The utter depravity and nihilism of modern Islamic terrorism

The Watcher’s Council submissions this week are extraordinary, but this one rises head and shoulders above them all.  I don’t want it to be buried in the long list of articles that makes up the Watcher’s Council submissions.  This deserves to be read, read again, shared, analyzed, and otherwise trumpeted far and wide, because it is phenomenally important.  It is the most direct statement I’ve yet seen, not about the nature of Islam, but about the nature — the nihilism and depravity — of the violence committed in Islam’s name.  Moreover, it refuses to let the West pretend that the violent is anomalous, rather than being an intrinsic part of modern Islam.  In the same way, it is a scathing indictment of the moral cowardice and political correctness that renders the West incapable of acknowledging that modern Islam is very, very sick.  Its stark reality must be countered or it will destroy the world much more surely that Chicken Little fears about the earth warming.

A good man with a gun saves as many as 100 people at the mall in Nairobi

An armed former Royal Marine who happened to be in the Westgate Mall in Kenya when the Al-Shabab terrorists struck, may have saved as many as 100 people.

Former Royal Marine armed with gun saves lives

For all that liberals profess to think better of people than conservatives do, one of the most striking things about them is that they believe that, the moment people get hold of guns, they turn into crazed killers.  The vast majority of people, when given a gun, will use it only for good or, at the very least, not for bad.  Disarming them means that they are unable to come to anyone’s defense.

I don’t know if this Royal Marine fired his gun, or if he just used his other skills to rescue people.  Nevertheless, one has to wonder whether he would have been as effective if he didn’t have his friend at his waist.

Obama says that he would like to see more Americans die in terrorist attacks

That headline is not a lie.  The greatest orator since Abraham Lincoln had a serious policy discussion with . . . wait for it . . . Jay Leno.  During that serious, I mean really serious, talk, Obama explicitly stated that it was unfortunate that Americans were less likely to die in a terrorist attack than in a car accident.  Really:

POTUS said the U.S. was not overreacting.

POTUS said people can still take vacation, just do so in a “prudent way” by checking on the State Department Websites for up-to-day information before making plans.

“The odds of dying in a terrorist attack are a lot lower than they are of dying in a car accident, unfortunately.”  (Emphasis added.)

You and I both know that President Silvertongue was trying to say something along the lines of this:  “The odds of dying in a terrorist attack are a lot lower than they are of dying in a car accident.  While we’d like to see both types of statistics drop, it’s useful to put terrorism’s risk into perspective.”

But that’s not what Obama said.  What he said is that it’s unfortunate that the average American faces a lower risk of dying at a terrorist’s hands than he does of dying in a car accident.

What’s really funny about all this is that Obama’s disastrous foreign policies are such that it’s entirely possible that he’ll ensure that, without the number of fatal car accidents decreasing, Americans really will end up dying in ever greater numbers at terrorist hands.  Perhaps President Malaprop speaks the truth after all.

Fort Hood: Workplace violence or act of terror?

If you think the Fort Hood massacre was a terrorist act by a determined jihadist, rather than an “act of workplace violence that was coincidentally committed by a Muslim who spouted jihadist rhetoric,” consider signing National Review’s petition at Change.org:

Petitioning Chuck Hagel

The Ft. Hood massacre was an Act of Terror

Petition by National Review

The Fort Hood massacre was an act of war carried out by a violent jihadist who had infiltrated our Armed Forces while taking advice and encouragement from Anwar al-Awlaki, who was so clearly an al Qaeda commander that President Obama authorized his wartime killing by a drone strike. We are a nation at war based on a congressional authorization of military force enacted after al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 Americans in the atrocities of September 11, 2001. If the war is to be waged seriously, the government must recognize that the Fort Hood massacre – in which twice as many Americans were killed as were killed in the jihadist bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 – was an act of terrorism committed by the enemy. We must honor the sacrifice of those killed and wounded at Fort Hood by acknowledging its true context.

To: Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense, U.S. Department of Defense

The Administration has designated the Ft. Hood massacre as workplace violence, and not what it was: an Act of Terror. By not designating this event as such an act, it disrespects the lives of the 13 who lost their lives that day, and dozens more who were injured and those helped their fellow soldiers.

Furthermore, Nidal Hassan will not be tried as an enemy combatant, but instead will be court-martialed.

Finally, without an Act of Terror designation, those wounded in defense of our nation will not receive a Purple Heart.

This is outrageous and I call on you to change the official designation now before the trial for Nidal Hassan proceeds any further.

Sincerely,
[Your name]

As of this moment, 340 people have signed the petition.  National Review is looking for 10,000.

Hat tip: Earl

Will Benghazi cause the wheels to fall off the Obama bus

Bloody fingerprints in Benghazi

(I wrote another post yesterday for Mr. Conservative that is pure Bookworm Room — so much so that I almost hesitated to put it on the Mr. Conservative site.  I did, though, because I had deadlines.  And now I’m publishing it here, in slightly modified form, so that I can have the conversation I always enjoy so much with you guys and gals.)

Will Benghazi be the Obama administration’s Waterloo? From Day One, the Obama administration has been trying to sweep under the rug a terrorist attack on American soil – and yes, it was on American soil since the consulate was a small piece of America in the middle of Libya. Obama breathed the word “terror” once, in an undertone aside, and then the administration, with the mainstream media’s help, got down to its responsiblity-avoiding narrative: the attack was all because of an obscure YouTube video. Nothing to see here, folks. Just move along.

The administration’s cover-up might have been successful were it not for three things: (a) Special Forces kept the the pressure up, because they refused to see former SEALs’ Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty’s deaths go unavenged; (b) Republicans in Congress began to push hard for hearings, and announced that attack survivors, who have been discretely hidden away, would finally appear in public to testify; and (c) Fox News’ aired an interview with a whistle-blower who revealed that American intelligence has long known who did the attack and could have taken the attackers into custody or otherwise acted against them.

Suddenly, things started moving. First, the FBI finally released photos of three suspects. Second, CNN reported yesterday that those who doubted the administration and media narrative about a film review run riot have been proven right. According to an unnamed senior U.S. law enforcement official, “three or four members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula [AQAP]” were a part of the attack.

Once having started with a few tumbling rocks, the Benghazi avalanche started going full force. Retired Navy SEAL Billy Allmon wrote a column for The Western Center for Journalism stating that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama deliberately left four Americans to die in Benghazi. Hillary did so by failing to give them adequate security (and then lying about events to Congress). Obama, though, is the one who really has blood on his hands because he refused to send readily available help over to rescue the besieged Americans – despite the fact that Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, former SEALS who died at the scene, provided a steady stream of usable information. Instead, he got a good night’s sleep while they were fighting and dying, and then went campaigning the next day.

Today, information came out suggesting that the Benghazi avalanche that may be the thing that finally buries forever the Obama administration’s “bad video” Benghazi spin. It turns out that the State Department whistle blowers who will testify before Congress aren’t low level desk jockeys. They are, instead, extremely highly placed officials who have first hand knowledge of what happened in the lead-up to the terrorist attack and during the attack itself:

• Gregory N. Hicks, the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Libya at the time of the Benghazi terrorist attacks and, at the time, the highest-ranking American diplomat in Libya;

• Mark I. Thompson, a former Marine and now the deputy coordinator for Operations in the agency’s Counterterrorism Bureau; and

• Eric Nordstrom, a diplomatic security officer who was the regional security officer in Libya, the top security officer in the country in the months leading up to the attacks (although, as someone who had previously offered testimony, he does not consider himself a whistle-blower).

Nordstrom’s October 2012 testimony before the House oversight committee was an early indicator that the Obama administration wouldn’t be able to run away from its gross culpability. Hillary’s State Department, according to Nordstrom, absolutely refused to provide security for the consulate in the months leading to the attack. As far is Nordstrom was concerned, “For me the Taliban is on the inside of the [State Department] building.”

All these stories, which will continue to grow bigger with Congressional testimony, reveal that something rotten was (and is) happening in the White House. Doug Ross, who runs the Director Blue website, has put together a timeline of everything we know with certainly about the Benghazi attack. His analysis reveals “four inescapable conclusions”:

a) Hillary Clinton lied under oath to Congress.

b) Barack Obama went to sleep knowing that a U.S. Ambassador and other Americans were under terrorist attack.

c) Barack Obama awoke refreshed the next day to begin fundraising.

d) The entire Executive Branch lied repeatedly to the American people to save Obama’s chances for reelection.

Since the attack on the consulate, the administration has lied and the media has run interference. It will be interesting to see how these two branches of the Democrat machine handle earth-shaking testimony establishing that the administrative could have prevented the attack from ever happening and that Obama deliberately left Americans to die. And it will be even more interesting to see whether the American people actually care that their president was responsible for these shocking practical and moral failures.

Bill Maher almost gets it when it comes to terrorism

In fits and starts, Bill Maher is creeping towards an understanding that the enemy isn’t America when it comes to terrorism.  He’s unable to square the circle, though, because he’s so hung up on gun control.  That is, he’s incapable of appreciating that the best way for Americans to depend themselves is for them to be armed.  Anyway, I wrote the following post for Mr. Conservative, and I think it fits in well here:

Bill Maher has periodic outbursts of logic and reason that give one hope that he may yet figure out that his blind allegiance to the Democrat party is misguided. Friday, on his HBO show Real Time, Maher showed pictures of heavily armed police patrolling Boston streets and expressed concern that “This country is becoming a police state,” adding that he finds this trend “very troubling.”

(Read here about Maher’s unexpected defense of Christianity.)

Maher’s guests tried hard to downplay his concerns. For example, MSNBC contributor Robert Traynham said that what people saw wasn’t attributable to Boston but was, instead “a federal response after a horrific bombing.” Apparently Traynham was unclear on the fact that, when the feds go all “police state” on us, it’s even worse than if an individual city or state does.

Maher wasn’t deterred. Looking at the constitutionally improper house-to-house searches for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in Watertown, Maher again said that this isn’t right:

To me that’s out of hand. I agree we shouldn’t have given this kid his Miranda rights because he probably had information. We wanted to take him alive . . . if you agree with that then what the cops did there was unprofessional. That’s called contagious fire.

***

He has information, he had information and he was just lying in the boat. They knew that. They put that grenade up there. He wasn’t moving. It’s ridiculous. It’s out of control.

Where Maher is unable to square the circle is with his belief that everything would be better without guns. On Friday’s show, he noted that, while American police go in with tanks, “the British police don’t even carry guns.” On another occasion, he insisted that “the Second Amendment is bullshit.

Maher seems incapable of making the logical leap that says that, if the public also has some police power – the ability to protect itself against criminals and crazies – then the police themselves don’t have to be so heavily armed. Rather than facing the entire world alone, the police in an armed, civil society, have law-abiding citizens at their back, helping out.

Americans show a much greater understanding of the situation than Maher. According to polls, an overwhelming number of Americans want to be armed when there’s a manhunt going on. Rather than being victimized twice – first by the terrorist and then by the police – they want to be active participants in their own security. This is a civic awareness that’s completely contrary to the arrogant Big Government idea that only the police are capable of protecting Americans from criminals. There’s a word for citizens who won’t and can’t take care of themselves: Victims.

“Me and Charles Krauthammer?! We’re like THIS, you know what I mean?”

Yesterday, I wrote that I examined had all the unfounded theories about the Boston Marathon bombing and reached a conclusion (emphasis added):

Frankly, looking at the above, I’m coming to believe that everyone is over-thinking the bombing.  If we just step back and ignore historic trends, iconic locations, modus operandi, and such other things, there are two things that are very clear:  the bomb was meant to sever limbs (report after report emphasizes severed legs) and it took place at a race.  Apply Occam’s Razor, and its obvious that the dark-skinned man now being sought (sorry David Sirota:  it’s not a white guy) hates runners.  Probably he ran the marathon once and lost, and has never recovered from that psychic injury — so he planted a bomb that would cause the greatest possible injury to runners.  This horror was an anti-running terrorism attack.  The appropriate response is mental screening for all runners and non-runners alike.

That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.

I think Charles Krauthammer has been reading the Bookworm Room because today, he wrote this (emphasis added):

There was no need to be so sensitive, however. The president said that terrorism is any bombing aimed at civilians. Not quite. Terrorism is any attack on civilians for a political purpose. Until you know the purpose, you can’t know if it is terrorism.

Sometimes an attack can have no purpose. The Tucson shooter who nearly killed Representative Gabrielle Giffords was simply deranged, a certified paranoid schizophrenic. Or there might be some personal vendetta — a purpose, but not political. In the Boston case, conceivably a grudge against the marathon, its organizers, or something associated with the race.

Krauthammer actually wrote a lot more than that, and you should read it all, but I was so charmed to see that he came to the same conclusion as I — that we don’t have enough data to know what the bombing means — that I just had to stop and crow for a minute.  Honestly, if you didn’t know that I’d never met the man and, moreover, that you could clone me multiple times and I still wouldn’t have his brain wattage, you’d think we were siblings under the skin.

Throwing out my own theory about the meaning behind the Boston Marathon attack

Jeff Bauman lost both legs

Now that the police have dismissed as a suspect the Saudi man originally being questioned, the perpetrator behind the atrocity at the Boston Marathon is swathed in mystery.  Although Muslims distinguished themselves in a disgusting way by celebrating the bombing, no group has stepped forward to take responsibility for what happened.

We know that the bombs were pressure cooker bombs filled with ball-bearings that could have been made in anyone’s kitchen.  Muslim extremists have tried to use them before (the thwarted Times Square bomber, for example), but anyone can go on the internet to make them.  So that doesn’t point the finger anywhere specific.

We know that the bombs went off at an iconic American event, in an iconic American city, which is kind of al Qaeda-ish.  al Qaeda, after all, is nothing if not showy.

We also know that the bombs went off on April 15, a day no American likes, but that anti-government individuals especially dislike, so that’s kind of a neo-Nazi or crazed Ted Kaczynski thing.  Or, according to the MSM, a Tea Party thing.  As to that, the same people who pick up all the mess after rallies would never do anything as hideously messy and destructive as a bomb.

We know that, since the mid-7th century, Muslims have been going after the West, with flare-ups during the Moorish occupation of Spain, the years preceding the Crusades, the fall of Constantinople, the Siege of Vienna, and the years since the revolution in Iran in 1979.  We also know that these attacks have accelerated wildly since 1993, when the first World Trade Center bombing took place.  Since then, the list of al Qaeda (or other Islam-inspired) attacks is long, really long.  The ones that stand out in my mind are 9/11, the Madrid train bombings, the Bali nightclub bombings, the London Underground/Bus bombings, the Marine headquarters in Beirut bombings, the Mumbai attacks, the Fort Hood attack, the abortive Portland attack, the abortive Times Square attack, and the U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.  Those are just the famous attacks.  Around the world, Islamists kill Westerners and Muslims they deem apostates with gleeful abandon.  Whenever the bombing is showy, significant numbers of Muslims around the world celebrate.

We also know that, in 1995, Timothy McVeigh (and perhaps someone else) committed the dreadful Oklahoma City bombing for lone-wolf reasons.  Americans of all political stripes were revolted.  In 1996, Eric Rudolph, acting alone to advance his anti-abortion views, decided to protest the killing of innocents by killing innocents at the Atlanta Olympics.  Again, with only sick, fringe exceptions, Americans were disgusted — and no group more than the pro-Life cadre in America.

Today we learned that David Sirota, who writes at Salon and is apparently desperate for publicity, is hoping that it was a white male — a la McVeigh and Rudolph — who planted the bombs at the Boston Marathon, because nasty Americans have this peculiar habit of thinking that is the Muslims who are responsible when things get blown up.  He wants us to know that white people blow up things too (and kill — white people do kill).  Wascally Amewicans!  We’re so dumb that we actually make a distinction between lone white crazies who are rejected by the political class they claim as their own, and whose killings are thankfully small in number, and Islamic crazies, who function as part of a large network, who are celebrated by their religious compatriots, who are encouraged by their religion (and their clerics) to kill as much as possible, and who actually have carried out more than 20,000 terrorist attacks around the world since 9/11.

Frankly, looking at the above, I’m coming to believe that everyone is over-thinking the bombing.  If we just step back and ignore historic trends, iconic locations, modus operandi, and such other things, there are two things that are very clear:  the bomb was meant to sever limbs (report after report emphasizes severed legs) and it took place at a race.  Apply Occam’s Razor, and its obvious that the dark-skinned man now being sought (sorry David Sirota:  it’s not a white guy) hates runners.  Probably he ran the marathon once and lost, and has never recovered from that psychic injury — so he planted a bomb that would cause the greatest possible injury to runners.  This horror was an anti-running terrorism attack.  The appropriate response is mental screening for all runners and non-runners alike.

That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.

Is the fact that the bombing occurred on April 15 significant?

In almost every area of my life, I’m a procrastinator.  The exception to that rule is taxes.  I never wait until the last minute with my taxes, so I got them off some time ago (and very painful it was too).  The result was that I didn’t even think of today’s date — April 15.

I know that the bombings in Boston had the hallmarks of al Qaeda — multiple simultaneous explosions, a running Saudi, a significant American place — but the date is more significant to anti-government homegrown nuts, while the place is as significant to them as it would be to al Qaeda.

Frankly, I want this to be the work of al Qaeda.  (I would have preferred that it never happened, of course, but since it did, I have my preferences about its origin.)  I genuinely fear that, if it was another Timothy McVeigh, the media will use the Boston massacre, as some are already calling it, to destroy Republicans and conservatives in America.  It will lend fuel to the fire that conservatives are terrorists, it will justify overriding the Second Amendment, it will justify continued attacks on the First Amendment (by allowing the government to force Christian institutions to pay for abortions and to provide services for same-sex marriage, despite doctrinal problems), and it will mark every Republican as a potential mass murderer.

After 9/11, the media and government doubled over backwards to paint Islam as the religion of peace, despite the fact that Islamists all over the world have rained bloodshed and terror over people.  You can bet your bottom dollar, though, that if this is a homegrown anti-government group, despite the fact that it will be a lone faction rejected by all conservatives and Republicans and despite the fact that the last act of anti-government terror took place in 1994, the media will spend the next three years (through the 2016 election) making sure that the words terrorist, Republican, and conservative are synonymous.

Thoughts on the Boston Marathon bombing UPDATED

A twitter image showing a blood stained street in Boston

Because I’m now a semi-official journalist, I’ve been working hard to write up-to-the-minute posts about the horrible Boston Marathon bombing.  Here’s the latest Mr. Conservative post, which I was able to write following my Twitter feed.  It’s been substantially updated since I wrote it, so it’s (a) under Katie Kieffer’s name, since we worked on it together, and (b) it has a ton of graphic images, so click on it with care.  It’s really quite amazing how quickly news gets consolidated there.  I knew I was on to something when several reputable sources tweeted the same story.  It doesn’t mean it’s true — the media is often wrong — but it does mean that I wasn’t going off half-cocked based upon a single tweet.  The post isn’t all me.  Katie Kieffer, another conservative blogger contributed parts of it.  Because we were in a rush, you can probably see the seams between our two writing styles.

That was the news part.  Here, at Bookworm Room, is where I get to talk about this tragedy, as a tragedy.

I have absolutely no doubt but that this is an al Qaeda or al Qaeda-affiliate attack.  It has all the hallmarks — symbolic locations; crowded venues; multiple simultaneous explosions; and a Saudi national found, not at the scene, despite his shrapnel wounds, but quite far away.  Innocent men don’t run.  We’ll hear, of course, that it was his instant fear of Islamophobia that caused him to run from the scene despite his wounds, but that story just doesn’t seem very credible to me.

As I said in the Mr. Conservative post, I find it highly ironic that an Islamic attack — assuming that’s what this was — took place in Boston.  Boston is the bluest of the blue.  Moreover, the Boston Marathon is very much an upper middle class event, with liberal suburbanites from all over America running in it.  In terms of the “War against Islam,” Boston has shed its image as America’s patriotic heart and has thrown itself firmly behind a world view that says America is an international bully, using Islamophobia to drive the oil companies’ secret wars for oil.

There are two ways Boston can go.  It can be a liberal mugged by reality and get over its delusional belief that, if America will just do whatever the Islamists want, they will leave us alone, or it can go the way it went with gun control — enacting liberty-limiting laws that do nothing to prevent future tragedies, and allowing its native son, John Kerry, to grovel apologetically before the authors of this bloodshed.

My thoughts are with the people of Boston, as well as with those who were not of Boston, but got caught in the disaster.  I hope that tragedy leads them to smart decisions, not foolish ones.

Here are the President’s remarks from his post-bombing statement from the White House.  It says nothing:

Good afternoon, everybody.  Earlier today, I was briefed by my homeland security team on the events in Boston. We’re continuing to monitor and respond to the situation as it unfolds.  And I’ve directed the full resources of the federal government to help state and local authorities protect our people, increase security around the United States as necessary, and investigate what happened.

The American people will say a prayer for Boston tonight.  And Michelle and I send our deepest thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims in the wake of this senseless loss.

We don’t yet have all the answers.  But we do know that multiple people have been wounded, some gravely, in explosions at the Boston Marathon.

I’ve spoken to FBI Director Mueller and Secretary of Homeland Security Napolitano, and they’re mobilizing the appropriate resources to investigate and to respond.

I’ve updated leaders of Congress in both parties, and we reaffirmed that on days like this there are no Republicans or Democrats — we are Americans, united in concern for our fellow citizens.

I’ve also spoken with Governor Patrick and Mayor Menino, and made it clear that they have every single federal resource necessary to care for the victims and counsel the families.  And above all, I made clear to them that all Americans stand with the people of Boston.

Boston police, firefighters, and first responders as well as the National Guard responded heroically, and continue to do so as we speak.  It’s a reminder that so many Americans serve and sacrifice on our behalf every single day, without regard to their own safety, in dangerous and difficult circumstances.  And we salute all those who assisted in responding so quickly and professionally to this tragedy.

We still do not know who did this or why.  And people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts.  But make no mistake — we will get to the bottom of this.  And we will find out who did this; we’ll find out why they did this.  Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.

Today is a holiday in Massachusetts — Patriots’ Day.  It’s a day that celebrates the free and fiercely independent spirit that this great American city of Boston has reflected from the  earliest days of our nation.  And it’s a day that draws the world to Boston’s streets in a spirit of friendly competition.  Boston is a tough and resilient town.  So are its people.  I’m supremely confident that Bostonians will pull together, take care of each other, and move forward as one proud city.  And as they do, the American people will be with them every single step of the way.

You should anticipate that as we get more information, our teams will provide you briefings.  We’re still in the investigation stage at this point.  But I just want to reiterate we will find out who did this and we will hold them accountable.

Thank you very much.

UPDATE: Here’s your opportunity to compare today’s statement to the one Barack Obama made (complete with politically correct convolutions) the day after the Benghazi terrorist attack.

I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Right now, the American people have the families of those we lost in our thoughts and prayers. They exemplified America’s commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe, and stand in stark contrast to those who callously took their lives.

I have directed my Administration to provide all necessary resources to support the security of our personnel in Libya, and to increase security at our diplomatic posts around the globe. While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants.

On a personal note, Chris was a courageous and exemplary representative of the United States. Throughout the Libyan revolution, he selflessly served our country and the Libyan people at our mission in Benghazi. As Ambassador in Tripoli, he has supported Libya’s transition to democracy. His legacy will endure wherever human beings reach for liberty and justice. I am profoundly grateful for his service to my Administration, and deeply saddened by this loss.

The brave Americans we lost represent the extraordinary service and sacrifices that our civilians make every day around the globe. As we stand united with their families, let us now redouble our own efforts to carry their work forward.

Incidentally, that was also, technically, on American soil, although not as many were injured. (I’m also unclear on the precise death toll for today, so I can’t make a comparison.)

Knowledge equals paranoia *UPDATED*

(iPad wiped all my hyperlinks, so if you’re interested in the security programs I mention, you’ll have to search then yourself.)

A friend’s email got hacked. This led to a discussion with a very knowledgeable person about the risks she now faces. Upon realizing she was hacked, she immediately changed her email password and assumed her troubles were over. He told her the contrary was true:  her troubles had just begun.

She told him she had run a full virus check and it came up clean, so she shouldn’t have troubles. He told her that virus checkers, no matter how good, are just a superficial panacea.

The real problem, he said, is keystroke logging malware that lodges deep in the operating system. This means that every time you log into a website, the logger tracks and records your user name and password, and then delivers the data to the hacker. The hacker can then process that information to access your accounts and — voila! — your identity is compromised.  He can also sell it far and wide. Everything is at risk, from bank accounts to your Facebook page.

There are some ways to protect yourself. When it comes to email security, the best thing is two-step verification. If you log onto a computer that you haven’t authorized as a trusted computer, the double verify system sends you a numerical text message. Even if a hacker has both your user name and password, if he doesn’t have your cell phone, he can’t get into your email.

To prevent problems in the first place, you should have a good anti-virus software. Recently, for Microsoft users, several computer gurus have recommended Microsoft Security Essentials to me, which they say is the best and, as an added bonus, is free. You can also keep your computer away from dangerous websites by having your router pass through OpenDNS, which blocks your computer from accessing dangerous sites.

But if you’ve already got a keystroke logger buried in your operating system, you’re out of luck. Most virus checkers can’t find this type of malware, because it’s buried too deeply in your operating system, not to mention that it can actually look innocuous at a code level. Serious computer security people have two computers, one of which is for fun, and one of which is dedicated solely to secure information. They keep their passwords on a flash drive. When they need a password, they plug in the flash drive and then cut-and-paste, so that there are never keystrokes.

With all this in mind, the knowledgeable person told my friend that, because she knows she’s been compromised, she should junk her computer entirely. He thinks that even reinstalling the operating system is insufficient.

Another party to the conversation said this was all overkill. He said that the likelihood of a hacker taking the time to ferret out your information from all the information he selects is minuscule. Further, if he does, most institutions will notice strange behavior and contact you immediately. Ultimately, he felt the risks from hacking were too small to justify the draconian solution of throwing away a computer and starting anew.

As for me, I got totally paranoid from this conversation. I know I don’t have a virus, but I have no way of knowing if I have caught keystroke logger malware. I’m going to change my passwords, but if there’s a keystroke logger, that’s a wasted effort. I’m in a perpetual loop of paranoia and vulnerability.

This paranoia loop — which was triggered by an information dump from someone with more information than I have — irresistibly brought to mind the way we deal with politics in America. Last night, at dinner, Democrat said that Obama, during the his first term, did the best job possible with the hand he’d been dealt. She did not know that Reagan had a rougher economic hand and achieved a better economic outcome. In her limited information universe, Obama was the best.

Fiscal cliff? Going over it may be a plunge from which the economy never recovers, or it may be an illusory line and we discover, once we’ve crossed, that nothing has changed. Since my understand of economics is simple — you cannot spend more than you have or borrow more than you can repay — I foresee catastrophe. Others say a national economy is not a household, and that my analysis isn’t just simple, it’s idiotic and stifles our country’s economic potential.

The same thing happens with the way Americans approach the risk from Islamism. Those of us steeped in information about Islamic doctrine, worldwide terrorist attacks, and Islamic rhetoric see a very high risk. Those who accept that Islam is a religion of peace and think that it’s just a coincidence that all terrorists and would-be terrorists happen to be Muslims, believe are risks are low, and that we are just paranoid, loony conspiracy theorists.

This paranoia runs the other way too. Progressives are convinced that we are cooking ourselves and that the world will melt. We think they’re overreacting to, and taking unreasonable responsibility for, a natural phenomenon that has happened repeatedly since earth’s creation.

Quite obviously, people’s perception of risk is going to affect the steps they take to protect against those perceived risks. The big question, then, is whether the paranoid informed people or the relaxed uninformed people had a better read of the situation. Have we over educated ourselves about risk to the point of dysfunction and overblown reactions? Or have they gone beyond a reasonable assessment of actual risk to a denial so overwhelming that they are incapable of defending against a genuine enemy? Do we change our passwords or junk the whole computer?

As for me, right now, I’m just going to change my passwords and put them onto LastPass, so as to minimize the keystrokes I enter. I’m also going to remind myself that a hacker who collects trillions of keystrokes from millions of computers can’t possibly process that info, and that the odds are I won’t be processed.

UPDATE: A friend who knows more about computers and programming than anyone I have ever met says that an excellent way to protect oneself is to use Google Chrome. He says that Adobe flash is now a primary vehicle for malware. Chrome doesn’t use flash, thereby avoiding that risk. I like Firefox, and don’t like Chrome, but I’m not so stubborn that I won’t recognize a reasonable trade off and learn to live with a different browser.