P.J. O'Rourke, a Member of the Board of Advisors for the Independent Institute, is Americas leading political humorist and the best-selling author of over twenty books. He spoke at an event held on February 13, 2014 at the Independent institute in Oakland, CA.
When pioneering television journalist John Stossel joined ABC-TV's "20/20" in 1981, his peers and an admiring public hailed him as a crusading consumer reporter. His hard-hitting, in-your-face exposes of con artists and corporate liars and crooks won him 19 Emmys and an avid following. But, could the use of government power and the Nanny State be the biggest scam of all?
In his new book, Give Me a Break, Stossel takes on a herd of sacred cows and examines how in the name of the "public interest," ambitious politicians and bureaucrats, intellectually lazy and opportunistic reporters, scaremongers, and predatory lawyers make life worse, especially for those most disadvantaged.
In this event John Stossel explained how his investigations of government waste, fraud and abuse; welfare for the rich; victimless crimes; self-serving interest groups; and sensationalist-media hyping (while ignoring real risks) reveal the crucial need to protect the civil and economic liberties of all people.
John Stossel, author of Give Me a Break. is co-anchor of ABC's "20/20." He also hosts ABC's "John Stossel Specials" for ABC television and radio, and ABCNews.com. In addition to having received 19 Emmy Awards, he has been honored five times for excellence in consumer reporting by the National Press Club. Among his other awards are the George Polk Award for Outstanding Local Reporting and the George Foster Peabody Award.
David J. Theroux is Founder and President of the Independent Institute.
Although comedian George Carlin's infamous routine, "Seven Words You Can't Say on TV," has become outdated, today many ideas are considered too 'politically incorrect' to discuss in polite society. According to popular Los Angeles talk-radio host Larry Elder, many sacred cows- about racism and sexism, health care, welfare, education, the family, drug laws, the media, crime, gun control, and more- are soft-headed distortions that have worsened America's social problems. If "the truth shall make you free," then, says Elder, these myths need a serious reality check- before we forget what truth and freedom look like. Larry Elder discussed what's really wrong with America and how a free people, rather than an intrusive government, can fix it.
Has Hollywood the American dream factory become Hollywood the American nightmare factory? Is most of Hollywood just self-destructive as it ridicules censorship of TV violence, and in survey after survey, large majorities are registering a distaste for the entertainment industry's torrent of nihilistic, violent, and degrading work. Voting with their money, the public has largely turned such projects into financial ruin, while those films, TV, and other programs that embody values of individual achievement and humaneness are increasingly proving to be the real economic success stories.
For example, of the 1,100 films released since 1983, the average rating of the most financially successful film was PG, despite the predominance of R-rated films. In a recent Parents magazine pool, 72% rated TV as fair, poor, or terrible , and according to Gallup, only 3% of Americans believe TV conveys positive values, whereas 58% say they are often offended.
Employing meticulous research in American popular culture, Michael Medved, will draw upon his best-selling book, Hollywood vs. America, to present a comprehensive and devastating critique of why movies, popular music, and television have become dominated by brutality and a hatred for civility. Combining a passionate concern for the intellectual precision, Michael Medved will discuss how an industry can ignore the message of the market and lose touch with its audiences and the values of a free society.
In his talk, he will describe the Three Big Lies of Hollywood that have created this situation. Is Hollywood's self-destructive conduct rooted in a "political correctness" that scorns conventional America? Has an artistic disdain for "mere" commercial considerations blinded an industry into becoming prey to every peer pressure, arrogance, and emotional insecurity, and crackpot crusade to purge society?
Michael Medved and Hollywood vs. America are transforming the debate over popular culture, calling the bluff of a cynical media. Rejecting censorship as a dangerous offshoot of the assault on values, Medved demonstrates how public pressures can instead produce powerful results in bringing Hollywood into a business and cultural arena where beauty is not ridiculed; men, women, and children are not brutalize, and cruelty is not exalted.
What happens when government goes unchallenged, and when questions regarding present or proposed policies go unasked? With the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War, for example, Americans are increasingly wary of foreign conflicts. Yes, American forces are still active in Somalia and are being called for in the Balkans and elsewhere. To understand how government officials may seek to shift public opinion on unpopular programs, John MacArthur has found understanding the precedents set during the war against Saddam Hussein to be most insightful.
In his presentation, Mr. MacArthur will draw upon his widely acclaimed book, Second Front: Censorship and Propoganda in the Gulf War, to scrutinize the government's campaign to tightly control the American media during Operation Desert Storm. With a reporter's critical eye and a historian's sensibility, he will trace decades of press-government regulations during Vietnam, Grenada, and Panama which helped set the stage for restrictions on Gulf War reporting and for a government public-relations triumph.
In his talk, Mr. Macarthur will detail the behind-the-scenes activities during Operation Desert Storm by the U.S. and Kuwaiti governments as well as the media's being co-opted while its rights to observe, question, and report were heavily restricted far beyond and needs to protect American lives. He will demonstrate how, despite a torrent of words and images from the Persian Gulf, Americans were systematically and deliberately kept in the dark about events, politics, and simple facts during the Gulf Crisis.
Drawing upon frank and startling interviews, Mr. MacArthur will discuss how the Pentagon, after locking out the press in Grenada and Panama, pooled, censored, and escorted the media under armed guard in the gulf to a degree seldom seen before in America's wars. As a result. the media may have merely become glorified government stenographers, uncritically accepting such stories as the Kuwaiti babies being snatched from incubators by Iraqui soldiers, the precision of "smart bombs," the exaggerated size and morale of Hussein's forces, and the nature of losses on both sides. In revealing the workings of propoganda, Mr. MacArthur will question the impact and need for such extraordinary government power.