Thursday, July 29, 2010

The JournoList Issue No One Is Bringing Up

Why is it that you believe — nay, why is it that you know — that the intricacies of, say, Barack Hussein Obama's relationship with the Reverend Wright are entirely unfounded, at best highly exaggerated, and, in the final analysis, not worth dwelling upon?

Is it because it is — is it because it happens to be — a fact?

And why is it that you believe — that you know — that, say, George W Bush is a helpless clod while Sarah Palin is a hopeless cause, and that Rush Limbaugh is a racist while Fox News is run by fascists or the equivalent thereof?

Is it because it is, is it because it happens to be, a fact?

Or is it because you have been told that it is a fact?

Is it because you have been told it is a fact by people with an undying commitment to neutrality, to objectivity, and to the truth (to the truth, to the whole truth, and to nothing but the truth)?

Or have you been told it is a fact, as it happens, not by nonpartisan truth seekers who are neutral and objective — although they claim to be (indeed, they are convinced that they are the epitome of neutrality and objectivity) — but by political activists and political tools who turn out to be, more or less secretly, (surprise!) pro-Democrat, pro-statist, and pro-Obama while being anti-Republican, anti-capitalist, and anti-conservative?

1. The JournoList and the Left's Demonization of Opponents

Some of the best articles on the JournoList scandal — what the Spectator's R Emmett Tyrrell Jr calls "a mother lode of left-wing bigotry, screeds, and semi-literate gibbering" — come from a fellow Spectator commentator: "as worldly wise as I like to think that I am," writes John R. Guardiano, "I have been stunned, shocked and appalled by the raw partisanship and animalistic lust for power displayed by this pack of left-wing journalists."
Of course I always [k]new most Washington journalists were leftists. But what I didn't realize were the depths of intellectual dishonesty and dishonor to which many Washington journalists would descend in order to protect leftist pols and smear conservatives.
Indeed, for anyone not familiar with the case (i.e., for anyone used to get his information from the mainstream media — or what (Glenn Reynolds agrees) should be called the One-Party Media), John R. Guardiano gives the run-down of the emails' "extremely troubling and reprehensible" content:
• the Journolisters' attempt, during the 2008 presidential campaign to kill and bury stories about Obama's relationship with "Reverend" Jeremiah Wright;
• their push to deliberately smear innocent conservative journalists and politicos as "racists" and "bigots";
• their twisted passion to see Rush Limbaugh killed off and dead;
• their intolerant desire to have the government censor and shut down Fox News; and
• their baldly partisan effort to coordinate liberal talking points that would discredit Sarah Palin and John McCain, while helping to elect Barack Obama president.
John R. Guardiano explains more in detail:
We always knew that most liberal journalists were biased. Now we know that many of them are dishonest — and that, like their leftist forbearers in the Soviet Union, they reserve unto themselves the right to lie and to cheat to further their political ends.

We know this because of the Daily Caller's astonishing report … that a cabal of liberal journalists, activists, and academics acted in concert, and with malice aforethought, to kill and bury stories that were unfavorable to their political masters: Barack Obama and Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Indeed, these "journalists" were so blindly and zealously committed to the left-wing political agenda that they advocated smearing their political opponents with wholly unfounded charges of "racism" and "bigotry."

Thus Ackerman's call for his fellow lefty "journalists" to "pick one," any one conservative. After all, "who cares" who it is? Who cares about their innocence? Just pick a prominent conservative and call him a racist. Smear him! Show no mercy! Destroy his reputation and kill his public image! Now!

Reason's Michael C. Moynihan points out (via Glenn Reynolds's Instapundit) that "the charming and efficient pundits of Washington, D.C." turn out to be
members of a listserv inhabited by liberal journalists and academics expressed their desire to see Rush Limbaugh die of a heart attack; to toss their enemies through plate glass windows; to call random conservatives racists; and to rid the country of those “fucking NASCAR retards.” … While commenters have noted blogger Spencer Ackerman’s sleazy suggestion that liberals start labeling random Republicans “racist”—pick a conservative, like “Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists"—few noticed the obsession with accusing opponents not of being misguided or wrong, but motivated by racial animus and Nazi-like…
In fact, as the Daily Caller's Jonathan Strong points out (thanks to Instapundit who has been following the controversy on a daily basis), it turns out that the JournoList membership included quite "a number of professional political operatives, including top White House economic advisors, key Obama political appointees, and Democratic campaign veterans."

What's more, according to Jonah Goldberg (who describes the Journolist members as speaking "freely about their political and personal biases, including their hatred of Fox and Rush Limbaugh, and their utter loyalty to the progressive cause and Democratic success"),
it turns out that the "O" in Journolist stands for "Obama."
The author of Liberal Fascism adds that during the 2008 campaign,
participants shared talking points about how to shape coverage to help Obama. They tried to paint any negative coverage of Obama's racist and hateful pastor, Jeremiah Wright, as out of bounds. Journalists at such "objective" news organizations as Newsweek, Bloomberg, Time and The Economist joined conversations with open partisans about the best way to criticize Sarah Palin.
Incidentally, one of the key passages of Goldberg's 405-page book reads as follows:
That is how the liberal Gleichschaltung works; contrary voices are regulated, barred, banned when possible, mocked and marginalized when not. Progressive voices are encouraged, lionized, amplified — in the name of "diversity," or "liberation," or "unity," and, most of all, "progress."
Now, let's see — what other subjects have been described as "out of bounds" and in what other Obama-related matters have the people interested in out-of-bounds subjects been described, with a smirk or with a snort — i.e., "mocked and marginalized" — as racists and/or as nutcases?

Well, just about everything regarding Barack Obama and his past. All of it has been declared off-bounds or of little interest, whether it is his connections to the Weather Underground, to Bill Ayers, to his university's law journal, and to Acorn — and, indeed, whether it is Acorn's own alleged dedication to fair and honest work methods. Did (any of) the JournoListers uncover anything worth knowing regarding Obama, or, indeed, did they even refuse to try to uncover, or even investigate, anything at all (unlike, say, the bogus report of John McCain's infidelity or the innumerable stories on Sarah Palin's family members)?

And so, we finally get to the subject of this post, the matter of Barack Hussein Obama's birth certificate

2. The Obama Birth Certificate and the Alleged Racists and Nutjobs

As a reader of JustOneMinute told Tom Maguire (as linked by Glenn Reynolds):
I don’t think Obama was born in Kenya or any other place other than Hawaii.
But I find it outrageous and ridiculous that we know more about Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber than we know about [the occupant of the Oval Office].
Now, before you react to this by saying "Oh God there's another one!" or "Lord haven't they gotten over this yet?" — whether you are liberal or conservative or neutral (independent) — then ask yourself, am I rolling my eyes heavenwards while sighing and saying/thinking this because it is a fact that it is a tiring subject (since the people asking for Obama's birth certificate can only be racists and/or nutjobs) or because I have been told that (it is a fact that) it is a tiring subject (since the people asking for Obama's birth certificate can only be racists and/or nutjobs) — having been told so, again, by people who just happen to be supporters of the Democrats' élitist world view, people who just happen to have a tradition of progressivism, and people who just happen to have a tradition of… demonizing any and all members of the opposition?

As it happens, No Pasarán has written about Barack Obama's birth certificate a total of three times. Over a period of, say, three years where Barack Obama has been in the national limelight, and calculating an average of one post a day (it has often been more), this comes to one post out of 365 or an average of less than 0.3 % of our coverage, which, I take it, any neutral observer will agree can hardly be said to be the product of extremism or zealotry. (But then again, do we know that interest in Obama's birth certificate can only be explained by extremism or zealotry because it is a fact or because we have been told it is a fact? — you should be getting the idea by now…) What's more, in two of the three posts the birth certificate is not even the main topic of the post.

So, as you can see, No Pasarán has refrained from approaching the birth certificate issue — certainly, we feel safe to say, because it hasn't interested us, but then is the reason it hasn't interested us (sorry if this sounds repetitive, but it also happens to be necessary) been because it is a fact that it is an uninteresting (and — yawn — tiring) topic? Or because we have been told, because it has been hammered into our heads, that it is an uninteresting (and tiring) topic and that, furthermore, if we do approach the topic we will be denigrated (with reason or otherwise), by the liberal élites as well as by conservatives who think (I mean, who "know") that it is an uninteresting (and tiring) topic in which racists alone and/or nutjobs alone and/or extremists alone and/or zealots alone can be interested — yes, I know: you get the idea by now…

Let's be honest: Have you been reluctant to examine the "rants" of the "Birthers" and have I been reluctant to examine the "Birthers'" "rants" because they in fact are racists and/or nutjobs (something — conveniently — inherent in the very word, Birthers) or because we have been told that they are (as a fact) racists and/or nutjobs — told so by people with a slobbering love affair (thanks, Jenny Erikson, via Instapundit) with Barack Obama? It is entirely possible that a number of the "Birthers" may in fact turn out to be racists and/or nutjobs, but if we wander away from the (demonized) personalities and the ad hominems, what can we tell about the facts alone of the case? Can we see just the arguments, whether or not they are voiced by intelligent responsible people (like the members of… the JournoList?), by racists and/or nutjobs, or by whoever may be in-between?

Since the left's modus operandi is to go after opponents' personal lives (now that's a revelation) and portray them as racists and… nutjobs, can we simply review the facts, Ma'am?

3. A Dispassionate Examination of the Facts, of the Nutjobs, and of Obama's Youth

May we be allowed to examine this issue — fairly, coolly, and dispassionately?

[Update: Not until April 2011 did the White House finally release Barack Obama's original birth certificate.]

Let us find out to what degree it is demented, ludicrous, and/or offensive to put into doubt the Hawaiian birth of Barack Obama — a man who has complained that he can't spend all of my time with my birth certificate plastered on my forehead (something no one has asked him to do and thus turns out to be a(nother) straw man of his)…

Why are there some Americans who doubt the narrative that Barack Hussein Obama was not born in Hawaii, or elsewhere in the United States? After all, noone ever doubted that George W Bush was born in the United States or that John Kerry or Al Gore or Bill Clinton or Bob Dole or Ross Perot were born in the United States.

So, isn't this proof that only Obama's color is the only reason for these nutjobs, these racists, these birthers, to claim, preposterously, that Obama was born abroad — or that he is a Muslim, or a socialist, or indeed a communist?

But then, again, neither George W Bush nor John Kerry nor Al Gore nor Bill Clinton nor Bob Dole nor Ross Perot had a foreigner for a father (or for a mother) nor did they spend numerous years of their childhoods abroad — many years, if not most, of which were in a Muslim country.

Should Allen West, or JC Watts, or Thomas Sowell [or Herman Cain, or Ben Carson] run for president, noone would ask where they were born or demand to see their their (original) birth certificate as proof. But perhaps that is because those black men are Republicans (proving thereby that conservatives are biased)?

Hardly. That is because those African-Americans (emphasis on the "Americans" part) are known to have grown up in the United States and are known to have had parents who were not foreigners — certainly not at the time of their birth (i.e., if either of the parents was born abroad, he or she had become an American citizen by the time of his or her famous offspring's birth). And indeed, it is the same for left-leaning blacks (as it is for whites, left-leaning of otherwise).

Recall that Jesse Jackson tried running for president twice (in 1984 and 1988), and although he did not manage to become the Democratic Party's candidate, noone suggested that he was born abroad, and that for the simple reason that the Greenville, SC, native did not have a foreigner for a father (or for a mother) nor did he spend numerous years abroad. Similarly, it is unlikely that Al Sharpton (who grew up in Brooklyn) would ever be asked for his birth certificate. Neither Baptist minister would be likely accused of being a Muslim, although both might very well be described as socialists, or as communists — and that, for reasons that, in the final analysis, are pretty valid

For the record, I am an American citizen (a dual citizen, actually), a WASP-ish blue-eyed blond white male who has a foreigner for a father and who spent many years of his childhood in foreign countries, and if ever I were to run for president, I would think it entirely normal for fellow citizens to ask for my birth certificate — indeed, I would think it abnormal if they did not. (In case you're interested, I was born in Prague, but because of the circumstances of my birth — comparable to John McCain's (I was born in a diplomatic family) — as far as I can tell, this should not prevent me from running… So: see you in the year 2024…)

But in the event that Jesse Jackson, or Allen West, or Bill Gore, or George W Bush should be asked for their birth certificates — what is the big deal? Provide the (original) birth certificate and put the controversy behind you (and behind us — behind us all)… The very fact that they (i.e., the promisers of an era of transparency) refuse to provide something so simple, as James L Lambert points out, and get the controversy over with, once and for all, tends to be — whether you like it or not — suspicious.

After all, Barack Obama is not being asked to provide his tax statements or medical records (both of which actually turn out to be the norm for politicians to provide to the public and each of which is a far more intrusive document than a simple statement about an infant's birth location), nor is he being asked to provide some sort of far-fetched Jim-Crowe-era certificate, such as, say, the birth certificate of a grand-parent.

Besides, there are many basic things that a president, that any president (whatever the pigment of his — or her — skin), owes his populace, i.e., the people who are his "masters"…

As I've written before, in one of No Pasarán's rare birth certificate posts (re "rare": notice how I feel constantly forced — even now [indeed, that's one reason I took so long to get around to the main subject] — to justify myself regarding the birth certificate controversy):
It may well be that most of the writings concerning the wherabouts of Obama's birth sound delusional, but, as far as I can tell, James L Lambert's arguments are far from nonsensical… There are two problems with the alleged deluded "Birther" conspiracy that are ignored by Kos (and everywhere else). They are, first, that the real, original "long" birth certificate never seems to have materialized (the certificate of live birth being, and please correct me if I'm mistaken, a recent production); second, that to believe that an American citizen (whatever the color of his skin) born to a foreign father who lived much of his childhood abroad may indeed have been born in a foreign country turns out not to be that far-fetched at all.

Indeed, the difference between the Truthers and the Birthers is that in the first case, we are being asked to believe that 1) hundreds, if not thousands, of government officials were approached with a view to conspire to kill thousands of their fellow citizens, all (or most) of them innocent civilians, that 2) hundreds, if not thousands, of government officials agreed (apparently without a moment of hesitation) to conspire to murder thousands of innocent civilians, and that 3) none of these hundreds (thousands) of government officials has ever had a single, even fleeting feeling of remorse, or let the cat out of the bag, say while having too much to drink (no remorse?) during a Saturday outing to a local bar.

In the second case, we do not even have a conspiracy, but basically one single man telling a falsehood — although it might even be termed a lie of omission — a lie about what offhand is a personal matter, but has turned into the only thing (allegedly) keeping him from power (Update: The New York Times' Double Standard on Conspiracy Theories).

Most damning of all, when you pause to think of it, the castigators' proof — if it can be called that — all lies in one fact (beyond the recently released certificate of live birth): and that fact is that Obama is a man, a person whose word should never be doubted, who is capable of no lying, no evil, no chicanery. If he tells you that, say, he is a Christian, then how dare you deny he is a religious man?! How dare you imply that he is a Muslim?! How dare you state he is a socialist?!

The person who ridicules the "Birther" theory as inane has no more proof than the born-in-Hawaii skeptic of where Obama was actually born [or didn't have any more proof until over two years into Obama's presidency]: his only argument — beyond the contention that the certificate of live birth and the newspaper clipping are incontrovertible proof that are not, can not be, fakes, bureaucratic mistakes, or misinterpretations — is the indisputable "truth" that Obama is someone whose honesty should not — should never — be questioned. (Whether in regards to his private life or to his political plans for America's future.)
[Update: As it happens, we would learn in 2012 (over four years after Obama was first a candidate and over three years after he entered the White House) that a "New Book Raises Questions About Obama's Memoir" (The New York Times' Michael Shear) and that, indeed, it turns out that Obama's memories were a "fantasy (like most of the President's own memoir)" (The Daily Mail). Adds Toby Harnden: "'Barack Obama: The Story' by David Maraniss catalogues dozens of instances in which Obama deviated significantly from the truth in his book 'Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance'. The 641-page book punctures the carefully-crafted narrative of Obama’s life."]

When you think about it, it might be less worrying that some do not believe Obama was born in the United States (because of the circumstances linked to his entire childhood, much of it abroad) than that some are utterly convinced he must be born in the United States (because the Chicago pol is allegedly a sainted figure who can do, who can say no evil, who is incapable of or of lying or of falsifying documents). Again, remember the desires of some of his followers who want(ed) the constitution to be changed, only so Obama could win one election after another and end up, in one way or another and in the best of all possible outcomes, as (de facto if not de jure) president-for-life? Let me ask everybody a simply question: Who is the truly terrifying fanatic, here?
To return to John R. Guardiano:
As the Daily Caller reports, several hundred journalists, activists and academics secretly conspired on Journolist. What did they know and when did they know it — and with whom did they conspire and why? … there are a lot of unanswered questions that still surround the lingering Journolist scandal. … We're not talking about private love letters, after all. We're talking about coordinated journalistic actions designed to shape and influence what is reported in the public prints.
For the type of people who didn't find it abnormal, in response to questions regarding a presidential candidate's relationship to a hate-filled pastor, for one of their number to call for picking one (or several) of the candidate's critics — “Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists”, it sounds suspiciously like it was par for the course to agree, directly or not, overtly or otherwise, to call racist or fanatic anyone who brought up common-sensical questions regarding that candidate's (undetectable) birth certificate.

The question we need to ask, what is there about Obama's past — including the birth certificate, but not only that — that was discussed among JournoList members, on the surface or in depth, not necessarily to hide a particular secret, unpalatable or otherwise (I doubt that Ezra Klein, David Weigel, Jonathan Chait, Michael Tomasky, Matthew Yglesias, or Spencer Ackerman have any better idea than I do where a given politician was 49 years ago — and they certainly do not seem to have been interested in finding out), but simply to make sure the topic continued unexplored, that it would remain unperturbed — while at the same time demonizing anyone (as racist, as fascist, as extremist, as a nutjob) who might demonstrate a (far from unreasonable) interest therein.