Tag Archives: Sean Hannity

Rod Blum Speaks, Sort Of

Over the course of the past few weeks I have been unrelenting in my correspondence with Rod Blum, who happens to be my representative for the 1st District of Iowa in the U.S. House of Representative.  Over the same period of time I have been critical of Rod Blum, in general, due to his relative lack of transparency with voters and his imperial attitude when it came to his own ethical standards.  Granted, when you are living in the world of Trump nothing is beyond the pale.

Well, Rod Blum finally got back to me in writing and it was not a formulaic email thanking me for my interest in whatever topic.  It is as underwhelming as you would imagine:

Thank you for contacting me directly and sharing your concerns regarding the impeachment of President Trump.  It is an honor to serve you in Congress and I appreciate your input on topics such as this.  [NOTE: I did not call for the impeachment of President Trump.  I called for investigations into President Trump’s potentially illegal activity.]

I take any allegations of unethical or illegal activity by public officials very seriously.  Similarly, as a staunch defender of your Constitutionally-guaranteed rights, I believe strongly in the unalienable right to due process.  Our President deserves the same Constitutional rights as every other Americans, and it is unacceptable to deny such rights.  [NOTE: No one is asking to deny the President of the United States his right to due process.  We are asking that Congress do its job and investigate.]

If credible evidence is presented that the President was involved in criminal behavior related to his time in office, I will join my colleagues in denouncing that action and calling for the appropriate proceedings.  My commitment to ethical behavior does not exempt the oval office [sic]

At this point, President Trump has not been even accused of charges by our completely independent judicial branch and I decline to participate in speculation.  I have full faith and confidence in the legal process of this country and I am grateful for the department’s work.  [NOTE: The Judicial Branch is not the same as the Department of Justice, which would be tasked with investigating a crime.  The Department of Justice is headed by someone appointed by the President, thus it is of questionable independence.]

The White House and witnesses have cooperated with the Special Counsel and have turned over more than one million pages of documents.  I am confident that they will continue to cooperate.  [NOTE: There is much more to the potential illegal activity that occurs under the aegis of President Trump than the allegations of collusion with Russia.  My concern runs to a whole host of issues besides potential collusion.]

Thank you again for taking your time to share your opinion on this matter.

Complete and utter garbage.  Rod Blum, or some staffer, regurgitated Fox News approved word salad that in some cases does not even make sense.  This is what you get when your member of Congress is more concerned with pandering to Trump supporters than actually doing his job.

I would ask Rod Blum, who is supposed to do the investigative work to determine if President Trump or anyone in his administration has acted illegally?  During President Obama’s time in office Congress took glee in bringing officials before its committees to “investigate” even the slightest whiff of malfeasance.  Never mind that most charges were little more than Alex Jones approved conspiracy theories fanned by the bloviating of Sean Hannity.

Rod Blum and the rest of the Republican party in control of Congress has abdicated their duty to act as a check and balance on the power of the executive.  It is their marching orders to ignore any damage done to the fabric of this country as long as the judiciary is packed with judges that hew to their partisan line and tax cuts keep going to the wealthy.

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Living in a Bubble

During the few times that I have been stuck listening to right wing radio—it can happen, trust me—I was always struck by the conciliatory tone of the callers.  It did not matter if Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity were calling for armed insurrection or accusing the President of the United States of being a closeted Muslim from Kenya as the callers would continue to offer support or even more fringe views.

It appears as if the phone lines were not filled with actual members of the listening public, but rather were paid actors.   The company profiled in the linked article is Premiere On Call, which is a service of Premiere Radio Networks which is in turn a subsidiary of the giant media company Clear Channel Communications.

So, while we have always suspected that some of the callers to Howard Stern and his ilk were fabricated for the purposes of entertainment there was always the veneer of “reality” applied to the callers of politically centered talk radio.  It looks like the ardent supporters of Glenn Beck might not be so motivated by ideology as much as paying the rent on their studio apartment in Echo Park waiting for that call back.

This brings to bear the larger problem in our modern politics where we increasingly inhabit isolated bubbles of thought.  The internet has enabled this to a degree that would have been unimaginable only a few years prior.  Just think about someone who held some very fringe beliefs as far back as the early 1990s.  In those prehistoric times there was no easy way to discover a community of likeminded individuals.  Now, it’s just a Google search away for even the most esoteric set of beliefs.  Do you think that John Boehner is secretly an oompa loompa who escaped from Willy Wonka’s factory and took growth hormones?  There is probably an online gathering right now of kindred spirits.

The phenomenon of living in an ideological bubble afflicts both the left and right wings of American politics, but it seems to have metastized on the right to a degree that is increasingly detrimental.  Prior to the 2006 midterm election Karl Rove got into an argument with NPR host Robert Siegel where he said:

Yeah, I’m looking at all these, Robert, and adding them up, and I add up to a Republican Senate and Republican House. You may end up with a different math, but you’re entitled to your math, I’m entitled to THE math.

Neither of Rove’s predictions was borne out during the election.  In the subsequent elections Rove finds himself on the wrong side of electoral votes.  Why?

One could sum up the losing streak to a case of overinflated reputation.  Outside of being considered “Bush’s Brain” the man does not have a good history of being right in terms of electoral politics.  However, the right wing looked to him as a guru and that alone gives him power.

The reason may be that he, like so many right wingers, increasingly lives in a bubble of self-selected information.  What do I mean by this?  Well, if someone does not like the polls they exclude the results until it looks like something more favorable to your side.  In science this is considered junk research or methodological malfeasance, but in politics it is considered “unskewing the polls.”

During the run-up to the 2012 electoral contest between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney there was a story about how the Romeny camp “unskewed” the polls to account for the supposed “left wing” bias in traditional polling.  While it may have given the eventual losing side some extra spring in their step it was erroneous to a degree that was almost laughable.  When done correctly there is no need to adjust the results of a poll because it is statistically significant and, even more so, aggregates of polls or polls of polls reduce the chance of bias even further.

Just because you do not like what the poll is telling you does not mean that the poll is inaccurate.  It means that no one likes you.  Or, rather, just 47% of the population likes you in the case of Mitt Romney.

Politicians are spending so much time in echo chambers of their own creation that they are beginning to believe that the sound of their own voice is the will of the people.  Damn the polls!  Damn the election results!  I know I am right because that is all that I hear!

And we wonder why the U.S. federal government was shut down this fall and is looking at another shutdown in early 2014.

Consider the Source

I ran across this picture and found it to be hilarious:

billoreillymediabias

Granted, Bill O’Reilly was talking about the supposed bubble of liberal media.  Considering he was making the statements on a network so full of half-truths and distortions there is a level of unintended comedy that is striking.  Consider that Bill O’Reilly’s show “The O’Reilly Factor” used to precede the ultimate conservative television blowhard Sean Hannity.  Who is living in a bubble?

Moments like this make me laugh, but make me said because the truth is so frightening.  Every day millions of people on both sides of the political aisle gobble up news and opinion from sources that only confirm their preconceived notions.