Saturday, November 05, 2016

Radio Interview on the Brexit Referendum and Tuesday's U.S. Presidential Elections

The UK's Brexit vote and America's presidential elections were the subject of Radio Courtoisie's Libre Journal du nouveau monde segment as Évelyne Joslain chatted with Jeremy Stubbs, head of the British Conservatives in Paris (BCiP), and blogger/journalist/author Erik Svane.

Libre Journal du nouveau monde du 26 octobre 2016 : 

Le Brexit ; Les élections américaines

Évelyne Joslain, assisté de Susan et de Nathalie, recevait Erik Svane, journaliste, écrivain et Jeremy Stubbs, président de l'association des conservateurs britanniques à Paris.

Thèmes : « Le Brexit ; Les élections américaines ».



Friday, November 04, 2016

Is the best justification for voting for Trump to upset the expectations of those who believe that U.S. taxpayers exist for the benefit of the rest of the world?


No doubt, Hillary Clinton is the world’s candidate for president 
notes the Cato Institute's Doug Bandow in an article I agree with only partly.
The Washington Post titled one article: “The World is Pulling for Clinton.” 
One reason is Donald Trump’s ugly populism. America is not unique in that respect, however. In Europe, a gaggle of populist parties is on the march, some having entered government. 

Even more important to foreign governments is Washington’s commitment to subsidize the defense of virtually every advanced industrialized nation.  

 … both the Obama administration and Clinton campaign have done their best to convince the Europeans that America will always do its duty as the former see it, that is, put the interests of nominal allies before that of the U.S. [including using U.S. troops around the world only when such nominal allies, not when Americans, think they are necessary.] 

 … There are, of course, lots of good reasons to vote against Donald Trump. But perhaps the best justification for voting for him is to upset the expectations of those who believe that American taxpayers exist for the benefit of the rest of the world. Surely countries capable of defending themselves and their regions should do so.
Americans should vote for whoever they believe would best serve the U.S. They should be suspicious if other nations strongly prefer one candidate. Those in Washington should take the interests of others in account, but should never forget who they are obligated to serve.

Rachel Marsden's Radio Program Explores the 2016 Election in the Wake of the WikiLeaks Bombshell

In a debate (in French) on Sputnik News (formerly RIA Novosti), Rachel Marsden and Erik Svane discuss the 2016 election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, especially in the wake of the WikiLeaks scandal: Quelles bombes électorales Wikileaks dévoile-t-il?

FYI, the opening bit of this particular World Disorder segment is based on one of Rachel Marsden's latest articles, concerning the fact that Global elites [are] confident that a Clinton victory is inevitable.

Quelles bombes électorales Wikileaks dévoile-t-il?

DESCRIPTION: Les fuites publiées quotidiennement lors de ces derniers jours de la campagne électorale américaine notamment par Wikileaks, dévoilent des pratiques népotiques au sein d’une élite qui se serre les coudes – un club exclusif qui érode la méritocratie sur laquelle le rêve américain est censé être basé.

INVITÉ: Erik Svane est écrivain, journaliste et scénariste américain. Il est l’auteur de l’ouvrage “La bannière étalée” sur l’anti-américanisme aux éditions Underbahn.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

That’s not journalism, it’s PR: Wherever there’s a story that could harm Hillary’s electoral chances, CNN is there to suffocate it with speed and ferocity

It really was quite delicious
laughs Benny Huang.
When Daily Mail opinion columnist Katie Hopkins appeared on CNN last week she deftly dropped the “Clinton News Network” epithet on her host, Hala Gorani. …

In response to a question about whether Trump could win Hopkins replied,
“I think he’s gonna win. I think you guys are in for a big surprise which I’m quite excited about. I think we’ve seen a very similar thing here in the UK with Brexit. We saw a lot of the liberal press kind of sneering at Brexiteers. We saw a lot of the sneering that we see from the Clinton News Network and I think it’s something—” 
At this point, Hala Gorani interrupted, “That’s CNN. You’re calling us the Clinton News Network. Why? Why do you call us the Clinton News Network when we prominently featured a Florida poll that showed Donald Trump had a couple of points lead [inaudible]?”

Hopkins landed a clean shot on CNN’s jaw. Good for her. She is probably wrong about Trump’s chances but she was right to say that CNN is nothing but a front for Clinton, inc. Hala Gorani’s protests to the contrary came off as desperate, as if running a poll showing Trump leading in one state somehow proves that CNN is beholden to no one.

If my memory serves me correctly, the term “Clinton News Network” dates back to the first Clinton presidency, which is to say about twenty years. As the name suggests, the world’s first 24-hour news network does not merely bend to the Democratic left—which is basically a given—but also that it’s specifically Clintonian. CNN oldtimer Larry King let that secret slip 24 years ago when he was caught on a hot mic sucking up to then-Governor Bill Clinton during the 1992 campaign. King slyly admitted that Ted Turner, who owned CNN at the time, would “serve” Clinton. It’s hard to imagine that he meant anything other than that Turner would be willing to put the massive influence of his network, which then had a monopoly on cable news, at Clinton’s disposal.

Here’s the transcript:
KING: Ted Turner changed the world. Big fan of yours, you know?
CLINTON: Is he?
KING: He would, uh, serve you. You know what I mean?
CLINTON: You’re kidding.
 … when it comes to the love affair between the Clintons and their network, some things never change. When the Hillary Clinton campaign hosted an “off the record” cocktail party at the Manhattan home of a prominent donor they invited “influential reporters, anchors and editors.” The purpose of the event was to coordinate directly with the media to get their message out and to gin up excitement about Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy.

It was an egregious example of media players violating the professional distance they should maintain from the candidates they cover. Among the 38 who RSVP’ed were nine from CNN—more than from any other news outlet. CNN President Jeff Zucker apparently declined his invitation though he never mentioned publicly that this highly unprofessional schmooze-fest took place and there’s no indication that he disciplined any of his nine unethical employees. The fact that they still have jobs indicates his tacit approval.

The Clinton News Network also employed Donna Brazile, the Democratic strategist and Clinton loyalist who was until very recently a regular contributor to several CNN programs. She was fired in October after Wikileaks emails revealed that she fed at least two questions to Clinton in advance of a debate or debates that took place during the Democratic primaries. In Brazile’s email she admits that “from time to time” she “get[s] questions in advance,” which indicates that she’s done this before. One question involved the death penalty and another was a wiffleball about lead-contaminated water in Flint, Michigan. This wasn’t a case of CNN merely preferring Democrats over Republicans. This was an example of CNN rigging the game to boost a candidate named Clinton above even fellow Democrats.

Naturally, CNN has denied any wrong-doing.

“CNN never gave Brazile access to any questions, prep material, attendee list, background information or meetings in advance of a town hall or debate,” pronounced a network spokeswoman. The truth of the matter is more complicated. Obviously someone at the network leaked the questions, but who? According to Brazile’s own email, her source for at least one of the unknown total number of questions is Roland Martin, who has worked with but not for CNN. Martin reportedly received it from CNN’s Jake Tapper. To say that Brazile did not receive any access to questions may be a premature conclusion in light of the fact that no one knows how many questions she’s received over the years. In any case, her indirect access highlights serious ethical shortcomings at CNN.
 
But CNN’s main contribution to this year’s Clinton campaign has not been in leaking debate questions or making a spectacle out of Donald Trump’s antics. Their primary utility has been in squashing stories—in other words, by doing exactly the opposite of what a free press is supposed to do. Think of CNN as a fire brigade that runs around putting out fires for their favorite candidate. Wherever there’s a story that could potentially harm Hillary’s electoral chances CNN is there to suffocate it with speed and ferocity.

My favorite example of this was CNN’s desperate efforts to spin discussion of Mrs. Clinton’s ailing health as mere “conspiracy theories.” She’s fit as a fiddle! “The new birthers: Debunking the Hillary Clinton health conspiracy” blared a piece from August. Wherever would these conspiracy theorists get the idea that Mrs. Clinton is unwell? Maybe it’s because she can’t climb a few stairs and she hacks like an old barmaid. When Hillary was interviewed by the FBI about her email server she pleaded ignorance again and again, claiming that her memory hadn’t been the same since she suffered a concussion in 2012.

She was probably lying about not being able to remember, of course, but she did faint at her home and hit her head. If she’s so healthy, why is she always stumbling and falling down? The article continued: “Clinton’s physician — the only person to speak on the record who has actually examined her — has repeatedly affirmed the former secretary of state’s health and fitness for the highest office in the land.” Sure—but that means nothing because Hillary Clinton would never employ a doctor who wouldn’t lie for her.

As it turned out, Hillary was (or is) sick—only the diagnosis is unknown. She was forced to admit it after collapsing in New York in early September. Even then Clinton refused to go the hospital in hopes that she might be able to continue the charade. She now claims that she was fighting walking pneumonia. Maybe she was or maybe she’s been struggling with a more permanent medical condition but in either case her doctor is a liar.

Can I blame CNN for that? Yes, I can. A denial from Clinton’s surrogate is nothing more than a denial from Clinton herself and no journalist should take it at face value. But that’s how CNN operates—they consider any charge to be “debunked” once it’s been denied by their preferred candidate. If you don’t believe her, you’re a “conspiracy theorist.” That’s not journalism, it’s public relations.

It took CNN years of hard work to earn the title “Clinton News Network.” It isn’t easy being the lackey of the world’s most powerful couple. People start asking embarrassing questions like “Why are so many of your reporters at secret meetings with Clinton?” and “How the heck did Clinton know the debate questions in advance?” Then network spokespeople have to scramble to cover CNN’s bare backside. It’s almost enough to make me feel sorry for them. Almost.

“Military Sport” and War Games in Estonia: Preparing Guerillas for Partisan Warfare to Defend Against a Russian Invasion


“We just have to stay alive,” [Vivika] Barnabas said of the main idea behind the Jarva District Patrol Competition, a 24-hour test of the skills useful for partisans, or insurgents, to fight an occupying army, and an improbably popular form of what is called “military sport” in Estonia.
Thus reports Andrew Kramer for the New York Times. No mention is made in the article of eight years of the apologizer-in-chief's brilliant forward-looking policy of smart diplomacy; indeed, the mainstream media's left-leaning outlook, if not overwhelming, is still quite visible, prompting Stephen Green to write: ' Forget the gratuitous swipe at Donald Trump, and marvel instead at reporter Andrew E. Kramer’s estimation of Estonians’ enthusiasm for their own national defense as “improbably popular.” '
The competitions, held nearly every weekend, are called war games, but are not intended as fun. The Estonian Defense League, which organizes the events, requires its 25,400 volunteers to turn out occasionally for weekend training sessions that have taken on a serious hue since Russia’s incursions in Ukraine two years ago raised fears of a similar thrust by Moscow into the Baltic States.

Estonia, a NATO member with a population of 1.3 million people and a standing army of about 6,000, would not stand a chance in a conventional war with Russia. But two armies fighting on an open field is not Estonia’s plan, and was not even before Donald J. Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, said European members of NATO should not count on American support unless they pay more alliance costs.

Since the Ukraine war, Estonia has stepped up training for members of the Estonian Defense League, teaching them how to become insurgents, right down to the making of improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.s, the weapons that plagued the American military in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another response to tensions with Russia is the expansion of a program encouraging Estonians to keep firearms in their homes.

The Jarva competition entailed a 25-mile hike and 21 specific tasks, such as answering questions of local trivia — to sort friend from foe — hiding in a bivouac deep in the woods and correctly identifying types of Russian armored vehicles. On a recent weekend, 16 teams of four people had turned out, despite the bitter, late fall chill. The competition was open to men, women and teenagers.
 
Ms. Barnabas and her three teammates had spent the night hiding in a nest lined with pine needles and leaves on the forest floor, while men playing the occupying army stomped around, firing guns in the air and searching for them. Contestants who are found must hand over one of the 12 “life cards” they carry, which detracts from their final score.

“It’s cold and you lie on the ground, looking up at the stars and hearing shooting and footsteps nearby,” said Ms. Barnabas, a petite woman who is also a coordinator for the league in her day job. She was swathed in a few layers of long underwear and camouflage.

“It wasn’t so bad because we slept cuddled together,” she said, flirtatiously, of her female team. The footsteps came and went, and the women stayed quiet. “They didn’t find us.”
Encouraging citizens to stash warm clothes, canned goods, boots and a rifle may seem a cartoonish defense strategy against a military colossus like Russia. Yet the Estonians say they need look no further than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to see the effectiveness today, as ever, of an insurgency to even the odds against a powerful army.

Estonia is hardly alone in striking upon the idea of dispersing guns among the populace to advertise the potential for widespread resistance, as a deterrent.

Of the top four nations in the world for private gun ownership — the United States, Yemen, Switzerland and Finland — the No. 3 and 4 spots belong to small nations with a minutemen-style civilian call-up as a defense strategy or with a history of partisan war.

“The best deterrent is not only armed soldiers, but armed citizens, too,” Brig. Gen. Meelis Kiili, the commander of the Estonian Defense League, said in an interview in Tallinn, the capital.

The number of firearms, mostly Swedish-made AK-4 automatic rifles, that Estonia has dispersed among its populace is classified. But the league said it had stepped up the pace of the program since the Ukraine crisis began. Under the program, members must hide the weapons and ammunition, perhaps in a safe built into a wall or buried in the backyard.

Whatever the reason, training for underground warfare is going ahead here, where partisans are still glorified for fighting the Nazis and Soviets in World War II.

“The guerrilla activity should start on occupied territory straight after the invasion,” General Kiili said. “If you want to defend your country, we train you and provide conditions to do it in the best possible way.”

 … “Partisan war is our way,” Mr. Vokk said. “We cannot equal their armor. We have to group in small units and do a lot of destruction of their logistics convoys. We needle them wherever we can.”
Mr. Vokk served with the army in Afghanistan, where, he said, he gained an appreciation for the effectiveness of I.E.D.s.

“They scared us,” he said. “And a Russian is just a human being as well. He would be scared.”

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Ta-Nehisi Coates: Barack Obama, to an extent that is not fully understood, is really a product of black institutions

In  connection with the third annual Festival Albertine, a free New York celebration of French and American culture, the New York Times reporter Jennifer Schuessler met with the curator of the event running Wednesday through Nov. 6 and organized by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and the Albertine bookshop in Manhattan. He is Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of “Between the World and Me”.
“Between the World and Me” came out in French while you were there. How was the reception there different from its reception in the United States?

I didn’t want to hustle anybody and pose as this big-time intellectual, which is something I’m uncomfortable with, even here. But the book became an organizing place for talking about their own issues, and I was happy to allow for that. Americans are always saying, “We need to have a national conversation about race!” But we have no idea — France doesn’t even acknowledge race.

 … You’re moderating the opening panel, “When Will France Have Its Barack Obama?,” which features Jelani Cobb from The New Yorker, along with three French scholars, including Pap Ndiaye, the author of “La Condition Noire” and a founder of black studies in France. What’s your answer to that question? 

I’m going to let the folks on the panel talk. But I’d say that Barack Obama, to an extent that is not fully understood, is really a product of black institutions. It’s not like he ran from Hawaii. He went to the South Side of Chicago, which has a long, long political tradition. There was a community to root himself in. How does that happen in France? There you had the lack of a trenchant Jim Crow system, the lack of slavery on the mainland. The things that made racism so severe here actually gave black institutions much of their vigor. And there is a strong sense of community held together by those institutions. I could be dead wrong about this, but it would be tough to look for a Harlem in Paris. There are black neighborhoods, don’t get me wrong. But that’s not all Harlem is.

You’ve been back for a few months. How did your year in Paris change your view of America?

We get into this very simplistic analysis of which country is more racist. But it’s more productive to look at the history of a country. Racism certainly exists in France, but it’s not the same. Is it better? I don’t know. But I like it here. It feels like home.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

The Talking Points of The Newsroom's Opening Scene, Examined—Dispassionately—One By One

One of the hit items on the social media turns out to be the main character's tirade in the opening scene of The Newsroom's Episode 1, sometimes referred to — seemingly with the utmost glee — as "The Most Honest Three Minutes In Television History".

(Incidentally, among the entries in IMDb's trivia section, we learn that in the DVD's "Making of" featurette, 'Aaron Sorkin mentions that he asked if Jeff Daniels would need cue cards for his long rant during the opening scene. Apparently, Daniels said "no" and memorized the entire speech.')

The first thing to notice is that (exactly like Aaron Sorkin's other TV series, The West Wing) HBO's TV show is fiction, with the entire story and every scene set up, with a central character (a Democratic idealist) giving a brilliant speech with unimpeachable arguments that manages to bring out the truth (sorry, to bring out the Truth with a capital T, nay, more — to bring out nothing less than thuh Reh-ve-lay-tion), shaming his clueless opponents (and everyone else) in the process — indeed, silencing the whole room — and, in typical Hollywood fashion, leaving everyone on a higher plane of truth.
Isn't this a mainstay of the Hollywood dream factory: the wise man (no matter how young, as it is as often as not a teenager or even a child) engaging in theatrics and bringing mind-boggling revelations to his (clueless and uneducated) peers?
"Oh my God
what if the Soviets weren't really our enemies?!
(i.e., what if our only enemies were ourselves?!)
Oh my God
what if the Iranians aren't really our enemies?!
(i.e., what if our only enemies are ourselves?!)
That means Americans opposing Soviets or Islamists can only be bigots; bigots and… paranoids! We are, we must be, better than those clueless and hate-filled Americans!"
This works exceptionally well, provided everybody with a differing opinion (or better yet, with facts) agrees to refrain from responding. In the real world, of course, real people have to put up with differing arguments, with give'n'take, and with opponents providing replies and counter-arguments (see, for instance, Larry Elder and Taleeb Starkes below); sometimes even brilliant speakers have to listen to what others (and, no, not just to blindly mindless patriots) have to say, and sometimes the brilliant speakers' brilliant arguments prove to get the short end of the the shtick.

That, of course — i.e., providing a (dispassionate) examination of "The Most Honest Three Minutes In Television History", as well as a (fact-based) reply to Will McAvoy's famous tirade — is what the current post is about.

For the purpose of this extremely long post (the size of a book chapter), Will McAvoy's speech has been divided into four sections (with a couple of instances of overlapping here and there).

1) The Extensive List of Countries on Earth with Freedom

2) The Idealist Hero's Irreproachable Statistics

3) The Most Damning Statistics of All
(The post you are reading right now will be a long, facts-laden, take-no-prisoners post, as mentioned, the length of a chapter in a book. If you are short of time and don't have time to read the whole thing, this third section, specifically 3C, should be the one to focus on…)

4) The Appeal to the Past

Shall we get started?

1) The Extensive List of Countries on Earth with Freedom
•  Will McAvoy: It's not the greatest country in the world, professor, that's my answer./… [turns to Lewis] And with a straight face, you're going to tell students that America is so star-spangled awesome that we're the only ones in the world who have freedom? Canada has freedom, Japan has freedom, the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Australia, BELGIUM has freedom! Two hundred and seven sovereign states in the world, like 180 of them have freedom.
Hm. Really? Is that so? Doesn't this part of the speech rest entirely on how exactly we, on how far to go to, define "having freedom"? This is clear-cut, you say? Maybe you, maybe we, shouldn't be too sure.

The countries that Will McAvoy so flippantly mentions have strong central governments. And what freedoms their citizens have have been bestowed by the central government.  And can be taken away again by the central government. (This of course is what leftists love about these countries, about other countries, in the first place and are dying to have the USA emulate — the reason behind Will McAvoy's entire speech in the first place, not to mention one Barack Obama's delight in using the White House for the purpose of "fundamentally transforming the United States of America.")

As Steven Hayward puts it,
I suspect liberals are envious of Europe not so much for its high taxes and generous welfare states (which aren’t actually that much more generous than our own if you add it all up correctly), but for its more open authoritarianism.
To take France as an example, Andrew C. McCarthy writes in the National Review that
Unbound by any First Amendment, the French government exerts pressure on the media to suppress bad news. We do not hear much about the steady thrum of insurrection in the banlieues: the thousands of torched automobiles, the violence against police and other agents of the state, the pressure in Islamic enclaves to ignore the sovereignty of the Republic and conform to the rule of sharia.
Right-wing propaganda, you wonder? Let's head over to the New York Times, then: in an article entitled Where ‘In Bed With Media’ Can Be Taken More Literally, Scott Sayare adds that
The line between politicians and the news media can be blurry in France, where the fates of some journalists have long been hitched to those in the government they pester or please. … in a country where much of the Paris elite share a common background, attended the same schools and go to the same parties, the traditional commingling of journalists and politicians has endured.

Daniel Carton, a former reporter in France [and an outspoken critic of conflicts of interest in French journalism], blames the news media for not doing more to resist such close ties.

 … For decades, newspapers have relied heavily on state subsidies. The public media, which account for perhaps half of mainstream television and radio news, are still run by political appointees. Private media outlets belong to companies or investors with demonstrated political leanings or business connections to the state, undermining journalistic impartiality.

 … Private publications are also beholden to the state, at least financially. The government provided $1.5 billion in subsidies to them [in 2011].
Have you heard of the Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate — whereby "popular magistrates" acting as guardians of the people's liberty can (lawfully) "curb the tyranny of kings"? The author of articles like It’s Time to Start Teaching Our Kids Disrespect To “Authority”, Bojidar Marinov, writes (warning: strong religious language at the link):
The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate … would be completely useless outside the US, where local “magistrates” are simply employees of the central government. In the UK, for example, the resistance of local officials to tyranny would be nothing less than rebellion no different than the rebellion of private individuals; a lesser magistrate is simply not a magistrate anymore if he fails to obey the will of his sovereign, the centralized state. Thus, in its pure form, the Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate works as a deterrent to tyranny only where tyranny has already been pushed back and thus room for independent action has been legally secured; and in our modern world, this means only a few polities in the world, limited to the US, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, and may be South Africa – and these polities trace their liberties back not to bloodless reforms but to violent revolutions which forced the central government to agree to limit its powers.
In the Washington Post, the Volokh Conspiracy's Ilya Somin explains Why Most Exercises of Government Power are Non-Consensual (and Why it Matters):
The Declaration of Independence famously states that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed.” But, sadly, this is almost never the case in the real world. If it is indeed true, as Abraham Lincoln famously put it, that “no man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent,” that principle has more radical implications than Lincoln probably intended. Few if any of those who wield government power measure up to that lofty standard.
"The key difference between America and the rest of the world, in regards to freedom and liberty," adds Matthew Cina,
is where we believe our freedom comes from. To the rest of the world, even with countries who modeled their constitution after ours, their freedom comes from the government. … We believe that our rights come from a place untouched by man and a government, even by consent, can pass any laws they want and we would still be entitled to our rights. So who is more free? The people whose rights can be stripped with the stroke of a pen or the people whose rights can never be taken away?
But, granted, this may all seem a tad theoretical. Shall we, therefore, get a bit more specific? 

Although Sweden does not feature among the countries listed by Will McAvoy, I guess that nation could easily have figured as another sovereign state with freedom — in view of the fact that the Scandinavian model always features so prominently in liberals' talking points.

That, however, would be news to Michael Booth, a (left-leaning) journalist who has lived in Denmark for 15 years and whose book "Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia" (The Almost Nearly Perfect People) informs us that "for much of the twentieth century Sweden was effectively a one-party state." That party was the Social Democrats, and they "regulated every aspect of their dutiful, acquiescent citizens' lives, doing their utmost to ensure adherence to the prescribed modern, progressive social norms." (Again, something that would not be met with anything but respect from the types of Aaron Sorkin and Jeff Daniels.)
 


(By the way, should this progressive Scandinavian utopia decide not only to exit the EU but also apply to become a U.S. state, Sweden would rank below 38 other states in wealth based on purchasing-power parity.)

As for the EU's most populous country, writes The Weekly Standard's Christopher Caldwell,
Since the end of World War II, and largely as a result of it, Germany has been much more restrictive of speech than other Western democracies. It is not, strictly speaking, a country of free expression. It long banned the Communist party, Scientology, and (until last year) Mein Kampf. State investigators regularly use video cameras to watch demonstrations for extremism.
Belgium has freedom? For seven decades — like in France and many other places (not least Sweden) — the élites have hidden the extent to which collaboration with the (often but not always occupying) Third Reich took place under World War II (in the 1980s, a graphic novel called Jaunes faced censorship for evoking King Leopold III's alleged collaboration with the Nazis during the 1940s occupation).

Japan? From Tokyo, the New York Times' Norimitsu Onishi has reported on a press club culture that stifles independent reporting due to the collusion that exists in Japan between the authorities and the mainstream media (a "structure designed to protect the powerful while ignoring the powerless")…

And how about Canada? For years, Mark Steyn and Maclean's magazine were prosecuted by the quasi-judicial Canadian Human Rights Commission (or a provincial variant thereof) for exercising his free speech rights. For what reason? For inciting hate speech, naturally. To hear Jonah Goldberg tell it,
Canada is barely a functioning democracy at all: Its governmental structure, if described objectively, is far more similar to what we would expect in a corrupt African state with decades of one-party rule. Jeffrey Simpson , who might be called [the] Canadian David Broder, has even written a book entitled The Friendly Dictatorship, which sports on its cover a doctored photo of [then-Prime Minister] Jean Chrétien in a Pinochet-style military tunic. Simpson argues not only that Chrétien is the “Sun King” of Canada, but that the government itself is designed to be for all intents and purposes a secular monarchy.
Note to liberals and to the makers of "The Most Honest Three Minutes In Television History": That would be a lot of countries that do not (really) have freedom.

You are also free (sic) to wonder to what extent Canada is free when a Québec native is going to jail for failing to… register his cat! The Ottawa Sun:
Dan Smith, 65, is searched against a police cruiser by an officer at the Gatineau Police Station after refusing to pay a fine and court costs after being found guilty last summer for not having a license for a cat. … Smith, using a cane because of arthritis and carrying a plastic bag of prescription drugs for various maladies, walked to the cruiser outside, was frisked and asked to hand over the plastic bag before he got into the back seat.
(Of course, to leftists like Aaron Sorkin and Jeff Daniels, isn't this little more but a(n unfortunate) glitch in an otherwise exemplary system where capitalists, common clueless citizens, and other trouble-makers and assorted enemies of the people can be stopped in their steps by the politicians and by the authorities and brought to reason—i.e., controlled, and punished?)

But let us get more specific and proceed with a more wide-ranging example. (Since this is being written — over several months — in 2016, let that example have to do with the mass attacks on Western citizens during the winter of 2015.)

What is striking, in the wake of the mass sexual assaults and robberies in Cologne on New Year's Eve 2015, is how many of the governments and how many of the mainstream media outlets in Europe's "free" countries decided to refrain from reporting the news — and that that turns out to be something that they have sometimes been doing (or, rather, not doing) for years: Germany, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland, not to mention the EU as a whole, everywhere they did (not report) it.

To quote Mark Steyn himself: 
At New Year Mohammedans targeted infidels — and ZDF said "Nothing to see here". Even as the Euro-media's cover-up is headline news across the Continent, in Calgary Mohammedans target infidels — and the Canadian media do the exact same thing.
As bad as this is, none of this seems as bad compared to what happened (to what still is happening?!) in another "free" country, usually considered the freest of the lot—the United Kingdom. In the 16 years
between 1997 and 2013 … at least 1,400 girls from the age of eleven were raped by gangs of men, nearly all of whom were immigrants (mostly from Pakistan) or sons of immigrants, in just one English city: Rotherham, population 275,000. 
But British authorities kept silent. 
As did the (vaunted) British press. Why? asks Dennis Prager.
In 2014, the reason finally was revealed: the perpetrators were Muslim, and British authorities were therefore afraid to publicize — or often even investigate — the crimes. They feared being branded Islamophobic and racist. Politicians on the Left and Right acknowledged this fact.

 … The British Home Secretary, Theresa May, told Parliament that “institutionalized political correctness” was responsible for the lack of attention given to the mass rape. 
In other words, faced with the choice of protecting over a thousand girls from repeated gang rape and protecting Muslims from being identified as the rapists, British authorities chose to protect multiculturalism and “diversity.” In the competition between multiculturalism and one of the most elementary instincts and obligations of higher civilization — the protection of girls and women from sexual violence — higher civilization lost.
In a previous column, the syndicated columnist had written:
Police incompetence was a factor, but not the primary reason. The primary reason was political correctness. It turns out that the perpetrators were all, or nearly all, of “Pakistani heritage” and the girls were all, or nearly all, white.
 … The New York Times and other left-wing media have thoroughly reported this story and the fact that political correctness is to blame for what was done to these girls. Yet they are oblivious to the fact that they are the very ones who created the moral monsters known as political correctness, multiculturalism, and “diversity” — the doctrines that forbid judging non-whites, Muslims, and others by the same moral standards by which whites and Christians are judged. 
These left-wing doctrines made 16 years of gang rapes of English girls possible.
Dennis Prager takes us back to the "free" countries on the continent today:
 … the mayor of Cologne … like the British authorities, has opted for multiculturalism over human and women’s rights; for fighting Islamophobia over fighting to protect women. A related example is Ralf Jaeger, the interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, the German state in which Cologne is located. The left-wing minister said: “What happens on the right-wing platforms and in chat rooms is at least as awful as the acts of those assaulting the women.” 
All the isms of the left — multiculturalism, feminism, environmentalism, socialism, Marxism, egalitarianism — distort the individual’s and society’s moral compass. But, as the minister’s comments make clear, none do so more than the Left’s loathing of conservatives and conservative values.
As with multiculturalism, the left-wing priority of destroying the Right has distorted the Left’s moral compass. How could anyone in his right mind say that right-wing platforms and chat rooms are “at least as awful” as women being sexually attacked and even raped by gangs of men? The answer is that you cannot be in your right mind; you have to be in your left mind.
In this perspective, Breitbart's Oliver JJ Lane (along with National Review's Andrew Stuttaford) reports on a brand-new scandal involving Germany's national public service broadcaster:
Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF), which was recently forced into a humiliating apology for their silence on migrant violence and sex assault[,] is being drawn into a fresh scandal after one of their former bureau chiefs admitted the company takes orders from the government on what it reports. He said journalists received instructions to write news that would be “to Ms. Merkel’s liking”.

Former head of ZDF Bonn Dr. Wolfgang Herles [pointed out] that ordinary Germans were totally losing faith in the media, something he called a “scandal”. He said:
“We have the problem that – now I’m mainly talking about the public [state] media – we have a closeness to the government. Not only because commentary is mainly in line with the grand coalition (CSU, CDU, and SPD), with the spectrum of opinion, but also because we are completely taken in by the agenda laid down by the political class”.
Worse than the mainstream, government controlled and poll-tax funded media in Germany just agreeing with the ruling coalition, the stations actually took orders on what was and was not to be reported on.

[For instance,] “Today, one is not allowed to say anything negative about the refugees” said Dr. Herles, concluding: “This is government journalism and that leads to a situation in which people no longer trust us. This is a scandal.”
Needless to say, this isn't anything that would bother the makers of The Newsroom, to have media echoing what the government is saying (as long as that government is headed by a non-Republican, such as a good guy leftist like Barack Obama), and this, indeed, explains their extreme hatred of sites like Fox News—the likes against which Will McAvoy's rant is partially directed.

Well. There you have it. Now we can understand that drama queens like The Newsroom creators (cast and crew alike) think this is freedom, since that — the freedom to destroy the Right (or at least to make them shut up), while making the Left's fairy tales about one victim class after another the prevailing narrative — is exactly the kind of freedom they wish for the United States.

Indeed. The power of (benevolent) governments to shut up (clueless, racist, etc) opponents is a highlight of (progressive) governments, according to the left—as well as of… avant-garde Hollywood dream factories.

2) The Idealist Hero's Irreproachable Statistics
Will McAvoy: And yeah, you… sorority girl. Just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day, there are some things you should know, and one of them is: There is absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we're the greatest country in the world. We're seventh in literacy, twenty-seventh in math, twenty-second in science, forty-ninth in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, number four in labor force, and number four in exports. 
Most of us are familiar the adage attributed to Mark Twain, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." Fewer of us know Georges Fischer's saying: "Statistics are like bikinis; they show a lot, but they hide the essential" (Les statistiques, c'est comme les bikinis : ça montre beaucoup, mais ça cache l'essentiel).

Let the following be a demonstrating why, or in what ways, such sayings are largely truthful.

Before we do any of that, start by noting that one of the main things we seem to have established in the previous section is how erroneous — how (self-servingly) partisan — the statistics (i.e., the news) issued by the European governments are (such as Germany, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland, not to mention the EU as a whole) and how erroneous the statistics (i.e., the news) reported by the European press are.
Related: • Misleading Statistics — Would the EU Really
Dominate the Olympics in Medals Won If It Were "United"?

• The Misleading Statistics of Gun Control
• Mass shootings in the U.S. have fallen so much in the past century
that the political left has had to redefine what a mass shooting is
• Facts Which Europeans and American Leftists Conveniently Ignore
In that perspective, let us pause for me to ask you a question:
couldn't this post stop right here?

We have established that Europe's statistics (i.e., the news) are, at least to some extent, phony, we have established that, at least to some extent, the mainstream media in Europe and elsewhere in the world "takes orders from the government on what it reports" (this could never happen in America, could it?!).

What need is there, at this point, to go on debunking "The Three Most Honest Minutes In Television History"?! Well, I said we would consider the whole Jeff Daniels speech (including the parts showing his utter contempt for any person disagreeing with his facts'n'figures — "Just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day"), and so we are taking this post to the very end of his rant.

First of all, take a quick look at the first three issues mentioned: literacy, math, and science. Wherever Aaron Sorkin gets his statistics from, and whatever the truth behind Will McAvoy's numbers, the very first thing to mention here is that all these subjects are the result of America's public education system, supported by leftists to the core — as taught by union-belonging teachers, supported by the statists. When your primary goal is to teach social "skills" (with material like Heather Has Two Mommies), is it any coincidence that factual subjects such as science and the three Rs go down the hill?

As Matthew Cina asks, 
My first question is this: why is a nation whose entire ideals revolve around private enterprise getting judged for its public services?
In any case, how true do the statistics happen to be?

Let's start with an issue not directly mentioned in McAvoy's rant: Americans are also accused of being obese. Ergo, there is a strong health problem in the United States

But think about it: Isn't it true that obesity is not a health problem (with an H), but rather a wealth problem (with a W)? For 5,000 years, the problem for most of the world's inhabitants has not been having too much to eat, but too little. Now, certainly obesity may be something to castigate. But at the same time, shouldn't it be noted that it is more than a step forward that — isn't this thanks to the free market, by the way? — hunger is no longer the ailment that people in the West are suffering from?

This brings us to Will McAvoy's life expectancy numbers: Again, Americans are wealthier than people abroad (might we even say that Americans are freer than people abroad?!), and so have more riches, and more things to buy, not excluding… food (as we have just seen) and… automobiles. More cars must necessarily mean more car accidents, which means more deaths. Again, isn't this less a health problem — or some sort of deficiency in society — than simply a side effect (a negative and unfortunate one, to be sure) of something inherently positive, i.e., increased wealth?

Complaining of the "crappy methodology" by "complete idiots in terms of statistical methods", Coyote Blog takes this a step further:
The incidence of [the diseases measured] are highly related to diet and lifestyle.  In fact, it is well established that the US has a comparatively high incidence rate of these diseases, much higher than France.  This makes it entirely possible that this mortality difference is entirely due to lifestyle differences and disease incidence rates rather than the relative merits of health care systems. In fact, this study is close to meaningless.
Coyote Blog goes further, and, as you will see, he will proceed to tackle the origin of Will McAvoy's infant mortality numbers in "The Most Honest Three Minutes In Television History":
 … you have to be careful.  The US has far more surgeries than most other countries per capita, so we have more surgical deaths.  Also, medical error data is notoriously difficult to compare country to country because reporting standards and processes are so different.

In the US, when the government measures medical errors, it is a neutral third party to the error. [Well, this was before Barack Obama entered the White House and introduced Obamacare.]  In Europe, the government, as healthcare provider, is often the source of the error, calling into question how aggressive these countries may be in defining "an error." 
Infant mortality data is a good example of such a trap.  The US often looks worse than European nations on infant mortality because it is defined as infant deaths as a percentage of live births.  But the US has the most advanced neo-natal capabilities in the world.  Many pregnancies that would result in a "born dead" in other countries result in a live birth in the US.  Since these rescued births are much more problematic, their death rate is much higher.
Indeed, in another post, Coyote Blog says he is sure that
you have seen various rankings where the US falls way behind other western nations in terms of infant mortality.  This stat is jumped on by the left as justification for just how cold and heartless America is, and just how enlightened socialized medicine must be.  However, no one seems to bother to check the statistic itself (certainly the media is too incompetent to do so, particularly when it fits their narrative).  Statistics like this that are measured across nations are notoriously unreliable, as individual nations may have different definitions or methods for gathering the data.
Coyote Blog, Craig Newmark, and the American Enterprise Institute's Mark J Perry go on to quote a medical doctor:
 … in fact, the main factors affecting early infant survival are birth weight and prematurity. The way that these factors are reported — and how such babies are treated statistically — tells a different story than what the numbers reveal.

Low birth weight infants are not counted against the "live birth" statistics for many countries reporting low infant mortality rates.

According to the way statistics are calculated in Canada, Germany, and Austria, a premature baby weighing [under] 500g is not considered a living child. But in the U.S., such very low birth weight babies are considered live births. The mortality rate of such babies — considered "unsalvageable" outside of the U.S. and therefore never alive — is extraordinarily high; up to 869 per 1,000 in the first month of life alone. This skews U.S. infant mortality statistics.

When Canada briefly registered an increased number of low weight babies previously omitted from statistical reporting, the infant mortality rose from 6.1 per 1,000 to 6.4 per thousand in just one year.

According to research done by Canada's Bureau of Reproductive and Child Health, "Comparisons of infant mortality rates by place and time should be adjusted for the proportion of such live births, especially if the comparisons involve recent years."

Norway boasts one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world. But when the main determinant of mortality — weight at birth — is factored in, Norway has no better survival rates than the United States.
Comparisons — or, should we say, misleading comparisons — with Hong Kong, Japan, Belgium, France, and Switzerland are also mentioned by Dr Linda Halderman:
Some of the countries reporting infant mortality rates lower than the U.S. classify babies as "stillborn" if they survive less than 24 hours whether or not such babies breathe, move, or have a beating heart at birth.

Forty percent of all infant deaths occur in the first 24 hours of life.

In the United States, all infants who show signs of life at birth (take a breath, move voluntarily, have a heartbeat) are considered alive.

If a child in Hong Kong or Japan is born alive but dies within the first 24 hours of birth, he or she is reported as a "miscarriage" and does not affect the country's reported infant mortality rates.
 Shall we let the American Thinker's Rick Moran have the last word?
Because we don't have socialized medicine — yet [Infant mortality figures for US are misleading appeared before that great victory called Obamacare] — heroic efforts to save newborns are common in America while these same infants are considered "unsalvageable" in other countries and not counted against their mortality statistics.
No; upon thought, let the last word be about general medicine, and let all four reports come from articles in France's (left-leaning) "newspaper of record," Le Monde, at least two of which were featured on the front page:

The French have the best health care in the world, yes they do, well, except for this one flaw here, and that other flaw there, and, oh, that other flaw way over there, flaws which include but are not limited to extra charges, bribes, and a yoke that fetters innovation, not to mention the very costs of the system (y'know, the type that America's leftists love to quote), which turn out to be incomprehensible to the very members of… the French public.

And while we are on the subject of bikinis — sorry, of statistics — when one Paris area doctor tried calculating his country's figures — using the American model — it turned out that the vaunted French system "only" produced the trifling number of… 10,000 deaths a year! 

In the third section of his rant of "The Most Honest Three Minutes In Television History", Will McAvoy will go on to mention the incarceration rate.

We will have more on that just below, in the third section, but let us start with this couple of questions: correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it usually liberals (American or foreign), aka the drama queens, who are the champions of punishment and who therefore want more government intervention as well as an increase in the number of rules and regulations, thereby lifting the number of people (legitimately or otherwise) behind bars? Wasn't it Lao Tse who, 2,500 years ago, said "The more laws and order are made prominent, the more thieves and robbers there will be"?

Will you forgive me for quoting a Fox News report?
In April [2016], Hillary Clinton said she was sorry for what she described as the unintended consequences of the landmark 1994 crime bill signed into law by her husband. Clinton's past support for the law has come under fire from some African-Americans, who say that it has contributed to mass incarceration of young blacks.
Also, just as liberals always assume that the data, such as medical statistics, are the same in every country, they take it as a given that countries such as China and Cuba and Russia are telling the truth regarding the number of prisoners (political or other) their prisons hold (or, as we have seen, the number of live babies that are born). How good, how diligent, and how tenacious, are those countries' one-party officials, and how likely are their leaders to truthfully report whatever findings they receive, whether it is to their own people or to the international community? And — as we saw in section 1 of this post — the question applies just as much to the "free" countries of Western Europe.

(This, of course, goes against the liberal adage, where there are never any lies because all nations are blatantly honest and always tell the truth, with the singular exception of the United States provided it is being led by a Republican.)
 
3) The Most Damning Statistics of All
Will McAvoy: We lead the world in only three categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next twenty-six countries combined, twenty-five of whom are allies. None of this is the fault of a 20-year-old college student, but you, nonetheless, are without a doubt a member of the WORST-period-GENERATION-period-EVER-period, so when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don't know what the fuck you're talking about! Yosemite?
Start by noting how this third section of the rancorous rant making up "The Most Honest Three Minutes In Television History" is ended with a piece of bitter harrumphing and bitter satire meant to shame people (and—especially?—silence them?). Just as the second section, above, was started with bitter satire (Just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day) meant to shame clueless losers of little worth. This might be because you could be forgiven for believing that the entire rant amounts to a (drama queen's) call for a strongman to take over, or for a strongman in power to take even more radical decisions.

Moreover, Aaron Sorkin and Jeff Daniels are cleverly concealing what are actually far more damning declarations. What they are actually saying is (and we can sub-divide the damning statistics into three categories):
A) Americans leads the world in being racist 
B) Americans leads the world in being (religious, i.e.) superstitious and
C) Americans leads the world in being warmongers
(in what turns out to be a largely peaceful world).

Come to think of it, isn't that what the man widely praised (in America as well as abroad) as the most intelligent man ever to accede to the Oval Office, aka the apologizer-in-chief, has been saying, over and over again for the past eight years or so? Whatever the case, let us examine the three categories one by one:

A) Leading in the Number of Incarcerated Citizens per Capita (i.e., Leading in the Number of Racists)

Let us quickly do away with the incarcerated statistic, which we have mentioned already above. Shall we now address the racist view, the unforgivable fact that more blacks than whites sit in prison cells?

Hold on a minute. Isn't what most African American (male)s are in prison for non-violent drug offenses (which were championed by black leaders themselves, often liberal-minded ones)? Liberals (black or white) are always claiming to be in favor of less harsh drug laws, but isn't it conservatives who, as a general point of view, say "leave me (us) alone" and "don't tread on me (on us)"? While keeping laws and government to a minimum?

Remember that, in all cases, statistics can be highly misleading, often but not always, deliberately so. For instance, hardly anybody (black or white, male or female) ever mentions the scandalous and inexcusably high rates of sexism in American jails (and in prisons around the world). Aren't more than 93% of inmates (black or white) male, while only 7% are (black or white) female? Isn't this sexist?! Isn't it about time that we start a government program to make the figures more "equal", more representative of Western society (decreasing the number of male convicts while increasing the number of female prisoners)?!

A number of readers will probably exclaim "What a ridiculous thing to say" — which, of course, is my point. Isn't the question they should be asking themselves, why aren't the black/white incarceration figures approached with at least some of the same amount of skepticism?

Asking Is America racist? in a Prager University video, Larry Elder replies that
The answer is you cannot have an honest discussion about police conduct without an honest discussion of black crime.

Though blacks are 13% of the population, they commit 50% of the nation’s homicides, and almost always the victim is another black person, just as most white homicides are against other whites. In 2012, according to the Center for Disease Control, police killed 123 blacks, while, by the way, killing over twice that many whites. But that same year blacks killed over 6,000 people — again, mostly other blacks.

In another Prager University video, Taleeb Starkes adds that as
just about everyone knows, but too few talk about publicly, in majority black cities, violent black on black crime is rampant. A Department of Justice study from 1980-2008 revealed that blacks accounted for almost half of the nation’s homicide victims (47.4%) and more than half of the offenders (52.4%) all while only being 13% of America’s population.

The Tuskegee Institute conducted a study of all known lynchings of blacks that occurred between 1882-1968. During this 86-year span, which is essentially the post-Civil War era up to the Civil Rights era, 3,446 Blacks where reportedly lynched. Presently, black-on-black murder eclipses the number of blacks lynched over the course of 80 years roughly every six months.
This is part of a list of the five biggest problems facing black Americans. "Where do things like racism and police brutality rank?" wonders the introduction. The five issues are listed by Starkes, author of the Amazon bestseller Black Lies Matter (Why Lies Matter to the Race Grievance Industry), and "They may surprise you." (See also Larry Elder on Black Fathers Matter, Chloe Valdary on Don't Judge Blacks Differently, and Heather Mac Donald on Are the police racist?)

More generally, the Left (and the interventionist government) keeps (conveniently?) forgetting the plights that it is responsible for (see also Derryck Green on Who Are the Racists: Conservatives or Liberals?). In Liberal Fascism, Jonah Goldberg writes that
In the liberal telling of America's story, there are only two perpetrators of official misdeeds: conservatives and "America" writ large. Progressives, or modern liberals, are never bigots or tyrants, but conservatives often are. For example, one will virtually never hear that the Palmer Raids, Prohibition, or American eugenics were thoroughly progressive phenomena. These are sins America itself must atone for.
For instance, reformers wanting to "change the mindset" and behavior led the fight against alcohol during Prohibition, which led in turn to the rise of the American state and Prohibition's successor, the war on drugs — which has led to the increased numbers of incarcerated citizens, many of them blacks. (Remember the Lao Tse quote from 2,500 years ago?) Commenting on Lisa McGirr's The War on Alcohol (Prohibition and the Rise of the American State), Julia Vitullo-Martin writes that
 … as anti-alcohol crusaders lost their first war, they turned to another less controversial one: the war on drugs, which is very much still with us, contributing to overcrowded prisons, damaged neighborhoods, and ruined lives.
Remember, these are not conservatives; these are our trademarked leftists with good (with the best of) intentions who want to create a utopia by changing hearts and minds.


B) Leading in the Number of Adults Who Believe Angels Are Real (i.e., Leading in the Number of Mindless Superstitious Morons)

When Jeff Daniels later (below) aspires to intelligence, not to belittling it, the chances are quite large that he is attacking the bitter clingers to religion (and guns) of flyover country while saying that we (and that they—if they had any brains) ought to turn to government, and to its reasonable and perspicacious bureaucrats, to solve our problems.

So we are supposed to shake our heads at the backwards Christians while we laud, and join the numbers of, the ever-growing army of rational devotees of science.

The only drawback is that there are a few problems with this: for ain't it true that once you start going into the details of the scientific scoops — in an entirely rational, an entirely factual, and an entirely scientific manner, I might add — a somewhat different picture starts to emerge? When we start to follow the news somewhat critically, aren't we surprised to learn how one scientific "fact", or "truth", after another turns out to be wrong or spurious?

The Weekly Standard's Andrew Fergyson points to an August 2015 report in the magazine Science that shows that two thirds of behavioral sciences experiments did not, could not, replicate the findings of original research teams, meaning that "two out of three experiments in behavioral psychology have a fair chance of being worthless."

Ferguson mentions a Stanford John Ioannidis paper, "Why Most Published Research Findings Are False," along with a Gina Perry book, Beyond the Shock Machine, and another by Stephen T. Ziliak and Deirdre N. McCloskey, The Cult of Statistical Significance, before going on to demonstrate the debunkery of such studies as the one showing that 75% of Americans are racist and the Stanley Milgram experiment in which subjects were told to increase electric shocks on a stranger next door (no, contrary to what we've been told, it turns out that most people did not increase the strength of the shock to inflict severe pain).

Richard Smith, who edited the British Medical Journal for more than a decade, told The Independent there was no evidence that peer review was a good method of detecting errors and claimed that “most of what is published in journals is just plain wrong or nonsense”.

All these scientists, of course, as well as the part of the population who believe in, and who revere, said scientists, are the ones laughing their heads off at the hopeless credulity of religious people.

Is it any wonder that, among the running tongue-in-cheek memes over at Instapundit, one of the most popular is The Science Is Settled?

But it doesn't stop with the (numerous) errors in the science fields.

Indeed, the Jeff Daniels outburst is particularly ironic when one considers the numerous New Age types who invoke stuff such as people's guardian angels.

True, conservatives are religious, concedes Jonah Goldberg, no one is denying that, but haven't the (homeopathy-, acupuncture-, aromatherapy-following) leftists forgotten a couple of minor details?
Democrats are more likely to believe in paranormal activity. They’re also more likely to believe in reincarnation and astrology. I have personally known liberals who think crystals have healing powers who nonetheless believe that the internal combustion engine doesn’t actually rely on magical horse power.

 … When I hear people talk about science as if it’s something to “believe in,” particularly people who reject all sorts of science-y things (vaccines, nuclear power, etc. as discussed above), I immediately think of one of my favorite lines from Eric Voegelin:
“When God is invisible behind the world, the contents of the world will become new gods; when the symbols of transcendent religiosity are banned, new symbols develop from the inner-worldly language of science to take their place.”
This will be true, he added, even when “the new apocalyptics insist that the symbols they create are scientific.”

In other words, the “Don’t you believe in evolution!?!” people don’t really believe in science qua science, what they’re really after is dethroning God in favor of their own gods of the material world (though I suspect many don’t even realize why they’re so obsessed with this one facet of the disco ball called “science”). “Criticism of religion is the prerequisite of all criticisms,” quoth Karl Marx, who then proceeded to create his own secular religion.
Maybe the last word should go to Walter Russell Meade, who, regarding a New York Times article on Ghost Hunting in Norway, points out, in When God Goes Away, Superstition Takes His Place, that people "who think themselves too rational for religious belief end up believing in 'astral forces', ghosts and other phenomena."

But "these superstitions" can lead to much more harm, he adds:
communist atheists … scoffed at the credulity of religious believers even as they worshipped the infallible insights of Stalin
murdering tens of millions of people in the process.
Similarly, the Nazis presented their faith as an alternative to the 'outgrown superstitions' of historic Christianty.
As you can see, the more we dig, the more unpleasantness we find. The government's and the politicians' part in the fight for "rational belief" against religion. As we forget that one function of religion — yes, it too — is to serve as a part of the checks and balances against total power.

For when religion and the family are weakened, doesn't the welfare state (known by a religious expression in French, l'État-providence) aka Big Brother (it is not a family expression by accident), take over their functions?
winston_smith_newspeak_dictionary_feature_11-22-15-1
Isn't what is possibly the most ludicrous development of the last couple of years — straight out of a Monty Python sketch — the idea that men who believe they are women must be treated as women?

How more anti-science, how more anti-factual, how more anti-rational can anyone get than to say that a man wearing woman's clothing has effectively become a woman? If anyone is to be accused of distrusting science or of hating science, who can be more fit for this position than the person who says a man wearing woman's clothing ought to be recognized as a woman? And that, all the while pretending that this shows the enlightenment, the wisdom, and the avant-garde broadmindedness of those devoted to science!

The topic starts losing its humor when it turns out that various levels of government are involved in promoting this, wanting to force you to so say and, effectively, so think. Otherwise you will run the risk of being subject to various degrees of punishment, from fines up to six figures (up to a quarter of a million dollars in the Big Apple) to the ruination of a career due to being publicized as a "hater".
For an in-depth and dispassionate study of people of intelligence versus people who believe in angels, go to Devotees of Science Versus Followers of Religion (Are Only the Latter to Be Taken to Task for Their Alleged Superstitions?)

C) Leading in Defense Spending (i.e, Leading in the Number of Clueless, Blood-Thirsty, Criminal Warmongers—Instead of Using America's Riches for Good, Positive Things Such as Foreign Aid, Etc)

Here we get to two of the most damning and of the most unassailable pieces of statistics ever used by America's critics: (the vast amount of) military spending and — or versus, if you prefer — (the tiny percentage of) foreign aid.

Indeed, in section 4 of his diatribe, Jeff Daniels will go on to bemoan that we used to "[wage] wars on poverty, not [on] poor people".

If this long, long post could and should be boiled down to one short(er) argument, let it be this 3C section.

Before we go on, let us mention that statistics sound like the unassailable presentation of a straight-forward figure but that's forgetting that they are composed of different things, such, as percentages, amounts, ranks, etc… In an ideal world, we would get all these pieces of — together — but that is not the way leftists get to become arbiters of dominance and/or achieve positions of dominance. Whether in politics or in entertainment. And we shall immediately see why.

We have here two “facts” that, by themselves, “prove”, or ought to prove, and that behind the shadow of a doubt, that America is egoistical, that Washington is power-hungry, that Uncle Sam is war-mongering, that Americans are blind, and that the rest of the world is in distress because of Uncle Sam's despicable policies. (Or, that at the very least, its leader — except when he or she happens to be a Democrat, of course — and/or the leader's policies are racist, greedy, bellicose, and self-centered.)

First of all, Matthew Cina puts the high military figures into perspective:
most European nations, namely France, Germany, and the U.K. are purposefully downsizing their militaries in favor of relying on the U.S. to come defend them incase of an incident. Even more to the point, half the reason the U.S.'s military budget is so expensive, besides the technology that is literally decades past the competition, is because we take care of our soldiers. A Chinese soldier is paid one-ninth that of a U.S. soldier, and even then, the Chinese soldier gets drastically smaller healthcare or Veteran benefits. If the U.S.'s big military budget comes from futuristic technology, taking care of our soldiers, and single-handedly protecting the western world, I think it's worth the bill. 
As for Megan McArdle, she adds that
The freeloading countries don’t even send a fruit basket to Washington to say thanks. In fact, as a rightish American who’s spent a bit of time abroad, I can personally attest that many of those NATO members’ citizens feel free to disparage our massive military budget, as if their smaller budgets were some sort of moral sacrifice rather than an unearned benefit paid for by U.S. taxpayers.
Which, indeed, is what the usual outrage in The Newsroom monologue is all about.

But even if we decide to ignore the above, may we be allowed to take a closer look at these facts and figures?

What is the first thing that we notice?

We notice that one “fact” is a percentage figure.

And we notice that the second “fact” is an amount figure.

More precisely, one puts America (and other countries) in a list according to a percentage of GNP.

While the other puts America (and other countries) in a list according to absolute dollar terms.

Do you want to try something fun?

We have two "facts" about America, right, based upon two different ways of calculating statistics? Correct?

How about this?

How about if, in each category (foreign aid and military budgets), we try reversing the way the positions of countries are calculated?

Question 1:  What happens if we calculate Uncle Sam's foreign aid according to the process used to compute Uncle Sam's military budget?

What happens when we calculate foreign aid in absolute terms and what position do the countries end up in then?

Lo and behold!

While America’s development assistance as a percentage its GNP is indeed smaller than that of other aid nations, "The Most Honest Three Minutes In Television History" fail to mention that the net amount that it donates in absolute terms turns out to be — by far — the largest!

At $31 billion, it is close to double than that of the next country in the list (the UK, at $18 billion) and until recently (Germany has inched up over the past couple of years), more than double than every other country on the list, including all the Scandinavian countries combined (indeed, with the smaller Northern European countries mentioned above dropping to four to five times less than the USA each). As it turns out, for those among you, the Aarons, the Wills, the Jeffs, who love the "combined" comparisons, the U.S. gives as much as Sweden, the Netherlands, Canada, Norway, Italy, Switzerland, and Australia combined.

Question 2:  What happens when we calculate Uncle Sam's military budget according to the process used to compute Uncle Sam's foreign aid?

What happens when we calculate foreign aid in terms of budget percentage and what position do the countries end up in then?

Lo and behold!

If we try calculating the dollar figure per GDP, we find that the figures change drastically.  "The Most Honest Three Minutes In Television History" fail to note that U.S. drops down, not to second place, not to fourth place, not to 10th or 15th or 20th place, but almost all the way down to 30th place (it's actually position 29)!  This is according to the Global Militarization Index (GMI), which compares a nation's military expenditure with its gross domestic product (GDP) and which is roughly comparable to… the foreign aid statistic so widely bandied to scold America for.

"The Most Honest Three Minutes In Television History" fail to mention North Korea, although it has been reported variably as spending an astonishing quarter to a third of its GDP on its armed forces and should therefore belong in first place.  Indeed, at the NationMaster website, the 10-year-old figures for military expenditures as an estimated percent of gross domestic product puts the US all the way down in position 27, with North Korea coming up front. (At almost 23%, it is double the percentage of the next entrant (Oman).)

And what nations follow it?

The next nine countries are all in the Middle East. The first 30 nations are all in the Middle East, in Africa, and in Asia, from Yemen, Eritrea, and Mauritania to Chad, Angola, and Swaziland. Besides Israel, Bosnia, Greece, and the United States, along with Turkey, there is not a democracy and/or a European country among the first 50 or 60 nations.

Does that leave those Western nations off the hook, however? Hardly, given the very fact that many of them are cosseted by Washington’s providing for their defense, which — who knows? (The Newsroom certainly does not) — may go some way towards explaining why they can afford having both their amounts and their percentages be so low — all the while basking in the self-serving statistics of a Will McAvoy monologue.

As for the developing countries making up the mass of the 50 or 60 top countries, an inordinate amount of money is spent by Third World leaders on the army, on security forces, and on police battalions, forces that amount to their leader's (to their leaders') personal bodyguard and forces which are then often turned loose… on the countries’ own population.

The money shot:  these are precisely the type of countries which… the smarter-than-thou reporters of The Newsroom and other leftists would have the United States, and the West, provide… more foreign aid to!

For an in-depth and a more detailed account of the figures devoted to foreign aid and military budgets, check out Lilliputian Foreign Aid Percentages Coupled with Gargantuan Military Budget Amounts (What, If Anything, Is Hiding Behind Two Allegedly Damning Statistics About Uncle Sam?)
Here are some additional statistics that you rarely hear about, statistics that — for some inexplicable reason — The Newsroom does not mention in its "Three Most Honest Minutes In Television History":
Americans make up about 5% of the world's population and give about 35% of the aid. … At a minimum, in order to discount the largesse of the United States, one must carefully exclude gigantic categories of aid, such as military aid, food aid, trade policies, refugee policies, religious aid, private charities and individual giving.
That's from (the much-hated) Ann Coulter, so 5% giving about 35% of the world's aid meme should probably be dismissed (how convenient), as it doesn't fit into the ensuing rant about America no longer being a great country.

You do not trust the writer of Slander (Liberal Lies About the American Right) and you never would?

All right, then; maybe we should head over to the OECD. As Daniel J. Mitchell explains,
if you look at rates of “voluntary private social expenditure” among nations, it turns out that Americans are easily the most generous people in the developed world.

Wow, people in the United States are so generous that their voluntary giving amounts to 10.2 percent of gross domestic product. The only other nations that even crack 5 percent of GDP are the Netherlands, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

 … It’s also worth noting that these numbers actually understate the charity gap between Americans and folks from other nations. Economic output in the United States is about 30 percent higher than it is in the rest of the developed world, so charitable giving by Americans actually represents a much bigger slice of a much bigger pie.

In fact, adds the senior fellow at the Cato Institute, it even seems like proponents of small government in the U.S., far from being the greedy and inhuman(e) egotists they are constantly being described as (not least in The Newsroom), are far more generous than those who favor a big welfare state (not least the creators of The Newsroom).

Still, as for "That free up money for all the free medical care and cheap train fare that
Europeans [like] to boast about as a sign of their superiority," writes the Bookworm,
None would admit that they didn’t have “free” medical care — they had American-funded medical care.
Ann Coulter's figures are confirmed several years later as the Washington Examiner's Paul Bedard reports that Americans are world's most charitable, top 1% provide 1/3rd of all donations. The
new Almanac of American Philanthropy … found that Americans out-donate Britain and Canada two-to-one and nations like Italy and Germany 20-to-one. What's more, more than half of every single income class except those earning less than $25,000 donate to charity. The much maligned top 1 percent in the U.S. economy fork over one third of all donations made.
Adds the Philantrophy Roundtable:
A large minority of Americans—45% in total—don’t realize that their country is all by itself at the front of the pack in the practice of making voluntary donations to others.
Wouldn't that large minority of Americans include Aaron Sorkin, and Jeff Daniels, and the writers of The Newsroom (and its "Most Honest Three Minutes In Television History" scene) — among (many) other leftists and Hollywood types?
For the actual hard numbers, see the last chart in the section that follows this one, Statistics on U.S. Generosity. You’ll see that the level of charitable offerings in the U.S. ranges from roughly twice what takes place in lands like Britain and Canada to almost 20 times the rate of Italians and Germans.

Interestingly, younger Americans ages 18-39 (who often think of themselves as more globally aware) are actually far less likely than compatriots 40 and over to appreciate how much their country differs from others on this front.
Wouldn't those unappreciative Americans include — even if they are older (at least physically) — Aaron Sorkin and Jeff Daniels and the writers of The Newsroom, among (many) other leftists and Hollywood types? Again, the Philantrophy Roundtable's numbers are among the (many) statistics that have no place in "The Most Honest Three Minutes In Television History."

Once more, the Philantrophy Roundtable:
Another area where Americans are distinctive is in attitudes toward fixing social problems. Our strong preference is to pull the lever of private aid wherever possible, instead of relying on government.

This is partly just a response to what we see around us: in crucial areas like medical care, disaster relief, college education, family life, addiction treatment, sharing the arts, expanding home ownership, and so forth, the most effective actors are often charitable and voluntary groups, not state agencies.

Predictably, the biggest split on this question is by political viewpoint. Overall, men and women alike prefer private aid as their first choice, as do people of all ages and religions. 
But while Republicans and Independents prefer philanthropy over government by more than 2:1, Democrats run against the trend by picking government over philanthropy by 51% to 31%. 
Notably in… schooling, the place where children are taught such subjects as…  literacy, math, and science (might you remember we mentioned those subjects above? In section 2 of this post?).

In case you are wondering where the charity money comes from — surely it must come from the generous leftist millionaires — Jeff Jacoby lays it out for us:
The overwhelming share of that $360 billion is donated by individuals. Not everyone gives, of course, but in this country those who don’t are decidedly  in the minority. Nearly seven out of 10 American households donate to at least one charitable cause each year, at an average annual rate of about $2,600.

Philanthropic giving is a quintessentially American behavior, and always has been. It is also a radiant example of American exceptionalism. The new [“The Almanac of American Philanthropy”] ranks 14 leading industrial countries by the amount of charity their citizens give yearly (calculated as a percentage of GDP). Americans were by far the most charitable — roughly twice as generous as Canadians, Spaniards, and the Irish, for instance, and more than 20 times as apt to give as Germans and Italians.
And with that, Jeff Jacoby brings us back to defense spending:
As Karl Zinsmeister writes in the Almanac’s lively and enlightening introduction, “philanthropy is a huge part of what makes America America.” Huge in its moral and social impact, of course, but also huge as a matter of economics. The nonprofit sector in the United States employs 11 percent of the US workforce and supplies 6 percent of national GDP — and that doesn’t include the economic impact of nearly 8 billion hours of service by 63 million American volunteers, an impact that last year was worth an estimated $184 billion. America’s formidable “military-industrial complex,” Zinsmeister notes, isn’t nearly so formidable when compared with the American philanthropy complex: Nonprofits surpassed defense as a share of the US economy more than two decades ago.

 … “Indeed, private US philanthropic aid of all sorts sent overseas now substantially exceeds the official foreign aid of the US government,” Zinsmeister writes.

 … “In the United States I am even more struck by the innumerable multitude of little undertakings than by the extraordinary size of some of their industrial enterprises,” marveled Alexis de Tocqueville upon traveling through America in the 1830s. He wrote of his “daily astonishment” at the “immense works” carried out by the abundance of voluntary associations Americans formed.

Nearly two centuries later, the vast diversity of private charity in this country is as astonishing and fruitful as ever.
 
4) The Appeal to the Past Greatness
Will McAvoy: [pause] We sure used to be [the greatest country in the world]. We stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reasons, we passed laws, struck down laws for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were, and we never beat our chest. 

We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and we cultivated the world's greatest artists and the world's greatest economy. We reached for the stars. Acted like men. 

We aspired to intelligence; we didn't belittle it; it didn't make us feel inferior. 

We didn't identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn't scare so easy. We were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed. By great men, men who were revered. The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America is not the greatest country in the world anymore. 
Waging wars on poverty, not poor people? Haven't we already disposed of that argument in the previous section? Haven't American citizens always spent more on charity (both in America and abroad), with the (free-market) conservatives regularly beating the (statist) leftists in the amount and the size of the gifts?

As for the time when we
built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, … we cultivated the world's greatest artists and the world's greatest economy … reached for the stars, acted like men,
that was accomplished, more often than not, by private capitalists in the free market and, often but not always, trusting in a Higher Power. Government and bureaucrats might have something to do with it, and even a lot, sometimes (the space program), but didn't said innovations still take place in the most free-market nation on Earth?

Unsurprisingly (far from it), it would appear that the geniuses behind The Newsroom are enthralled with Barack Obama's "You didn't build that" and with Elizabeth Warren's "nobody in this country who got rich on his own." Incidentally, both statements were dispassionately analyzed (much like the present post purports to be) by PJ Media.
Progressives critique the fiscal conservative/Tea Party/libertarian position by purposely misrepresenting it as anarchy. When fiscal conservatives say "We want smaller government," progressives reply, "Oh, so you want no government?"

 … Fiscal conservatives have never called for no government — that's the anarchist position, and contemporary anarchism is actually dominated by extreme leftists, not extreme conservatives. Instead, fiscal conservatives clearly and consistently call for limited government, or for smaller government -- but not for the absence of government altogether.

So when President Obama and his mentor Elizabeth Warren justify their call for tax hikes by pointing out that all entrepreneurs benefit from communal infrastructure, they're committing the classic Straw Man Fallacy by arguing against anarchy — a position that their opponents do not hold.
Should businesses pay enough taxes to support the nation's basic physical infrastructure? Yes. Of course. And they already do. But should they pay taxes to fund every progressive social fantasy? That's open for debate, and that's not the point Obama and Warren were making. Overtly, at least.
But let us get back to "The Three Most Honest Minutes In Television History": being informed by leftists in the mainstream media, even revered leftists, did not, or did not necessarily seem to, have much to do with it.

Benjamin Duffy jumps in:
When liberals talk about "informed democracy" [and] claim that the press is doing a poor job of informing the citizenry — which it is — [they are really complaining] that the press isn't doing a good enough job of disseminating the liberal talking points.
Steven Crowder has a 13-minute video that takes on "The Three Most Honest Minutes In Television History" (precisely like this post does, but with a slightly different argumentation), while Dr Walter Campbell adds (with more passion and more religious vocabulary than I have so far):
“War on Poor People,” that’s what we have? If so, blame the class warfare and welfare state created by those that Sorkin supports and adores as heroes on the left.  You want to start a “War on Poverty,” then deregulate, and reduce the tax burden on those doing the work and those starting the businesses that employ people.  Make a competitive environment for business, instead of casting them as the enemy, and you will have jobs and prosperity, and sense of self worth instilled in your citizenry.

You don’t “fight” poverty anyway, you increase prosperity. There’s a real difference — but the significance of that difference is lost on left wing idealists who live in Hollywood and DC and have no comprehension of starting and running a small business, and don’t have the time in their egocentric lives to even take an academic interest in the beliefs of those who founded, and made this country great, or who fight for its greatness still today.
Will McAvoy: [to moderator] Enough?

No, Will. Not enough. (Although you obviously would like it to be.) As we have seen, there are serious problems with the numbers you have (conveniently) chosen in "The Most Honest Three Minutes In Television History" and even more with the statistics you have (conveniently) chosen to ignore.

Dr Walter Campbell concludes:
Jeff Daniels is woefully ignorant (or rather Aaron Sorkin who apparently wrote the monologue) of what Freedom actually means, and is completely oblivious to things like socialism, government regulation, personal liberty, etc. and what they mean relative to that word “Freedom.”  He also seems blissfully unaware of immigration statistics and the enormous number of people still desperate to come to the US …

 … If Sorkin really wants to return to American greatness, maybe he should start at the start, and look at the men and words of its foundation, and search for the heart of what made us great, in the words and deeds of the men who fought and died creating and protecting it, instead of plying leftist propaganda in pseudo-intellectual elitist centrist wrapping, and calling it a return to the “good old days.” The “good old days” weren’t always good, but their core values were: a country that cherished the rights of the individual over the rights of the state, that trusted God, not Government, as their ultimate arbiter of morality.