to Andrew Breitbart’s quote “Politics is downstream from culture.”

This is powerful stuff. Change the culture and political change will follow. Today the most likely place to change cultural trends is social media. Thus the battle for who determines the content of platforms like Twitter or Facebook. Of particular interest these days are the skirmishes over political “lies” on social media. Here are a couple of examples, not from Twitter, but from Facebook.

* Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, recently endured five hours of questioning during a Congressional hearing supposedly intended to discuss Facebook’s proposed alternative currency Libra.  However, not much of what transpired during the hearing had to do with Libra. The majority of Congressional comments zeroed in on Facebook’s policy regarding political ads, which supposedly does not call for fact checking such ads.

During the hearing Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asked Mr. Zuckerberg,

You announced recently that the official policy of Facebook now allows politicians to pay to spread disinformation in 2020 elections and in the future. So I just want to know how far I can push this in the next year…

So, you won’t take down lies or you will take down lies? I think that’s just a pretty simple yes or no.

Once again during this interminable hearing, unable to respond with a “simple yes or no,” Zuckerberg found himself at a loss for words.

* Senator Elizabeth Warren engaged in a clever strategy with a Facebook campaign ad that ran on October 10.

If Trump tries to lie in a TV ad, most networks will refuse to air it. But Facebook just cashes Trump’s checks.

Since FCC rules prohibits “censorship” on broadcasting networks (not counting Cable), Warren came up with the brilliant fine print on the ad claiming that her campaign included purposefully incorrect information to test whether Facebook will post untruthful ads.

It should be an obvious question what Ocasio-Cortez and Warren consider lies to be. In politics facts and untruths are often interchangeable.

Given the quantity of political ads social media such as Facebook and Twitter receive, as well as the complexity of issues involved in such ads, it would be fair to ask how accurate, cost effective, and blow-back free fact checking all of them would be. For example, what would a fact checker do with a political ad that mentioned the “climate crisis?”

The word “lies” has joined the lexicon designed to change culture and chance politics. Point deficits in any candidate or legislation and run the risk of being branded a racist, a homophobe, a baby killer, a liar, or some other weaponized set of adjectives.

It is no wonder that Twitter decided to call it quits, at least for the moment, on political ads.

As an Aside

Here the discussion purposefully leaves out questions such as political benefits that might or might not accrue to shareholders of social media for supporting or not supporting political sides, and possible algorithmic or human decisions on the reach of unpaid posts. Those could perhaps constitute strategies as powerful as paid ads, but outside the purview of the present discussion.

Warnings From a Former Communist

Shen Yun

Report from the Trenches

On October 17, Meet Up Group Golden Gate Liberty Revolution hosted speaker June Gilliam, who shared her story with an audience of about 40 assorted conservatives, libertarians, skeptics, and ordinary seekers of truth. Ms. Gilliam called her presentation a Journey From Indoctrination To Awareness: From a Collectivist Mindset all the way to Conservatism, From Chinese Communist Patriotism to American Patriotism.

The presentation had much information about the nature of the Chinese Communist Party, repression of traditional culture and spiritual belief, pervasive indoctrination, and veiled cracks in the CCP’s economic edifice.

However, the main takeaway of the talk was a recommendation that members of the audience acquaint themselves with 4 items. Then spread the word about those items.

* Item 1: The Naked Communist, a book by Cleon Skousen (1958). Central to Skousen’s work are the 45 Communist Goals. A few of the goals might not entirely pass muster with libertarians, but some of the goals highlighted in the presentation are worth noting.

#15 Capture one or both of the political parties in the United States.
#17 Get control of the schools.
#20 Infiltrate the press.
#22 Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all forms of artistic expression.
#29 Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, out of step.
#30 Discredit the American Founding Fathers.

Readers can place a check mark “Done!” after the goals they feel have been accomplished.

* Item 2: Shen Yun. The website of this splendid show lists the “9 Characteristics of Shen Yun.” The very first is Reclaiming a Lost Heritage. Heritage, culture, spiritual experience needs to be anathema to any form of tyrannical government. A people steeped in any of these three attributes will more likely fight against tyrannical encroachment into their practices. Beautiful art uplifts the soul whereas tyranny aims to squash it.

* Item 3: Falun Gong. This spiritual practice, unsurprisingly, is also banned in China, for the same reason Shen Yun is banned. Here is a brief description from their website.

Falun Gong is a Buddhist-based practice of meditation and moral living. Although introduced to the public in China in 1992, its roots extend back thousands of years. Tens of millions of people practice in China. Falun Gong is also practiced in over 90 countries around the world.

* Item 4:  The Epoch Times. This weekly publication is both print and digital. It is published in the U.S., but carries a National and a China section. From their website:

The Epoch Times was founded in the United States in the year 2000 in response to communist repression and censorship in China. Our founders, Chinese-Americans who themselves had fled communism, sought to create an independent media to bring the world uncensored and truthful information.

Note: Whether The Epoch Times is published by Falun Gong, is pro-Trump, is banned on social media, or suffers from all the other ills the mainstream media ascribes to it is irrelevant to this present discussion. What is relevant is that the publication contains stories not likely found elsewhere that readers can see and then dig for some more information if desired.

Truth is Available to Those Who Dig For It

June Gilliam’s presentation on October 17 was riveting. Her message is that the acknowledged objective of Communism is global infiltration. In her view the infiltration in the U.S. is pretty much widespread in the guise of progressivism, socialism, democratic-socialism, or green deals.

A Word About Golden Gate Liberty Revolution (GGLR)

This San Francisco-based Meetup that hosted this presentation on Chinese Communism has over 700 members. It started as the Ron Paul Meetup Group in 2008. In those days weekly meetings were packed with folks of all shades of the liberty movement focused on helping garner voter attention for then Texas U.S. Congress Member and Presidential candidate Ron Paul.

Today, the group meets monthly, the room is not packed. But the loyal liberty loving members, many going back to the days of Ron Paul precinct walks, do fill the room when from time to time GGLR presents a guest speaker. It has become an accepted fact that only quality speakers show up at GGLR.

Time for Congress to Go Back to Work?

Now that the Mueller report has been completed is there a chance that our Congress people might go back to work? Or maybe it’s only us working stiffs that need to produce at our jobs? Congress folk make around $180,000 with benefits. You, dear taxpayers, pay for that. You, yes, you who maybe have a job without benefits.

For nearly 16 months now, it seems that Congress has been doing nothing but foaming at the mouth – or campaigning for re-election. Meanwhile, somebody out there, maybe the Deep State, maybe the vast bureaucracy, maybe the status quo that does not want real change has been busy whipping the populace into a frenzy.

Have you tried to ask a “resister” what he is resisting? Is the response word-for-word what the media has been feeding her? If the response is a well-thought reason, a reason that involves a realistic perception that the current situation presents a real danger to oneself or to our Republic, then, of course, a fight is essential. But, is that danger really present, or the only danger is that presented to an entrenched bureaucracy that has ceased to be By the People and For the People.

Is it time for we the people to start wondering if the bickering among us is natural or engineered? Time to question whether the bickering among class, race, gender, or political belief is really beneficial? How about asking if what we are being told is true? For example, Congress is now clamoring for the Mueller report to be released to the public. Congress is full of lawyers; surely one of them must be aware that there are legal reasons why the report cannot be released immediately. For one, nothing can be released that contains reference to on-going investigations, and probably the report has much of that. So, some manipulation going on?

Resistance

European Union: No Way A Country

eu flagThe press is all atwitter over the U.S. State Department’s decision made late in 2017 (nobody knows when) to return the European Union to its pre-President Obama status of international organization – a downgrading from “state” (i.e., country). Nobody seems to know whether this downgrade is an error, deliberate, temporary, permanent, etc.
The press is emphasizing that the U.S. did not advise the E.U. powers that be that this downgrade had taken place. Maybe the emphasis should be on what constitutes a state, that is, a sovereign country. Maybe this is a good time to think about what is a legitimate jurisdiction and what is not.

In the view of the Just Vote No Blog, the E.U. is a bureaucracy, not a country, and therefore should be treated as a bureaucracy. Putting lipstick on this little ducky is not going to help make it a swan.

A country has a governing body that reflects choices – beneficial or not — of its residents. The residents’ choices might result in a republic such as the United States, a socialist democracy such as Venezuela, or a theocracy such as Iran. Conversely, a bureaucracy has a governing body that reflects the choices of those who appoint the bureaucracy’s leaders; a bureaucracy does not stand directly accountable to anyone.

The current U.S. Administration could ignore the question whether the E.U. is a country, and that would certainly be a good way to maintain amicable relations and not upset any apple carts. However, the results of ignoring the question of what constitutes a real jurisdiction would bring collateral damage, such as a proliferation of unaccountable bureaucracies at the international, national, and local levels (if you are not familiar with your regions’ Metropolitan Planning Organization, google it, and see how much power over your local land use it has).

One must not underestimate the tenacity of bureaucrats.

Pick one: Tyler Durden or Paul Krugman

The news media is having its problems these days. If the media is not being called fake news, it’s being called conspiratorial. Fact checkers have sprouted like crabgrass, and legislators – state, federal, you name it – have rushed to protect consumers from being stripped of all their personal information or being exposed to deviations from the status quo.

So what to do? The macro approach suggests that you read a variety of news sources – established, alternative, left-leaning, right-leaning, and even libertarian if you are really brave. The micro approach is to pick your favorite echo chamber and stick with it. The latter approach might be advisable if you need/want to do things other than look at the news. If you really need/want to narrow your choices even further, pick either Paul Krugman or Tyler Durden. Why those two? Why not.

Helping You to Pick

Fifht Club - CopyAs everybody knows, Paul Krugman is the Nobel Prize winning economist that explains our present and predicts our future on the New York Times. Tyler Durden is a fictional character in the book and movie The Fight Club, but he also lends his name to the writers and editors of the political/financial/life-experience website Zero Hedge. Although Professor Krugman is predictably and consistently left-leaning, “Tyler Durden” of Zero Hedge is, according to reviewers, alt-right, anarchical, doom and gloom, and “extremely influential in the New York, London and global hedge fund community.”  (Pictured:  Tyler Durden, i.e. Brad Pitt, in The Fight Club)

Their track record? Let’s pick what each said on November 9, 2016.

* Paul Krugman on November 9, 2016, regarding the U.S. stock market:

I guess people want an answer: If the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is never.

Under any circumstances, putting an irresponsible, ignorant man who takes his advice from all the wrong people in charge of the nation with the world’s most important economy would be very bad news. What makes it especially bad right now, however, is the fundamentally fragile state much of the world is still in, eight years after the great financial crisis.

Now comes the mother of all adverse effects — and what it brings with it is a regime that will be ignorant of economic policy and hostile to any effort to make it work. Effective fiscal support for the Fed? Not a chance. In fact, you can bet that the Fed will lose its independence, and be bullied by cranks.

…So we are very probably looking at a global recession, with no end in sight. I suppose we could get lucky somehow. But on economics, as on everything else, a terrible thing has just happened.

* Tyler Durden on November 9, 2016, regarding the U.S. stock market:

Just like with Brexit, the so-called Wall Street experts scrambled to paint a picture of doom and gloom, warning traders, and markets, that the end of the world is imminent should Trump win, and that stocks could drop by 5%, 10% or more should Donald Trump get elected president. And again, just like in the case of Brexit, they convinced the algos and the momentum chasing traders. Briefly. Because after futures hit the 5% down limit shortly after the market realized it was dead wrong about the presidential election, they have since soared nearly 80 points of the overnight lows and are well above the Friday, pre-Comey close, level.

How come?

Simple: as we have repeatedly said, a Trump victory, coupled with lower taxes, a spike in infrastructure spending, and a surge in debt is precisely what the economy – and a normalized market, one not manipulated daily by central banks – wanted and needed, as it not only will prompt yields to rise, but it will assure even more QE in the near future as foreign buyers of US debt disappear (assuming Trump does not do away with the Fed entirely, which for a man running a real estate empire, he won’t do as he ultimately needs lower rate.)

It’s the Fundamentals

RationalWiki describes Zero Hedge colorfully, and as several other reviewers mentions that ZH follows the Austrian School of Economics — you, know, the non-Keynesian guys.

Zero Hedge is a batshit insane Austrian school finance blog run by two pseudonymous founders who post articles under the name “Tyler Durden..”

Bill Clinton’s rousing campaign slogan “It’s the economy, stupid,” was instrumental in his winning the presidency against incumbent George H.W. Bush. Tyler Durden should adopt a similar slogan about the stock market, “It’s the fundamentals, stupid.”

However, there are plenty of people who prefer ideology over fundamentals, so Just Vote No suggests Paul Krugman.