Al Jazeera America Shutting Down

I was a little surprised to learn that Al Jazeera America is shutting down its cable news network. Here is the story from the BBC.

Al Jazeera America will shut down its cable news channel despite spending heavily to break into the US market.

CEO Al Anstey said the business model “is simply not sustainable in light of the economic challenges”.

Al Jazeera America launched in 2013 vowing to be a more serious and in-depth alternative to CNN and Fox News.

The Qatar-based broadcaster spent millions of dollars hiring top US journalists but struggled to bring viewers to its news programmes.

Al Jazeera promised to expand its coverage of the US online after the channel shuts down in April.

The network replaced Current TV, a network founded by former US Vice President Al Gore.

The Qatar-based broadcaster bought Current TV for around $500 million (£308 million).

Al Jazeera America was available in about 60 million American homes. Politiconotes that the channel reached an average of 19,000 viewers each day in 2015, far fewer than its competitors.

The channel struggled with internal turmoil, as well, including multiple discrimination lawsuits that ended up ousting its founding CEO.

I wonder why Al Jazeera found it so difficult to break into the US market. Part of the reason might be that many American viewers did not believe that a news network funded by the Qatari government to be a trustworthy source of news. The Arabic name might not have helped. Al Jazeera sounds as if it could be the Osama bin Laden News Network. I think, though, that Al Jazeera’s main difficulty was simply that the North American market for TV news is saturated. We already have Fox, MSNBC, CNN, not to mention ABC, NBC, and CBS, and the BBC from across the Pond. There is probably simply not enough room for another news network. I also believe that the audience for TV news is declining, just as it as been for newspapers. I am too lazy to look up the ratings right now, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a shift towards the internet as the major source of news for many people, particularly for younger people. I notice that Al Jazeera is maintaining their online activities.

In a way it’s a shame, though. American news badly needs more diversity of viewpoints. Most of the news we get here in America is increasingly superficial and celebrity oriented, not to mention biased to the left. Fox is perhaps more evenhanded than most, with a bias to the right, but one right center network and a host of leftist networks, all based in the US hardly makes for much diversity. At least, we have the internet.

Keith Ablow’s Homophobia

I had never heard of Dr. Keith Ablow before following a link from Yahoo News to this piece at the Huffington Post. I still don’t know very much about him and I am not really that curious. It may be that he has a whole history of saying controversial or even insane remarks in public, but I am only interested in the statements that the Huffington Post considered to be extremely homophobic.

When discussing gay rights on Fox News, who better to consult than the network’sreliable source Dr. Keith Ablow?

“Fox & Friends” asked Ablow on Wednesday for his thoughts on a new California lawthat replaces the words “husband” and “wife” with “spouse” under state laws. The new law has been described as a “milestone in the journey towards full equality” and an end to the last barrier to same-sex marriage in California.

“Nuts,” Ablow said of the new law. “There’s no way that the state of California can deny a marriage license to four spouses now. Eight spouses, or I would say three human spouses and the canine they absolutely love because if love is the foundation of marriage, they can love their dog, too.”

That’s right, folks. You heard it here first. A step forward for marriage equality will only lead to polygamy and marrying your dog.

Most of the comments that followed this piece were of a similar nature, mocking Dr Ablow for his ignorance and bigotry. Yet I want you to observe two things in the article I quoted in its entirety. First, notice that homophobia consists not in making hateful or derogatory comments towards or about homosexuals but in not embracing an entire agenda with sufficient enthusiasm or in raising an obvious, logical point against same-sex marriage.

Second, notice that neither in the article or on the comments are there any arguments presented that show that Dr. Ablow is wrong. If we are going to make a fundamental alteration in the nature of marriage by changing from a particular, and theoretically lifelong, relationship between a man and a woman for the purpose of creating and maintaining families into a generic relationship between two individuals, of whatever gender, who feel a mutual sexual attraction, then what is there to stop any further alterations? Why not polygamy? There have been many cultures throughout history that have permitted polygamous marriages. Polygamy is a far less drastic alternation in the essential nature of marriage than same-sex marriage. Why not permit close relatives to marry? If they agree to not have children, there is no possibility of birth defects from inbreeding. Why not marry your dog or cat? There may be some question of consent here, but if that were  resolved, why not? For that matter, since we are separating sexuality from reproduction, why bother with marriage or families at all? Why not go for a Brave New World society in which babies are grown in test tubes?

I don’t believe that the person who wrote this or any of the commenters are in favor of either bestiality, incest or polygamy. They are in favor of  “marriage equality”. This is another example of feeling good without going through the trouble of thinking things through. There is no particular, logical reason why any of the innovations I listed above should not be adopted, once the logic that supports same-sex marriage is accepted, except that these innovations made people uneasy. They seem to forget that not two decades ago the idea of same-sex marriage was considered to be just as insane as anything I listed and even ten years ago, the idea made people uneasy. If such progress in changing people’s minds about same-sex marriage could be made through incessant propagandizing and not a little bullying, why couldn’t similar progress be made in anything I mentioned?

Thinking such matters through is hard work, however. Trying to think for yourself is even harder, and may even take some moral courage. It is much easier simply to insult the person who brings them up and repeat the same slogans and talking points everyone else is saying. If the good people are for  marriage equality, then it is best to fall into line and not think too much on where it is leading.


Increasing Diversity

The Department of Housing and Urban Development wants to measure how diverse every neighborhood in America is with the intention of increasing diversity. I have seen this story all over but here is Fox News’s account.

In a move some claim is tantamount to social engineering, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is imposing a new rule that would allow the feds to track diversity in America’s neighborhoods and then push policies to change those it deems discriminatory.

The policy is called, “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing.” It will require HUD to gather data on segregation and discrimination in every single neighborhood and try to remedy it.

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan unveiled the federal rule at the NAACP convention in July.

“Unfortunately, in too many of our hardest hit communities, no matter how hard a child or her parents work, the life chances of that child, even her lifespan, is determined by the zip code she grows up in. This is simply wrong,” he said.

I already know what the results of this survey will be. They will discover that most people tend to live near people who look and think like them. This will attributed to the continuing effects of discrimination and segregation despite the fact that such discrimination has been illegal since 1968. No doubt they will also discover that realtors have been using racist dog whistles such as “nice neighborhood”, “low crime”, and “good local schools”; all known to be codes for white supremacy.

People do tend to prefer to live near people like them. That may not be a good thing, but it is human nature. In general, most Whites would prefer to live near Whites, most Black prefer to live near Blacks, etc. I suspect that the people living in more integrated neighborhoods feel they have something in common more important than race. Zip code alone does not account for poverty. There are many factors involved. Rich people tend to live near rich people, and poor near poor. This is because not every place is equally desirable to live in. More desirable areas are going to be more expensive to reside in. A child who grows up with poorer parents in an impoverished part of the country is not going to have the same opportunities as a child growing up in a more affluent area. This is not fair. It is life, though. It is simply not possible to give every child precisely the same opportunities, especially with utopian schemes.

What will happen to communities that are deemed not diverse enough?

Data from this discrimination database would be used with zoning laws, housing finance policy, infrastructure planning and transportation to alleviate alleged discrimination and segregation.

Specifics of the proposed rule are lacking. Now published in the Federal Register and undergoing a 60-day comment period, the rule, “does not prescribe or enforce specific” policies.

My hometown of Madison Indiana is not very diverse. We are 93.5% White, 2.8% Black, 1.2% Asian, 0.2% Native American and 1.7% Hispanic of any race. Am I wrong in guessing that the federal government is going to actively discourage any businesses from locating here, unless we have acceptable levels of diversity. Madison is a nice place, but there are not many economic opportunities, especially for young people. To be honest, there is no particular reason why many non-Whites would want to move here. Who would want to move to a town where they would be a member of a small minority unless there were some compelling reason, such as a good job, to do so? What is Madison supposed to do to get a more diverse population? Should bankers offer cheaper mortgages to minorities? Should they be exempt from local taxes? How is that even remotely fair?
I can’t help but observe that the people who profess to be most against racism and discrimination seem to always be proposing discriminatory policies. The people who claim to want better race relations always seem to be trying to incite more trouble between people. Maybe the solution to our problems with race relations is to stop making race such a big deal. Maybe, instead of having the national conversation about race the liberals always say they want, we should all just shut up about the matter. Maybe we should just treat people like people and not worry about minor things like skin color. Maybe we should just let people live where ever they want to live and not try yet another utopian scheme that is sure to cause a lot of trouble and misery and not solve anything.

Crucified Obama

What do you think of this picture.

In bad taste perhaps? Even blasphemous? Well this painting is the work of an artist named Michael D’Antuono. I read about it in this story in Foxnews and Conservative Byte.

A painting that features President Obama posed as Jesus Christ crucified on  is on display at a community college art gallery in Boston.

The painting by Michael D’Antuono is part of a larger exhibit called “Artists on the Stump – the Road to the White House 2012.” It’s on display at the Bunker Hill Community College Art Gallery until Dec. 15th.

The painting is called “Truth” – and shows the president with his arms outstretched. A crown of thorns rests on his head.

It was originally supposed to debut nearly four years ago at New York City’s Union Square. But that event was cancelled due to public outrage.

“I always regretted cancelling my exhibit in New York because I feel my First Amendment rights should override someone’s hurt feelings,” D’Antuono told Fox News. “We should celebrate the fact that we live in a country where we are given the freedom to express ourselves.”

A spokesperson for the art gallery told Fox News there hasn’t been any criticism of the painting.

D’Antuono said the public exhibition “has afforded me the ability to right a wrong.”

He dismissed critics who called the display blasphemous.

“The crucifixion of the president was meant metaphorically,” he told Fox News. “My intent was not to compare him to Jesus.”

D’Antuono blamed the controversy on conservative media “trying to promote the idea that liberals believe the president to literally be our savior.”

In the aftermath of his aborted first attempt – the artist said he received more than 4,000 emails containing messages that were “anything but Christian-like.”

“But I accepted that it is their right to express themselves and hope that they now see it in their hearts to afford me the same right,” he said.

I agree that Mr. Antuono’s first amendment rights override anyone’s hurt feelings. In fact, I triple dog dare him to produce a piece of art that would offend Muslims, or homosexuals, or any other Liberal Protected Victim Class. He won’t do it. He can bask in the approval of his fellow Liberals for his bravery in offending thousands of Christians who will do no more than send nasty e-mails, but he wouldn’t dare to offend people who might actually kill him for his blasphemy, nor is he likely to produce anything that might show that he deviates from politically correct orthodoxy. Of course, I could have misjudged the artist. Maybe he will prove me wrong. I won’t be holding my breath waiting though.

I wonder where the Conservative media could have possibly gotten the idea that Liberals believe the President is a literal savior? Maybe it is from paintings like this, not to mention all the other trappings of the Obama cult we have seen over the years. If Liberals really don’t want people to think they view Obama as their savior, maybe they should stop worshipping him. Maybe it is time to view this president, and any other president as simply our servant and not our Lord and Savior.


John Stossel

John Stossel
John Stossel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I always like watching John Stossel back when he was the consumer affairs correspondent on 20/20. It was always fun to watch him expose scams and con artists. Since then, he has moved on to Fox News and his political views have changed dramatically from the typical liberalism of most people in journalism to strong Libertarianism. He talked about this transition in his first book Give Me a Break.

What caused Stossel’s conversion? As he tells it, in his work as a reporter, he made some observations that caused him to change his worldview. It is not often that someone will do that, especially a person with a career in the public eye. Most people would rather die than ever admit they were wrong, or change long held beliefs. John Stossel seems to be one of the few honest and courageous enough to do so.

Stossel’s first discovery was that most business people are not, in fact, crooks. This may seem counter-intuitive to anyone raised on Hollywood’s anti-business and anti-capitalist fare, but Stossel realized that the great majority of people who own a company try to run it honestly and ethically. The scam artists he made a career exposing were in the minority and they were never very successful in the long run.

Here, Stossel stumbled on an important aspect of a free market economy. In order for a business to flourish, it has to provide customers with a good quality good or service at a price they are willing to pay. A company that does not do this will, sooner or later, fail, unless it convinces a government that it is too big to fail. The classic example here would be the American auto industry. After World War II, the big three auto makers; Ford, GM, and Chrysler had a near monopoly on the US market. They began to get lazy. They began to sell poor quality cars to the American consumer, thinking that the consumers had nowhere else to go. They were wrong. Now two of the three are owned by the government.

An example of a business that does thing right is My Kindle stopped working yesterday. The screen developed large patches that seemed frozen. I called their support center and they said they would ship me a replacement. There was no trouble. I did have to pay $69 because the warranty had run out, but considering that buying a new one would have cost me $139, this seemed a bargain. Why did Amazon do that. They might have made more money by telling me “tough luck” and expecting me to buy a new Kindle. Then again, maybe not. There are other people out there selling e-readers. I suppose Amazon is making a profit out of the deal, but even if they are not, it is worth taking a loss to keep me a satisfied customer.

Imagine, if had a monopoly on electronic publishing. Better still, imagine if this monopoly were enforced by law, or that were a government agency. Would they care about making me happy? Probably not. Just look at our public school systems if you have any doubts about how well governments respond to consumers.

This is not to say that business people are all wonderful or even especially virtuous, much less that they are somehow superior to people who work in government. They are not. Nevertheless, anyone in business has a certain incentive to maintain a good reputation that people in government do not. This is why the free market is far, far superior in meeting people’s needs than any centralized planning agency.

The other thing Stossel discovered was that government regulations designed to save people from being taken advantage of often hurt the very people they are meant to help. The simple truth is that the crooks will always be able to game the system for their own advantage and care little whether or not they are following the rules. Honest people who are obliged to comply to an ever more complex system of rules and regulations find themselves at even a greater disadvantage against the unscrupulous. And one should keep in mind that it is all too easy for the powerful and well-connected to change the rules to benefit themselves against their less fortunate competitors. An inconvenient truth is that big business is not often really opposed to big government, if big government can help them crush the competition. Remember the anti-trust suit against Microsoft? Bill Gates’s enemies relished the opportunity to use the government to to take him down.

I would also consider the efforts to curtain the production of methamphetamines in this light. Here in Indiana you have to show an ID to buy any cold remedy that contains pseudo ephedrine, an ingredient of methamphetamines. There are limits to how much you can buy, etc. This is an inconvenience to anyone suffering from a cold but has it worked? It seems that the police are discovering a new meth lab in our county every week. Obviously the meth dealers are having no trouble getting around the law.

I don’t get to watch John Stossel on television much any more, but I have read his first two books. He has just now come out with another one called No They can’t. Maybe I’ll download it when my kindle arrives.

ACORN Behind Occupy Wall Street

Remember how Nancy Pelosi and some other Democrats insisted that the TEA party movement was just astroturf. That is to say a fake popular protest funded by the Koch brothers and Fox News. Well, it seems that maybe they were doing a bit of projection, according to this article on Fox News.

Officials with the revamped ACORN office in New York — operating as New York Communities for Change — have fired staff, shredded reams of documents and told workers to blame disgruntled ex-employees for leaking information in an effort to explain away a report last week on the group’s involvement in Occupy Wall Street protests, according to sources.

NYCC also is installing surveillance cameras and recording devices at its Brooklyn offices, removing or packing away supplies bearing the name ACORN and handing out photos of Fox News staff with a stern warning not to talk to the media, the sources said.’s report identified NYCC as a key organizing force behind the Occupy Wall Street protests. Sources within the group also told NYCC was hiring people to carry signs and join the protests. NYCC — a nonprofit organization run almost entirely by former ACORN officials and employees –did not reply for comment prior to the publication of the initial article, but later posted a statement on its website dismissing the article and denying that it pays protesters.

A source said that immediately following publication of the report staff were called into the Brooklyn office for meetings headed by NYCC’s organizing director, Jonathan Westin. Westin handed out copies of the article and went through it line-by-line, the source said.

Staffers were also given copies of photos of Senior Fox News Correspondent Eric Shawn and three other Fox News staff members, including this reporter.

“They reminded us that we can get fired, sued, arrested for talking to the press,” the source said. “Then they went through the article point-by-point and said that the allegation that we pay people to protest isn’t true.”

“‘That’s the story that we’re sticking to,’” Westin said, according to the source.

The source said staffers at the meeting contested Westin’s denial:

“It was pretty funny. Jonathan told staff they don’t pay for protesters, but the people in the meeting  who work there objected and said, ‘Wait, you pay us to go to the protests every day?’ Then Jonathan said  ‘No, but that’s your job,’ and staffers were like, ‘Yeah, our job is to protest,’ and Westin said, ‘No your job is to fight for economic and social justice. We just send you to protest.’

“Staff said, ‘Yes, you pay us to carry signs.’ Then Jonathan says, ‘That’s your job.’ It went on like that back and forth for a while.”

Of  course,  I don’t imagine that all, or even most of these protesters are getting paid, judging by the pictures I’ve seen. Or, if they are, it’s not enough to allow for basic hygiene.

And then there is this from Yahoo News.

Many “Occupy Wall Street” protesters arrested in New York City “occupy” more luxurious homes than their “99 percent” rhetoric might suggest, a Daily Caller investigation has found.

For each of the 984 Occupy Wall Street protesters arrested in New York City between September 18 and October 15, police collected and filed an information sheet recording the arrestee’s name, age, sex, criminal charge, home address and — in most cases — race. The Daily Caller has obtained all of this information from a source in the New York City government.

Among addresses for which information is available, single-family homes listed on those police intake forms have a median value of $305,000 — a far higher number than the $185,400 median value of owner-occupied housing units in the United States.

Some of the homes where “Occupy” arrestees reside, viewed through Google Maps and the Multiple Listing Service real estate database, are the definition of opulence.

Using county assessors and online resources such as, TheDC estimated property values and rents for 87 percent of the homes and 59 percent of the apartments listed in the arrest records.

Even in the nation’s currently depressed housing market, at least 95 of the protesters’ residences are worth approximately $500,000 or more. (RELATED SLIDESHOW: Opulent homes of the ’99 percent’)

The median monthly rent for those living in apartments whose information is readily available is $1,850.

Not exactly the wretched of the Earth, are they?

While it would not be fair to conclude that the arrested protesters are fully representative of a movement that is not completely understood, this information forms the most complete snapshot yet of the demonstrations’ more militant participants.

It also reinforces the persistent critique of protesters as entitled, upper-class agitators with few legitimate grievances.

I think that would be about right.

Sarah Palin Treats Reporters Like Paparazzi

Form CBS News and Drudge. Apparently the reporters sent to cover Sarah Palin’s bus tour are complaining because they are not being told where she is going;

Since Palin and her team won’t share where the potential candidate is headed, reporters and producers have little choice but to simply stay close to Palin’s bus. This has resulted in scenes of the Palin bus tooling down the highway followed by a caravan of 10 or 15 vehicles all trying to make sure they don’t lose sight of the Palin bus.

Well it’s not like they were going to give her fair coverage anyway. Sarah Palin, unlike some Republicans seems to be aware that nothing she will ever do is likely to get positive coverage from the Old Media, so why bother to try? Instead, she has decided to go around the Mainstream Media to get information out to her fans.

Palin has repeatedly cast the press corps as treating her unfairly, and has tried to make her Facebook and Twitter accounts primary sources of information about her – a strategy she is continuing with the bus tour, for which she is directing interested parties to her political action committee website. (Information about a visit only goes up after she has made the stop.) Earlier this month, she discussed her feelings about the media with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, complaining about “that goofy game that has been played now for too many years with the leftist mainstream media trying to twist the candidates’ words and intent and content of their statements.”

“I think to start with, we ignore some of these reporters and their requests for us to comment and be interviewed,” she said. “We know going into what they are going to do to us to as conservatives — so, why participate in their game?”

It will be interesting to see how successful she is at this. This may be the beginning of the end of any relevance the mainstream has in politics.

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