Fact Deficit

book-monicacrowley-01

I obtained the Kindle edition earlier this week. The topic was still fresh back then. It’s What the (Bleep) Just Happened, and it’s by Monica Crowley, a Fox News contributor and columnist for The Washington Times. If you don’t know already, Crowley holds extreme conservative political views, and her book represents the extreme of that extreme. The subtitle is The Happy Warrior’s Guide to the Great American Comeback.

Considering that she “holds a B.A. in political science from Colgate University and a Ph.D. in international relations from Columbia University (2000) [Wikipedia], a reader might expect a scholarly work with deep insight. The insight shows in flashes throughout, but the scholarship drags bottom in places. Some explanation.

The title concerns what the bleep happened when Barack Obama burst on the American  political scene and wrenched the country in a new direction, or not. No surprise, the narrative is all about the current president. No surprise, it is about 100% negative. A few characters of the Roman  alphabet into this book, and you get the idea President Obama is not going to get treated lightly. Treatment comes in multiple forms, never complimentary. A reader will have no problem concluding Obama is not going to be able to purchase a fair shake at any price.

The major theme running through the narrative is American exceptionalism. Exceptionalism is a word that already existed, but you want to get the idea that Crowley invented it. The Google search engine finds it, but the Oxford American Dictionary that comes with my copy of Kindle reports, “No definition found.” Throughout, she throws the term around with patriotic fervor, explaining why lefties, she calls them kooks, and especially Barack Obama, are enemies of American exceptionalism, set wholeheartedly on destroying it. Some examples.

The last few years have been a bizarre stroll through a surreal landscape. America hasn’t been looking like America. It’s been looking like an America painted by Salvador Dalí, all dripping landscapes, liquid clocks, and warped reality … like what Paul Pelosi sees when he wakes up every morning. It’s as if America has fallen down the rabbit hole. It’s America in The Twilight Zone.

Crowley, Monica. What the (Bleep) Just Happened?: The Happy Warrior’s Guide to the Great American Comeback (p. 4). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

 

Crowley is an inventive writer, if not an imaginative one. Throughout she dishes to liberals—she calls them kooks—in the manner illustrated above. Nancy Pelosi is a typical kook, showing her age. To Crowley, husband Paul Pelosi must see wife Nancy’s face in the morning as a Dali clock face. Cute, but tiresome after the first 25 or so pages.

Communist is a word Crowley likes to throw around a lot. It received considerable use in my younger days when I watched Senator Joe McCarthy on TV flinging it at any and all who blunted from his political agenda. More recently former congressman from Florida Allen West appeared to rediscover the word, counting the number of card-carrying communists in Congress. Crowley attaches the term to a number of individuals left of center but not actually members of any communist party and not professing themselves as being communist. My guess is that echoes from 60 years ago still resonate among a certain stratum in American society.

A particular target is Saul Alinsky. From Wikipedia:

Alinsky did not join political parties. When asked during an interview whether he ever considered becoming a Communist Party member, he replied:

Not at any time. I’ve never joined any organization—not even the ones I’ve organized myself. I prize my own independence too much. And philosophically, I could never accept any rigid dogma or ideology, whether it’s Christianity or Marxism. One of the most important things in life is what Judge Learned Hand described as “that ever-gnawing inner doubt as to whether you’re right.” If you don’t have that, if you think you’ve got an inside track to absolute truth, you become doctrinaire, humorless and intellectually constipated. The greatest crimes in history have been perpetrated by such religious and political and racial fanatics, from the persecutions of the Inquisition on down to Communist purges and Nazi genocide.

It does not appear that Crowley tags Alinsky as a communist, but she, and other authors note Obama’s reliance on the grass-roots mobilization approach developed and popularized by him. Likewise, Hillary Clinton took note of Alinsky early in life:

That fall, Hillary began research on her senior thesis about a true American radical, Saul Alinsky, whose work Don Jones had lauded. What she found in the library stacks on Alinsky seemed to her insufficient and truncated. His philosophy was perhaps best summarized two years after she had completed her thesis, when

Alinsky published his Rules for Radicals, a volume intended for Hillary’s generation of student activists. In it, he enumerated a set of rules governing what he called “the science of revolution,” based on an analysis of ends and means:

Power is the very essence, the dynamo of life…. It is a world not of angels but of angles, where men speak of moral principles but act on power principles; a world where we are always moral and our enemies are always immoral; a world where “reconciliation” means that when one side gets the power and the other

Bernstein, Carl. A Woman in Charge (p. 57). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

And more. Communism and socialism are invoked periodically to set liberals off from mainstream America. In truth, Crowley does cite the distinction  of the base definition of socialism—government ownership of industry—from the more popular usage—deep government involvement and stewardship in human affairs.

Obama and fellow kooks want to destroy American exceptionalism and make citizens dependent on the government, which liberals will control, apparently for power alone—a self-serving ego trip. Of course, that’s news to many Americans, who see liberal causes, such as environmental protection and the Affordable Care Act as means toward making the country a more desirable place to live and also more competitive in world markets.

Crowley hardly misses the opportunity to detract from President Obama, with examples. When he objects to torture methods used against captured combatants, he is depicted as soft:

There was, however, one major policy that Obama could not abide: enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs), which, despite having been determined to be legal in 2002 and 2003 when they were used, were called “torture” by Obama and the kooks. Following the capture of top al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan in March 2002, the CIA and the U.S. military developed interrogation techniques that were directly adapted from the training techniques used to prepare our special forces personnel to resist interrogation, such as wall standing, sleep deprivation, facial or “insult” slaps, the playing of loud music, and, until 2003, waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning.

Crowley, Monica. What the (Bleep) Just Happened?: The Happy Warrior’s Guide to the Great American Comeback (p. 228). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

When he directs the CIA and our military to quit taking prisoners and to kill our enemies on the ground, he gets similar treatment:

The administration’s protracted indecision on Guantánamo led the military to kill suspected terrorists on the battlefield or through drone strikes or hand off those captured to other countries for detention. They had more due process under President Bush. Special forces on the ground in Afghanistan and the judges handling the cases were clamoring for legislative clarity on detainee policy. Essentially, the Obama/ Holder detainee policy became “Crap in One Hand and Wish in the Other to See Which One Fills Up First.” In the end, Obama kept Guantánamo Bay open and operational, although he hasn’t ordered a single terrorist suspect sent there since he became president. He apparently finds it easier to kill them on the battlefield without due process than to have to deal with the mishegas of interrogation and detention.

Crowley, Monica. What the (Bleep) Just Happened?: The Happy Warrior’s Guide to the Great American Comeback (pp. 227-228). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

 

The book came out in 2012, and is in that sense anachronistic and does not reflect the direction the country was going:

Not quite. Instead of changing course and trying some pro-growth policies, Team Obama went back to the exclamation points. The administration fired up “Recovery Summer, Part Deux!” in 2011, and that didn’t fly either. Anemic economic growth and little to no real job creation had a way of trampling the good times. At some point, even Obama’s daily economic briefings petered out. In fact, other than Tim Geithner, his entire economic team has fled faster than O.J. in the white Bronco. Larry Summers, Christina Romer, and Peter Orszag: they’re all gone. Who has replaced them? Does anybody even know? Word on the street is that they’re all filming the new Three Stooges movie, while the real Moe, Larry, and Curly now work in the West Wing and have been placed in charge of the nonexistent economic briefings.

Crowley, Monica. What the (Bleep) Just Happened?: The Happy Warrior’s Guide to the Great American Comeback (pp. 176-177). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

 

More recently the Dow-Jones Industrial Average has gone from 6,626.94 two months into Obama’s presidency to 19,963.80 earlier this month as he prepares to leave office. Jobless figures have dipped to as low as 4.7%, while Crowley correctly points out that low wages and a reduced work force accompany these latter figures.

There’s a lot more to the book, the main body runs to 360 pages. The final chapter makes a go at presenting a scholarly discussion of economic principles at play, but a careful reader will want to pull up a fact check source. Glaring examples set me back in my chair through my coarse reading. Consider the long-winded discourse on President Obama’s fumble-handed management of his enormous power:

Obama, with the assistance of the radical czars and his wingmen in Congress, got the leftist rampage rolling. In the first hundred days alone, Obama pushed through the nearly $ 1 trillion “stimulus”; got a half-trillion-dollar omnibus spending bill; offered up a measly $ 100 million in “cuts” in a nearly $ 4 trillion initial proposed budget, all while claiming he wanted “fiscal responsibility”; nationalized much of the U.S. auto industry; screwed General Motors’ bondholders; pledged transparency while stonewalling disclosure of where the TARP (Trouble Asset Relief Program) money went; nominated five tax cheats to his cabinet; began to launch Adventures in Socialized Medicine; oversaw a Department of Homeland Security report that called our returning veterans “security risks”; politicized the 2010 Census by moving it into the White House; announced the closure of Guantánamo Bay without a plan to actually do so; released top-secret Central Intelligence Agency interrogation memos; opened the door to prosecutions of CIA officials who had engaged in enhanced interrogations of terrorist suspects; failed to respond to a North Korean nuclear missile test launch; was all smiles for longtime U.S. enemies Hugo Chávez, Fidel Castro, and Daniel Ortega; bowed to Saudi king Abdullah; began his Apology Tour to offer his regret for past American injustice; and insulted our closest ally, Great Britain, not once but twice, first by returning a bust of Winston Churchill that had been a special gift, and second, by giving Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II an iPod loaded with his speeches (because, after all, Obama speeches are like Lay’s Potato Chips: you can’t have just one).

Crowley, Monica. What the (Bleep) Just Happened?: The Happy Warrior’s Guide to the Great American Comeback (pp. 68-69). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

It took Crowley 263 words, but she did get around to chastising Obama for kicking back the gift of a Churchill bust from Great Britain. Hint: it never happened.

Lately, there’s been a rumor swirling around about the current location of the bust of Winston Churchill. Some have claimed that President Obama removed the bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office and sent it back to the British Embassy.

Now, normally we wouldn’t address a rumor that’s so patently false, but just this morning the Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer repeated this ridiculous claim in his column.  He said President Obama “started his Presidency by returning to the British Embassy the bust of Winston Churchill that had graced the Oval Office.”

This is 100% false. The bust still in the White House. In the Residence. Outside the Treaty Room.

On another occasion I came across something that tugged at my memory:

One hundred years after the Constitution became the law of the land, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, described the fall of ancient Athens with a succinct and accurate summary of how and why democracies decline. “A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury,” he wrote. “From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

Crowley, Monica. What the (Bleep) Just Happened?: The Happy Warrior’s Guide to the Great American Comeback (pp. 313-314). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

 

Where had I seen that before? Oh, yes:

What a grand piece of patriotic inspiration this is aimed at. How much more inspiration it would be were there ever much truth to it. Where to begin? Let’s start at the beginning. Let’s start with Alexander Tyler.

Those are wonderful words of Alexander Tyler. Rather they might be if Alexander Tyler ever said them or wrote them.

The following quotation has been attributed to Tytler, although it has also been occasionally attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville:

A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.
The average age of the world’s greatest civilisations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage; From courage to liberty; From liberty to abundance; From abundance to selfishness; From selfishness to complacency; From complacency to apathy; From apathy to dependence; From dependence back into bondage.

This text was popularised as part of a longer piece commenting on the 2000 U.S. presidential election, which began circulating on the Internet during or shortly after the election’s controversial conclusion.

There is no reliable record of Alexander Tyler’s having written any part of the text.In fact, it actually comprises two parts which didn’t begin to appear together until the 1970s. The first paragraph’s earliest known appearance is in an op-ed piece by Elmer T. Peterson in the 9 December 1951 The Daily Oklahoman, which attributed it to Tytler:

Two centuries ago, a somewhat obscure Scotsman named Tytler made this profound observation: “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy”.

The list beginning “From bondage to spiritual faith” is commonly known as the “Tytler Cycle” or the “Fatal Sequence”. Its first known appearance was in a 1943 speech by Henning W. Prentiss, Jr., president of the Armstrong Cork Company and former president of the National Association of Manufacturers, delivered at the February 1943 convocation of the General Alumni Society of the University of Pennsylvania. The speech was subsequently published under the titles “The Cult of Competency” and “Industrial Management in a Republic”.

I’m getting old, and my memory will someday begin to fail, but I do recall reading that Monica Crowley holds a Ph.D. in international relations from Columbia University. I also recall that obtaining a Ph.D. typically requires producing scholarly works. A Ph.D. in physics may involve a lot of messy math or even some exceedingly delicate experimentation, but degrees in the soft subjects, such as international relations, are based on research—research of multiple and arcane publications. And careful checking. For Crowley that was so yesterday. Out of school these past 17 years, and sound scholarship is now passé.

The book gave Crowley 360 pages to poke fun at her political polars, and here she shows a wit as sharp as a boxing glove. Beginning on page 26 she invokes a moniker from out of nowhere with, “Barry and the kooks (not to be confused with Bennie and the Jets)…” and proceeds from there to use Barry 32 more times. Dense as I am, it took me chapters into the book before I figured out Barry refers to President Barack Obama. I am guessing Crowley’s publisher was not paying her by the word.

She invokes sarcasm, seemingly every other page:

Obama’s initial group of czars was a delightful collection of communists, socialists, and other sundry radicals. In fact, he met them all at socialist summer camp, where together they would make arts and crafts projects like a hammer and sickle constructed out of boondoggle, pinecones, and Popsicle sticks. After a long day of nature hikes up the Ho Chi Minh Trail and skinny-dipping with Madeleine Albright, they would roast Marxist marshmallows and tell scary stories about capitalism around the campfire.

Crowley, Monica. What the (Bleep) Just Happened?: The Happy Warrior’s Guide to the Great American Comeback (pp. 65-66). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

My own experience is that sarcasm is best when front loaded with some wit.

There is the creepy feeling that Crowley is writing to an audience in this country. Guess what! Obama is black. That is, he is biracial. His mother was of European ancestry, and his father was actually a foreigner from Kenya. And biracial is the operative term, invoked six times in the book. For example

But a biracial leftist would be granted all kinds of passes, excuses, and protections. The race card, played subtly by Obama but boldly by others, would prove to be the most powerful weapon in the Obama/ leftist arsenal.

Crowley, Monica. What the (Bleep) Just Happened?: The Happy Warrior’s Guide to the Great American Comeback (p. 12). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

And Obama’s father, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., was a communist. Hint: he wasn’t. And his American mother was a communist. She wasn’t.

Her sense of values already strained, Crowley makes odd picks for folk heroes:

The now-iconic photograph of the three of them reveals much about the towering personalities and even more about America. Jackson stands between the Reagans, wearing a tamer version of his famous sequined faux-military costume. Hands clasped in front of him, he waits silently as the president finishes making a point to Mrs. Reagan and she responds. His eyes as wide as saucers as he gazes up at the president, Jackson makes obvious his legendary offstage shyness as he stands mere inches from the Leader of the Free World. The world’s greatest performer had discovered himself on a stage even bigger and more profound than the ones to which he was accustomed. His awe is palpable. And Reagan, the experienced showman, looks just as dazzled to be in the presence of a young man who had set the world (and earlier, his own hair) on fire with a raw, sheer, devastating talent.

Crowley, Monica. What the (Bleep) Just Happened?: The Happy Warrior’s Guide to the Great American Comeback (p. 5). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

 

By the time this was written Jackson had been dead for three years, and was long recognized as having a proclivity for drug abuse and an unhealthy interest in young boys.

The book comprises five parts, and Part II carries the title “The Skinny Socialist Is a Big Fat Liar.” That title is so curious, considering Crowley has more recently been picked to be senior director of strategic communications for the National Security Council  for President-elect Donald Trump. I considered for a moment whether she ever looked for a way to choke back the “big fat liar” part on her way to taking the position. Unfortunately, that never happened, because she decided not to take the job.

I finished this in time to get the review out before Mr. Trump takes office on Friday. I probably rushed some sections that told me a lot of stuff I already know, but still there was this feeling of deja vu. It was as though I had read some of this before.

Others agree:

It would appear that Crowley is going to  be a useful addition to the Trump administration. Her sterling communications credentials will be of tremendous benefit to the Trump team,  too often  beset by the curse of mixed messages. However, in light of recent developments, we wonder just who will be doing Crowley’s communications for her:

Conservative author and television personality Monica Crowley, whom Donald Trump has tapped for a top national security communications role, plagiarized large sections of her 2012 book, a CNN KFile review has found.

The review of Crowley’s June 2012 book, “What The (Bleep) Just Happened,” found upwards of 50 examples of plagiarism from numerous sources, including the copying with minor changes of news articles, other columnists, think tanks, and Wikipedia. The New York Times bestseller, published by the HarperCollins imprint Broadside Books, contains no notes or bibliography.

Crowley did not return a request for comment. Multiple requests for comment by phone and email over the past two days to HarperCollins went unreturned.

Noticing the rising tide, I hopped onto Amazon Kindle immediately and ordered my copy. Hours later Harper Collins pulled the book, and it is not longer available.

The drama deepened. Crowley previously (1999) wrote a column for The Wall Street Journal that plagiarized material from another writer for The New York Times. Her Ph.D. dissertation from  2000 was found to contain multiple instances of plagiarized material.

This is not my first dance with Monica Crowley. She popped up in an item related to the Benghazi fiasco from September 2012:

Then in October of this year the prestigious news program 60 Minutes on CBS aired a segment critical of the government’s response to the attack. The segment was largely based on an interview with a security contractor working in Libya. My conservative friends expressed even greater joy at this wonderful news:

60 Minutes’ Benghazi report aired the night of October 27. The segment featured the supposed “eyewitness” account of the attacks from British security contractor Dylan Davies, who appeared on the show under the pseudonym “Morgan Jones.”

Davies’ tale included him scaling a 12 foot wall on the side of the diplomatic compound and dispatching a terrorist with his rifle butt. He also told viewers about how he had supposedly seen Ambassador Chris Stevens’ dead body in a local hospital.

In addition to Davies’ story, the 60 Minutes report also rehashed old myths about Benghazi, including invoking the “lingering question” about why no U.S. military forces from outside the country were able to help the embattled diplomatic facilities the night of the attacks. (This was answered long ago.)

The night it aired, conservatives took to Twitter to praise CBS. Fox News contributor Monica Crowley lauded the network for joining Fox News “among the very, very few reporting on this grave & outrageous scandal.” Fellow Fox News contributor Jonah Goldberg also connected CBS’ work to Fox’s reporting on Benghazi, tweeting “This 60 Minutes #benghazi piece corroborates pretty much everything #foxnews has reported so far.”

October 28-30: Conservative Media And Republican Lawmakers Laud CBS

The morning after the 60 Minutes report aired, Fox News hit the ground running promoting it. Over the course of Monday, October 28, Fox would devote more than 13 segments over 11 different shows to the CBS report, totaling more than 47 minutes of coverage.

Much of Fox’s coverage was self-congratulatory, claiming the CBS report had corroborated their network’s coverage of Benghazi. Bret Baier, host of Fox’s flagship news show Special Report, told viewers that “[l]ast night, one of journalism’s heavy hitters reaffirmed what we knew and had reported on.” Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy praised CBS for “finally catching up” to conservative media on the story and proclaimed, “60 Minutes doesn’t cover phony scandals.” The network also predictably used the 60 Minutes story to revive its smear campaign against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over Benghazi.

[emphasis added]

I can only hope her disappearance from the Trump administration does not mean we will no longer be treated to her wit and deep insight. Will readers please join me in saying to her, “Play it again, Sam.” Or Monica.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s