From the Commander-in-Chief, no less:

“With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations, — none of which I know how to work — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation,” Obama said.

At least he admits he doesn’t know how to work them–although it’s sort of odd, because you don’t have to be a genius to turn on an Xbox–but this is far from the first time Obama has complained about video games interfering with education. In fact, seemingly every time he talks about education, he tells parents to make kids put away their games.

I agree with Obama that sometimes people do use the technology for mindless entertainment; but that’s true of everything: For every great work of literature, there’s also about 200 trashy romance novels. This does not mean all books are meaningless diversions.

For the record, I have learned a lot of important lessons from video games like the ones I listed here.

Over at Conservatives4Palin, C. Brooks Kurtz makes a good point regarding the complaints about Sarah Palin’s increased earnings since resigning the governorship. I’ve always been a little puzzled by this myself. Why does it bother people? Or, more accurately: why do the folks in the media seem to speak about it as if it should bother people?

Kurtz’s is an interesting, Francisco d’Anconia-esque piece, and well worth reading.

Well, I don’t know. But he sure didn’t want to say if President Obama was or not. Here is an excerpt from his interview yesterday on CBS news’ Face the Nation (My comments in red):

BOB SCHIEFFER: A large group of people in the Tea Party think the President is pushing the country towards socialism. Do you believe that?

SENATOR SCOTT BROWN: I know that the President should start to focus on jobs and job
creation and– and– and– and– and that hasn’t been done. [As Benjamin Bell pointed out, Brown voted for a “jobs bill”] Since I’ve been here we’ve done health care, which they obviously rammed through by using a parliamentary procedure that has never been used for something this big ever. And then the bill as we’re finding out is– is flawed, seriously flawed. It’s going to cost medical device companies in my state, you know, thousands of jobs. But then, we’re taking– we’re talking now about regulation reform. [At this point, it’s pretty clear he’s dodging the question.] We’re politicizing that. Maybe– I’ve heard illegal immigration is going to come forth. When we’re in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the only thing they talked about from the Presidents all the way down to the poorest farmer were jobs. Since I’ve been here, I’ve heard zero talk about jobs. [It’s occurring to you that you ought not to have voted for that bill, isn’t it?] So, I’ll let–leave that up to the political pundits, but I know from what I’ve seen that we need to focus on jobs and the President should start to do so.

SCHIEFFER: “But, do you decline to answer my question: is he pushing the country
towards socialism?” [Oh, dear, he’s making you answer the question.]

BROWN: “I don’t think he’s making proper choices when it comes to dealing with the– the free market and free enterprise and allowing businesses to– to really run themselves and create jobs. [So, would that be a “yes”?] And as a result, larger government is happening and we’re creating jobs but they’re all government jobs. And the private sector is definitely– definitely suffering.”

Hmmm. “Dealing with the free market”, eh?

Technically, if you subscribe to a free-market philosophy, you don’t deal with it if you’re in government. That’s the point. You get out of the way of the free market. If you watch the interview, you can see Brown catch himself here.

Scott Brown didn’t look too good to me in that interview, but then again,you’ve got to watch your words when you’re a Republican politician in Massachusetts. Perhaps I’m being too harsh. All politicians dodge questions; it’s just the politicians who don’t do it artfully (like Palin and now, it seems, Brown) who we call out for it.

Kurt Schlichter at Big Hollywood asks how people who support Polanski can be for arresting the Pope:

 “I don’t know what the Pope did or didn’t do – that’s for the police to deal with, along with the Catholic Church and even God Himself. The chips will fall where they may. But I know what Roman Polanski did, because he confessed to it and then ran away. And no matter how wonderful and transcendent an artist he is supposed to be – I think he’s generally a hack – the same standard applies to him that applies to everyone else.”  

Schlichter also criticizes Christopher Hitchens for his plot to arrest the Pope. (Interestingly, he doesn’t seem to point out that Hitchens himself is firmly in the anti-Polanski camp.)

However, Schlichter is right in that this provides a fascinating test of where people stand in the so-called “Culture War”. Many leftist types want Polanski to go free, and favor punishing the Pope. And indeed, this is hypocrisy. But it also reveals much about how each side thinks. Let’s compare the two men’s crimes:

–Polanski drugged and raped a child while they were both under the influence of alcohol. When a Judge reneged on his sentence, he panicked and fled the country.

–The Pope is head of an institution that has, apparently for a very long time, been covering for its child-raping members. The present Pope himself has apparently personally signed off on these cover-ups. It’s important to point out, however, that this is technically irrelevant. Even if he hadn’t, it’s his responsibility as head of the organization.

Polanski’s crimes are those of an individual against a society–an institution. Though he clearly harmed an individual, that individual subsequently forgave him. But, as those who want to punish Polanski correctly note, her forgiveness does not matter. The point of punishing him is to uphold the law, to protect society as a whole from such criminals.

The Pope’s crimes are those of an institution against individuals. Therefore, the people who are pro-Polanski and anti-Pope are, by and large, hedonists and anarchists. The people who are pro-Pope and anti-Polanski are rigorous authoritarians.

My position is that both Polanski and the Pope have committed serious crimes, and both ought to be punished for them. Those on the Right, of course, are loath to admit that an Establishment is corrupt; those on the Left are seemingly in total denial that their anti-Establishment artist actually committed a horrible crime.

Apparently, President Obama gave a 17-minute answer in response to the question: “In the economy (sic) times that we have now, is it a wise decision to add more taxes to us with the health care, because it — we are over-taxed as it is?”

First of all, I should point out that it’s sort of a moot point; obviously, Obama does think it’s wise, or else he wouldn’t have done it.

Secondly, Obama did basically answer the question; in that he said what the problems the bill addressed were. In so doing, he essentially laid out for the listeners to decide whether it was wise or not.

Thirdly, it is very difficult to assess what “over-taxed” means. Is it an economically measureable phenomenon? Is it “over-taxed” in the sense that the government gets less revenue with higher tax rates, as Arthur Laffer thought? Or over-taxed in the sense of taxes that make people move to other countries to keep more of their money, hence strangling innovation? Either way, it’s hard to say if we’re over-taxed or not.

On the other hand, if we’re talking about “over-taxed” as a moral issue (because some say it is not only inefficient but immoral for the government to tax at high rates), then the situation is utterly irresolvable, because–and I suspect this is the case–Obama and his questioner have fundamentally different moral outlooks on this issue.

Lastly, I’m pretty sure what Obama was trying to say without actually saying it was: “Taxes will have to be raised to pay for the debt and deficit. This is going to happen no matter what. If you think you’re over-taxed now, well…”

As I have said, almost everyone seems to think the media is against them. However, as far as news media and Journalism is concerned, this charge has been obsolete since, at the latest, 2004. The internet has enabled people to easily access propaganda for any viewpoint they want. This is one argument many people made a few years ago, when there were rumors of a revival of the so-called “Fairness doctrine”. You don’t need any one News source to be unbiased when you have thousands of News sources that cater to various ideological, religious, or whatever persuasions. 

Now, this is true for News sources and journalism. But the argument I would expect (especially from Conservatives.) is that this is only the tip of the iceberg. The argument is this: It’s more than just journalism that is biased, it is all forms of entertainment. For example, witness the Conservative anger at the film “Avatar”.  That entire site exists because conservatives believe that Hollywood is biased heavily against them, with the vast majority of films containing messages and morals that are contrary to their worldview, and, more importantly, brainwash audiences in the same way.

All of this sounds extremely reasonable, (I have not researched it, but I personally suspect that, broadly speaking, movies have a bias that is generally liberal.) I can put my own political commentary on the internet with ease, but I am not, as of this writing, capable of producing a special-effects laden adventure film to advance my views. And really, which would you rather see?

So, if we extend the definition of media to include fiction movies, novels, non-political, non-news television shows, music, stage performances and video games, we may be getting somewhere. After all, if all this is biased against you, what chance do you really have?

Except the internet defeats even that. Think about Big Hollywood again: if you don’t like what you see in any of these entertainment forms, you go there and get to read people who agree, and see what they recommend as good entertainment for the conservative mind.  

Furthermore, I question the idea that people can be brainwashed by simply placing messages like this in entertainment media; I think audiences are not given enough credit by those believe that the mere presence of such biases can persuade them to change political views. 

To be continued…



1. a pl. of medium. 

2. (usually used with a plural verb) the means of communication, as radio and television, newspapers, and magazines, that reach or influence people widely: “The media are covering the speech tonight.


“America today is a confused society, caught up in a terror war, a culture war, and a media war, where honesty and professional standards have vanished.” —Bill O’Reilly, Fox news commentator.

“The most dangerous thing about TV is its equalizing factor, its lowest common denominator factor. And that’s what I fight against all the time.” —Keith Olbermann, MSNBC commentator.

Is there a more ubiquitous enemy of all people than “the media”? It is denounced by many people for many reasons. It is anti-Republican and anti-Democrat, anti-Business and beholden to business. It is anti-religious, it is too religious. It is anti-Western, and it is too centered on the West.  It focuses only on lurid scandals, and it doesn’t investigate them thoroughly enough.

And no one will ever admit that “the media” is biased in their favor. A Republican might admit that talk radio and Fox News are in his favor, but “the media” is undoubtedly against him. A Democrat might concede MSNBC, and basically all comedies, but “the media” is still run by corporations, and they are most definitely against the Democrats.

And I’ve never heard anyone, in discussing any issue, say “I’m just glad the media is on my side.” Inevitably, there are conspiracies by the “media” against everyone’s beliefs.

So, what I wanted to know is: What is “the media”? Go back to that definition of media at the top. It neglects to mention the internet,  but it is accurate when it defines media as “the means of communication”. 

Woe to him against whom the very means of communication are biased.

The fact is most people aren’t thinking quite this broadly when they say “the media”. They mean the Press–journalists. Sometimes artists are included as well. But if the means of communication were biased against anything, it would be, well, Newspeak

I think the internet has basically killed any institutionalized bias in the media. MSNBC and Fox news still exist, but they are not the only source of information for anyone willing to use the internet.  

To be continued…