Keeping Up the Ideological Heat

July 19th, 2012 · No Comments · Uncategorized

By Denise Tessier

Heat wasn’t the only record-setter this summer. I’d wager the number of articles, letters and columns by the conservative Rio Grande Foundation and its national counterparts set a record for publication in the Journal this summer as well.

Nearly every week, it seems, one can count on seeing Paul J. Gessing or Kenneth Brown or Micha Gisser as the author of something in the state’s leading daily.

This week, Gessing had a letter in Business Outlook (July 16, no link found) blasting wind and solar as “less ‘sustainable’ than other forms of energy.”

Brown had one on the Tuesday letters page (July 17) with the tongue-in-cheek position that the Affordable Health Care Act has wrought a doomsday nightmare in which insurance companies will cancel all policies and write their former customers a letter recommending they familiarize themselves with the web site “www.treatyourownheartattack.com”.

Brown also had a letter July 2 in the Outlook (no link found), criticizing the “paragons of policy in Washington” for creating economic uncertainty. Then he mentioned by name only Bill Clinton as one of these paragons. (He wrote that “The Bush tax cuts were good for the economy. . .” but that Clinton is creating uncertainty by advising renewal of the Bush tax rate for just the first three months of 2013.)

The RGF presence hasn’t been limited to the summer, however. Here’s a partial list of RGF-related Journal appearances, just for 2012:

Gessing had letters in the Business Outlook May 28, March 26, Feb. 13, and Jan. 2.  He also had a column that started at the top of the Op-Ed page July 1 entitled, “N.M. Must Be Friendly To Business: High taxes, onerous regulations prevent state from badly needed growth.” Earlier, the Journal had given the entire top of the Op-Ed page March 4 to the Gessing essay “N.M. Needs Private Sector To Fill Federal Budget Gap.”

Brown had a letter in Business Outlook Jan. 23, and with Micha Gisser he co-authored a column that ran on the Journal’s Op-Ed page with the headline “Financial Apocalypse Is Looming: Obama’s policies are worst thing ever to happen to economy.” It claimed that:

. . .an economic calamity has been in the making for three years. It started in early 2009 with the $800 billion wild spending of the ‘stimulus.’

As my colleague Arthur Alpert noted, readers didn’t let the two RGF economists get away with that one, responding in kind with a full page of rebuttal letters on June 26.)

Then on June 27, RGF “adjunct scholar” Thomas Molitar graced the Op-Ed page with “Public Unions’ Days Numbered”, which generated a rebuttal by AFSCME local Carter Bundy, “The Truth on Unions in N.M.,” on July 18.

Another “adjunct scholar,” Dr. Deane Waldman, provided a “what if” essay June 3, before the Supreme Court handed down its decision on the Affordable Health Care Act, saying regardless of the outcome, “Patients Are Losers. . .” who will see “just more regulations and more bureaucrats.” The Journal also ran a column by Waldman on the same topic March 23.

But add to the RGF offerings the July 7 Op-Ed column by Diane Katz of The Heritage Foundation, headlined “Recovery Hopes Being Dashed By Regulations: Administration foists more and more rules, killing job creation.”

Never mind that Katz’s column on A7 ran the same day as the A1 Journal story from the Los Angeles Times. That story said economic growth was being stymied – not by regulations – buy by “deep uncertainty about the presidential election and Europe’s debt crisis.” Katz’s article – as are most RGF and Heritage Foundation articles – was off on its own ideological island, but that didn’t stop the Journal from running it.

Because it was savvy enough to peg its ideology to Independence Day, The Heritage Foundation successfully got the top spot and nearly half a page on the July 4 edition of the Journal’s Op-Ed page with “Declaration’s Words Still Resonate.” While the essay ostensibly was about the Declaration of Independence’s continued relevance, it also served as a platform for Heritage ideology – with a jab at Students for a Democratic Society and praise for George W. Bush – woven in.

This was just two days after the Journal ran a Heritage Foundation essay by Jennifer A. Marshall, positing that we Americans are fortunate to be able to practice religion in a civil manner, without fear of violence as one might find in Mexico, China or Iran. Using the movie “For Greater Glory” as a springboard (about the religious Cristero War in Mexico in the 1920s), she wrote that each generation of Americans has a responsibility to guard the right to religious freedom, and tied this, too, to the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, ensuring it publication in papers that generally lack for content during the vacation days of summer.

Marshall, by the way, also had a column on the Op-Ed page June 18 (no link found), advocating a law against sex-selective abortion. Opponents say a law is unnecessary because U.S. law already prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, and that abortion would be no different, adding that such a law would be a slippery slope toward a ban on all abortion. Disturbingly, Marshall wrote that sex-selection abortion is happening in the U.S., citing videos from undercover visits to abortion clinics, viewable at ProtectOurGirls.com. Marshall reported that 77 percent of Americans oppose sex-selection abortion, which is no surprise, and if it is indeed happening, even pro-choice advocates would be alarmed. Thus, the claim deserves an impartial look through bona fide reporting. But the web site Marshall cites appears to be anti-Planned Parenthood, which invites some skepticism.

It’s interesting to note, too, the Business front story this week (July 17) compiled from Journal and Wire Reports, “Critics Assail Obama Comment on Business.”  It’s interesting that the article included quite a bit of the president’s comments, made during a campaign speech in Virginia, but that it was couched in the “critics assail” context. This makes it appear biased, although it’s actually a good way to get the president’s comments in print so long after they were made. In this case, the comments had been made three days before (July 13).

Mitt Romney, according to the article, called the remarks “insulting.”

An economist from the conservative American Enterprise Institute was called upon and said Obama’s remarks were “far from the current debate” but acknowledged they set the stage for the administration’s argument that Bush tax cuts be extended only to families earning less than a quarter million dollars a year.

A spokeswoman for Romney said the remarks were “insulting to the hardworking entrepreneurs, small-business owners and job creators who are the backbone of our economy.”

That’s it for the criticism that garnered the headline in the story. Here are most of the Obama remarks on “success” that made it into the story:

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me – because they want to give something back.

You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something – there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business –you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.

By the way, the Journal isn’t alone in running the Rio Grande Foundation with some regularity.

Gessing is probably almost tied with Don Schrader in terms of frequency of letters in the Weekly Alibi. On May 24, a letter in that weekly by Gessing criticized Jerry Ortiz y Pino’s essay criticism of Rep. Paul Ryan’s draconian tax policy proposals, and on March 22 Gessing blasted an article on population control for its “faulty assumption that we are running out of (insert natural resource here).”

And last month Gessing cleverly used a Santa Fe Reporter article on Santa Fe Community College’s proposed Higher Education Center as a springboard for a letter (June 6), in which he offers his expert opinion on the state of the state’s of higher ed institutions.

How can Gessing find the time to write so many letters and columns? As executive director of RGF, it’s his job.

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  • Cheryl Everett

    The beat goes on. Today’s op-ed content: “Health Care Law Will Hurt Middle Class” – “Private Sector Launched Spage Ace” – Columnist Cal Thomas (enough said) – and an editorial headlined “President Discounts US Small Businesses.”
    The Journal’s headline-writing could fill a whole museum of misleading propaganda tactics.
    Thanks to Denise Tessier for sounding the alert.

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