Category Archives: United States

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War on Terror Unites Trump and the Establishment

It’s conventional wisdom that Washington, DC is a city marked by gridlock. Republicans obstructed President Obama’s agenda on principle, as Democrats are attempting to do now with Donald Trump. To give even an inch is a sign of political weakness. Trump is, admittedly, a polarizing figure, and there is certainly plenty of dissent in today’s political environment on a host of issues. The War on Terror, though, continues the same trajectory it’s been on for the better part of this century. President Trump, like President Obama before him, has mainstream support for his terror policies and approach to the conflicts in the Middle East.

The incredibly hawkish nature of the Obama administration’s foreign policy legacy has been well documented, and Trump is picking up right where he left off. He launched his first drone strike within days of being sworn in as president. There are reports that Trump is giving authority for these strikes over to the CIA and will tolerate more loss of civilian life – essentially giving the reins of an already non-transparent lethal program over to a group of people who lie for a living. And, of course, there is the infamous botched raid in Yemen by American Special Forces which took the life, among others, of a Navy Seal and an eight year-old American girl on January 29th.

Continue reading at Antiwar.com.

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Obama Spent Millions Fighting FOIL And It Will Probably Get Worse

This is Sunshine Week, the week where we celebrate government transparency and our “right to know.” But over the last eight years the clouds have crept in, and they’re showing no sign of going anywhere.

Former President Barack Obama failed to deliver on his campaign promise of being the “most transparent administration” ever, and ran up a bill in doing so.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the Obama administration spent a record $36.2 million in its final year on legal costs related to refusals to turn over federal documents under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). Not only is that fiscally absurd, it’s also a slap in the face to those who actually believed Obama would follow through on his transparency promises.

On top of running up the legal fees, the Obama administration also set a record for the number of denied FOIL requests. The administration also told journalists and citizens it couldn’t find the requested documents more times in 2016 than ever before.

Sadly, there’s little indication that  this will improve under President Donald Trump’s administration.
Continue reading at The Daily Caller.
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The Errors of the New York Times In Executive Editor Dean Baquet’s Own Words

The resounding message of  South by Southwest’s (SXSW) New York Times Panel was that the journalism landscape is changing rapidly: it’s more crucial than ever that journalists be an unrelenting force against executive abuse of power, but confidence in longstanding news organizations is declining alarmingly fast.

On the first Sunday of the conference, media columnist Jim Rutenberg interviewed Executive Editor Dean Baquet on the main stage. Their answers lamented that the days of print journalism have been gone for a while, but focused on how that change doesn’t necessarily spell a dismal future. Baquet noted that Times digital subscriptions had drastically increased over the course of the 2016 presidential election––a clear signal that casual readers understood the heightened importance of media watchdogs as the election drew to a close. Information is still desired, albeit in different ways.

The real substance of the panel, though, was when Baquet focused on his own error and the error of his many reporters in predicting the presidential election’s outcome and doing due diligence in their coverage. When an audience member asked the timely question of how the media failed to predict these election outcomes, Baquet was humble and clear: the “New York bubble” certainly contributed to it––a secular, cosmopolitan outlook that sometimes undervalues the degree to which religiosity runs rampant in the rest of America––as well as a misreading of the amount of anger in the American electorate (and how that anger would be expressed at the polls).

He talked about how access to news and journalism jobs has exploded in the past few years, and about how plentiful jobs for good journalists are “the best thing for journalism.” But this explosion of access makes it so plenty of articles are circulated––many of which spread misinformation, skewed and irresponsible accounts, or blatant lies.

In a sense, Trump was “clarifying for the mission” of the New York Times. Baquet explained, “We owned the world through the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s,” but after that, traditional news outlets lost their sense of place. While covering Trump, the Times were the first to break stories on the candidate’s treatment of women, his tax returns (and lack of public release), and his debt. As things progressed, it became increasingly clear that the press needed to remain a force that holds those in power accountable.

That’s hard to do as public skepticism rises and those in the administration levy accusations at newspapers of record. It’s a challenge Baquet is going to have to deal with––and quickly. But I think fake news is an overblown worry given that the vast majority of intelligent consumers don’t have a problem discerning what’s real from what’s fake or horribly biased. The real issue has to do with liberal bias: Baquet talked about their “Clinton Win Predictor” as indicative of a blind spot––something that inaccurately computed Clinton’s electoral odds and, by extension, the anger of much of voting America.

I wish that he’d talked about the Clinton win predictor as symptomatic of liberal bias and evaluated the intellectual diversity of his newsroom. For the right and center, there’s a common belief that the news is dominated by people and companies with left-wing tilts. There are certainly sources like National Review and Reason, but the majority of the most reputable organizations––New York Times, Washington Post, The Atlantic, Los Angeles Times––have a slight left bias. This is bad, but dishonesty about it is even worse.

Baquet needed to recognize the degree to which many of his reporters––and those in the journalism industry on the whole––lean left, making it difficult to accurately interpret how right-leaning audiences will think and act. In post-election analysis, many reporters have fixated on how difficult it is to predict how white working class Americans in the heartland will vote. The real issue, though, is that minimal effort is made by most left-leaning journalists to understand the fundamental values that guide conservative mindsets as compared to the fundamental values that guide liberal mindsets. As Arthur Brooks writes, “Many Americans feel caught between two dispiriting political choices: ineffective compassion on one hand and heartless pragmatism on the other.”

This is one of the most crucial American divides and one that informs the way we think, act, speak, and vote. Until this mentality is better understood by journalists, we’re going to have a difficult time accurately predicting the preferences of Americans. Let’s hope this issue begins to get as much airtime as fake news.

Liz Wolfe is Young Voices’ managing editor.

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Introducing Young Voices’ New Staff

It’s been a busy month for Young Voices. First, we gave a lecture to 50+ young libertarian writers at the International Students For Liberty Conference (check out SFL’s recording from Facebook Live). The very next weekend, our writers took the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) by storm, with Advocate Natalie Le featured in Teen Vogue and executive director Casey Given quoted in Vice on the alt-right.

Now, we’re getting ready to onboard three new hires for Young Voices at the end of the month. Our expanded team presents an unprecedented opportunity for Young Voices to identify more rising stars in the liberty network and empower them with the media training needed to get their bright ideas out in the public.

Introducing Young Voices’ new staff:

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 3.37.06 PMLiz Wolfe graduated from the College of William and Mary in 2016 after taking breaks from school to live and work in D.C., Chile, and Mexico. As a Young Voices Advocate for over one year, her writing has been published in Bustle, Reason, Truthout, FEE, and the Richmond Times-Dispatch on a myriad of topics (most of them related to criminal justice). As Young Voices’ new Managing Editor, Liz will be Young Voices’ primary programs officer, editing and pitching our Advocates’ commentary to media outlets around the world. When she’s not writing and editing, she’s rock climbing at her local bouldering gym and eating tacos at home in Austin, Texas. Liz is already on her first assignment for Young Voices, covering South by Southwest. You can follow her on Twitter at @lizzywol.

headshot2Lucy Steigerwald is a writer whose work has appeared in publications such as Playboy, Reason, The American Conservative, Vice, the Daily Beast, and the Washington Post. Previously, she worked as an associate editor for Reason Magazine, as a freelance editor for the New York Observer, and is currently a contributing editor at Antiwar.com. As Young Voices’ new Assistant Editor, Lucy will be focusing on mentoring our young writers as well as contributing her own pieces. Steigerwald graduated from Chatham University, and takes the occasional photograph. She’s angry about war and prisons. You can follow her on Twitter at @LucyStag.

Headshot for YVStephen Kent is a graduate of political science from UNC-Greensboro. After college, he was a Field Director for Generation Opportunity in Raleigh, North Carolina and went on to serve as deputy press secretary and then digital strategist for the national millennial-focused organization. As Young Voices’ new Public Relations Manager, Stephen will be focusing on getting our Advocates onto radio and TV as well as managing our web presence. Stephen is passionate about millennial politics, criminal justice reform and consensus building in an increasingly polarized world. When he is not working or podcasting about Star Wars, Stephen loves long hikes with his wife and young daughter. You can follow him on Twitter at @Stephen_Kent89.

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Commercialism in Music Is Totally Justified

Commenting on the events of the Academy Awards last month, Amanda Petrusich writes in The New Yorker an ambiguous column about the commercial phenomenon and success of Justin Timberlake. Timberlake opened the ceremony with a performance of “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” from the animated movie Trolls. Petrusich runs through the highlights of Timberlake’s career and observes that “[t]hese days, we have mostly divested ourselves of any notion that art and profit are inherently at odds, or that work made in service of consumerism is fundamentally compromised….Timberlake might be, at present, our most expressly and unapologetically commercial artist.”

The notion that art and profit are inherently incompatible is inconsistent with the historical record, and this is exactly why Timberlake is as omnipresent in the entertainment industry as he is. He consistently delivers a product that consumers enjoy and are willing to buy.

Artistic Value

According to Petrusich, Timberlake’s career has been shaped by corporate and commercial designs. He began his career with “The Mickey Mouse Club” and then joined the band N’Sync, a group “designed primarily to make money.” He recorded a jingle that was widely used by McDonald’s for advertising in the early 2000s. He has also “had a fashion line, a record label, restaurants, a golf course, and a minority stake in the Memphis Grizzlies; he cheerfully endorses many products, including a fragrance, a car, and Sony electronics. In 2012, he hosted a corporate meeting for Walmart shareholders.” All the while, his solo albums have sold almost 30 million records worldwide.

The amalgamation of Timberlake’s talent, public persona, and commercial presence has turned out to be a winning combo for him. Much like the corporations and businesses he has acted as spokesperson for, his products create value for listeners (and moviegoers), which is why they are willing to depart with their earned income to purchase them.

Continue reading at FEE.