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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

After eight years, Obama’s Energy Secretary visits West Virginia

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Those who lived in or near the southern West Virginia and/or southwest Virginia coalfields during the peak of the coal business in the 50s and 60s know that state and local economies thrived because of the tens of thousands of people employed by mining companies and the dozens of companies that supported the industry.

Bluefield, WV’s Norfolk and Western Railway yard was always filled with coal cars, many of them full of the world’s most widely used fossil fuel, that were bound for Norfolk, VA’s port, or ready to be unloaded into trucks for delivery. The rest were empty, heading back into the coalfields to be refilled and brought back for distribution.

They remember the bustling downtown that was the financial, shopping and recreational center of the region’s coalfields, and Bluefield’s population of well over 20,000 residents during the time of peak coal. These are valued memories of the good times.

Today’s population is half that size, and the rail yard is often empty. To those who have seen first-hand the decline of the industry and its effects on local communities, the industry’s decline is a very real and painful thing.

The decline began with natural technological advances, as mechanization gradually began putting hundreds of miners out of work. Over time other forces developed, affecting the industry, including the very recent rise of cheap natural gas. Through all of that, there was always a market for coal.

But the federal government’s assault on coal through excessive environmental regulation, spurred by the hotly debated idea that burning coal pours too much carbon dioxide – a gas essential for life on Earth – into the atmosphere, is the greatest problem. President Barack Obama put this attack into high gear. However, today our air is cleaner than it’s been for 100 years, mostly through evolving technological improvements.

Cloistered away in their comfortable offices in Washington, DC, our public servants frequently have no idea what life is like for those toiling away to pay the taxes that fund their salaries. Perhaps if they got out of Washington more, they would understand the problems they create for the people they serve.

This may be the case with Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who at the invitation of Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., finally visited the state after many invitations over the eight painful years of the Obama administration. But while in the state last week, Moniz suggested there is no war on coal, arguing to the contrary that the Obama administration is working to keep coal as an important part of a low-carbon energy future. He also said that cheap natural gas prices are primarily responsible for coal’s downturn.

The absurd idea that there is no “War on Coal” today would be hilarious, if the reality wasn’t so tragic, and the suggestion that the very recent drop in natural gas prices is the principal reason for coal’s decline is simply false.

This general situation was foretold by Barack Obama back in the 2008 campaign: “So, if somebody wants to build a coal plant, they can — it’s just that it will bankrupt them, because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted,” Obama declared.

Assuming that Moniz has the capacity to recognize the misery the administration for which he works has caused for this region, or really cares about the people affected by its policies, visiting West Virginia much earlier in the administration’s tenure might have made some difference.

Hillary Clinton is on that same path. While campaigning in Ohio earlier this year, she said, “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” Trying to make that sound better, she said she favored funding to retrain those put out of work, but she didn’t say what kind of jobs and how many of them are currently waiting for trained workers.

Not long thereafter, while campaigning in West Virginia, she was asked about that comment by a tearful out-of-work coal miner, to which she responded that what she meant was that coal job losses will continue, according to the Daily Caller. See the difference?

Obama’s energy policy is like putting a square peg in a round hole. If you want to put a square peg in a round hole, take some time and think it through: You should gradually and gently reshape the square peg so it will comfortably and appropriately fit into the round hole. Obama’s method is to place the peg on top of the hole and beat it with a hammer until enough of the corners are destroyed so that the peg will go into the hole. And even then, it is a poor fit.

Just as horse-drawn wagons and carriages gave way to motorized vehicles when they came to be, coal’s role as a primary fuel would have changed as better methods evolved. Such a process would have been not only more humane and less destructive, but infinitely smarter than what has transpired.

Through the centuries humans solved life’s problems and improved their lives through applied intelligence. Somehow, they managed to do this without Barack Obama and the EPA.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The wildly outrageous costs of pharmaceutical drug production



Drug companies – “Big Pharma,” as they are called – are targets in America. Especially with Mylan’s recent EpiPen pricing issue and earlier when Turing’s odious CEO Martin Shkreli raised the price of Daraprim by more than 55 times, from $13.50 per pill to $750 per, and his smug reaction to criticism over that questionable move. There are bad guys in all areas of life, of course, and pharmaceutical companies are no exception. Perhaps these two examples are evidence of bad players at work.

Without getting into the minutiae of either of these situations – and certainly not defending either Mylan or Turing – here is some badly needed and eye-opening information about the business of producing pharmaceuticals.

Making drugs is a business, and like other manufacturers drug producers find something people need or want and produce it. Life-saving drugs, or drugs that improve our health are valuable and needed. Drug companies spend billions of dollars over many years to develop useful, needed pharmaceutical products, improve them so that they will meet or surpass the FDA’s strict standards, and once approved market them.

In June of this year, the American Action Forum released research addressing the process of producing new drugs. The process “is extraordinarily expensive and time consuming,” the article stated. “A Tufts University study found that the average cost to bring just one drug to the market is about $2.6 billion. It takes an average of 15 years from the time a drug developer first begins testing a new formula until it is approved by the FDA. Only 1 in 1,000 drug formulas will ever enter pre-clinical testing, and of those, roughly 8 percent will ultimately receive FDA approval.”

Let’s say PharmX creates 100,000 drug formulas, but only one in a thousand, or 100 of them, gets to pre-clinical testing and only eight will receive FDA approval. PharmX will have invested on average $2.6 billion in each one of the eight. The company has to sell enough of each of those eight drugs to pay for its development, and to have enough left over to finance new research and development, and some profit.

Like other inventors, drug companies patent their products, or receive an exclusivity period. A patent is issued for 20 years from the date of filing, and drug makers usually file early in the development stage to prevent other companies from moving in on their idea. If it takes an average of 15 years to get a drug through approval and to market, the pharmaceutical company has on average only five years to sell enough of the drug to recoup the $2.6 billion in development, approval and marketing costs. At the end of the patent period and/or the exclusivity period, another drug maker might make a generic form of the drug, and sell it for a lot less.

So, when you do the math for a drug with development costs of $2.6 billion, you find that if PharmX charges a dollar a dose, it will have to sell 2.6 billion doses in five years just to break even. If PharmX charges $100 a dose, it will have to sell 26 million doses in five years, just to break even. John LaMattina, senior partner at PureTech venture capital, noted that drug development “is a high-risk, expensive, and long-term endeavor.” Classic understatement.

Another aspect of this issue is when drugs made by US companies cost more at home than they do in other countries, such as Canada. It doesn’t seem right that Canadians can buy American drugs cheaper than Americans can. But what is the drug company supposed to do when the Canadian government, or another government, wants to buy millions of dollars of its product at lower than market price when it is trying to recoup billions in costs? There are likely other drugs made by other companies that treat the same disease that these governments could buy instead, so should the drug company pass up that opportunity, leave the millions of dollars on the table, and perhaps suffer financially as a result, while a competitor sells millions of dollars of its product to these countries at a below-market price?

Another obstacle to manufacturers’ ability to recoup the cost of bringing a new drug to market is that regulations imposed by other countries, perhaps to protect one of their own companies, makes the potential market for sales smaller.

And, despite the rigorous development and testing process required to gain the FDA’s approval that the drug is safe for public use, the required warnings about potential side effects and such that go on product sheets, and the fact that drugs are prescribed by patient’s doctors, drug manufacturers still get sued by patients.

Doing business in the U.S. is a real challenge, with often burdensome and unreasonable regulations and other hurdles that must be negotiated that make producing needed and wanted products and services difficult and expensive.

The more expensive drug production is, the greater the need for high prices. While we would all like lower prices for drugs and healthcare in general, we also want to continue to have companies developing new and better drugs and medical devices.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Federal welfare programs give freely and demand little




Americans, it is said, are the most generous people in the world. We give to our friends and neighbors and fellow countrymen when they need help, of course, but we also help those who live thousands of miles away in other countries.

We are quick to provide a “hand up” to Americans in need, to help them over rough spots and get them back on their feet so that they can then take care of themselves. There are those who for various reasons are unable to help themselves, and we don’t mind continuing to provide assistance for them.

The hand up is sometimes called a “safety net,” a device to save those truly in need from falling into despair. But for many the safety net has turned into a hammock, no longer a device to help out in an emergency or time of trouble, but an easy way of life for those who would rather let others provide for them than provide for themselves.

This is sometimes a matter of availing themselves of a good opportunity, while at other times it is a matter of culture: Far too many Americans have been taught through actual experience that it is not so difficult to live off the government and charitable interests.

A friend taught a class in the 80s in a junior high school whose student body had a not-so-good reputation for academic achievement. He told the story about his first six-week grading period, using a grading system that was designed to reward honest effort as much as a grasp of the subject matter to get a passing grade. Of the 37 students in his class, half failed; only a few earned decent grades.

When he asked them how they were going to survive after they grew up and were on their own, if they were unable to get a passing grade in a class designed to guarantee passing if you just made an honest effort, one of the students said: “Well, Mr. Smith, I’m going to do like my parents: be on welfare.” That career choice surprised him, and so did the agreement of many of the other students.

This situation, mirrored in towns and cities across the nation, is the result not of the “hand up” efforts of caring Americans, but of hammock-like government welfare programs, which give much but demand little.

President Lyndon Johnson declared a War on Poverty in the January 1964 State of the Union address. “This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America,” Johnson stated.

His actual stated goal was not to prop up living standards artificially through an ever-expanding welfare state, but instead to strike “at the causes, not just the consequences of poverty.” Ultimately, he wanted “not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it.” A noble goal, as so many government initiatives are, at least at first.

Twenty years ago, another president pledged to “end welfare as we know it.” On August 22, 1996, President Bill Clinton filled a campaign promise by signing welfare reform, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, into law.

This time there were new wrinkles: after two years of receiving benefits, welfare recipients would be required to work, and incentives were removed that encouraged having children out of wedlock and breaking up families to get benefits. There was also a five-year lifetime limit on total time of receiving benefits without working.

How have these programs worked out? Familyfacts.org reported in 2012, “Total federal and state welfare spending has increased more than 16-fold since 1964. Even since the 1996 welfare reform replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) with the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, spending has increased by 76 percent and by more than 20 percent since 2008.”

President Obama, the Washington Examiner reports, “took the Great Recession as an opportunity to get as many households as possible into the food stamp program, an important part of his stimulus package. One result was that the number of able-bodied adults with no children who receive food assistance doubled.”

Because the value of food stamps and welfare payments are looked at as income, the overall poverty rate has not changed much since the War on Poverty began. However, both the number of Americans on welfare and total welfare spending have soared.

The goal should be to reduce both poverty and welfare spending. Two states, Kansas and Maine, have implemented a requirement for able-bodied childless adults to work for food-stamp benefits, and the results are impressive.

In Maine, 80 percent of those affected by the requirement left the food stamp program, and in Kansas, the total of those affected dropped 75 percent very quickly, and 60 percent had work within a year, according to the Examiner.

When it was easy to stay home and collect food benefits, many were happy to do so. But when required to work, these recipients quickly got out of the hammock and went to work, abandoning government support.


People are often content to do as little as possible, but will do what they must.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Signs of a culture that is collapsing: higher education in disarray




Higher education today is a mess. Many institutions are involved in an arms race, strongly competing to attract students with scholarship and student loan money they bring with them. Institutions are building facilities that are much more fancy, thus more appealing, than ever before. New dorms, sports and fitness centers, student centers, dining facilities; the list goes on.

And the “everybody needs to go to college” craze has put thousands on campuses that don’t need a traditional college degree.

Those of us who went to college many years before this arms race began endured sparsely appointed dorms and other comparatively plain-Jane facilities, but managed to come out with a solid education. That austere environment is not good enough anymore.

A 2014 survey by the University of California Los Angeles showed that there are five times more liberal professors than conservative professors on college faculties these days. The worst aspect of this is that many of them have taken on the role of proselytizers, forsaking their duty to guide learning and maturation in their subject area in favor of indoctrinating students into the poisonous world of leftist politics, which they now refer to as “progressivism,” since “liberalism” is no longer credible.

The liberalization of the college campus has led to a disintegration of the traditional college atmosphere at many institutions, where students once were exposed to and challenged by a broad range of ideas. That healthy environment has become an intellectually stultifying atmosphere where students are afraid of their own shadows, and ideas differing from their narrow range of acceptable ideas send kids running to hide under the bed in their hotel-like dorm room.

“Trigger warnings” are expected or required to protect those who desire only peace and harmony in their environment from “unsuitable” content, and “safe zones,” where students may seek refuge from the rigors of life, are routine. Student demands played a part in these developments

The recent focus on transgenderism, and the bending-over-backward efforts to accommodate it, has produced a policy at West Virginia University, where anyone failing to use the personal pronoun preferred by each and every person who claims to be transgender is breaking a federal law on sexual discrimination, and will be treated as a lawbreaker by the university, despite that transgenderism has absolutely no grounding in science whatsoever.

Two questions arise: (1) How does someone know which of WVU’s 29,000 students claims to be transgender, and (2) in the event they actually are able to discern this, how are they supposed to know which of the 30 different pronouns approved by WVU applies to which person?

“According to one study of the 2010 census,” notes breibart.com, “the population of transgender people amounts to one in every 2,400 Americans, or 0.03 percent of the adult population.” Another question: How few people are too few to propel the politically correct into action, spawning another uproar over some thought or action that has virtually no affect?

Back in the 60s and 70s a long and often-troubled struggle to desegregate schools and put black and white students in the same learning environment reached its peak. Forty years later, some want to reverse that. Everything old is new again.

Columnist and professor Walter Williams writes, “Hampshire College will offer some of its students what the school euphemistically calls ‘identity-based housing.’ That’s segregated housing for students who — because of their race, culture, gender or sexual orientation — have ‘historically experienced oppression.’” This idea extends to racially segregated classes where students will feel better when surrounded by those just like them.

In his column titled “College Campus Lunacy,” Williams supports that title by listing some course titles that if completed successfully confer college credit on students: “Philosophy and Star Trek,” “Demystifying the Hipster,” “Recreational Tree Climbing,” and “Kayne vs. Everybody.” Such courses, he said, are the work of faculty, to whom college presidents and trustees have apparently surrendered the running of those institutions.

Now, however, an institution of higher education has decided that it’s time to call a halt to political correctness. University of Chicago Dean of Students John Ellison warned incoming students in a letter that there is no tolerance for the kind of student demands that have emerged recently. “Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called ‘trigger warnings,’ we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.”

“Members of our community are encouraged to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn, without fear of censorship,” Ellison wrote. Noting the importance of civility among and between parties, he stated, “We expect members of our community to be engaged in rigorous debate, discussion, and even disagreement. At times, this may challenge you and even cause discomfort.”

A college education should help prepare young people to cope with life, not to fear it. Political correctness is an infection threatening the nation. Getting rid of it on campuses is a big step toward producing young Americans that are educated, grown up, and prepared to experience life.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The American immigration system, a la President Barack Obama


A common refrain about immigration is that the U.S. “is a nation of immigrants.” People coming to the colonies built what would become the United States of America, and since then millions have immigrated here.

“Most immigrant groups that had formerly come to America by choice seemed distinct, but in fact had many similarities,” as ushistory.org explains. “Most had come from Northern and Western Europe. Most had some experience with representative democracy. With the exception of the Irish, most were Protestant. Many were literate, and some possessed a fair degree of wealth.”

Most, but not all immigrants intended to become American citizens. Some, however, returned to their native land after earning money to send home. Not all were good people; some were criminals, mentally ill, anarchists, and alcoholics.

Furthermore, many Americans were not thrilled about immigration, and ushistory.org tells us, “In 1917, Congress required the passing of a literacy test to gain admission. Finally, in 1924, the door was shut to millions by placing an absolute cap on new immigrants based on ethnicity. That cap was based on the United States population of 1890 and was therefore designed to favor the previous immigrant groups.”

Throughout the decades and the problems and controversy that accompanied immigration, diversity came to the US, which had become a nation of primarily peaceful, self-reliant, hard-working people, qualities they generally passed on to the next generation.

However, the concept that America is a nation of immigrants is less and less valid. Today, the USA is a nation not so much of immigrants, but principally a nation of the descendants of people who were immigrants generations ago; a nation of Americans.

Our government has the duty to admit immigrants who want to become good American citizens, as demonstrated in the previously discussed examples of acts affecting immigration. No sensible person would allow people they cannot be virtually certain are good and honorable people into their homes; our government must be every bit as cautious.

But instead we find that the current immigration system is wholly dysfunctional, and the responsibility goes squarely on the shoulders of President Barack Obama and his administration. The idea held by many on the Left – that we are morally obligated to admit any and all who seek entry, legally or otherwise – is not just dumb, it is dangerous. And that concept has no basis in history or in the Constitution.

Nevertheless, that foolish idea has strong support, and it set the stage for what happened in a hearing of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee this past April, when Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, addressed comments to those testifying, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement director Sarah Soldana.

Chaffetz listed some startling facts:
** In a three-year period Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has released more than 86,000 criminal aliens into the American public. These are people who were here illegally, got caught committing a crime, were convicted of that crime, and instead of deporting them, they were released back out into the United States of America. All told they had more than 231,000 crimes of which they were convicted.
** In 2015, 196 of these people were convicted of homicide, and ICE released them back into the public, rather than deporting them.
** One hundred and twenty-four of those who were released between 2010 and 2015 went on to commit homicide.
** In 2013 ICE released 36,007 criminal aliens who were unlawfully in the United States. As of September 2014, 5,700 of those individuals went on to commit additional crimes.
** In March of 2015, the director of ICE testified before this committee that during fiscal year 2014 ICE released another 30,558 individuals with a combined 79,059 criminal convictions, instead of deporting them. Of those 30,558 criminal aliens 1,895 were charged with another crime following their release, including sex offenses, assault, burglary, robbery, and driving under the influence.

“And ICE told us that in 2015 the agency released 19,723 criminal aliens with a combined 64,197 convictions,” Chaffetz said, “including: 934 sex offenses, 804 robberies, 216 kidnappings, and 196 homicide-related convictions. And that’s on your watch.” They were here illegally, committed crimes, were caught, tried and convicted, and then turned loose to prey on the American people again.

He then displayed an aerial photo of Notre Dame football stadium filled with game watchers, and said, “You released more people that were convicted of crimes and should have been deported than you can fit into that stadium. You’d still have people waiting outside in line. Those are the criminals that you released instead of deporting.”

Government’s job is to seal the borders from illegal entry, to thoroughly vet people before letting the acceptable ones in, and to prosecute and punish criminals. Put them in jail, or at the very least deport them and keep them out.

Do these colossal government failures rise to the level of criminal offenses? Should they? Or, is such dangerous and irresponsible behavior “merely” gross malfeasance? Is there no penalty for such wrongdoing, whether criminal or not?


Not in the administration of Barack Obama, where apparently the treacherous operation of this immigration system is a matter of celebration by his supporters.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Is the gender pay gap fact or fiction? Depends on how you look at it





“Women all over America deserve a raise,” Hillary Clinton has said, again and again. “There’s no discount for being a woman — groceries don’t cost us less, rent doesn’t cost us less, so why should we be paid less?”

Depending upon which numbers you choose, women in America make 77 cents or 79 cents for every dollar men make. These numbers come from the U.S. Census Bureau, 77 cents to the dollar from the 2010 Current Population Survey, and an increase to 79.5 as of 2014.

What Clinton is saying in essence is that if a male family practice doctor makes $160,000, a female family practice doctor only makes $126,400. If a male schoolteacher makes $56,610, a female teacher only makes $44,722.

An analysis by Colin Combs at the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) tells us; “The claim that women only make 77 [or 79] cents for every dollar a man makes is usually followed by a call for a whole new wave of regulations and pay mandates to stop this discrimination. The gender pay gap is undeniably real; men earn more than women, on average. The question is ‘Why?’”

Partly, it is in how the numbers are determined, which is illustrated by the fact that the Bureau of Labor Statistics determined that women make 83 cents for every dollar men earned in 2014, not 77 or 79 cents per dollar men earned. But there are other factors that must be considered in this assertion.

One of those factors is using the average pay for all men and the average pay for all women as the standard for analysis, about which Combs wrote: “What these statistics reveal is not what people are being paid for the same work, but what the average full-time working woman makes against the average full-time working man. It ignores differences in occupation. The average surgeon makes more than the average librarian, so if more men choose to be surgeons and more women choose to be librarians (which they do), this will be reflected in their average wage.” In reality, it is “unequal pay for unequal work,” Combs wrote.

The fact is that women voluntarily choose lower paying occupations, such as teaching, psychology and nursing, while men head toward computer science and engineering. Married women often reduce their participation in the job market for family reasons, and many other women are self-employed and run their own businesses. When adjusted for these factors, the results show that women do earn less than men, but only 5 to 7 cents less per dollar, not the much-heralded 21 or 23 cents.

The reasons for this smaller difference are not clear, Combs writes. Such things as salary negotiating skills or women being more risk-averse than men are suspected factors.  Since the true factors have not been determined, efforts to correct the difference will likely misfire; to solve a problem you first need to identify the problem.

The NCPA analysis quotes data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Women’s inflation-adjusted wages have been increasing at a rate significantly higher than men’s, or rising even while men’s wages fall.
While the real wages of both men and women without a high school diploma have fallen, this decrease is three times worse for men than for women.
Women’s wages have been rising, even as the wages of men with a high school diploma or associate’s degree have been falling. Women are much more likely than men to interrupt their work for familial reasons, such as maternity leave.

Combs cites a Labor Department study conducted by CONSAD Research Corporation saying the 77 cent figure is misused and overshadows many real gains made by women since the 1970s. This is being done “to advance public policy agendas without fully explaining the reasons behind the gap,” the study said.

Never being one to let mere facts interfere with a good opportunity for demagoguery and pandering, Clinton charges ahead with her pledge to use government to get women a raise that they have largely already gained without her help.

“Our false preoccupation with pay equity is not costless,” said the Hoover Institution’s Richard A. Epstein, “for it leads to bad labor market regulations that hurt all workers.” Regulations imposed to achieve equality ultimately negatively affect the job market for both women and men.

Government tinkering with business elements it really knows nothing about, all to fix a small problem that it doesn’t understand is bad government. But bad government is a product that the Left produces in abundance.

This issue demonstrates how the Left is either unaware of, or simply chooses to ignore economic principles in order to pander to a special interest group to garner votes. Jobs have value based upon the dynamics of each business, and each business has its own dynamics. A government one-size-fits-all solution to this is, to be kind, highly unlikely to succeed.

An electorate that does not investigate issues and votes instead on emotion will help usher in more harmful policies like those that have prevented the U.S. from recovering from the recession that ended seven years ago.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Americans depend on accurate, balanced information from the media




After seven months since her last press conference in December, Hillary Clinton appeared before journalists last Friday. As Slate.com reported, “Clinton spoke at a joint convention being held by the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ).” This lengthy hiatus has brought heavy criticism from Donald Trump’s campaign, and even from the mainstream media.

Clinton held what many called a press conference in Washington, DC, last Friday that was open only to members of the NABJ and NAHJ – two ethnic groups that are generally friendly to her – according to a press release for the event. “It is notable that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has recognized the 2016 NABJ-NAHJ Convention as a vital gathering to discuss her platform and the issues impacting black and Latino communities,” said NABJ President Sarah Glover in the news release.

While the Slate piece was generally not complimentary of the responses Clinton gave to questions from the journalists, it did not mention the positive reaction she received to campaign positions prior to the question/answer period. Slate suggested the questions were submitted in advance for approval. A campaign appearance at a minority journalist organizations’ convention, with attendance limited only to members of those organizations, does not a press conference make.

It isn’t difficult to understand why Clinton, or any candidate, would want to speak at such an event, but it is fair to ask why objective journalists of any description would allow that, let alone invite it.

The Media Research Center outlined the fondness of CNN’s “New Day” for Donald Trump issues over the issues surrounding Iran and the payment of $400 million in possible ransom money for four hostages held by the Islamic nation. MRC’s Newsbusters.org detailed the allotment of time on the two topics: “CNN set aside nearly half of its air time on Wednesday's “New Day” to various recent controversies involving the Trump campaign — 1 hour, 24 minutes, and 18 seconds over three hours. By contrast, the program clearly didn't think much of the Wall Street Journal's Tuesday revelation that the Obama administration secretly airlifted $400 million in cash to Iran. John Berman gave a 27-second news brief to the report, but didn't mention that the payment was sent on ‘an unmarked cargo plane.’ ‘New Day,’ therefore, devoted over 187 times more coverage to Trump than to the millions to Iran.”

No matter what you believe about the Iran hostage release and potential ransom payment, no matter what actually transpired, the utter clumsiness of making a payment for any purpose that way on that date warrants more than a half-minute in a three-hour program that spent 84 minutes on the Trump issues.

All major media organizations spent hours of broadcast time and dozens of printed pages on the Republican and Democrat nominating conventions. At each of these events one speaker addressed the delegates about the loss of a child.

At the Republican convention the mother of Sean Smith, one of the four American heroes killed in the terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, spoke movingly about losing her son, and laid responsibility for it at the feet of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Pat Smith also noted that when her son’s body was brought home, Clinton “looked me squarely in the eye and told me a video was responsible.”

The following week at the Democrat convention Khizr Kahn and his wife Ghazala appeared and Mr. Kahn talked about the death of his son, Marine Capt. Humayun Khan, who died in Iraq heroically protecting his men. Kahn described himself and his wife as “patriotic American Muslims, with undivided loyalty to our country.” He then criticized Donald Trump for his comments about Muslims, and said, “You have sacrificed nothing and no one.” Predictably, Kahn’s comments about Trump triggered a response.

“While all the grieving parents deserve sympathy, the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) network evening and morning shows seemed to only care about the parents that showed up at the Democratic Convention,” Newsbusters.org reported. “Khizr Khan and his wife Ghazala’s DNC appearance earned 55 minutes, 13 seconds of Big Three network coverage, nearly 50 times more than Pat Smith, whose RNC speech honoring her son earned just 70 seconds of airtime.”

The First Amendment protects free speech, and that includes newspapers, television and radio news operations; they are free to say what they like, bound generally by the same restrictions as individuals. The difference is that the public depends upon media sources for information upon which people base important decisions, such as deciding whom to elect to important positions.

Therefore, news organizations have a solemn duty to provide balance to the news they cover and how they cover it, and news journalists – as distinguished from opinion journalists – should be proscribed from injecting bias and opinion into their work.

These recent examples show decision-making by journalistic organizations in selecting a convention speaker that raises questions about objectivity, and a clear, undeniable lack of balance in reporting on important events that Americans will use in deciding their choice for the presidency and other offices.


Surely the U.S. media can do better than this.