Uber Alles

There are few things I enjoy more than the idiotic leftwing backlash against Uber. Besides revealing an utter lack of comprehension of market forces, those on a moral crusade against Uber are actually engaged in a transparent effort to carry water for cartels, aka the taxi unions. Because nothing says “progress” like championing the perpetuation of inefficient, corrupt, politically protected 19th century labor practices over spontaneous order and innovation.

Customers love Uber. Political hacks on the left hate it because it threatens unions and therefore threatens their donor base.

In Sydney last night, Uber’s decision to respond to spiking demand by quadrupling rates as a way to attract more drivers caused more hubbub on twitter than the actual hostage crisis. How dare that evil, greedy, private company raise its rates in the middle of a crisis? Well, if the intent was to incentive more Uber drivers onto the road to provide their in-demand service, what the hell is the problem? The problem apparently, is that profits are inherently evil, but especially so when sought amid a crisis. Mollie Hemingway corrals some representative tweets here and lobs justified scorn at the mob.

My favorite Uber anecdote is from this past summer, when European capitals saw coordinated protests against the disruptive taxi app by having all their taxi drivers block traffic at key arteries and walk out in solidarity, causing massive traffic jams. The result? Uber subscriptions skyrocketed 850% across the continent in a single day as many who had never heard of Uber were suddenly inclined to check them out. Talk about your all time backfires. Who among us would not leap at cheaper and more efficient modes of travel, especially when those already tasked with public transport merit such disdain for their petty and annoying protests, not to mention for their general performance?  As if the intent is to conform to stereotype, Paris taxi unions are back at it again today, blocking traffic and demanding an end to Uber while determined to learn nothing from their last failed protest. Hope it goes just as well as last time.

One would think the writing would be on the wall and the taxi union would understand that their days of holding a protected monopoly are over. Alas, the unions are doubling down and their allies in media are drooling for any story that can undermine Uber’s credibility. The constant harping on unfair pricing betrays a thorough ignorance of how markets work, though even more disturbing is the lack of imagination on display by these critics. In order to not only appreciate but celebrate the free market, one has to tap the frontier explorer mentality within, which will allow for the acceptance of “creative destruction.” Every innovation we love is born from this basic concept: existing products and services are displaced by new ones that invent better and cheaper ways to satisfy customers. This process requires businesses, jobs and brands to sometimes disappear. Executives and employees alike at firms such as Research in Motion (makers of Blackberry), Blockbuster, LaserDisc and the legacy music labels would undoubtedly have preferred to see their companies remain viable, but economics is like gravity – it is futile to fight. Now think of the firms that took their place: Apple, Netflix, BluRay and Spotify. In ten years, we may or may not still have these popular companies with us. The thing to do is accept reality and applaud the lower prices, better products and services and technological wonder at hand, while the thing one should not indulge is barking at the moon or vainly wielding one’s fist at the heavens because one is uncomfortable with the metaphysical reality that things always change. (Ironic that the vapid slogan “Change” deployed by Obama in ’08 should be so utterly lost on he and his followers when it comes to the constantly changing dynamics in the marketplace, otherwise known as “capitalism”). If you are in favor of change and progress, it makes no sense to stand opposed to innovative and disruptive new technologies just because they threaten old models which you favor and wish to see preserved.

By all accounts, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is kind of a jerk and has perhaps gone out of his way to stoke the ire of his antagonists. Frankly I could care less what the man’s personality is like or whether he encourages his employees to aggressively (but legally) recruit drivers away from competitors. Competition is not always polite and ethics are important to maintain even in a ruthlessly competitive and nascent market such as the booming sharing economy. But forgive me if I perceive every “Uber is shady” story as part of a broader unease with these carefree, ambitious and cocky tech titans who are supposedly planning to take over the world and turn it into Galt’s Gulch.

While it is surely not the driving motivation behind their attempt to discredit and ultimately destroy Uber, one factor must be that these champions of the uber-state and haters of anything that can reasonably be attributed to the philosophy of Ayn Rand are petrified of the growing “libertarian moment” and feel it is their moral obligation to stop it in its tracks. The level of Ayn Rand paranoia on the left is staggering. There are at least a dozen more influential philosophers and economists on the right than Rand, though she is unquestionably among the canonized thinkers for libertarians. As Robert Tracinski lays out in a wonderful piece, the one enduring lesson the left could learn from Ayn Rand is that “there are no evil thoughts except one: the refusal to think.” Rather than do the hard work of reading Hayek or Schumpeter, or even bother much to think, critics of free market economics lazily single out Rand as our one true prophet because she is easier to demagogue and her arguments easier to caricature. But I think the fundamental explanation for the left’s passionate assault on anything to do with free market economics or deregulation has to do with the libertarian moment coming directly on the heels of what was supposed to be the great progressive resurgence of 2008.

We are the ones we have been waiting for” was only six years ago but it feels a generation ago now. For all the starry-eyed millennials and social justice warriors and would-be authoritarians in cloistered academia, the rapid erosion of Hope and Change is surreal and responsible for massive whiplash. Beaten and bloodied and staring the demise of their movement in the face, progressives are behaving as any cornered animal would, by lashing out. “The Liberal Hour,” as the WSJ editorial page characterized the national mood in April of 2009, is no more. All that remains is an embittered hostility to actual, observable change.

 

Process Matters

I agree with Jonah Goldberg’s sentiment that the Senate will function better once we “have more partisanship about ideas and less about process.” His point is that Democrats under Harry Reid’s stewardship have been so eager to protect vulnerable members from taking tough votes that they have argued entirely over process rather than ideas.

This is undeniably true, as the Wall Street Journal chronicles today in its lead editorial:

“[Democratic Senators] have also been handmaidens to Harry Reid , the Majority Leader who has devoted the last four years to protecting Mr. Obama while turning the Senate into the world’s least deliberative body. Next Tuesday’s vote is above all a referendum on whether the Senate will spend two more years in this Obama-Reid dead zone.”

[…]

“In the media’s telling, gridlock in Washington is due to tea party pressure on House Republicans to resist Mr. Obama’s agenda. There is some of that, reflecting different views of government. But at least the House debates and votes in plain sight. Mr. Reid won’t allow the normal give and take of democratic voting and accountability that is the reason to have a legislature.

The Reid shutdown runs even to the core legislative function of funding the government. The House has passed seven of 12 annual appropriations bills, most with big bipartisan majorities. Chairman Barbara Mikulski has passed eight of the 12 out of her Senate Appropriations Committee, and Republicans wanted to debate. Mr. Reid blocked a floor vote on every one.”

[…]

“Wyoming Republican John Barrasso kept a running tally of Mr. Reid’s amendment blockade through July. In the previous 12 months Senators introduced 1,952 amendments—1,105 from Republicans and 847 from Democrats. Mr. Reid blocked all but 19.

Legislation? Mr. Reid has blocked at least 10 bills sent to him by the House that passed with notable bipartisan support. Some 35 House Democrats voted with Republicans to delay ObamaCare’s employer mandate; 46 Democrats voted to expedite the approval of liquefied natural gas exports; 130 Democrats voted for patent-reform legislation; 158 Democrats voted to expand access to charter schools; and 183 Democrats voted (in a bill that passed 406-1) to exempt certain veterans from the ObamaCare employer mandate. Mr. Reid’s response: No debate, no vote.”

Progressives have largely made peace with the fact that they are now an “ends justify the means” party and as a result have formally abandoned any respect for process. And yet process is their great weapon of the moment, used to protect Democrats from an unpopular agenda by freeing them from accountability and blaming gridlock on Republicans for “obstruction” (yes, Huffington Post created its very own “Senate Obstruction” tag). It is a grand illusion of activity meant to hide the fact that substantive debate is not happening. And so I agree with Goldberg that escaping the procedural bog in order to emphasize meaningful policy debate is the way forward out of the wretched Reid Senate.

The problem is that, in our system of government, process is still extremely important. The fact that Harry Reid and Democrats (and especially the national media which has been criminally silent on this for the most part) have decided to openly ignore process and not allow debate or roll call votes is a national scandal. Or at least it should be. Instead, the progressive bubble has convinced itself that the shutdown was the great sin against good government, not Reid’s blatant destruction of Senate tradition. The shutdown was a non-event of course. Federal workers got paid throughout (because of course they did) and the government actually went out of its way to make the shutdown feel worse than it was by closing off public viewpoints to Mt. Rushmore, harassing tourists at Yellowstone and ringing the WWII memorial with barricades on the national mall.

The worst in a string of many abuses of process by Democrats occurred last year when the “nuclear option” suddenly became the left’s cri de coeur. Upset over the president’s cascading failures and in a panic over the looming fortunes of both Obamacare and their upper chamber majority, Senate Democrats concluded that their best course was to nuke the filibuster for judicial nominees in order to pack the D.C. Circuit Court, a move that proved prescient when the Halbig ruling was granted an en banc hearing with the full appeals court, including the hastily confirmed additional Democratic appointees. Despite warnings about setting dangerous precedents from some principled liberals, most progressives supported invoking the nuclear option, and with fervor. Whatever future headaches would emerge as a result of the radical maneuver were worth the short term satisfaction of inserting partisan judges on the D.C. Circuit. The ends justify the means. 

Republicans threatened but never actually went through with nuclear option in 2005. Every prominent Democratic senator that year (Harry Reid, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer) took to the floor to rail against the unprecedented assault on the most precious feature of our republic: the protection of minority interests.

That argument carried the day and Republicans backed off the threat.

Would that things have played out the same way last year, but alas. Reid went through with it and changed the Senate for the worse, perhaps irrevocably. McConnell should restore the 60 vote filibuster for nominees when Republicans win the Senate, even though the precedent set by Reid opening Pandora’s Box says that Republicans could use it to their advantage. I hope they don’t. Because if we don’t put the genie back in the bottle, very soon we will have legislation passing in the Senate on bare majorities, making the upper chamber unmistakable from the lower one, giving us true democracy (aka “mob rule”) which is not the system we’re supposed to have. It is the preferred system of progressives, because they imagine it is their destiny to be the permanent majority and need not worry about quaint notions like minority protections. But in such a system, 51% of the population can always dictate how the other 49% lives, and rights transform from being innate, inherent and inviolable to being merely transient and defined by the majority.

In a republic with a healthy respect for minority concerns, no majority can vote away the 1st amendment (though Reid and the Democrats even tried to do that this year!) on a whim. The Reid Senate legacy has put that at risk.

A return to regular order, appropriations bills passed out of committees, and a free and open invitation for all to introduce amendments and allow for transparent dialogue and voting on policy will signal to the American people that the “world’s greatest deliberative body” is working to restore its reputation. By returning to process, the important debates over ideas may reconvene.

A Republican Senate will seem a veritable fount of creativity and ideas compared to that which we have suffered through since 2006. Pick your issue, Republican Senators will have an idea; from healthcare to tax reform, energy to deregulation, the upper chamber will be a cacophony of conservative arguments and proposals, and it will be interesting to see progressive reaction to it all. Already, in anticipation of being routed, leftists like Michael Tomasky are crying crocodile tears and asking “How Can Dems Be Losing to These Idiots?” As he tells it, it’s not Reid and the Democrats who have forsaken ideas for a trivial and pathetic process approach designed to conceal their true motives, but Republicans who can’t muster anything new:

“I mean it is truly admirable, in its perverse way, how anti-idea this party is. It has no economic plans. Did you see this Times article last week called “Economists See Limited Gains in G.O.P. Plan”? I trust that you understand the world of newspaper euphemism enough to know that “limited gains” basically means “jack shit.” It’s all tax cuts and fracking and the wildly overhyped (in jobs terms (PDF)) Keystone pipeline.

Republicans know the truth about these proposals deep down, or I think most do (I suppose some actually are that dumb). But they keep peddling them like a costermonger selling rotten fruit. Why? At least in part because they also know deep down that things like an infrastructure bank are what will really create jobs. I mean, it’s the very definition of creating jobs. But they can’t be for that, because it would be a vote for Obama, and Party Chairman Limbaugh would call them mean names.”

I encourage Tomasky to look up the word “projection.” Progressives of his ilk are so contemptuous of “the other team” that they are incapable of self-analysis. The mind-numbing banality of his assertion that an infrastructure bank is necessary to create jobs is of a piece with Hillary Clinton’s recent rhetorical majesty, where she claimed almost matter-of-factly that “corporations and businesses don’t create jobs.” Progressive principles, such as they are, exist as reactions to actual grounded principle on the right. And it’s the left’s allergy to capitalism that leads it to make such asinine statements as “you didn’t build that” and “you built a factory out there – good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on roads the rest of us paid for,” which in turn explains progressive insistence that the right lacks an economic agenda: when you’re utterly incompetent and ignorant of economics and how the market works, it makes sense that you’d view deregulatory and free market-informed proposals with suspicion and confusion. And that’s how you get Michael Tomasky calling the GOP an “anti-idea party.”

We desperately need an honest conversation about ideas, but just as Warren Harding promised a “return to normalcy” after the disastrous Wilson presidency, Republicans need to promise a return to proper process following the apocalyptic fail of the Reid Senate, which will allow the more pressing arguments over ideas to commence again.

Parallels in Propaganda

Vladimir Putin gave a rambling press conference today in which he insisted that Russian troops were in fact not occupying the Crimean region of Ukraine. Russian state-controlled media has bombarded Russians with accounts of Nazis and fascists on the march, while purportedly “independent” Kremlin-funded outlet RT blanketed its airwaves with the hilarious narrative that any military mobilization in Ukraine was expressly to do with protecting ethnic Russians.

Of course all of this is untrue.

There is a delicious and spectacular irony to the Obama administration’s exasperation at all this Russian deception. It is almost as if they are experiencing their karmic comeuppance for all the lies and propaganda they spew on the domestic front. Speaking from Kiev today, John Kerry was literally dumbfounded when told of Putin’s claim that the Russians hadn’t actually invaded Crimea. President Obama must feel betrayed after his 90 minute talk with Vlad turned out to be a bunch of misdirection and empty promising; imagine our president’s dismay at seeing the footage of Russian helicopters breaching sovereign borders after being assured by the Russian leader over the phone that no such thing, under any circumstances, would occur. Mr. Burns exhibited less naivete about foreign despots when he allowed Fidel to glimpse the trillion dollar bill.

Julia Ioffe, The New Republic’s resident Russia expert describes the bubble Putin lives in:

For the last few years, it has become something like conventional knowledge in Moscow journalistic circles that Putin was no longer getting good information, that he was surrounded by yes-men who created for him a parallel informational universe.”They’re beginning to believe their own propaganda,” Gleb Pavlovsky told me when I was in Moscow in December. Pavlovsky had been a close advisor to the early Putin, helping him win his first presidential election in 2000. (When, in 2011, Putin decided to return for a third term as president, Pavlovsky declared the old Putin dead.) And still, it wasn’t fully vetted information. We were like astronomers, studying refractions of light that reached us from great distances, and used them to draw our conclusion.

Sound familiar? To what other politician or ideology can we ascribe a fondness for propaganda? To the man who said “you know, I actually believe my own bullshit” perhaps? To the political party obsessed with constantly portraying their opposition as culturally backward, intolerant, sexist and racist? Whether the culprit is President Obama or the wider progressive movement, the inescapable fact of 21st century American politics is that the left’s coalition accepts the powerful utility of propaganda and deploys it mercilessly. The Obamacare Deception has been well documented to the point where it is now wholly uncontroversial to cite Obama’s “lie of the year” or mock the incessant failed promises that accompanied the law’s sales pitch. And yet the administration clings to the same false and meaningless explanations and technicalities regarding the “if you like your ______ , you can keep your ______” lie, and continues to maintain sites offering helpful FAQ answers to the pervasive “myths” surrounding the law. Leftist hacks, media, and the administration have all thrown fits of late whenever the CBO has trashed their claims and destroyed their propaganda. On the consequences of raising the minimum wage, on the effect the ACA will have on the labor market, on the real unemployment environment, on the Benghazi talking points distortions, and on the apparent scourge of all things democracy known as the Koch Bros, the left’s propaganda is currently suffering through its first prolonged expose. Yes, the internet and the proliferation of 24/7 news is a major factor in checking the left’s monopoly on disseminating information. But the larger reason for the weakened posture of the left’s Ministry of Information is reality. The truth usually does win out, and no matter how sophisticated the scheme, operations based on propaganda and lies usually fail.

Which is why the clash of two epic champions is so exciting. Who is going to out-deceive the other? Who is better at keeping a straight face while telling outrageously tall tales? Will the Russians under Putin prevail with their stories of fascists arriving in Crimea from Western Ukraine (even though the bus’ license plate is Crimean and the thugs were Russian plants)? Or will American progressives win the prize for Harry Reid’s suggestion that “all” Obamacare horror stories “are untrue“? Sadly, even Stephen Colbert has received his marching orders and, being the good little progressive mouthpiece he is, has answered Reid’s bat signal.

Ultimately there can be no winner in a battle of shameless propagandists, particularly when the scale of the campaigns are so different. For the Obama administration and the left, their “messaging” is intended solely for a domestic audience. They couldn’t care less what the rest of the world thinks; as long as they’re winning the propaganda war at home, the progressive cause is secure. For the Kremlin, Russian propaganda fights a two-front war, at home and abroad. They must convince their Russian citizens that intervention in Ukraine is a noble endeavor to protect ethnic Russians longing for the motherland, and at the same time tell the world that they haven’t actually done anything and that it’s all the fascists’ fault.

The result of juxtaposing these two great propaganda powers is somewhat counter-intuitive: one would assume that the country with the state-controlled media and the censorship would be better at hiding its duplicitous deeds, yet the world and the Russian people alike are clear-eyed about the corruption of their government and seem reflexively allergic to trusting much of what Putin says. Meanwhile, the country that prides itself on a free press – a press meant to antagonize and check its government in order to foster accountability in its representatives – has evidently stopped caring very much about the role of the fourth estate in extracting truth from government. Instead, most American media are increasingly political and aligned with progressivism, and have concluded that occupational integrity is subordinate to political gain. Most of our media are part of the cause, and if a little lying is necessary in furtherance of the cause, meh.

Nonetheless, truth does win out, even against rigged games and long odds. Propaganda cannot win in an information era like the one in which we are now living. It can be harder to identify and to quash, as the cacophony of voices and opinions can sometimes be as unintelligible as it is noisy, but ultimately propaganda is going to be exposed for what it is. Vladimir Putin is currently testing the boundaries of the alternate universe he has crafted for he and his cronies, whereas progressives and the Obama administration are rapidly discovering that their fantasy version of America is being rejected by those not susceptible to fairy tales and witless propaganda. And they did not anticipate that there would be so many…

I am somewhat sympathetic to the toxic clouds of frustration billowing out of the White House, Pentagon and State Department this week. No doubt, it must be infuriating to listen to a strong man ruler of a kleptocratic petro-oligarchy talk in circles to the global community. It must be exhausting to witness a country fabricate out of whole cloth and in plain view of the international community a false motive for invading a sovereign neighbor. And it must be excruciating to have to deal with a world leader who consistently over-promises and under-delivers. And yet all one can ask of Obama and the progressives is “how does it taste?”

In Vladimir Putin and all the lies that come with him,  it is simply a taste of their own medicine. Liars meeting their match by way of confrontation with other, better liars. Considering the political and ideological forbears for all concerned though, should we be at all surprised that the radical left and the ex-KGB elements in the U.S. and Russia deploy similar tactics in messaging?

#Benghazi

We have been living through a committed attempt at progressive revival the past seven years, and key to the project is an emphasis on “transforming” the domestic foundations of the country rather than those related to foreign policy. Progressivism depends on control of a robust state apparatus with which they mean to shape society into something more just and equitable. Once the business of remaking America at home is done, the focus can turn to exporting their enlightened awesomeness abroad. The only obstacle standing in their way is the persistent and inconvenient truth that their ideas just don’t work.

When confronted with failure, progressives always obfuscate and deny their transgressions, because the only thing worse than a failed progressive experiment is acknowledgment of failure. Once you admit failure to the masses you’re trying to control, the jig is up, as who is going to sign onto enlightened rule by expert knowledge if the experts don’t know what they’re doing? The reality of every collectivist enterprise is a citizenry at the mercy of the powerful. In order to maintain the illusion that the people are served by these benevolent masters, the powerful must claim infallibility. More important, skepticism must be quashed, as the crucial element of any statist regime is information control. In the end it is all about coercion.

This is how a major foreign policy disaster is covered up. While critics and skeptics were met with either indifference or derisive mockery, the administration was busy putting the clamps down on all information so as to avoid any damning leaks that could contradict their fabrication.

Like the progressives, I prefer to talk about domestic issues over foreign policy because no matter how dangerous or precarious American interests look overseas, nothing compares to the urgency of our domestic situation. Particularly on economics and the physical makeup of our federal government, domestic issues dominate kitchen table discussions in liberal and conservative homes alike, and for good reason. And while I understand clearly the importance of the Benghazi incident, it’s hard for me to muster as much outrage or expend as much mental energy on it as many conservatives have, simply because I believe Obamacare, the NSA and the IRS stories carry larger weight. Still, Benghazi was undoubtedly a tragedy and, we now know, undoubtedly a terrorist attack. What infuriates the average American is not that the Obama administration failed to prevent a coordinated jihadist attack on an American outpost, but that they lied about it for a month in order to cover for their election campaign narrative that “bin Laden is dead and al Queda is on the run.”

Even more infuriating is the mocking and dismissive tone among leftwing pundits regarding conservative questions about what happened in Benghazi. It is now fashionable to make fun of “#Benghazi” and to paint anyone with a hint of curiosity about the subject as a desperate lunatic. The most galling thing about all this is the willingness of leftists to dutifully believe everything about the administration’s account of the tragedy. Contrast most of the national media’s reluctance to assign blame to any principal in the Benghazi matter with the way it covered the Chris Christie scandal. It is perfectly acceptable to just know that Christie knew about the retributive lane closures, whereas it is a crime against decency to suspect that someone in the administration concocted a false narrative about Benghazi because of presidential campaign considerations. And since Obama’s strategy of stonewalling has worked so well, unanswered questions and lingering suspicions are dismissed by progressives as remnants of an outdated story stuck in an infinite loop inside the conservative echo chamber.

It is bad enough that the administration lied about the circumstances that saw the U.S. lose its first foreign ambassador to violence in over thirty years. Knowing how progressives operate, especially those within the Obama White House, it is wholly unsurprising that the likes of Valerie Jarrett and Ben Rhodes would put politics and campaign messaging over the truth. By extension, the same goes for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton (and Chris Christie). What is so painfully dispiriting is the way their cheerleaders and cult followers played such a complimentary role in the administration’s efforts at brushing the whole thing under the rug. It was not enough to distort the facts or glom onto a fanciful story about a youtube video being the culprit. It was equally important to disqualify conservatives who objected to the official account so that their objections could be dismissed at the outset. Make them sound so crazy and out-of-touch for clinging onto a “conspiracy theory” about an “old” story and the public will assume there is nothing to see here and move on. And it has totally worked.

Is Anyone Embarrassed?

To Vizzini’s list of well-known classic blunders that one should avoid at all costs, I would add a third: in addition to avoiding involvement in Asian land wars and shunning confrontation with Sicilians when death is on the line, a third classic blunder is the modern citizen’s expectation of a balanced, rational and sane media in a culture infected to its core by cushy elite liberalism.

L’affaire voie fermature and the obsessive coverage of Chris Christie is the latest instance media hypocrisy and lack of self-awareness. It is a full on orgy of projection, speculation and righteous condemnation, which would be fine if all scandals were given similar shrift. What makes the Christie spectacle in the media so obscene is the denial that anything unseemly is going on. In fact, progressive media henchmen have noticed the critique and are ridiculously calling out conservatives for having the audacity to call them out for participating in such despicably slanted reporting. Here’s Joan Walsh and Brian Beutler at Salon attempting to shape reality to their own stunted worldview. Debbie Wasserman Schultz insisted that the Christie scandal is far worse than something like the IRS, NSA or AP phone-tapping scandals that discredited Obama’s credibility with the public and would have threatened his Presidency had the media adopted an iota of curiosity or skepticism of the administration’s accounts. John Podhoretz helpfully explains the disparity in media scrutiny of Obama’s abuses of power and those committed by a prestigious Republican with eyes on the White House. And here’s an LA Times hack scoffing that conservatives doth protest too much. The facts are that Bridgeghazi received seventeen times more coverage in 24 hours than the IRS targeting of the Tea Party got in six months. GOP members in the House have played the role of investigative journalists while actual journalists have ignored the obvious leads and inquiries lest they discover a trail leading to the administration. And there are scant few honest progressives uncomfortable with such a tilted media landscape because, after all, progressives want just such a tilted landscape.

The question that keeps nagging at me though is this: Is anyone embarrassed? Particularly among liberals and progressives, is there no one with a conscience or sense of propriety that is just a little bit embarrassed by the cavalcade of elite media obsession with this story?  It clearly is a story; one deserving of investigation and thorough coverage, but to this degree? When Meet the Press devotes its first 33 minutes of airtime to a single story, it is usually either a war or a major scandal involving someone in the federal government. This is a local scandal involving a prominent rising figure in national GOP politics, but still a local scandal. The IRS targeting scandal affected millions of Americans across the country. That is a national scandal, but mainstream media analysis neglected to treat IRS conduct as devious and instead concentrated on absolving the White House of any culpability. That same “nothing to see here” and “no smoking gun, time to move on” attitude was never an option in the Christie case. This was a chance to “clear the deck,” to wipe a formidable potential opponent from the game board three years out from the next election. Jonah Goldberg nailed it with his observation that our culturally and politically homogeneous media are defined less by progressive principles and values and more by trite partisanship. The disparity in coverage of Obama’s scandals and the Christie story is simple: Obama is their guy, and Christie could easily become an obstacle to their girl, thus if/when an opportunity arises, it’s ready, fire, aim. It’s entirely political and entirely partisan. Few liberals in America worry about the unethical use of government power; they just care that a Republican come under fire for it and that his reputation be eviscerated. There was never going to be the same hunger to get to the bottom of any abuses of power coming from Saint Obama.

Just once, it would be wonderful to hear a progressive journalist or blogger express exasperation at his colleagues’ double standards and call them out as the hypocrites they are. The only one who comes to mind is Glenn Greenwald, a noble progressive who respects libertarian philosophy and the conservative critique of government because he himself is suspicious of concentrated government power. The most important development this country can experience in the near-future is a widespread reckoning by progressives that activist government is an enemy to liberty and that those wishing to expand government’s reach should be met with skepticism (if not outright cynicism). Until then, do not expect a media comprised of east coast liberals and power-worshiping sycophants from elite Ivy League schools to behave anything like a neutral watchdog press, and don’t get bent out of shape when its adversarial relationship with the powerful only applies to the evil bastards on the other team.

Some double-standards are perennial, and they’re not going away. It would just be nice if those guilty of hypocrisy would feel a little embarrassed by it.