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“You Want War? We’ll Give It To You”: Rand Paul Ready For ‘War’ Over 2016 Debates

When it comes to foreign policy, Rand Paul isn’t eager to launch any new wars. When it comes to 2016 debates, it’s a different story.

The next gathering for the Republican presidential field will be Thursday night, when candidates participate in their sixth debate. The Fox Business Network announced last night that seven of the remaining candidates have been invited to the prime-time event: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, and John Kasich. That leaves Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum, who have been relegated to the kids-table undercard debate.

The Kentucky senator, who has been on the main stage for each of the first five debates, had already vowed to skip this week’s event if he were blocked from the prime-time gathering, and as of late yesterday, Paul and his campaign team intend to follow through on that threat.

But Paul also talked to the Washington Post in more detail about his frustrations.

…Paul reiterated that the “arbitrary, capricious polling standard” had been a source of disgust for the grassroots, dubbing it a story of media political bias.

“It won’t take much for our supporters to understand why we’re doing this,” Paul said. “You want war? We’ll give it to you.”

What’s unclear is what in the world that means.

To be sure, the senator’s complaints have some merit. As Rachel noted on the show last night, when the Fox networks host these gatherings, “they’re notoriously woolly about their qualifying criteria for their debate…. They don’t get that specific about how they’re going to do it.”

It’s a little tough for Paul – or anyone else, for that matter – to lash out at Fox for being biased against Republican presidential campaigns, but the senator’s concerns about statistical methodology are harder to dismiss.

But when Paul says he and his supporters are prepared for “war,” it’s an open question as to what they have in mind. Protests? Angry tweets? Will Paul pull a page from Alan Keyes’ 1996 playbook and try to join a debate to which he hasn’t been invited?


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, January 11, 2016

January 12, 2016 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, GOP Primary Debates, Rand Paul | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Skepticism Of Conservative Ideas Requires No Bias”: When Will Conservatives Get Over The Liberal Media Myth?

It’s the perfect recipe for conservative apoplexy: On the one hand you have the Politico reporting that journalists are dissatisfied with their access to the president and, on the other, you have Chuck Todd saying the media isn’t liberal.

The response has been predictable. “Are you kidding me?” conservatives say. “What difference does access make when you agree with everything the president says? And your kneejerk agreement is proof enough that you are biased.”

It’s a line of reasoning that folds neatly into a larger conservative narrative: If only the media were doing its job and accurately reporting on the White House we all would be as disenchanted with the administration as they are. If that argument seems familiar to you, it should. We’ve been hearing it from conservatives for a long, long time.

Back in 1944 Gunnar Myrdal wrote a book on American race relations. One of his theses was that change would come to the segregated South when journalists began reporting on the conditions there. Myrdal’s notion was that most Americans didn’t understand just how bad things were for African-Americans under segregation, but that once they learned they wouldn’t be able to ignore it.

You can argue the merits of Myrdal’s work, but one thing that proved prescient was his understanding of the role the media would play in changing public attitudes about segregation. When Northern press turned its attention to the civil rights movement, the stories and photos they published helped shape the national debate about Jim Crow and arguably hastened its end.

The reaction of Southern conservatives to these news reports, however, was a little different. The problem, they said, isn’t segregation, it’s the way a Northern press infected with integrationist sympathies reports it. Of course, that was hogwash. Segregation was exposed and, eventually, ended. But in the embers of an ideological defeat, conservatives found a handy bit of linguistic Jujitsu. If the facts prove inconvenient, don’t argue them. Instead, shift the focus and question the integrity of the fact-finder. If you’re successful, then in one broad stroke you may be able to disqualify the facts without ever having to argue them on the merits.

Impugning the motives of those we’ve entrusted with separating fiction from fact has proven an effective strategy for the right. Don’t agree with a judicial decision? Blame the “activist” judge. Think an academic paper might be damaging to your cause? No worries. Academia is “liberal” and “elitist.” Worried that global warming might prove nettlesome? It’s the product of scientists harboring a “hidden agenda.”

And today a news media that might otherwise be making reasoned judgments about what’s news and what isn’t has become so cowed by conservative complaints that just about any allegation, no matter how outlandish, must receive “equal time.” Donald Trump’s birther claims are a terrific example. Trump has all the credibility of a squirrel monkey. And the charges he mounted in 2011 were completely bereft of anything resembling a fact. Yet when he was pressing his “questions” about the president’s place of birth, the media felt compelled to put him on the air in an endless loop, and to book guests to argue “both sides” of the “controversy.” Ridiculous.

But suggest that the media might not be so liberal after all, and you elicit ferocious conservative push-back. Just ask Chuck Todd. Last week, when he said media bias was a myth, the conservative response was perhaps best typified by Greg Gutfeld’s 90 second uninterrupted monologue on Fox, which I think can be fairly boiled down to: The media is liberal because the media is liberal and it’s preposterous to think otherwise.

There’s another way of looking at this, of course. As hard as this may be for conservatives to swallow, it may be that 65 million people voted for the president precisely because they have a clear understanding of his record, and what he wants to do—and they agree with it.

Look, in my work, I have found many occasions to be frustrated with reporters. Sometimes they do a good job and sometimes they don’t. But clinging to the notion that they are wittingly or unwittingly involved in some kind of mass liberal conspiracy is a little nutty.

If that’s the case, you may ask, how can it be that I sometimes find unflattering coverage of conservative ideas? Well, one might ask in return, have you taken a look at the ideas conservatives have championed over the years? Segregation is the way to go. Women shouldn’t work. The government is filled with hidden communists. People on the lower end of the economic spectrum are there because they are lazy. Cutting taxes for the rich is the best economic program for everyone. America is one step removed from becoming a totalitarian state. Etc.

In other words, my conservative friends, it may finally be time to come to terms with the following: Its your ideas that leave something to be desired, not the media’s coverage of them.


By: Anson Kaye, U. S. News and World Report, February 28, 2013

March 1, 2013 Posted by | Journalism, Media | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Reality”: A Product Of The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy

“Reality,” Stephen Colbert once famously said, “has a well-known liberal bias.”

It was one of those jokes that isn’t, one of those barbs that captures something painfully true, allows you to see it with clarity you never could if viewing straight on. It’s worth noting that Colbert said this years before that jump-the-shark moment last week when conservatives accused the Labor Department of conspiring against them. In case you missed it, it happened when the government released figures showing the unemployment rate has tumbled to 7.8 percent.

Most of us considered this good news. Because it validates President Obama’s narrative of a slowly-improving economy, many conservatives did not. They called the figure a fraud — “monkey business,” in the words of Donald Trump. Former GE CEO Jack Welch saw it as evidence of malfeasance from “these Chicago guys.” Fox “News” asked, “Is the number real?”

And so it goes in the conservative War on Reality.

Not that this was the first salvo in said war. Just before the numbers came out, conservatives were working to discredit polls that showed President Obama leading Mitt Romney. “Bogus,” said Rush Limbaugh.

You see, the war goes back a ways. Back to Sen. Jon Kyl saying that 90 percent of Planned Parenthood’s activities are abortion-related and, when called on that lie, issuing a statement that what he said was “not intended to be … factual.” Back to Sarah Palin sounding the alarm about death panels, back to Glenn Beck saying conservatives started the Civil Rights Movement, back to people pretending there is some mystery over the president’s birthplace.

Heck, it goes back to the Bush administration cutting inconvenient facts from government reports, back to Bush brushing aside a pessimistic report on Iraq by saying the intelligence community was “just guessing.”

The point here — this cannot be overemphasized — is not ideology. Rather, it is about the fact that we cannot effectively debate ideology if we do not have a body of facts in common.

Under such circumstances, political discourse must devolve into incoherence. We cannot discuss what color to paint the room if we cannot agree on what constitutes red or green — or the room. We literally have no shared language with which to even have the discussion.

This is the legacy of the War on Reality. Some of us live under a new ethos, fueled and abetted by Fox, the Internet and talk radio, which holds that facts are optional and reality, multiple choice — and that anyone who questions this is part of the conspiracy against you. The results have not been pretty. When, in the history of American political discourse, have conservatives — some, not all — seemed more paranoid, put-upon and ready to believe themselves the victims of outlandish plots?

Hillary Clinton was rightly derided for saying a “vast right-wing conspiracy” was out to get her husband. But if that one-time utterance made her sound ridiculous, what shall we make of this constant drumbeat from the political right? What shall we make of a mindset in which the answer to every criticism, the response to every unwelcome fact, is to point to a conspiracy of bias that exists mostly in their minds?

Now, we reach a sobering watershed. Who knew even the professional numbers crunchers in the Labor Department were part of this vast left-wing conspiracy?

Hearing that, one must believe one of two things: either math also has a liberal bias, or, it is time to ask ourselves what becomes of a country where problem-solving is paralyzed because problem solvers cannot agree on a common reality?

Math, should it need saying, has no liberal bias. So give that question some hard thought. After all, we have only the one country. We may not share the same reality, but we will certainly share the same fate.


By: Leonard Pitts, The National Memo, October 10, 2012

October 15, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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