If you haven’t already, consider subscribing to my new newsletter

I have to admit that I’m enjoying have a newsletter.  Blogging is like a bulletin board, while writing a newsletter feels like sending mail to a friend.  It tickles different parts of my brain.

I’m also trying to make the newsletter somewhat different from the blog.  My goal is for the newsletter to have original content, in addition to links to blog material, so that it is always a fresh, rather than a redundant, experience for you.

If you aren’t already receiving the new Bookworm Room newsletter, you can subscribe by putting your email address in the subscription form in the right-hand column.  —>

 

Can’t. Help. Myself. Must. Boast.

John Hawkins, at Right Wing News, just published his list of the 60 Best Conservative Blogs for 2012.  You can only imagine how honored I am to be included as No. 25 on that list. Check the list out and see how your favorite bloggers fared.

I’ll just add that John is one of my favorite people in the blogosphere, not just because he’s a great political commentator and writer, but because he’s a person who constantly strives to be the best person possible.  Whenever he does posts at PJ Media about ways to live a better life, I make sure to read them.  This one, detailing some mind hacks that we can use to keep a positive attitude, is still one of all-time my favorites.  I routinely apply them to my own thinking, and encourage my children to do the same.

Speaking of PJ Media, after reading John’s list, David Swindle was inspired to write his own.  David is asking for your help in narrowing down his list.

Ch-ch-ch-changes — I’ve got a newsletter!

Blogs without newsletters are so “first decade of the 21st century.”  Me?  I’m always sort of up to the minute, so I signed up with MailChimp, a free (or, if you want or need the fancy stuff, paid) site that hosts email newsletters.  I’m actually rather impressed with MailChimp.  It’s very easy to use and, for a small blogger, provides more than enough in the way of free services.

If you’ve ever commented on this blog, you probably woke up to find a newsletter in your inbox.  If you didn’t get a newsletter, but would like to, you can sign up in the subscription box that you’ll find on the right-hand side of my blog. —>

The newsletter currently has two parts:  links to the major posts I put up recently and (to entice you to stick with the newsletter even if you’ve already read the posts) original content that you won’t find at the blog.  A small percentage of this original content will be blatant shilling for Amazon products.  As I mentioned the other day, if you reach Amazon through one of my links, I get a teeny percentage of whatever you ultimately end up buying.  If you’re worried about your privacy, don’t be:  I have no idea who is ordering from Amazon, what they buy, or how much they pay.  I just know that, once a month, I get a notice from Amazon telling me that there’s a small amount of money heading my way.

My one request is that, if you find a particular newsletter worthy, please consider forwarding it to any of your friends who won’t consider you a terrible pest for filling their inboxes with stuff they didn’t ask for.

At last! My inner diva is getting the recognition she deserves

You know how there are some people who never get nominated for things?  I am not one of those people.  When I was in junior high school, I was nominated “Most likely to be a librarian” (wrong!) and “Most likely to wear braces forever” (which seemed likely to be true for a while).  In high school, I was nominated “Most likely to spend her life with her nose stuck in a book” (how did they know)?

Children, especially teenagers, can be cruel, and I have to admit that, aside from being mildly grateful that my classmates even knew my name, I found those nominations a just a wee bit hurtful.  This latest nomination in my life, though, just thrills me:

Due to circumstances beyond our control, we were unable to hold the competition last year for the most coveted honor in the right-o-sphere, the title, Grande Conservative Blogress Diva.  As you know we here at GayPatriot define a diva as “a strong, confident woman who commands the respect of men.”

“A conservative blogress diva”, we noted in 2009, “need not be conservative  per se; all she must do command the respect (or have otherwise earned the admiration) of gay conservatives.”  In 2006, I observed that some nominees are are libertarian. And others, while more centrist, distinguish themselves by their iconoclasm and the manner in which they take on the silliness of certain leftists — and conservative pretenders, i.e., those who, in the words of one of our nominees, “drive . . . liberals nuts.”

Please indicate those blogresses, whom you feel, meet the criteria for Grande Conservative Blogress Diva.

Me!! A Grande Conservative Blogress Diva!  Except that I’m not yet.  If you read the post, you’ll see I’m among suggested nominees.  If you would be good enough to comment at the best moving from me from “suggested” to “actual,” I would be most grateful.  If the honoree of being a nominee for something flattering, rather than, well, yes, insulting, becomes mine, I will be sure to let you know when the vote rolls around!  Incidentally, I’m so impressed by my potential nominee competition that I don’t cherish any hopes of winning.  I’m just excited to be potentially nominated.

Meanwhile, I’m off humming to myself ‘Yeah, baby, I’m a suggested potential nominee for Grande Conservative Blogress Diva!  Woo-hoo!”

 

I am NOT ignoring you — and you, thank goodness, are not ignoring me

Sorry if I’ve appeared to ignore your comments lately.  The way it’s always worked is that WordPress automatically mails me your comments.  For the last 48 hours . . . no comments.  I felt a bit abandoned, but figured that you all had more important things in your life than me.  (To get a feeling of my tone right now, think of this joke:  How many Jewish mothers does it take to screw in a light bulb?  Never mind, I’ll just sit here in the dark.)  Still, something seemed peculiar, so I checked my WordPress dashboard, and realized you guys hadn’t abandoned me.  All the missing comments were piled up there.  Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!

I investigated my WordPress settings and satisfied myself that all was well there.  A quick Gmail check, though, revealed that, for reasons unknown, Gmail had decided that all my blog comments are spam.  I’ve had a stern talk with Gmail (well, I marked all the comments as “not spam”), and it’s promised never to do something naughty like that again.  Whew!

That out-of-tune brassy sound you hear is me tooting my own horn

Real Clear Politics, Sunday, September 30, 2012:


I’m excited not only for myself, but for Laer Pearce, whose book, Crazifornia: Tales from the Tarnished State – How California is Destroying Itself and Why it Matters to America, is the subject of the post that RCP picked up.  It’s a great book, and as many Americans as possible should read it, so that they can fully understand what Progressive politics will do to the American landscape.

Giving you the heads up that I’ll be trying to make a little more money off the blog

Y’all know that, for some years, I’ve been trying to monetize this blog.  I started off with some small advertisements (see sidebar), put up a Pay Pal link for donations (see sidebar), and then went to bigger advertisements (see sidebar too).  I’ve also done that irritating things where some corporate computer algorithm highlights various words in my posts.

Part of me hates the visual clutter all this stuff creates, but I have to admit it works.  I haven’t seen a lot of money come in, but I’ve seen some money come in, and it’s just enough to make the clutter worthwhile.

I’m now embarking on another monetizing enterprise, which is that I’m signing up with blog programs that promise to hook me up with advertisers who are really to pay for posts (i.e., sponsored posts).  Because I care deeply about my reputation as a blogger, I want to promise you that I will never sneak paid advertising into a post.

I consider it “sneaky” even if I note somewhere else on the blog, other than in the post itself, that I’m getting paid for writing posts).  If I get a paid opportunity to write about something that interests me, I will seize that opportunity — and fully disclose to you the fact that I am getting paid for the post.  Do not expect my blog suddenly to turn into an advertisers’ forum.  If I write more than one of these posts per week, I’d be very surprised.  However, if this does really turn into a serious gig, I might turn a dedicated page in my blog over to sponsored posting — and I’d let you know about that too.

Anyway, I mention this now for two reasons.  First, as part of my sign-up with PayPerPost.com, I have to confirm that I own this blog, and I do so by including in a post this sentence:  Why does the neighborhood buck?   (Sounds vaguely obscene, doesn’t it?)  Second, with luck, I may start getting some interested advertisers sooner, rather than later, so I thought I’d give you the heads up now.  Wish me luck.  It’s high time that I start earning some money with my writing.

While I’m away….

Yes, starting tomorrow morning, I’m going on vacation for the next three weeks.  I have no idea what kind of internet access I’ll have during that time.  As always, Don Quixote is stepping up to help me out and, as always, I am so grateful to him.  Believe me, I haven’t missed the fact that his posts, which cover everything from politics to possible, always garner the most vigorous and thoughtful debate this blog sees.  I also hope that my friend Danny Lemieux will be able to post (hint, hint), although I know that he’s going through a very busy time at work.  His posts, too, garner a ton of fascinating responses.  Please treat him kindly while I’m away.  Their friendship is precious to me, and I’m grateful that they step forward to help me out.

I’ve also lined up a few of my own posts, which will pop up at random intervals over the next few weeks (for what it’s worth).

Lastly, if there’s time, I’ll either put up some posts myself or ask Don Quixote to post them on my behalf.

One other thing:  When I’m away, if your post ends up in moderation, expect that it will take a bit longer than you’re used to for it to come out of moderation.

Conservative academics — they do exist!

I find living in Marin County to be politically fraught.  Conservatives, after all, make up only 25% or so of the voting population.  The academic world, however, makes Marin look like an all-inclusive environment.  Depending on your area of scholarly expertise, if you’re a conservative academic, you might find yourself being tagged as yet another unloved One Percenter, not because you’re rich, but because 99% of your colleagues think that your politics are evil.

Although I enjoy the sniper’s anonymity in my own writing, I have an enormous amount of respect for those academics who are not only conservative, but are openly conservative.  That’s brave. I’d therefore like to bring two of these brave conservatives to your attention.  One blogs anonymously, which I totally get, and one blogs under her own name, which makes her a very rare creature indeed.

The first blog is Cogitating Duck, which is written by an academic who also happens to be a pretty fine cartoonist. He’s also a person after my own heart, because he is no friend to the mainstream media, which he enjoys deconstructing just as much as I do.

The second is YDS:  The Clare Spark Blog.  Clare is an iconoclast, searching for truth in a very untruthful world.  Her blog instantly appealed to me, because her latest post attacks yet another HBO Left fest, this one in the form of a staggeringly dull, almost amateurish movie purporting to show the “exciting” affair between Martha Gelhorn, a Leftist, and Ernest Hemingway, a Leftist.

Hat tip:  Doug

It’s not that I don’t love you; it’s just that it’s hard to sit upright at the moment

As I’ve mentioned here before, one of the legacies of my pregnancies is chronic (mostly) low-grade back pain that periodically decides to make itself known.  I’m in one of those painful cycles right now.  I’m certainly not in agony, but sitting upright for any extended period of time is painful.  More than that, even though the pain is fairly tolerable, I keep worrying that I’ll do something — some movement or lack of movement — that will instantly transmute tolerable pain into complete immobility.  I’m therefore constrained more by fear than by discomfort.

The net effect of this problem is that I’m able to sit at the computer only at brief intervals throughout the day.  This wouldn’t necessarily preclude reading and writing (in byte-size chunks, you might say), but for the fact that I’ve got the whole family at home.  I’m usually hauled away from my self-indulgence within mere minutes of sitting down.

After two days, I’m beginning to feel a bit more stable, so I’m getting more optimistic about computer time.  It won’t be until the end of August, though, that I’ll have the house back to myself for periods greater than ten or fifteen seconds.  I’m counting the days….  I think the dog is too.  While it’s lovely that the neighborhood kids congregate here, she feels that the safest place is huddled in the furthest corner under my desk.

Blogging today

Some of you might have thought I was silent today in solitary with Michelle Malkin, Ace of Spades, and other bloggers who have gone dark to remind everyone what happens if people such as Brett Kimberlin, or entities such as our own government, silence bloggers, either through active malevolence or from non-benign neglect in the face of that active malevolence.

The truth is, though, that I was silent, not out of principle, but becauase this his has been a very busy day for me.  This is the first moment I’ve had to sit down at my computer.  I toyed with the idea of making a virtue of necessity, and holding myself out as a blogger who is making a symbolic protest, but I couldn’t do it.

Bloggers are all about speech — written speech.  While I appreciate and respect those who want to remind the world what it would be like if bloggers were not active, I prefer to exercise my speech, rather than to stifle myself.  So here I am, un-stifled.

My self-imposed responsibilities as a blogger are many and varied:  I blog to amuse myself and, I hope, to amuse you.  I blog to disseminate information.  I blog in an effort to make people think about important and picayune issues of our day, in ways that can be fresh or repetitive, depending on my brain power.  I blog because I write compulsively, and turning me off is pretty much like trying to stop that irritating leaking tap in your bathroom.  I am not going to let the Brett Kimberlins of this world shut me up, even for a day.  If I don’t blog on a given day, it’s because I don’t want to, not because they don’t want me to.

Having said all that, I’ll also freely acknowledge that, when my blog falls silent, that silence is about as impressive as the famous tree falling in an empty forest.  When Michelle Malkin and Ace of Spades fall silent, people sit up and take notice.  Their bully pulpit in the blogosphere makes the very fact of their silence tantamount to speech.

I don’t actually know if I’ll have anything else of note to say today.  I kept having random thoughts pop into my head when I was driving around but, by the time I got to my destinations, I’d forgotten those thoughts before I could make a note to myself.  I’m sure there were flashes of genius.  Just as the biggest fish is always the one that got away, the most brilliant thought is the one you quickly forget.  Just take my word for it:  I would have dazzled you.

 

Maryland judge confused about Free Speech and the marketplace of ideas

I bet all of you all remember “Everyone Blog About Bret Kimberlin Day.”  After all, it took place less than a week ago.  For those unfamiliar with it, this is the way it worked:

Conservatives bloggers learned that Brett Kimberlin, using both the legal system and a bit of self-help, was harassing those bloggers who brought attention to a past that included planting bombs (one of which so terribly maimed a man that the man later committed suicide), drug dealing, and imprisonment.  They also brought to light a series of current unsavory associations with far-Left and some not-so-far Left organizations.

In order to expand the scope of available targets for Kimberlin, thereby substantially reducing his ability to harass any one blogger, conservative bloggers engaged in a blog burst.  Most of them did precisely what the original bloggers involved had done:  they relayed, in straightforward fashion, accurate facts about Kimberlin’s life and associations.  Although I have no specific information on the subject, it appears that some of these bloggers may have gotten carried away and made threats.  Credible threats constitute an illegal activity.

In the normal world, the law goes after the person making the threats.  In Maryland, though, with Kimberlin leading the charge, and Judge Cornelius Vaughey (Ret.) wielding the pen, the person who asked others to tell the truth is imprisoned.  I know this sounds unbelievable in a country ostensibly bounded by the First Amendment’s freedom of speech but, until any contrary information is released, this seems to be exactly what happened to blogger Aaron Worthing, who was one of the first to spread the facts about Kimberlin.  Patterico explains:

Aaron Walker (aka Worthing) was arrested today in a Maryland courtroom. Several days ago, convicted bomber and perjurer Brett Kimberlin had obtained a “peace order” against Walker, and today Walker was arrested for violating the order. My information is that the judge claimed that Walker violated the provision against electronic communication with Kimberlin, because Aaron blogged about Kimberlin — thus “inciting” others to contact Kimberlin.

In other words, as best as I can tell, Aaron Walker was arrested today in the United States of America for blogging about a public figure.

Go to the Patterico link, please, to get the whole picture.

What happened to Aaron Walker/Worthing isn’t just one bad thing happening to one person.  It is a test case.  Patterico again:

One wonders if this is his [Kimberlin's] new strategy: he sues you for your blogging, and simultaneously obtains a peace order saying you harassed him. If you blog about him again, he gets a judge to rubber stamp a criminal complaint for violating the peace order.

Now, if you don’t show up for the lawsuit, he gets a default judgment. If you do, you get arrested for blogging.

Catch 22. And a nice scam if you can get judges gullible enough to go along with it.

This is, I had thought, the United States of America. I thought we had freedom of speech here.

It will take a few days to nail down with precision what happened. But if the account I have given here turns out to be correct — if the basis of the arrest today was that Aaron incited others by blogging about a public figure — I want all lovers of the First Amendment to stand tall and ride to Aaron’s defense.

Because they’re not done. They claim they’re just getting started:

Incidentally, I suspect that Vaughey was just a patsy.  He’s a retired judge, whose tenure on the Court really predated the internet era.  It’s probably that he really did not understand the dynamics here.

Hurrah! It’s Everybody Blog About #BrettKimberlin Day *UPDATED & BUMPED*

[UPDATE: This is why what we're doing is so desperately important. Not only are some police turning a blind eye to Kimberlin's activities (as described below), some of them are being innocently coopted into becoming armed weapons in Kimberlin's campaign.]

[UPDATE:  Bumped this so new visitors to the site can see what's going on today.  There are newer posts below.]

Brett Kimberlin is not a nice person.  Indeed, he’s a singularly un-nice person and one who, sadly, has a huge war chest.  I’ll let Robert Stacy McCain explain:

Kimberlin was convicted of multiple federal felonies in 1981 and sentenced to 50 years in prison after he terrorized a small Indiana town in a brutal crime weeklong bombing spree. Law enforcement officials told the Indianapolis Star they believed the bombings were committed in an attempt to distract authorities investigating the 1978 murder of a 65-year-old grandmother, a crime in which Kimberlin was a suspect.

In recent months, Kimberlin has used a strategy of legal intimidation and workplace harassment in an apparent attempt to silence his critics, including blogger Seth Allen, Virginia attorney Aaron Walker and Los Angeles deputy district attorney Patrick Frey.

[snip]

Convicted of drug smuggling and forging documents as well as numerous violent felonies, Kimberlin claims to have ceased his lifelong criminal career after being released from federal prison in 2000. Yet his habitual dishonesty – Kimberlin was first convicted of perjury at age 18 – appears unchanged. As recently as 2007, Time magazine reported that Kimberlin was gaining notoriety on progressive blog sites by “repeatedly asserting as fact things that are not true.” According to Walker, Kimberlin falsely accused him of assault after a courthouse encounter in which Kimberlin attempted to photograph Walker in violation of court policy. Walker says Maryland officials have refused to investigate his complaints of criminal actions by Kimberlin, and has asked his blog readers to contact those officials to demand action:

Attorney for Montgomery County
50 Maryland Avenue, 5th Floor
Rockville, Maryland 20850 states.attorney@montgomerycountymd.gov. 240-777-7300

In far-Leftist land, though, being an unrepentant criminal convicted of violent crimes just isn’t that big a deal.  As McCain explains, Kimberlin is “employed as the director of a 501(c)3 non-profit that has collected $1.8 million in contributions since 2005.”  Indeed, Kimberlin has a lot of interesting contacts:

Kimberlin is a known associate of Neal Rauhauser, a Democrat campaign consultant who has described himself as a computer “hacker.” Kimberlin, director of the tax-exempt Justice Through Music Project, is also involved in another tax-exempt group, Velvet Revolution, which has gained national attention by demanding criminal prosecution of high-profile figures including Republican strategist Karl Rove, U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Tom Donohue, and the late Internet news entrepreneur Andrew Breitbart.

For many people, that would be a lifetime and a half of criminal behavior and sleazy associations.  For Kimberlin, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.  He’s lately embarked upon a full-time career of harassing, both legally and illegally, those conservatives writers who have had the temerity to repeat the verified facts about his unsavory life.  Michelle Malkin explains:

Over the past year, Aaron Walker (who blogged as “Aaron Worthing”), Patterico, Liberty Chick, and now Stacy McCain have been targeted by convicted Speedway bomber Brett Kimberlin because they dared to mention his criminal past or assisted others who did. The late Andrew Breitbart warned about Kimberlin and company.

[snip]

This is a convoluted, ongoing nightmare that combines abuse of the court system, workplace intimidation, serial invasions of privacy, perjury, and harassment of family members. McCain was forced to move with his family out of his house this week, and has just gotten a small taste of what Aaron and Patterico have been enduring over the past year. Aaron and his wife were fired from their jobs after their employer feared the office would be targeted next. Convicted bomber Kimberlin has filed bogus “peace orders” against Aaron, when it is the Walkers who are the victims, not the perpetrators.

And Patterico’s plight will send chills up your spine when he is ready to tell it.

Institutional inertia, incompetence, and apathy among law enforcement officials on both coasts have exacerbated the victims’ suffering. It has moved far beyond a partisan or political story to a bottomless, Kafka-esque morass. And, via investigative journalist Matthew Vadum, it certainly doesn’t help that “progressive,” left-wing foundations that have funded Kimberlin continue to look the other way.

When faced with this situation — a criminally vindictive vexatious litigant with a violent history, a full purse, and a legal system that refuses to act — there’s only one thing to do:  make it practically and financially impossible for the bad guy to continue his damaging ways.  If Kimberlin wants to go after bloggers, we’ll give him bloggers . . . hundreds of bloggers.  Good luck to him trying to turn his efforts and energies, as well as his friends’ deep pockets, to the task of silencing every one of the individuals willing to re-print his record of lawlessness, imprisonment, harassment, and abuse of the civil justice system.

Welcome to the Blogburst of all Blogbursts!  If you haven’t joined in the May 25, 2012 “Everybody Blog About Brett Kimberlin” party, what are you waiting for?  This is the place where the elite meet and where the witty play.  It is the ultimate venue for those committed to free speech, justice, honor, and the strength that comes from many individuals joining together.  Here’s a list of those bloggers I know who have sent in their RSVPs and are now having fun.  If you would like to be included on this list, please send me a link:

[Read more...]

Please help Rep. Renee Ellmers win the New Media Challenge

Lorie Byrd has been a long-time blog friend of mine.  You guys probably know her from her blog, her Wizbang posts, and the articles she’s had published in major conservative online sites.

Back in 2008, Lorie started working for then-candidate Renee Ellmers, who has been one of the stalwarts of the Tea Party.  Ellmers won, and Lorie continues to work with her, helping to expand Ellmers’ — and, by extension, the Tea Party’s — presence in the blogosphere.

The entire Republican branch of the House has figured out that the internet is the new frontier, one in which it can get its message out without malevolent mediation from the mainstream media.  To that end, the Republican House members are competing in a New Media Challenge.  The point of the competition is to get Republican House members (and their staffers) excited about and involved in Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube as ways to spread the conservative message.

The competition is now down to eight representatives, with Ellmers on the list.  You can feel free to support whomever you want, but I’m all out for Ellmers.  After all, my representative is the reprehensible Lynn Woolsey.  Here’s what you can do:

“Like” Rep. Ellmers on Facebook.

Subscribe to her on YouTube.

“Follow” her on Twitter.

Then, ask your friends to do the same.

For Lorie, this is both a personal mission and a part of her job description, so she aims to win.  Keep in mind, though, that all of us win if we can help lift Republican members of Congress into the 21st Century.  So please, take a minute, and like, subscribe, and follow!

About those Bookworm Premium ads

I have two different types of ads on my website:  the type that pop up automatically (that would be the Google Ads and those irritating turquoise words) and the ones that people or corporations place deliberately at Bookworm Room (that would be the hyperlink text and “Premium” ads), because they believe that my readers will be interested and because they think I have enough readers to make a difference.

Naturally, I urge you to check out all the ads, because I’m sure that one day those pennies I receive will add up to actual dollars.  If you’re not inclined to spend your precious time (and I’m not being sarcastic about that) clicking on ads, I completely understand.  I actually feel the same when I’m out reading all my favorite blogs, although I will definitely follow through on an ad that intrigues me or that promotes a product that I need at the moment.

If however, you do have a minute or two, think about clicking on the text and “Bookworm Premium” ads.  I’m grateful to those people who have placed their trust in my blog as a potential source for customers, and I’d like them to feel that trust was well placed.

By the way, please don’t feel that I’m pressuring you here or that I can track whether you actually click on ads.  The text and Premium ads are prepaid, so I have no idea if anyone clicks through and it doesn’t affect the money I’ve already received from the advertisers.  As for the other ads, I’m current getting dollars and cents, with emphasis on the cents, but I actually have no idea who clicks through, or how many people do click.

Finally, while I’m talking about filthy lucre (even we capitalists can be embarrassed to go about begging, cap in hand), you should always feel free to toodle over to the Tip Jar in the upper right corner of my blog, and click on that nice, big “donate” button.  I’m not proud, and am grateful for any amount of money you think my blog is worth.

#JosephKony, Slacktivism, and the U.S. Marines

Those few of you who have been dwelling under a rock for the past week may not be familiar with the name Joseph Kony.  Thanks to a viral video by a group called Invisible Children, Joseph Kony, crazed Ugandan killer, is a super-de-dooper hot topic, especially amongst high school and middle school children.

The only problem, as astute critics immediately pointed out, is that the video is yesterday’s news.  Kony is an incredibly evil figure, but he’s not an ascendant, or even ascending figure:

It would be great to get rid of Kony.  He and his forces have left a path of abductions and mass murder in their wake for over 20 years.  But let’s get two things straight: 1) Joseph Kony is not in Uganda and hasn’t been for 6 years; 2) the LRA now numbers at most in the hundreds, and while it is still causing immense suffering, it is unclear how millions of well-meaning but misinformed people are going to help deal with the more complicated reality.

First, the facts. Following a successful campaign by the Ugandan military and failed peace talks in 2006, the LRA was pushed out of Uganda and has been operating in extremely remote areas of the DRC, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic — where Kony himself is believed to be now. The Ugandan military has been pursuing the LRA since then but had little success (andseveral big screw-ups). In October last year, President Obama authorized the deployment of 100 U.S. Army advisors to help the Ugandan military track down Kony, with no results disclosed to date.

Additionally, the LRA (thankfully!) does not have 30,000 mindless child soldiers. This grim figure, cited by Invisible Children in the film (and by others) refers to the total number of kids abducted by the LRA over nearly 30 years. Eerily, it is also the same number estimated for the total killed in the more than 20 years of conflict in Northern Uganda.

As I wrote for FP in 2010, the small remaining LRA forces are still wreaking havoc and very hard to catch, but Northern Uganda has had tremendous recovery in the 6 years of peace since the LRA left.

What appears to have happened is that a very well done video has triggered mass slacktivism.  What?!  You haven’t heard that term?  Here’s a handy-dandy definition:

Slacktivism (sometimes slactivism or slackervism) is a term formed out of the words slacker and activism. The word is usually considered a pejorative term that describes “feel-good” measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfaction. The acts tend to require minimal personal effort from the slacktivist. The underlying assumption being promoted by the term is that these low cost efforts substitute for more substantive actions rather than supplementing them, although this assumption has not been borne out by research.

Here in Marin, kids are going to put posters showing Kony’s face all over the school. That’ll larn that evil Kony fella. This is like Yosemite Sam taking shots at Bugs Bunny. It’s farce.

Of course, in Marin, it’s not farce at all.  We sophisticated, enlightened Marinites understand that putting up posters increases awareness.  This is an important “consciousness raising” exercise.  The kids now have raised consciousnesses.  They will be better people for the experience.

Invisible Children Supporters Doing Something

I am being sarcastic, of course.  Although Marin always manages to reduce common sense to its most illogical extreme, the fact is that one cannot deal with a problem unless one is aware of a problem.  And kids who are completely blinkered, with no awareness whatsoever of the world around them grow up to be useless, ineffectual adults who cannot even recognize that there are problems that need to be solved.

Nevertheless, the lesson for the kids here, given Kony’s fundamental irrelevance, is that posters are good enough.  My suggestion would be that, in addition to watching videos and putting up posters, the kids visit One Last Word, where blogger Dan Hamilton contrasts the huge outpouring of passive (but expensive) support for a video about a minor, albeit incredibly evil, villain with the routine hostility and disdain visited upon our Marines, the men and women who actually do something to take out the bad guys:

United States Marines in Action

I want to assure you of something: while your focus may be momentarily on Joseph Kony, the Marine Corp’s focus is continuously on locating, closing width, and destroying the enemy regardless of social popularity.

If you want us to take down Joseph Kony, call your State Representative and tell him or her that the reason you pay taxes is to feed, clothe, and equip Marines, so they can go stomping through the jungles of Uganda in order to capture and kill war criminals that have enslaved and brutalized hundreds of thousands of children.

Another question, however, persists: where were all the “Social Media Activists” when Marines were getting shot at, and their Humvees were getting turned inside out by IED’s while trying to stop atrocities in the Middle East? Atrocities that are very akin to what is happening in Uganda.

In our darkest hour, we needed you to approve and support our mission, not just the individual solider or Marine. The Marine Corps may be our medium, but the American people are our reason. If you shunned Iraq because the cause was not just only to turn around and pursue another mass murderer, it leaves us wondering why you picked your cause over our cause while we’re the ones dying.

I wish good luck to our kids.  They’re going to need it, since it’s mentally and emotionally disabling to grow up in a culture that marginalizes the people who actually do, in favor of celebrating (and funding) those who do no more than feel.

No! No! No! Neptunus Lex is gone *UPDATED*

The blogger known as Neptunus Lex was one of the joys of the blogosphere.  Informed, witty, often incredibly funny, fiercely intelligent — everything that makes one fall into the intellectual embrace of a person one knows only through his words.

And now he’s gone.

Here’s more.

I am deeply, deeply saddened.  My thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.

UPDATE:  Lex had a way with words and wrote so many wonderful posts.  My favorite, though, will always remain the first post of his that I ever read.  I’ve read it to cheer myself up, and I’ve read it aloud to family members to cheer them up.  Reading it now, however, it just made my eyes leak.  Thankfully, wonderful writing lasts forever, and I know that I’ll read this post again with great pleasure some time in the future.

We here at Bookworm Room have friends in high places

We here at Bookworm Room have known Navy One for a long time.  He starting commenting here even before he branched off on his own to start a blog called The Mellow Jihadi.  He’s also a fellow member of the Watcher’s Council. I can confidently say that Navy One ranks very high, not just on the list of blog friends, but of friend-friends.

It’s therefore with a great deal of pleasure that I tell you, albeit somewhat after the fact, that The Mellow Jihadi was one of the very short list of nominees for best new blog in the CPAC Red Carpet Blogger Awards that The Tea Party.net sponsored.  How’s that for cool?

Many, many congratulations, Navy One.  An ever-expanding group of people hungry for intellectual food is getting the chance to find and enjoy your blog.

A new online paper headlines Leftist conduct *UPDATED*

The Washington Free Beacon is a new online paper with an interesting premise:  unlike MSM papers, which treat liberalism as the norm, and conservativism as a headline grabbing abnormality, this publication gives the big scare headlines to the Left.  In other words, it’s not just that it reports the stories, but that it reports them so as to highlight Progressive malfeasance.

I like the idea.  This site gets a bookmark on my Firefox.

UPDATE:  Matthew Continetti explains what “combat journalism” is and why two can and should play at this, to date, one-sided game.

Yes, I have gotten more commercial lately

One of my new year’s resolutions was to try to make more money from my writing.  If I don’t start seeing some money coming in soon, there’s really no way I can justify pouring so much time and energy into my writing.  Instead, I’ll have to start trying to build up my legal work again, work that’s been pretty much dormant since the recession hit.  The problem is that I love writing and that, when it comes to legal work, if I never do it again it’ll be too soon.

With that resolution in mind, I’m starting the process of making money be commercializing my blog more than I ever have or wanted to.  In addition to the usual plea for direct donations through PayPal that’s been living in the sidebar for years, I’ve also added several advertisements to the side bar and, as you all know, some wacky highlighted terms to the text.  I hope that they’re not too irritating, but they’re definitely an experiment that I want and need to make now.

Just a few more words on the subject, and then I’m done:

1.  If an ad intrigues you, please click on it. Otherwise, ignore the ads.  If they’re not intriguing you, they’re either not good ads or not good (or interesting) products.

2.  The Amazon widget is not random the way the Google and highlighted term ads are.  As to the latter, I have no control over the products advertised.  In the Amazon widget, however, you’ll see actual products I’ve used, like, and feel I can recommend.  As to each product, I’ve added a few words explaining why I like it.

3.  If you’re planning on making an Amazon purchase anyway, not of something I’ve recommended, but just of anything, consider getting to Amazon by linking through my widget.  I’m not certain, but I understand that, if you enter the Amazon portal through my widget, I get a very small percentage on anything you buy.  Incidentally, that doesn’t mean I see what you buy or know who you are.  All I know is that a few pennies come my way.

I wasn’t being stand-offish on purpose

My apologies to any of you who thought I was ignoring your comments, since I didn’t toss in any responding comments of my own. WordPress got a bit backed up and stopped sending me email notifications about comments. Because I seldom check the blog itself for comments, but rely instead on email notifications, I’d been wondering where people were. 

Once my awesome webmaster, Terry Trippany, unplugged the blockage, I suddenly got over 100 emails. You’ll forgive me, I hope, if I don’t respond now. Today was a little over-the-top, and I’m not optimistic about tomorrow. If I do write, I’ll probably just try for new posts.

Doug Ross publishes his annual Fabulous 50 Blog Award winners #fab50

Every year, blogger extraordinaire Doug Ross publishes a “fabulous 50″ list of top blogs for the year.  I’m very, very pleased to say that this year’s list includes, not only my own Watcher’s Council (with the nice addendum that “All 2011 Council members are winners”), but several other bloggers whom I count as friends.  In addition, there are a lot of familiar names that, I’m sure you agree, totally deserve to be on the list.

You should go check it out.  I bet that you’ll be pleased to see many familiar blogs/bloggers getting the recognition you think that deserve, and you might deserve some other blogs that deserve your attention.

A case regarding citizen journalists proves, once again, that bad facts make for bad law

When I first saw the headline — “A $2.5 Million Libel Judgment Brings The Question : Are  Bloggers Journalists?” — I have to admit that I felt a bit queasy.  When I write something snide about President Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, or any of the other prominent Democrats I routinely criticize at this site, am I exposing myself to massive liability?  Well, probably not, because they’re public figures and we have enormous latitude to criticize them.  But what about a post I might write criticizing, not a political figure, but a local businessman.  Can he sue me . . . and win?

The answer, it seems to me, is that Mr. Businessman is just as likely to win against blogger as he would have been if, in the old days, I sent nasty letters to the editor, distributed flyers or otherwise widely and impugned his character.  If my statements are true, I win.  If they’re false, I lose.  I would have been at risk in the old days and I’m still at risk in the new if I choose to shout out lies from an electronic rooftop.

So why is the $2.5 million dollar libel judgment an issue?  Because the blogger in question sought to protect herself by claiming that she was a journalist, not a blogger.  She therefore contended that Shield Laws allowed her to hide her sources while successfully protesting her innocence in a defamation lawsuit.  When the judge said she wasn’t a journalist, bloggers got nervous.  After all, we bloggers consider ourselves a “new media,” providing information that the old media, usually for political reasons, often leaves on the cutting room or newsroom floor.  What’s unnerving is that, if we’re not journalists, even when we scrupulously present facts, we’re still at risk of litigation, something that has a very chilling effect even on the most honest writer.

As is so often true with legal cases, though, the details should be comforting — and this is true despite the fact that I think the judge committed a definitional error that must be redressed.  This case, though, is not going to be the one that makes correcting that legal error easy, because the facts really militate against the blogger.  By any standard, Crystal Cox, the defendant against whom the district court judge imposed the $2.5 million libel judgment, was not making any effort to conduct herself according to journalistic norms.  Instead, Cox was the journalistic equivalent of a vexatious litigant.

For those of you who have missed out on the joys of a vexatious litigant (“VL”), a VL is someone who uses the court system to dominate and harass enemies.  These people are often lawyers, and they will file in pro per suits (meaning that they represent themselves) against anyone who crosses their radar.  Since litigation is expensive, a perfectly innocent person might find himself targeted by a plaintiff who has dozens of cases going simultaneously, and who files hundreds of costly motions in each case.  The unwitting defendant can either settle immediately, even though he knows he’s being subject to judicial blackmail, or he must spend the money to answer the case and respond to all the discovery and motions.

While the judge in any given case may impose sanctions against the plaintiff, that’s an uneven remedy.  Eventually, though, if the plaintiff acquires a reputation around the courthouse, a judge can defang him by declaring him a “vexatious litigant” who can proceed in the Court system only with judicial permission.  Although it’s a draconian remedy because we are loath to deny people access to the civil court system, it’s still a necessary thing to do when someone uses the system, not as an instrument of justice, but as a tool for economic blackmail, humiliation and harassment.  As I noted, though, it’s a last remedy, not a first remedy, and a lot of people get badly burned before it goes into effect.

From everything I’ve read about Crystal Cox, her website, titled “www.ObsidianFinanceSucks.com,” was a one woman vendetta against a corporate Bankruptcy trustee and an individual employee, filled with hundreds of posts savagely attacking both of them.  Her claims against them, usually presented in the form of hyperbolic questions, rather than factual statements, accused them of fraud, illegal activity, theft, and just about everything else short of stealing lollipops from babies and using goats for impure purposes.  As the judge made clear in decisions written in both July and August, one would be hard put to classify Cox’s content as objective journalism.

Because Cox’s posts were so over-the-top, the judge concluded fairly easily that they couldn’t possibly be construed as anything other than pure opinion, which is protected under the First Amendment.  He was therefore inclined to dismiss the case against her.  One of her posts, however, had a gloss of journalistic objectivity and, more importantly, showed up at a site where it wasn’t published under the “ObsidianFinanceSucks” heading and where it wasn’t surrounded by dozens of other posts demonstrating that Cox has a monomania that leaves even her “objective” writing highly suspect.  It was in this context that the judge decided Cox wasn’t a journalist, and that her nasty post constituted good, old-fashioned defamation, akin to handing out a flyer in a shopping mall.

Where I differ with Judge Hernandez, although I think he made the correct decision regarding Cox, is in his effort to define objective journalism so as to deny Cox constitutional protection for her statements.  As far as I can tell, his definition puts most of our major media on notice that it’s at risk:

Cox tried to invoke the Shield Law, which allows journalists to protect confidential sources, but Judge Marco Hernandez ruled Cox was not a journalist and therefore not entitled to the protections. He wrote, “there is no evidence of any education in journalism, any credentials or proof of any affiliation with any recognized news entity or proof of adherence to journalistic standards such as editing, fact-checking or disclosures of conflicts of interest.”

While the New York Times, the WaPo, MSNBC and other traditional media sites can undoubtedly claim that their writers hold university credentials, it’s becoming increasingly questionable whether they subscribe to such traditional “journalistic standards . . . as editing, fact-checking or disclosures of conflicts of interest.”  Indeed, one of the things internet bloggers excel at doing is catching the MSM when it fails to follow those journalistic ethics (and one does wonder whether the MSM’s disdain for these basic requirements is something individual writers learn at those credentialed schools).

Given that the MSM so frequently falls very far short of what the judge considers to be ethical minimums, being affiliated with these “recognized news entities” in no way assures the reader that he can rely on the truth of the matter asserted in any given news report.  A reputable blog spot, one that rigorously edits, fact-checks and discloses, should qualify as journalism, and be entitled to all First Amendment protections, without having to pay lip-service to establishment conventions (journalism school, major media affiliation) that, in fact, do not provide any assurance that the content is honest, credible, complete or unbiased.

Since Cox strikes me as a monomaniac with a bee in her butt, I’m somewhat surprised that Eugene Volokh, who is one of the most reputable, insightful legal bloggers and new media journalists out there, is getting involved in this particular case:

Crystal Cox did not respond to our emails and phone calls seeking comment. It appears, however, she plans to continue to fight. She represented herself in the defamation suit, but now has legal help from UCLA Law School and blogger Eugene Volokh. He has taken the case pro bono in hopes of getting the decision reversed. Volokh has written about the First Amendment’s protection of the press, arguing it’s not solely intended for the media as an institution, but anyone doing the work of journalism.

Volokh is right as a matter of law, of course.   Judge Hernandez is simply wrong to define journalism to include only people who have trained in establishment schools and who write for establishment (i.e., Leftist) media, a bright line that would astonish and offend the Founders.

Based on what I’ve been able to glean from Judge Hernandez’s opinions, however, both of which quote extensively from some of the hundreds of posts Cox wrote for “www.ObsidianFinanceSucks.com”, Cox is the wrong defendant to use as a standard for expanding the definition of journalism to include citizen journalists writing at blogs.  Cox’s writing isn’t coherent, factual reporting, with full disclosure.  Instead, it’s a malevolent stew of opinion and hostility.  She’s a vexatious blogger, and a common law defamer, not a legitimate journalist.  Indeed, she’s a perfect example of bad facts making for bad law.  I’m just worried that, if Volokh pursues this, this bad law will be enshrined at an appellate level, rather than merely at the district court level.

We’ve got friends in high places

We all met Navy One when he was just one of us — a guy who wrote delightful, interesting comments on my blog.  When Navy One decided to try his hand at blogging, he took that same charm and . . . well, the rest is history, as The Mellow Jihadi, launched just this spring, is now one of John Hawkins’ top 40 conservative blogs.  (And keep in mind that Navy One, who is active duty, keeps his blog assiduously apolitical and non-partisan.  The conservativism comes about because he espouses ordinary values, decency and common sense, not because he actually writes about things political.)

Join me in offering Navy One a big huzzah!!!

(P.S.  Others of you are equally good writers.  I’m so glad you come here and comment but I would be remiss if I didn’t say that you might also want to try flapping your wings by setting up your own sites.  Cream does rise to the top.)