All posts by Alex Grass

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The Gulag Aperture: Hollywood Becomes Handmaiden To China’s Communist Party

On New Year’s Day, China Central Television (CCTV) unveiled its newest “soft power” entertainment media venture, whose purpose is to extend China’s global media influence. Chinese President Xi Jinping said that the overriding directive of this new collection of television stations and news agencies will be to “follow the party line and promote ‘positive propaganda as the main theme.’”

The CCTV announcement compounds the growing risk that increased Chinese investment will entice Hollywood into volunteering itself as a propaganda division of the Communist Party of China (CPC). And if these trends continue, the Western world’s outlet for Chinese dissenters will be closed.

China’s film industry has in recent years grown approximately 34% annually and generated $6.8 billion in 2015. While many applaud the very modest political reforms that sometimes complement China’s market liberalization, one should be wary of the country’s iron grip on its entertainment industry.

China’s industry players are inextricably bound to the CPC, as evidenced by the ascent of Wang Jianlin, China’s richest man. Jianlin’s successes are a product of quid pro quo arrangements between himself and the CPC’s top officials. Further, Jianlin is a delegate to the CPC congress and was a high-level advisor in China’s faux legislature from 2008 to 2013. Today, CPC delegate Jianlin can count several American awards shows, including the Golden Globes, the Billboard and American Music Awards, and even AMC Theaters as part of his recently accrued collection.

Continue reading at Forbes.

 

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Did Facebook Undermine its Anti-Fake-News Narrative by Enlisting Uber-Partisan David Brock?

After Hillary Clinton’s surprising fall from grace, longtime Clinton loyalist David Brock staged a Democratic Party revival pitch-session in Florida over inauguration weekend. Within a week, the Washington Free Beacon published a copy of a “briefing book” from the Florida retreat, revealing Brock’s claim that his progressive non-profit outlet, Media Matters, was “engaging with Facebook leadership” to offer a solution to the purported fake news epidemic.

If Brock’s boast is true, then it presents a serious problem.

A man with a suspect ethical worldview, Brock has an undeniable knack for “saturating the airwaves” with spin and an equally undeniable handicap when it comes to being politically neutral. He is so virulently partisan that he quit the board of his own government watchdog, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, when Bush-administration ethics lawyer Richard Painter joined.

Simply put, if it’s true that Facebook went to Media Matters to find the antidote for fake news, then it shows that Mark Zuckerberg either doesn’t care that David Brock is an unabashedly biased Democratic operative, doesn’t care that he has admitted to disseminating misinformation, or both.

Continue reading at Townhall.

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Dispelling 3 Myths Swirling Around the Sally Yates Controversy

Acting Attorney General Sally Yates did a very smart thing … for her career. In her refusal to enforce President Trump’s immigration ban against a number of dangerous countries—Iran, Sudan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Somalia—Yates has rocketed into the progressive political exosphere.

She may hope to someday become Senator Yates.

A number of misconceptions have been swirling around Yates’ controversial memorandum, and President Trump’s subsequent decision to fire her and add Dana J. Boente as the new acting attorney general. Here are a few brief arguments dispelling those mythic notions.

The first myth is that somehow, this Obama appointee has suddenly grown to love our system of checks and balances.

Quite aside from the question of the Trump immigration order’s lawfulness, Yates’ concern is “whether any policy choice embodied in the Executive Order is wise or just.” But it’s neither the duty nor the prerogative of the president’s agents to choose not to enforce a policy based on the wisdom or justness of that policy.

Her insubordination is a revival-in-miniature of the Obama administration’s assault on the separation of powers. Simply put, this is “an act of sabotage” intended to make governance more difficult for the Trump administration, with the added bonus that Yates gets to genuflect in an act of progressive piety. The idea that Yates, an attorney appointed to the Obama Department of Justice, is concerned about presidential overreach is, to be generous, risible.

 Continue reading at Townhall.
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The Case against the American Bar Association

On Friday, January 6, the for-profit Charlotte Law School announced it will remain open despite the Department of Education’s decision to withhold the school’s access to student loans. The crackdown follows the American Bar Association’s (ABA) decision to similarly clamp down on law schools with low bar passage rates.

There’s plenty of bad things to say about law schools that overcharge students, especially the poorly qualified sort who have a meager chance of getting a good enough legal job to pay back their student loans. With the second-highest tuition in North Carolina, Charlotte Law is certainly the overcharging type. Yet most people don’t consider that the real cause for exorbitant tuition and poor outcomes for law students is both the mandatory bar exam and the ABA’s monopoly on legal accreditation.

At law schools, the debt problem is exacerbated by the dim employment prospects awaiting graduates. More than 10 percent of law students find themselves without a legal job following graduation, and that number seems low when one considers that it conceals poor employment outcomes and large debt loads concentrated in low-tier schools.

Continue reading at FEE.

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Obama’s Quarrel with Russia Is a Dangerous Way to Try to Delegitimize Trump

Politico recently ran a piece by Bill Scher on the 1980s miniseries Amerika, a program that depicted a Soviet puppet government installed in the US “after a sham election in which both major party candidates were Soviet stooges.” Scher’s dystopian piece compares Amerika to the election of Donald Trump, hysterically rhapsodizing about “American conservatives with a nationalist, and even authoritarian, bent like Donald Trump [who] are not unnerved by the prospect of Russian influence over the U.S. government.”

Scher’s hysterical tone conveys exactly what the highly distrusted left-media means it to, namely that Trump is an illegitimate aberration whose every move must be thwarted. The fourth estate recoils at the effectiveness of Trump’s Twitter bully pulpit, and recognizes that the formerly dominant “media gatekeepers” might soon be settling into a diminished role. Despite the fact that Obama is the one who doggedly pursued media whistleblowers, Trump’s non-cooperation with news outlets who despise him—ditching the press pool time and again—has been labeled “a dangerous precedent.”

Astute observers will recognize that the controversy about Russian meddling in the election has more in common with Wag the Doga film in which the president’s PR men fabricate a foreign policy crisis as a means of distracting from the commander-in-chief’s sex scandal, than it does with Amerika.

Of late, Barack Obama has done his damnedest to politicize the intelligence community and escalate tensions with Russia to distract from this conclusion from the Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian hacking: “DHS assesses that the types of systems Russian actors targeted or compromised were not involved in vote tallying.” The left-wing calumny that Russia changed the results of the election simply can’t be substantiated.

Continue reading at Townhall.