The Bookworm Beat (9/26/14) — Friday wrap-up edition and Open Thread

Woman writingMy sister summed me up in a sentence: “For an incredibly neurotic person, you’re very normal and easygoing.” I know what she means. All my neuroses are turned inwards. They drive me crazy, but they don’t interfere with anyone outside of my brain. If you meet me, I’m friendly, good-humored, and well-mannered. I rarely take offense, and I’m always happy to help out.

I’m the living embodiment of the reminder to judge people by their deeds, not their thoughts. Unless of course, you think the deeds and the thoughts reflect on each other, magnifying each . . . which leads to me to:

The Obama latte salute

A military friend of mine had this to say:

What I find comical about this is the outrage. You’re surprised by this man? This is par for the course. And technically, he has no obligation to salute them back. A military officer not in uniform is only obligated to acknowledge a salute with a proper verbal greeting. My understanding is saluting the Marines of HMX-1 started with Reagan.

I think there are more important things to address about him like having absolutely no plan in Syria. This is comical considering the whole “what is our exit strategy?” nonsense during the Bush admin. We don’t even have an entry strategy here.

My friend is quite right, but I couldn’t resist reminding him about that outlook/action connection I mentioned at the start of this post:

I know that Reagan started it (and did you know that Reagan, whom the Left always castigated for not going to war, was in the Army Reserve as of 1937, and was barred from active duty during WWII only because of his vision?), so it’s not deep tradition, and I know that it’s not militarily necessary.

The thing is that, if it was clear that Obama really supported the military, and wanted to fight war in a way that’s not only ethical (which is a good thing), but that also keeps our troops alive and effective (another good thing), no one would have given a flying whatsit even if he’d hollered “Howdy, guys!” and blown soap bubbles at them. The optics mattered only because they were such a perfect visual representation of which we all know he actually thinks: “Blech!  Marines again! And now I have to figure out how, and how many, of those baby killers to ship overseas this time….”

And my friend, who is a gentlemen down to the marrow of his bones, shot back:

I agree, we already know how he feels about the military. Saluting is what we call a military courtesy. Failing to simply be courteous says something about character.

I have such interesting friends.

Regarding the worsening mystery virus affecting children, when does correlation equal causation?

We’ve been hearing for a couple of months now about a serious respiratory virus affecting children across America. It’s been so bad that hospitals have been turning them away.

Well, here’s some more news guaranteed to make you unhappy: the virus just got worse. According to AP, children are now showing up with a paralysis that seems to be in the polio family and that may be related to the mystery enterovirus. So far, only nine cases have shown up in Colorado, but there’s no telling where paralysis problem might end up.

The AP’s not the only one paying attention to the virus. The New York Times has a long article about its effects on children across America (emphasis mine):

An outbreak of respiratory illness first observed in the Midwest has spread to 38 states, sending children to hospitals and baffling scientists trying to understand its virulent resurgence.

I love that line about “baffled” scientists. It reminds me of a wonderful Lord Peter Wimsey remark in Busman’s Honeymoon, when he and his new bride find a dead body in their honeymoon cottage. Being famous, the Wimseys are immediately besieged the press, one of whose members, Salcombe Hardy, is an old friend (emphasis mine):

“Can I say you’ve got a theory of the crime?”

“Yes,” said Peter.

“Fine!” said Salcombe Hardy.

“My theory is that you put the corpse there yourself, Sally, to make a good headline.”

“I only wish I’d thought of it. Nothing else?”

“I tell you,” said Peter, “the evidence is destroyed. You can’t have a theory without evidence to go on.”

“The fact is,” said Harriet, “he’s completely baffled.”

“As baffled as a bathroom geyser,” agreed her husband. “My wife’s baffled too. It’s the only point on which we are at one. When we’re tired of heaving crockery about we sit and sneer at one another’s bafflement. The police are baffled too. Or else they confidently expect to make an arrest. One or other . You can take your choice.” (Sayers, Dorothy L., Busman’s Honeymoon, p. 242 (Open Road Media, Kindle Edition)).

I feel a little like sneering at some bafflement too — in this case, the bafflement of those scientists trying to figure out how a rare virus that is connected to polio managed suddenly to enter the United States and infect American children.

I know that correlation is not causation, but I also know that not everything is pure coincidence. Isn’t it at least possible that the headlines about a bizarre virus striking down American children for the past two months might have something to do with the headlines from the end of July informing Americans that tens of thousands of Latin American children, many of them sick with diseases not seen in American children, were crossing the border? And isn’t it also possible that this baffling respiratory and occasionally polio-like illness might have to do with the fact that the Obama administration popped these children on buses and airplanes and then sent them all across the United States?

Again, I’m not saying that there has to be a connection, but I’d at least like to see some scientist say, “We’ve considered the possibility that this virus came with the immigrant children, but rejected it because….”

But they’re not saying that. Instead, the MSM just pretends the children’s crusade from Latin America never happened — so much so that it won’t even assure is that there’s no connection.

The country’s in the very best of hands (a song that’s never been more timely, I think)….

The media keeps its message consistent no matter the subject

The fact is that the American media is well-trained and it follows the Democrat playbook no matter the subject. A case in point involves doggies that have been Trayvon Martinized.

About that poor woman beheaded in Oklahoma

We know a few useful things about poor Colleen Hufford’s horrible death: She was beheaded, her murderer was an ex-con Muslim convert who had just been fired for arguing that women should be stoned, and another woman was saved from a similar fate when a company official with a gun shot him.

The police are trying to play this as just another case of workplace violence, and that may be true. But even ordinary violence reflects a zeitgeist. A former convict (which is what Alton Nolen, aka ‘Keem Yisrael, is), who converts to Islam in prison, will have two seeds planted within him: violence and jihad.

As always in these cases, please remember what my cousin, the retired prison chaplain, said about those prison converts:

It is not a contradiction to be a Muslim and a murderer, even a mass murderer. That is one reason why criminals “convert” to Islam in prison. They don’t convert at all; they similarly [sic] remain the angry judgmental vicious beings they always have been. They simply add “religious” diatribes to their personal invective. Islam does not inspire a crisis of conscience, just inspirations to outrage.

(Roger Simon has more on prison conversions to Islam and Caleb Howe has more on the lifelong anger and violence in Nolen that found its home in Islam) In other words, Nolen’s criminal history made him the kind of person who would commit murder — but his Islamic conversion made him the kind of person who would elevate this murder to the level of a jihad killing, complete with the sharia-compliant death of choice, namely beheading.

So yes, workplace violence or not, his religion mattered.

And what also mattered is that Nolen was stopped short by a gun. Jihad in America would be stopped pretty damn short if all of us were armed.

As for the shooting death of John Crawford in a Ohio Wal-Mart

John Crawford’s death is another one about which we know little, but it does look as if police were trigger-happy. Crawford was in a Wal-Mart aisle, someone called in a 911 because he was holding what looked like a gun, and the cops shot him. The video seems to show the cops firing instantly, without warning and, given how still Crawford was standing and the fact that his pop gun was pointed to the floor, they also shot without provocation. The cops, though, claim that Crawford was being threatening, something that might have been obvious outside of the silent film.

Radley Balko offers a great analysis of the bizarre intersections of so many societal issues in Crawford’s death: race, police malfeasance, societal paranoia about mass shootings, mental illness, etc. Something bad happened in that Wal-Mart, and two children lost their father.

I’m very interested in further facts. If Crawford’s behavior was frightening, so be it. But if trigger-happy cops killed an innocent man, let justice be done.

No, the Obama economy is not thriving

A few weeks ago, I asked for help rebutting a Forbes opinion piece claiming that the Obama economy is thriving, and that it puts the Reagan boom to shame. Just the other day, Forbes itself published an opinion piece rebutting that earlier, pro-Obama effort, and it’s a humdinger:

With the stock market cruising at all-time highs and the unemployment rate sitting at quaint levels, a fashionable new argument is making the rounds. Barack Obama is better at economic recovery than Ronald Reagan ever was.

The numbers make the case. Dow Jones Industrial Average the day President Obama was inaugurated in January 2009 was 7950; today it stands at 17,000. Unemployment in his first full month, that February: 8.3%, versus 6.1% today.

Ronald Reagan could not quite touch this standard. The Dow began his presidency at 950 and chugged to 1800 after five-and-a-half years. A 90% gain is nice, but short of the 115% gain since 2009. Unemployment over that span went from 7.4 to 7.1%—welcome enough, but overmatched by the post-2009 record.

And all the while under Reagan, there was double the consumer price inflation as under the comparable Obama period (26% vs. 13%). Interest rates were higher. Prime was at 7.5% in September 1986, in contrast to today’s 3.3%.

Whatever crisis, whatever “stagflation” Reagan faced as he swept Jimmy Carter from office in 1980, the results that came in well into his presidency pale in comparison to what the nation would put up under the leadership of Barack Obama.

This argument has glaring flaws, the most obvious of which (from a statistical point of view) is that the labor force participation rate has collapsed under Obama, while it surged under Reagan, rendering any kind of comparison of unemployment rates inoperable. The bald economic growth numbers, for their part, are double in the Reagan (20.3%) than in the Obama (9.7%) case.

Read the rest here.

By all means, let’s have over the counter birth control

To me, even the smallest dose of birth control pills acts like poison on my system. For most women, though, today’s low-dose birth control pills have few serious side effects, if one discounts the fact that they’re messing with women’s entire hormonal and reproductive systems.

Given all the other stuff that’s sold over the counter, there’s no reason for the Pill not to become an OTC drug too. This will lower women’s health care costs dramatically, both by increasing competition at the purchase level and by doing away with the perfunctory, but costly, doctor’s visit that precede prescribing the pill.

Obamacare supporters, of course, are incensed that conservatives believe the Pill should be an OTC drug because that would strip away large parts of their argument about imposing costly and ethically troubling Obamacare “women’s health” regulations on every employer and insurance company in America.

Could this be the reason race hustlers do what they do?

The retirement of Eric Holder, Attorney General of the US and race hustler extraordinaire, resulted in one of Roger Simon’s best posts. Simon begins with Holder’s extremely sleazy history: The same man who prosecuted Dinesh D’Souza for a $20,000 act of stupidity was the federal prosecutor who enabled the disgraceful pardon of Marc Rich, an exceptionally corrupt man who dealt with Iran during the hostage crisis and was lined up for 300 years in prison.

From that disgraceful beginning as an unprincipled party hack, Holder went on to become a hatchet man for the racism racket who turned the Justice Department into a purely political office advancing Obama’s hard Left, anti-constitutional, race-based domestic policies. That history leads Simon to this interesting thought:

Now I have a theory about the etiology of Holder’s fixation on race. When you know deep down you’re a dishonest person, when you have had to eat the bitter pill of your own corruption who knows how many times (even Clinton finally admitted that he had gone too far pardoning Rich and damaged his own reputation), you have to invent a narrative for yourself to justify your activities. So over may years Holder developed what I have called elsewhere a “nostalgia for racism.” No matter that racism was diminishing in our culture, he had to keep racism alive, believe it was alive. If racism were going away, he would no longer have a raison d’être, an excuse for his biased behavior, an excuse, as it turned out, to go beyond the law, act unilaterally and punish political enemies.

Why, yes. That sounds just right.

Think of Syria as you read this bumper sticker

It took me a couple of seconds to figure out the message behind this bumper sticker, and then I thought “That’s excellent.”

Arm tomorrow's enemies

If you’d like one for your car, you can buy it here.

You can put lipstick on a male pig, but it’s still a male pig

With self-selected sex transmutations dominating headlines lately (“Lift ban on transgender military members“), I keep harking back to what I’ve said since the headline about a “pregnant” man (i.e., a woman who had her breasts surgically removed, and took hormones to grow facial hair). At the end of the day, when the surgically-adjusted, cosmetically-mutated, chemically-altered soft tissue is gone, and the bones are all that is left, what’s left is . . . the original sex.

To hold otherwise — to say that person who made this change is now actually a man or a woman, just because he or she wants to be — is a bizarre cultural delusion we’re fostering. On the great bell curve of biology, men are men and women are women, and that’s true regardless of surgery, make-up, hormones, and magical thinking. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t accord the person the respect, when possible, of treating him or her as s/he wishes to be treated, but it does mean that we have to accept biological reality.

Case in point: Mixed martial arts. There, a man who went through the surgical, chemical, cosmetic process of appearing like a woman insisted that he be allowed to compete as a woman. The outcome was not pretty, as his opponent Tamikka Brents, who was born female, ended up with a massively broken eye socket and a concussion. Brents explained what happened to her:

In a post-fight interview this week, she told Whoa TV that “I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life.”

“I’ve fought a lot of women and have never felt the strength that I felt in a fight as I did that night. I can’t answer whether it’s because [he] was born a man or not, because I’m not a doctor,” she stated. “I can only say, I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life, and I am an abnormally strong female in my own right. ”

His “grip was different,” she added. “I could usually move around in the clinch against…females but couldn’t move at all in Fox’s clinch.”

I’m not a doctor either, but I’m pretty sure that, men have different bone structure and heavier muscle mass. Even if a man is taken female hormones, if he’s in the world of MMA training, he’s pushing those still-male muscles to the max. He’s going to be a muscle monster, with the weight of a man’s heavy bones behind him. At the end of the day, biology will not be denied.

Views from the climate change gala in New York

Power Line has a wonderful photo gallery from last weekend’s climate change extravaganza in New York. It’s got everything from the mounds of garbage left behind to the hypocritical celebrities to the hard Left people behind the climate change movement. Check it out. Laugh. Cry.

Then, if you want to laugh and cry some more, please enjoy Jeff Dunetz’s 48-item-long list of all the bad things that happen, according to the change-istas, because of climate change. Reading that list, I keep thinking of Monty Python’s Life of Brian, when Brian’s followers see everything he says as a sign of something insanely stupid:

Lies, damn lies, and British crime statistics

Since banning guns, Britain has become the most violent country in the first world. Certainly, the police are conflicted about the whole crime-fighting thing.  After all, the God of political correctness tells them that they shouldn’t fight crime if the criminals are blacks or Muslims.  The police have therefore figured out creative ways to massage the (non)crime-fighting numbers — they lie:

The culture of fiddling crime statistics is ingrained within the upper echelons of the police service where target-chasing has led to the under-reporting of serious crimes including rape, according to a report by MPs out today.

The MPs said a delay by Scotland Yard in addressing claims that rape figures were skewed was a “damning indictment of police complacency, inertia and lack of leadership”.

In attacking Rush, it appears that the female of the species is deadlier than the male

Rush Limbaugh went on the offensive to smoke out the small group of people trying to destroy his radio show through email and social media attacks against advertisers. What I noticed immediately is that, of the nine people engaged in this conspiracy, six are female. You’ll never have a 50/50 split in a group of nine people, but it’s telling somehow, that the group is heavily weighted on the women’s side.

I can’t decide if this is because women are indeed more vicious, or if it’s because the Sandra Fluke kerfuffle managed to turn Rush into a slayer of women in the deranged feminist mind, or if it’s simply random that in such a small group, there would be twice as many women as men. The fact seemed noteworthy, regardless of the reason.

No wonder women are raping as much as men are

Feminists have insisted that the definition of rape must be expanded far beyond the traditional definition, which pretty much was limited to a man using his penis to penetrate a woman vaginally, orally, or anally. Nowadays, every man’s touch, look, or verbal bullying is included in the definition of sexual assault, at least on college campuses. In this way, women can claim (and the Democrat party can campaign on) the canard that 1/5 of women on campus will be sexually assaulted.

Relying on the feminists’ own definition of sexual assault, Glenn Reynolds makes the compelling and convincing argument — supported by data — that women commit sexual assault every bit as often as men do. I believe this completely. If you read the trashy but informative Daily Mail on a regular basis, as I do, you’ll quickly discover that several times a week, and sometimes every day, there’s a story somewhere in America about a female school teacher forcing a sexual relationship on an underage male (or, sometimes, female) student. One comes away feeling that America’s students are taught by an army of nymphomaniacs.

Step back, puny mortals, and let the wind take over

One of the problems I’ve always had with the whole climate change theory is the centrality it gives humans. Humans have indeed shown themselves perfectly capable of trashing the local environment. From prehistoric man driving mammoths to extinction, to the Aztecs destroying every bit of protein in their region (hence the need for human sacrifices, which were later eaten), to the Soviets turning lakes into acid puddles, to American manufacturers doing their damndest to destroy our own lakes (until capitalism saved them), to the California Gold Rush stripping off sides of mountains, we are a destructive species. But there’s a quantum difference between making a terrible, and too often lasting, mess here and there, and altering the entire climate around the world, all the way until we touch outer space. That simply didn’t (and doesn’t) make sense to me.

What makes a lot more sense is a new theory that says that shifting wind patterns account for the changing climate along the Northwest. I find it especially intriguing giving the close connection between wind and sun (and I’m not just talking Aesop’s fables here).

I’m glad the New York Times had the integrity to report on this new climate theory, but I had to laugh at the opening sentence (emphasis mine):

A new and most likely controversial analysis of Pacific Ocean weather patterns concludes that a century-long trend of rising temperatures in the American Northwest is largely explained by natural shifts in ocean winds, not by human activity.

It must have choked the writer, Michael Wines, to concede in the next paragraph that the theory didn’t arise from the fetid swamps of whacked-out deniers but, instead, appeared in “the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences….” Oh, yeah!

America’s topmost colleges accept robots and turn out morons

Okay, I’m exaggerating for effect in that subtitle. There is no doubt that America’s top colleges get to take in America’s best and brightest students and that they turn out products with a certain sheen.  I contend, though, that these new graduates are actually more indoctrinated than educated, but that’s just my opinion.   Or maybe it isn’t….

While they do not say that America’s premier colleges are turning out mindless Leftist drones, two Ivy League instructors have come out lately to that in their pursuit of the best and brightest, these institutes of higher education are producing boring, timid robits who will not take any chances, thereby stifling their own brilliance.

At The New Republic, you can read William Deresiewicz’s Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League, which has been shared on Facebook more than 191,300 times.

And at First Things, you can read Michael J. Lewis’s Children Who Never Play, which picks up where Deresiewicz left off.

In bureaucracies, the perfect is the enemy of the good

I credit Philip K. Howard with helping me move from mindless Left-liberalism to thinking conservativism. His book The Death of Common Sense: How Law Is Suffocating America, which I read shortly after it was published in the early 1990s, was an eye-opener because it made me realize that government not only is not the answer but that it can never be the answer.  It took me another decade to complete my journey across the Rubicon, but I definitely couldn’t have done it without him.

Just recently, Howard authored a piece for The Atlantic explaining how the Stimulus got wasted, not because of any specific corruption, but because the money vanished into the bureaucratic crevices created by a million rules:

Modern government is organized on “clear law,” the false premise that by making laws detailed enough to take in all possible circumstances, we can avoid human error. And so over the last few decades, law has gotten ever more granular. But all that regulatory detail, like sediment in a harbor, makes it hard to get anywhere. The 1956 Interstate Highway Act was 29 pages and succeeded in getting 41,000 miles of roads built by 1970. The 2012 transportation bill was 584 pages, and years will pass before workers can start fixing many of those same roads. Health-care regulators have devised 140,000 reimbursement categories for Medicare—including 12 categories for bee stings and 21 categories for “spacecraft accidents.” This is the tip of a bureaucratic iceberg—administration consumes 30 percent of health-care costs.

And finally, some marvelous photographs and a joke

Nope, not my usual set of posters but, instead, links to two wonderful sites. The first explains why you won’t see Israeli women in burqas anytime soon, while the second is a panoramic photograph taken shortly after San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake. If you click on the image, you can zoom in to a specific spot; then, click again to zoom out.

Since I try to end on a laugh or uplifting note, here’s a delightful joke that a friend sent me (slight language warning), clearly in honor of Ezekiel Emanuel’s announcement that he, and everyone else, should try to die by or before age 75:

I recently picked a new primary care doctor. After two visits and exhaustive lab tests, she said I was doing fairly well for my age. (I am past seventy-five). A little concerned about that comment, I couldn’t resist asking her, ‘Do you think I’ll live to be 80?’

She asked, ‘Do you smoke tobacco, or drink beer, wine or hard liquor?’

‘Oh no,’ I replied. I’m not doing drugs, either!’

Then she asked, ‘Do you eat rib-eye steaks and barbecued ribs?’ ‘I said, ‘Not much … My former doctor said that all red meat is very unhealthy!’

‘Do you spend a lot of time in the sun, like playing golf, boating, sailing, hiking, or bicycling?’

‘No, I don’t,’ I said.

She asked, ‘Do you gamble, drive fast cars, or have a lot of sex?’

‘No,’ I said.

She looked at me and said, ‘Then, why do you even give a shit?’

The Bookworm Beat — Saturday night leftovers edition (and Open Thread)

Woman writingBusy day. Very busy day and not a bad one either, because I got a lot accomplished. Just about the only thing I didn’t get done today was spending time at my computer. I’ve got a pile of open tabs left over from yesterday, though, all of which have aged well and still deserve to be read:

With the ceasefire, the media started ‘fessing up about the lies it told for Hamas

Once the ceasefire seemed to be sticking, foreign reporters started admitting that much of what they reported out of Gaza was untrue — and that they willingly reported these lies out of fear for their own safety.. Wondering how they’re feeling about their confession now that the war has resumed.

And considering how bad Hamas is, the media should be deeply ashamed

I wonder how all the so-called “pacifists” square their support with Hamas with the massacres it commits against its own people — for example, summarily executing Gazans accused of collaborating with Israel. And let’s not stop with executing alleged collaborators. Let’s call Hamas out on its long list of crimes against humanity (as complied by StandWithUs at Buzzfeed).

ISIS, a scourge unlike any seen since Genghis Khan and his Mongol hordes

Hamas followers, however, are mere pikers when it comes to ISIS. I honestly don’t believe we’ve seen any military movement as brutal since Genghis Khan and his Mongol hordes.  Even 20th century totalitarian armies acted with more deliberation when it came to mass slaughter.

What’s even more amazing is that ISIS is so terribly pleased with itself. Unlike the Nazis who recorded images of their torture for their own masturbatory pleasure, but otherwise tried to hide it from the world, ISIS is not hiding the beheadings, crucifixions, torture, genocide, and rape. It’s proudly circulating this information on social media.

Reading about ISIS’s depredations against armies, women, Christians, Yazidis, other Muslims, and anyone else in their way is so stomach churning I think it short-circuits most Americans. It’s one thing to watch this kind of horror presented with ghoulish enthusiasm, and lots of colored corn syrup, on a movie screen; it’s another thing altogether to realize that it’s being committed against men, women, and children, in real time, here on planet earth.

Obama deserves praise for taking steps to protect the Yazidis, but it’s apparent that he has no plan at all. This is a “seat of the pants” operation, where he’s going to try to put out a little fire here and a little fire there, even as the corpses pile up.

I actually wouldn’t want American boots on the grounds in a war against ISIS. To the extent that ISIS is a military movement (no sheltering amongst civilian populations for ISIS troops), my recommendation would be to track their movements and, when they’re reasonably consolidated, drop a storm of bombs on them with Dresden-like ferocity. ISIS fighters have parted ways with humanity and need to be routed out completely. Incidentally, Kurt Schlicter would agree with me.

And why can’t Progressives figure out just how bad Islamists really are?

David French struggles to understand why Progressives cannot wrap their heads around the evil that stalks the Middle East and, increasingly, Europe and America. In addition to his ideas (and you’ll have to read his post to see what they are), I do think a lot of it has to do with a terrible fear of being thought racist. After all, while Islam is not a race, the fact is that most Muslims have darker skin than the run-of-the-mill American or European leftist. For Progressives, then, criticizing dark-skinned people is so verboten, they’re willing to wrap themselves in an almost impenetrable blanket of denial.

Obama:  Knave or Villain?

When speaking about the disaster’s that have befallen America and the rest of the world during Obama’s presidency, many people are wont to cite to Hanlon’s razor: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” Myron Magnet doesn’t agree. He thinks that Obama has deliberately created both domestic and international disasters.

Or maybe Obama’s just a bureaucrat run amok

Jonah Goldberg wonders if Barack Obama isn’t just bureaucracy run amok in the form of one powerful individual:

But there’s a common theme to Obama’s foreign policy and [Mike] Barnicle’s rodent flatulence [blaming Cheney for ISIS]. They both work on the assumption that global events are things that happen out there. “The world stage” used to be a platform for U.S. leadership. For Obama, the world stage is more like, well, a stage where other nations put on a show for our benefit. There are plenty of good arguments for America to be more circumspect internationally (and plenty of bad ones). But I don’t think Obama and his supporters fully recognize that when the lead actor on the world stage decides to walk off and sit in the audience, it changes the performance and the roles of the other performers.

Read the whole thing. It’s one of Goldberg’s best.

Obama's mission accomplished

 

Whatever else Obama is, he’s not in Putin’s class

Bill Whittle thinks that, when it comes to Obama versus Putin, Obama is a naif facing off against a stone-cold killer who learned from the best (at stone-cold killing, that is):

A teaching degree — not worth the paper it’s printed on?

I’ve often thought that I would be a good teacher because I’m fairly good at explaining things. Long ago, when I was looking for ways out of practicing law, I toyed with the idea of teaching. At that time, I didn’t know that private schools often didn’t requiring teaching degrees, so I thought I’d have to go back to college to get a masters in teaching.

The thought of a teaching degree horrified me, though. My sense over the years was that one of the problems with modern teachers is that teaching degrees “un-teach” them, leeching out their common sense and ordinary knowledge and leaving, in their place, cant and political correctness. It seems I may have been correct in this supposition.

In Obama’s America, no good deed goes unpunished

Business life in Obama’s America: Help the government by bailing out failed financial institutions . . . then get reamed for those same institution’s past sins.

The IRS will be watching some pulpits — but which pulpits will it be watching?

Per an agreement with an atheist group, the IRS will soon be monitoring sermons at a House of Worship near you. Maybe I wouldn’t mind this so much if I thought the IRS would randomly check out all types of faiths, including black churches (“I don’t feel no ways tired!“) and radical mosques (“Jihad!”). I have a strong suspicion, though, that Obama’s IRS agents will only be haunting the pews of churches and synagogues in which the pastor or rabbi speaks about the sanctity of life or the sacrament of marriage.

Is HBO failing?

I don’t like HBO and I don’t like it for a very specific reason: It’s relentlessly Leftist and propagandizes in every documentary, commentary show, and most movies. Netflix’s original productions aren’t always better, but they’re still better than HBO — and they’re beating HBO in subscriptions.

Picture time

And a picture about Hamas’s co-conspirator in Gaza:

UNinvolved in Peace

Tuesday morning round-up and Open Thread — the Israel/Hamas War edition

Victorian posy of pansiesI’ll be spending this afternoon happily enjoying the company of relatives visiting from out of town. When I was younger, I didn’t appreciate these relatives that much. Now that I’m older, I’m know how important it is to keep up contact with people who knew you way back when. There are shared memories and beliefs that are irreplaceable and that are, in troubling times, deeply comforting.

And then there is the news, which isn’t so good in Obama’s America….

** 1 **

England has long been so favorable to radical Islam that Melanie Phillips wrote a whole, very excellent, book — Londonistan — on the subject. That’s why it was staggering to see the Times of London run an ardently pro-Israel opinion piece. The author is Richard Kemp, a retired British Army man who’s long been an open and intelligent Israel supporter. That he wrote the article was therefore unsurprising. The surprise was that Kemp was given a voice in the Times.

The article is also worth reading insofar as it rebuts British people who contend that Israel is morally disreputable because she’s bombing Gaza, something modern Britain never did to Northern Ireland. (Historic Britain, of course, routinely laid waste to all of Ireland, both through actual war and economic warfare.)

Gaza is not Northern Ireland and Hamas is not the IRA. We governed and policed Ulster to wipe out the terrorists. In Gaza the government are the terrorists — designated as such around the world. In 2005 Israel withdrew all its citizens and security forces from Gaza. Since then it has been a separate state — now under the heel of Hamas — at war with Israel and dedicated to the extermination of the Jewish state.

Hamas is a heavily armed militia, fighting from territory it controls. The IRA, for the most part, was more like a highly dangerous criminal gang that could be dealt with by soldiers acting as policemen.

The absence of Israeli forces in Gaza for nine years let Hamas build tunnel networks to smuggle in military materiel, manufacture and store munitions, deploy forces and infiltrate beneath the border to launch attacks against Israel. It also gave Hamas the freedom to prepare formidable defences, the reason why there have been so many casualties since the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) began its ground offensive a week ago.

For a while there were barricaded “no-go” areas in Belfast and Londonderry which, until broken down in 1972, prevented the entry of troops. But the security forces never withdrew from the province and did not need to launch raids from Britain or fight their way back in.

The better comparison, says Kemp, is to the Nazi V1 “doodlebugs” rained down on London civilians, something that provoked an immediate and fearsome Allied response.

** 2 **

Marc Thiessen, as part of an article rightfully blaming Obama for the situation in the Middle East, reminded me of something I’d forgotten:  President Obama is personally responsible for killing more people than the entire IDF has killed in three weeks of fighting. And so a poster is born….

Barack Obama - Muslim Killer

** 3 **

And now a brief non-Israel/Gaza moment to promote a product important to the well-informed conservative:  Doug Ross is a long-time blogging friend. He started Bad Blue News, a really smart news aggregator, as a way to promote trending content that conservatives find interesting. Because its got an incredibly smart, dynamic algorithm for sourcing content, it’s always got breaking news. Learn more about it here and consider seriously making it part of your daily rounds.

Back to our regular Israel/Gaza War reporting….

** 4 **

Part of the problem with reporting on the Israel/Gaza war is the same problem that’s affected all reporting from that region: Hamas threatens reporters who try to publish content other than Hamas propaganda — and the reporters lack the courage either to ignore the threats (something I, a physical coward, understand) or to tell their readers and editors that they cannot report accurately from Gaza.

If this is a subject on which you’d like further information, I highly recommend Stephanie Gutmann’s The Other War: Israelis, Palestinians and the Struggle for Media Supremacy.

** 5 **

The other part of the problem with reporting, of course, is anti-Israel, anti-Semitic bias. When Muslims kill each other, the world (especially the journalistic world) shrugs its collective shoulders and just says “That’s what Muslims do.” The Left holds Islam to an unreasonably low standard and holds Israel to an impossibly high standard.

** 6 **

For those of us who wish the IDF would just take out Hamas in Gaza entirely — kind of like the Marines cleared out Fallujah — that’s clearly not what Netanyahu wants to have happen. This is not political cowardice on his part. Bibi is engaged in an incredibly complex balancing act that involves keeping all of the surrounding loathsome players (Hezbollah, Iran, ISIS, etc.) out of the dispute. I pray daily for his continued wisdom in this regard.

** 7 **

Jews have always been plagued by genocide libels. Early Christians blamed all generations of Jews for the acts of some Jews during Jesus’s lifetime. Later Christians (and modern Muslims) have contended that Jews use the blood of non-Jewish children to make matzoh, never mind that this wouldn’t be kosher and, more importantly, never mind that Judaism is built around a reverence for life, not death.

In the late-19th and early-20th centuries, the Russians came out with The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a book that’s still a bestseller in the fever swamps of Leftist and Muslim antisemitism. And now there’s a new blood libel: the Israelis are committing genocide against the Palestinians. Dennis Prager makes short work of it.

** 8 **

Victor Davis Hanson looks at the dynamics of a war with an entity that is utterly evil but that still that has all of Europe and most of the world’s press on its side. (And yes, I understand that the previous sentence would qualify for one of James Taranto’s “Fox Butterfield, is that you?” questions.)

** 9 **

Brett Stephens explains exactly how you have to be really stupid, or just act really stupid, to side with Hamas in the current war. He calls this “the Palestine effect” — “The abrupt and often total collapse of logical reasoning, skeptical intelligence and ordinary moral judgment whenever the subject of Palestinian suffering arises.”

**10 **

Of course, sometimes just being Muslim leads to bizarre thought patterns. Go here, and then try to figure out whether you want to laugh or cry.

** 11 **

Israel provides chapter and verse explaining that it was a Hamas rocket that took out an UNRWA School. Of course, thanks to stupid, immoral, and cowardly reporting, it’s enough for Hamas to say, without proof, “Israel did it” for the world to believe Hamas, not Israel.

** 12 **

Tall Tale Contest

Story of two Sams

Free Muslims in Israel

Obama and the seven dorks

The poster’s title is “Obama and the Seven Dorks”

The administration’s puppets engage in Obama’s familiar pattern of lies when trying to avoid the smoking gun Benghazi email

Bloody fingerprints in BenghaziThis post is about the administration’s new tactic to get out from under the painful weight of the Ben Rhodes Benghazi email which establishes pretty definitively that the administration immediately began a cover-up after Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone S. Woods were murdered. But before I get to the administration’s new tactic, let me quote at some length from a May 2008 post I wrote about Obama’s unique approach to lies, which I think of as the “affirmative defense style of lying.”

Obama is also a fairly compulsive liar, something that highlights myriad other problems. That is, whenever he’s caught in a problematic situation (ah, those friends of his), rather than making a clean breast of it, or a good defense, he instead engages in a perfect storm of ever-spiraling affirmative defenses, with the common denominator always being that it’s everyone’s fault but Obamas.

For those who are not lawyers, let me explain what affirmative defenses are. A complaint contains allegations that the defendant committed myriad acts of wrongdoing. In response, the defendant does two things. First, he denies everything except his own name, and he’d deny that too, if he could. Next, he issues affirmative defenses, which concede the truth of the accusations, but deny that they have any legal or practical meaning.

As an example of how this plays out, imagine a complaint alleging that I smashed my car into a fence, destroying it. I’d start by saying, “No, I didn’t.” Then I’d begin the affirmative defenses: (1) “Okay, I did bring my car into contact with the fence, but I didn’t actually hurt the fence.” (2) “Okay, I hurt the fence, but I didn’t hurt it badly enough to entitle its owner to any damages.” (3) “Okay, I destroyed the fence, but it was falling down already, so it’s really the owner’s fault, so he gets no damages.” And on and on, in a reductio ad absurdum stream of admissions and excuses.

These affirmative defense patterns have shown up with respect to some of Obama’s nastiest little pieces of personal history. When Jeremiah Wright’s sermons first surfaced, Obama denied knowing anything about them. When that denial failed, he claimed that he only had one or two exposures to this deranged level of hatred, so he didn’t make much of it. When that denial failed, he conceded that he’d heard this stuff often over the years, but wasn’t concerned about it, because he knew his pastor was a good man. (Which makes Obama either complicit in the statements or a fool.) Indeed, he even made a much-heralded speech about what a good man his pastor is. He then promised that he’d never abandon his beloved pastor. But when his pastor became dead weight, Obama dropped him so hard you could hear the thud.

The same pattern appeared when word got out about Obama’s connection with two self-admitted, unrepentant, America-hating terrorists. (That would be William Ayer and Bernadine Dohrn, for anyone out of the loop here.) When caught, Obama again engaged in a perfect storm of affirmative defenses. (1) I don’t know them. [A lie.] (2) Okay, I know them, but not well. [A lie.] (3) Okay, I know them well, but we’re just good friends, not political fellow travelers. [A lie.] (4) Okay, we’re more than just good friends, because we served on a Leftist board and I sought political advice from him. And on and on. With every lie, Obama concedes, and then comes forward with a new lie.

The same pattern emerges with Rezko, with Obama freely ranging from “I didn’t know him,” to “I never took favors from him,” to “I didn’t take big favors from him,” to “I took a big favor from him, but I didn’t know it was a big favor.” It just goes ad nauseum, as if Obama is a machine, programmed to spew forth this endless flow of denial and concession. The guy is pathological in his inability to admit wrongdoing and his ability to prevaricate.

[snip]

The question then becomes whether American voters will be happy with the constant barrage of Obama lies, and will be willing to travel Obama’s incremental pathways to unpleasant truths, or if they’re at last going to rebel and say “Who and what are you?” And if they finally get the truth, and it’s pretty sure to be ugly will it matter?

I’d like to think that the truth will matter, just as I’d like to think that, for many Americans, the mere fact that he lied so compulsively will matter too. After all, that is one of the reasons they’ve grown to hate Hillary. My dream is that, no matter how perfectly polished and highly functional the Obama political machine is, the fact that Obama is still the core of that machine will be, in and of itself, an insurmountable problem for him.

In sum, Obama tells a whopper of a lie, and then backs off of it incrementally, always preserving some little space of credibility where his lie really doesn’t, or shouldn’t, matter.

With that in mind, please enjoy Ace’s summary about the way in which the White House’s Pravda-MSM press is trying to spin that smoking gun Benghazi email today:

We saw this script change in the case of Bill Clinton, after the revelation of the Blue Dress.

We saw this script change much more recently in the case of Obama’s “If you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance lie,” when the script flipped from “You’re stupid and crazy to doubt Obama” to “Of course you can’t keep your insurance, that’s at the heart of the program’s cost-control measures; you’re stupid and crazy to have not realized this sooner!”

And now reliably thoughtless yabbering baboon Donnie Deutsch executes the pivot on Benghazi.

“What about the cover-up for the White House?” Scarborough interjected. “I’ve got everybody here apologizing for the White House. What about a cover-up, Donnie?”
“Why are you jumping to political strategy?” he continued. “So, tell me, what’s the politics of the White House lying about something that we all know they’re lying about?”

“You see the White House spokesperson lying on national television. You see an ABC Newsperson shocked that he’s lying and treating the press corps like they’re stupid. He says it’s not about Benghazi. Republicans and conservatives have been called fools for a year now for saying this happened. They don’t release it with the original the documents. They finally, reluctantly are forced to release it. Then you have the White House lying about it, saying it’s not about Benghazi, and you’re only reaction is, ‘Hey, Republicans better not overreact to the cover-up?’”

“We, as voters, understand both Republicans and Democrats are political animals and are going to manage a crisis to their favor,” Deutsch contested before he was interrupted.

“So, when Democrats cover something up, it’s politics,” Scarborough interjected. “When Republicans cover something up, it’s a scandal.” He closed by calling his co-hosts reaction to the White House’s behavior a “disgrace.”

So Scarborough says “we all know they’re lying,” and Deutsch finally — finally — does not dispute that, but instead chooses to recharacterize the acts of serial lying and cover-up as just some understandable political-animal crisis management.

For eighteen months the line from Obama — and therefore the line from the White House’s communications shops at ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN — has been that Obama was not a “political animal,” and certainly not on a matter of national security.

Now that the Blue Dress Proof of the emails are released, the defense changes to “Of course, this is all obvious, how stupid are you are for dwelling on obvious things.”

Read the rest here.

Please remember:  Malignant narcissists never lie.  Whatever they need to say at a given moment is the truth at that given moment.

Please remember also that a greater is probably never in greater danger than when both the government and the media are either narcissistic or have embraced narcissistic tactics as standard operating procedure.

So, for many reasons — to avenge our dead, to strengthen our national security, and to purge our government of sociopaths — in answer to Hillary’s timeless question about what difference this all makes, let me just say that it makes a Hell of a lot of difference.

America’s lousy media and lousy sense of proportion

A couple of days ago, I wrote a lengthy post in which I argued that, during Democrat presidencies, the media constantly elevates non-essential information to top status, thereby keeping America’s attention away from the fact that things are going badly wrong.  During Republican administrations, the press focuses exclusively on hard news, always reported to the administration’s detriment.

Today’s Drudge Report perfectly exemplifies what’s roiling the world (Putin) and what’s roiling the media and the Left (a proposed Arizona law that would allow people who practice traditional religions to refuse to provide their services to gay weddings, which they see as a direct affront to their faith):

Drudge 2-26-14

The bizarre juxtaposition is even more apparent if you look at the Drudge Report on a smart phone:
photo

They’re rattling sabres in a way that presages another Cold War or, worse, a hot war, while our chattering class is incensed that traditional religionists don’t want to be driven into bankruptcy because, while they do not want to be active participants in what is to them a deeply offensive event.

The American media has found its fiddle, even as the world burns down around our ears.

To achieve partisan political goals, the American media destroys the precious right and moral mandate given to it by the Constitution

paparazzi-440x240When our Founders (rightly) insisted upon a free press, they could never have envisioned the wounds the modern American media inflicted upon itself and, by extension, upon the American body politic.  The Founders’ goal was a press that zealously kept watch on politicians, keeping them honest and reminding them that they were the people’s servants, not their masters.  Instead, we have a media that selectively watches some politicians, while following a “don’t ask, don’t tell” standard as to others.  And during those eras when the press’s preferred political party is in power, it turns its energies to attacking and destroying people, both private citizens and celebrities, who have the misfortune to catch the media’s eye.

As I hope to demonstrate below, some of the worst media scandals ever took place during the Clinton presidency.  While the mainstream media (as opposed to the paparazzi/tabloid media) carefully averted its eyes from the Clintons, it savaged Tonya Harding, Richard Jewell, and Princess Diana.  Please remind me if any such “assault by media” events happened during the Bush years.  I can’t think of any, and am not surprised at that memory lapse, since the mainstream media’s entire energies were directed towards discrediting George Bush.

Beginning with 2008 election cycle, the media once again reversed course:  it kept up the attacks on Bush, as well as targeting any Republicans who looked too close to winning the prize (can we say “Sarah Palin”?), and began once again focusing its energies on non-political inessentials — a pattern that it has kept to through the present-day.

My whole theory about the ebb and flow of tabloid and political reporting depending upon which party is in power began when I watched ESPN’s The Price of Gold, a documentary that examines Nancy Kerrigan’s infamous knee capping back in 1994, six weeks before the Lillehammer Olympics (and a few months before triumphant Republicans were able to seize Congress because of America’s horror at Clinton’s far-Left agenda.)  Within a few weeks of the attack, the FBI had figured out that Kerrigan’s main on-ice rival, Tonya Harding, a powerful, scrappy poor kid was somehow involved.  There was no question but that her husband and three conspirators actively carried out the attack.  Harding subsequently pleaded guilty to obstructing justice by failing to give the FBI information after the attack, but she’s never admitted to being complicit in the attack herself.

If you get the chance to watch The Price of Gold, you should.  Kerrigan refused to participate (although her husband appears twice), but Harding finally got the chance to tell her story.  The documentary intertwines interviews with people who knew Harding and Kerrigan, fellow Olympic figure skaters, media people involved at the time, and Harding herself, as well as contemporaneous footage showing Harding from a little girl on ice right up until her demeaning post-Olympics career as a boxer.  Separate from whether she was involved in the assault, Harding emerges as a very sympathetic figure.  Unlike most American skaters, she pulled herself up by her own bootstraps, training in a shopping mall, suffering hunger and parental abuse, and eventually ending up in an abusive marriage.  Despite this, she turned herself into one of the world’s top skaters.

KERRIGAN AND HARDINGOnce Harding had hauled herself into the upper ranks, she discovered blatant class discrimination from two sources:  the skating powers-that-be and the media.  The skating world, still in thrall to Sonja Henie, demanded that, in addition to being powerful athletes, women skaters had to look like fairytale princesses.  Nancy Kerrigan conformed nicely to these demands.  Not only was she exceptionally pretty, she was also a powerful athlete.  Thanks to her looks, she got lucrative endorsements, which enabled her to pay thousands of dollars for a classy princess costume, and to have the best training money could buy.  Harding, on the other hand, was attacked for her homemade costumes and energetic rock music routines.

As for the media, they could have championed the working class heroine, but they didn’t.  With the Olympics nearing, the narrative was set:  beautiful princess facing challenge from ugly stepsister.  Yes, Harding was scrappy and self-made, which even the media recognized was admirable, but she simply wasn’t photogenic.  The press besieged her, but not in a respectful way.

After the attack, all Hell broke loose when it came to the media.  Keep in mind that, when the media went after Harding, never leaving her alone for a single second, no one knew whether she was innocent or guilty.  Indeed, we still don’t, although people close to Harding have their guesses.  The absence of proof or knowledge didn’t stop the media from making it impossible for Harding to train or to do anything else.  It was clear when Harding made her disastrous appearance at the Lillehammer Olympics that she was destroyed, not by a guilty-conscience (and, again, we don’t know if she had a guilty conscience), but by being hunted relentlessly for six weeks.  It probably wasn’t a coincidence that this debacle took place as Clinton was plummeting in the polls thanks in large part to his healthcare initiative.

There was another media frenzy in 1994 as well, which was also a distraction from actual news about Clinton’s myriad policy failures:  The OJ Simpson trial.  For nine months, the media provided wall-to-wall coverage of the trial, allowing it to keep to a limit any meaningful political coverage.

Richard JewellTwo years later, the media engaged in even more shameful behavior in the case of Richard Jewell, the hero who saved so many lives at the 1996 bombing at the Atlanta Olympics.  After first lauding him, the media then tried and convicted him, at the same time stalking and harassing him unmercifully.  When he was definitively cleared, the media hounds just slunk away into the night; their work was done.  That was the same year, as you recall, was that Clinton caved on gay rights, enacting “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the military.

And then there were the Bush years.  Please remind me of any famous media scandals during the Bush years that did not involve attacks on George Bush or his policies.  I can’t think of any.

With the lead-up to the 2008 election, the media once again took its eye off politics and started the scandal watch again.  It continued to savage Bush, and added Sarah Palin to its list of people it had to destroy.  Headlines became pure fluff.  Hard news — about the attempted Iranian Green Revolution, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the Syrian Civil War, the economy, the IRS scandal, the NSA scandal, etc. — was quickly and inaccurately summarized to make room for the really important stuff.  The MSM primarily devoted itself to attacking Republicans, lauding Democrats, worshipping Obama, supporting gay rights, demanding massive changes to the military, climate change, closed bridges, and Miley Cyrus and her ilk.  Whitney Houston, who killed herself directly or indirectly through years of drug abuse got more coverage than Chris Kyle, a true American hero who got murdered.

A good example of the media’s bizarre focus is Alec Baldwin.  Baldwin has always had a famously combative relationship with the media, especially the paparazzi.  He’s now taken to the pages of The Vulture to reveal that he’s not a gay-bashing monster but is, instead, a compassionate fellow who is a victim of media and gay attacks.  It makes for an enlightening read, although not in the way Baldwin intends.

I should say here that I hold no brief for Baldwin.  As 30 Rock showed, he’s an extremely talented comic actor — and that’s the only nice thing I can say about him.  He’s an angry, combative, whiny, hate-filled man who  believes himself to be an intellectual.  (Which reminds me of the response the Jewish mother gave to her son when he proudly showed up wearing his “captain” outfit for his new yacht: “Sammy, by me you’re a captain and by you you’re a captain.  But tell me — by captains are you a captain?”  With regard to Baldwin, one is tempted to say, “Alec, by you you’re an intellectual, and by Leftists you’re an intellectual.  But tell me — by actual smart people, are you an intellectual?”)

172144-alec-baldwinNevertheless, despite all that is really unpleasant about him, Baldwin makes some good points in his extended, almost maudlin rant.  First, he’s right about the attacks gays are making on free speech.  It doesn’t excuse his obscene, abusive language, but Baldwin has vaguely figured out that the speech police are out there.  Indeed, he rises to a certain level of sardonic wit when he calls Anderson Cooper (who I always think looks as if he’s lived his life in a deep sea cave) “the self-appointed Jack Valenti of gay media culture,” for demanding that the media “vilify” Baldwin.  Baldwin doesn’t see or doesn’t care about the way gay issues suck up all the media’s air time to the exclusion of coverage about Benghazi, the IRS, North Korea, Fast & Furious, etc.

Baldwin also makes a couple of good points when he talks about the paparazzi and MSNBC.  Of the press, he accurately — indeed, in an almost low-key way — describes its behavior:

And this isn’t the days of Rona Barrett and Ron Galella, who were viewed as outcasts or peripheral at best. Paparazzi today are part of a network that includes the Huffington Post and, much to my dismay, even NBC News, in their reliance on tabloid reporting.

Photographers today get right up in your face, my wife’s, my baby’s. They are baiting you. You can tell they want to get into it with you. Some bump into me or block the entrance to my apartment, frustrating my neighbors (some of whom may regret that I live in their building).

The other point Baldwin makes that is worth noting is his attack on MSNBC.  Putting aside the obvious sour grapes, he confirms what all of us have always suspected — MSNBC is run by Leftist businessmen who employ minimally intelligent talking heads to operate as an attack machine, rather than a news agency.  (Baldwin concedes that Rachel Maddow isn’t stupid, but thinks she’s a “phony,” whatever he means by that conclusory word.):

Phil Griffin is the head of MSNBC, and when I saw that Griffin didn’t have a single piece of paper on his desk, meeting after meeting after meeting, that should have been my first indication there was going to be a problem. Phil is a veteran programmer who knows well the corridors and chambers of television programming—and couldn’t give a flying fuck about content.

Three wise monkeysEven as the media has spent the Obama years obsessed by Alec Baldwin, gays, and Miley Cyrus, what about the way in which it’s performed its core function under the First Amendment, which is to ensure open and honest political discourse in America?  I don’t think I need to start preaching to the choir here.  You can amuse yourself by comparing coverage of Bridgegate to the media’s announcement that Hillary Clinton’s entire past, up to and including Benghazi, is off limits.  After all, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

Or you might want to compare the microscope placed on Sarah Palin (including reporters going through her garbage or Andrew Sullivan’s increasingly insane theories about her son Trig’s parentage) versus the three monkeys approach the media took to every facet of Barack Obama’s history (“hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil”).

The profound damage the media is inflicting on America with its slavish devotion to the Democrat Party came to mind when I read an article about the Ukrainian media’s role in the current uprising.  The article shows two things:  (1) that a media complicit with the government is terribly damaging to the rights of the people and (2) that a media that backs away from that same government can then destroy it (and that’s true whether or not it’s a government that deserves to be destroyed).  Both of these are useful lessons for America.

Lidia Pankiv, a Ukrainian journalist, was invited to speak on a talk show on Inter, the most popular news station in Ukraine.  Andriy Danylevych, the show’s host, wanted to do a human interest story with her about how important it is for reconciliation to occur instantly between, on the one hand, a government that governed against the will of the people and then tried to kill them and, on the other hand, the people themselves.  Pankiv was expected to tell a heartwarming story about how she calmed down riot police attacking civilians and how she ended up engaged to one of those riot police.  Pankiv, however, wasn’t going to talk about reconciliation.  Instead, she had a message for her compatriots about the media’s complicity in tyranny (emphasis mine):

Lidia PankivYou probably want to hear a story from me about how with my bare hands I restrained a whole Berkut unit, and how one of the Berkut officers fell in love with me and I fell in love with him. But I’m going to tell you another story. About how with my bare hands I dragged the bodies of those killed the day before yesterday. And about how two of my friends died yesterday. . . . I hate Zakharchenko, Klyuev, Lukash, Medvedchuk, Azarov. I hate Yanukovych and all those who carry out their criminal orders. I came here today only because I found out that this is a live broadcast. I want to say that I also despise Inter because for three months it deceived viewers and spread enmity among citizens of this country. And now you are calling for peace and unity. Yes, you have the right to try to clear your conscience, but I think you should run this program on your knees. I’ve brought these photos here for you, so that you see my dead friends in your dreams and understand that you also took part in that. And now, I’m sorry, I don’t have time. I’m going to Maidan. Glory to Ukraine.

When the show’s host tried to derail this conversation, the other guest instead agreed with what Pankiv had to say (emphasis mine):

Danylevych immediately tried to return to the night’s topic of reconciliation. But he was stopped by guest Konstantin Reutsky, a human-rights activist from Luhansk. Reutsky agreed with Pankiv, saying that Inter journalists had “lied and distorted information about Maidan over the last three months.” Danylevych tried to interrupt Reutsky, who went on to say that the protestors had tried for months to avoid bloodshed. “But what happened yesterday is a point of no return,” Reutsky continued. “After that you can no longer say, ‘Sorry, we got carried away, let’s turn the page and start afresh without offense.’ What happened yesterday is impossible to forget.” Danylevych, after shouting down Reutsky’s further attempt to discuss the crimes committed by the government, changed the topic. But a chief media mouthpiece of the regime, owned by the president’s oligarch backers, had been exposed. Hours later, the president fled his palace.

John Fund, whom I quoted immediately above, draws one conclusion:

As someone who reported from Eastern Europe during the fall of Communist regimes there, I recognized a recurring pattern in the collapse a quarter century later of the regime in Kiev. Regimes can stay in power in an age of mass media only if they have enough murderers willing to gun down people in the street.

Ukraine uprisingThere’s more to add than that, though.  Certainly it’s true that, when the blood really starts to flow, the media can no longer hide what’s going on, and the government can hold out only if there are enough people willing to stomach the bloodshed of their fellow citizens to fight them to the death (e.g., Syria).  What struck me most strongly about what happened in Ukraine, though, is the way in which a corrupt, complicit media propped up an administration that was governing against the will of the people.  The Ukrainian government hadn’t resorted to physically attacking its people in the months leading up to last week’s uprising.  Instead, it simply lied to the people and it was able to do so because the media covered for it.  (I wrote those words before Putin stepped up his game against Ukraine.  Putin understands that when a once great power is governed by a paper rat — Obama doesn’t rise even to the level of a paper tiger — the bad actors of the world no longer have anything to fear.)

If you’re now thinking about Obamacare and other events in the Obama administration, you and I are two minds with but a single thought.  The media has turned on its head the Founders’ belief that a healthy democracy can survive only with a media that rigorously keeps politicians honest by accurately reporting what’s happening in the political world.  Our media has utterly failed in its constitutional responsibility.  When Obama ran for president, it covered for him, telling the world that no one had any right even to ask Obama about his personal history, political record, and peculiar group of friends.  When Obama pushed for Obamacare, the media relayed his lies without comment and avoided covering anything negative.  In Benghazi, the media carefully didn’t ask any questions that might have exposed Hillary’s and Obama’s lies.  With the IRS scandal, the media simply buried the whole matter as quickly as possible.

The American media is Ukraine’s Inter.  No, I take that back.  The American media is worse than Inter.  Ukraine doesn’t have a First Amendment.  Its press has no constitutional right to be free nor does it have the moral mandate that flows from that extraordinary right to be the people’s watchdog.  In most of the world, it’s always been a given that the press is the government’s mouthpiece — and, as Putin’s Russia shows, it can be deadly to try to break free from that relationship.  In America, however, the media had something unique in world history:  a signed, written contract granting it freedom from the government.  The American media did something extraordinary, though:  it shredded that contract, threw the pieces to the wind, and willingly put its neck in the government’s yoke — provided that the government was run by a Democrat.

In the past thirty years, the American media has managed to turn itself upside down.  Instead of being a government watchdog and the people’s protector, it has become the government’s lapdog and the people’s persecutor.  Moreover, it has done this to achieve blatant partisan outcomes:  it uses its power to install and maintain Democrat Party governments and it deflects attention from its misbehavior by attacking a select few in order to divert and deceive the masses.

 

 

I prefer clarity to agreement, and Obama’s second term is getting increasingly more clear

I trace back to Dennis Prager one of my favorite expressions:  “I prefer clarity to agreement.”  Too often, agreement can be like Tacitus’s definition of a Roman peace (“they make a desert and call it peace”).  In the years since Obama’s election, I’ve frequently argued that, with a weak American president, the world might get some necessary clarity.  (For example, in January 2011, I said apropos Obama’s retreat from the world stage, “The clarity that emerges when the strong man is gone might be helpful.”)

Looking at the headlines, it occurs to me that Americans are getting a lot of clarity about what today’s Democrats really stand for, while the world is getting a lot of clarity about what a post-American world looks like.  The following links all tie into this post’s theme about the clarity that Obama has wrought.

The end of the filibuster,* although weakening minority power in the Senate, may bring about a very useful clarity, both because it forces the two parties to own the legislation they pass, and because it enables Republicans to have an easier time getting their judicial picks confirmed.  History shows that, with the exception of the past year or two, while Democrat judicial picks got confirmed easily, Republican judicial picks did not.  Republicans will now be able to get judges on the bench with a simple majority.

Obamacare reveals Obama for what he is:  not a glorious tyrant, in the mold of Louis XIV or Henry VIII, but a petty bureaucratic Leftist.  You and I knew that early on, of course, but the rest of America is catching on to this reality . . . so there’s clarity for you.

The young and the poor just got a dose of clarity today:  Even the wealth transfer that is Obama’s core (but don’t call it redistribution) was done incompetently, with low-income, especially young low-income people finding that they’re in the increasingly expensive Obamacare market without a subsidy net.

I hope John Fund is correct when he says it can still be repealed — but that will happen only if the American people have learned their lesson and vote Republican in 2014, and if the Republicans don’t prove that they’re as complicit in Big Government as we currently suspect.  (And in that regard, the end of the filibuster may also bring some welcome clarity for conservative voters.)

Peter Wehner comes right out and says it:  Obamacare is finally causing people to see the President and the Democrats for at least some of what they are — failed technocrats.  But again, the question remains whether we’ll get intelligent action in clarity’s wake.

Angelo Codevilla thinks the same is true with Obama’s appalling agreement to allow Iran to continue building its nuclear program; namely, that it forces clarity (or, as he phrases it “reality’) on the world:  “But let us look on the bright side: There is value in leaving no doubt about reality.”

Certainly the Israelis now know where they stand.  Keith Koffler’s faux quote passes the Homer Simpson test.

And finally, even the media is getting a little tired of being pushed around.  This tiny rebellion won’t stop the media’s slavish devotion because, even if media members have had it with the man, they still support the cause.  However, to the extent the media consuming public watches this little tiff, it might produce enough clarity in some that they start backing away from the cognitive dissonance that enslaves them.

Clarity . . . it’s a good thing.

_________________________

*Thanks to Earl for pointing out that I’d forgotten those three very important words.

Krauthammer on Obama’s next campaign — when rhetoric meets reality

I think Charles Krauthammer may have written one of his best articles ever.  I’m quoting a few select phrases, but you’re cheating yourself if you don’t read the whole thing:

“Obama to campaign to ensure health law’s success”

– The New York Times, November 4

The Obamacare website doesn’t work. Hundreds of thousands of insured Americans are seeing their plans summarily terminated. Millions more face the same prospect next year. Confronted with a crisis of governance, how does President Obama respond?

He campaigns.

[snip]

Campaigning to make something work? How does that work? Presidential sweet talk persuades the nonfunctional web portal to function?

[snip]

Last Wednesday, he simply denied reality and said he really hasn’t changed his message from when he promised in June 2009: “If you like your health-care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health-care plan. Period.”

Instead of simply admitting he was wrong, he goes Clintonian, explaining that the pledge applied only to certain specified plans — which he now says he meant all along. Alas, this is one case of death by punctuation. “Period” means without caveats, modifications, loopholes, or escape hatches.

[snip]

Obamacare proponents who live in the real world might admit that they intended to cancel people’s individual plans all along because kicking people off individual policies is at the heart of populating the health exchanges. You must cancel the good, less frilly plans because forcing these people into more expensive plans (that they don’t need) produces the inflated rates that subsidize the health care of others.

The more honest Obamacare advocates are in effect admitting that to make this omelet you have to break 8 million eggs — roughly the number of people with individual plans who are expected to lose them. Obama, however, goes on as if he can conjure omelets out of thin air.

This rather bizarre belief in the unlimited power of the speech arises from Obama’s biography. Isn’t that how he rose? Words. It’s not as if he built a company, an enterprise, an institution. He built one thing — his own persona. By persuasion. One great speech in 2004 propels him to the presidential level. More great speeches and he wins the White House.

The media is still trying to convince us that Emperor Obama is nattily attired in pants with pressed creases. It’s then surrounding him by a phalanx of courtiers with such awkward names as “The War on Women” and “You’re Racist” and “Republicans want to kill old and poor people.” It remains to be seen whether the Obamacare debacle will finally strip away these illusory protections and reveal Obama, standing naked before us.

(Immediately after I wrote those words, I thought, “Well, it works as a metaphor, but I have to admit to some revulsion at the thought of seeing Obama actually standing naked before me. Ick.”)

I may have to revisit my opinion about Banksy, since he’s challenged the craven New York Times

My post title is somewhat misleading, because I actually don’t have an opinion about the artist Banksy.  You can’t revisit what never existed.  Up until about ten minutes ago, I didn’t care about him one way or the other, neither to like nor to dislike; nor to respect nor to revile.  For me, his name is familiar; everything else about him has, in the past, fallen into the “whatever” category.

However, Banksy’s opinion about the building rising at Ground Zero in New York suggests that he’s more than a “whatever.”  It’s not just that the piece demands that the City itself not cry craven at Ground Zero but, instead, bravely assert itself in the wake of 9/11 (never mind that it’s taken 12 years even to start building something).  What really makes Banksy’s latest move unusual is that he calls out The New York Times for its own craven behavior when it comes to an opinion piece demanding better for New York.

Banksky printed at his personal blog an editorial that the NYT refused to run.  Why?  One can guess.  Banksy just states the facts. “Today’s piece was going to be an op-ed column in the New York Times. But they declined to publish what I supplied. Which was this…”

Banksy's banned New York Times opinion piece

In the same post, Banksy includes some new art work illustrating censorship:

Banksy censorship illustration

Our suspicion is that the Times wants desperately to pretend that 9/11 never happened because it is an invitation to cognitive dissonance.  Islam is not a religion of piece, al Qaeda is not gone, and Barack Obama hasn’t made America more safe.  An op-ed demanding that the new tower trumpet America’s triumph over a foul ideology is simply unacceptable to a media institution drowning in dhimmitude.

So, when it comes to Banksy, there’s definitely more there than has met my eye. I I’m prepared to respect any society darling who has the decency to attack The New York Times.  Most people in society desperately crave the Times’ approval, so it’s very rare indeed for an insider to speak out.

Don’t mess with vets-es!!

The vets descended on Washington.  While there weren’t a million, there were a lot and they made their point.  It’s another day where I’m not in control of my own time, so I can’t write about it, but others have.  There’s a little overlap, but I think that link deserves to be viewed:

Power Line (a comprehensive photo essay)

Gateway Pundit Part 1

Gateway Pundit Part 2 (and  hurrah for the police who proved that they are still Americans)

Gateway Pundit Part 3

PJ Media

Breitbart (Americans in Washington today)-

Breitbart (Republican politicians in Washington today)

Breitbart (Mainstream media in Washington today — and ask yourself if CNN is doing a smart thing or a dumb thing by making vets, from WWII to the present, look like crazies)

Michelle Malkin (Doug Powers)

And from the Washington Post, the hometown of this turnout . . . nothing, at least not on the front page of its online edition at 6:30 p.m. EST:

Homepage WaPo 1Homepage WaPo 2

Media Rule No. 1: Never ever abandon Democrat spin — but Charles Martel shows we can spin too

Earl Aagaard caught something in the very first line of an AP report about the fact that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is about to be freed from prison.  If Nakoula’s name doesn’t ring a bell, let me refresh your recollection.

Nakoula posted on YouTube a short video that purported to be a trailer about Muhammad’s life.  It was as inconsequential as any bit of fluff ever put onto YouTube.  For the Obama administration, however, it was a life saver.

In the immediate aftermath of riots at the Egyptian embassy and the al Qaeda-related slaughter of four Americans in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, the administration discounted both its own responsibility and resurgent anti-American Islamist terrorism by saying that Nakoula’s video triggered events in both Egypt and Benghazi.  To the extent that his ten-minute nothing of a video trailer for a non-existent movie was seen as an insult to “the Prophet,” the administration implied, Muslims got righteously upset and, pretty much by accident, attacked a US embassy, a consular office, and a CIA outpost, killing an American ambassador, a consular aide, and two former SEALS.

Nakoula poster

(You can see other cleverly-captioned Nakoula arrest posters here.)

Well, put that way, what else could our government do but arrest someone who had so much blood on his hands?  Within just a day or two, administration flunkies discovered that Nakoula had violated his parole (nobody says Nakoula is the most savory character in the world), had him arrested, and kept him hidden away in the bowels of the American prison system.  Now, over a year later, he is finally to be free.

In that intervening year, of course, we’ve learned that everything the administration said about Nakoula’s little video was a lie.  The rioting in Egypt took place because of the September 11 anniversary, while the attack on the Benghazi consulate was a carefully planned attack by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.  To the extent the jihadists talked about the video, it was an ex post facto cover for their terrorist activities — and the Obama administration knew this from the minute the riots in Egypt and the attack in Benghazi came into being.  After all, Ambassador Christopher Stevens had seen the attack coming for some time and had begged for increased security in Benghazi.  Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, however, turned a deaf ear to his pleas.

When the attack finally came, barring Hillary’s single phone call and Obama’s quick visit to the situation room, both Hillary and Obama were AWOL.  We don’t know what Hillary was doing, but we know that Obama was getting some rest before campaigning in Las Vegas.

With those facts in mind, how does the Associated Press report on the fact that Nakoula, the Obama administration’s designated scapegoat, is finally being set free?  This way:

A California man behind an anti-Muslim film that led to violence in parts of the Middle East is due to be released from federal custody this week.

Wow!  That the AP can say that when we know with certainty that Nakoula’s film did not lead to violence is a breathtaking example of pro-administration spin.  In the year since the attack, AP, which is supposed to track actual news, must have known that Al Qaeda used the film as a cover for a coordinated, planned attack against American outposts in the Middle East, and a sleazy, dishonest, incompetent administration seized on that cover in an effort to hide its own gross culpability.  Pravda couldn’t have done a better job of covering its government master than AP did in that single, dishonest sentence.

Fear not, though, because two can spin at that game.  The brilliant and inimitable Charles Martel, whom I count as one of my dear friends in both the real and the cyber world, has put forth his own idea for spin supporting a pro-American effort in the Middle East:

President Charles Martel’s address to the nation, September 24, 2013:

“My fellow Americans, as you know by now, two U.S. cruise missiles were accidentally launched earlier today and fell inadvertently upon two of the holiest shrines in Islam.

“One careened into the sacred well at Iran’s holy city of Qom, where, according to Shi’ite belief, the 12th Mahdi awaits his return to lead mankind from Daar al Habib—the world at war with Allah—into Daar al Islam, the world in submission to Allah.

“Fortunately, our concern that the misdirected missile may have prematurely awakened the Mahdi remains unfulfilled. U.S. satellite images show that the well is a shambles and apparently whatever lifeforms existed at the bottom of it now lie crushed beneath tens of thousands of tons of rock.

“Nevertheless, we send the Iranian people our deepest apologies and sincere wishes that the Mahdi gets out from under.

“The other missile ended its totally erratic course at the Kaaba in Mecca, the sacred black rock at the very center of Islam’s earthly manifestation. It, like the Mahdi’s well, is a complete wreck. Luckily, the accidental launch took place when only the janitors were buffing the Kaaba, so there was little—although regrettable—loss of life.

“We know that in Muslim belief Allah wills all that happens, and that man himself is predestined to carry out that will. Somehow Allah willed the launch of those two missiles—and believe you me, we are hunting down the man or woman and ship that launched them—and He can will the Kaaba’s  instant restoration. If not, the United States stands ready to deliver building supplies to the good people of Mecca, although given the harsh terrain and conditions there, we would probably have to use M-1 tanks to make those deliveries.

“Again, we apologize for the bad lobs. We trust that Allah, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, will rebuild the Kaaba in the wink of an eye and dust off the Mahdi, thereby restoring His people’s faith in His ability to do anything He wants—including launch missiles against them.

“Good night and God bless the United States of America.”

Plucked from the Twittter feed

The lede says it all: “90% of Top Newspaper Headlines Censor Islam in Nairobi, Pakistan Attacks : Generic ‘terrorists’ and ‘militants’ appear in nine of 10 headlines.”  Doesn’t anybody read their Harry Potter anymore?  I’m quite sure it was the sensible, intelligent, brave Hermione who said that the refusal to name your enemy leaves you incapable of defending against him (or words to that effect).

Obama promised that, under Obamacare, health insurance premiums would drop by $2,500 for a family of four.  He was off by about $10,000.  In fact, premiums for a middle class family of four will increase by almost $7,500.  I do believe that all of us here saw that coming.  Insurance is no longer a question of statistical risk (i.e., the insurance company assesses the likelihood at any given time that it will have to pay out on a specific policy, and adjusts to price accordingly) but is simply wealth redistribution.  The moment the law mandated that people can wait to get insurance until they’re actually sick, it was all over.  The insurance companies are just conduits now, that funnel money from the middle class to the poor.

Obamacare wasn’t a principled (albeit stupid, communist) committed to improving America’s medical care.  Instead, it was a campaign slogan:

The most important red line of Barack Obama’s presidency was scrawled hastily in January 2007, a few weeks before he even announced he was running for president.

Soon-to-be-candidate Obama, then an Illinois senator, was thinking about turning down an invitation to speak at a big health care conference sponsored by the progressive group Families USA, when two aides, Robert Gibbs and Jon Favreau, hit on an idea that would make him appear more prepared and committed than he actually was at the moment.

Why not just announce his intention to pass universal health care by the end of his first term?

[snip]

“We needed something to say,” recalled one of the advisers involved in the discussion. “I can’t tell you how little thought was given to that thought other than it sounded good. So they just kind of hatched it on their own. It just happened. It wasn’t like a deep strategic conversation.”

And that, my children, is how Obamacare was born.

Glenn Reynolds takes a look at why Obama is pushing something that Americans have hated from the beginning and, now that they’re learning what’s in it, are hating even more.

Please consider this an Open Thread.