Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Happy Birthday, Fox News

by Bill O'Reilly

Big birthday this week: Fox News Channel is 13 years old. I was there on Oct. 7, 1996, when the channel was launched with about 15 million subscribers. Now we have about 90 million. Back then, if "The Factor" received 50 e-mails a day we were happy. Now, we average about 2,000 electronic letters daily. FNC is perhaps the biggest media success since the networks were formed in the 1940s. Fox News is a billion-dollar enterprise that dominates cable news ratings and is consistently in the top five of all cable programs. Simply put, FNC is on fire even after all these years.

There are two compelling questions on our birthday. First, why the big success? Second, why do many media people despise us?

The success part is two-fold. There is no question that FNC leans to the right, because it gives conservative voices a prominent place on the air. No other TV news operation does this. So, logically, conservative Americans tune in for long periods of time.

Also, Fox News is not boring! This, I believe, is the biggest reason for our success. Like us or not, we move things along. We have lively people on the air. We take chances and do things differently. In primetime especially, Americans do not want dull programming. Many news programs simply recite the day's events. That will not cut it anymore. You have to give viewers something unique and entertaining. FNC does.

That makes our competitors and the ideologues running many of the nation's newspapers furious. They don't like the traditionalism of Fox News, and they seethe at our success. Thus, on any given day, you can view scathing personal attacks against FNC anchors. Think about it: Why the rage? Nobody is forced to watch Fox News. If you don't like Beck, Hannity or O'Reilly, watch the Food Channel.

The hysteria over Glenn Beck is a great example of why Fox News dominates. Here is a guy with an opinion. He has a television show. That's it. Beck freely admits he's not a newsman in any sense. He's just a guy who loves his country and wants to talk about it. Apparently, that is driving the intelligentsia insane. They can't stand a guy like Beck mouthing off. But why? Last time I looked, Beck held an American passport. So he's entitled to speak his mind. A big corporation is smart enough to pay him to do that, and millions watch. Isn't the USA a great country?

Obviously, I'm happy to be celebrating 13 years on Fox News. When I took the job, I was just looking to make a nice living and have a little fun. But now, "The O'Reilly Factor" is part of the American fabric, a broadcast that actually influences the debate in this country. Way back in 1996, who knew?



Media not biased enough for Obama

There was never a single moment when White House staff decided the major media outlets were falling down on the job. There were instead several such moments. For press secretary Robert Gibbs, the realization came in early September, when the New York Times ran a front-page story about the bubbling parental outrage over President Obama's plan to address schoolchildren — even though the benign contents of the speech were not yet public. "You had to be like, 'Wait a minute,'" says Gibbs. "This thing has become a three-ring circus."

For deputy communications director Dan Pfeiffer, the more hyperbolic attacks on health-care reform this summer, which were often covered as a "controversy," flipped an internal switch. "When you are having a debate about whether or not you want to kill people's grandmother," he explains, "the normal rules of engagement don't apply."

And for his boss, Anita Dunn, the aha moment came when the Washington Post ran a second op-ed from a Republican politician decrying the "32" alleged czars appointed by the Obama Administration. Nine of those so-called czars, it turned out, were subject to Senate confirmation, making them decidedly unlike the Russian monarchs. "The idea — that the Washington Post didn't even question it," Dunn says, still marveling at the decision.

All the criticism, both fair and misleading, took a toll, regularly knocking the White House off message. So a new White House strategy has emerged: rather than just giving reporters ammunition to "fact-check" Obama's many critics, the White House decided it would become a player, issuing biting attacks on those pundits, politicians and outlets that make what the White House believes to be misleading or simply false claims, like the assertion that health-care reform would establish new "sex clinics" in schools. Obama, fresh from his vacation on Martha's Vineyard, cheered on the effort, telling his aides he wanted to "call 'em out."

The take-no-prisoners turn has come as a surprise to some in the press, considering the largely favorable coverage that candidate Obama received last fall and given the President's vows to lower the rhetorical temperature in Washington and not pay attention to cable hyperbole. Instead, the White House blog now issues regular denunciations of the Administration's critics, including a recent post that announced "Fox lies" and suggested that the cable network was unpatriotic for criticizing Obama's 2016 Olympics effort.

White House officials offer no apologies. "The best analogy is probably baseball," says Gibbs. "The only way to get somebody to stop crowding the plate is to throw a fastball at them. They move."

The general in this war is Dunn, 51, a veteran campaign strategist who arrived at the White House in May... Since her arrival, the communications operation has been tightly refocused, with greater emphasis on planning ahead to shape the news cycle and controlling staff contacts with the press.



A hiring tax credit returns from the dead

The White House is finally coming to realize that taxes affect job creation. Terrific. Its solution seems to be to bribe employers for hiring new workers, albeit only for a couple of years. Less than terrific.

Alarmed by the rising jobless rate, Democrats are scrambling to "do something" to create jobs. You may have thought that was supposed to be the point of February's $780 billion stimulus plan, and indeed it was. White House economists Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein estimated at the time that the spending blowout would keep the jobless rate below 8%.

The nearby chart compares the job estimates the two economists used to help sell the stimulus to the American public to the actual jobless rate so far this year. The current rate is 9.8% and is expected to rise or stay high well into the election year of 2010. Rarely in politics do we get such a clear and rapid illustration of a policy failure.

This explains why political panic is beginning to set in, and various panicky ideas to create more jobs are suddenly in play. The New York Times reports that one plan would grant a $3,000 tax credit to employers for each new hire in 2010. Under another, two-year plan, employers would receive a credit in the first year equal to 15.3% of the cost of adding a new worker, an amount that would be reduced to 10.2% in the second year and then phased out entirely. Why 15.3%? Presumably because that's roughly the cost of the payroll tax burden to hire a new worker.

The irony of this is remarkable, considering the costs that Democrats are busy imposing on job creation. Congress raised the minimum wage again in July, a direct slam at low-skilled and young workers. The black teen jobless rate has since climbed to 50.4% from 39.2% in two months. Congress is also moving ahead with a mountain of new mandates, from mandatory paid leave to the House's health-care payroll surtax of 5.4%. All of these policy changes give pause to employers as they contemplate the cost of new hires—a reality that Democrats are tacitly admitting as they now plot to find ways to offset those higher costs.

Alas, their new ideas are little more than political gimmicks that aren't likely to result in many new jobs. Congress doesn't want to give up revenue for very long, so it would make the tax credits temporary. Thus anyone who is hired would have to be productive enough to justify the wage or salary after the tax-credit expires—or else the job is likely to end. An employer would be better off hiring a temp worker and saving on the benefits for the same couple of years.

More here


The Disincentive to Work

When a recession hits, the first number everyone keeps a close eye on is the unemployment rate. Every American can relate with those who lose their jobs since it puts both their family and their career in jeopardy.

But what the government does to try to combat this invariably fails on pretty much every level. Not to mention, it was largely the government intervention that artificially created a false market, propped up inefficient industries, and spawned the inevitable unemployment in the first place.

And now what the recession is doing in the economy is shifting capital and resources to more efficient uses. That means those people who left their jobs to go pursue this false market (that the government calls “booming” industry) must now be laid off. And that also means fixing the problems that government first created.

For example, that is exactly what was seen in the recent housing bubble. People left their jobs to become real estate agents or building contractors. And now that the housing market was flooded with supply under the government-created guise of a false demand, some of those people must return to find efficient jobs in limited growth sectors.

So how does the government respond? Do the politicians whose errant policies spawned a recession admit their malfeasance and let the private sector correct its course? No, they pen H.R. 3548 the “Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009.”

This act would extend unemployment benefits to “50 percent of the total amount of regular compensation” or “13 times the individual's average weekly benefit amount” for the year in the 29 states that have unemployment 8.5% or higher. And Congress has decided to pay for this by raising the IRS surtax on the employers that will, in turn, either raise prices or lower wages for all states.

And that’s not all. Economists R. Mark Gritz and Thomas MaCurdy found in their paper “Measuring the Influence of Unemployment Insurance on Unemployment Experiences” that “an individual who collects UI [Unemployment Insurance] is likely to experience a longer spell of nonemployment, at least to the exhaustion of UI benefits.”

In other words, unemployment insurance does not help alleviate unemployment. It exacerbates it. And that is simply because when people get paid to not work they do not try to find a job as that would result into a loss in benefits.

Once again this is a case where government means do not achieve the required (and often falsely touted ends. The politicians claim they are attempting to lower unemployment, which in turns increases production but what they end up doing is redistributing money from those who are employed (or in some case consumers, which includes unemployed) and incentivize the unemployed to stay that way through a direct redistribution of wealth.

A better plan would be to give businesses permanent tax cuts so that they can expand production and hire more people. That is the real plan that would reduce unemployment, increase productivity, and not create yet another large government program adding even more red tape to already overburdened businesses.

But don’t hold your breath: after all, creating and extending government programs is how politicians keep their jobs!




Amusing: Truth Serum has "interviews" with newsworthy figures showing what might happen if the interview subject were on truth serum. It is headlined as The Conservative Comedy Cure For That Painful Liberal Hangover.

Iran: Regime to murder three for protesting election theft: "Three Iranians have been tentatively sentenced to death in connection with post-election protest activities, according to semi-official state media. The three — who were identified only by initials — were accused of contacts with opposition groups, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported Saturday. … Tens of thousands of Iranians took to the streets in protest following the country’s contested June 12 presidential election. Incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won a second term despite widespread fraud accusations by supporters of opposition candidates.”

In deadly ’08 Afghan battle, US weapons failed: "It was chaos during the early morning assault last year on a remote U.S. outpost in Afghanistan and staff Sgt. Erich Phillips’ M4 carbine had quit firing as militant forces surrounded the base. The machine gun he grabbed after tossing the rifle aside didn’t work either. When the battle in the small village of Wanat ended, nine U.S. soldiers lay dead and 27 more were wounded. A detailed study of the attack by a military historian found that weapons failed repeatedly at a ‘critical moment’ during the firefight on July 13, 2008, putting the outnumbered American troops at risk of being overrun by nearly 200 insurgents.” [People have been warning about this for years]

Chronic depression: "The authorities still do not understand what is going on. They are used to fooling most of the people most of the time. They think they can dupe them again — with bailouts and boondoggles. But real demand has vanished as households try to pay down their debt. That is not going to change anytime soon. Not while the federal government is sabotaging a genuine recovery. It’s savings — capital — the US economy needs. A capitalist economy in which the capitalist have no capital won’t work. Why is there no capital? Because the feds take it.”

Less religion means more government: "Soviet communism adopted Karl Marx’s teaching that religion was the ‘opiate of the masses’ and launched a campaign of bloody religious persecution. Marx was misguided about the role of religion but years later many communists became aware that turning people away from religious life increases dependence on government to address life’s problems. The history of government coercion that comes from turning from religion to government makes a new study suggesting a national decline in religious life particularly alarming to those concerned about individual freedom.”

Property rights are human rights: "A sad confusion that has once again made its way into general circulation is that the right to private property is a mere invention designed to legitimate greed and obscene riches. Actually, this is like claiming that the right to life is a mere invention designed to legitimate crude selfishness and unrestrained personal ambition. And actually there is something to this but nothing insidious, nothing bad in the end. One’s right to one’s life is indeed a moral and political bulwark against others making use of one against one’s will. The right to life is the principle by which slavery and involuntary servitude are morally and politically rebuffed, so they ought to be part of the legal system of any civilized, just human community even if they can be unwisely, imprudently applied by some.”

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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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