The multi-culti, anti-whitie, anti-Christ-ie classroom

Multiculturalism is one of those concepts that’s supposed to give all of us a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling. We’re all equal, we’re all wonderful. We’re no longer that icky old melting pot that forced minorities with exciting, dynamic cultures to subordinate themselves to a generic white America and become bland and meaningless. Instead, we’re an exciting salad bowl, with each disparate element lending color and punch to a healthy whole. It really does make for a wonderful vision, doesn’t it?

But what turns out to happen when you don’t encourage a dominate culture is that the separate ingredients in the salad bowl get testy and restive. The tomatoes start to disparage the lettuce, and no one will associate with the onions. Because they’re not forced to blend together, each thinks he or she is better than the others. The one thing those ingredients know for a certainty, though, because they’re taught so at our taxpayer funded schools, is that America is a bad place, and that traditional Americans — read: White Christians — are the problem.

The above is not just clever (I hope), opinionated writing. It is, in part, an amalgam of information I’ve been picking up over the years. It’s also a reflection of the type of workshops being taught this week at the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME) convention in Baltimore:

School board members ought to be particularly interested, because they approve the doling out of taxpayers’ money for K-12 teachers from every state to attend the NAME convention.

They ought to be welcome to sit in on any of the workshops and determine what multicultural messages their teachers are absorbing for use in the classroom.

The co-sponsors of multiculturalism’s biggest gathering include several beneficiaries of tax money, including the Maryland affiliate of the National Education Association (a longtime NAME ally), George Mason University and even the Maryland State Department of Education.

School board members could start by attending one of the half- or full-day workshops on Halloween. Here are some of the choices from the NAME program:

• “The Unbearable Whiteness of Being: Dismantling White Privilege and Supporting Anti-Racist Education in Our Classrooms and Schools.” Taught by a professor from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, this session “is designed to help educators identify and deconstruct their own white privilege and in so doing more deeply commit themselves to anti-racist teaching and critical multicultural teaching.”

• “Talking About Religious Oppression and Unpacking Christian Privilege.” This session, taught by a team of professors, “will examine the dynamics of Christian privilege and oppression of minority religious groups and nonbelievers as constructed and maintained on three distinct levels: individual, institutional and societal. A historical and legal lecturette will be presented and participants will engage in interactive learning modules.”

• “Beyond Celebrating Diversity: Teaching Teachers How to be Critical Multicultural Educators.” Taught by NAME regional director Paul Gorski, founder of the activist group EdChange, this session will start from the premise that multiculturalism’s greatest danger “comes from educators who ostensibly support its goals, but whose work – cultural plunges, food fairs, etc. – reflects a compassionate conservative consciousness rather than social justice. This session focuses on preparing teachers, not for celebrating diversity, but for achieving justice in schools and society.”

Workshops at NAME annual conventions (six of which I have attended since 1993) repeatedly advocate the teaching of “social justice.” That term never seems to be defined, but its users simplify all American life as a saga of the oppressed vs. the oppressors. Skin color, national origin, gender, religion and sexual preference are among the qualities that put all individuals into one category or the other.

You can be assured that these ugly concepts don’t stay confined to weekend boondoggles in Baltimore.  My daughter came home from school the other day and gave me a cheerful lecture about what wonderful environmentalists the Indians were, unlike the Americans, who trashed the environment.  I, in turn, felt obliged to give her a little talk about the fact that the Indians were not an industrial people, which accounted for their low level footprint.  We also talked about numbers of Indians versus space and resources.

More than that, I reminded her that Native Americans were and are people like any other people:  some good, some bad, some strong, some weak, some thoughtful, some thoughtless, etc.  I urged her to remember that, when the Native Americans are presented as nothing but good, that this is just how the schools like to teach things, and that an intelligent student remembers that the true picture is always richer and much more rounded — and, frankly, more interesting.  The fact that saints can be boring explains why so many stories, from earliest history to the present, like to start out with the saint as a sinner who finds redemption.

Hat tip: Mike Devx

The front we don’t hear about

The front we don’t hear about, of course, is Afghanistan.  Because it was for an acceptable cause and went well, the media has pretty much abandoned it.  It’s not bleeding enough to lead, and it does not fit in with the anti-Bush agenda.  I was curious about what it’s like to serve on a front that’s become a backwater, at least as far as the media is concerned, so a friend of mine who works with troops serving in Afghanistan asked them that question.  My friend came back with the following information:

One of the things that’s good about the lack of coverage is that the military is not subject to the erroneous or distorted reporting that trickles out of Iraq on a regular basis.  Of course, useful, true information also isn’t getting out, which leaves the public, not only untainted by falsehoods, but also unaware of important truths.  Overall, though, those to whom my friend spoke find it something of a relief not to have the press’s hostile eye focused on them relentlessly.  Apparently one enemy, in the battlefield, is more than enough.

Despite the media’s lack of interest in Iraq, my friend’s sources do not think there is much chance that the military, feeling itself unconstrained by the Fourth Estate, will go hog wild and recreate Abu Ghraib.  While there will always be bad people in an organization, and they will do bad things, the organization itself is pretty solid.  The military also has oversight procedures to prevent as much wartime misconduct as possible.

Lack of public interest carries with it the risk that it will be followed by a reduction in funds.  The military guys and gals, however, are not too worried about this.  Indeed, they appear to feel that funding right now is adequate, which my friend says (rightly) is probably a first in government operations.

As far as the troops go, they’re not feeling neglected.  On the one hand, they’re protected from Code Pink-esque anti-War hostility and, on they other hand, they’re still getting the love from those who matter, thanks to the internet and a very large family based support roup.  Morale seems high, with the external threats viewed as relatively low.

Relationships with the locals are also fairly stable.  Headquarters has a special group that connects senior Army leaders with local leaders, so as to keep relationships as smooth as possible.  Indeed, the military takes this responsibility as seriously in Afghanistan as it does in Iraq.

That sounds like a pretty good report from an important front in the War against Islamist hostilities against the West.

Wow! But I wonder about its truth….

If rumor is right, this is the scandal to end all scandals. But if I were a betting woman, I’d bet against this. Hillary is the most calculating person in the world, and I do not believe that she would jeopardize her life long dream of ultimate power by getting involved in a sordid scandal. If the Clinton involved were Bill, I would believe it, but I cannot accept the idea that Hillary is incapable of subordinating her libido to her desire for for the White House.

Hat tip: LGF

UPDATE:  I thought it wasn’t true and — it’s probably not true.  Too out of character.

Those darn UNICEF boxes

Well, Halloween is almost over. The kids, over-stimulated and over-sugared, are having a last snack and then they’re going to bed — no doubt over their vociferous protests.

As is always the case in our neighborhood, it was a very nice Halloween. I know most of the kids who come by to trick or treat, and we always have a block party beforehand, so I can say hi to my friends.

What I noticed this year, though, was how much more ubiquitous those darn UNICEF boxes were. At least half the children held them out to me. I confined myself to a terse, “No, I don’t do UNICEF, but have some candy,” which more than satisfied the children. However, others in the neighborhood were stuffing those boxes, and one boy proudly showed me a completely full box, including a five dollar bill that someone generously handed them.

Do you think that all the people contributing to UNICEF would still give the money if they knew how that money was being spent? Here’s how much of that UNICEF money is distributed:

UNICEF has been a major financier of Palestinian “summer camps” which encourage children to become suicide bombers. One such camp is named for Wafa Idris, a female suicide bomber.

During the late 1990s, UNICEF served as a propaganda organ of the Saddam Hussein regime. Relying solely on Iraqi government statistics, UNICEF and the Saddam government co-authored a report asserting that over a million children in Iraq died because of U.N. sanctions. A map on the first page of the report depicted Kuwait as a province of Iraq.

UNICEF is the primary funder for the “Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Rights Activation” (PYALARA), which UNICEF calls “a major strategic partner in Palestine.” Materials produced by the group are frequently used in schools operated by UNICEF.

PYALARA publishes a 16-page newspaper for young people, The Youth Times (TYT). It is distributed at Palestinian universities, colleges, community centers, and in the many U.N.-operated schools in Palestinian areas.

The organization claims that its mission is “expanding awareness of one’s roots and identity, environment and culture, as well as of other countries and the world at large.” Yet PYALARA’s products follow the typical line of terrorist propaganda, in which nothing is the fault of the Palestinians, everything is the fault of the Jews, and there is never any effort to consider the merits of Israel’s position on anything.  (Hyperlinks omitted.)

Now, some might say these things are this is a small price to pay considering all the good UNICEF does, but it’s questionable whether UNICEF does much good at all:

As for the actual needs of children, UNICEF is sometimes an obstacle to progress. For example, UNICEF has been pressuring Guatemala to stop allowing inter-country adoptions. That is, UNICEF would prefer a child to languish in a Guatemalan orphanage rather than be adopted by a loving family in the United States.

UNICEF’s focus on politics and political correctness has come at the expense of saving the lives of the approximately ten million children under the age of five who die each year from preventable causes.

According to UNICEF, the major cause of child poverty in the world is the free market—even though countries with free markets have vastly lower levels of child poverty than do the kleptocratic, statist economies extolled by UNICEF.

A 2003 report praised the North Korean dictatorship:

the particular strength of the DPRK’s policy framework lies in its comprehensiveness, integration and consistency in addressing the interests of children and women. It has been aligned with the collective production system. The Government has proactively broadened and updated its laws and policies on an ongoing basis, also making an effort to harmonize with international innovations and standards.

Given UNICEF’s affinity for the extreme left, it should be no surprise that UNICEF helps fund the gun- prohibition lobby in Brazil.  (Hyperlinks omitted.)

UNICEF’s role as enemy of the children is, of course, augmented by the role its “peace keepers” play as enemies of the  most helpless children.

The UN is, to my mind, one of the most truly corrupt organizations in the world, one that America funds heavily, but that is nevertheless devoted to anti-Americanism.  (And don’t even get me started on its systemic and violent antisemitism.)  But don’t take my word for it:  check out Eye on the UN, which carefully tracks the UN’s myriad failings and corruption at every level of operation.  And next year, when those sweet kids come by with their little UNICEF boxes, politely say “no” and pass them the candy.  You and they will both be happier.

Islam and women

I’ve posted repeatedly about the fact that one of the main things Islamists fear about the West is the fact that the West has decided not to subjugate its women.  So much of Islamic energy is spent on women’s issues — only not in the way NOW defines them.

To NOW, women’s issues, at the extreme end, are comparable pay, unlimited abortions on demand, and GLBT rights.  At the less extreme end, NOW’s acolytes focus on reasonable things such as equal pay for equal work, equal access to education and opportunities, and freedom from discrimination.

To Islamists, women’s issues include keeping women from driving, preventing them from being educated, confining them to the house, wrapping them in tents when they leave the house, executing them if they are raped, beating them for any infractions, allowing them to die rather than flee burning building inadequately clothed, etc.  (I’m lazy this morning, but you can readily find links for every one of the assertions I just made.)

As part of this wonderful world of viewing women as chattel who must constantly be demeaned and disciplined lest they make their manifestly inadequate men face their own inadequacy, the Islamists have come up with a new and exciting idea:  The woman free wedding.  Yay!

To heck with multiculturalism:  the Islamists — by which I mean, not Muslims generally, but only those who choose to practice the religion in its most extreme, misogynistic, anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, anti-Western form — are bad news, and they practice a debased form of religion.  To my mind, religion should bring out the best in people.  Islamists use their religion to justify the worst.

The earthquake

Last night, my husband was conducting a rather wild bedtime for the kids, while I was working on a project.  I suddenly felt this weird thudding under foot and hollered out “Was that an earthquake?”  “No,” he said.  “It’s just the kids running around.”  Some kids.  Some running!

Happy Halloween!

Today is going to be a slightly fragmented day, since it’s Halloween. I know I’ll get some blogging done — I just don’t know when.

Until then, my best wishes for you and your kids to enjoy a Happy Halloween!

Marine fans — the few, the proud, the cheap!?

Okay, it’s time to get serious here.  I just went over to the pledge and information page for the Project Valour — IT fund raiser and discovered to my immense chagrin that the Marines are trailing the Army.  At this moment, all I can do is quote Claude Raines:  “I’m shocked!  Shocked!”

If you’ve been thinking about donating to this wonderful cause, now is the time.  We Marine supporters cannot let it be said that the Army supporters bested us in fund raising, can we?  The optimal outcome, of course, would be for supporters in every branch to raise the desired amount ($60,000 per branch), but, to my mind, the really, really optimal outcome would be for the Marines to get there first!

American schools avoid responsibility at levels both large and small

Yesterday I wrote about an administrative meeting I attended at our local public school, relating how everyone assured me that the teachers understood a policy document that was to guide them. However, when I asked questions, it became apparent that the teachers, in fact, didn’t understand at least a few of the key concepts in the document.

What really troubled me was the document itself, one that various committees had written over the years. To my mind, it was incomprehensible. First off, every single sentence was passive voice. I don’t like passive voice. My blessedly good high school English teacher taught me that people use passive voice to avoid responsibility, and she was right. In this document, all sorts of things “will be done” for the benefit of the students, but it is never clear who will do them. The document cycled madly between apparently random passive voice references to the school, the teachers, and the administrations, with many sentences carefully avoiding assigning any responsibility at all.

Of course, even if one could determine who had responsibility, I doubt it would be easy for the person with responsibility to figure out what he or she is to do. The document was rich with buzzwords, jargon and meaningless (but very high sounding) phrases. Incidentally, I recognize jargon’s usefulness within an industry. It’s a shorthand. As a lawyer, I use it all the time. It would take me forever to explain to you, the non-lawyer reader, what a demurrer is, but a lawyer instantly understands its meaning and purpose. In this meeting, though, I discovered that none of the participants, teachers, parents or administrations, had any idea what some of the document’s terms meant. I’m sure that, had I done a quiz, at least someone in the room would have been able to answer questions about most of the high sounding words and phrases, but it was disturbing that, as to the three phrases I picked at random, no one could answer my questions.

In other words, the document boldly announced a vision for the school’s future, but did not give anyone clear responsibility for implementing that vision, nor did it use intelligible terms explaining what the responsibility party should actually do. Rather than advocating responsibility, the document represented the abandonment of responsibility.

(Let me add here that I’m really poking at the document, not the school itself. Although I had problems last year, this year my children have superior teachers, and are benefiting from everything good this solidly suburban school has to offer. In other words, despite the document’s muddle, the teachers we have this year are doing just fine — and so are my kids. The school is also well run, which means that the administrators are doing their thing too. But back to my points about responsibility…..)

As often happens when I make a diagnosis (to my own satisfaction) about a problem that’s been vexing me, I suddenly see manifestations of the same syndrome all over the place. This morning, I woke to a wonderful article at American Thinker entitled “I have zero tolerance for zero tolerance policies.” The author is Charles J. Sykes, one of my favorite writers, and someone to whom I give credit for laying the intellectual groundwork that led me to my current neocon world view. In it, Sykes takes issue with the zero tolerance policies that see small children kicked out of public schools for doodling pictures of weapons (or, in the case of the really young, for doodling pictures that a suspicious, one-track adult mind could interpret as weapons). After describing myriad examples of the ridiculous practical effect zero tolerance policies have, Sykes has this to say:

None of this, of course, is really about keeping children safe or even teaching them how to behave: it is about administrators protecting their backsides.

Instead of encouraging children to exercise sound judgment, “zero tolerance” shows adults at their most arbitrary and stupid, especially when it punishes students for doing the right thing.

This is ironic, since these are the folks who are supposed to teach our children “critical thinking skills.” (PS: I also drew pictures of dinosaurs eating people. Shudder.)

In other words, as with so many things that go on in schools today (such as writing unintelligible policy documents), zero tolerance represents the school’s complete unwillingness to think or take responsibility for things. A zero tolerance policy relieves each school teacher or administrator from thinking about the magnitude of the child’s “sin,” or even from thinking about the child at all. It is a way for the school and its employees to avoid responsibility entirely.

I hope the parental worms start turning soon, because we’re creating schools that have bright pictures on the wall, and computers in the classroom, but that are just as bad as, if not worse than, any juvenile hall, complete with lockstep mentality and “zero tolerance.”

UPDATEMichelle Malkin has more on what schools are doing in lieu of stepping up and taking responsibility.

Media people again fail to do their job

Would it surprise any of you to learn that the media’s coverage of the President horse race accords more coverage, and more favorable coverage, to the Democratic candidates? It didn’t surprise me, but it’s still useful to see it in black and white:

Campaign coverage of the 2008 presidential election has been both biased and shallow, according to a study released today by the Project for Excellence in Journalism and Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.

One party dominates, and there’s way too much partisan fluff.

Numbers reveal all: Democratic candidates were the subject of half of the 1,742 recent print, broadcast and online news stories analyzed in the research. Republicans garnered 31 percent.

“Overall, Democrats received more positive coverage than Republicans (35 percent of stories versus 26 percent), while Republicans received more negative coverage than Democrats (35 percent versus 26 percent),” the study said.

Just as interesting is the fact that, while the public really, really wants to know about the candidates’ positions on the issues and their voting records during public office, that’s not what they’re getting:

The public pines for substance. A separate survey found that 77 percent of the respondents said they wanted more solid information on candidate policies and ideas. The press did not deliver.

Instead, almost two-thirds of the coverage focused on the “game” of the political horse race and candidate “performance.” Accounts of their marriages, health and religion followed in importance in 17 percent of the stories — with just 15 percent examining domestic and foreign policies. A mere 1 percent shed light on candidates’ public records.

“The press and the public are not on the same page when it comes to priorities in campaign coverage,” the study said. “This disparity indicates there is room for the press to calibrate its coverage differently to make it more useful and possibly more interesting to citizens.”

You can read (and weep over) the rest of the report here.

Hat tip: American Thinker

Should we be worried?

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” — The Princess Bride

I attended a meeting at the school today for one of the management committees that sees parents and teachers working together to come up with specific details to implement long term strategic plans.  All of the long term goals and the details are memorialized in a document that was remarkable for its generous use of passive voice and all education jargon.  There is, of course, no reason why I should understand education jargon, because I’m not an educator.  Nevertheless, to the extent I was supposed to vote on the document, it seemed to me that I had an obligation to try to understand what it was talking about.

So, I zeroed in on one phrase and asked “What does this mean?”  There was a moment of complete silence.  Then, one of the teachers said, “I’ve always understood it to mean…” and embarked on a laborious explanation that didn’t mean anything.  Another teacher jumped to her aid with more words, less meaning.  I thanked them.

Another phrase, another question:  “What does this mean?”  More silence.  One of the teachers said, “Well, that’s something we learned when we got our degrees.”  Oh.  “Thank you,” I said, completely unelucidated.

Another phrase and, again, I sought a lay person’s definition.  “Oh, we understand that.”  “Good,” I thought, but I asked myself, “Do you really?”

I asked myself that last question again when everyone in the room assured me (no doubt to stop my questions) that, while parents and teachers collaborated on the plan, it’s purpose was to serve the teachers, and they, in fact, understood it just fine.  But as my questions revealed, the four teachers in the room did not understand at least three terms of art in the document.

The whole thing left me feeling that there is a lot of good will at these meetings, both on the part of educators and parents, but not very much clarity.  I’m with Dennis Prager, in that I prefer clarity to agreement — and I’ve often found that, when people achieve clarity, they do find that they agree, at least about some things.  To me, this meeting was rather pointless, because I didn’t understand what was going on, and I left wondering if anyone else in the room did either.

Obama is all smoke, but no fire

The LA Times has a story today that has just an incredibly funny title:

Polls don’t reflect Obama’s star power.

Maybe, if the polls don’t reflect Obama’s star power, it’s because he doesn’t have any. In other words, what makes a star a star, at least in the Hollywood world (and that is the world geographically closest to the LA Times) is the fact that people love him, are crazy about him, flock to him, and are willing to put their support behind him, either by buying tickets to his movies or by voting for him. If people don’t want to do those things, he’s probably not a star.

The secret behind the oxymoron in the title, and the oxymoronic thinking in the whole article is right here, in paragraph 9:

No candidate in recent memory has swept onto the national political scene with greater fanfare. Obama has been on magazine covers and talk shows. Oprah Winfrey endorsed him, and Obama Girl’s unrequited urges turned him into a YouTube sensation. He has raised nearly as much money as Clinton, and in Iowa, at least, has advertised twice as much (4,244 TV spots versus 2,192, according to the Nielsen Co.)

It’s not the people who love Obama, it’s the members of the media who love Obama. They’ve been trying to make him a star, and are frustrated that the public is resisting. Again, because the article used the “star” concept, which is a Hollywood construct, let’s give a Hollywood analogy.

The whole thing reminds me of Matthew McConaughey’s career.  He’s a guy who has been hanging around in Hollywood for a decade without ever becoming a big box office draw.  He’s kind of appealing, and he definitely makes real movies, but he simply doesn’t have star power.  The reason he’s always stuck in my mind, though, is because I carry such vivid memories of the hoopla when he hit Hollywood.  Every newspaper you picked up raved about him, assuring readers that he was going to be the next Tom Cruise, Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, or Brad Pitt.  They wanted him to be a star.  The American viewing public did not — and the public won because they weren’t buying enough tickets to elevate him from perfectly okay actor to STAR.

And it’s precisely the same with Obama.  The media is relentlessly trying to market him as a star and the American public is not buying.  No matter what the media says, they recognize that there’s very little there there.  This is a guy who has minimal practical experience in any area of endeavor, who has little knowledge of the world around him, and who is prone to gaffes of the type the media would savage if he were a Republican.  He has all the charm of a good 5:00 p.m. news anchor — and no matter how much I might enjoy watching one of those guys, I’d never confuse his ability to read a news feed with actual knowledge or governing experience.

So, maybe the LA Times is bewildered about Obama’s failure to ignite the American public with his “star power,” but I certainly am not.

More selective editing from the Progressives

One of the things I landed on, hard, in my post about the great Rush Limbaugh smear was the fact that Media Matters, in order to smear Rush, did some very selective editing so as to destroy entirely the context in which his “phony soldier” comment arose. It seems that another “respected” member of the MSM has been caught engaging in the same tactics — although there is a caveat about this, because it’s unclear whether the source material is itself a fake.

Anyway, here’s the story. In connection with the Scott Thomas Beauchamp affair (that’s the one where TNR’s roving Iraq correspondent told some patently fake stories and TNR is sticking to them), Glenn Greenwald (of sock puppet fame), claims to have received an unsolicited letter from Col. Steven A. Boylan, the Public Affairs Officer and personal spokesman for Gen. David G. Petraeus. Greenwald reprints the letter with lots of ellipses, ends by throwing in his own opinion about the redacted letter:

Everyone can decide for themselves if that sounds more like an apolitical, professional military officer or an overwrought right-wing blogger throwing around all sorts of angry, politically charged invective. Whatever else is true, it is rather odd that this was the sort of rhetoric Col. Boylan chose to invoke in service of his apparent goal of proving that there is nothing politicized about the U.S. military in Iraq.

What’s interesting is all the stuff behind the periodic ellipses in Greenwald’s repost of the alleged letter. The Dread Pundit Bluto received, from Greenwald himself, a copy of the entire email that Boylan purportedly sent (and Boylan has not confirmed whether he did, in fact, send the email). Bluto reprints the entire email, bolding all the bits Greenwald left out — bits that give context to what Boylan allegedly said. Here’s are just the first few paragraphs of the entire letter, with the parts that Greenwald redacted highlighted in bold:

Glenn,

I had hoped to post this in response to your article, but apparently it is closed already.

I am not sending this as anyone’s spokesperson, just a straight military Public Affairs Officer, with about 27 months overall time in Iraq who is concerned with accuracy, context and characterization of information and has worked with media of all types since joining the career field in 1991. The issues of accuracy, context, and proper characterization is something that perhaps you could do a little research and would assume you are aware of as a trained lawyer.

I do enjoy reading your diatribes as they provide comic relief here in Iraq. The amount of pure fiction is incredible. Since a great deal of this post is just opinion and everyone is entitled to their opinions, I will not address those even though they are shall we say — based on few if any facts. That does surprise me with your training as a lawyer, but we will leave those jokes to another day.

You do have one fact in your post — then Brigadier General Bergner did work at the National Security Council on matters concerning Iraq. Not surprising as he had returned from a year plus deployment to Iraq as the Multi-National Division – North Assistant Division Commander. It would seem reasonable that someone with Iraq experience would work issues at the NSC that was familiar with and had experience in Iraq. All else after that portion in your post about Major General Bergner is just your wishful thinking to support your flawed theory.

So, right off the bat, we learn why Greenwald received the unsolicited letter, we learn that Boylan is not writing in his professional capacity, and we learn that he has just a few factual quibbles with Greenwald’s view of events. You should definitely head over to Bluto’s place to see the rest, and to get a sense of just how much Greenwald changed the meaning of the original text with his selective redactions.

As I noted in my Rush post, the tactic that Greenwald and Media Matters use is the “reporting” equivalent of those movie advertisements that say “Johnny Critic of ABS news said ‘It’s amazing….’” And then, of course, when you track down the whole Johnny Critic review, you discover he actually said “It’s amazing that anybody would pay money to see this piece of garbage.”

I’ve said it before and before, and I’ll say it again and again: if you read anything in the MSM, double and triple check the facts supporting the reporter’s or pundit’s conclusions. They often do not play fair.

UPDATE: I seem to have gotten linked at Salon, and I’ve had a few people take issue with the fact that Greenwald included a link to the original letter at another website. I don’t care.

The bone I’m picking is with the fact that he created a straw man against which to argue when he selectively edited the original letter and used that selectively edited text as his target. Once Greenwald did that, he created a strong disincentive for readers to trot over to the link and read the whole thing. His readers trust that Greenwald, in his redaction, nevertheless preserved the original text’s meaning — which he did not.

So my beef is with a stylistic approach to argument, not with the argument itself. There are three reasons that lead people to edit their opponent’s statements to suit their own argument, rather than arguing against what their opponent said in the first place: carelessness (my most common sin), intellectual puniness (and I won’t accuse Greenwald of that), or an agenda (which Greenwald openly displays and which Media Matters displayed when it went after Rush).

So, Greenwald had an agenda, and he pursued it. That’s fine, but he used a smarmy lawyer’s tactic to do it, and that’s not fine. He deserves to be called on that tactic.

UPDATE II: Check out Best of the Web, and scroll down for the discussion on 101 Ways to Abuse a Quote, which is another example of the point I’m making. Incidentally, it gives a name to the use of ellipses that I describe above: dowdification.

UPDATE III: Lorie Byrd has chimed in with her always interesting take on the ellipses issue:

The Greenwald post linked above is a good example of how those on the left have argued the issues surrounding the war in Iraq by omitting relevant facts. The media has done the same in much of their reporting. The way Greenwald omitted the section citing the errors Boylan noted from his post trying to paint the email as bizarre is the same way those on the left have debated the war in Iraq. They often link to a report, but then will cherry pick certain portions, while ignoring any favorable ones. In some cases, positive reports are not mentioned at all, but are omitted entirely. It is no wonder so many Americans still believe there has been no progress made in Iraq.

As with me, her beef isn’t with the underlying factual argument, it’s with the way Greenwald selectively editing his opponent’s writing to create a factual straw man he could then attack.

UPDATE IV:  I had the misfortune to get linked at a site called Balloon Juice, which has a large readership, so I can anticipate a big dose of snarky, ill-informed comments coming in.  Just FYI, after Balloon Juice castigated me for being unfamiliar with the purpose behind ellipses, I wrote this response (and yes, my response is snarky too, but I’m tired of being challenged for things I didn’t write or accused of being ill-informed about things I know quite well):

Sweetheart, I know all about using ellipses when writing to reduce the amount of text or tighten an argument. As a lawyer, I use it all the time to remove extraneous, or irrelevant material. I actually get that bit.

My problem was, and continues to be, that Greenwald removed substantive material to create a straw man against which he could argue. That’s a stylistic approach that interests me irrespective of the merits of Greenwald’s factual assertions (something I quite carefully and explicitly did not touch upon). I simply found dishonest the way in which Greenwald castigated Boylan’s writing after having edited it down to something that it did not start out to be.

So, if anyone is doing the la-la-la, hide the facts approach to writing, you’d better check in with Mr. Greenwald. All I did was point out the elephant in his intellectual living room. I didn’t put it there.

Oil is not really at record high prices

Once again, there’s a news story saying that crude oil prices are at record highs (emphasis mine):

Oil prices rose above $93 a barrel to a new trading high in Asia Monday on growing political tensions in the Middle East, a weak dollar and worries about the supply outlook ahead of the winter.

“The strong price is due to supply concerns in general, on top of which we have the geopolitical news,” said Victor Shum, a Singapore-based energy analyst with Purvin & Gertz.

Light, sweet crude for December delivery rose as much as $1.34 to $93.20 a barrel, a new intraday record, in early afternoon Asian electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, before slipping back to $93.05.

That was still up $1.19 from Friday’s record close of $91.86 a barrel. The previous trading high was $92.22 a barrel, set Friday.

Already last week, I began wondering about these stories, but I focused in my post on prices at the gas pump.  With a little help from my readers, I learned that, in terms of inflation adjusted relative dollar values, gas prices are definitely high, but they are not at record highs.  Indeed, I’m willing to bet that, to the extent that more than 50% of every dollar I spend on gas goes to various state and federal taxes, what I’m actually paying for gas is substantially lower than comparable prices in previous decades.

Because of that tax factor (and I live in one of the highest gasoline tax states), it occurred to me that it would be more useful to analyze crude oil prices, because they’re fixed by the market, not by the government.  And what I discovered is that, once again, the dollars are not really record highs.  In a simplistic way, of course, they are record highs, because gas has never before had the number 93 affixed to each barrel.  But, as I mentioned, that is simplistic, and represents the financial understanding of a grade schooler.  As with gasoline, in real dollars, adjusted for inflation, we are not setting any records.  To the contrary — we’re quite far away from the golden years of crude oil highs in the mid-1970s, and that despite a a war in the world’s oil producing region.

So, next time you’re at the gas station and feeling the pain at the pump, don’t think like a simple minded AP writer who is stuck on the dollar amount.  Instead, congratulate yourself that you’re paying less for gas than we have at times past, and think about petitioning your government to lower those damn gas taxes.

You can help turn our wounded service members into happy computer geeks

It’s the annual Project Valour — IT fund-raiser, which raises money to buy laptops for severely wounded service members.  Here’s a little more info about the fund-raiser:

As of October 2007, Valour-IT has distributed over 1500 laptops to severely wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines across the country.

 

Valour-IT accepts donations in any amount to support the purchase and distribution of laptops, but also offers a sponsorship option. An individual or organization may sponsor a wounded soldier by completely funding the cost of a laptop and continuing to provide that soldier with personal support and encouragement throughout recovery. This has proved to be an excellent project for churches, groups of coworkers or friends, and members of community organizations such Boy Scouts.

Originally Valour-IT provided the voice-controlled software, but now works closely with the Department of Defense Computer/electronic Accommodations Program (CAP): CAP supplies the adaptive software and Valour-IT provides the laptop. In addition, DoD caseworkers serve as Valour-IT’s “eyes and ears” at several medical centers, identifying possible laptop recipients.

Fund-raising websites ally themselves with a specific branch of the military, and use their blogs to encourage people, not only to donate, but to do so by clicking on the donation link associated with that military branch.  Will it surprise you to learn that, even thought I’m a member of the wonderful Navy League, I chose the Marines?  I’ve always had a soft spot for the Marines.

So, I’ll keep you posted on how the Marines are doing in the donation race, and I encourage those of you who are interested to donate to this wonderful cause.  (Incidentally, as of right now, the Marines are ahead.)

Hat tip:  Michelle Malkin

Hitting TNR where it lives

Censorship occurs when the government tries to shut down speech. Marketplace forces work when an entity in the business of purveying speech learns that its particular type of speech will not be profitable. Confederate Yankee is suggesting that we put the marketplace to work against TNR, not because it is more or less anti-War than any other MSM organ, but because it is relentlessly perpetuating a known lie that slanders the United States Military. You can read here CY’s explanation of why he believes a boycott affecting contacting TNR’s advertisers is an appropriate thing to do.

Feeling envy

I’m a fairly simple soul in my tastes.  I live a very nice middle class life, and usually am not troubled by a desire to gild this lily.  I don’t need a car fancier than a minivan (although I discovered yesterday that it would probably be worth my while to investigate in a navigation system), I like plain clothes, I find jewelry distracting, I’m a homebody and don’t need fancy entertainment, and so on.  My home, my family and my computer are pretty much all I need to entertain me.

Also, I’m fairly financially secure, which is a far cry from my childhood, which always reminded me of the financial thin edge described so well by Mr. Micawber in David Copperfield:  “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”  Because Mr. Bookworm and I grew up in houses that valued education, and we were willing to work for advanced degrees, we make a decent living.  Given all that, I’m surprised at how envious I’m feeling right now.

You see yesterday I met a very nice man at a soccer match.  He’s about my age, has a few children, drives a minivan, and is worth (at a guess) about $70 million.  I do not envy him his three luxury homes, his kids’ fancy private schools, his technological gadgets, or the movers and shakers who are a regular part of his world.  Nope.  What I instantly desired, and I just can’t get over envying, was his freedom from the irritating minutiae of life.  He’s not pulled in a million directions.  His personal assistant manages the details all of us usually handle for ourselves:  she tracks his and his kids’ schedules, books his trips, makes sure his homes are in good shape and ready for his taking residence, pays his bills, keeps his electronics up and running, etc.  His cook buys his food, cooks it, serves it, and cleans up afterwards.  His housekeeper, obviously, keeps the house.  All of those are the maddening details of my own life.  And of course, he doesn’t have the single biggest worry that nags all of us:  “Will this (whatever “this” happens to be at the moment) cost too much?”

I think I was more envious than I would usually be because, as I said, he is a very nice man.  In my town I meet lots and lots of extremely wealthy people and I usually don’t envy them because there’s nothing about their lives that even vaguely compares to mine.  They live such rarefied lives that I don’t see any points of connection.  This guy, however, was tremendously low key, and the one child of his that I do know is a delight — unaffected, hard-working, and well-mannered.  In other words, I could see this guy living my own life.  His values are the same as mine; he’s simply done away with all the hassles.  And so, every time I’ve passed the mirror today, I’ve seen myself washed in a pale shade of jealousy green.

The indoctrination is only sort of working

The global warming indoctrination is working — up to a point.  In common with the school children in this John Stossel video, my children are worried about a climate change Armageddon and are hostile to Western culture because “it’s all our fault.”  It’s a common topic of conversation.  Hot days, cold days, nature shows — whatever.  Global warming comes up.

But the one thing that the schools have completely failed to do is to teach the children the single trick that will help them, powerless little things that they are, take some responsibility for reducing emissions:  they haven’t trained them to turn off the lights. In my house, you can track the children’s movements by the bright lights blazing in every room they’ve entered, even if they only passed through on their way to something else.

If the schools are going to be doing this kind of indoctrination, I wish they’d at least teach the kids some practical skills, instead of having them come home to my fog-ridden neighborhood insisting that I start cooking with a solar oven in the back yard.

This is what Michael Moore wants for you

I won’t add anything here, since I think you can draw your own conclusions:

Record numbers of Britons are flying abroad for medical treatment to escape NHS waiting lists and the rising threat of hospital superbugs.

More than 70,000 Britons will have treatment abroad this year, a figure that is forecast to rise

Thousands of “health tourists” are going as far as India, Malaysia and South Africa for major operations – such is their despair over the quality of health services.

The first survey of Britons opting for treatment overseas shows that fears of hospital infections and frustration with NHS waiting lists are fuelling the increasing trend.

More than 70,000 Britons will have treatment abroad this year – a figure that is forecast to rise to almost 200,000 by the end of the decade. Patients needing major heart surgery, hip operations and cataracts are using the internet to book operations to be carried out thousands of miles away.

India is the most popular destination for surgery, followed by Hungary, Turkey, Germany, Malaysia, Poland and Spain. But dozens more countries are attracting custom. Research by the Treatment Abroad website shows that Britons have travelled to 112 foreign hospitals, based in 48 countries, to find safe, affordable treatment.

May I recommend to you. . . .

. . . . a wonderful opinion piece that Cinnamon Stillwell wrote about the San Francisco drag queens dressed as nuns who took Holy Communion, not as an act of faith, but to ridicule the Church.  Not only does Cinnamon expose the fundamentally anti-Christian attitude behind this attack on the deepest principles of the Church, she also shows the hypocrisy inherent in the attack on an easy target, one that will not fight back, while the same activist groups, for the most part, ignore completely the violently anti-homosexual policies in the Muslim world.

A forum to discuss an article that might run on American Thinker

I’m heading in the pre-dawn hours tomorrow morning for a day of soccer far from home. I have reason to believe that something I wrote might run on American Thinker tomorrow (Saturday), and that people might want to comment about it here. (Indeed, those of you who visit my blog regularly may recognize what I wrote and even be able to wave hello to your own helpful contributions.) Therefore, consider this the open thread for the American Thinker article, or for anything else you might want to say.

All comments, of course, are subject to my usual blog rules. I’m always delighted with civil, rational input but, at the first opportunity, will destroy nonsense, obscenities, personal attacks, threats, racism, etc.

I think she’s one of us

I like Elizabeth Lowell’s romantic thrillers. I’m reading her most recent one, Innocent as Sin, about an adventurous, romantic hunt for a cold-blooded arms merchant.  Early on, at a meeting between an information broker and a 60 Minutes style news group negotiating the handover of information about the bad guy, the information broker offers some photos to prove his case.  As it happens, we, the readers, already know that the photos are what they purport to be.  At page 18, this bit of dialog ensues:

“Pictures are easy to fake,” Carson said.  “Remember the CBS National Guard memos.”

Steele laughed out loud.  “Those were badly done counterfeits.  No intelligence agency would have bought them and no self-respecting journalist should have.”

You can do it in public, but not in private?

Britain continues to confuse me. Four men who had an orgy in a public park received formal apologies because fire fighters stared at them. On the other hand, a man getting it on with bicycle (yes, that’s not a typo) was arrested and placed on a sex offenders list. If you can draw a logic chain between the two, I’ll be impressed. All I can think is that gays are a protected class in England, while bicycles are not.

Surprising movie review at the NYTimes

I like to tweak NY Times movie reviews (heck, any MSM movie reviews), because of the relentless Progressive punditry that characterizes them, regardless of the movie’s actual content.  With a movie about Jimmy Carter on the table, I was therefore prepared for a full frontal case of anti-Bush commentary in the review.   It wasn’t there.  Instead, Manolah Dargis wrote a surprising review of Jonathan Demme’s hagiographic new movie about Jimmy Carter, including language actually critical of the one-sided (read:  pro-Palestinian) approach to the Middle East that both the Left and Carter invariably display:

This sense of simplicity is underscored by Mr. Carter’s folksy manner and by Mr. Demme’s representation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a tidy loop with images of Israelis bulldozing Palestinian homes followed by images of dead Israelis after a suicide bombing. I couldn’t help but wonder what the leftist intellectual Ellen Willis would have made of Mr. Carter’s interest in Israel. In a 2003 essay, “Is There Still a Jewish Question? Why I’m an Anti-Anti-Zionist,” Ms. Willis wrote that “the left has focused on Israeli acts of domination and human rights violations with an intense and consistent outrage that it fails to direct toward comparable or worse abuses elsewhere, certainly toward the unvarnished tyrannies in the Middle East (where, for instance, is the divestment campaign against Saudi Arabia?).”

The former president’s evangelical Christianity makes his focus on the Holy Land all the more intriguing. Yet, while Mr. Carter invokes Jesus almost as much as he does Israel in the documentary, Mr. Demme never directly puts these two parts of his subject’s life into play with each other. Neither does the filmmaker engage with any of the more inflammatory claims from Mr. Carter’s book, including this: “There are constant and vehement political and media debates in Israel concerning its policies in the West Bank, but because of powerful political, economic and religious forces in the United States, Israeli government decisions are rarely questioned or condemned, voices from Jerusalem dominate in our media, and most American citizens are unaware of circumstances in the occupied territories.”

“Man From Plains” isn’t about engagement; it’s about disengagement from Mr. Carter’s critics and his more provocative beliefs.

Credit where credit is due:  this is not a knee jerk review.  I’m impressed.