AP report on thwarted terrorist attacks within the United States downplays Islam’s central role in the planned attack

The headline in the San Francisco Chronicle was simple:  “FBI: 4 Calif. men charged in alleged terror plot.”

California men, huh?  Did they have names like Big Kahuna and look like this?

“Yo, dude, I’m like going to, you know, like, attack the man. It’ll be, like, totally tubular.”

No? Well maybe these California men rejoice in names like Butch and look like this:

“Hey, everyone! We’re going to have a little whip and dip party. We’ll start with some fun bondage stuff, and then move on to the crudités. I’ve got a divine dip.”

Somehow that doesn’t seem right either. Maybe that’s because, when you read the story, you discover that these guys weren’t just any old California men. Instead, they had a lot more in common with these guys than with surfer dudes or San Francisco’s Folsom Street brigade:

That’s right — these “California men” were (a) Muslims and (b) three of them came from places other than America, let alone other than California:

Four Southern California men have been charged with plotting to kill Americans and destroy U.S. targets overseas by joining al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan, federal officials said Monday.

The defendants, including a man who served in the U.S. Air Force, were arrested for plotting to bomb military bases and government facilities, and for planning to engage in “violent jihad,” FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said in a release.

A federal complaint unsealed Monday says 34-year-old Sohiel Omar Kabir of Pomona introduced two of the other men to the radical Islamist doctrine of Anwar al-Awlaki, a deceased al-Qaida leader. Kabir served in the Air Force from 2000 to 2001.

The other two — 23-year-old Ralph Deleon of Ontario and 21-year-old Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales of Upland — converted to Islam in 2010 and began engaging with Kabir and others online in discussions about jihad, including posting radical content to Facebook and expressing extremist views in comments.

They later recruited 21-year-old Arifeen David Gojali of Riverside.

[snip]

Kabir is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Afghanistan. Santana was born in Mexico, while Deleon was born in the Philippines. Both are lawful, permanent U.S. residents. Gojali is a U.S. citizen.

In a sane, honest world, the AP headline would have said “FBI: 4 Muslim men in So. Cal. charged in alleged terror plot.” But we’ve already established that we don’t live in a sane, honest world, right? We live in a world dominated by a media that is determined to pretend that Islam, with its institutionalized jihad and antisemitism, is just a myth, and that it’s purely coincidental that these mythical Islamists keep trying to blow up Americans.

The mainstream media has elected another president

My sister, who is only vaguely interested in politics, told me the other day that the Dems are lucky, because they’ve got such a deep pool of candidates for 2016 — and then proceeded to name Hillary and Cuomo.  She had no idea who Rubio, Jindal, West, Love, etc., were, and she knows who Ryan is only because he was on the Romney ticket.  The reason for my sister’s ignorance is simple:  On the rare occasions when she tunes into the news — meaning the MSM, not alternative media — these stations make no mention whatsoever of rising conservative stars.  Further, if she bothered to watch Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert, who do mention young conservative guns, she would come away believing that they’re stupid and cruel, and that they hate old people and minorities (or are self-hating minorities).

Here’s the dirty secret of the 2012 election:  The mainstream media still rules.

We conservatives, optimistic to the point of stupidity, foolishly believed that the liberal media’s lies and hysteria during the Bush years was such that Americans stopped trusting it and tuned out.  Obama’s election, we thought, was the last gasp of a dinosaur press.  We assumed that it had impaired its brand so much that it would soon be reduced to irrelevancy.

What we didn’t realize was that during the Bush and Obama years, the drive-by media didn’t destroy its credibility.  Instead, it effectively destroyed the average American’s credulity.  The media still rules and it easily managed to put another one of its own into the White House.  Even more impressively, this year the media did it with the gloves off.  It made no pretense whatsoever of objectivity and, as it happily discovered, the voters didn’t care.

It’s at times like this that I really miss Andrew Breitbart.  He understood how to play the media.  No one else seems to, and I say that with all due respect to the energy, effort, and initiative that conservative stalwarts show every day.

As Breitbart understood, Obama and his ilk are not the enemy.  They’re the enemy’s spawn.  The real enemy is the media, and the question that must occupy us during the next I don’t know how many years is how we re-balance the media, either from the inside by breaking the Progressive hold or from the outside by setting up equally strong media alternatives.  Fox and AM radio, despite their popularity amongst core conservatives, are not changing the nation’s zeitgeist, which is still manipulated by a very-much-alive Progressive media.

One of the worst things about the media is how slavishly America’s young people follow it.  Whatever happened to teenage rebellion?  For better or worse, in the 1960s, teenage rebellion was about remaking the world, with drugs and sex as an enjoyable byproduct.  Now, though, teenage rebellion is about drugs and sex and, once having attained those “edgy” attributes, America’s young people willingly fall into the lockstep dictated to them by old Hollywood and Manhattan fat cats.

Can we make Individualism edgy?  That is, can we entice young people into breaking with their parents by embracing individualist, free-market ideas as an act of rebellion that goes beyond drugs, sex, and mimicking the latest mindless Leftist out of Hollywood?

Conservatives need a new ground game

Maybe I’m in denial, but I’m feeling less depressed than I felt last night and this morning.  Part of my more sanguine attitude is based upon a Taranto principle, which is that Obama now owns the events of the next four years:

Obama has spent the past four years explaining away his failings by essentially arguing he is the best of all possible presidents–that he has done as well as any man could given the “mess” he “inherited” from his predecessor. It is certainly true that he took office under adverse circumstances. But so will whoever takes office Jan. 20. In fact, things are about to get a lot worse because of decisions taken but deferred during the Obama years.

The mess today’s winner will inherit includes not only high unemployment and slow growth but impending policy changes that threaten to make those problems worse. On Jan. 1, unless Congress acts, the Bush tax cuts expire–or, to put it another way, “massive, job-killing tax increases” are about to take effect (that quote is from President Obama). If Obama gets his way–which he likely would if re-elected–Congress will forestall the hike only for taxpayers making under $200,000 or $250,000 a year. That would be good for those fortunate enough to have jobs, but it would not change the tax increase’s job-killing nature, as it would hit investors and small businesses hard.

Then there’s ObamaCare. Although enacted nearly three years ago, it was written so that most of its provisions would not take effect until the next presidential term. “The bottled-up rules to set up President Barack Obama’s health care reform law are going to start flowing quickly right after Election Day,” Politico reports. “As soon as Wednesday, the gears and levers of government bureaucracy are likely to start moving at full speed again.”

The scale of the messes Taranto describes makes it unlikely that Romney could have been a successful president.  At best, he might have stemmed an economic or national security collapse, but I doubt he could actually have improved things.  The systems for self-destruction — massive debt, vast entitlement expectations, ObamaCare beginning to weave into the warp and woof of our social and economic fabric, a dangerous world outside of America’s borders — are already deeply entrenched.  Four years won’t fix them.  (Which may be why voters ignored Obama’s empty 2008 promises and decided that he really need 8 years to fulfill the hope and change manifesto.)

But, but . . . what about Reagan?  He also inherited a dangerous world and an unhealthy economy.  That’s true — but he inherited a different ground game.  Political correctness didn’t exist then.  Skin color diversity (offset by ideological homogeneity) was at the beginning of its trajectory, not the peak.  People still viewed government aid as something one first earned or, if one didn’t earn it, as something one accepted with some degree of embarrassment.  Now, even with no pay-in, they view it as a right, with no shame attached.  In Reagan’s day, our troops hadn’t been fighting a blood-and-guts war for eight years (as opposed to a massive Cold War chess game) against an enemy that neither the Republican nor the Democrat President willingly named.  In Reagan’s day, the intelligentsia may have tried to downplay the Soviet Union, but ordinary people still knew that it was indeed the Evil Empire.  Israel was still loved, not hated, so Americans supported a president who supported Israel.

The ground game has changed.  As Roger Simon says,

So we have a problem with democracy. It’s not working or, more specifically, has been turned on its end, with the masses manipulated against their own self-interest, creating power elites similar to those described in Milovan Djilas’ The New Class.

How did that happen? I think many of us know there are three pillars of our own destruction: the educational system, the media and entertainment (the popular arts).

Those three areas are so corrupted those who legitimately are on the center-right (or anywhere close to it) will increasingly find themselves swimming upstream against a current so great who knows where it will take them. (Think Hayek, Orwell, etc.) We must address ourselves to these three immediately before it is too late. In many ways, it already is. Culture is the mother of politics and mother is turning into Medea.

Okay, fine.  We fight the wars we’re given, not the wars we want.  So here’s my thinking.

As I said, I’m less depressed than I was because I think our culture is such that, no matter who occupies the White House, bad things are going to happen.  Really bad things, both with our economy and our national security.  Seeing as I think the coming hurt is inevitable, I’d rather it happens on a Democrat’s than on a Republican’s watch.  If I’m wrong, I’ll eat crow and begin to consider whether my political leanings of the past eight years have been a temporary aberration, and I’ll even contemplate returning to my liberal roots.  (Unlikely, but if the next four years are an American boom time, we’ll all need to rethink our belief systems.)

Accepting the inevitable, how do we fight back?  As polite conservatives, we’ve always tried to work through the ballot box.  We’ve decried the bias in media (including PBS, which we pay for), academia, and education, but we really haven’t done anything about it.  We tried to vote for people who would stop funding PBS and we whined on websites about the indoctrination at our children’s schools.  We’ve still paid to watch movies and we tune in to TV.

We resent the system, but we work within in.  For all that we talk about the ageless wonders of our Constitution and free-market principles generally, we are short-term thinkers, who keep believing (all evidence to the contrary) that we can kill the Progressive tree, not by attacking the roots, but by taking an axe to the tip-top of the tree through honestly brokered elections.  The fact is that the cultural battle is so one-sided (against our side) that we’d probably lose even honestly brokered elections, ones that did not involve massive fraud and media malfeasance.

We keep doing trying the same failed tactic, even though we recognize that the strong Democrat victories resulted, not because the Left voted, but because they spent 60 years going after America’s social and intellectual infrastructure.  The numbers of actual Lefties are probably pretty small; the number of people who have been taught to vote Democrat without thinking what it really means, is huge.

William F. Buckley figured out the problem in the 1950s and started a cultural counter attack, which ended with the Reagan ascendency.  Whew!  That was it.  We won.  Yay.  We won forever.  NOT.  The Left never stopped its ground game.  Indeed, during and after the Reagan years (including during the Clinton years), the hard Left consolidated its hold over cultural institutions.  We just watched and whined.

We cannot do that anymore.  For the next four years, conservatives need to stop worrying about this candidate or that candidate (which is all we ever do) and we need to start wooing the masses.

My friend Lulu, who comments here and who has been an occasional guest poster, called me today with a wonderful idea:  Star Parker.  Okay, you’re right.  Star Parker is a wonderful person, not a wonderful idea, but she’s the symbol for my friend’s idea.  We don’t need to run Star Parker for office, we need to run her for talk show host, a la Oprah.  She’s engaging, approachable, intelligent, conservative and black.  I hate to add the last, because I don’t like to judge people by the color of their skin, but I’m in minority.  I live in my head, so I relate to people intellectually.  Most don’t.  They need other people to look like them in order to start feeling comfortable with their ideas.

The talk show idea, though is the right one.  We know that most people aren’t high-level thinkers when it comes to politics but are, instead, low-level, emotional reactors.  I do not mean that they are stupid.  I just mean that, when it comes to politics, they engage in a non-abstract, non-theoretical, non-intellectual level.  The old saying is that, if the mountain won’t come to Mohamed, than Mohamed must go to the mountain.  We need to reach out to non-engaged voters by meeting them at their level, rather than insisting that they meet us at ours.

Admittedly, our conservative social infrastructure is limited.  Liberals own the media and the entertainment world.  But how did they get there?  They pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed.  We need to start pushing too.  We need talk shows, even if they start on cable or internet.  We also need to take a page out of the Leftist handbook and start using the courts.  For example, Lulu suggested that, as taxpayers, we have standing to sue PBS to demand that, as long as public broadcasting gets public monies, it must devote 50% of its programming time to conservative programs.  After all, for decades, simply because they rented public airwaves, TV and radio were required to be  neutral.  Why isn’t PBS?

When it comes to Hollywood, we need to come together an create alternatives.  Stop spending your money on movies by people who hate us.  Why are we doing that?  And we should take the money we didn’t spend on the haters and invest it in movie makers (such as Declaration Entertainment) that will make entertaining movies that don’t hit us over the head with their message, but that feed it to us subliminally.  (When we do make movies we always go for the iron hand, rather than the velvet glove).  The Left figured this one out, as Ben Shapiro explains in Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV.  We too can change the paradigm without being obvious.

And why are we, who pay most of the taxes, allowing publicly funded schools to discriminate against conservative teachers? We sit back and cheer when an individual conservative teacher sues after being denied tenure, but we’ve never had a taxpayer suit saying that, just as student body’s have to be diverse, so should faculty — and that this diversity includes not discriminating against belief systems.  In other words, we have to redefine diversity so that it encompasses ideology as well as (or instead of) skin color.

We also have to advertise ourselves better.  As Romney’s campaign (and McCain’s and Bush’s too) showed, Republican political “leaders” find our ideology embarrassing and seek to wrap it up in gauzy, often impenetrable, platitudes.  One of my readers, Fern, suggests that our campaigns have a musty, fuzzy look.  The Left identifies us as backwards, reactionary, etc., and we yield.  We’ve certainly given the Left linguistic control.  They’re “Progressive” and “Forward.”  We’re fuddy-duddy “conservatives.”

Obama, a child of the Left, understands that words matter, more than the fact that these so-called Progressives keep trying to recycle ideas that failed in all nations that have tried them.  They’ve got the glamor and the gloss, and those gimmicks sell in a superficial world.

One of the first and easiest things we can do is to start with re-branding.  Keep in mind that calling conservatives “right wing” harks back to the 18th century French parliament, when the non-revolutionaries sat on the right side of the hall.  Is that how we want to identify ourselves — as relics of the ancien regime?  “Conservative” too makes us sound like a bunch of reactionary codgers who can be painted as desirous of slavery (never mind that the Republicans freed the slaves), Jim Crow-lovers (never mind that Republicans opposed Jim Crow), and misogynists (never mind that Republicans are in the vanguard of fighting Muslims and Chinese Communists who treat women and girl babies like disposable property).

It turns out that, in a media rich world, Shakespeare was wrong.  That which we call rose, by any other name does not smell as sweet.  With that in mind, how about starting to call ourselves “Individualists” or “the Freedom Party” or something like that?  Liberals successfully (and mostly under the radar) rebranded themselves as Progressives, leaving behind the musty Victorian taint of “liberalism.”  If they can do it, why can’t we?

Truly, the wake-up call we received yesterday is not about 2012 or even about 2016.  It is about our finally understanding that the opposition has long had a better strategy and endless institutional patience.  We won only when there were still enough voters who hadn’t been indoctrinated.  In 2008, there weren’t enough of us remaining to tilt the scales.  The Left attacked America at the root, and we need to take it back at precisely the same level.

The battle is over.  The war has begun.  Consider this post Ground Zero.  If you have ideas — practical, non-whining ideas that ordinary people can put into effect — post them in the comments section, and we’ll see how far we can disseminate them.  For starters, I am no longer a conservative.  I am an “individualist” who supports a “Freedom Party,” as opposed to a “statist” who supports “Big Government.”

UPDATE:  Others thinking about a new ground game too –

The Colossus of Rhodey

Don Quixote (at our own Bookworm Room)

Ron Radosh

Michelle Horstman

Tuesday morning flotsam and jetsam Open Thread

My brain hasn’t yet synthesized all the fascinating data out there, including the wrenching stories of Sandy’s devastation.  For the time being, I’ll just pass interesting links on to you.  Please feel free to do the same.

***

The former Commander of the United States Pacific Fleet has written a white-hot article excoriating Obama and his administration, based upon what we know to date about events in Benghazi.  Because the White House is withholding information, and because the lap dog media is refusing to seek information (or even to talk about Benghazi), I have no problem with convicting Obama et al on the information currently available.  If that crew wants a full and fair trial in the court of public opinion, it had better start releasing reliable information.

***

There’s a fascinating story in my local paper today about a grocery store chain called Mi Pueblo.  It was founded as a Mom-and-Pop store by a pair of illegal immigrants.  It’s now a large, legal chain serving the Hispanic community throughout California.  It’s also a law-abiding chain, in that it uses e-verify to make sure that it’s employees aren’t illegal immigrants.  Here’s the interesting part:  by abiding with federal law, the store has incurred the wrath, not only of the illegal immigration ground, but of SEIU.  Yup, the unions are furious that as store refuses to employ illegals.  Think about that:  unions used to fight illegals, because they were seen as taking jobs away from legal American workers.  Now, unions see the effort to stop illegal immigrants from working as a nefarious plot to weaken the unions. Legal American workers — those who are native-born or have green cards — should think long and hard about what the unions what to do for them.  At the moment, it looks to me as if the unions aren’t out to protect workers, they’re out to protect unions.

***

Victor Davis Hanson nails the fantasy-based “reality” that keeps affluent Californian’s voting for Democrats.  I live surrounded by this mentality:

Did California’s redistributive elite really believe that they could all but shut down new gas and oil production, strangle the timber industry, idle irrigated farmland, divert water to the delta smelt, have 37 million people use a highway system designed for 15 million, allow millions of illegal aliens to enter the state without audit, extend free medical programs to 8 million of the most recent 11 million added to the population, up taxes to among the highest in the nation, and host one-third of the nation’s welfare recipients — and not have the present chaos?

The California schools — flooded with students whose first language is not English, staffed by unionized teachers not subject to the consequences of subpar teaching, and plagued with politicized curricula that do not emphasize math, science, and reading and writing comprehension — scarcely rate above those in Mississippi and Alabama. Did liberals, who wanted unions, a new curriculum, and open borders, believe it was good for the state to have a future generation — that will build our power plants, fly our airliners, teach our children, and take out our tumors — that is at the near-bottom in national test scores?

Do Bay Area greens really believe that they that will have sufficient water if they blow up the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir? Did Barack Obama think that the Keystone pipeline or new gas and oil leases in the Gulf were superfluous, or that we do not need oil to make gasoline, wheat to make flour, or to cut timber to produce wood?

Did liberals (and their hand-in-glove employer supporters who wished for cheap labor) think that letting in millions from Central Mexico, most without legality, English, or a high school education (and in some sense at the expense of thousands waiting in line for legal admission with capital, advanced degrees, and technological expertise), was not problematic and that soaring costs in law enforcement, the criminal justice system, the schools, and the health care industries were irrelevant?

***

Reagan famously said “Trust, but verify.”  In an internet age, one has to say “verify before you trust anything.”  Case in point?  A Halloween costume a young Boston Democrat put together to mock Tea Partiers.  It features her grimacing, while holding a misspelled birther sign.  Well, it went viral on the internet, not as a spoof, but as a “genuine” picture of a deranged young Alabama Tea Partier.  The young woman involved (who did not intend to prank anyone), has learned a valuable lesson about her own political party.  Maybe in a few years, she’ll be a true Tea Partier — and a nicer person for it too.

***

Jonah Goldberg scolds the mainstream media for its incredible lack of curiosity about Benghazi.  Goldberg doesn’t see a conspiracy.  He sees liberal group-think that is so all-encompassing that the media people think candidate George Bush’s alleged conduct in 1974 is more important than President Barack Obama’s conduct in September 2012.

***

While Jonah Goldberg is willing to damn the media with faint praise (stupid, not evil), Thomas Sowell is not so kind about the administration.  He thinks that, when it comes to Benghazi, there’s a giant con going on.  I think he’s right.  (Is it redundant to say that one thinks that Thomas Sowell has made an intelligent, accurate argument?  Doesn’t the name Sowell already encompass that description?)

***

Keith Koffler does a great job summing up the way in which Obama has demeaned the presidency.  We thought the Clinton presidency already did that but, looking back, that’s not quite accurate, Clinton demeaned himself with a variety of scandals, but he managed to stay presidential when he was in the business of politics (rather than the business of shtupping the help).  Obama, however, has demeaned the presidency itself, by using sex, obscenities, and insults within the context of politics.

***

Of course, when it comes to demeaning the office of the presidency, Obama is getting a lot of help.  Witness this obscenity-laden video that purports to show members of the “Greatest Generation” engaging in vulgar trash-talk against Romney.  Those elderly people who honor dignity should be offended by this, even if they’re Democrats.

***

This is a lovely article that uses a faux debate to draw a devastating contrast between Barack Obama and Winston Churchill.

***

And here is another devastating contrast:  the vast cultural divide between Lena Dunham, who coos that voting for Obama is like losing ones virginity, and Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, who fought to the death to save others.  Sadly, their Commander in Chief came from the Dunham side of the cultural divide, and left them to die alone in a Libyan hellhole.  (Incidentally, Tyrone Woods left behind an infant son.  If you would like to donate to a fund for that little boy, Power Line recommends this legitimate organization.  It’s an easy way to donate.  I was able to use PayPal, so I put some of the money you guys have so generously sent me towards Baby Boy Woods’ education.)

Cross-posted at Brutally Honest

Aurora and our deadly sins

Is the media to blame for the Aurora shootings?

I would like to make the case that it is, not for any specific action that any specific media outlet has taken, but by its very nature.

In 1970, Alvin Toffler published his seminal work, Future Shock, in which he predicted that one of the big challenges that we would face in the here-and-now is an over-saturation of media-mediated information stimuli. I believe that he predicted this more accurately than even he imagined.

I propose that the most pernicious damage wrought by the media is the way that it amplifies the worst in human nature. Our Judeo-Christian heritage likes to emphasize the seven deadly sins destructive to our nature and our relationship with God, to whit: gluttony, greed, anger, envy, sloth, lust and pride.

We live in an unheard of access to wealth and information. It isn’t hard to see how our material cornucopia enables the sins of Gluttony and Greed. We are a society, as Dinesh Dsouza famously remarked, where even the poor can be fat. Sloth, well…we have a welfare state that does its utmost to protect our citizenry from the consequences of sloth, so naturally we have more of it. Anger? We enjoy a world of violent sports, video games and cinema and our media rewards demagogues for whipping-up resentments based on race or class. Flash mobs, anyone? What about Lust? Even small children have ready access to pornography in popular magazines, the cinema or from the internet…it’s being normalized. Envy? Messages that stoke peoples’ sense of entitlement to other peoples’ labor and possessions find a ready audience. The media constantly reminds us of how much “the other” has that we don’t.

The most deadly of sins, according to the ancients, is pride or vanity. It is pride that drives people to seek fame, be it by demanding the latest fashions, coloring their hair, decorating their bodies, performing on American Idol or filming themselves having sex or beating up innocent people. Pride or vanity is the craving to be noticed and acting out violence for the Videocam lense is vanity writ large.

This, as the ancients point out, has always been the case. Two hundred years ago, however, it was much harder for people to gain social approval for their worst human excesses or to get noticed for committing mass murder. First, it was hard to get the one’s primal pride messaged out beyond one’s immediate locale. Second, community involvement and trip-wire taboos imposed strict guidelines on and early intervention into aberrant human behavior. Third, when self-control failed, retribution tended to be swift.

Today, by contrast, people are encouraged by our media environment to act out (is there anything more narcissistic than “reality TV”?). We live in a Kardashian society where even young kids are encouraged to seek media fame.

People can now project their worst sinful excesses onto vaste audiences with minimal effort. Once having done so, they are guaranteed 24/7 news coverage, book rights, movie scripts and the protective umbrella of the modern justice system. Whoo-hoo! The Joker rules!

Holmes, like a string of mass murders before him, wanted fame. He wanted to be noticed. Because his pride got the best of him. Our media culture provided all the tools that he needed to amplified the worst consequences of his human nature. Take away our media-saturated environment and there would not be nearly the incentive.

So, what say you? How do we fix this?

“It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels” – St. Augustine of Hippo.

Schadenfreude at the New York Times

When my friends make mistakes, I’m usually amused and rather pleased, not because I revel in their suffering, but because it shows our shared humanity.  When bad things happen to my friends, I feel genuine distress and wish devoutly for their situation to improve.

The opposite is true, of course, when people or institutions I fear, dislike, or distrust make mistakes or have bad things happen.  For example, if I hear about a would-be terrorist blowing himself up on his own bomb before he even leaves his laboratory, I’m delighted.  The Germans have a word for it:  schadenfreude, which means to take delight in someone else’s misfortune.

Given the smug pleasure a New York Times movie review takes in recounting problems within the American military, I’m pretty sure that the writers and editors at the Times fear, dislike, and distrust that institution — one that, in case they forget, is an all-volunteer organization staffed by ordinary Americans and subordinate to the Constitution the Left so much wants to “adjust” into oblivion.  Here’s the movie review, and please note the glee with which the review recounts the military’s travails (emphasis mine):

It hardly needs to be said that any armed force has the potential for internal as well as external violence. But “The Invisible War,” Kirby Dick’s incendiary documentary about the epidemic of rape within the United States military, is a shocking and infuriating indictment of widespread sexual attacks on women. Such behavior, the film argues, is tacitly condoned and routinely covered up; the victims are often blamed and their reputations destroyed.

This unsettling exposé, which won the audience award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, may be the most outraged film in the annual Human Rights Watch Film Festival, which opened on Thursday and continues at the Walter Reade Theater in Lincoln Center through June 28. It is likely to fuel a growing perception of the military as a broken institution, stretched beyond its limits and steeped in a belligerent, hypermasculine mystique that has gone unchecked.

Last week the Pentagon reported that there had been 154 suicides among active-duty troops this year, a rate of nearly one a day. The rate is higher than that of military fatalities in Afghanistan, and it is another sign of incipient breakdown.

The language I highlighted reveals that the liberal audience at Sundance also reveled in the Army’s alleged problem.  I say “alleged” because while I’m perfectly ready to believe that it’s a macho culture with all that this entails, I distrust the source.  In addition, the Army must be doing the world’s worst job in basic training if the women who graduate are incapable of defending themselves.

George Zimmerman: the black, Hispanic, Peruvian, kind-hearted non-white, not-racist poster boy

“Facts are stubborn things.”

I love that quotation.  John Adams said it back in 1774 when he took on the unpopular job of defending the British troops charged with the killings in the event now known as the Boston Massacre.  Arguing off those same stubborn facts, Adams was able to get those troops acquitted.

“Facts are stubborn things.”  You can lie about them and you can try to bury them, but they have a bad habit of revealing themselves.  Sometimes, these revelations can take decades or even centuries, but sometimes — especially in a modern media age — those stubborn facts demand to be heard within days or weeks of the initial lies.

And so it is with the lies the media told about George Zimmerman.

“He’s a white man.”  Wrong, so the media came up the tortured white-Hispanic.  Turns out that even that is wrong.  Zimmerman is also part black.  Brutally Honest has the perfect summation:  “In a delicious irony, it is Zimmerman who might actually look more like the son Obama never had.”

He’s a racist.  Wrong, because it was revealed that he worked hard on behalf of a young black man he thought was wrongfully accused.

He’s an evil, paranoid man who constantly called the cops because of imaginary terrors in his neighborhood.  Wrong.  Aside from the fact that he called infrequently, he was the rock of the neighborhood:

George Zimmerman was known as a trusted aid to most of his black neighbours in the gated community of Sanford, Florida that was plagued by a string of burglaries in the weeks leading up to the shooting of Trayvon Martin, according to an investigation by Reuters.

It reveals that the community, previously a family-friendly, first-time homeowner community, had been devastated by the recession that struck Florida, and transient renters began to occupy some of the 263 town houses in the complex.

During that time, it was Zimmerman, who emerged as a sympathetic figure, offering his and his wife’s support to any homeowners who had been robbed or felt fearful.

I don’t know whether George Zimmerman committed a crime.  I do know that the American media did.  Zimmerman is said to have wept for what he did.  I doubt anyone in the media is shedding tears for grossly maligning a good man’s character or for stirring up violent racial animus in America.

America’s caste system when it comes to mass murder

The caste system to which I refer in my post title is not the shrieks and threats arising from the media’s trial, judgment, and conviction of George Zimmerman.  Instead, I’m talking about the way in which the media and establishment have different expectations depending whether Muslims are accused of killing non-Muslims, or non-Muslims are accused of killing Muslims.  I didn’t come to this realization myself.  Instead, it was part of an email that has been forwarded several times, to the point at which the original author’s identity has vanished:

After reading the headlines about SSgt Bales, the US soldier who shot up Afghanistan civilians, I couldn’t help noticing an irony. There is all this clamor to try this guy quickly and execute him, never mind his having suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Yet this Major Hasan, who shot up Fort Hood while screaming Allah akbar, still hasn’t stood trial and they are still debating whether he was insane even with the clear evidence regarding his motive: slay as many infidels as possible.

So we have a guy in a war zone who cracks, and he must be executed immediately. But this Muslim psychiatrist who was stateside in a nice safe office all day murders 13 and wounds 29 of our own guys and they try to argue the poor man suffered post-traumatic stress syndrome from listening to real soldiers who had actual battle experience.

Two and a half years later, they still haven’t tried the murderous bastard.

The Trayvon Martin killing, while sadly generic, is twisted into a platform for the Left’s usual crew of race mongers *UPDATED*

Sequestered here on the Left Coast I hadn’t paid any attention to the Trayvon Martin murder.  Today, though, it forced itself into the forefront of my brain.  As the media spins the story, it’s a horrific case of a very wholesome, very young black man cruelly executed in a “safe,” “white” neighborhood by a ferocious non-black man (sold by some as white, admitted by others to be Hispanic), with the man clearly acting in a racial fury.

Here are reports on some other racial fury the story, as the media sold it, has stirred:

Fla. shooting stirs memories of civil rights era

Sharpton, seeking to relive his glory days, gets involved.

Farrakhan, seeking to relive his glory days, gets involved.

High school students, seeking to relive their elder’s glory days, get involved.

What’s missing from all this racial hysteria in Obama’s America is the truth.  I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that the truth does not involve a wholesome black boy, in a “safe,” “white” neighborhood, randomly killed for being black by a non-black man.  Instead, the truth involves a very large black kid on a five day suspension from school, in a dangerous, mixed-race neighborhood, pounding a Hispanic man into the ground.  Whether the Hispanic man was sufficiently in fear of his life to justify a self-defense shooting remains to be seen.  What’s clear, though, is that the media narrative is a lie.

I leave it to all of you to figure out why this story was the platform for the big lies.  Is Obama’s base quietly deserting him?  I don’t think the numbers support that.  Is the media trying to deflect attention from more significant stories about Obama Administration failures and malfeasance?  This seems like a peculiar way to go about it.  Were Sharpton and Farrakhan bored and looking to stir things up a little?  That, actually, I can believe.  These men are increasingly marginalized by the younger generation of agitators.  Perhaps these are the last roars of the old lions.

UPDATE:  For those who thought I was being reflexively anti-Obama when I made reference to “Obama’s America,” I wasn’t.  Right on cue, Obama waded in, with language more temperate than he used when the Henry Louis Gates story broke, but still obviously siding with the race mongers:

“If I had a son he would have looked like Treyvon,” Obama said shortly, addressing the victim’s parents. “I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness that this deserves and that we’re going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.”

Obama is now, and always will be, a racist: that is, he views everything through a racial prism, and seems unable to believe or understand that, for most people, race is only one small part of the myriad biological, genetic, and social factors that make them who they are and that guide what they do.

The story of Malia Obama’s Mexican vacation reveals double standards and a noodle-spined media

Over the weekend, I got a link to a story about Malia Obama heading off to Mexico for vacation with 12 friends and 25 Secret Service agents.  The story is newsworthy because it implicates taxpayer concerns:  Malia is going to a nation that the State Department warns is dangerous, and Americans are footing the bill for the 25 federal employees who are necessary to offset that danger.  I know that these Secret Service agents are on the payroll regardless, but feeding and lodging them outside of Washington, D.C. becomes the taxpayers’ burden.  (In the same way, Obama’s little basketball jaunt with PM Cameron cost the taxpayers an extra $478,000 over the regular fixed costs in the “taking care of POTUS” budget.)

You’ll notice that I haven’t included the link to the story about Malia Obama’s trip.  That’s because, by the time I received the email with the link to the Malia vacation story, the great white-out had begun.  As I, and every other sentient web-using being had noticed, the story about Malia Obama was melting away as quickly as the wet Wicked Witch of the West.  Those of us trying to find a solid link for the story felt as if we were playing a bizarre version of whack-a-mole.  The links would pop up for a second, only to vanish again.

The big question, of course, was why?  Why is an apparently properly sourced story vanishing?  If it was false, one would expect White House push-back, with the news sources either denying the White House’s arguments or issuing apologies for their error.  A vanishing story, however, has been a first.  And now the truth has come out.  The White House told the news agencies that it’s not fair to report on the kids:

The White House has admitted to telling news agencies to pull stories on Malia Obama visiting the Mexico for spring break, Politico reports.

Kristina Schake, Communications Director to the First Lady, emailed Dylan Byers:

From the beginning of the administration, the White House has asked news outlets not to report on or photograph the Obama children when they are not with their parents and there is no vital news interest. We have reminded outlets of this request in order to protect the privacy and security of these girls.

There are a couple of problems, however, with the White House’s reasoning and the media’s craven collapse.  First, as I noted in my opening paragraph, it is newsworthy that the White House has opted to impose on taxpayers the very real and high costs of sending the First Daughter to a nation that’s on the State Department’s own warning list (although the region in which Melia is now traveling is not specifically named in that list).

Second, the Obamas routinely trot out the kids to score political points.  The most recent example was the way President Obama used his daughters to justify calling Sandra Fluke to sympathize with her when Rush Limbaugh suggested that spending thousands of dollars on sex aids, and then expecting others to pay for them, suggested that Fluke is not a lady, in the old-fashioned sense of the word.  Bristol Palin sums it up nicely:

You don’t know my telephone number, but I hope your staff is busy trying to find it. Ever since you called Sandra Fluke after Rush Limbaugh called her a slut, I figured I might be next.  You explained to reporters you called her because you were thinking of your two daughters, Malia and Sasha.  After all, you didn’t want them to think it was okay for men to treat them that way:

“One of the things I want them to do as they get older is engage in issues they care about, even ones I may not agree with them on,” you said.  “I want them to be able to speak their mind in a civil and thoughtful way. And I don’t want them attacked or called horrible names because they’re being good citizens.”

Most political observers also thought it wasn’t a coincidence that Barack’s and Michelle’s 2011 Christmas card — the last one they’ll be sending out before the election — prominently features their two daughters.  This was a campaign photo and it made the daughters a prop.

I don’t mind that Obama is using his daughters politically.  Politicians do that all the time, and it’s no use pretending that the Obamas don’t have two daughters out there who make perfect photographic and rhetorical props.  What I do mind is that the White House gets to eat its cake and have it.  It announces to the press “We get to use the Obama girls when it’s good for us, but you don’t get to use the Obama girls when it’s bad for us.”  And the press, meekly, goes away.

Rather than collapsing spinelessly, the press, collectively, should have said, “Sorry, but this story is already out there, so you’ll have to deal with the security consequences of sending your daughter off to a dangerous country.  As for future stories, we won’t report on your daughters if you’ll stop using them to score political points.  As long as you keep them in the public eye, however, they’re fair game for honest reporting about their activities.”

I guess, though, that my dream of an upright and honest media is as much a fantasy as that melting Wicked Witch of the West.

UPDATE:  Welcome, Instapundit readers!  The pleasure is all mine.

UPDATE II:  Welcome readers from Michael Savage.com.  I’m delighted to have you visit.

#BillMaher gives a lovely example of the way the Left uses itself as the template for what’s fair

I always love it when Leftist idiocy highlights some sort of life lesson I just imparted to young people.  Today’s life lesson is that fairness should be a reasonably objective standard, rather than one that, as Bill Maher would have it, depends on whether you, personally, are benefiting from the standard imposed.

Back in 2008, all the Marin children with whom I had contact were claiming that they “would vote” for Obama “because he’s black.”  They were taken aback when I said, “That’s racist.”  To them, racism means negative treatment based upon race.  It never occurred to them that racism includes any treatment that sees one so dehumanize a person that the person becomes nothing more than the color of his or her skin.  I suggested that, if they were indeed interested in the election, they should consider Obama’s history, statements, and ideas, rather than his skin color, in determining whether he was fit for office.  I wish the opportunity had arisen (which it did not) to make the same point to their parents.

Yesterday, I again had the opportunity to help a couple of kids understand that things are not always as they seem.  We were talking about good and bad teachers.  Good teachers, obviously, were the ones who communicated well and, even better, made the material seem meaningful and sometimes exciting.  Bad teachers were poor communicators and managed to make every subject boring.

Within these good and bad divisions, though, something interesting cropped up:  One of the hallmarks of the bad teachers was that they treated students differently within the class.  This didn’t just mean picking on some students, which the kids easily classified as “unfair.”  It also included playing favorites, something that the kids didn’t like, but didn’t recognize as equally “unfair.”  To them, “fair” is good treatment, “unfair” is bad treatment.  A teacher who is too good to some students therefore cannot be considered “unfair.”  They were quite taken aback when I suggested to them that any equal treatment is unfair.  Sometimes the lack of fairness can be justified, but it’s still not “fair.”

I thought of this inability to comprehend that it’s just as unfair to treat people too well as it is to treat them too badly when I read about Bill Maher’s defense when Jake Tapper queried him about the truly vile statements he’s routinely made regarding conservative women:

Bill Maher: The bit I did about Palin using the word c—, one of the biggest laughs in my act, I did it all over the country, not one person ever registered disapproval, and believe me, audiences are not afraid to let you know.  Because it was a routine where that word came in at just the right moment. Context is very important, and it’s also important to remember that stand-up comedy is the final frontier of free speech. Still, I stopped doing that routine, but I would like someone to replace that word if it’s so awful with another one that has the same meaning for a person – not just women, it’s a word you can and lots do (all the British, for example) use for both sexes. It has a very specific meaning.

Jake Tapper: And that’s not comparable to what Limbaugh said about Sandra Fluke?

Bill Maher:  To compare that to Rush is ridiculous – he went after a civilian about very specific behavior, that was a lie, speaking for a party that has systematically gone after women’s rights all year, on the public airwaves. I used a rude word about a public figure who gives as good as she gets, who’s called people “terrorist” and “unAmerican.” Sarah Barracuda. The First Amendment was specifically designed for citizens to insult politicians. Libel laws were written to protect law students speaking out on political issues from getting called whores by Oxycontin addicts.

John Nolte nails down precisely what is wrong with Maher’s self-serving analysis:

Bill Maher is a comedian and commentator. Rush Limbaugh is a commentator. But for some reason, Maher is apparently under the absurd impression that there’s some kind of caveat in the First Amendment that gives him super, secret, double free speech rights over the rest of us.

Well, I’ve read the First Amendment and no such caveat exists.

If there’s a difference between what’s happening to Maher and what’s happening to Limbaugh, it is that Maher is under fire from private citizens and Limbaugh is under fire from a stealth campaign led by the government — specifically, the President of the United States.

Private citizens exercising their free speech rights to protest Bill Maher is the purest form of democracy there is.

The government, however, joining a crusade to silence one of their critics is the very definition of censorship.

(Nolte has much more to say, which you can read here.)

What’s pretty apparent is that, when it comes to fairness, Maher’s understanding of the word is stuck in the middle school years.  For all his sophisticated patina, he’s still a little boy who thinks that his emotional reaction to something determines whether something is fair or not.  If it works in his favor, it’s fair; if it doesn’t, it’s unfair.  Easy-peasy analysis for the small, immature mind, right?

San Francisco OWS reveals its socialist, anti-American, antisemitic, anti-Israel core beliefs

Zombie has another superb photo essay, this one about the OWS protest of Shimon Peres’ San Francisco visit.  If you haven’t already checked it out, please do.  My favorite part is the bit with the San Francisco motorcycle cop.  You go, guy!

Please remember when you read Zombie that Zombie is the new media.  Part of dis-empowering the anti-American, socialist, antisemitic, anti-Leftist old media is to support the new media.  By the way, it’s no coincidence that in describing our shiny, rich, famous old media, we use precisely the same adjectives that we use to describe the violent, aggressive OWSers on the street.  Different appearance and tactics, but same ideology and goals.

The Breitbarters launch their first barrage in their war against the American Leftist media

One of the weaknesses in my abilities as a blogger is that I have very little patience for television, especially the talking heads on MSM television.  To me, they’re all Max Headroom:

My philosophy is that life is too short to spend time in Max Headroom’s company. My mistake, though, is in believing that mine is a common philosophy. Those Americans who think of themselves as informed believe that the path to being informed is to watch the talking heads.  Rather than viewing original source material, or reading in-depth analyses, they turn to the chattering classes.

For decades, therefore, the MSM had a lock on the information Americans heard.  Conservatives talked among themselves, but they couldn’t break through the MSM’s lock on middle-class sensibilities.  In the early years of MSM dominance, middle-class sensibilities still hewed conservative, so the MSM’s effect was blunted.  With the passing of decades, however, the combination of the Leftist lock on media and education meant that the new middle class — and especially the educated middle class, bought entirely into the MSM worldview.

Conservatives responded by throwing up their hands and saying “what can we do?”  In the place of argument and emotionalism, they kept trying to come back with facts.  B-O-R-I-N-G.  In a media age, without a hook for those facts, no one pays attention to some thoughtful, scholarly dissertation, especially when its some guy with a bad comb-over or, worse, a Southern accent, taking on a pretty, hyper-verbal bimbette who is trained in the party line.  The first crack in this monolithic wall of information was Fox TV, but Fox still plays by MSM rules.  It substitutes conservative talking heads for liberal ones — and Americans love it — but it’s still playing the same game.

Andrew Breitbart’s genius (a word that I do not use loosely) was that he understood that, with new media, he had in his hand the atomic bomb that completely overthrows the traditional media dynamic.  Add to that his ADHD understanding of the average audience attention span, and you’ve got a whole new paradigm.  Thankfully, although Andrew is gone, those who worked with whom are keeping those lessons alive.

Yesterday, as you all know, Breitbart.com rolled out the first Obama tape.  To be honest, it’s a nothing.  Really.  At an affirmative action rally back in the early 1990s, Obama gives a fond welcome to Prof. Derrick Bell.

What’s fascinating isn’t the boring video, but the media’s response to the boring video.  Derrick Bell may have had disgusting racial attitudes, but he was a crazy, pompous fart, and you need to connect a lot of dots to explain to Americans that this crazy, pompous, racist fart had an outsized effect on academia, including budding academics like Barack and Michelle, and all their friends.  Given those facts, the media could just kind of ignore the video to death.  But media people aren’t doing that.

Instead, the MSM’s talking heads are doing what Soledad O’Brien is doing, which is to announce shrilly an obvious point — that the video is boring — and then to try to obfuscate the issue as much and as loudly as possible:

What Soledad and the others don’t realize (and what I’m assuming) is that they’re being played. And boy does this feel good, because the Dems certainly played us with the Sandra Fluke testimony. In the above video, the pretty Soledad is shrill and argumentative. Joel Pollak, who does not have a bad comb-over, but is a perfectly nice looking and sounding man, is calm.  He’s neither boring nor condescending.  Instead, he’s starting the education process. Without ever losing his cool, he lets Soledad, whose voice becomes dog whistle-shrill as the segment progresses, to dig an intellectual hole, and then he bombards her with peacefully stated facts.

I love this Pollak versus O’Brien video.  I really do.  And it’s still a nothing.  It’s a silly fight between a shrill sorority girl and a charming intellectual about a boring video from two decades ago.  But that’s not the point.  This is ground work.

If there’s one thing we learned when Andrew brought down ACORN, it’s that he understood narrative. You don’t give away the movie in the first five minutes. You have a story line. You have plot twists and turns. You have more and more information. And then you have a stunning denouement. The Breitbart crowd is letting the Leftists show themselves here. We’re seeing their bias, their condescension, their ignorance, and their spin. In the elegant tradition of true story-telling, the Breitbarters are allowing the movie’s bad guys to show themselves.

Having established character, the plot will begin.  Right now, the bad guys (i.e., the MSM cadre) are using up their ordnance to kill what they openly characterize as a mere mosquito. Meanwhile, the Breitbarters are educating the public about the dangers of mosquitoes. Not one measly mosquito, but swarms of mosquitoes. And I know what that means: the Breitbarters are going to be swarming us with more and more and more information about Obama’s unpleasant friendships and, more importantly, about the media’s cover-up.  This is a horror movie, and the victims and the bad guys are one and the same — the MSM people swatting at a single mosquito while a swarm of killer mosquitoes floats ominously just over the horizon.

At the end of the day, the current video isn’t about Obama at all. The subsequent videos won’t be either.  He’s already president. We’ve had three and a half years to see him in action, and we know who and what he is. We know about the petulance, the racism, the antisemitism, the incompetence, the passivity, and the intellectual dishonesty.

This battle is about something much more important than one petty man.  It’s about the mainstream media. The media won the election for Obama in 2008.  They did so using chicanery, deceit through omission, obfuscation, and a variety of other tricks that flim-flammed a credulous public that has relied upon a self-styled “objective” media for more than forty years.  What we’re seeing now is the Breitbarters working hard to make sure that the media’s credibility is so thoroughly destroyed that it can no longer throw elections to its favored candidates.

Once again, the media spins the myth of the crazy Vet

Growing up, I never could understand why Vietnam Vets were all insane, while the vets of my father’s generation — WWII and the Korean War — were not.  My parents, good people who subscribed to Time, Newsweek, and the San Francisco Chronicle — explained to me that it was undoubtedly because all the Vietnam Vets came back as drug addicts, never mind that the real drug problem was playing out on America’s streets.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I learned that the whole “crazy” Vietnam Vet thing was a lie, with vets having pretty much the same statistical likelihood of “blowing” as any other American citizen.  Some lies, clearly, are too good for a hostile media to resist and . . . there they go, they recycle them, again and again and again and again and….

Andrew Breitbart was right:  the media is the enemy.  It uses disinformation to control the American people.

Even in death, Andrew Breitbart is busting down the media’s sound-proofed doors

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

Several friends have forwarded a story to me:  Obama may have had a little campaign help back in 2008 from the Russians.  Right now, for the vast majority of Americans, the story is a tree falling in a forest with no one around to listen.

Why?  Because the MSM is going to make sure it gets no traction.  The news outlets will report it, but they’ll bury it and make it boring.  There won’t be front page fulminations, late night jokes, hysterical headlines, or any of the fanfare necessary to get people, both inside and outside of Washington, D.C., excited.  Indeed, if the Republicans try to get a little excitement going, the media will be sure to ridicule and humiliate those Republicans and, even better, to pervert their message.  After all, thanks to the media making the message, the Catholic Church’s dismay that HHS is forcing it to pay for birth control and abortifacients has been re-broadcast as Republicans banning birth control and trying to make sex out of marriage illegal.

Andrew Breitbart understood this.  He got that the problem in America is the media, because it decides what people hear and what should excite or disgust them.  By now, thanks in part to his messaging, we all get that.  Our problem is to replicate Andrew’s genius in bypassing the media and making a big noise without it.

Sadly, I’m not a noisemaker.  I adore each and every one of you, my dear friends and readers, but I know that I’m preaching to the choir.  To the extent I make a noise, it’s a cute squeak.  I’m certainly not imaginatively busting out and overriding the white noise silence the media puts on stories that damage its chosen candidates.

Still, you can do something by making the new Breitbart website — called, simply, Breitbart — the biggest new thing and noise in the internet world.  It’s a yeller and a shouter, and it’s working hard to silence the media’s white noise, and make sure everybody hears the truth about the White House and the man in it.  In the same vein, please visit the Washington Free Beacon on a regular basis.  It’s also a wonderfully loud media alternative.


And if you want to make the Left nervous, buy the shirt.

Obama is Israel’s friend the same way a wife beater is a loving husband

A video that examines the vast chasm between Obama’s rhetoric at AIPAC gatherings and his actions towards Israel:

And because actions have consequences, I thought you’d find interesting the way in which Obama’s attitude towards Israel is reflected in the way the media covers that nation — not even in big ways, but in subliminal ones:


I bet you didn’t know that the Golan Heights was a country, right?  While the Palestinians are fighting over Gaza and the West Bank, the AP has liberated the Golan Heights from Israel’s clutches.

Voters are left helpless and bereft when the political experts form a circular firing squad

I’m planning a trip this summer to Japan, a country about which I know nothing.  Actually that’s an overstatement.  I know some things:  it’s beautiful, historic, and clean (I love that part), and comes complete with great food and well-mannered people.  But that’s all I know.

Toji Pagoda

I don’t have this tabula rasa problem when I go to Europe.  Whether England, Germany, France, Belgium, or Italy, I have in my head enough information about the country to  be a little picky. It helps, too, that Rick Steves has published a series of European travel guides.  He’s not shy about being opinionated.  Indeed, that’s why people turn to him.  They have faith that they can trust his judgment so that, if he says a city is good and requires at least three days time, they can immediately book a hotel (one he recommends, of course) for two nights.  Likewise, if he says “don’t bother with such and such,” his readers know that Rick saved them time and money on a short, expensive trip.

Schloss Neuschwanstein

So far, I haven’t found a Rick Steves for Japan.  All the travel books make everything sound wonderful, without any rankings or priorities.  And I’m sure that, if I had unlimited time and money, I would enjoy traveling to every town, shrine and museum Japan offers.  But that’s not the reality of vacation travel, and I’m currently overwhelmed by the choices. Yikes!

My Japan conundrum isn’t unique.  In a world awash in information, there is no way one person can master all the data necessary to make important life decisions.  Inevitably, in various areas such as education, travel, politics, finances, etc., we select experts whom we trust and assume that, when they state an ultimate conclusion about their subject, we can rely on that conclusion.  This works both ways, of course.  Since I’ve long thought AlBore to be a rather foolish man with enough feral instincts to be a successful snake oil salesman, I have never believed in global warming.  Likewise, a friend of mine refuses to accept the rising tide of evidence against global warming, because it’s been published in “Republican” and “conservative” outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and the Daily Mail.  The fact that AlBore’s theories are based on computer models while the evidence against global warming is based upon actual data disturbs him not a whit.  He’s found his reliable sources, and he’s sticking with them.

Right now, my reliance upon political experts is creating a dilemma for me, because my “experts” are turning on each other.  Before the primaries, they were all united in their profound dislike for Barack Obama.  Now, though, the circular firing squad isn’t limited just to the Republican candidates themselves.  The shoot-outs are taking place at every major conservative website, not to mention many of my favorite blogs.  Just check out PJ Media’s front page at any given minute to see astute political commentators, all of whom I respect, battering away at each other and the candidates.

To some commentators, Mitt is a RINO’s RINO, who flops, then flips, while Newt is the fiery voice of conservative truth who can reclaim America.  To others, Newt is an unprincipled loose cannon, while Mitt is a steady, conservative politician whose problem-solving skills make him the only one who can defeat Obama.  Still others see both Mitt and Newt as RINOs (one of whom has a backbone of noodle, while the other has the ethics of an alley cat), while Rick Santorum is the only true conservative in the house — never mind the fact, say entirely different pundits, that Rick’s conservative stances on social issues assure that he’ll lose to Obama.

I find all of the above viewpoints both interesting and credible.  Newt is an exciting speaker who articulates core truths about America, the economy, and national security that too many Americans, intimated by the PC police, have been stifling for years.  His fund of knowledge is impressive and enjoyable.  And of course, he’s the man whose insider skills in the 1990s forced the entire political system slightly to the right.  On the other side of the scale, he’s a man who has cheated on at least two wives (and I really don’t want to find out if he’s been cheating on a third), he’s known to be a terrible manager, his relationship to truth can be distant at best, he’s erratic, he too often sees Big Government as the vehicle for his own eclectic brilliance, and so on and so forth.

(Image by Gage Skidmore)

Then there’s Mitt.  We all know and appreciate the Good Mitt.  This is the Mitt who understands the market; the Mitt who has impressive organizational abilities; the Mitt who has proven to be an adept, albeit unexciting candidate; the Mitt who makes the Republican establishment feel loved; and the Mitt who, we are told, can entice the independents whom Newt frightens.  But all is not wonderful in Mitt land.  There’s also the Less Good Mitt, the unrepentant architect of RomneyCare; the man who, when he isn’t flipping, is flopping; the man whose Mormonism worries those who believe he is committing a profound doctrinal error that reflects on his judgment and intelligence; and, which might be the worst thing of all in a hyper-media age, the man who has the charm and warmth of a first generation android.

(Image by Gage Skidmore)

And what about Rick?  My God, the man is a Boy Scout, and I mean that in a good way.  He’s honest, loyal, decent, moral, and truly conservative.  He’s definitely what we conservatives want.  Except for that little problem he has of fading into the woodwork, not to mention the fact that, with the nation trending further and further left on social issues, there’s the strong likelihood, say many, that he’ll be the poison pill candidate for independent voters.

(Image by Gage Skidmore)

Darn those independent voters!  They’re the real problem, because all three conservative candidate (and, yes, I am ignoring Ron Paul entirely) could easily win against Obama if we could automatically co-opt independents into conservativism.  We can’t, though, which paralyzes the Republican primary.  While the independents seem to dislike Obama with ever greater intensity, the mainstream media has trained them, like tens of thousands of Pavlovian dogs, to be very hostile to certain stand-out traits in the last three Republicans standing:  Newt is the evil architect of the Contract with America; Mitt is the evil Mormon; and Rick is the evil Christian who will imprison all your gay friends and relatives.  Evil!  Evil!  Evil!

The worst thing of all, though, considering all the alleged evil the MSM keeps highlighting, is the fact that America’s premier conservative commentators aren’t doing anything to help.  Rather than building up their candidate of choice, they too are just as busy as the MSM, and the candidates themselves, in the savagery of their attacks against the candidates they don’t like.

It’s worth remembering that Newt rose to prominence during the debates because, in the beginning, he kept a laser-like focus on Obama.  He pointed out Obama’s myriad, manifest flaws and failings, and articulated ideas that promised to help America recover from her experiment with a true Leftist in the White House.  His numbers rose.  When Romney went negative, though, so did Newt — and so did everyone else.  In the last couple of months, the flesh-ripping on the debate stage is sickening, and the political commentators, rather than stepping in to help focus the voters on their chosen candidate’s attributes, are standing at the base of the stage drinking up the flowing blood.

THIS IS NOT HELPFUL.  If you’re going to have an opinion, advance useful information that helps affirmative decision-making and that helps staunch the sanguinary stream we’re currently giving as a gift to the MSM.  Yes, it’s good for the candidates to get groomed to fight the dirty fight, because it’s going to be very dirty indeed when they stand on a stage opposite Barack Obama.  I think, though, that we can comfortably conclude that the current batch has the grit to take the hits.  It’s time now to give the voters the help they need to choose the best candidate, rather than just to avoid the worst.

Media commits fraud by continuing to ignore the conservative movement in America

A few days ago, writing with regard to the media’s decision to ignore the standing ovations Newt received during the last South Carolina debate, I asked “If the Press Ignores an Event, Does It Exist?“  The press, it turns out, wants to take that experiment in ignoring facts as far as it can go.

Today, I present you with an even more egregious example, one that sees that media ignore several hundred thousand people walking down the streets of Washington, D.C.  The event, of course, was the March For Life, something the media would prefer not to acknowledge.  As the Anchoress says:

You want the truth? You think you deserve it? The press can’t handle the truth; they can’t bring it to you.

That’s why 250 people camping out in a park gets thousands of stories, while half-a-million marching on Washington does not get reported at all, or if it does, the pictures are cropped; the attendees are caricatured, mis-named and under-represented while their opponents are over-represented.

You should, of course, read her entire post.

As I often say, I’m not yet fully recovered from my years in the Pro-Choice camp, so I won’t be marching any time soon with the Pro-Life people, even though I admire them more than my former fellow travelers.  I am, though, very much pro-truth.  And as I lawyer, I can tell you that, as a matter of law, selective omission is just as much a fraud is deliberately deceptive affirmative statements.

Obama is such an easy target that it’s a shame the Republicans are determined to kill only each other

We can expect tomorrow night’s State of the Union address to be an action-packed hour (or so) of vitriol and self-pity.  Obama will cherry-pick a few numbers about the 1% and then whine about how he’s been trying really hard to destroy that same 1%, but that a vast array of insurmountable obstacles — Congress, Republicans, the media, the American people, the Jews — have prevented him from doing so.  In a most-read piece, Joseph Curl explains what Obama will be hiding:

The unemployment rate when Mr. Obama was elected was 6.8 percent; today it is 8.5 percent — at least that’s the official number. In reality, the Financial Times writes, “if the same number of people were seeking work today as in 2007, the jobless rate would be 11 percent.”

In addition, there are now fewer payroll jobs in America than there were in 2000 — 12 years ago — and now, 40 percent of those jobs are considered “low paying,” up 10 percent from when President Reagan took office. The number of self-employed has dropped 2 million to 14.5 million in just six years.

Regular gasoline per gallon cost $1.68 in January 2009. Today, it’s $3.39 — that’s a 102 percent increase in just three years. (By the way, if you’re keeping score at home, gas was $1.40 a gallon when George W. Bush took office in 2001, $1.68 when he left office — a 20 percent increase.)

Electricity bills have also skyrocketed, with households now paying a record $1,420 annually on average, up some $300.

Some 48 percent of all Americans — 146.4 million — are considered by the Census Bureau either as “low-income” or living in poverty, up 4 million from when Mr. Obama took office; 57 percent of all children in America now live in such homes.

And that’s not even the half of it.  You can read the rest here.

In this target-rich environment, the tone-deaf Mitt Romney is attacking . . . Newt.  This is why Newt is surging.  While Mitt attacks him, Newt, although he too has taken too many time-outs for vicious internecine warfare, hasn’t forgotten that the American people care about the economy and national security.  Even Newt, though, could step up the attacks on Obama.  It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

And here’s a judo-style suggestion for dealing with all of Obama’s victim talk:

President Obama claims that the media misrepresents him, Republicans are evil, Congress is obstructionist, and the American people are lazy.  These are the reasons, he says, that he has been unable to implement his agenda.  It’s not his fault; it’s everyone else’s fault. 

Well, let’s assume, solely for the sake of argument, that everything the President says about the obstacles facing him is true.  That assumed truth leads to one, and only one possible question:  What the heck type of a leader is President Obama?  By his own admission, he is unable to handle anyone or anything that stands in his way.  This isn’t just an inability to handle the 3 am phone call.  Instead, this is the inability even to pick up the phone. 

The man who occupies the highest leadership position in the land — indeed, in the world — has repeatedly conceded that he isn’t up to the job.  Since he’s not going to quit, it’s up to you, the American people, to fire him.  And when you replace him, I’m the man for the job because….

If the press ignores an event, does it exist?

We all know the philosophical question that asks, “If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

The media is trying a variation on this question by asking, “If we completely ignore a fact, so that no one hears about it, does the fact exist?”  The media’s latest experiment with this grand philosophical question is to pretend that the audience in South Carolina wasn’t completely thrilled by Newt’s response to opening questions regarding his ex-wife’s accusations about his behavior during their marriage.

I honestly don’t know whether Newt’s direct challenges to the media mean that he has the “right stuff” to be president.  I just know that his willingness to stand up and fight the Pravda that the American media has become is a very important and necessary step in the new media age.  More Republicans should stop pandering and start speaking truth to media power. It’s time to break this monopoly by showing it the disrespect it deserves.

Honoring our dead

Ever since Obama became president, the war dead have vanished.  During the Bush presidency, enemy deaths filled that papers as we were accused of mass slaughter; during the Obama presidency, I think our troops are just out there having nice cups of tea with the bad guys, because none of the latter seem to be dying.

Our own dead have also vanished from the media.  During the Bush presidency, the media relentlessly pressed numbers on us, proving that Bush was slaughtering, not only the bad guys, but our own guys.  During the Obama presidency, troop deaths have vanished from the front page, with the exception being that devastating loss to the SEALs a few months ago.

So I guess it shouldn’t come as any surprise that, when six U.S. Marines died in a helicopter crash, one that may or may not have been caused by enemy action, I had to read about it in the British press.  You guys know I don’t haunt the press for stories of American deaths so that I can gloat.  Instead, I feel strongly that, when our troops die, they should be remembered, not to score political points, but as a way of honoring their service and their sacrifice.

To the six who died:  Thank you for your service, and may you rest in peace.

Obama’s faux-recess appointments are illegal and will be sold to the public as virtuous, but we can still be of good cheer

You’re not imagining it.  I haven’t had a dang thing to say about Barack Obama’s brazen constitutional violation, which was also an indirect repudiation of the 2010 mid-term elections.  His decision unilaterally to declare the Senate on a “recess” and then to make “recess” appointments has been analyzed to death and I agree with everyone:  it violates the Constitution, it violates the Democrats’ own stance during the Bush administration, it violates the voters’ efforts to rein him in, and it’s a clever move that it makes any Republican objections look like pettifogging proceduralism in the face of a dynamic young president.

It’s that last, of course, that is making Congressional Republicans hesitate.  They know Obama has taken one giant step closer to anti-constitutional government (read:  dictatorship), but they’re trying to figure out which will be less damaging to them, the rock or the hard place.

My feeling is that, since each position is a problem, Republicans should stand on their principles and launch a full-bore attack against Obama’s gross violation of the separation of powers.  They should do ads, give speeches, anything they can to educate the public on the dangers of reposing too much power in one branch of government — and, most certainly, the dangers of allowing an executive, who technically controls the military, to seize that power with impunity.

If you’re going to drown anyway, make a splash when you go.  And maybe, just maybe, if you’re making the splash, someone might notice and take an interesting in saving you.

Sadly, I think we can predict with some certainly that Republicans will take this latest insult to American freedoms as they always do:  lying down, preferably with a “please, sir, may I have some more” sign taped to their collective foreheads.  The whole notion of fighting vigorously for the things that matter seems alien to the “go along to get along” Republicans.

To give the ‘Pubs some credit, when you’ve been beaten about the head by the major media for decades, you can get a little too cautious.  Even if you don’t respect your torturer, it doesn’t mean you don’t fear him.  And it takes a certain amount of courage for each individual Republican to run himself deliberately through the gauntlet:  racist, religious madman, Tea Bagging idiot, racist, stupid person, racist, etc.  It’s one thing to understand that the people hurling the insults are meaningless.  It’s another thing entirely for a politician to be sanguine about the fact that this name-calling will be directed relentlessly at his own constituents.  Doesn’t mean said politician should remain silent, but it does make it very hard to speak.

If it’s any consolation, Nazi Europe isn’t the only possible outcome when someone with political power seeks to violate constitutional limitations.  Back in the 1790s, the British were worried about the same thing:

This attractive print shows Prime Minister Pitt steering a small boat, The Constitution, which also carries Britannia, towards a castle with a flag inscribed “Haven of Public Happiness.” They are pursued by Sheridan, Fox, and Priestley.  And remember that it took another 150 years, which included the extraordinarily successful Victorian Era, before the socialists succeeded in derailing British constitutionalism.  We live in a faster-paced world, but there’s still time to right the ship of state, to steer our way through troubled waters without drowning, and to reach a safe, constitutional haven.

Are the headline writers dumb or malevolent? *UPDATED*

As you already know, I’m sure, the Ultra-Orthodox in Jerusalem are fighting hard to segregate men and women in public spaces in Jerusalem.  I posted about the fact that Mr. Bookworm analogized this small group, which is fighting against a democratic, egalitarian government, to the sharia law that exists across large segments of the Muslim world.  I doubt Mr. Bookworm arrived at this thought by himself.  I haven’t been reading the New York Times lately, nor listening to NPR, but I’m willing to bet that their coverage implies that this comparison is real and valid.

Today, the AP managed to state outright that the Ultra-Orthodox are aping the Nazis.  Here’s the AP headline:

Ultra-Orthodox Jews use Nazi images in protest

The implication, of course, is that the Ultra-Orthodox Jews outfitted themselves in swastikas and jackboots.  What the Ultra-Orthodox really did was to dress themselves up in concentration camp garb, thereby sending the message that they are helpless prisoners of a Nazi-style Jewish government:

Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews gathered Saturday night in Jerusalem to protest what they say is a nationwide campaign directed against their lifestyle. The protesters called Israeli police officers Nazis, wore yellow Star of David patches with the word “Jude” – German for Jew – dressed their children in striped black-and-white uniforms associated with Nazi concentration camps and transported them in the back of a truck.

The Ultra-Orthodox’s stunt was tacky, offensive, ugly, distasteful, and inappropriate.  But the more correct description of this tasteless bit of street theater would be that “Ultra-Orthodox Jews use Holocaust-era Images in Protest.”  For the AP to have implied otherwise adds one more layer of indecency to the whole protest — and, worse, it’s a layer of indecency that dovetails perfectly with the Leftist (especially the European Leftist) effort to paint Jews as Nazis.  It’s bad enough when radical Jews describe each other as Nazis, without having the media pile on too.

UPDATE:  Somehow, this post seems apropos, insofar as it explains that the OWS add-on to the Rose Bowl Parade relied on Nazi imagery to depict the Jews’ alleged influence on world finances.

How does one resuscitate a reputation that the media has savaged?

You remember Ilario Pantano, don’t you?  Well, maybe not.   It’s been a long time now since the media savaged his reputation, selling him to Americans as a cold-blooded killer, a story that ran endlessly on newspaper front pages and in TV headlines.  Interestingly, the media was pretty quiet when the report came out clearing Pantano of those charges, which were nothing more than a smear by a disgruntled sergeant with a bone to pick against Pantano.  Aside from minimal statements to the effect that he was cleared (so minimal that I missed them entirely), the media has had no reports about the sergeant and his malevolent attack, not just on a man’s career, but on something much more valuable — his reputation.

Frankly, in terms of “sex selling” in the media, a story about this kind of personal attack, based on nothing more than malice and lies, is also.  Sadly for Pantano, it’s not sexy enough to convince the media that a wronged man deserved vindication as public as the attacks against him once were.

Please give a gift to Ilario Pantano this Christmas season by emailing to your friends and posting on your facebook and twitter accounts Arthur Herman’s reminder that, while Pantano was cleared as a matter of law, he is still a man whose (false) reputation precedes him, keeping him trapped in an endless nightmare:

Five years late, Ilario Pantano has been fully vindicated. Now where does he go to get his reputation back?

A dogged NCIS investigator has proven that Pantano, then a Marine lieutenant, should never have been put up on war-crimes charges back in 2004-5. But that doesn’t wipe away the endless smears thrown at him since.

Maybe the media and the bloggers hated him so much because he lived the classic American success story.

Born to a poor family in Hell’s Kitchen, Pantano showed the smarts to get a half-scholarship to the elite Horace Mann School — then put off college to join the Marines in the first Gulf War.

After that tour, he came back and worked nights to finish college, then landed a job at Goldman Sachs — until he re-enlisted shortly after 9/11.

In April 2004, 2nd Lt. Pantano was leading his squad in Iraq’s deadly Sunni Triangle when they stopped two Iraqis fleeing in a car from what turned out to be an insurgent ammo dump. Pantano ordered the pair to search their own vehicle to make sure it wasn’t booby-trapped. When they charged at him instead, he opened fire.

But one Marine, a disgruntled sergeant Pantano had disciplined more than once, claimed the two men had been kneeling and that Pantano shot them from behind. All other testimony contradicted him, yet that was the witness the Judge Advocate General’s investigating officer chose to believe when he charged Pantano with murder.

Since the witness kept changing his story and no evidence backed him up, the charges were dismissed in May 2005. But Pantano’s career as a Marine was over — and his nightmare was just beginning.

Read the rest here (and distribute it widely, please).

There’s some interesting stuff out there today

I am buried under laundry, house cleaning, caring for parent and children, organizing photos to be digitized (half price, thanks to a Groupon), getting out Christmas cards created and sent, and paying bills.  Coherent thought eludes me.  Cogent essays are an impossibility.

But, all is not lost!  Even as I moulder intellectually, others are writing smart things, which I hereby share with you:

More and more people are catching on to the fact that Obama is a problem, not a solution.

One of the things that slowed this realization was the mythology the media so relentlessly advanced regarding Obama.

There’s only so long, though, that you can hide $4,000,000 vacations from sight.

Given all the lying and hiding, it’s no wonder that people have been enjoying Newt’s penchant for stating out loud the things that others have been thinking.

Still, there are some qualified people I still wouldn’t want in the job.  Smart and decent, yes, but I just don’t like her.

Of course, some people are stating things that only paranoid crazies are thinking.

There are always those out there who are immune to reality, though, and view themselves as pathetic, but self-righteous, victims no matter their actual circumstances.

Fortunately, there are still good guys, and we’d do well to remember them.

Thankfully, we’re still clinging by our fingernails to a culture that gives everyone a chance.

And finally, an amusing article about a silly pastime.  (P.S.  I still like Facebook.)