Category ►►► Media Madness

February 6, 2014

Let's Do the Time Warp Again...

Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

This bizarre whopper from Newsmax.com goes far, far beyond a simple tyop or misunderstaking:

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus remain disappointed with President Barack Obama over his lack of assertiveness in promoting minority judicial candidates, The Hill reported....

There are those in the 43-member group who continue to believe the president has not pushed back hard enough against the Republican-controlled Senate where nominees must be confirmed.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., said he and like-minded CBC members would not allow Obama nominees waiting for Senate confirmation "to languish in some kind of a neo-conservative purgatory" without speaking out.

Exsqueeze me? When did we capture the Senate? Somehow I missed that.

In addition to the Senate still languishing under the micro-mismanagement of Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid ( R   D-NV, 90%), I thought Democrats had finally pulled the trigger last year on the so-called "nuclear option" to ban filibusters of Obama nominees, including federal judges. Or did I just dream that? No, for here's the last sentence in this piece:

Democrats in November voted to curb filibusters against Obama nominees.

Either somebody is stuck in the October past -- or else he's DeLoreaned himself back to the future of January, 2015!

What's even odder is that if you correct the party in charge of the Senate, then the entire article makes no sense at all; since the Senate Republicans have no veto whatsoever on confirming Obamic appointees, the fight is actually between Democrat senators -- and the Democrat president. So what's the point?

Were I the editor, I think I would just send the whole mess back to Mr. Jager with a curt note that friends don't let friends write drunk.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 6, 2014, at the time of 1:42 PM | Comments (1)

June 2, 2013

Paging Captain Obvious

Media Madness
Hatched by Korso

And so it came to pass, that the Lords of Intellect at Barack Hussein Obama's White House (soon to open a franchise near you) finally started to grumble that it might be time to make a little more room under the bus for one Eric "Heckuva Job" Holder. What's really funny, though, is how those same wonder boys still manage to add two and two and come up with five. To wit, in regards to the Justice Department spying on the Associated Press:

“The White House is apoplectic about him, and has been for a long time,” said a Democratic former government official who did not want to be identified while talking about friends.

Some advisers to Mr. Obama believe that Mr. Holder does not manage or foresee problems, the former official said. “How hard would it be to anticipate that the A.P. would be unhappy?” the former official said.

Um, maybe because the Battered Girlfriend Media has done everything in its power to cover up Obama's scandals since before he was even inaugurated? If the BGM couldn't be bothered to investigate Fast & Furious -- where dozens of people, ya know, actually died -- why wouldn't Eric Holder assume that they'd do the same when it came to spying on reporters?

Guys and gals of the media, it's about time you assumed responsiblity for this monster that you've created. In case it's never occurred to you, a free press was enshrined in the First Amendment so that it could keep an eye on what the government was doing, holding it accountable for corruption and wrongdoing. But that doesn't work too well when reporters, in the thrall of a cult-of-personality president, look the other way. Obama and his minions understand that, you see, which is why they've been running the White House like the Chicago pols that they are.

Is that really so hard to understand?

Hatched by Korso on this day, June 2, 2013, at the time of 2:24 PM | Comments (1)

June 1, 2013

Hit Me Baby One More Time

Media Madness
Hatched by Korso

I took some flack in my last post for using the term "mainstream media" to describe Barack Obama's freelance staff of spinners, note-takers and stenographers -- also known as "journalists" -- and I must admit, after several news organizations actually took Eric Holder up on his off-the-record offer to do some 'splainin yesterday, I'm now inclined to agree with my naysayers: MSM is definitely a misnomer. From here on in, I'm calling them the Battered Girlfriend Media -- or BGM for short.

I mean, seriously. How else can you describe a bunch of people who covered for Obama through the course of four years and two elections, dutifully diverting everyone's attention away from a lousy economy and a feckless foreign policy with the War on Women and same sex marriage, only to discover that the man's Justice Department was tapping their phone records and looking to jam them up for publishing leaks from inside his administration? And then when he gets caught in the act, they still go running back to hear about how he was under some serious stress, that it was just the one time and how he swears, baby, he'll never smack them around like that again. The situation has all the ingredients of a Lifetime made-for-TV movie event.

Will they ever learn? Probably not. There's a reason abusive boyfriends get away with their abuse. Like any good predator, they know how to spot weakness and exploit it. Eric Holder (and by extension, Obama himself) knows that the media are desperate to forgive them, so they engage in some token groveling to smooth things over. This does not, however, change the balance of power in the relationship -- which means, after a requisite period of time, the abuse will continue. Because that's what abusers do, until something gives them a reason to change.

By attending Holder's little pow-wow, though, the WaPo, the WSJ, the New Yorker and their ilk are doing just the opposite. They're enabling the bad behavior, which guarantees that it'll never stop. Makes you wonder why they didn't start going with a nice guy like Mitt Romney when they had the chance.

Dafydd adds: Henry Rollins wrote a song that so perfectly fits el Presidente and his astonishing relationship with the Plantation Media -- and considering 2012, with the American electorate as well -- that I simply can't resist this YouTube:

 

Hatched by Korso on this day, June 1, 2013, at the time of 2:37 PM | Comments (1)

May 25, 2013

Ipse Dixitland

Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

Anent the post below, in which we catch St. Louis television station KMOV -- the Mauve Squad? -- I believe we really need a pithy but accurate term to use for the sort of communications medium that slavishly supports and reports every word from la Casa Blanca ( à la Rive Gauche) as if it were nihil obstat, da?

"It's true because it's true because it's true because it's true...!" And a news medium that severely punishes any intellectual deviant for heresy in the first degree, since none is allowed to contradict, debate, or even question the infallible Progressivist creed. (Is there a doctrine in the house?)

I think I've got just such a term: How about, KMOV is a member in good standing of the plantation media?

I believe that term sums it up nicely. When a freethinking reporter such as Larry Conners attempts to escape from the plantation, the overseer, Simon LaMOV, must drag him back... and flay the skin off his spine. See how this new term perfectly encapsulates the dread reality?

(This would make Barack "B.O." Obama "President Jefferson Davis of the CSA," in our little example.)

So if that isn't disturbing and offputting enough, let's all of you agree to coalesce around the term "plantation media;" you-all supply the ritual repetition and charming chanting, I'll collect the royalties. Everybody's happy!

And speaking of heresy against the god of atheism, my next post...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 25, 2013, at the time of 5:09 AM | Comments (2)

May 23, 2013

The Fourth Estate (Kinda)

Media Madness
Hatched by Korso

Remember Larry Conners, that local reporter in St. Louis who hammered Barack Obama in an interview and then later found himself with all kinds of IRS troubles? Well, it seems that he's been fired by the station where he worked:

KMOV announced Conners' firing with a statement posted about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday on its website.

"We regret to announce that Larry Conners is no longer a KMOV news reporter," president and general manager Mark Pimentel said in the statement.

Ostensibly, Conners was let go for making political statements in a Facebook post that questioned whether his sudden appearance on the IRS radar might have been punishment for treating the president without kid gloves -- understandable, given recent events. But while it is within KMOV management's rights to hire and fire whomever they please, using this as an excuse to slap the bias label on a reporter is a stretch that would make even Reed Richards think twice.

There was a time when a news outlet would stand by its reporters in the face of political pressure. More than that, they would have been proud to do it, and would make damned sure that the rest of the world knew what was going on. KMOV, however -- in true Soviet fashion -- prepared an apology for Conners to read on air and forced him to read it verbatim. Then they canned him anyway. That's what passes for speaking truth to power these days: I fought the lawless, and the lawless won.

If KMOV management doesn't realize how bad this all looks, I'd venture that they sport about the same level of competence Weird Al Yankovic demonstrated in UHF -- with the exception that Al managed to boost ratings. KMOV, on the other hand, has shown itself to be emblematic of what the rest of the MSM have become: craven, sclerotic shells of their former selves, waxing on about the glory days of Watergate but having no stomach to pursue the Big Story now -- at least not when the scandals land at the feet of "their guys" in Washington. There's nothing quite so sad as a gelding who can't realize he's no longer a stallion.

On the bright side, the IRS can console itself with the knowledge that it isn't alone when it comes to corruption. In that, the MSM are coming up fast: two great fakes that fake great together. Should be interesting to watch them throw down.

Hatched by Korso on this day, May 23, 2013, at the time of 7:15 AM | Comments (4)

May 14, 2013

Critical Mass

Media Madness
Hatched by Korso

Poor Jay Carney has been having a lousy time of it as of late, hasn't he? First he has to deal with the fallout over the Benghazi whistleblower testimony, then that whole business with the IRS targeting conservative groups pops up, and before you know it the AP is out for blood over Eric Holder's Justice Department going through the news giant's phone records like the boys of Delta House going on a panty raid. Carney must've been a naughty boy in a previous life to reap this kind of karma.

What's really interesting, though, isn't the scandals so much; we mouth-breathing conservative Troglodytes have been carping over corruption in the Obama administration since Fast & Furious reared its ugly head, so to us it's nothing new. No, what's fascinating is how the mainstream media are actually starting to treat these developments as, well, the scandals that they are. In that regard, poor Carney reminds me of a guy who hasn't strapped on a pair of sneakers in years suddenly being forced to run a marathon: He just ain't used to taking that kind of abuse -- and from reporters, no less! Morning Joe, say it isn't so!

In their response to all of this, conservatives have reacted pretty much as you would expect, much like gamer geeks who have suddenly discovered that by tuning their TVs just so that the Spice Channel comes in for free. But while I enjoy a good glass of schadenfreude as much as the next guy, I think it might be best if we engaged in a little constructive deconstruction and ask ourselves: Why are the media doing this? After all, they've been Barack Obama's battered girlfriend for the last four years and never said a cross word about him. What would make them go all Jennifer Lopez in Enough on him now?

The answer -- at least partially -- is that the scandals have now come so hard and so fast that they've reached a critical mass. One Benghazi? We can handle that. The IRS thing? By itself, a piece of cake. A little diversion, a little song and dance, and John Q. Public will forget all about that. But when you have the kind of week that Obama has had, there emerges a pattern that even the MSM can no longer ignore. The truth, in spite of all their protestations to the contrary, starts to shine through: These are not nice people.

And it's a terrible thing to lose one's illusions.

That does not, however, mean that the MSM will not happily resume their delusional state if given the right enticement. Obama, after all, is a pretty smooth operator when he wants to be. Like Tiger Woods, he just miscalculated how much he could push his luck before the missus came after him with a golf club. The breaking point probably came over spying on the AP, and right now all those reporters turning the White House press secretary into Carney-kabobs know they have to draw some blood if they wish to retain a sliver of credibility. But in the end, my guess is that the administration will offer to lop off some heads and make some sort of amends, and the press will fall in line once again. It's what they do, and to expect them to behave otherwise is too much to hope for.

The lesson? Don't count on the MSM to take Obama down. They won't do it. And they never will.

Hatched by Korso on this day, May 14, 2013, at the time of 1:13 PM | Comments (1)

March 22, 2013

How Ya Like Them Apples?

Media Madness , Techno Geekery
Hatched by Korso

Before we begin, I think it's only fair to say that I'm a bit of an Apple aficionado. Not a fanboy, mind you -- I don't spend my evenings trolling the tech sites looking to throw down with Android evangelists over who has the better mobile OS -- but I've certainly got my share of Apple products running in the Korso household. So it's been with great interest that I've followed the rise of Apple, admiring the way the company resurrected itself after the business world had declared it all but dead. The iPod, the iPhone, the iPad -- all of these products have become iconic, because they managed to accomplish something that none of Apple's competitors have been able to replicate: they made technology exciting and sexy, and left people breathless wondering what would come next.

So what happened?

A look at Apple's stock price would tell you that something is horribly wrong. From a high of over $700 a share, the price has tumbled down to around $450. The financial media constantly fret about how Apple has lost its magic and its ability to innovate. Analysts lament the loss of Steve Jobs, and how things just haven't been the same since he died. Where are the new breakthroughs? Where are the game-changing products?

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Problem is, it's mostly poppycock.

What we have here is yet another media narrative, willed into reality by the constant harping of reporters, pundits and a smattering of other business interests who all have their own agenda. In a way it's not surprising: the cult that Steve Jobs built for himself was the result of his very canny manipulation of the media, which grew to worship him like some Svengali who could do no wrong (I guess they forgot all about the G4 Cube and MobileMe). After building him up so high, it only stood to reason that the media would respond to Jobs' death by posing the question of whether or not Apple could continue its unprecedented string of successes without him.

And what could be more dramatic than a plunge from greatness?

So that's what the media decided to manufacture. Never mind the facts on the ground. Apple revenues? Their last quarter pulled in more money than any publicly traded company -- in all of history. Demand for products? New iMac orders had wait times of several weeks. How about revenue streams? Between apps, music and videos sold on iTunes, it's around $1.5 billion per year. Oh, and let's not forget the $150 billion of cash the company has in reserves.

But Apple is in trouble. Seriously.

Well, at least that's what the talking heads would like you to believe. Because it's not about objective truth -- I mean, what the hell is truth, really, but an abstract construct -- it's all about the narrative, the story that they want to tell. Never mind that this stuff has real world consequences (lost jobs, lost wealth, human misey, etc.). That only ratchets up the drama -- and if there happens to be a camera crew nearby to catch all the suffering in high-def, so much the better.

The reason I make this point is that the whole concept of objective reporting -- once considered the standard all reporters aspired to -- largely doesn't exist anymore. Pretty much anything you see on the "news" these days may or may not necessarily be true; even worse, however, is that it doesn't seem to even matter. Whether it's hyping Hurricane Sandy to advance the narrative of global warming or selectively editing the audio of a 911 call to make George Zimmerman sound like a racist, the truth has become irrelevant. And the scary part is how few people nary bat an eye.

It's one of the ironies of the digital age that we have so much access to knowledge, and yet the universe of what we actually know gets smaller and smaller. Call it informational relativism: one truth is equally as valid as any other. Aldous Huxley was more precient than he could have imagined.

Hatched by Korso on this day, March 22, 2013, at the time of 10:28 AM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2013

Chicken Little Revisited

Media Madness
Hatched by Korso

Yes, it's true. CNN anchor Deb Feyerick actually thinks that global warming extends its malign influence even into space, the final frontier. While chatting with Bill Nye the Science Guy about the recent wild weather in the northeast corridor, she postulated the question:

Talk about something else that’s falling from the sky and that is an asteroid. What’s coming our way? Is this an effect of, perhaps, of global warming or is this just some meteoric occasion?

Sounds to me as if Deb did most of her research by watching Armageddon on TBS late night. Remember that these are the people informing the public about environmental issues, folks.

Hatched by Korso on this day, February 11, 2013, at the time of 12:08 PM | Comments (2)

November 17, 2012

PC AP DQs JS

Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

According to Politico, here is the first tweet sent from the Associated Press anent a barrage of rockets:

Air raid sirens wail in Jerusalem, signaling a possible rocket attack aimed at Israel's capital.

And here is tweet 2, a half hour later:

Air raid sirens in Jerusalem signal a possible rocket attack aimed at Israel's self-declared capital. [Emphasis added. - DaH]

Now maybe it's just I, but -- isn't every capital a "self-declared capital?" Does any sovereign nation have a capital that was picked by some other country? What lunacy is this?

The lunacy comprises a combination of raw Jew hatred and politically-correct, line-toeing "presstitutes" who slavishly ape any position taken by the far Left. Here, the rule is that every country in the world can select its own capital city except the Jewish state, which must first get a seal of approval from all the antisemites at the Untied Nations. Jews are born guilty, you see, and have no rights, not even the right of sovereignty.

The AP, along with the rest of the Progressivist media, long ago bought into this cheery pronunciamento from the massmind. Hence, AP was appalled when one of its own paladins accidentally allowed as how the city that has been the legal capital of the state of Israel since its founding in 1948 and is still the legal capital today -- that is, Jerusalem -- should be called Israel's capital. They swiftly "corrected" their earlier "erroneous" tweet.

And judging from the first few comments, a vast, journalistic-industrial disinformation campaign has successfully convinced much of the country that the "legal" capital of Israel is Tel Aviv, which has never been true.

(Some left-liberal purists claim that, because Jerusalem was divided from the War of Independence in 1948 to the Six Day War in 1967, Tel Aviv was the capital. But as usual, the "purists" are wrong. Jerusalem has always been Israel's "self-declared capital," and no other was ever considered by any Israeli Jew. The confusion may have arisen because until 1967, East Jerusalem was controlled by Jordan. During some of that time, the Knesset met in Tel Aviv; but that was always a temporary, de facto expediency, not a de jure designation of a capital.)

Back to the appeasement mine. In fact, AP felt so strongly that Israel has no right to pick its own capital that it sent yet a third missive, this time an explanatory e-mail that is as insulting as it is snippy:

The air raid sirens sounded in Jerusalem after the start of the Jewish Sabbath in the holy city, claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians as a capital and located about 75 kilometers (47 miles) from Gaza. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the rocket landed in an open area southeast of the city.

Actually, the context in which Palestinians claim that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel is that they deny that any country named "Israel" exists at all! Instead, they routinely refer to it, when absolutely necessary to do so, as "the Zionist entity," as if the entire nation of Israel and all its eight million people are nothing but a terrorist cult... a description that far better fits the West Bank and Gaza strip.

The lunacy continues: AP either buys into the idea that there is no such place as Israel, or else they believe that Palastinians should get to take Israel's capital for their own instead, despite the fact that they have never controlled Jerusalem or any part of it. The only areas ever rulled by Palestinians are those Israel, Egypt, or Jordan gave them for refugee purposes, which do not include the city in question. (Jordan controlled East Jerusalem for a few years, but Palestinians do not control Jordan and never have.)

Here is the timeline of who has ruled Jerusalem over the last few millennia:

  1. Obviously, there weren't any "Palestinians" ca. 2600 BC, when some archeologists believe Jerusalem was founded; we skip two thousand years to Roman times.
  2. The Roman Empire held it until the split between West and East, in AD 285; after that, Jerusalem was controlled by the Eastern Roman Empire, which eventually became the Byzantine Empire.
  3. In AD 634, Persia (under Omar ibn Hattab) wrested it away from the declining Byzantium.
  4. The Christian knights of the First Crusade conquered Jerusalem and environs in 1099, founding the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem.
  5. Saladin -- a Kurd, which is ethnically Persian -- took it away from the Christians again in 1187; thus Jerusalem was controlled by Christians for 88 years.
  6. After a brief (1244-1250) interlude under the control of the Khwarezmian Tartars, Jerusalem was held by the Mamluks (none of them Arabic), who ruled Egypt until the 16th century.
  7. In 1517, the Turkish Ottoman Empire conquered Egypt and so also Jerusalem. The Ottomans remained in control until 1917.
  8. In that year, the British took control of the the Holy Land after demolishing the Ottoman Empire.

Notice the curious discovery: Until the 20th century, no Arab dynasty had ever ruled over any part of modern-day Israel.

The British Mandate was subsequently divided, via the League of Nations, into three parts: The Iraq Mandate, the Transjordan Mandate, and the Palestinian Mandate. (Despite the name, the Palestinian Mandate was not ruled by Palestinians, but by Brits.)

  1. In 1948, Great Britain withdrew from its Arab mandates, and Israel declared its independence. For the very first time in 1948, Jerusalem was partitioned between Jews and Arabs; specifically, between the new nation of Israel and the nation of Jordan, with Jordan controlling the eastern half of the city (which includes most of the holy sites, such as the Temple Mount).
  2. On December 13th, 1948, the Israeli Knesset proclaimed Jerusalem the capital of Israel.
  3. And of course, in the Six Day War of 1967, Israel captured East Jerusalem and all the territory up to the west bank of the Jordan River.

Conclusions: Despite many conquerings, western Jerusalem has never, in all human history, been ruled or controlled by any Arab country, nor by the Arab subgroup now called Palestinians. They were ruled by many Moslem empires -- Persian, Mamluk, and Turkish -- but never by Arabs (Palestinians are Arabs).

East Jerusalem was controlled by Arab Jordanians from 1948-9 to 1967, about 19 years; but Palestinians are a despised and powerless people in Jordan, though they make up much of the population. The three kings of Jordan during the only period in which Arabs controlled any part of Jerusalem -- Abdullah I, Talal, and Hussein -- were Hashemites originally from Mecca; in fact, Abdullah and Talal were both born there (Talal's son Hussein was born in Jordan in 1935).

In other words, Palestinians have no claim whatsoever on any part of Jerusalem, other than the radical argument that proceeds, "We want it, they have it, let's go get it!" Or in this case, "We want it, they have it, let's get the United Nations to go get it for us!" (Yep, they can't even manage their own looting.)

Finally, it makes not a whit of difference whether other countries choose to locate their embassies in Tel Aviv, rather than Jerusalem; none of that makes Tel Aviv the capital, because nothing done by San Salvadore or Saudi Arabia or even the United States is binding upon the location of Israel's own capital. Thus, there is no logical, legal, philosophical, moral, or religous argument that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel, and "journalists" who pretend that there is some question about it are either lying in their teeth because they hate Jews, or they are kow-towing to the Arab League and other Moslems out of fear or bribery or trendy leftist cant.

For heaven's sake, American news media, put an end to this farce and stop making yourselves look foolish and antisemitic! Be a mensch. The Palestinians may "claim" Jerusalem; heck, in the mid-19th century in San Francisco, Joshua Norton proclaimed himself Emperor of the United States, Protector of Mexico, and King of the Jews. But calling a tail a king doesn't make it a king.

It's Alfred Jarry-esque to argue that Yemen or Belgium or Monaco gets to pick Israel's capital city, any more than Canada should get to pick Belgium's capital. You think? It always amazes me how fools of the press can tie their brains into Gordian Knots, just to support the Party line.

Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and will remain so until either (a) Israel legally changes to a different city, or (b) Israel is conquered, or (c) destroyed. Since (a) will never happen, and (b, c) seem highly unlikely at this juncture, it's time for newspapers, TV and radio news, and internet services just accept that they cannot rewrite reality.

They can only behave like nitwits; that is the God-given freedom of the press.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 17, 2012, at the time of 11:40 AM | Comments (3)

September 18, 2012

The Prince's New Clothes

Afghan Astonishments , Media Madness , Military Machinations , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Sachi

Almost the definition of "TMI", too much information: Prince Harry's naked binge in Las Vegas, shortly before he was deployed to Afghanistan as an Apache pilot. So a young, privileged man got drunk and naked in Las Vegas; what else is new?

Harry, third in line for King of England (after his father, Charles, Prince of Wales; and Harry's brother, William, Duke of Cambridge), was photographed in the buff with some pretty, young, and equally naked thing of the female persuasion, who gallantly crouched behind him during his epic Kodak moment. But that singular embarassment seems to have produced quite a few ripples in spacetime... which may have been the proximate cause of the killing of at least two United States Marines.

A week after Hank's exhibitionist exertions -- and right around the time his sister in law enjoyed her own naked romp in full view of an unnoticed camera -- the princeling was trundled off to war. (What is it with these Royals constantly putting their crown jewels on display?)

Impudent question: Did Harry's harem antics themselves damage British morale, even apart from the deadly, if somewhat tenuous chain of events that followed? Hard to say; how did you feel about Bill Clinton as Commander in Chief, after the flood of bizarre snd squalid sex stories broke? Did you have the same respect for him that you had for other, previous CinCs?

All right, all right; it's not as if the Royal Pains sent the blot away to get him out of the headlines. His deployment was long planned; more than likely, he went on a tear in Vegas precisely because he was about to be shipped out. Alas, the former conjecture is exactly what the Taliban believes, or at least professes: That Harry was sent away to cover-up his "shame." He thus became a perfect target for the cave-dwelling barbarians in Afghanistan, he and everyone else around him.

But let's take a side excursion. When we read the news about Prince Harry heading to Afghanistan, many bloggers with a military background were worried. Too much information was being revealed, allowing the "insurgents" -- radical Islamists in the Taliban and allied terrorist groups -- to track Prince Harry's every movement:

The 27-year-old arrived in Camp Bastion in Helmand in the early hours of this morning, where he will be based for the duration of his tour with 622 Sqn, 3 Regiment Army Air Corps.

His role will be to kill insurgents as he operates the aircraft's weapon systems, which include Hellfire missiles and a 30mm chain gun. He will also be expected to provide air cover on missions by special forces....

In stark contrast to the media blackout imposed when the Prince undertook his previous tour, the Ministry of Defence has taken the decision to inform the public about his presence in Afghanistan from the word go, and arranged for a reporter and photographer from the Press Association news agency to fly to Camp Bastion to provide coverage on a pooled basis.

We understand that the Brits wanted to advertise the fact that Prince Harry is a serious officer in the Royal Army; and they wanted to remove the bad taste from Harry's last deployment, which had to be cut short after he was targeted four years ago:

The Prince was "incredibly frustrated" to be pulled out of Afghanistan 11 weeks into his last tour because of US media reporting on his presence there, said his spokesman, though the fully understood why the decision had been taken.

But was it actually necessary to tell the whole world the exact base at which he would be deployed, precisely what his mission would entail, and even which squadron he'd be assigned to? Whatever happened to the old expression, "loose lips sink ships?"

It doesn't take a General Petraeus to figure out that Harry would instantly become Taliban Enemy Number One; plenty of milbloggers foresaw that possibility; they even joked about the possible outcomes to the careless announcement of Harry's whereabouts:

Prince Harry or Captain Wales, whichever you prefer to call him, is reporting for duty at Camp Bastion as an Apache pilot. I believe that his previous tour in Afghanistan saw him in essentially a JTAC role with the british cavalry. The photo and info below was provided courtesy of the MoD [Ministry of Defence].

Is this the result of his vacation in Vegas (the notes I read state that this was long planned)? And why in the hell would the MoD announce the unit, camp, location, etc of his current station?

Surprise, surprise on the Jungle Riverboat Cruise tonight. Just yesterday, two US marines were killed protecting Prince Harry:

British troops were involved in the firefight to repel the deadly Taliban attack on the military base in Afghanistan where Prince Harry is currently based, it was revealed this morning.

At least two US Marines were killed in the strike on the base in Helmand province, which houses American and British troops among others....

A Taliban spokesman said the attack was in revenge for an amateur film that mocked Islam, and because Prince Harry was known to be at the base.

Why do we say they were killed "protecting Prince Harry?" Leaving the boilerplate about "revenge for an amateur film that mocked Islam" on the cutting-room floor -- it's the all-purpose excuse du jour for any Taliban outrage -- the Taliban themselves say they attacked the base precisely because they knew that "Captain Wales" was there.

And the Marines were killed defending against that attack, which actually breeched the 30-foot high, concrete perimeter wall, something which the Taliban had never been able to do before. They must have pulled out all the stops, desperately trying to kill the British Royal.

And how did the Taliban know the prince was there? Because some subgenius in Britain's Ministry of Defence thought it a wonderful idea "to inform the public about his presence in Afghanistan from the word go, and arrange[] for a reporter and photographer from the Press Association news agency to fly to Camp Bastion to provide coverage on a pooled basis!" [Punctuation altered; the original Brit kept a stiff upper lip and refrained from using an exclamation point. -- the Mgt.]

Bureaucrats, even those in the MoD (and those in our own DoD), simply do not see the world as real, populated with real people with real lives to lose. They treat war like an artfully staged "reality TV" show. What the British and American media did to American and British troops is far worse than anything done by those pathetic filmmakers and their lame trailor.

All the latter did was express their political and religious points of view; but the media released a military secret, thus goading the Taliban into an all-out attempt to pull off a 9/11-type "martyrdom operation," with the potential of causing devastating harm to both our countries. Fortunately, the primitive radical Islamists couldn't quite pull it off; they didn't kill Prince Godiva. But they did kill two American Marines.

I wonder whether General Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will call those American and British reporters (along with the British Defence Ministry) and urge them to stop revealing military information and offending free countries. He likes to let his fingers do the kow-towing.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, September 18, 2012, at the time of 3:34 AM | Comments (0)

August 14, 2012

Spectral Olympics

Media Madness , Sporting Gents
Hatched by Sachi

A specter is haunting the Olympics, the specter of -- PC police?

Ever since I can remember, the Olympics has always included controversy. During the cold war, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was notorious for favoriing the Eastern bloc of Communists and other totalitarians. The basketball game between the United States and the Soviet Union at the 1972 Olympics is a classic example: Wth the U.S. ahead by one point at the end of the game, Olympic officials allowed the Soviets to play the final three seconds over and over, until they finally got a basket and won the game on the third attempt.

The idea that the Olympics have ever transcended politics was always a joke -- think of the East European "female" shot-putters, the figure-skating scoring scandas, and synchronized swimming shenanigans; but in the XXXth Olympiad, some attacks against athletes were not due to national rivalries but from the athlete's own country. These individuals were targeted for their political and religious beliefs, and in one case, guilt by association: the German Olympics Committee didn't like the boyfriend of one of their female rowers.

John Fund lists a few examples of outrageous political discrimination against athletes by their own countries' Olympic commitees this Olympiad:

Greek triple-jump champion Voula Papachristou was expelled from her country’s Olympic team last week after she tweeted a tasteless joke. In a reference to a recent outbreak of West Nile virus in Greece, she said that with so many Africans living in Greece, the mosquitoes carrying the virus would be eating “homemade food.” She was promptly booted for making racist comments “contrary to the values and ideas of the Olympics movement.”

At first, this was reported as an overreaction to a dumb joke; we later learned that Papachristou was a supporter of Golden Dawn, a right-wing, anti-immigrant, Greek political party. It's clear the real reason she was kicked off her team and out of the Olympics was her political opinion; the tweet was just an excuse. Fund points out that whatever what one feels about Golden Dawn, "it is a legal party...[it] has 18 members seated in the Greek parliament."

Then there is the case of Nadja Drygalla, a rower who was pressured to leave the German Olympic team last Friday after a TV station reported that her boyfriend was Michael Fischer, who had been a candidate for the far-right National Democratic party in a regional election last year. Some also claimed Fischer had been involved in disruptive protests against immigrants.

Drygalla insists that she dose not share the political opinion of her boyfriend. Even Fischer himself has left the party. None of that mattered to the German Olympic Committee, and Drygalla was forced off the team.

Lessons learned: If you are on friendly terms with anybody connected to a right-wing European party, you yourself are guilty by association. (You may recall similar tactics used by a previous political party in Germany's past.)

But, even if Drygalla herself was a party member, so what? What is she guilty of? Where does the Olympic rule book state that you cannot represent your country if your politics disagrees with the ruling elite's?

Clearly, neither Greece nor Germany believes in freedom of speech ("Free speech for me but not for thee"); but the United States does -- allegedly. Yet even in Barack Obama's America, a disgustingly similar injustice has occurred.

Track and field US Olympian Lolo Jones has been harrassed via a vicious Twitter hate parade regarding her sex life, or rather the lack thereof: Before the games, Lolo Jones "outed" herself... as a Christian who doesn't believe in sex outside of marriage.

That prompted a barrage, possibly orchestrated, of savage attacks. One of the lesser tweets, from a twit called JayAbe2, reads, "Lolo lost? Good. Go have sex now girl, STFU and then you’ll win". Another reads "Poor lolo, just have sex and done."

But it's not just twits on Twitter. Despite finishing fourth in the 100m hardle race -- a respectable acheivement one would think -- her critics have attacked her relentlessly for not getting a medal. (Really, try running yourself, you bunch of couch potatoes!)

But even before the race, the New York Times printed a hit piece on Jones, accusing her of seeking popularity due to her looks rather than her atheletic ability.

After sneering that Jones has "only a slim chance of winning an Olympic medal," the Times tears into her:

Jones has received far greater publicity than any other American track and field athlete competing in the London Games. This was based not on achievement but on her exotic beauty and on a sad and cynical marketing campaign. Essentially, Jones has decided she will be whatever anyone wants her to be -- vixen, virgin, victim -- to draw attention to herself and the many products she endorses.

Women have struggled for decades to be appreciated as athletes. For the first time at these Games, every competing nation has sent a female participant. But Jones is not assured enough with her hurdling or her compelling story of perseverance. So she has played into the persistent, demeaning notion that women are worthy as athletes only if they have sex appeal. And, too often, the news media have played right along with her.

Had Jones not confessed to being a Christian, and worse, a virgin, would the newspaper have tried so hard to rip her to pieces and possibly adversely affect her performance? We can all be the judge of that. But note that the Times completely ignored Jones' undeniable acheivements:

She was the first woman ever to claim back-to-back World Indoor titles in the 60m hurdles while setting an American record in the process. Jones finished her career at LSU as a three-time national champion and 11-time All-American, where she ranks among the top-three all-time at LSU in both the 60m and 100m hurdles. Jones was named Gatorade Midwest Athlete of the year and holds the 100mH record for the state of Iowa.

So Rush Limbaugh gets condemned by the entire liberal establishment for joking that a woman who wants to sleep around and make the "government" (us, that is) pay for her contraceptives is a hooker (and we're her pimps); but "America's newspaper of record" can mock a woman for being a Christian and a virgin, essentially accusing her of being a coquettish sex kitten for looking sexy, but refusing to hook up... and nobody on the Left sees anything wrong with that. So much for radical feminists being "pro choice!"

Notice overall point: In each of these instances, a female athlete paid the price for virture, or for speaking her mind, or for her boyfriend's past political stances. Somehow, the men seem to be given a greater flexibility by liberals and feminists for politically incorrect opinions.

In the bad old days, the IOC allowed Communists, Fascists, and other tyrants to participate on an equal footing with the free countries, though the Left was generally "more equal" than the Right. But now, in the bad new days, Olympics officials, commentators, reporters, and fans don't even want to allow the Right to participate at all, even if that eliminates some of the best competitors. For when it comes to a choice between harassing a "right-wing" team member off the team, and winning Olympic medals, the joy of hate wins hands down.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, August 14, 2012, at the time of 2:11 PM | Comments (0)

August 8, 2012

Timeshog Day

Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

It's been August 1st for a number of days now, at least according to Excite's New York Times news feed.

It's not just the date; the stories themselves remain the same: Nathan Adrian has perpetually just won the 100-meter freestyle, Gore Vidal has just died again, and the Times is eternally frozen in mid-finger wag, warning that a "Plan Like Romney's Would Tax Rich Less." (Hallelujah! The rich are dreadfully overtaxed as it is.)

Good thing both media entities have so many layers of professional editing; otherwise hijinks might ensue. But I wonder how long before anybody notices that we're living in the world of Harlan Ellison's brilliant short story, "Jeffty Is Five"?

To quote Yogi Berra, or at least Boo-Boo, "It's like déjà vu all over again!"

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 8, 2012, at the time of 2:16 PM | Comments (0)

August 3, 2012

Gunslingin' Grannies

Gun Rights and Occasional Wrongs , Media Madness
Hatched by Sachi

Another law abiding citizen defended her ground (store, actually) against masked gunmen. In the past, it was difficult to learn much about cases like this, since the mainstream media never covered it. The only source of information was your local news; and as far as news coverage was concerned, living in another county was like living on another planet.

But thanks to talk radio, internet news feeds, news sites, blogs, and occasionally Fox News Channel, we are no longer hindered by distance or dismissal. We can read, hear, or see the local news from "far-away places with strange-sounding names." But this time, the gun defense happened in southern California -- local for Big Lizards! -- in my old stomping ground of Garden Grove:

A 65-year-old woman fired two rounds from a handgun at five masked men after they attempted to rob her jewelry store in Garden Grove, Calif. on Sunday. Her shots sent the men fleeing in such a panic that they literally tripped over each other trying to exit the store, KTLA reports.

In fact, the would-be robbers were in such a frenzy from her gunfire that their white getaway SUV actually left three of the suspects behind. They were later picked up [by the SUV] roughly a block and a half away.

Few are aware that it's not uncommon for citizens to defend themselves successfully with guns, as John R. Lott has cataloged; in his 1998 book More Guns, Less Crime, he estimated (p.19) between 760,000 and 3.6 million defensive gun uses per year; that number must surely have grown significantly in the intervening fourteen years. (The book was updated in 2010 and may have more recent estimates than our old copy.)

As a matter of fact, the day after this incident, yet another jewery store owner a few blocks away in Westminster shot a would-be armed robber in his face. (The police think the Westminster thieves might be the same ones the Garden-Grove police failed to apprehend the day before.)

Police determined that both store owners acted in self defense; nevertheless, they have a tut-tutting word of advice:

[The Garden Grove police] caution store owners about defending themselves with guns.

What should we use -- Nerf balls? Wham-O Air Blasters? I guess they mean we should submit meekly and hope that help arrives in time. But as the expression goes, "When seconds count, police are just minutes away!"

Hatched by Sachi on this day, August 3, 2012, at the time of 7:26 PM | Comments (0)

July 22, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises, the Media Fall

Media Madness
Hatched by Korso

So almost immediately in the aftermath of the movie theater shootings in Colorado. ABC chief investigative reporter Brian Ross suggested a link between the alleged gunman James Holmes and the Tea Party Movement. Of course, it didn't take long to figure out that the "Jim Holmes" Ross found on a Tea Party website wasn't the same guy who shot up the theater -- but by then the meme had already been established, and the talking heads of the MSM were in full lip flapping mode: It's the gun culture! It's Rush Limbaugh's fault!

If none of this sounds familiar, it should. Much the same thing happened in the hours after the Gabby Giffords shootings last year -- and it was as boneheaded then as it is now.

The Baltimore Sun has a pretty decent takedown of this ugly episode, but it misses the larger point of how a so-called professional news organization like ABC could get suckered into making such a rookie mistake. That's because what Ross did wasn't a mistake -- it was a deliberate act, and one which had very little to do with being the first to get a big scoop.

The truth is that the MSM have been trying to nail the Tea Party from the very beginning, branding it as violent and racist even though they have no evidence to back up either claim. Compare that to the kid-gloves treatment given to the Occupy movement, which has been rife with actual violence and racism, and you'll notice the pattern. The left, it seems, can't get bad publicity even when it tries.

Which brings us back to Brian Ross and ABC news. They made an assumption about the Colorado shooter and then hoped that the facts would eventually bear them out. They reported it the way they did because they wanted it to be true. And when it turned out to be false? Meh, no big deal. Maybe we'll get them next time.

That's the kind of thing that should get a reporter fired.

Alas, that's not how the modern newsroom works. And the MSM wonder why nobody believes them anymore.

Hatched by Korso on this day, July 22, 2012, at the time of 9:34 AM | Comments (1)

July 1, 2012

Afghan Meadows Massacre - a Nonupdate Update

Afghan Astonishments , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

Readers no doubt recall the mysterious case of the American soldier in Afghanistan -- now identified as Staff Sgt. Robert Bales (one of the "nonupdate updates") -- who is alleged by various tribesmen in a Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan to have strolled off base one day and gone on a murder spree, killing seventeen innocent civilians -- the charge now reduced to sixteen (the only other nonupdate update to this story) -- including nine children.

The posts on Big Lizards were:

My conclusion was simply that so far, the only evidence we have of such a massacre comes from sources that are questionable at best -- and at worst, smack of "dawa," the Arabic word meaning to advance the cause of jihad by means other than actual force of arms. Among the most powerful weapons of dawa is "lawfare," using the laws of a nation that is not a radical Islamist state to further the cause of jihad... that is, suing and prosecuting a State into sharia. As the National Review's Andrew McCarthy puts it:

The purpose of dawa, like the purpose of jihad, is to implement, spread, and defend sharia. Scholar Robert Spencer incisively refers to dawa practices as “stealth jihad,” the advancement of the sharia agenda through means other than violence and agents other than terrorists. These include extortion, cultivation of sympathizers in the media and the universities, exploitation of our legal system and tradition of religious liberty, infiltration of our political system, and fundraising. This is why Yusuf Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and the world’s most influential Islamic cleric, boldly promises that Islam will “conquer America” and “conquer Europe” through dawa. [Emphasis added. -- DaH]

The best recent example of lawfare was the bizarre case of the Flying Imams, a group of six radical-Islamist religious leaders. On November 20th, 2006, they deliberately exhibited very suspicious, provacative, and frightening behavior at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, both before and after boarding a plane to Phoenix.

Before the flight took off, the (nonflying) imams were removed from the airplane due to passenger complaints and crew observations. The imams later sued the airline, airport officials, and even passengers. The cowardly airline ultimately settled the case; action against the passengers was eventually dropped, but only after Congress passed a bill giving immunity to passengers who report suspicious behavior in airports on aboard a flight. Nevetheless, many security experts believe that the Flying Imams' act of "lawfare" created a chilling effect, making it more difficult for passengers or airliner crews to report similar incidents, because of the fear of being labeled a bigot and being sued into oblivion by well-funded Islamists.

Back to the present case. I do not know whether this particular alleged "massacre" in Afghanistan occurred; but whether it did or didn't, the pursuit of the story has been a prime instance of dawa. Its purpose, for the American news media as well as their likely Taliban-supporting elocutioners, is to debase and demoralize the American military in Afghanistan and elsewhere; to discourage continued U.S. resistance to Taliban rule; and -- I believe -- to give moral cover to Barack "Big Stick" Obama's purblind diplomatic disaster of inviting the Taliban to rejoin the Afghan government as a "partner in peace."

Here is how I concluded each post, starting with Afghan Meadows Massacre - or Haditha Redux?:

Maybe I'm jaded, but color me skeptical. It may well turn out to be every bit as horrific and shameful to America as the media gleefully report; accuracy is always a possibility, no matter how out of character that would be. But that's not how initial reports of similar incomprehensible, "American-caused" massacres have generally fared when exposed to the light of actual evidence dredged up by a thorough and complete investigation.

Let's sit tight and wait to see what the evidence actually shows before belly-flopping, yet again, upon the American military.

Addendum to Afghan Meadows Massacre - or Haditha Redux?:

The only thing that's missing -- so far! -- is a John Kerry or a John Murtha to spray the atrocity charges through government organs, amplifying and adding piquant inventions of his own; thus crystalizing the accusation as "historical fact," despite a complete lack of impartial investigation up to this point. So far, the Left hasn't picked it up, perhaps because it can't help but reflect badly on the One; thank goodness for small crumbs!

If the man actually committed the heinous acts the Afghans accuse him of, in the manner of the media narrative, then he should be hanged. (Note that the "narrative" includes the fact or factoid that he walked back to the base and "turned himself in," which would imply knowledge of guilt; so he can't get away with an insanity plea.) But do we really know whether this is true yet? If so, then how do we know, based on what?

This is why I have always maintained (usually the lone voice crying in the wilderness) that of the three classical pillars of philosophy -- metaphysics (what we know), ethics (what we do about what we know), and epistemology (how we know what we know) -- the most urgent, and most quickly forgotten, is the last.

It should be clear that Big Lizards has not prejudged the case in either direction; my point was that the mainstream media unquestionably has done exactly that. As I began the first piece:

An American staff sergeant has just been indicted, tried, convicted, and condemned for a horrific massacre in Afghanistan; the court was the mainstream media -- which also served as judge, jury, and sentencing panel. Such Obamic efficiency; such economy of deliberation!

And thereby hangs a tail.

But I had heard absolutely nothing more about this case in the three and a half months intervening. It dropped completely off the media radar. When commenter Baggi asked me if I'd seen an update, I actually had to do a Google news search to find anything at all.

All that I found was a minor piece from PMSNBC on June 1st, to the effect that one count of murder against SSGT Bales was dropped, while another count of assault was added. (For this momentous announcement, they needed an entire article.)

So the answer to my commenter's question is -- No, there are no real updates. We still don't know whether there is any evidence other that the claim made by Afghans and likely Taliban sympathizers; we still don't know what the defendant claims; we still don't know whether there was provocation; we still don't know whether there is even a serious investigation, beyond taking the word of Afghan tribesmen.

We do know the news media appear to have dropped the story in the meanwhile... unlike similar charges made during, as a certain Stick keeps saying, "the previous administration." I must conclude that a sense of urgency about such "atrocities" may be lacking, say for the past three-plus years. Evidently, the story is not yet ripe; the antique media believes it can wait until, say, November 7th or later to pick up the threads and examine the incident in detail. (By universal Democratic Party and media assent, that date has been dubbed "Cut-Loose Day.")

Meanwhile, nothing to see here, let's all just move on; we have dogs to annoy, jobs to outsource, and haircuts to administer.

So it goes.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 1, 2012, at the time of 3:25 PM | Comments (2)

June 24, 2012

The Times, They Ain't a-Changing: Why the N.Y. Times Is No Longer a Real Newspaper

Media Madness , Nile Nuttery
Hatched by Dafydd

At some point in the distant past, I'm sure the New York Times must have rightly been considered a real newspaper, if not a great one. It still brags of being "America's newspaper of record," serving up "all the news that's fit to print," according to their pompous and self-delusional motto.

But the rag long ago ceased even to pretend to objectivity or journalistic integrity; over the decades, it twisted itself into nought but a mouthpiece megaphone for millionaire liberals, retweeting any cockamamie policy pronunciamento issuing from the current leaders of the Democratic Party. (Which, for many years now, has generally been the most ideologically radical-Left branch of that party.)

The Times has become Garrett Morris on the old Saturday Night Live, cupping his hands and bellowing -- for the supposed benefit of hearing-impaired viewers -- "OUR TOP STORY TONIGHT...!"

But what could have happened to bring that East-Coast bundle of pulp paper and squid ink to such a sorry state? Here, Exhibit A: The Times' fawning, hagiographic "report" on the ascension of Islamist Mohamed Morsi, long the number-two policy maker in the Muslim Brotherhood, to the presidency of Egypt. The article spans three screens of webness -- yet never once gets around to analyzing what the Brotherhood is and what sort of government it demands.

Readers know they're in trouble from the very first words of this piece of -- of journalistic malpractice:

Egypt’s military rulers on Sunday officially recognized Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood as the winner of Egypt’s first competitive presidential election, handing the Islamists both a symbolic triumph and a potent weapon in their struggle for power against the country’s senior generals.

Mr. Morsi, 60, an American-trained engineer and a former Egyptian lawmaker, is the first Islamist elected as head of an Arab state. But 16 months after the military took over at the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, Mr. Morsi’s victory is an ambiguous milestone in Egypt’s promised transition to democracy.

Why an "ambiguous" milestone? Is the Times going to tell us that Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood support and abet terrorist bombings in order to bring about a radical-Islamist theocracy, as in Iran? That it calls for a Sharia-based theocracy to rule Egypt? That is has threatened to renege on the Camp David Accords, which ended (everyone thought) the multidecadal war between Egypt and Israel? No; the Times has in mind a very different impediment to true democracy:

After a week of doubts, delays and fears of a coup since a public ballot count showed Mr. Morsi ahead, the generals have showed a measure of respect for some core elements of electoral democracy -- they have accepted a political opponent over their ally, former Gen. Ahmed Shafik, after a vote that international monitors said was credible.

Boiled down, the editors and writers at the Times were terrified that those rightwing generals would snuff out the flame of freedom being unleashed by the radical Islamists in the Muslim Brotherhood. But the military failed to attempt the expected coup d'état... what a relief! Now we'll have heaven on Earth in the Middle East!

This paragraph sets the tone for the rest of the article, casting Mohamed Morsi in the role of William Wallace from Mel Gibson's Braveheart, revolting against a brutal military dictatorship, yet demanding only freedom, civil liberties, and the impartial rule of law. The generals who have ruled Egypt since former president and dictator Hosni Mubarik was ousted are the bad guys, you see -- which of course they are. But, reasons the Times (though I use "reasoned" advisedly), if the generals are bad guys, then surely their enemies, the Muslim Brothers, must be the good guys! Why, they can't both be bad guys; that wouldn't make sense.

That is, it wouldn't make sense to an adolescent mind simmered in the witches brew of pop-culture dualism, which fairly describes the typical New-York liberal: Bad guys are opposed by good guys; it follows that the enemy of my enemy must be my brother... or in this case, my Muslim Brother.

Throughout the piece, Morsi and the top ranks of the Jamʿiyyat al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin (a.k.a., the Muslim Brotherhood), including Morsi's mentor, Khairat el-Shater, are invariably referred to as leaders, democratically elected, discriminated against, yearning only for the freedom to practice their own religion; while those who oppose the Ikhwan, theocracy, radical Islamism, honor killings, and the like receive instead epithets such as rulers, dictators, and strongmen. The Ikhwan are portrayed like unto the patriotic, colonial American Congress, struggling against the wicked and arbitrary dictatorship of King George III; this election is the Nile equivalent of the American Revolutionary War; and Morsi is George Washington.

The reality is more ambiguous and shady and far less black and white.

(When liberals rail against the "black and white thinking" of the Right, they are projecting their own foibles upon their disputants. The Right, not the Left, is better able to distinguish shades of gray and even color, rather than see a stark contrast between good and evil -- the "1% vs. the 99%," for one glaring and very current example.)

Flushed down the memory hole is the inconvenient truth that the Ikhwan was founded in 1928 as a fascist militant organization fighting against British rule of Egypt; since then, it has frequently denounced in words, yet equally frequently embraced in deeds, terrorism, authoritarianism, perpetual and unnecessary war, endless assassinations, extortion, bribery, and brutal, Quran-based totalitarianism. It has also spawned many murderous terrorist offshoots (spiritually, politically, or both), including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and al-Qaeda. Bin Laden complained that the Ikhwan's principles were sound, but they weren't ruthless enough in execution.

Typically, angry and aggrieved Moslems join the Ikhwan, become thoroughly radicalized and Islamisized, then become impatient and found their own, more violent organizations; Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's former Number Two and now likely the spiritual leader (and still at large), exemplifies this pattern.

The Wikipedia article on the MB is somewhat tepid, attempting to be non-judgmental; but even so, it cannot help but note a few facts that seem to have flown below the New York Times' radar:

The Brotherhood's credo was and is, "God is our objective; the Quran is our law, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of God is the highest of our aspirations." The Brotherhood's English language website describes the "principles of the Muslim Brotherhood" as including firstly the introduction of the Islamic Shari`ah as "the basis controlling the affairs of state and society;" and secondly work to unify "Islamic countries and states, mainly among the Arab states, and liberating them from foreign imperialism".

Note that by "foreign imperialism," they do not merely mean occupation by other nations; they apply the same label to anyone, even a native, who is insufficiently radical in his Islamism, or who has too great a committment to true democracy, to individual liberty, to Capitalism, or to religious freedom. If the Ikhwan ever gets enough votes to fully control Egypt, look for that election to be the last they ever see, or at least the last free and fair election. Once the Muslim Brotherhood scales the heights, they'll pull the ladder up behind them.

They also fundamentally reject freedom of the press; the Ikhwan believe that the only rightly-guided purpose of the press is to indoctrinate all in the ways of the Quran and how to implement them in sharia law... a point the Times might consider and reconsider as it cheers on the Brotherhood's mounting success.

And of course, the Ikhwan also believes in dissembling about its real beliefs, like Yasser Arafat, the Brotherhood uses the hoary, old, but repeatedly effective PLO trick of disseminating an English-language version of its charter -- full of paeons to Western freedoms -- while keeping the true, Arabic-language version hidden away from Western eyes, and stuffed chock-a-block with repression, violence, hatred, racism, terrorism, and absolute intolerance.

Speaking of which, here is Muslim Brotherhood spokesman, Dr. Mohamed El-Sayed Habib, First Deputy of the Chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood, interviewed on Ikhwanweb, the official website of the Ikhwan; he enunciates the party line in the FAQ:

We believe that the political reform is the true and natural gateway for all other kinds of reform. We have announced our acceptance of democracy that acknowledges political pluralism, the peaceful rotation of power and the fact that the nation is the source of all powers. As we see it, political reform includes the termination of the state of emergency, restoring public freedoms, including the right to establish political parties, whatever their tendencies may be, and the freedom of the press, freedom of criticism and thought, freedom of peaceful demonstrations, freedom of assembly, etc.

How freedom-minded of them! But Habib continues in the same question:

It also includes the dismantling of all exceptional courts and the annulment of all exceptional laws, establishing the independence of the judiciary, enabling the judiciary to fully and truly supervise general elections so as to ensure that they authentically express people’s will, removing all obstacles that restrict the functioning of civil society organizations, etc.

Somehow that lofty pronouncement seems to be in a bit of tension with the Ikhwan's stated goal of enshrining Sharia law as "the basis controlling the affairs of state and society." That is to say, turning Egypt into a totalitarian theocracy run of, by, and for militant radical Islamists -- where everybody else is relegated to the second-class status of dhimmi; where women can be slain out of hand by their fathers or husbands for any insult to the family honor, real or imagined; where the charge of takfir (un-Moslem), true or false, opens the accused to penalties ranging from looting his assets to torture to slavery to summary execution by stoning; where infidels are without rights in their own lands -- and where "infidel" can mean little more than supporting a different sect of radical Islamism than the leaders support; and where one and only one religion is given dominion over the people -- certainly appears to be a prime example of "exceptional laws," and Sharia courts are hardly a bastion of an independent judiciary.

Yet the Times has discover none of this; or else, having discovered it, has quickly disowned it, blotted it out, as conflicting with the pre-cooked narrative, "the way things ought to be." They stubbornly persist in seeing the world through a prism of good liberals, such as Mohamed Morsi, Khairat el-Shater, and Dr. Habib, engaged in eternal struggle against wicked tyrants, bandits, fraudsters, "patriots," and religious fanatics -- such as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI, 80%), the Koch brothers, and Soon-to-Be-President Mitt Romney.

It is for that utter blindness to any fact that fails to fit -- hence is not "fit to print" -- that thinking people on both Left and Right have abandoned the pinched and drained paper of Pinch Sulzberger. They are now demanding, typically from online news sources, something, anything, with more depth and breadth, sophisticated news analysis, and a relatively unbiased outlook than has been found in the Times for donkeys' years.

Something like, say, Highlights, or the Weekly Reader.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 24, 2012, at the time of 9:48 PM | Comments (0)

June 11, 2012

How's the Economy? Minder Your Own Business!

Democratic Culture of Corruption , Media Madness , Speech, Speech!
Hatched by Dafydd

Anybody remember the "minders" in Saddam Hussein's Iraq? They were government officials always standing just out of camera range during press interviews with ordinary Iraqis, observing hawklike everything was said shown. Any anti-Hussein or pro-democracy sentiment that popped up, the minders would immediately stop the interview and order the news team not to broadcast, write about, or otherwise relay that information (and generally "disappear" the interviewee); if the journalists refused to comply -- or if they pretended to comply and later broadcast it anyway -- that news agency was banned from reporting within Iraq.

But the most shameful aspect of the Iraqi minders was... news agencies agreed to those conditions and didn't even alert viewers or readers; the producers and talking heads were so greedy for access, they passively accepted Iraqi government censorship -- turning ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post, AP, Reuters, AFP, and hundreds of other broadcasters and newspapers into de facto mouthpieces for the Butcher of Baghdad, for the privilege of visiting Iraq to prance and preen and strut their celebrity before the world.

(The fledgling Fox News, to its astonishing credit -- and one maor reason its credibility and viewership grew exponentially during the late 1990s -- refused to cooperate with this fraud; it smuggled raw footage out of Iraq that the minders had banned and even managed to conduct interviews without any minders at all. For their courage, they were the first American news agency banned from Iraq. Eventually, nearly all of them were, but not until all the rest had convicted themselves of poltroonery, ignominy, and infamy.)

Well... it appears that Marx was slightly wrong when he opined that history repeats itself twice, first as tragedy, then as farce. In this case, the Obama administration skipped the tragedy stop entirely and went directly to the end-of-the-line farce:

The Labor Department has backed off a plan to force news agencies to use government-issued computers and other equipment to report on jobless reports and other key economic data, following a GOP-led House hearing this week, according to several published reports. [Actually, they just moved the start date back; so far as I can see, they still plan to do it. -- DaH]

Agency officials have said they want reporters who analyze, then write about economic reports inside their so-called “lock up” room to use U.S. computers, software and Internet lines so the government can further protect against such potential security breaches as hacking.

But the plan also resulted in cries about potential free-speech violations and the government now having computer access to news agencies.

I think I understand: The administration simply wants to "mind" what every economic reporter at the Labor Department writes -- just to make sure no secret data is leaked, of course; and also to ensure that these reporters don't "hack"... what, the Bureau of Labor Statistics databases?

Heavens, what's all the fuss? All that Barack "Big Stick" Obama and ultraliberal, unionista Labor Secretary Hilda Solis want is the ability to review reporters' stories before they're transmitted to the news agencies and make tiny changes... just to correct the record, of course. And to prevent sabotage, false reporting, and defamation of the government at such a crucial moment in the fierce urgency of now.

What could possibly go wrong?

"This proposal threatens the First Amendment," Bloomberg News Executive Editor Dan Moss said during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing. "The government would literally open the reporters’ notebooks."

First Amendment, shmerst amendment; we all need to speak with one voice to avoid destructive partisanship. And destructive debate, contrarian contamination, and free-market folderol. If these reporters were patriotic Americans, why should they mind being restricted to using federal-government computers to write their stories? Why all the conspiracy mongering?

Sidebar: My wife Sachi works for the federal government. Her work computer is directly connected to the Department of Defense server.

So long as Sachi's computer is physically connected to the base intranet, the IT department -- or anyone up the chain working through the IT department -- can turn her computer on or off, read any or all of the files, modify any or all files, create and delete files, install or uninstall any programs, and in fact, can simply take control of the computer and do anything IT wants. "Sachi's" computer is actually the federal government's computer, and it can monitor, alter, or take control whenever it chooses, without even telling her. (Many times she has come back from a business trip and found files, folders, and even entire applications removed or replaced -- and all her passwords deactivated, until she laboriously resets them. That's life in Big Government.)

I am quite certain that the computers in the Labor Department's "lock up" room -- the computers that Obama and Solis would require reporters to use to write and transmit their stories -- are connected to the DoL server in exactly the same way that Sachi's computer is connected to the DoD server.

What could possibly go wrong?

I suggest that Big Stick Obama had better tread softly while trampling out freedom of the press (but he won't): He has already lost much of Big Labor (the Keystone pipeline, throwing Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett under the Wisconsin bus); the enviro-mental cases (treating Rio-2012 like it was just a street party, failing to implement carbon-trading or ban fracking, talking up nuclear power); the Center-Left (national-security leaking, destruction of our energy resources, foolhardy foreign policy); the anti-American, pro-radical-Islamist Left (failing to close Guantanamo Bay, continuing to fight the Iraq and Afghanistan wars -- however fecklessly -- and not giving Khalid Sheikh Mohammed a civilian trial); and independents (ultra-partisanship, race war, telling fairy tales about the American economy while flushing trillions of dollars down the sewer).

If the president loses what used to be called the mainstream media, who will be left to claim that Obama can cool the Earth, heal the sick, and order the tides in and out?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 11, 2012, at the time of 12:29 AM | Comments (2)

May 16, 2012

The Five Top Priorities That Shook the Times

Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

The New York Times leads off this Obamic puff-piece with flare and drama:

President Obama is hawking his five-point “to-do list” of proposals he would like to see Congress enact this year, just as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle appear to be digging in for another big showdown over the federal budget.

Now riddle me this: What should logically, journalistically follow in the very next graf? What would any professional journalist write? Or any kid just out of J-school? Heck, what would any pajama-wearing blogger write next?

I maintain the next statement should clearly be: "The president called for Congress to act on priority 1, priority 2, priority 3, priority 4, and priority 5" -- substituting the actual priorities that President Barack "Big Stick" Obama specified, of course.

Too bad the Times doesn't hire any journalists.

To be perfectly fair, the article does at least hint at one of those priorities in the next paragraph:

The president, meeting with Republican and Democratic leaders over lunch at the White House on Wednesday, is pushing Congress to approve a proposal to help small businesses that hire additional workers.

But that's it; that's all we get of Big Stick's vaunted list of five top priorities. No other proposals, not even a hint of a whisper of what else el Jefe demands of our other elected respresentatives. No policies, plans, or pronunciamentos; no offerings or observations. No other piece of legislation. If one gets one's news from the New York Times, 80% of Obama's top five priorities for his alleged second term is a deep, dark mystery.

Or make that 100%, since the paper doesn't even elucidate how, exactly, he wants to "help" small businesses. Tax breaks? Federal contracts? Stimulus grants? Suspending noisome regulations? Inviting them to have a hoagie with the One?

Could it be -- now I know the Times is a reputable newspaper, and surely such manipulation would be beneath its dignity -- but could it possibly be that the rest of the top priorities are such small ball, even compared to the one trivial proposal we get to see, that the New York Times editors realize listing them would only diminish President B.O. even more than he already has? In the teeth of America's greatest post-World War II fiscal crisis, the One We Are Still Waiting For has become the incredible shrinking POTUS.

Other than running interference for the Big Schtick, the only other explanation I can imagine is an eruption of sheer, molten incompetence. Like, you know, the Times was going to list them, but it forgot.

I refuse to accept what that would imply; I cannot imagine that anyone could believe that America's newspaper of record, whose very motto is "all the news that's fit to print," would in reality be a worthless, amateurish, subliterate, biased, toadying, dishonest rag fit only for aging leftist stoners and adolescent, Occupier-catering, ideological self-abusers.

Can you?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 16, 2012, at the time of 3:05 PM | Comments (4)

May 14, 2012

Am I Hallucinating? Again?

Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

Newsqueak has proudly dubbed Barack "Big Stick" Obama America's first gay president.

No, really.

Now, I understand la Rive Gauche calling Billery Clinton America's first black president; since it's patently obvious that Clinton is not actually black, everyone took it as a metaphor that meant Clinton grew up with many of the same culture and deprivations that liberals imagine all blacks endure.

But calling someone "gay" is very different from calling a white man black or a black man white; because sexual orientation is not generally obvious at a glance, more idiots will take Newsweek's cover literally than ever took the Clinton claim literally. Bluntly put, hundreds of thousands, even millions of potential voters who see -- or hear through the grapevine about -- the absurd claim will believe that Barack H. Obama is actually homosexual.

That's simply the nature of stupidity, and a population of 310 million necessarily includes an awful lot of stupid people.

Does Newsweek or the Left or even Obama himself think this will improve his vote on November 6th?

Heck, I don't even think the similar claim about Clinton helped him; I suspect being so strongly identified with one out of many minority races hurt Clinton at the polls, just as Obama's relentless support for blacks over everybody else hurts him at the polls.

But if now they ladle yet another outré, bizarre label over Obama's head -- America's first gay president! -- won't that help him to lose marginal states even faster than will his mere support for same-sex marriage? Did Andrew Sullivan and Tina Brown think they were doing the Occupier of la Casa Blanca a blasted favor?

Are the Left utter fools? Or perhaps they have simply abandoned the Obama experiment and switched back to their own agenda... at President B.O.'s expense.

Big Lizards: Speaking the unspeakable for over 705 years!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 14, 2012, at the time of 2:41 PM | Comments (4)

May 13, 2012

A Tale of Two Job Markets - Obamic Optimists vs. Responsible Realists

Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

According to the Associated Press, the job market this year for recent college graduates is simply booming! Clearly, the economic policies of President Barack "Big Stick" Obama are finally succeeding, and only a lunatic would even consider ousting him in favor of that dour economic fool and former high-school tormentor and bully, Mitt Romney:

The class of 2012 is leaving college with something that many graduates since the start of the Great Recession have lacked: jobs.

To the relief of graduating seniors - and their anxious parents - the outlook is brighter than it has been in four years. Campus job fairs were packed this spring and more companies are hiring. Students aren't just finding good opportunities, some are weighing multiple offers....

On campuses across the country, spirits are more upbeat this spring, and the employment outlook is especially promising, according to interviews with three dozen seniors and career center directors.

"It's just been such a dramatic change from what we saw in 2008," says Mercy Eyadiel, who oversees career development at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. Back then, openings disappeared overnight and companies were calling recent graduates to rescind offers. "It was a very bad, ugly situation."

Darn that George W. Bush!

On the other hand, according to the Associated Press, the job market this year for recent college graduates is still horrific, with more than 50% unemployed or underemployed; for the latter, although they are technically employed, it's not in a job that takes advantage of their degree, nor are they making anywhere near as much in constant dollars as recent graduates did a decade ago. Clearly, the economic policies of the Big Stick are failing miserably; only a lunatic would consider giving him another four years in which to muck up the economy so badly, we might never recover:

The college class of 2012 is in for a rude welcome to the world of work.

A weak labor market already has left half of young college graduates either jobless or underemployed in positions that don't fully use their skills and knowledge.

Young adults with bachelor's degrees are increasingly scraping by in lower-wage jobs — waiter or waitress, bartender, retail clerk or receptionist, for example — and that's confounding their hopes a degree would pay off despite higher tuition and mounting student loans....

About 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor's degree-holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or underemployed, the highest share in at least 11 years. In 2000, the share was at a low of 41 percent, before the dot-com bust erased job gains for college graduates in the telecommunications and IT fields.

Out of the 1.5 million who languished in the job market, about half were underemployed, an increase from the previous year.

Darn that Barack H. Obama!

Alas for Obama's Happy-Pill Warriors, a recent study at Rutgers University comes down decisively on the more pessimistic side of this epic AP on AP battle:

Just half of the college students who graduated during the Great Recession and its aftermath currently have full-time jobs, a new report says.

The survey, called "Chasing the American Dream: Recent College Graduates and the Great Recession" and conducted by Rutgers University’s John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, spoke to 444 people who graduated from college between 2006 and 2011.

Fifty-one percent of respondents had full-time jobs, the survey found, and 20 percent were in graduate school. Part-time workers made up 12 percent, while 11 percent were unemployed.

Of those employed, 36 percent say their current job is just to get by, while 30 percent are on their career path. The median starting salary for the whole group is $28,000, though those graduating from 2009 to 2011 made $3,000 less on average than their pre-recession counterparts.

Student loan debt in 2010 exceeded the amount that Americans owed on credit cards, topping $1 trillion, the report said. Nearly six in 10 students surveyed borrowed from a government program or private banking institution, and the median debt was $20,000 -- enough to force more than a quarter of respondents to live with their parents or relatives.

Surprise!

Progressivists will note that this study ran from 2009 to 2011, while the first AP story is talking about this year's graduates, as if that makes all the difference. Obamunism is roaring!

Is it possible there has been a huge but hitherto undetected surge in employment prospects for the class of 2012? It's hard to tell: First, such crosstabs, as they're called in the biz, aren't usually available until months after the original Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) survey; and second, the class of 2012 hasn't even graduated yet.

However, we can take a look at some proxy measurements from the BLS. Consider table 10 (unpublished) by the BLS, quoted by Curran Career Consulting:

Unemployment rate for bachelors’ degree college graduates under the age of 25 was 6.4% in April, 2012 vs. 6.7% in April, 2011 vs. 7.5% in April, 2010 vs. 6.1% in April, 2009 vs. 3% in April, 2008, a 113% increase over the past four years.

That would be a 113% increase in unemployment among recent grads from the end of the Bush administration to what we all hope is the end of the Obama administration. So Mercy Eyadiel in the first quote above is correct: It certainly is "such a dramatic change from what we saw in 2008;" the 2012 college graduate unemployment rate is double what it was back then!

So yes, the job market is not quite as dismal as it was in the depths of the Obama recession; on the other hand, unemployment among recent college graduates is still, as of last month, more than twice the rate it was in 2008, Bush's last year in office.

The discrepency in reporting almost makes me think AP has gone into full campaign mode.

Too, much of the recent "drop" in overall unemployment has been caused, not by an improving job market, but rather by more workers becoming discouraged and exiting the job market (which removes them from the official unemployment statistics), as even the Obama administration is forced to admit. Among recent college graduates, we see a corresponding behavior pattern:

  • Graduate;
  • Hunt for job;
  • Fail to find anything better than grocery-store bagger or waiter;
  • Make courageous decision to head back into university for graduate degree;
  • ...While Mom and Dad pay for it all. (It's a more dignified version of moving back home.)

This has the same effect as older workers becoming discouraged and ceasing to look for work; it takes them out of the category of unemployed or underemployed, even if their major is one that won't be marketable even with a PhD. It's not that there are more people working, it's just that the labor pool is now smaller than before. But the unemployment rate drops, giving Team Forward a nice talking point for the reelection; and after all, that's what really counts.

The AP "happytalk" story doesn't even address the situation of "desperation grad-school," nor the chronic underemployment and mounting indebtedness of our recent graduates; those points do not constitute the story they want to tell. So expect months more of "it's morning in America!" ads... at least until Wednesday, November 7th, when reporting abruptly becomes more responsible, as they no longer have anything important to lose, like an election.

(The antique media no longer attaches any importance to "credibility," so that loss doesn't count.)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 13, 2012, at the time of 3:59 PM | Comments (1)

April 16, 2012

Scandal, Egads - Scandal!

Media Madness , Military Machinations
Hatched by Dafydd

 

Soldiers...

 

...Hiring hookers...

 

 

...It's the most unheard-of thing

I ever heard of
!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 16, 2012, at the time of 6:14 PM | Comments (1)

April 2, 2012

We Have Nothing to Jeer But Smear Itself

Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

And this one goes so over the top, stretching so far beyond the apogee of reality's rubber band, that it's already snapping back in NBC's corporate face like the hammer of God.

A few days ago, NBC's Today Show broadcast the audio of one of George Zimmerman's cell calls to the coppers, shortly before he ended up face-up on the sidewalk with a split lip and broken head -- and his seeming assailant, Trayvon Martin, ended up face-down and dying of a point-blank gunshot wound. Remember, the question is whether Zimmerman was acting in self defense, or whether he was a violent racist hell-bent on killing a black man for daring to be in the wrong neighborhood.

Here is the critical moment from the call as NBC -- one of the "big three" networks -- broadcast it:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.

Wow, could one imagine a more damning statement? Clearly Zimmerman was so deeply racist that the mere fact that Martin "look[ed] black" was enough for Zimmerman to conclude that he was "up to no good!" As any fool can see, Martin was unlucky enough to run into yet another armed, racist white guy. (All right, armed, racist "white-Hispanic," whatever that is; but it's the thought that counts.)

Except...

It turns out that NBC, how to put this delicately, slightly edited the actual audio recording. Just because of time factors, of course; the complete transmission from Zimmerman was simply too darned long to squeeze into the audio-clip for the Today Show.

Just for the completists among us, those who don't understand what is important and what trivial, here is full transcript of that moment on the phone between Zimmerman and the police dispatcher:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.

Dispatcher: OK, and this guy -- is he black, white or Hispanic?

Zimmerman: He looks black.

The lines in italic are those that NBC simply had to leave on the cutting-room floor; no time, no time! Alas, telling viewers that this recording was edited would also have taken up time; so transparency was right out as well. Time, time, time!

Oddly, however, the full version doesn't quite seem to make the same narrative point as the tighter, edited version. Say... I reckon that would be yet another reason for snipping those twenty-five completely unnecessary words. Son of a gun!

But that's why we have editors, don'tcha know.

.
.
.

Is it just me, or does it seem like the Left is barely even trying these days? What will they offer tomorrow: "The dog ate my audio?"

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 2, 2012, at the time of 3:19 AM | Comments (2)

March 21, 2012

Exploring the Limits of Newsy Nonpartisanship

Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

So I start reading this APNews (pronounced "ape-news," I think) article about a new clue to the disappearance of Amelia Earhart -- digital analysis of a 1937 photo shows what could be part of Earhart's Lockheed Electra; but midway through, the subject of the piece changes abruptly and mysteriously.

The piece starts out fine:

A new clue in one of the 20th century's most enduring mysteries could soon uncover the fate of American aviator Amelia Earhart, who went missing without a trace over the South Pacific 75 years ago, investigators said Tuesday.

Enhanced analysis of a photograph taken just months after Earhart's Lockheed Electra plane vanished shows what experts think may be the landing gear of the aircraft protruding from the waters off the remote island of Nikumaroro, in what is now the Pacific nation of Kiribati, they said.

The story continues in this vein... until paragraph twelve (of eighteen). Then the first discordant note sounds:

"If you ever want a case of finding a needle in a haystack, this is at the top of the list," he at [sic] a State Department event where Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood gave their support and encouragement to the privately financed project.

Clinton? LaHood? What on Earth do they have to do with Amelia Earhart? I don't think either one could tell an aileron from an altimeter. Nevertheless, the next six paragraphs are all about -- you guessed it! -- Hillary Rodham Clinton.

We discover that "Hell to Pay" Hillary hails "Earhart as an inspiration to Americans in difficult times;" that she considers Earhart "a [sic again] unlikely heroine for a nation down on its luck;" that "after a long decade of war, terrorism and recession, there are some who are asking whether we still have what it takes to lead." Blast that Bush!

But like Franklin Roosevelt, she reassures us that "we can be as optimistic and even audacious as Amelia Earhart;" and despite the Obama administration's stubborn refusal to enact an official Amelia-Earhart policy, Hillary Clinton "cheered the searchers on" nevertheless.

In her concluding remarks, the entirety of which appears to have been shoehorned into the story, she pulls out all the stops of her campaign speech:

"Even if you do not find what you seek, there is great honor and possibility in the search itself," she said. "So, like our lost heroine, you will all carry our hopes ... We are excited and looking forward to hear about your own great adventure."

The story has morphed, willy nilly, into a rousing paean to Hillary Regina... inexplicably prefaced by some maunderings about a wayward pilot. Can the Ass. Press get any more subtle than that?

Great Honk, must every "news" story between now and November 6th be recast as a commercial for Obama's reelection -- or for Hillary's inevitable ascension from the tomb of 2008 to the opalescence of the Oval Office?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 21, 2012, at the time of 2:25 AM | Comments (2)

March 12, 2012

Addendum to Afghan Meadows Massacre - or Haditha Redux?

Afghan Astonishments , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

Anent our previous post, here's my problem in a more succinct nutbag. American military spokespeople are saying this:

Two U.S. defense officials said an investigation has been started by the Army Criminal Investigation Division, but that it was too soon to say when any charges might be filed. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the issue. Army officials are reviewing his complete deployment and medical history, the congressional source said.

Seems like our military officials want to look into the accusations a little less cursorily before dragging an American soldier (or soldiers) before the bar. But the American (?) news media, from AP to the New York Times to television networks, are saying this:

A young Afghan man recounted on Monday the harrowing scene in his home as a lone U.S. soldier moved stealthily through it during a killing spree, then crouched down and shot his father in the thigh as he emerged from the bedroom in the deep of night....

"He was walking around taking up positions in the house - in two or three places like he was searching," said 26-year-old witness Mohammad Zahir, who watched the gunman while hiding in another room. "He was on his knees when he shot my father" in the thigh, he told The Associated Press. His father was wounded but survived.... [Do we know for certain he is actually a witness? -- DaH]

Zahir described the scene that unfolded when the assailant came to his house before dawn....

The motives of the shooter and most details about him, including his name, are still not known....

The soldier was not assigned to a special operations unit and has no special operations training, Cummings said.

He attacked two small villages very close to his base in southern Kandahar province. An enraged Karzai called it "an assassination, an intentional killing of innocent civilians" that cannot be forgiven. He demanded an explanation from Washington....

From Balandi, the gunman walked roughly one mile to the village of Alkozai, which was only about 500 meters from the American military base. There the gunman killed four people in one house and then moved to Zahir's house, where he shot his father in the leg.

Not a shred of a doubt; not a hint of uncertainty. No curiosity about justifiable or even mitigating circumstances. Not a single reporter questions whether the Afghans telling the story might have a motive to lie, might have been mistaken, might have been complicit in what might have been an ambush of an American soldier.

Do I know whether any of these factors are present in this case? No, of course not; but neither do the news media, a fact that seems not to perturb them in their rush to accept the atrocity story and condemn the American fighting man. Maybe it's just as bad as it seems; but we have history, including recent examples of massacre-mongering where the press was equally certain and fully as condemning, but which fell apart in the light of proper investigation.

We haven't even heard from the accused, nor any spokesman or defender. Would that the press showed the same solicitude for the niceties of due process that they routinely extend to illegal aliens accused of murder; Occupiers accused of rape, abandonment of children, and extortion; or any of the several dozen members of the Barack H. Obama administration accused of corruption and abuse of authority. (For Obamunists, the press doesn't merely extend the presumption of innocence until evidence shows otherwise... more like the persistence of innocence despite evidence otherwise!)

Where is the presumption of innocence? Instead, the (mercifully unnamed) soldier is portrayed by virtually every article I have read as already proven to be guilty, guilty, guilty... for don't we all know that Afghans in "Talibistan" never concoct fables of American massacres?

The only thing that's missing -- so far! -- is a John Kerry or a John Murtha to spray the atrocity charges through government organs, amplifying and adding piquant inventions of his own; thus crystalizing the accusation as "historical fact," despite a complete lack of impartial investigation up to this point. So far, the Left hasn't picked it up, perhaps because it can't help but reflect badly on the One; thank goodness for small crumbs!

If the man actually committed the heinous acts the Afghans accuse him of, in the manner of the media narrative, then he should be hanged. (Note that the "narrative" includes the fact or factoid that he walked back to the base and "turned himself in," which would imply knowledge of guilt; so he can't get away with an insanity plea.) But do we really know whether this is true yet? If so, then how do we know, based on what?

This is why I have always maintained (usually the lone voice crying in the wilderness) that of the three classical pillars of philosophy -- metaphysics (what we know), ethics (what we do about what we know), and epistemology (how we know what we know) -- the most urgent, and most quickly forgotten, is the last.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 12, 2012, at the time of 5:13 PM | Comments (2)

March 11, 2012

Afghan Meadows Massacre - or Haditha Redux?

Afghan Astonishments , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

An American staff sergeant has just been indicted, tried, convicted, and condemned for a horrific massacre in Afghanistan; the court was the mainstream media -- which also served as judge, jury, and sentencing panel. Such Obamic efficiency; such economy of deliberation!

The trouble is, we don't know what really happened there, because the investigation has barely begun. As the Brady Bunch might say, "here's the story..."

PANJWAI, Afghanistan -- Stalking from home to home, a United States Army sergeant methodically killed at least 16 civilians, 9 of them children, in a rural stretch of southern Afghanistan early on Sunday, igniting fears of a new wave of anti-American hostility, Afghan and American officials said.

First discordant note of skepticism: The sources for information about this alleged massacre were cited as "Afghan and American officials;" but in the entire rest of the Times story, the only information from an American source is that there is only one suspect and he is currently being held:

The officials said the main suspect was an Army staff sergeant who acted alone and then surrendered. "The initial reporting that we have at this time indicates there was one shooter, and we have one man in custody," said Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, a NATO spokesman.

All other details come from Afghan reports, both by officials and by supposed victims and alleged eyewitnesses in Panjwai -- a notorious Taliban stronghold. The information flow appears to be from Afghan sources to Americans, who simply parrot what they have been told. That is, "[r]esidents of three villages in the Panjwai district of Kandahar Province described a terrifying string of attacks," but "American officials in Kabul were scrambling to understand what had happened."

Now that certainly builds confidence.

The unilateral sourcing of the Times' story immediately raises my suspicions. Then, too, the Afghan-supplied details of the massacre sound even more bizarre:

Residents of three villages in the Panjwai district of Kandahar Province described a terrifying string of attacks in which the soldier, who had walked more than a mile from his base, tried door after door, eventually breaking in to kill within three separate houses. The man gathered 11 bodies, including those of 4 girls younger than 6, and set fire to them, villagers said....

In Panjwai, a reporter for The New York Times who inspected bodies that had been taken to the nearby American military base counted 16 dead, including five children with single gunshot wounds to the head, and saw burns on some of the children’s legs and heads. "All the family members were killed, the dead put in a room, and blankets were put over the corpses and they were burned," said Anar Gula, an elderly neighbor who rushed to the house after the soldier had left. "We put out the fire."

The villagers also brought some of the burned blankets on motorbikes to display at the base, Camp Belambay, in Kandahar, and show that the bodies had been set alight. Soon, more than 300 people had gathered outside to protest.

And while such staggering carnage was carried out -- evidently by a lone American soldier -- not a single resident could locate a weapon and shoot back at the man. Not one.

But in areas of Afghanistan like Panjwai, that are forever in a tug-of-war between Taliban and government forces, shouldn't we assume that every man would be armed, or nearly so? Shouldn't these three villages be awash with AK-47s, M-16s, and heavier weapons, and thick with Afghans boasting much recent experience using them?

Yet a single soldier can not only walk from house to house, trying doors and entering domiciles to butcher women and children at will, but even finds the time and leisure to pick up eleven dead bodies, convey them (presumably one at a time on his shoulders or tucked under his arms) from one place to another, and there burn them. A veritable Superman. (Didn't anybody think to fire upon him while his hands were thus occupied?)

I can't say it's impossible that such a massacre occured in the way that AP and its sock puppets described it... but boy howdy, what a series of unfortunate events must have occurred to prevent the local residents from doing anything, anything at all, to stop this one man death squad from devastating a village.

And what perfect timing! The alleged event occurs just as the Koran-burning riots are dying down. By a tragic coincidence, a lone American gunman goes nuts and commits a demonic act of mass human sacrifice just in time to reignite the rampage against Americans and NATO, just as withdrawal talks have finally resumed.

We don't know who actually reported what supposedly happened, but we sure know who benefits from those reports (true or false): the Taliban... in one of the home bases of the Taliban.

I'm sorry if I seem insufficiently convinced of the accuracy and veracity of this report; but I can't help remembering the "Haditha Massacre" in Iraq -- which turned out, after a lengthy investigation and multiple criminal trials, to be a complete fabrication in almost every particular reported in the first heady days of the story -- lurid "factoids" ginned up by the media, who have yet to apologize or even admit they were dead wrong.

And then there was the infamous "Wedding Party Massacre," with the mystery band instruments that appeared, undamaged and right on top of the blast site, hours after earlier photographs of the same area showed nothing of the sort. (An immaculate deception.)

And leave us not forget the "Jenin Massacre," where Israeli commandos (according to Palestinian "eyewitnesses" and government officials) obliterated the entire inner city of Jenin, on the West Bank... except that they in fact did no such thing, as later photographs and video footage conclusively proved. "Never mind!"

President Barack H. Obama has already apologized to Afghanistan, if not quite to the Taliban:

President Hamid Karzai condemned the attacks, calling them in a statement an “inhuman and intentional act” and demanding justice. Both President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta called Mr. Karzai, expressing condolences and promising thorough investigations. "This incident is tragic and shocking, and does not represent the exceptional character of our military and the respect that the United States has for the people of Afghanistan," Mr. Obama said in a statement.

They could have added, "on the other hand, this incident might not even represent the truth;" but that would have spoiled the story.

Meanwhile, the Times managed to find a silver lining:

Another senior military official said the sergeant was 38 and married with two children. He had served three tours of duty in Iraq, this official said, and had been deployed to Afghanistan for the first time in December. Yet another military official said he has served in the Army for 11 years.

I.e., since enlisting in 2001; so it was George Bush's fault after all! Probably some soldier suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to repeated deployments forced upon him by the previous regime administration.

Maybe I'm jaded, but color me skeptical. It may well turn out to be every bit as horrific and shameful to America as the media gleefully report; accuracy is always a possibility, no matter how out of character that would be. But that's not how initial reports of similar incomprehensible, "American-caused" massacres have generally fared when exposed to the light of actual evidence dredged up by a thorough and complete investigation.

Let's sit tight and wait to see what the evidence actually shows before belly-flopping, yet again, upon the American military.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 11, 2012, at the time of 10:16 PM | Comments (2)

March 3, 2012

The Bright Part of Breitbart

Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

It's tough to write a memorial about someone you've never met, never spoken to or spoken about, and never even heard in an interview until after his death, when Hugh Hewitt played one he had recorded just the day before Andrew Breitbart died. I can only write about what others have said about the man and what he himself has written; which, lacking the personal touch, can seem cold, sterile, Kubrickian.

But I believe he and I were kindred spirits in one sense, and it explains why people like us become the most hated souls in any group that has been infiltrated, possessed, and transubstantiated by the twin demons of liberalism and Progressivism.

Breitbart and I share a characteristic: Neither of us backs down or backs away. We cannot be silenced by special pleading, threats, bullying, bribery, sexual enticements, pity, namecalling, snubbing, exiling, or faux shaming. (Gosh, I feel like Patrick McGoohan.) We can of course be moved by logical argument, by evidence, by some new information that shows we are actually wrong about something we have said or argued; we are not irrational or fanatical. (I speak of Breitbart in the present tense because to split tenses between us is rhetorically awkward.) But you cannot swerve us by irrelevant or immaterial denunciations, demands, or diversionary tactics.

This trait has gotten me into trouble on many occasions. I don't try to pick verbal fights -- not since I was a teenager, anyway; and in my late dotage, I have even started letting stupidities lie where the speaker dropped them, choosing not to take up the smart man's burden, as Isaac Asimov called it, to rush over and show that so and so why he's wrong. (From what I have read, Breitbart was more prone to do so than I; but of course, he was a lot slightly younger than I.)

But when the fight is brought to me, I am relentless in pursuit of the truth as I see it, even when the discussion has turned stale and pointless, and the other guy become so emotionally invested that he will not even grant me the premise that A=A, if that might further my own nefarious argument. I bore in like an earwig into the victim's brain, finding every hidden assumption and slipshod argument and revealing them, naked and bleeding, to the surrounding mob.

And I rarely care whether that mob is on my side or on the war path against me. I don't rest until I have discovered where the logic actually leads; and on those occasions where it leads against me, I own up promptly. Well, reasonably promptly!

I don't argue that this would be a good trait for everyone to have; but it's vital that some people have it. For the rest will generally back away, anxious not to be "the most hated" person in any group, wanting to go with the flow, to get along by going along, feeling sorry for the other bloke, hoping not to talk the lefty hot chick out of the mood, or any of a number of other reasons to drop an argument that you're clearly winning -- even for the sake of simple politeness.

And the Left depends upon that exact tendency, using its own weakness as a weapon: They know that if they chant their mantras long enough ("mike check, mike check!" "four legs good, two legs bad!"), the other side (that's our side) will say, "oh great leaping horny toads, fine, Capitalism really is unfair and we should try to come up with something better; now will you please tell everyone I'm not a horrible person after all?"

So without a few freaks like me and my never-met soulmate Andrew Brietbart, the world would go to heck in a hamfist; the bleeding hearts and artists, or the arts and farces, as Benny Hill enjoyed putting it, would win even more battles than they already do, by dirty tricks and corrupt practice. And that would be a shame.

It takes a personal toll, though; when the Progressivist Left is thwarted in its preferred tactics, it demands vengeance and bears a grudge to the grave and beyond. On such instances of victimization, I can only fall back on my natural contempt for those who cannot debate but only demonize. I suspect, but will never know for sure, that Breitbart lacked that healthy contempt; he may have cared more, fumed more, empathized more, or agonized more about why these lemmings cannot follow a simple syllogism. He may have split himself into too many different directions -- each of great value but totalling more than he could chew -- and taken too much incoming from each. And that may have hastened his very, very untimely demise.

Don't know.

I do know that, because I care only about the point and not the pointer, I generally don't get swept up in the emotional whirlwind: I have a magic charm of indifference to paralogia, intimidation, and argument by incessant and ever-louder assertion. An argumentary epicure, I sample the world; but I suspect Andrew Breitbart tried to swallow it whole; and it's a ghastly great wad to choke down.

I never met the man, so I'm not conversant with his many virtues; but this is what I glean from reading his Bigs, and reading what others who did know him have writ large.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 3, 2012, at the time of 2:15 AM | Comments (0)

January 30, 2012

Newtmax.com Regurgitated

Confusticated Conservatives , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

Just a brief update on our last post, Newtmax.com: Today marks the fourth straight day of Newsmax.com nakedly shilling for Newt Gingrich.

There are a few stories on today's Newsmax page that neither bash Romney nor slather praise on Gingrich (like an overly generous schmear on a bagel). Mirabile dictu! Nevertheless, without exception, every single story that relates to the primary either portrays Mitt as a dimwitted orc or worships at the feet of old Saint Newt.

I used to jape that Newsmax was the National Enquirer of conservative websites. I believe I must amend that: Newsmax has become the ThinkProgress of conservative websites.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 30, 2012, at the time of 3:38 PM | Comments (4)

January 27, 2012

Newtmax.com

Confusticated Conservatives , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

Heh. Here are the headline story and all of the Inside Cover stories on Newsmax.com right now:

Headline:

Romney Backed by Goldman Sachs, Bailout Banks

More Stories (highlighted stories immediately below headline):

  • Rev. Wildmon: Gingrich Can 'Fix' America
  • Mark Levin: Gingrich Is Strong Conservative
  • Discrepancies Found in Romney's Finances
  • Romney Attacked Ted Kennedy Over ‘Blind Trust’

Smiley picture of Mitt Romney with following caption:

Mitt Romney’s ties to Goldman have already become a campaign issue. During Thursday’s CNN debate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich stated that Romney profited from millions he invested in a Goldman Sachs fund that relied heavily on investments in the mortgage-backed securities linked to the 2008 implosion on Wall Street. Romney said he personally didn’t direct the investment, which he said was made through his trust.(AP Photo)

Inside Cover (front-page stories immediately below smiley Mitt):

  • McFarlane, Shirley: Newt an 'Enthusiastic' Reagan backer
  • Mike Reagan, Rush Limbaugh Blast Romney
  • Rush: Romney Camp Behind Anti-Gingrich Stories
  • Gingrich Ad: Romney Dishonest
  • Palin: Newt 'Crucified' By Romney Allies, GOP
  • Romney Backed by Goldman Sachs, Bailout Banks
  • Romney Attacked Ted Kennedy Over ‘Blind Trust’
  • Bill O'Reilly: Gingrich 'Bona Fide' Conservative
  • Rev. Wildmon: Gingrich Can 'Fix' America
  • Mark Levin: Gingrich Is Strong Conservative
  • Conservative Establishment Gunning for Newt
  • Short on Cash, Santorum Hanging on
  • Discrepancies Found in Romney's Finances
  • Obama: GOP Will Struggle to Defend Economy
  • Gingrich:Use Reagan Model After Castro Gone

As Gen. Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott) might have said, "Mr. President, we must not allow -- a media-bias gap!"

My favorite line in the anti-Romney philippic: After the picture caption quotes Romney as noting that all of his investments are in a blind trust, ergo he had no say over the investment in Goldman Sachs, one of the Inside Cover stories (promoted to More Stories) is the cleverly headlined, "Romney Attacked Ted Kennedy Over ‘Blind Trust’."

Obscur, Monsieur Ruddy; très obscur!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 27, 2012, at the time of 12:57 PM | Comments (1)

November 16, 2011

How the Gingrich Can Save Christmas

Liberal Lunacy , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

Shockingly, the New York Times misunderstands conservative, tea-party, and Republican attitudes towards Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, and those Republicans who have worked with them, including Newt Gingrich; the Times imagines that the Right comprises the same unsophisticated, unnuanced simpletons as compose the Left.

For instance, to the Left, the Koch brothers are "BadThing," cartoon villains with absolutely no redeeming qualities, like Monty Burns. Any connection to or interaction with BadThing, no matter how faint or remote, taints the interactor and turns him into BadThing as well. Thus, if a leftie discovers that, say, Democratic House candidate Bismuth "Snorky" Riceburner once worked for a company that sold ink and paper to the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research... then Snorky becomes BadThing and must be shunned, shouted down, and refudiated on Facebook.

In stark contradistinction, when folks the Right hear that Newt (rather, his advisory firm, the Gingrich Group) once worked with Freddie Mac, the first question they will ask is not, "Where can we get some tar and feathers," but rather, "What advice did he give them?"

The fact that Freddie paid the Gingrich Group in excess of $1.6 million for his advice won't send Republicans into a mindless, hyperventilating rage, because we don't hate people for being financially successful. As with all other issues, we have a more nuanced approach: Wealth is only bad when it comes from committing immoral acts, such as fraud, extortion, or buddying up with the feds to form a government-enforced monopoly.

(Sadly, however, Hugh Hewitt fell right into the Left's trap; he went to town today on his radio show, savaging Gingrich at a fatcat looter and trying to blur the distinction between advising a company and lobbying for that company -- something that a lawyer, of all people, should understand.

(Of course, one must remember that Hewitt is a Romney guy from way back. So it goes.)

Now that Gingrich appears to be on the rise, in some polls actually topping the leader board, Jeff Zeleny and Trip Gabriel, writing on the New York Times blog "the Caucus," dish out the print medium's "death of a thousand paper cuts" to the Newtster. They appear to be trying their darndest to queer the deal between Newt Gingrich and Republican voters, which I take as a sign that the Left is starting to worry that Gingrich might not only be nominatable but even electable.

In response to the supposed "bombshell" that the Gingrich Group advisory firm had Freddie Mac as a client for a while, Newt Gingrich clarified at least some of the "advice" he gave:

In last week’s debate, Mr. Gingrich sought to explain away his involvement, saying that he had done no lobbying and that he had warned the company that its practices were an “insane” part of a housing bubble.

“My advice as a historian, when they walked in and said to me, ‘We are now making loans to people who have no credit history and have no record of paying back anything, but that’s what the government wants us to do,’ as I said to them at the time, this is a bubble. This is insane. This is impossible,” Mr. Gingrich said during the CNBC debate.

Note the Times' caricature of Newt's point; they say he tried to "explain away" his paid advice, as if he's just mumbling some absurd justification or rationalization. Gingrich explained what he did, he didn't try to explain it away.

And he may very well be telling the truth; certainly the Times has dug up no evidence that he encouraged Freddie to continue its appalling lending practices.

Backgrounder: Freddie Mac (and its sister gorgon, Fannie Mae) guarantees to buy a huge percent of mortgages; this includes a whopping big pile of the bad mortgage debt that Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA, 100%) and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT, 85%) forced the banks and S&Ls to issue, by requiring them to lend money to people who couldn't possibly repay it. (And to give the devil his due, Jimmy Carter shares the blame, because his Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 paved the way for Frank and Dodd's similar antiCapitalist idiocy.)

The actions of these quasi-governmental entities, Fannie and Freddie -- technically, they're "Government Sponsored Enterprises," or GSEs -- in guaranteeing "insane" mortgages (to use Newt's word) wound up nationalizing hundreds of billions of dollars of bad debt; this in turn precipitated the mortgage crash of 2008.

Back to our story. If it turns out that Gingrich actually aided and abetted Freddie (or Fannie, or both) in this pyramid scheme, even to the point of lobbying for them (being paid to push the Freddie Mac line, then that would indeed severely damage and possibly torpedo his campaign.

But if Newt Gingrich is telling the truth about his involvement, if he warned Freddid that its policies were leading Freddie and the country to financial ruin, then I believe that conservatives, Republicans, and even tea partiers will applaud his efforts (though maybe not Hugh Hewitt)... even if Freddie's response to that advice was to storm off in a huff, mortally offended, and send Newt his fee all in pennies, submerged in a half-million jars of sour cream.

If Newt is honest (and I'm inclined to believe him at this point, considering who his accuser is), then he will easily bat aside the smarmy charges and roar into the Christmas holidays soaring in the polls, probably even taking the pole position. (I'm tempted to say "poll position," but that would be too stupid a joke even for me.) Gingrich himself puts the two possibilities about as cleverly and forthrightly as I've ever seen:

At an energy forum in Des Moines sponsored by Politico, Mr. Gingrich was asked whether he could reassure Republicans who were considering supporting him that he could withstand the scrutiny on his campaign.

“If three or four weeks from now, I have confronted the scrutiny, as you put it, in an even-keeled way, then they’ll be able to relax and go, ‘Oh, he was certainly even-keeled,’” Mr. Gingrich said. “If I blow up and do something utterly stupid, they’ll be able to say, ‘Gee, I wonder who the
next candidate is?’”

This is no mere fluke on the Times' part; here's an even more telling example of the superficial, almost childish take on conservatives found in the nation's "newspaper of record;" this graf is a drive-by whose only purpose is to bash Gingrich as a supposed hypocrite. In the littany of horribles it ascribes to the former Speaker, "the Caucus" includes the following:

Mr. Gingrich left Congress in 1998 after a revolt by some of his Republican members following the party’s losses in the midterm elections. He has been married three times, and has acknowledged having an affair during the time he criticized President Bill Clinton for the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Catch the naive misunderstanding of the real reason the Right despised Bill Clinton? They hated Clinton because he got a you-know-what in the Oral Office -- and everybody knows that conservatives hate and fear sex in general, and especially any sex outside of strict, rigid monogamy. In the missionary position. With the lights off. With nearly all your clothes on. Only for purposes of reproduction. And you'd better not enjoy it, you prevert!

But the reality is that the Right is far more sophisticated than the world-weary, decadent Left. Leaving aside the real reason most GOPers wanted Clinton impeached -- he sold the presidency to Red China for campaign cash -- just sticking to the sex-related scandals, what enraged most of us was not that Clinton got a lewinski, but that he was credibly accused of using threats, intimidation, and brute force to sexually harass and assault women who didn't want such contact. Clinton paid an $850,000 settlement to Paula Jones for her claim that he exposed himself to her and forced her to fondle him when he was governor of Arkansas; Kathleen Willey claimed that Clinton had committed sexual battery on her; and Juanita Broaddrick accused Clinton of forcibly raping her.

In addition to the charges of sexual assault, conservatives were outraged by Clinton's oft-repeated lies about the incidents -- many of those lies under oath, in an attempt to obstruct justice. (But at least Clinton didn't bow deeply at the waist to the Chinese dictator.)

Nothing of the sort has ever been creditably alleged against Newt Gingrich.

True, he did have an affair with a member of his staff, Callista Bisek, while the House of Representatives investigated Clinton's crimes. But the charges they were delving into were perjury, obstruction of justice, and corrupt fundraising; and as part of impeachment, the House investigated cash funneled into his reelection coffers by the People's Liberation Army of Communist China -- after which he altered several aspects of American national-security policy in ways that China requested. It's impossible for any honest observer to equate those serious crimes against individual women and the nation itself with "having an affair."

Newt Gingrich never swore under oath that he did not have sex with that woman, Miss Bisek. He never obstructed justice. He was never accused of sexually assaulting anyone. And in all he reelection efforts, not once was he ever accused of accepting bribes from America's most dangerous foreign enemy.

Evidently, Zeleny and Gabriel can't quite parse the distinction.

So when next you're tempted to think of the east-coast elites (or west-coast decadents) as arbiters of sophistication and a nuanced, layered understanding of reality, give yourself a hard slap in the kisser. They love to gloat about their lofty, refined, complex Weltanschauung; but in reality, they're a bunch of hick rubes who cannot compare or contrast but only equate: Either A equals B, or else A is totally different from B; on the left, there is no middle ground between hard Left and hard Right.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 16, 2011, at the time of 6:42 PM | Comments (0)

August 30, 2011

The New York Times Defines "Fiscal Conservative"

Econ. 101 , Fed Spending: to Infinity and Beyond! , Liberal Lunacy , Media Madness , Tax Attax
Hatched by Dafydd

Just in case you weren't sure of the definition, the New York Times shows us the perfect "fiscal conservative" in Yoshihiko Noda, incoming Prime Minister of Japan:

Yoshihiko Noda, a down-to-earth fiscal conservative, was elected prime minister by the Japanese Parliament on Tuesday in the sixth change of leaders in five years, a period of mounting economic and social challenges to the world’s third-largest economy. [Emphasis added - DaH]

And what fiscal policies does this plucky, self-deprecating, "down-to-earth fiscal conservative" intend to enact to earn that title? The Times clarifies:

In his previous role [as finance minister], he orchestrated multiple interventions in currency markets to weaken a strong yen that has battered Japanese exporters....

As a fiscal conservative, he is one of few within his party to suggest that raising taxes might be necessary to rein in Japan’s deficit....

Mr. Noda “will most likely temper his fiscally hawkish stance, which other candidates were loath to espouse, even as he champions an eventual return to fiscal responsibility,” Naomi Fink, a Tokyo-based strategist at the investment house Jefferies, said in a note....

Mr. Noda has said that he will stick to [outgoing Prime Minister Naoto] Kan’s promise to gradually phase out nuclear power, but that it remains necessary in the short term to prevent electricity shortages that could further cripple the economy. [Emphasis added - DaH]

All right, I think I've got it. A fiscal conservative is a government official who:

  • Manipulates currency markets for corporatist political purposes...
  • Raises taxes on a shattered citizenry during a terrible recession and ongoing disaster recovery...
  • Offers, as the cornerstone of his energy policy, to eliminate (on grounds of eco-hysteria and radical enviromentalism) efficient, highly productive, and clean nuclear power, which is already up and operating, to be replaced (when?) by what, oil and coal, which must be imported at enormous cost, and the infrastructure for which Japan does not even possess? More likely by "green energy": windmills, solar cells, or perhaps banks of perpetual-motion machines to power the island nation...
  • And who sees "fiscal responsibility" as a vague and distant goal he might embrace... "eventually."

Yessiree, that's the kind of steely-eyed fiscal conservative the Little Old Grey Lady pines for, in America as well as abroad.

And let's add one more qualification: Japan's Yoshihiko Noda is definitely not one of those slope-browed, slack-jawed, snake-handling, tongues-speaking, science-rejecting, theocratic "Christianists" who lurk in the United States; I'm certain he rejects "either-or" dichotomies: Right and Left, right and wrong, economic and uneconomic, true and false.

If Noda is like his brethren in the Diet, he sees the world in shades of grey, a twilight zone where the wild things are never quite asleep but never fully awake. Noda is certainly from one of the good religions that reject harsh, Judeo-Christian values -- Buddhism, Shinto, Atheism, Communism... something into which a man like Bill Keller can sink his teeth!

Perhaps now we understand Keller's urgency in getting to the bottom of all this "Christianity" stuff rampant among Republican candidates for President: Keller is still searching for those elusive, Times-approved "fiscal conservatives" in the GOP.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 30, 2011, at the time of 2:16 PM | Comments (0)

July 4, 2011

News of Obama's Death Is Greatly Exaggerated...

Democratic Culture of Corruption , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

...News of the depths to which leftist hacks will sink to defame their ideological opponents is greatly underestimated

Today, a mob of left-leaning computer hackers hacked into the Twitter account of Fox News to issue false proclamations that President Barack H. Obama had been assassinated in Iowa.

(The New York Times headline actually says the Twitter account was "apparently hacked," implying there's some doubt. Say, maybe Fox News really did think Obama was dead. Yeah, yeah, that's the ticket! Why didn't I think of that earlier?)

The group that apparently claimed credit, and which apparently appears to have actually apparently committed the apparent crime, apparently calls itself Script Kiddies; here is their explanation of why they did it:

The Script Kiddies, Mr. Peck said, had posted to its own Twitter account that it had hacked Fox News’ political Twitter account and wanted to speak to The Huffington Post, supplying an address at the instant-messaging service AIM. Mr. Peck, 23, said he figured he would try the address as well....

According to the instant-message record, which Mr. Peck provided to the New York Times, the person with whom he communicated at Script Kiddies said that Fox News “was selected because we figured their security would be just as much of a joke as their reporting.”

In the meanwhile, despite the fact that it was Twitter.com, not FoxNews.com, that was hacked, we learn that:

The false Twitter posts about Mr. Obama seemed even more provocative because Fox News is widely perceived to be a voice of opposition to the Obama administration. On Monday, thousands of people on Twitter poked fun at the incident and at Fox News by pretending to guess Fox’s Twitter passwords.

The implication by those "thousands of people" being that Fox News is so stupid, that their Twitter password must be something like "rightwing" or "paulrevere," or even "password." Smug, condescending superiority so becomes the Left that we didn't even need the Times' recounting to know how that side of the dial would react.

Considering how poor Twitter's security appears to be, however, I suspect the breach lies with those twits, not the newsroom.

So once again, the angry, populist, anti-globalist, "information wants to be free" mob resorts to criminal behavior to libel Fox News; and the New York Times dutifully slurps it up spits it at the world. Almost as if it were -- choreographed. (Apparently!)

America's newspaper of record -- "All the news we see fit to print!" -- doesn't bother mentioning the obvious political affiliation of the Fox News hating, HuffPo loving hackers until page 2 of the story. Coincidence! And for weeks now, we'll be hearing stories about how "Faux News" was so stupid and vicious that they thought/hoped that the president had been killed... as though Fox News itself had actually tweeted those twitty tweets.

After a while, that spurious and absurd defamation will enter the universal Democratic Zeitgeist. You know the one I mean, where Sarah Palan twanged that she could "see Russia from her house;" and where the Bush administration response to Hurricane Katrina was "the worst in American history;" and Dan Quayle thought people spoke "Latin" in Latin America and that there were "people" on Mars; and Reagan was an illiterate "puppet;" and "racist Republicans" implemented the Jim Crow laws; and FDR "saved us" from the Great Depression -- which was caused by the "unbridled Capitalism" of Herbert Hoover.

To quote Mythbusters' Adam Savage in a completely different context, one great motto of the Left is, "I reject your reality and substitute my own!" But the contemporary liberal has yet another to which he unfailingly holds: "If the electorate is against you, pound on the courts; if the courts are against you, pound on the electorate; if both are against you -- pound on Fox News!"

And all of the time lately, it seems they're pounding on Fox News. Draw your own conclusion.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 4, 2011, at the time of 1:18 PM | Comments (0)

March 6, 2011

Everything That's Wrong with the Partisan Media in a Nuthouse

Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

The AP story is about the trial of former French President Jacques Chirac on corruption charges. Here are the first two paragraphs:

After years of claiming presidential immunity to avoid legal proceedings, Jacques Chirac is finally facing a court.

The former president, a bugaboo for George W. Bush during his rush to war in Iraq, on Monday becomes France's first former head of state to go on trial since its Nazi-era leader was exiled.

Talk about snide, irrelevant, and erroneous side comments! Cushlamochree, why not go all the way? The former president, a bugaboo for would-be fascist dictator and mastermind of the fake 9/11 attacks George W. Bush during his attempt to become mafia boss of the entire world, on Monday becomes France's first former head of state to go on trial since its Nazi-era leader was exiled.

One presumes the "reporter" of this piece (of something), Jamey Keaton, was thinking about that "rush to war in Iraq" that occured scant hours after the September 11th attacks. You remember how that went: As the World Trade Center buildings are still collapsing -- after the controlled demolition planted by Bush's men in black -- the Bush administration pronounces the slander that benign Saddam Hussein is behind it all. Within a couple of days, Bush the Lying Tyrant preemptively and unilaterally invades Iraq, killing more than 1,200,000 innocent Iraqi civilians and looting the country of all its oil, then installs a puppet government controlled by the Jewish Lobby. America commits the greatest crime against humanity in all history, all alone with no allies, while the rest of the world stands appalled, wringing its hands in anguish.

Yeah, that's how I remember it, too.

The entire issue of Bush's "rush to war in Iraq" never appears again; there is a partial reference at the very end... but the word "rush" is replaced by a more neutral term:

In his term, Chirac was perhaps best known internationally for vocally opposing Bush's drive to war in Iraq, and earlier, for resuming French nuclear tests in the South Pacific and recognizing the French state's responsibility in the Nazi deportation of Jews during World War II.

My guess is that Keaton has no idea there is even any controversy about Bush "rushing" to war in Iraq; in the intellectual trickle he swims in, he has literally never heard anyone question the thesis that we accused Hussein and invaded Iraq right after the 9/11 attack (or fraud). The real history has long since fallen down the memory hole at the Associated Press. (Heck, among a batch of liberal science-fiction writers I know, history had already been rewritten by 2004, the year after we actually invaded Iraq, and nearly two years -- plus one war -- after the terrorist attack that slaughtered three thousand innocents.)

There is the left-liberal mindset on public display: It must be true, because it would be so perfect (for our Bush Derangement Syndrome) if it were true! Just as it must be true that the "Teabaggers" are just racists upset that we have a black president, because it would be so ideologically perfect if it were true. It must be true that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is trying to crush the workers, because it would so perfectly fit our class-warfare fairy tale if it were true. And anthropogenic global climate change must be true, because it would be so useful to our anti-technology Ludditism if it were true.

To a certain extent, we all remember things not the way they happened, but they way they ought to have happened; yet liberals, socialists, and Progressivists drag this ordinary human failing down to unexplored depths of mental degradation.

If you asked Keaton why he felt compelled to shoehorn that gratuitous and inappropriate slur into a completely unrelated story, he would look puzzled and say, "What do you mean?" In the first place, since he believes the foolish accusation himself, he doesn't see it as a slur; and in the second place, liberalism itself preaches that it's never inappropriate to smear the Right; after all, haven't you ever heard RadFem Carol Hanisch's maxim that "the personal is political?"

In the long run, I refuse to believe that an ideology so innately based upon delusion and fear will survive. But "the long run" may be very long indeed by the measurement of ordinary lives: Pre-Enlightenment totalitarian Christianity lasted for seventeen centuries, while Islam is still going strong after more than thirteen. I hope that doesn't augur another millennium of liberalist lawfare and eccentric economics!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 6, 2011, at the time of 11:58 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 3, 2010

Calling Madam Tussaud's

Islamarama , Israel Matters , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

I read the headline --

"Helen Thomas may get statue in museum"

...And my first thought was, one more reason to steer clear of the wax museum's Chamber of Horrors!

Then I read on and discovered it was even worse, much worse -- but oh, so much more appropriate! -- than I originally envisioned:

Ahead of her 90th birthday, veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas, who resigned following her offensive remarks against Israel, may be getting a statue in her honor at the Arab American National Museum in Michigan....

But Thomas' remarks that Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go home" to Poland and Germany, which abruptly ended her 67-year-career, are not helping the cause.

Or perhaps they are?

The real question is why the Arab American National Museum in Michigan wants to honor a woman who believes Israel is "occupied territory" and should commit national suicide, with all those dastardly Jews packing up and going back to Europe, where (she evidently believes) they all came from -- Jews never having lived in the Middle East until the nineteenth century Zionist invasion, as every Islamist knows by heart.

Of course, "Palestine" is, in fact, occupied territory... long before modern Israel existed, and quite a few times over:

  1. It was occupied by the British at the end of World War I, 1918.
  2. The Brits took it away from the Ottoman Empire, which occupied that land by defeating the Mamluks, of both Persian and Turkish ethnicity, in 1517.
  3. The Mamluks had got it away from the Ayyubid dynasty of Saladin in 1250; for the three-year period of 1244-1247, "Palestine" had been first sacked, then occupied by the fierce, Russian Tatars; but that doesn't really count, having been only three years.
  4. Saladin, a Persian Kurd, himself had wrested it away from the crusaders in 1187.
  5. Prior to that, the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem had lasted for 88 years, from the success of the First Crusade in 1099.
  6. The only time Arabs ruled "Palestine" was from 638, six years after the death of Mohammed, until the crusaders wrested it back to the West.
  7. Prior to the Arab conquest, the land was subject to a relentless tug-o-war between the Byzantine Empire (the Eastern Roman Empire) and pre-Islamic Persian Sassanids.
  8. The Roman Empire (first unified, then the eastern, Byzantine branch) ruled over that land from about 63 BC, following the invasion of Pompey.
  9. Before the Romans, the ethnically Greek Seleucid Empire ruled "Palestine" from 134 BC to 63 BC.
  10. The Seleucids took it back from the Maccabees, a Jewish dynasty that had wrested their homeland away from the Seleucids back in 168 BC.
  11. Before the brief interregnum of the Maccabees, the Seleucids had run the 'hood since taking it away from the Ptolemaic Greeks in 198 BC.
  12. The Ptolemys, who had conquered Egypt and ruled from there, controlled "Palestine" from sometime in the 300s BC, following the breakup of the empire of Alexander the Great.
  13. Before Alexander, it was the Persians again; they seized it from the Babylonians in 538 BC.
  14. Babylon had taken it from the Assyrians in 586 BC.
  15. And the Assyrians conquered the Kingdom of Israel in 722 BC.
  16. From 1020 BC up to 722, it was the Hebrew Kingdom of Israel -- Jews didn't become "Jews" until they returned from the Babylonian exile in 538 BC -- originally unified, but split in 930 BC. However, Hebrew tribes certainly controlled that land for centuries before 1020 BC.

I'm not sure at what point so-called Palestinians are supposed to have controlled what is now Israel; possibly they're referring to the 461 years from AD 638 to 1099, when the land was under Arab (not "Palestinian") rule. But it's rather self-serving that modern-day Palestinians pick that one period of control out of two or three thousand years of conquest, and try to leverage it into modern-day land ownership.

It's just that old devil of Islamic supremacism and "sacred space": Any land once occupied by the Umma, no matter how long or how short a time, remains forever part of the Umma; and whoever seemingly owns it today must vacate immediately and make room for the "return" of the World Caliphate... evidently a doctrine supported and espoused by the Motown Shrew herself.

We seem to have wandered far afield, into a concise concatenation of conquest of one tiny corner of the globe. Back to Helen "Harpy" Thomas and her wandering mouth, and why the Arab American National Museum is so keen on having her likeness grace, if that is the word I want, their illustrious museum -- if illustrious is the word I want. My deep suspicion is that... well, just what prominent Michigan Jew Richard Nodel suggests:

Despite the difficulties in raising funds, unexpected support [?] of the initiative came from President of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Metropolitan Detroit Richard Nodel, who expressed "hope that the support for this memorial is there despite her anti-Israel and anti-Semitic views and not because of them."

Two quick observations:

  • First, unless there's more to that Nodel quotation than meets the screen, I would hardly call it "support" for the termagant.
  • And second, I believe Nodel put his nail on it: I believe Thomas is being honored precisely because of that statement and a slew of other similar ones that preceded it.

The Arab American National Museum honors Helen the Harridan for being an outspoken and usually unabashed Jew hater... a fact that the so-called mainstream media must have known for decades, yet which never deterred them from dubbing her "Doyenne of the White House press corps."

If true, that is deeply sad -- and goes a long way towards explaining, in Professor Bernard Lewis' immortal phrase, "what went wrong" with the Islam and the Islamic culture. At some point during the Middle Ages, I believe, perhaps in response to its humiliating defeat at the hands of crusading Christians, the religion of Submission became utterly defined not by what it loves -- but by who it hates. And by now, that list includes nigh everyone, including most of those who call themselves Moslems.

It's not for tendentious reasons that Dore Gold chose to call his book about Saudi Arabia Hatred's Kingdom; and that is likewise a good, functional description of the jackal's share of the Umma itself.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 3, 2010, at the time of 5:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 19, 2010

The Cleaver Conundrum - and the Brilliance of Breitbart's Bucks

Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

On Saturday, March 20th of this year, Tea Partiers rallied just off the Capitol steps against ObamaCare, which was being debated and voted in the House of Representatives. In an effort to provoke some sort of ugly response, a "YouTube moment" that could be played endlessly against the Tea Party popular front, four members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) -- Reps. John Lewis (D-GA, 85%), Andre Carson (D-IN, 100%), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO, 95%), and James Clyburn (D-SC, 100%) -- waded through the scrum of protesters.

At least three of them, Cleaver, Carson, and Lewis, claimed immediately afterwards to have been mercilessly pummeled by taunts, threats, spitting, and the dreaded N-word, which Lewis (I think) said was hurled at them "fifteen times."

Curiously, not a single video taken during that event -- and there were many -- supports the allegation; not only that, but not a single antique-media journalist, blogger, or spectator, has stepped forward with evidence that there was any racist verbal assault at all... not even an "eyewitness" account that backs up the CBC Four.

Not even when Andrew Breitbart, former Drudge editor, offered first a $10,000 bounty for any such evidence, then later raised it to $100,000: All anyone, including a reporter, need do is come forward with his own substantiated eyewitness testimony that he heard the N-word shouted at the CBC Four, and he can collect a hundred thousand simoleons. But none has stepped forward and applied.

The easy (and correct) conclusion is that the incidident never happened; that's why no journalist claims he heard it. But this begs a most intriguing question: Why not? Why hasn't some left-leaning journalist present at the scene stepped forward and claimed he heard the N-word, even if he has to lie about it?

One would think it would be the easiest thing in the world for two or three or ten reporters simply to fib, to back up the Democrats and tar the entire Tea-Party popular front with the vile epithet "racist." The leftstream media is certainly no stranger to tendentious lying to make the political Left look good; they do it all the time. What could a new "Jayson Blair" possibly have to lose?

The answer is -- his freedom; and therein lies the genius of Andrew Breitbart.

By making his $100,000 offer, Breitbart has changed the game: He singlehandedly elevated the consequences for lying about the alleged incident from simple embarassment if caught, or even a job loss (usually temporary) -- to felony fraud.

Now if some reporter for the New York Times or the Washington Post or CBS News tells the big lie, casting it as his "personal eyewitness testimony," he can be arrested for fraudulently trying to obtain the hundred thousand dollar bounty. And considering the wealth of negative evidence from videotape, audiotape, and hundreds of Tea Partiers and even other reporters, any earwitness thinking of backing up the CBC's fabrication must weigh the possibility that he himself will end up in prison.

Thus is the power of positive bounty... a ton of money makes a federal case out of simple character assassination!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 19, 2010, at the time of 5:09 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 16, 2010

Prop. 8 Ate Prop

Matrimonial Madness , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

A funny thing happened on the way to the newsstand: The New York Times -- a.k.a., "America's newpaper of wreckage," whose slogan is, "All the news we see fit to print!" -- published a news article about closing arguments in the federal lawsuit to overturn California's Proposition 8, enshrining traditional marriage in the state constitution... and the newspaper actually forgot to include the usual flimsy mask of "even-handedness," the prop they customarily use to disguise the fact that they have but a single (left) leg to stand on.

In fact, they forgot there was another side to the issue at all, at all. It must be read to be believed.

Generally, as the paper hopes to appear slightly less biased than San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, the writer interviews a couple of sources on the opposite side of a liberal shibboleth like same-sex marriage (SSM). However reluctant and half-hearted such "balance" may be, the editors nevertheless feel a faint obligation to act as something other than a paid shill for the Democratic Party and the hard Left. Or at least to leave that impression.

I have long suspected that such tepid gestures of recognition -- like a little kid told he must kiss Great-Aunt Gruesome -- are rarely found in the original version of the story as it comes from the putative reporter, but are added later, a line here, a word there, by the editorial staff as a sop to the 50% of the country that leans more right than left. (Rather like the disclaimers, read at lightning speed and complete incoherence, at the end of a used-car radio commercial.)

Now at last, I think we have some proof; because in this case, somebody omitted that final pre-publication step. Read the so-called "news" article linked above. Remember, this is not an opinion piece; it masquerades as straight reporting, no pun intended. In the piece, the Times turns its celebratory spotlight on the following burning issues:

  • The heroic pro-SSM protesters with their omnipresent pre-printed signs;
  • The tear-jerker plaintiffs -- "All we’ve asked the court to do is make sure that we’re protected under our Constitution, like every other American!"
  • The powerhouse attorneys on the side of America, the People, Decency, Gaea, and L*O*V*E -- the pro-SSM crowd hired both David Boies and Ted Olson, the two attorneys who represented Algore and George W. Bush respectively in the former's attempt to sue his way into the White House;
  • The "several dozen questions" asked by the judge, especially "about the supposed harm of allowing same-sex marriages as well as the government’s interest in forbidding them;"

(Do we start to get the feeling that in this trial, there is no defendant? That the case comprises two brave, loving, gay couples, their attorneys, and the judge -- all facing off against an empty table?)

  • The fact that today's arguments take place on a lucky and auspicious date: the second anniversary of the California Supreme Court's decision striking down Proposition 22, the previous version of Prop. 8 -- "when hundreds of same-sex couples were married in California at the start of a five-month period when such unions were legal in the state."

    Proposition 8 ended those marriages, though the California Supreme Court ruled in May 2009 that the 18,000 or so marriages performed in the five-month period were still valid.

    Those big conservative bullies!

  • And... oh, wait; we almost forgot: The defendants' attorneys made a couple of points, but they were really stupid, so let's not get into it.

There is literally only a single sentence in the entire piece that even so much as mentions that there is another side in this lawsuit; that defendants' table isn't utterly empty. Read slowly; if you blink, you'll miss it:

Arguments in the trial -- presided over by Judge Vaughn R. Walker, the chief judge of the Federal District Court in San Francisco -- began in early January, and included two weeks of evidence and testimony by advocates for same-sex marriage. The defense offered a much more limited testimony, with two witnesses arguing -- among other points -- that same-sex marriage damages traditional marriage as an institution and that special judicial protections were unnecessary for gay people.

There you go! Other than that squib, there's nothing in the story to indicate that there even is another side; one presumes that to the editorial board of the New York Times, this is literally true: It's not that the pro-traditional marriage arguments are unpersuasive, illogical, or even disingenuous; rather, pro-traditional marriage arguments simply do not exist -- just as there is no argument for repealing the law of gravity or demanding that light propagate at twice the speed of light.

My guess is that Times editors cannot see liberal bias for the same reason that fish cannot see water. And like an aquarium of talking fish-heads, if you take these "journalists" out of their liberal ecosphere, they will flop about desperately until they suffocate to death.

So here's my slogan: Save a forest -- bankrupt the Times!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 16, 2010, at the time of 4:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 7, 2010

NYT: In Triumph for Obama, Unemployment Rate Rises!

Media Madness , Quote of the Weak
Hatched by Dafydd

I just couldn't resist this quick hit:

Economy Gains Impetus as U.S. Employers Add 290,000 Jobs

The American economy continued to add jobs in April in a further sign that an economic recovery was on track.

Payrolls surged with an unexpectedly strong 290,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department reported on Friday, while the unemployment rate rose to 9.9 percent. “This is unambiguously a strong report for growth implications,” James O’Sullivan, chief economist at MF Global, said. “It adds to the evidence that the pickup in growth is leading to a clear-cut pickup in employment. It is very clear there has been a bounce here, and momentum has been up.”

Let's perform a little Gedankenexperiment with this piece: Suppose the same financial report were issued, but assume the president is George W. Bush.

 

 

How would the Times have written this story?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 7, 2010, at the time of 12:40 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 15, 2010

ObamaCare Media Coverage: What's In a Verb?

Health Insurance Insurrections , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

At first crack, this may appear to be a meaningless cavil on my part. But I think it cuts to the very heart of the leftstream news media's coverage of the "Progressive" -- that is, national socialist -- policies of President Barack H. Obama.

I read an AP story on the surprising but charming fact that, since passage of ObamaCare, support for it and the One's handling of health care in general has plummeted. This was unexpected, since normally support for a policy rises after it becomes "the law of the land."

Of course, Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) threatened that they had to pass the bill so that we could know what was in it. Well, they passed it; now we know (some but not all of) what's in it; and it's hardly surprising that with each new revelation, Americans realize anew what a huge pile of fertilizer has been dumped on their front porches.

But here is the section that jumped out at me, where AP describes the bill as enacted into law:

The nearly $1 trillion, 10-year health care remake would provide coverage to nearly all Americans while also attempting to improve quality and slow the ruinous pace of rising medical costs.

Nonpartisan congressional budget analysts say the law is fully paid for. [But see previous post. -- DaH] Its mix of Medicare cuts and tax increases, falling mainly on upper-income earners, would actually reduce the federal deficit. And people covered by large employers may even see a dip in their premiums.

The public doesn't seem to be buying it.

Whoa there, Hoss... ObamaCare provides coverage? Perhaps memory dims with age, but I seem to recall that rather than providing coverage, it mandates that everyone pay for coverage at his own expense. The only thing it provides us is yet another reason to vote Republican in November.

So AP cannot forbear cheerleading for government-controlled medicine, even in an article about Americans' rejection of government-controlled medicine! Mark Twain would be vastly entertained.

It is heartening that the public is not "buying" ObamaCare, even (especially) after passage; but to me, the great scandal is what has happened to American journalism. In many ways, it's less competent, and certainly less diverse in its bias, than at any time in America's past.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 15, 2010, at the time of 12:39 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 25, 2010

They Just Don't Get It - Number 2,317

Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

Nominee for dumbest campaign idea of 2010 (so far)...

The Democratic National Committee's Organizing for America has quietly launched an initiative aimed at making Obama supporters' voices heard on the largely conservative airwaves.

"The fate of health reform has been a focus of debate in living rooms and offices, on TV and online -- and on talk radio. And since millions of folks turn to talk radio as a trusted source of news and opinions, we need to make sure OFA supporters are calling in with a pro-reform message," says the introduction to the online tool.

The online tool presents users with a radio show discussing political topics, to which supporters can listen live, and the phone number for that station, for when health care comes up. It also offers tips for callers and talking points on the issue.

So the DNC -- and its black-ops arm, Organizing for America (OFA) -- has the revelation that the reason talk radio is overwhelmingly conservative is that (wait for it) they haven't heard enough "talking points" from liberal seminar callers. (I'm uncertain how this explains the collapse of Air America.)

If only the Left could persuade more Democratic tools -- sorry -- could persuade more uninformed Democrats, who have never had to confront conservative arguments in their lives, to use an online tool to call Rush, Sean, or Hugh and portentiously intone a memorized spiel for ObamaCare or Crap and Tax, then surely talk-radio listeners will see the light, the 2010 election forecast will turn around, and all will be right (sorry, Left) in Obamaland.

What could possibly go wrong?

Good. Just keep thinking that, Rahm. Keep the tools moving through the rest of the year. And be sure to remind your tool-users to get right out there on November 3rd and vote, vote, vote!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 25, 2010, at the time of 3:39 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 26, 2010

That O'Keefe Arrest

Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

James O'Keefe -- he of the ACORN sting videos -- was arrested today, along with three likely accomplices, by the U.S. Marshal's Service for attempting to "interfere" with the phones in Sen. Mary Landrieu's (D-LA, 65%) office.

This seems peculiar... but we have one tantalizing clue to what might be going on:

Activist James O'Keefe, 25, was already in Landrieu's New Orleans office Monday when Robert Flanagan and Joseph Basel, both 24, showed up claiming to be telephone repairmen, according to U.S. Attorney Jim Letten's office. Letten says O'Keefe recorded the two with his cell phone.

Once inside the reception area, Flanagan, the son of acting U.S. Attorney Bill Flanagan in Shreveport, and Basel asked for access to the main phone at the reception desk.

After handling the phone, "Flanagan and Basel next requested access to the telephone closet because they needed to perform work on the main telephone system," Letten's office said.

The men were directed to another office in the building, they're accused of again misrepresenting themselves as telephone repairmen.

To my mind, it's overwhelming likely that O'Keefe was trying to pull off another sting, this time of Landrieu; but what, exactly? Did they really tamper with the phones? Or where they trying to see how easy it was to gain access to the phone system of a United States Senator? That could be important if the phone "interferers" were terrorists, for example, instead of a renegade journalist.

In any event, the sting, if such it was -- and why would O'Keefe be videorecording the activities if it wasn't a sting? -- went badly awry: Whatever vulnerability he was trying to demonstrate, I suspect he actually showed the opposite, at least in Landrieu's case.

Another question: Was this the first such phone "intereference" instance, or just the first failure? Perhaps O'Keefe has a dozen already completed videos where his crew succeeds in... well, in whatever it was they were trying to do.

I doubt that James O'Keefe will want to air any videos he has, however; they might precipitate numerous more charges against him, now that the FBI is already on his track!

In any event, it certainly sounds more like a blown sting operation and less like any real criminal intent was involved. But look for the ACORN-loving Left to go after O'Keefe hammer and tooth, calling him a criminal, a thug, and a terrorist.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 26, 2010, at the time of 2:05 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 13, 2009

How to Win a Political Argument Without Really Trying

Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

Liberals and "Progressives" have always had a media advantage in pitching their sundry causes to the American people: They have controlled the major entertainment media (print, radio, television, and movies) for many decades; so when they're losing the argument on points in news and discussion shows, they can always sneak their agit-prop across in fiction dramas and comedies instead.

But rarely has this tactic been used more blatantly than in this week's episode of Law & Order: SVU:

This week's episode of "Law & Order: SVU" featured a character played by John Larroquette talking to a detective and saying, "Limbaugh, Beck, O'Reilly, all of 'em, they are like a cancer spreading ignorance and hate...They've convinced folks that immigrants are the problem, not corporations that fail to pay a living wage or a broken health care system..."

Why do they do this? Does it work? I'm afraid it probably does; a well-written show, as I'm informed Law & Order is (I've never watched it), grabs the viewer by the throat and drags him into that world. Once there, characters become real people; evil characters become actual bad guys subject to hisses and hurled tomatoes; and it's absurdly easy to gin up real anger at the villain of the piece. When that "villain" is a real person in the real world, fiction slops over into reality, and a real person becomes subject to attacks based upon scenarios in a fictional parallel universe.

A screenwriter needn't prove his case using evidence and analysis; he simply creates a storyline in which his personal political and ideological opinions all turn out to be true. Mirabile dictu! As I've said since paleozoic times, it's child's play to win an argument when you get to script both sides.

To many people, television is more real than the real world, because it's difficult to grasp the underlying "plot" in reality; things seem just to happen. In the real world, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Bill O'Reilly have complex, nuanced, fact-based, and articulable opinions on a variety of subjects. They don't always agree with each other and often take surprising twists, to the befuddlement of liberals and the consternation of conservatives. To evaluate any of them, you must at least listen to his show for a few weeks to understand the areas where he is brilliant, note his blind spots, and learn his prejudices (we all have them), thus to compile a (reasonably) complete picture of his worldview.

But in the TV realm, all nuance is squashed flat, shades of gray become black or white, and transitional colors morph into uncompromising primaries. These three real human beings become simply cartoonish villains -- and I mean DC comics from the 1940s; today's comic books have more character depth than conservatives are ever allowed to display on the great glass teat!

How long before somebody on Law & Order gets the bright idea to similarly attack Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY, 80%), Sen. John Kyl (R-AZ, 96%), and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC, 100%)? The writer can argue the case for ObamaCare in a universe in which it actually works the way Senate Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 75%) claims it will... relying upon the inability of many Americans, especially liberals, to distinguish between real life and a tendentiously concocted piece of fiction.

It's a hoot: Liberals constantly whine that we should resurrect the putative "Fairness Doctrine;" but it we ever did (may God forbid, if He exists), and if it was applied fairly and consistently, broadcast television would take a much greater punch in the mouth than would even talk radio, because these fiction shows almost never give "equal time" to the Right.

So why do they support the doctrine? Because they know it would in fact be administered corruptly, only being used against conservative messaging, not liberal. Just as when liberals voted for Barack H. Obama, knowing (nudge, wink) that his frequent denunciations of partisanship, demagoguery, corruption, profligate spending, and his support for unbiased science and for our two wars, were never intended to be taken seriously or pursued even-handedly.

To some extent, one can trace "progressive" fury at Obama to the inconvenient reality that the fiery, left-wing candidate, when he became president, was willy-nilly forced by circumstances actually to fulfill a couple of his campaign promises. Outrageous!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 13, 2009, at the time of 6:56 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 29, 2009

Crass Warfare

Health Insurance Insurrections , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

We haven't posted since Thursday because for us, Thanksgiving hasn't happened yet; it's a complicated dance involving my sister's in-laws and trying to juggle two Thanksgivings at two different locations, coupled with several other family members having made commitments for Friday and Saturday -- don't ask! So we're doing our Thanksgiving today. (And we personally are the ones who make the turkey, stuffings, gravy, cornbread, pies, baklava, and such; so we've been busy cooking.)

But I have a quick post before I must go make the giblet gravy from the turkey drippings...

AP has a story up essentially recapitulating what you all already know if you read Big Lizards -- or Power Line, Patterico's Pontifications, Hot Air, our dearest Michelle, or pretty much any other political blog. I'm sure even Daily Kos has discussed it, the fact that, while there were sixty votes (barely!) in the Senate to kick off debate, there are nowhere near sixty votes to finish debate and move to a vote; I doubt there are even fifty:

The 60 votes aren't there any more.

With the Senate set to begin debate Monday on health care overhaul, the all-hands-on-deck Democratic coalition that allowed the bill to advance is fracturing already. Yet majority Democrats will need 60 votes again to finish.

Some Democratic senators say they'll jump ship from the bill without tighter restrictions on abortion coverage. Others say they'll go unless a government plan to compete with private insurance companies gets tossed overboard. Such concessions would enrage liberals, the heart and soul of the party.

There's no clear course for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to steer legislation through Congress to President Barack Obama. You can't make history unless you reach 60 votes, and don't count on Republicans helping him.

Yes, yes, we already know that; but for those poor schlimazels who get their news from the daily newspaper, this story will be a stunner. However, here is the part that caught my attention:

But Reid is determined to avoid being remembered as another Democrat who tried and failed to make health care access for the middle class a part of America's social safety net.

What?

When did an attempt to extend health insurance to the deserving poor -- and force, under threat of prison time, everyone else to buy health insurance, even if they don't think they need it (perhaps they have a medical savings account and catastrophic care coverage) -- when did AP drop the pretense and admit that this boondoggle was really an entitlement program for the entire "middle class," whatever that is?

I know that's what it always secretly was; but I mean to ask, When did Democrats and their press accessories after the fact decide to openly acknowledge that the poor have nothing to do with it?

There are more buried nuggets in this story, starting with the casual truculence of this attack on Capitalism:

[ObamaCare] would ban onerous insurance industry practices such as denying coverage or charging higher premiums because of someone's poor health.

"Onerous" means burdensome, unfair, oppressive; since people already in "poor health" before signing up for insurance will cost Aetna or Blue Cross much more money, why shouldn't they have to pay somewhat higher premiums? Again, I thought the problem arose when folks with pre-existing conditions were flatly denied coverage... because that would force them into already overtaxed trauma centers for the most minor of medical treatments.

Of course we cognoscenti already knew the bill includes a sneaky provision to stop insurance companies from charging even slightly more for those with pre-existing conditions; but I hadn't seen before, in the health-insurance debate, such a buck-naked presentation of "from each according to his ability to each according to his needs!" I thank the Associated Press for finally fessing up and letting their cards fall on the table.

By the way, AP gives us some new statistics:

The public is ambivalent about the Democrats' legislation. While 58 percent want elected officials to tackle health care now, about half of those supporters say they don't like what they're hearing about the plans, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll.

Half of 58% is 29%; so if we add together those supporters of health-insurance "reform" who reject the specifics of ObamaCare and the 42% who don't think we should even be monkeying with it right now -- instead of doing something about the wars or jobs or somesuch -- that appears to make around 71% not in favor of the bill, submitted to the Senate by Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 70%). A 70-30 split against ObamaCare among the electorate doesn't augur well for the bill's passage.

There is no new information about the content of Reid's radical revisionism; but the revelation that the major media are finally turning somewhat honest in the debate, letting people know a least a few of the "onerous" details (they still won't mention the staggering taxes), makes it distinctly less likely that "PinkyCare" will ultimately pass: Silence was always key to success.

Sorry, Harry; I'm afraid you're going to be remembered as the Democratic senator who screwed up ObamaCare. Or to be more precise, the former Democratic senator.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 29, 2009, at the time of 1:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 23, 2009

Times Slimes Obamic Climes

Media Madness , Polling Keeps a-Rolling
Hatched by Dafydd

The mighty New York Times has abruptly woken from its slumber to discover that President Barack H. Obama hasn't been doing too well recently on the approval front; Adam Nagourney has finally noticed a couple of disturbing facts:

Mr. Obama’s decline a year into his term comes as he struggles through a decidedly sour climate. The unemployment rate has jumped above 10 percent and shows no sign of abating. At this point, even if Mr. Obama cannot be blamed for causing the economic decline, Americans are growing impatient with him to fix it.

His main legislative initiative -- the health care bill -- is the subject of a messy fight in Congress, displaying Washington in the very bitter partisan light that Mr. Obama promised to end. It has provided Republicans with a platform to stir concerns that Mr. Obama is using the health care overhaul to expand the role of government beyond the comfort level of many Americans; polls suggest that these arguments have helped sow significant doubts.

Nagourney is still not quite sure this is really happening; it could just be an artifact of the One being outside the country for a few days. But he does concede that there might be the faint beginnings of something happenin' here...

Still, there does seem to be the suggestion of a trend here.



ObamaApproval

Approval of Barack H. Obama from inauguration to 23 November 2009

Gee... you think?

InstaReynolds wrote a short (now there's a shock!), powerful (ditto) post yesterday (which happened to be the 46th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, though that that is neither here nor there). In the post, Glenn Reynolds analyzed the narcissism rooted deep in the 2008 election -- and it's not the one you're thinking of:

I think Obama’s “charisma” was based on voter narcissism -- people excited not just about electing a black President, but about themselves, voting for a black President. Now that’s over, and they’re stuck just with him, and emptied of their own narcissism there’s not much there to fill out the suit. As Ann Althouse says, “I think what Obama seems to have become, he always was.”

This is what is meant by a phrase some have used that is undoubtedly racially offensive -- but also certainly true in a very deep sense: "Barack the magic negro." American voters felt great joy in finally being able to vote a black man into the Presidency of the United States; and even those who have neither racial animus nor guilt should be pleased that there is no longer a color barrier for the most powerful position in the world (though still a gender barrier). It's impossible to forget that for most of our history, that "color barrier" was all too real and all too deliberate, even after the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

But once the magic wears off, and we find ourselves stuck with the quotidian edition of Barack H. Obama instead, then the narcissistic impulse to support him fades. When he is left with only himself, his policies, and his appointees, then many erstwhile supporters recoil and ask, "What hath Man wrought!"

So in that sense, Nagourney's headline (which I'm sure he didn't write) -- "An Unsurprising Slide for Obama" -- is quite true. But that is no comfort for la Casa Blanca; because Nagourney notwithstanding, the reaction is not a temporary blip in an otherwise smooth presidential trajectory. As the graphic above graphically illustrates, the slide is not only not surprising, it's not sudden; neither does it show any sign of suddenly stopping.

We rightly congratulate ourselves (collectively) for electing a black president over a white candidate that nobody could call unAmerican, dishonorable, or ridiculous, however much we may wish he were a better Republican. But when we're done patting ourselves on the back, we feel no compulsion to re-elect him after he has proven himself such a risible, unprepared, unqualified farce. This slide is permanent, changeable only if Obama himself changes significantly:

Mr. Obama’s aides argue that the political culture of Washington is too fixated on each new bit of approval-rating data.

“I think the history of these things is that Washington becomes absorbed with them,” said David Axelrod, a senior adviser to Mr. Obama. “But not every day is Election Day. There’s not all that much relationship about what these things mean and what’s going to happen in an election a year -- or three years -- in advance.”

Axelrod can spin like a whirling Dervish, but he cannot bring the magic home again; Obama will never again enjoy a default approval of 65%. Like every other president, he will rise and fall (mostly the latter, if I'm any judge) on the basis of what he does and how he governs.

Adam Nagourney does have one point quite right:

Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster, has long argued that the gap between the public’s views of Mr. Obama and of his policies is politically significant [sic -- I think he meant "insignificant"], and that it is only a matter of time before the two measures meet. If that happens, Republicans could find it easier to engage Mr. Obama, whether by challenging him on policies in Washington, or running against him in Congressional elections next year, the way Democrats ran against George W. Bush in the 2006 midterms.

This of course explains the rush of the Democratic caucus in Congress to pass anything and everything they can this year; because by next year, too many of them will be fighting for their political lives to risk it all on pushing unpopular, deviant, even terrifying legislation that nationalizes more and more of American life, empowering the federal government at the expense of the people.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 23, 2009, at the time of 4:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 9, 2009

The Forgotten Architects

Confusticated Conservatives , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

What is missing from these two articles?

The first is from the Associated Press, commemorating the anniversary of the historic day when the Berlin wall came a-tumblin' down:

Chancellor Angela Merkel and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev crossed a former fortified border on Monday to cheers of "Gorby! Gorby!" as a throng of grateful Germans recalled the night 20 years ago that the Berlin Wall gave way to their desire for freedom and unity....

Merkel, who grew up in East Germany and was one of thousands to cross that night, recalled that "before the joy of freedom came, many people suffered."

She lauded Gorbachev, with whom she shared an umbrella amid a crush of hundreds, eager for a glimpse of the man many still consider a hero for his role in pushing reform in the Soviet Union.

"We always knew that something had to happen there so that more could change here," she said.

"You made this possible -- you courageously let things happen, and that was much more than we could expect," she told Gorbachev in front of several hundred people gathered in light drizzle on the bridge over railway lines.

And here is the New York Times' take on the same meeting:

Mrs. Merkel’s symbolic walk across the Bornholmer Strasse bridge, accompanied by Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, and Lech Walesa, the former shipyard worker who led a fight against Moscow-backed Communism in Poland, came as Berlin prepared for an evening of celebration to mark the moments on Nov. 9, 1989, when the wall began to crumble....

She said that a “new generation is growing up who are embedded in Europe, for whom the world is much more open than for our generation.”

“That is worth fighting for,” she said. The bridge was packed shoulder to shoulder with people, and the biggest cheer came when Mrs. Merkel thanked Mr. Gorbachev for the reforming attitude he brought to the Soviet leadership. The crowd chanted, “Gorby, Gorby, Gorby....”

During the celebrations, a long line of 1,000 oversized painted dominoes are to be toppled along the route of the wall as a symbol of its collapse in the heady days of 1989 when dictatorships tumbled across eastern Europe. German television said Mr. Walesa would push over the first domino, reflecting Poland’s lead in Eastern Europe’s campaign against Communism.

What is missing? How about even a single mention of the true architects of the fall of the Berlin wall? The wall was not brought down by Mikhail Gorbachev; he desperately wanted to preserve the Soviet Empire... all of it. Nor was it brought down by Lech Walesa, who wanted only for Polish authorities to allow trade unions and strikes in that country.

German citizens did not just wake up one day and begin dismantling the wall, out of the blue. And American protesters were not protesting against the Berlin wall in 1989 -- they were too busy protesting against the efforts to dismantle it!

Forgotten -- or more accurately, airbrushed out of the picture in an American instance of "the Commisar Vanishes" -- are the two men who actually wrought that change in the face of strident, almost hysterical opposition by virtually the entire world: Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan. Neither receives so much as a mention in either article -- nor in the articles by the Washington Post or Reuters.

Only the Wall Street Journal reluctantly brings up Reagan, almost as an embarassment; he sneaks in through the back door in a single throw-away line in the eleventh paragraph of a 15-graf story. And the reference is preceded by the following expurgated history:

Ms. Merkel, then a 35-year-old physicist living in East Berlin, was among those who walked through the open gate into democratic West Berlin that night. On Monday she led former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and Lech Walesa, leader of Poland's Solidarity movement, across the bridge, through a chaotic throng that Ms. Merkel said reminded her of the real event 20 years ago.

The chancellor thanked both men for their contributions to the democratic revolutions that swept Eastern Europe in 1989. The independent trade union Solidarity challenged Communist rulers who claimed to speak for the workers, while Mr. Gorbachev "bravely let things happen" in Poland, East Germany and other former Soviet satellites, Ms. Merkel said to cheers from onlookers. For 28 years the Berlin Wall stopped East Germans from visiting or escaping to West Berlin, an enclave of the democratic, capitalist West inside the Communist bloc during the Cold War. The fortified and guarded Wall fell to crowds of ordinary citizens 20 years ago after an East German official bungled the announcement of new travel regulations, giving media the impression that the border lay open with immediate effect.

While Germans have celebrated that happy accident in recent days and weeks, Ms. Merkel's government has been at pains to commemorate the wider context of reforms, mass protests and democratic revolutions across Eastern Europe in 1989.

Symbolically, Mr. Walesa and former Hungarian Communist reformer Miklos Nemeth were due to tip over the first of the decorative dominoes on Monday night.

Solidarity led the first non-purely-Communist government in the Soviet bloc following its victory in June 1989 elections. Mr. Nemeth, as Hungarian prime minister, opened his country's border with Austria in May 1989, a move that allowed thousands of East Germans to flee to the West and set off the unravelling of the Iron Curtain that had divided Cold War Europe.

Yeah... that's how I remember it. (One must bear in mind that the only portion of the WSJ that is in any sense "conservative" -- is the Opinion section. The rest could be written by Reuters, and frequently is.)

The Los Angeles Times does deign to mention Reagan, at least; but it saves him for an opinion piece -- in which James Mann of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies argues, in a rather snide and smug tone, that Reagan really had no intention of bringing down the wall or dismantling the Soviet Union; rather, he was anxious to buddy up to Gorbachev and preserve the evil empire, so we could do business with it. (Mr. Mann makes Reagan out to be more dovish than Jimmy Carter.)

Confused? Here's a sample:

But how significant was the speech, really? How important was its seemingly defiant tone in reuniting Berlin and "winning" the Cold War? [Note the scare quotes]

To many American conservatives, the answer to those questions is simple: Reagan stared down the Soviet Union. And the Berlin Wall speech stands as the dramatic symbol of Reagan's challenge and triumph.

But those who say this ignore the actual history and context of the speech. In fact, Reagan's address served the purpose of shoring up public support as he moved to upgrade American relations with the Soviet Union. It was Reagan's diplomacy with Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev, bitterly opposed at the time by his conservative former supporters, that did the most to create the climate in which the Cold War could end.

The Cold War just... ended. For some inexplicable reason.

It's an amazingly tendentious opinion piece, the only purpose of which is to pooh-pooh the obviously silly idea that Reagan had any animus towards the USSR; rather, all his blustery rhetoric was just cover for a Kissengerian realpolitik. Reagan just wanted to improve our bargaining position -- he never meant for the Soviet Union to fall! One gains the impression that Ronald Reagan might even have been horrified at the loss of a negotiating partner...

Mr. Mann's thesis is a patent absurdity, and I don't care if the entire Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies gives it a hearty thumbs-up. Mr. Mann argues that Reagan spent four decades fighting against the evil that was (and may yet be again) the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; and then he abruptly turned a corner in the late 1980s and started liking them, trying to prop them up as long as he could. Mr. Mann is an idiot -- but a useful one for today's American Left. He is not literally unintelligent, in the sense of a Joe Biden or a Barack H. Obama; but by his anti-Right animus, he has allowed the Left to make a fool of him.

Reagan himself famously said that if he succeeded in his goals (one of which was the destruction of the Soviet Union), he didn't care who got the credit. But we, the living, cannot afford the luxury of such magnanimity. We cannot allow the American and Euro-Left to hijack the credit for ending the Cold War, when they were the very ones who tried mightily to perpetuate it, and indeed tried their crooked best to ensure victory for the other side.

Why not? Because the same Left is today beavering away at restoring that same evil empire, this time under the tender mercies of Russia's Vladimir Putin and his sock puppet, Dmitri Medvedev; under the Dear Leader, Kim Jong-Il, in North Korea; under Hu Jintau in China; under Oogo Chavez in Venezuela and los bros Castro in Cuba... and especially under the leveling regime of the United Nations, which treats socialist, totalitarian states that impose tyranny with the same respect as they treat free, independent states that promote individualism and liberty. Hey, who are we to say which is best?

Reagan and John Paul II were not "commisars," and we must not allow them to vanish from the picture. They stood proud and strong for clear principles of freedom, democracy, self-determination, individual responsibility and accountability, and Capitalism -- the great marriage of liberty and economics. Above all, both men, following in Thomas Jefferson's footsteps, had "sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." (Of course, Jefferson would have listed the Church itself among those tyrannies.)

It is long past time for us anti-Leftists to take back the Right.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 9, 2009, at the time of 2:59 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 4, 2009

V: Is There Finally a Network Show That Criticizes Obama?

Media Madness
Hatched by Movie Badger

Last night I watched the premiere of V, the remake of the 1980s miniseries about alien "visitors" whose friendly facade masks sinister motives. In terms of quality and entertainment value it's so-so. Not great, but there are plenty of worse things on TV, and I intend to keep watching it for now.

But there's something really interesting about it: The aliens are clearly a metaphor for President Obama.

During a time of financial, political, and military strife, the aliens arrive, bringing a message of hope. Many people see them as saviors; few stop to question their motives or consider that they may not be the same as the image they present.

Expressions of doubt or criticism are seen by many as offensive. The aliens enlist the help of energetic young people to build support and root out any skeptics. The media is told that they're not allowed to ask any uncomfortable question or anything that would present the aliens in a negative light... and the media agrees to that.

The aliens even -- and I swear I am not making this up -- offer universal health care.

Of course by the end of the pilot, it's clear that the aliens do have an ulterior motive and are planning something horrible. Members of the resistance discuss what the true motivations might be; and the episode concludes with the hero pointing out that the aliens are trying to develop their most powerful weapon: Devotion.

Over the past decade, we've had to endure countless Hollywood villains who were thinly veiled (or not veiled at all) proxies for George W. Bush, and/or cartoonishly "eeeeevil" caricatures of Republicans and conservatives. It's nice finally to see some similar criticism of Obama in a mainstream, big-budget, network TV show.

Perhaps this is a sign that the veneer of the Obamessiah has finally cracked, and criticizing or doubting the President is no longer seen as taboo.

Hatched by Movie Badger on this day, November 4, 2009, at the time of 11:27 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 27, 2009

Obamunism Infects the Washington Times

Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

When Barack H. Obama was running for president, then after the election, then even after his inauguration, he told us over and over that the Bush doctrine of isolating Iran and refusing its demand for one-on-one talks was churlish and wrongheaded: The only approach that would work, sayeth the new president, was to start over -- to "reset" all foreign policy... not just the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis, but the Israeli-Palestinian issue, Russia, China, North Korea, and indeed every other hot spot around the world.

Summit-level negotiations "without preconditions" was the new way; it would lead to a new world order of peace, understanding, diplomacy, and global cooperation among nations. Imagine, using the golden oratory of the One the World Was Waiting For to talk Iran out of pursuring nuclear weaponty -- nobody had ever tried such a thing before!

(Well, technically true, perhaps; I don't think any previous president was naïve enough to believe that mere talk could persuade enemies to agree to positions that helped the democratic West against the enemy's own interests.)

Included among the assumptions such a policy requires is, quite naturally, that our diplomatic partnets can be trusted. When Obama insisted that he would go anywhere, anytime to have a sit-down and a cuppa with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and just, you know, talk things out, the Obamacle was screaming in subtext that Ahmadinejad could be trusted not to cheat and not to lie: After all, how could we possibly cut a deal with someone who had no intention of abiding by his side of it? In legal terms, there is no "meeting of the minds," hence no contract exists.

So one would think it a staggering blow to the Obamic metapolicy of "diplomacy not defense" (my term) to learn that for years, Ahmadinejad has been playing the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for saps -- lying to the West and lying to America in particular about such a material fact as the existence of another hardened, buried, concealed nuclear enrichment facility in Qom, besides the two known sites: Lashkar Abad (allegedly shut down) and the main uranium-enrichment site at Natanz.

One would think, that is, that the revelation of systematic lying on an international scale (in flagrant violation of international agreements), while building a secret facility that even the Obama administration admits is not suitable for producing fuel for peaceful energy production, might put a crimp in the idea that Iran and its president can be trusted to honor any future international agreements on the very same program.

One might also conclude that, since Obama says he has known about the Iranian deception at least since inauguration and possibly even during the campaign, therefore the One Himself was also lying to the American people and playing us for saps; he knew the Iranians were cheats and liars, but he told us we could trust them to honor agreements and tell the truth.

But one would be wrong... for the Obama administration (and its liberal allies) instead see the entire incident as adding to the luster of the president's foreign-policy acumen. And in a bizarre twist of the tale, so too does the Washington Times, previously thought to be a "conservative" newspaper:

Mr. Obama's disclosure Friday that Iran had a secret nuclear facility and that he had known about it since taking office introduced a new way of looking at many of his decisions since January. [Yes, we now look at his past statements and see that he lied to the American people and misled us to believe we had negotiating partners. -- DaH]

"You have to go back and look at the nine months and all the moves he's made since then, and that he knew Iran was lying to him, and he still went ahead with it," said Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, a Washington advocacy group devoted to eliminating nuclear weapons from the world.

"He played Iran perfectly, to isolate Iran, unite all the other countries around him, with an open hand to Iran, and then he springs the trap."

Not only did the president look strong, he looked cunning.

The last line is not in quotation marks; it's the opinion of the reporter, Jon Ward, hence of the Washington Times itself.

More fawning from the Times:

Now, a question for the White House is whether it can capitalize on this moment and direct this sense of momentum toward its domestic agenda, namely health care reform.

The president's top advisers, after returning to Washington from the Group of 20 summit in Pittsburgh, acknowledged that Mr. Obama had cut a compelling figure during a week of maneuvering to hem in Iran's nuclear program.

"The president played a strong and effective leadership role this week on the world stage, and I think Americans appreciate that," said David Axelrod, one of the president's closest advisers.

Well, I'm certainly impressed that Barack Obama has the vote of confidence of his own closest confidants!

This is the sort of high-RPM spinning I expect from the Washington Post, not Times, as they frantically pirouette and tapdance, trying to make a silk purse out of a pig's breakfast. Note that this story includes no analysis by even a single conservative group or person; just three liberals, including the president's own top advisor, David Axelrod.

Like the elite left media, this fairy tale reads as though it was written by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, under a "nom de rotation."

Yet conservatives have not been silent; they've already opined on what the hasty, overdue revelation means; and any newspaper writer or editor should have been aware of that fact.

After all, the Obama administration is certainly not known for self-effacing modesty; it has never shied from admiring itself the mirror. Maybe, just maybe, Obama's opinion of himself is not particuarly newsworthy.

For just one example, John Hinderaker at Power Line wrote a lengthy post taking a look at how this revelation re-colors a series of inexplicable foreign-policy missteps that now should fairly be seen as direct appeasement of a powerful enemy:

  • Knowing that Iran was lying in its teeth, cheating us and the U.N., and laughing at our unwillingness to hold it accountable in a meaningful way, Obama still begged Ahmadinejad for a face-to-face meeting "without preconditions."
  • Knowing what he knew, he nevertheless betrayed Poland and the Czech Republic by reneging on the missile shield.
  • Knowing what they knew, our allies still refused to join Obama in any tough sanctions regime against Iran.
  • And knowing what everyone but "we the people" knew, and even now after all has been revealed, the president is still publicly dithering about whether to grant the plea of Gen. Stanley McChrystal for a change to a counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy in Afghanistan that would require more troops.

Rather than making the Obamacle look stronger, this revelation makes his foreign policy look pathetic and limp, almost surreal. We know that Obama rushed to reveal the existence of the Qom nuclear site because he knew Iran itself was about to disclose it:

Mr. Obama’s hand was forced, however, after Iran, apparently learning that the site had been discovered by Western intelligence, delivered a vague, terse letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency on Monday disclosing that it was building a second plant, one that it had never mentioned during years of inspections.

Given Obama's earlier willingness to play along with Iran and trick the American people into believing the mullahs and Ahmadinejad were reliable partners, the only rational conclusion is that Obama thought he could better spin the suddenly looming disclosure if he jumped out and did it first himself. Was he hoping the American people would never find out about it, so he could continue his appeasement tour of the Middle East?

And one more question: Is Obama considering rejecting McChrystal's request because he's afraid that when next-door Iran gets its nukes, which likelihood he seems strangely complacent about, they can then hold our entire Afghanistan force hostage?

The Washington Times article ends thus:

The biggest impact of the Iran secret-site announcement may be that in the future, when critics level the boom [sic] on the president for a decision they don't like, they might hesitate for fear that, like the past week, he might have an ace up his sleeve. ["Level the boom" must be a mangling of "level their sights" and "lower the boom"; I'll have to remember that one and steal it later!]

So critics might hesitate to "level the boom" on the One -- because they're worried he might be concealing other material facts from the American people that make him look weak and weird? I'm unfamiliar with this political calculus.

Sadly, but not unpredictably, conservatives seem just as eager as liberals to cooperate in retailing President Obama's paralogical reimaging of his own pratfalls into examples of unalloyed genius. Lying to the American people and trying to trick us into supporting "negotiations" with a "partner" who is utterly untrustworthy is evidently not a bug. It's a feature.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 27, 2009, at the time of 6:06 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 25, 2009

Maloney Baloney II: Slice It Very, Very Thin

Democratic Culture of Corruption , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

Just a snippet from the hearings called by Rep. Carolyn B. "Balarky" Maloney (D-NY, 95%) -- to which "just three of 20 House and Senate members showed up," including the Chairwoman. Here is an urgent plea from one "panelist", a sociology professor from Princeton. (Does panelist rather than "witness" mean he wasn't sworn at by the committee?)

What's more, Paul Starr of Princeton University said, newspapers differ from other corporate interests.

"The press has not been regarded, and should not be regarded, as just another industry. Government has sought to advance it because a democratic political system cannot function without a diverse, free and independent source of news," said Mr. Starr, a professor of sociology and public affairs.

I couldn't agree more; too bad we haven't had a "diverse, free and independent" news medium for decades. Do you think the homogenous, constrained, self-censoring, and blindly liberal nature of newspapers and television "news" shows may be one reason why they're hemorrhaging readers and viewers like the blood gushing from Monty Python's black knight, after King Arthur cut off his right arm and leg?

One more illuminating point, then we MoveOn to more compelling topics; Ms. Maloney excitedly proclaimed:

Unless something is done, and done fast, it's likely that many metropolitan areas may soon have no local daily newspapers, and that would damage our democracy.

The nearest local newspaper to the metropolitan area that includes Lizard Central is the Los Angeles Times. I can only register my heartfelt hope that Maloney is right, and that the Times will soon fold. I strongly suspect that it's the continued existence of such inaptly named "newspapers" that is truly damaging our democracy.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 25, 2009, at the time of 3:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 24, 2009

Maloney Baloney

Democratic Culture of Corruption , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

Congressional hearings begin today on "the impact of the newspaper industry's financial problems." We previously discussed these hearings, and the legislation they're intended to spawn, in Obama Looking Forward to Nationalizing Newspapers.

The hearings are chaired by Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY, 95%), Chair of the House Joint Economic Committee. Here is her statement on the purpose of the hearings:

"I am holding the Joint Economic Committee hearing to examine the importance of newspapers to our democracy throughout our nation's history and the treacherous economic landscape they face," Maloney wrote in a statement to E&P. "The witnesses will review alternative funding options for newspapers in our new and ever-changing electronic age. Since the ratification of the Bill of Rights, the federal government has acknowledged that the press is an institution which is afforded special protections by name. In this spirit, I think that the government can help foster solutions for this industry in ways which protect the independence of newspapers and enables their objective reporting to thrive in a new economic and media climate."

Yes, the Divine Ms. M. is correct; our Constitution gives "special protections" to the press... protections against government control and interference. Including, one would presume, government funding of newspapers -- but only those that print "the truth," of course. You certainly wouldn't want us to fund newspapers that printed lies about the president and Congress!

But Maloney's malarky is mindblowing... for in a single breath, she hints at government subsidies to support newspapers -- and declares this would protect their independence!

At least Sarah Palin had to be parodied by somebody else, an actual comedian, Tina Fey. These ultralefties are perfectly capable of parodying themselves.

(Cf. Schoolkids being led in a cultic chant proclaiming "Barack Hussein Obama" America's messiah. I recant my previous sentence; these people are beyond parody.)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 24, 2009, at the time of 2:27 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 20, 2009

Obama Looking Forward to Nationalizing Newspapers

Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

The nation's top "mainstream" (that is, reliably liberal) newspapers would all become nonprofits -- kind of like PBS:

The president said he is "happy to look at" bills before Congress that would give struggling news organizations tax breaks if they were to restructure as nonprofit businesses.

"I haven't seen detailed proposals yet, but I'll be happy to look at them," Obama told the editors of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Toledo Blade in an interview.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) has introduced S. 673, the so-called "Newspaper Revitalization Act," that would give outlets tax deals if they were to restructure as 501(c)(3) corporations. That bill has so far attracted one cosponsor, Cardin's Maryland colleague Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D).

(Actually, they're already nonprofits... but more like Lehman Brothers than PBS. At least they can formalize their status; insolvency -- it's not a bug, it's a feature!)

How did the nation's elite liberal newspapers get into this mess? History is clear:

  • When they shifted from trying to report the news to trying to elect Democrats, they began shedding circulation.
  • When they lost circulation, they lost advertising -- including the critical classified adverts, which were the major source of most newspapers' revenue.
  • As their income tanked, they had to let reporters and editors go. Given their business model, of course they let go all the conservatives and moderates, anyone who might insist upon hard facts instead of "reporting" Democratic spin.
  • Thus, they became even more unilateral and strident, hence lost even more circulation. In various fields of science and maths, this is called a "feedback loop."

But now Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD, 100%) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD, 95%) have proposed a solution to this catastrophic turn of events: These newspapers will henceforth become nonprofit organizations... and will be bailed out via "tax deals." This sounds oddly like a government subsidy.

Freed from the demand that they actually turn a profit, or even retain readership, they can now utterly wallow, like swamp hogs, in the foetid morass of New Left and liberal advocacy. They will no longer be in danger of sinking into the quicksand; the government will keep bailing them out, so long as they continue suckling at Barack H. Obama's breast.

What a cozy, madonna-and-holy-infant relationship.

At last, the only major national newspapers we shall have in future will be directly controlled by the federal government, and wholly dependent upon the president for their subsistence and continued existence -- like in Oogo Chavez's Venezuela. No more of this unpatriotic carping and racist demagoguing of the mitzvahs sloughed off by the Obamacle; the president and the Democrats in Congress will speak ex cathedra, and the church organs will pipe and print the holy writ. We'll finally have all of our drunks in a row.

What could go wrong?

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 20, 2009, at the time of 4:40 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

September 11, 2009

"Reconciliation!" Gushes The Hill

Congressional Calamities , Health Insurance Insurrections , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

It's an article remarkable for its straightforward boosterism of the most extreme congressional tactic Democrats might use to pass ObamaCare.

Today in the Hill -- the largest circulation newspaper written for (and about) Congress -- we read an article (bylined Sam Youngman) that is so enthusiastic about the mounting likelihood that Democrats will try to pass ObamaCare by abusing the reconciliation process, bypassing the Byrd Rule, that -- well, as the title of this post says, the paper positively gushes over the prospect:

By offering Republicans olive branches during his address to Congress on Wednesday, Obama has set up a win-win situation. If GOP lawmakers embrace compromise [by which Youngman means "surrender" -- DaH], a healthcare bill would pass Congress easily. But the more likely scenario is that Republicans will continue to oppose Obama’s plan, and the president later this fall will be able to note he tried to strike a deal with the GOP but could not.

Darn Republicans, refusing to compromise on their "principles" even for the sake of the president! But hey, at least he tried.

Republicans contend that the use of reconciliation would be at odds with Obama’s call for bipartisanship during his 2008 presidential campaign. But Obama has countered that argument in recent days by forcefully resurrecting the anti-Washington rhetoric that got him elected.

He's winning -- he's winning -- he countered their argument!

"The time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed," Obama said. "Now is the season for action."

And there's the rallying cry, baldly stated without comment. Why not go whole hog? Liberté, égalité, fraternité!

The Hill notes not a single substantive reason why reconciliation should not be used in this case; but there are several, as everyone at the paper knows well:

  • It's supposed to be used for noncontroversial changes made to programs to keep them within the bounds set by the budget resolution. But ObamaCare is a wildly controversial, radical rewrite of the entire American health-care system
  • On a related argument, it's unprecedented to use the reconciliation process to establish a huge new government agency -- or series of agencies. That's not what it's for at all, at all.
  • It's not to be used for programs that will add more to the deficit that what is already accounted for in the current budget resolution, which calls for deficit neutral health-care reform; but the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and even estimates by the administration of President Barack H. Obama have admitted that it's likely to add hundreds of billions to more than a trillion dollars to the ten-year deficit. (Obama now says it won't, but that doesn't change the fact that the CBO says it will.)

    Unless the budget resolution instructs the committees to bankrupt the nation, that violates at least two tests of the Byrd Rule prohibiting using reconciliation to sneak budget-busting bills through the Senate without allowing a filibuster.

  • Almost certainly, the combination of Republicans and moderate to conservative Democrats will force a promise from the leadership in both chambers not to use reconciliation to radicalize the program beyond what was sent them. Thus the leadership would have to brazenly deceive its own party members, as well as the opposition, and lie like a dead mongoose as it makes promises it has no intention of keeping.
  • Its use would require a ruling by the Senate parliamentarian that was utterly mendacious: He would have to rule that none of the above was true, knowing his own ruling was as false as a Bernie Madoff investment. Either that, or the Presiding Officer would have to tell the Parliamentarian to go fly a hike on a short pier; then the P.O. just rules however the Democrats want.

Yet the only argument against the reconciliation jam-down that The Hill prints is the feeble, amorphous claim that it would be "at odds with Obama’s call for bipartisanship during his 2008 presidential campaign," which call everyone and his unkey's moncle knows is "no longer operative," as a previous liberal president's aides were fond of saying. The Hill, in other words, is not-so-subtlely implying that (a) the GOP is the only group on Capitol Hill that opposes the idea of abusing reconciliation, and (b) that they have no substantive argument whatsoever against it.

This is a classic technique of supporting one side while paying lip service to bilateralism: "It's not our fault that Republicans have nothing to say in their own defense (that we see fit to print)."

If anyone still thinks The Hill is just telling it like it is, they tip their hand with this one-sentence graf:

Rep. Joe Wilson’s (R-S.C.) outburst on Wednesday was an unexpected gift to the White House, accentuating Obama’s point that bitter politics is getting in the way of improving the healthcare of Americans.

Let's review the bidding:

  • Obama said that the government plan would not apply to illegal immigrants.
  • But Wilson (R-SC, 92%) remembers well how he and his Republican colleagues in the House tried several times to enact provisions to ensure that only legal residents received the benefits of the government plan.
  • But House Democrats shot down each and every attempt. So now there is no way, in the House plan that Obama supports, to distinguish or discriminate between those here legally and those here illegally: The Democrats closed off all avenues of enforcement.
  • Thus it is a certainty that illegal immigrants will receive health-care benefits from the government plan, and probably (by law) from all approved private plans as well, if those plans are restricted to the same screening process as the government plan
  • .

  • And it's also a certainty that the president himself knows this. He is certainly keeping close tabs on the progress of ObamaCare through Congress.
  • Thus, regardless of whether it was impudent of Rep. Wilson to point it out during the speech, Barack Obama is, in fact, lying when he says the plan won't cover illegal immigrants; Joe Wilson was rude but right.

The Hill could have noted this rather important point, since it saw fit to bring up Wilson's cri de coeur in the first place; the newspaper, too, could not possibly be unaware of the House Democrats' actions. Yet it failed even to mention Wilson's side, as if he had none and was simply an unruly child making a big noise.

More gushing and ardent support:

The president also said that the White House has made every effort to include Republicans and their ideas in the process, but blamed "unyielding partisanship" for the absence of compromise.

“Part of the frustration I have is, is that on the Republican side there are wonderful people who really operated on the basis of pragmatism and common sense and getting things done,” Obama said. “Those voices have been -- been, I think, shouted down on that side.”

The Hill allows Republicans no defense; had they done so, the GOP -- and Democrats who don't call themselves "progressives," the forgotten members of the anti-ObamaCare alliance -- might have invoked principle as a reason to go against the popular will... even if ObamaCare were according to the popular will, which polling indicates is actually just a liberal fantasy and Obamic talking point.

Pragmatically speaking, we could nationalize all the industries in the United States, sell them to foreign investors, and use the proceeds to mail checks to everyone below the poverty line; it's just common sense! But it would still be a monstrous evil, because of the vital principle of property rights.

And that is one of the very same principles opposing ObamaCare: It would force all responsible Americans to pay a great price in order to benefit a bunch of irresponsible dopes who don't want to buy health insurance, even though they can well afford it... yet who expect still to be given medical treatment if they fall ill or injure themselves. (And pragmatically speaking, their expectation is reasonable, because we've always done so and probably always will.)

But besides property rights, there is also the principle of liberty: People should have the greatest freedom possible within the constrains of living in a society. Even when a problem exists that can only be solved with some degree of collectivism -- for example, those born with pre-existing medical infirmities, such as a congenital heart defect, that would prevent them from being able to buy medical insurance -- the collectivist policy we pursue should be the one that least interferes with the market, allowing the greatest number of Americans to keep as much freedom of choice as possible.

In this case, liberty demands that we either subsidize those deserving unfortunates, or else create an "assigned risk" pool, from which every insurer must accept some money-losing bad risks; rather than radically recreate the entire system with the government controlled (and ultimately government run) scheme of ObamaCare.

But again, The Hill is uninterested in any principled arguments that opponents of ObamaCare care to make; the time for bickering and game-playing is over... we need action, action, action! Pragmatic common sense dictates that we need to get things done.

The president went so far as to warn Republicans that he "will not waste time with those who have made the calculation that it's better politics to kill this plan than improve it."

No comment; I mean that The Hill offers "no comment" on the One's angry dismissal of any dissent to his plan as mere dog-in-the-manger partisanship. The article doesn't even mention another article in Wednesday's The Hill, in which House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH, 92%) says Obama has refused even to meet with Republicans on health-care reform since April:

Boehner told reporters that the president has not invited House GOP leaders to the White House for meetings on healthcare reform since the end of April.

Earlier this year, GOP leaders sent a letter to the president in May stating that they would like to work with the administration to find "common ground" on healthcare reform.

But the administration responded with a tersely worded letter indicating that they had healthcare reform under control.

How might that comport with Obama's accusation that the GOP "have made the calculation that it's better politics to kill this plan than improve it?" The article not only doesn't essay an answer, it doesn't even trouble to raise the question.

But to the fair to the article, it does make one weak-tea attempt to allow Republicans to speak for themselves, rather than be interpreted (into nonexistence) by the president. I'm certain it's only the vicissitudes of fate that the GOP side is relegated to the last two paragraphs of the article:

Republicans, predictably wary of Obama's maneuvering, said if Obama is setting up a defense of reconciliation, it will do little to blunt the blowback from both Congress and the American people.

“If Democrats use controversial insider tactics to force a proposal that the majority of Americans disagree with, not only would they guarantee bipartisan opposition, but they would also spark a new level of outrage among a huge majority of people in this country," said a Senate Republican leadership aide.

The same has been said by numerous prominent Republicans who would be only too happy to be named. But I reckon it's easier to dismiss an "anonymous" warning. (Actually, we don't even know whether the aide demanded anonymity; that might have been entirely the decision of the putative journalist, Sam Youngman.)

All in all, this is a disgraceful performance from a newspaper I've always held in high regard. Alas, The Hill is just another casualty in the "progressive" Kulturkampf, where every least element of life must be politicized and partisan-ized. In particular, all sources of information and argument must be squeezed through a totalitarian tunnel, filtering out all opposition thoughts and words, silencing one side and then claiming they have nothing to say.

Or as Robert Anton Wilson wrote once, channeling Lemuel Gulliver:

And so these Learned Men, having Inquir'd into the Case for the Opposition, discover'd that the Opposition had no Case and were Devoid of Merit, which was what they Suspected all along, and they arriv'd at this Happy Conclusion by the most Economical and Nice of all Methods of Enquiry, which was that they did not Invite the Opposition to confuse Matters by Participating in the Discussion.

In other words, "Shut up," he explained.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 11, 2009, at the time of 5:08 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 14, 2009

Sarah Palin: Whipping Girl of Left AND Right

Health Insurance Insurrections , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

Proving yet again that literacy may be overrated, now it's the Washington Times -- not the Post, the Times! -- which absurdly misinterprets what Sarah Palin said about ObamaCare "death Panels"... even after she explained, very clearly, exactly what she meant (incidentally vindicating the last two posts in this series by Big Lizards):

Like Mr. Dick's obsession with "poor king Charles' head" in Dickens' David Copperfield, the Times cannot break free from the patently erroneous conclusion that Palin could only have been talking about the "end of life care" counseling... as if that were the only possible way that health-care rationing could enter the equation.

Worse, the writer, Jon Ward, uses deliberately misleading rhetoric to falsely imply that Palin accused Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel (Rahm's older brother) of espousing literal "euthanasia" -- a charge so easily dismissed that its only function is to discredit the target... like accusing Palin of believing there's a Boogieman under her bed:

Mrs. Palin has been widely panned by independent fact-checking groups for her talk of "death panels." Her attacks on Dr. Emanuel have led to charges that he is advocating euthanasia.

Claiming that Palin said the House ObamaCare bill includes provisions for "euthanasia" is more or less like claiming -- well, like claiming she said that she can see Russia from her house: It's not a serious charge; it too is just a punchline.

Note the sly phrasing -- Palin's attacks "led to charges;" charges by whom? I've seen nobody accuse Emanuel of euthanasia; I have only seen people accuse Palin of accusing Emanuel of euthanasia. And now TWT joins that disreputable, accusatory brigade.

Mrs. Palin derives the idea of "death panels" from a provision in a bill under consideration in the House that would give doctors financial incentives to give counseling sessions on end-of-life care to older patients. Mrs. Palin's charge is that while the sessions are technically voluntary, physicians can and will initiate the conversation and senior citizens will be pressured to accept "minimal end-of-life care" because the sessions are "part of a bill whose stated purpose is 'to reduce the growth in health care spending.' "

Oh, the damage caused by that dolt, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA, 76%), who listened to his inner "anonymous phone caller," rather than simply reading what Palin actually wrote.

That said, Ward's error is partially mitigated by bringing a new admission from Emanuel to the story: Ezekiel Emanuel now admits that he did indeed advocate a deliberate policy of rationing in the past, though he says he no longer believes that today:

Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, the White House official targeted by Sarah Palin and other conservatives as an advocate for health care rationing and "death panels," said Thursday his "thinking has evolved" on the need to decide who gets treated and who does not.

"When I began working in the health policy area about 20 years ago ... I thought we would definitely have to ration care, that there was a need to make a decision and deny people care," said Dr. Emanuel, a health care adviser to President Obama in the Office of Management and Budget, during a phone interview.

"I think that over the last five to seven years ... I've come to the conclusion that in our system we are spending way more money than we need to, a lot of it on unnecessary care," he said. "If we got rid of that care we would have absolutely no reason to even consider rationing except in a few cases."

This is important to highlight, as is the fact that Newt Gingrich -- and even more important and thoughtful philosophers, such as Big Lizards -- agrees with Palin that the House bill inevitably leads to health-care rationing. But let's return to those thrilling days of yesteryear (rather, yester-day) and see what, exactly, Mrs. Palin really said...

In her first Facebook posting, she made it quite clear what she was actually saying -- Sen. Isakson notwithstanding:

The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

One might argue that by personalizing the "death panel" claim to include the phrase "stand in front of Obama's 'death panel'," Palin contributed to the misunderstanding; obviously, Medicare patients do not literally stand in front of a MedPAC (Medicare Payment Advisory Commission) panel today, nor would ObamaCare patients literally stand in front of an "ObamaPAC" panel. This might have been a (feeble) excuse before yesterday; but after Palin's widely reported and circulated (and heavily footnoted!) second Facebook post explaining her earlier post, there is no excuse for misunderstanding. Its substance begins and ends thus:

Yesterday President Obama responded to my statement that Democratic health care proposals would lead to rationed care; that the sick, the elderly, and the disabled would suffer the most under such rationing; and that under such a system these “unproductive” members of society could face the prospect of government bureaucrats determining whether they deserve health care....

Of course, it’s not just this one provision that presents a problem. My original comments concerned statements made by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a health policy advisor to President Obama and the brother of the President’s chief of staff. Dr. Emanuel has written that some medical services should not be guaranteed to those “who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens....An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia.” Dr. Emanuel has also advocated basing medical decisions on a system which “produces a priority curve on which individuals aged between roughly 15 and 40 years get the most chance, whereas the youngest and oldest people get chances that are attenuated.”

In addition to making sure folks understood her original point -- that ObamaCare leads inexorably to medical rationing (triage!) -- she also responded to President Barack H. Obama's dismissal of the "end-of-life" counseling provisions of the House bill. She had to... because in the process of misunderstanding her original point (intentionally or un-), Obama also told some whoppers about the very provision that he falsely connected to Palin's point.

This part of Palin's argument occupies the middle section of her second Facebook post; I excerpt a bit here:

The provision that President Obama refers to is Section 1233 of HR 3200, entitled “Advance Care Planning Consultation.” With all due respect, it’s misleading for the President to describe this section as an entirely voluntary provision that simply increases the information offered to Medicare recipients. The issue is the context in which that information is provided and the coercive effect these consultations will have in that context.

Section 1233 authorizes advanced care planning consultations for senior citizens on Medicare every five years, and more often “if there is a significant change in the health condition of the individual ... or upon admission to a skilled nursing facility, a long-term care facility... or a hospice program." During those consultations, practitioners must explain “the continuum of end-of-life services and supports available, including palliative care and hospice,” and the government benefits available to pay for such services.

Now put this in context. These consultations are authorized whenever a Medicare recipient’s health changes significantly or when they enter a nursing home, and they are part of a bill whose stated purpose is “to reduce the growth in health care spending.” Is it any wonder that senior citizens might view such consultations as attempts to convince them to help reduce health care costs by accepting minimal end-of-life care? As Charles Lane notes in the Washington Post, Section 1233 “addresses compassionate goals in disconcerting proximity to fiscal ones.... If it’s all about obviating suffering, emotional or physical, what’s it doing in a measure to “bend the curve” on health-care costs?”

These are all excellent points, and almost unanswerable; but they are ancillary to her original post, and Palin makes that very clear in her follow-up post. Clear, that is, to everybody except those who insist upon opining about posts they have never even read -- Isakson -- and those who give undue deference to subliterate slanders slung by Palin critics who never met an accusation they didn't repeat... even when its provenance is some unnamed telephone caller at some undisclosed venue.

Even when the original is still there, on Palin's Facebook page, where anyone who is willing can read it.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 14, 2009, at the time of 6:54 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 22, 2009

Newsflash: Palin May Be Charged With Defending Herself Against Ethics Charges

Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

The assault on Sarah Palin passed absurdity long ago; it now makes a deep incursion into surreality. To wit, the newest charge from "independent investigator" Thomas Daniel:

An independent investigator has found evidence that Gov. Sarah Palin may have violated ethics laws by accepting private donations to pay her legal debts, in the latest legal distraction for the former vice presidential candidate as she prepares to leave office this week.

The report obtained by The Associated Press says Palin is securing unwarranted benefits and receiving improper gifts through the Alaska Fund Trust, set up by supporters.

And the substance of the charge?

An investigator for the state Personnel Board says in his July 14 report that there is probable cause to believe Palin used or attempted to use her official position for personal gain because she authorized the creation of the trust as the "official" legal defense fund....

The fund aims to help Palin pay off debts stemming from multiple ethics complaints against her, most of which have been dismissed. Palin says she owes more than $500,000 in legal fees, and she cited the mounting toll of the ethics probes as one of the reasons she is leaving office.

Given that the Palins are not independently wealthy -- not like, say, Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 95%) or Sen. JFK (D-MA, 100%) -- legal expenses upwards of half a million spondulicks could by themselves sink her political career by forcing her family into bankruptcy. An obvious strategy for political opponents of some public official, knowing he is not rolling in long green, is to inundate him with scores of non-meritorious ethics complaints, until he runs dry of enough money to pay lawyers. (It takes virtually no money to file the complaint; but it takes tens of thousands of dollars to defend oneself against it.)

Such tactics are the political equivalent of a distributed denial-of-service attack on a computer server.

In a state that does not pay for defending its government officials from complaints that are dismissed, such as Alaska, the only alternative is for the targeted official to create a legal defense fund. So what are Palin's enemies doing now? They're trying to prevent her from utilizing just such a fund:

The practical effect of the ruling on Palin will be more financial than anything else. The report recommends that Palin refuse to accept payment from the defense fund, and that the complaint be resolved without a formal hearing before the Alaska Personnel Board.

Subtle, Tom.

But what is supposed to be the problem? Of course she benefits from the fund -- that's what it's overtly for. But it's not an official act of the governor, it doesn't use any taxpayer funds, it's entirely voluntary, and contributions are limited to $150 per person -- so it doesn't even provide the opportunity for bribery. How is this unethical? Unless Mr. Daniel believes that all legal defense funds are inherently unethical... and that appears to be exactly his position:

In his report, attorney Thomas Daniel said his interpretation of the ethics act is consistent with common sense.

An ordinary citizen facing legal charges is not likely to be able to generate donations to a legal defense fund, he wrote. "In contrast, Governor Palin is able to generate donations because of the fact that she is a public official and a public figure. Were it not for the fact that she is governor and a national political figure, it is unlikely that many citizens would donate money to her legal defense fund."

Perhaps Daniel should consider that, were it not for the fact that she is governor and a national political figure, it is unlikely that she would need a bloody legal defense fund in the first place!

We are deep, deep into Dali-land and Magritte-ville now. Sarah Palin affects the Left like the full moon affects a werewolf; and despite the fact that she leaves office in four days, the lunatics are still in full bay... and will probably continue through the next decade, at least.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 22, 2009, at the time of 5:03 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

HeistWatch - Day 1

Media Madness , Socialism 101 , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

Day 1 after the Washington Times reported that the chief of staff to impeached Honduran president Manuel Zelaya, Enrique Flores Lanza, may have stolen millions of dollars in cash from the Central Bank of Honduras, three days before Zelaya himself was arrested for treason...

So far, I have found only one newspaper that has even so much as mentioned the charges: the Miami Herald -- which, for obvious reasons, has a greater interest than most in reporting stories connected to Red Cuba and Baja America. But even the Herald only gives it a single, cursory sentence:

In addition, Zelaya's chief of staff, Enrique Flores Lanza, is accused of abuse of power and misuse of public funds for withdrawing about $2.2 million [sic] in cash from the Central Bank on June 24.

(The "sic" above denotes that the Washington Times in fact reported that Lanza withdrew a total of $2.75 million -- not $2.2 million.)

One might expect a newspaper to wonder: If the chief of staff of the current president -- a president attempting to do an end-run around a constitutional prohibition on a referendum to extend his rule -- "is accused of... withdrawing about $2.2 million in cash from the Central Bank"...is it possible that chief of staff might have done so under orders from his boss? Perhaps to pay for the referendum -- or to buy votes. Isn't the question at least worth investigating?

So far, the answer is "Yes, it isn't even worth investigating;" not even by a newspaper that does not stand in lockstep with Fidel and Raul Castro, Oogo Chavez, and Daniel Ortega. I find that sad, very sad.

Once and future Zelaya posts on Big Lizards and Hot Air's rogues' gallery:

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 22, 2009, at the time of 4:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 19, 2009

Reuters Still Stuck on "Coup"-pid

Media Madness , Socialism 101 , Southern Exposure , Untied Nations
Hatched by Dafydd

I reckon the antique media still thinks they're living back in the days of "Uncle Walter."

Reading this Reuters story about "talks" between negotiators for deposed leftist wannabe-dictator and the legitimate government of Honduras is a little like reading Pravda: It all seems perfectly sane, perfectly rational -- but originating from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away:

Prospects for a breakthrough in Honduras' political crisis looked dim on Sunday, with negotiators for deposed President Manuel Zelaya and coup leaders divided over his proposed reinstatement....

Envoys sent by Zelaya, a leftist ousted in a June 28 military coup, and interim leader Roberto Micheletti said the main stumbling block was [Oscar] Arias' proposal that Zelaya return to power and form a government that shared power with his rivals.

Our previous offerings on this subject are:

Perhaps Reuters thinks that if it just keeps saying "coup" often enough, eventually everybody will start to believe it! It's a magical spell. In all, the story uses the word "coup" to describe the arrest and impeachment of Manuel Zelaya three times; one time it uses the phrase "the army toppled Zelaya;" they refer to the impeachment as "Central America's worst crisis since the end of the Cold War;" and they inform us that "Zelaya has wide international support for his desire to return to power" -- by which they mean:

  • The Castros in Cuba;
  • Oogo Chavez in Venezuela;
  • Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua;
  • The Left-dominated and controlled Organization of American States (see "Piddling Away Greatness," linked above);
  • And the U.N. General Assembly... currently run by President Rev. Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann of Nicaragua, a liberation-theology Catholic priest (almost defrocked) and a former Sandinista leader (foreign minister under Ortega).

(Just five years ago, shortly before Ronald Reagan's death, Brockmann referred to him as "the butcher of my people." Rev. Brockmann has never apologized for, or even explained the rationale of, the Sandinistas' butchering of tens of thousands of Nicaraguans, as they struggled to maintain their stranglehold on that country.)

We do learn a couple of actual facts, so the story is not a total waste of phosphor:

  • Zelaya is no longer in Costa Rica; he is now ensconced out in Nicaragua... probably lunching in one of the palatial estates that his pal, President Daniel Ortega, leader of the Sandinista National Liberation Front and raper of his 11 year old stepdaughter, "liberated" just after being voted out of office.

(Was that coup by the Sandinistas -- an actual coup d'état, by the way -- also a "crisis?" I don't recall the "unbiased" news media thinking so at the time.)

  • The United States is in constant contact with Zelaya -- the enthusiastic chum of Ortgega, Oogo Chavez, and los Bros Castro -- and feverishly working to restore him to power in Honduras.

On that last point, if this doesn't make you wince, you haven't been paying attention:

"We are indeed concerned about (Zelaya) going back," the second official said [anonymously -- of course], adding that Assistant Secretary of State Tom Shannon "is in practically daily contact with him, urging him to allow (the) Arias process to play out."

The "Arias" referred to is Oscar Arias -- Nobel Peace Prize winner, also winner of the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism, and recipient of "over fifty honorary degrees, including doctorates from Harvard University, Princeton University, Dartmouth College, Oberlin College, Wake Forest University, Ithaca College and Washington University in St. Louis," according to his Wikipedia entry.

He is a member of Economists for Peace and Security, as well as the International Criminal Court's Trust Fund for Victims. He is a member of Costa Rica's National Liberation Party. Hey, kids -- see if you can guess Arias' political ideology...!

Incidentally, speaking of creeping socialist Newspeak revisionism, here is Wikipedia's description of the 1980s and 90s in Central America, the crisis that Oscar Arias resolved in order to win his Nobel Fleece Prize:

Arias received the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize for his work towards the signing of the Esquipulas II Accords. This was a plan intended to promote democracy and peace on the Central American isthmus during a time of great turmoil: popular indigenous movements and guerrillas were struggling against repressive governments in El Salvador and Guatemala, which were backed by the United States under the auspices of the Cold War; the reactionary Contras, supported by the United States in the now-infamous Iran-Contra affair, were fighting an insurgency against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua; Honduras, only recently wresting political power from its military, was caught in the middle as a base for U.S. military forces; and on Costa Rica's other border, Panama faced the oppression of Manuel Noriega's military dictatorship. With the support of Arias, the various armed conflicts ended within the decade (Guatemala's civil war finally ended in 1996).

Either Oscar Arias rewrote his own Wikipedia entry -- or else maybe Lt. John F. Kerry did. Either way, yeah, that's how I remember that "time of great turmoil"...!

Arias is, of course, the most perfect envoy to mediate between the two sides in Honduras -- the dictator, Zelaya, and the legitimate president, Roberto Micheletti; he certainly has no conflicts of interest.

True, Arias, too, was frustrated by a Costa Rican constitution that strictly banned presidents seeking a second term. True, Arias, too, tried to get the Costa Rican Supreme Court to overturn that clause, but he was completely rebuffed by the Court.

But in Arias' case, rather than turn to Venezuela to print illegal "ballots," so that the Dear Leader's followers could hold a sham "referendum" to allow him to run for as many terms as he wanted, Arias took a different path: He packed the court with hand-picked cronies, who then overturned the previous decision.

See? Arias' personal experience at illegally circumventing term-limits is totally different from Zelaya's. No conflict of interest there!

Ye gods. Do reporters actually live in a literal cone of silence? Or do they just consciously and with ignorance aforethought ensure that they never, ever, ever come into contact with anybody whose worldview differs from theirs in the least degree? Heavens, their ideological purity might be tainted by the serial heresies of neocons.

I picture an entire newsroom full of journalists who still, to this day, boycott grapes; who jump up and do "the wave" whenever they see Oogo Chavez on the tube; who tie the knot at Che Guevara-themed wedding ceremonies; who casually write that Cuba has the greatest health-care system in the whole world... and insert that lecture into a breaking-news story about Paula Abdul no longer being a judge on American Idol.

They're the lost media generation, and they're irredeemable. We shall have to wait until today's middle-school kids grow up to see a return to adult supervision of the nation's newswriting... our "first draft of history."

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 19, 2009, at the time of 7:43 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 12, 2009

No, America, There Ain't No Sanity Clause...

CIA CYA , Liberal Lunacy , Media Madness , Terrorism Intelligence
Hatched by Dafydd

...His real name is Attorney General Eric Himpton Holder, Jr.:

"You have the responsibility of enforcing the nation's laws, and you have to be seen as neutral, detached, and nonpartisan in that effort," Holder says. "But the reality of being A.G. is that I'm also part of the president's team. I want the president to succeed; I campaigned for him. I share his world view and values."

These are not just the philosophical musings of a new attorney general. Holder, 58, may be on the verge of asserting his independence in a profound way. Four knowledgeable sources tell NEWSWEEK that he is now leaning toward appointing a prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration's brutal interrogation practices, something the president has been reluctant to do.

O frabjous day. Callooh. Callay.

But "brutal interrogation practices?" Oh yes, we all know what that means: making terrorists stand while being questioned, the horrific "attention grab," even putting a detainee in a box with a -- caterpillar. Even so, we all know which particular "brutal" tactic Newsweek's Daniel Klaidman has in mind... the sadistic application of hydrogen hydroxide to the flesh of immobilized victims.

But won't this drag Barack H. Obama's administration into a confrontation it really doesn't want while it's trying to gain bipartisan approval of an ambitious domestic agenda? Perhaps so; but that's just the price Gen. Holder must pay for keeping our honor clean:

While no final decision has been made, an announcement could come in a matter of weeks, say these sources, who decline to be identified discussing a sensitive law-enforcement matter. Such a decision would roil the country, would likely plunge Washington into a new round of partisan warfare, and could even imperil Obama's domestic priorities, including health care and energy reform. Holder knows all this, and he has been wrestling with the question for months. "I hope that whatever decision I make would not have a negative impact on the president's agenda," he says. "But that can't be a part of my decision."

Before we progress, I must hasten to reassure readers that there is no prejudice or partisanship about Mr. Klaidman or his employer; in fact, it would be hard to find a more objective, unbiased source than Newsweek... as can be seen here:

Alone among cabinet officers, attorneys general are partisan appointees expected to rise above partisanship. All struggle to find a happy medium between loyalty and independence. Few succeed. At one extreme looms Alberto Gonzales, who allowed the Justice Department to be run like Tammany Hall. At the other is Janet Reno, whose righteousness and folksy eccentricities marginalized her within the Clinton administration. Lean too far one way and you corrupt the office, too far the other way and you render yourself impotent.

See? The piece criticizes both Left and Right equally: Reno was simply too idealistic, honest, and decent for the job -- while Gonzales was a corrupt, murdering, torturing thug. Honestly, what could be fairer?

Perhaps only Holder himself. In the article, Klaidman gathers his courage together and dares to ask about Holder's role in pardoning fugitive financier Marc Rich -- after Rich's wife donated scads of money to the Clinton library and the Democratic Party... a fact which, we must admit, Klaidman fails to mention in the article. But surely this was only due to him being understandably reluctant to rake a dead horse over the coals.

He does, however, elicit the most important point: Despite approving the Marc Rich pardon (over the objection of just about every career prosecutor at the Justice Department) -- and despite Holder's previous position as Bill Clinton's and Rahm Emanuel's sock puppet in the DoJ -- Holder was completely innocent of any wrongdoing in that affair. He wasn't a crook, like his bosses; he was just a naïf, an inanimate object batted hither and yon by the machinations of others... a political shuttlecock, according to his wife, Sharon Malone:

When I ask Malone the inevitable questions about Rich, she looks pained. "It was awful; it was a terrible time," she says. But she also casts the episode as a lesson about character, arguing that her husband's trusting nature was exploited by Rich's conniving lawyers.

(Those cunning linguists who connived on behalf of Rich would of course include Irv Lewis "Scooter" Libby... and we all know how evil and corrupt he is. Clearly, that completely exonerates Holder of any responsibility or accountability.)

I think there really is a very good chance that Holder will finally pull the trigger, that he'll appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Bush's Brain Karl Rove, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, CIA Director George Tenet, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, DoD General Counsel William Haynes, Jay Bybee of the DoJ's Office of Legal Counsel, John Yoo of the DoJ's OLC, and a cast of thousands -- of CIA interrogators and American military personnel.

Else, why employ Newsweek to resurrect an issue that had already died away? Why raise the Left's hopes into the stratosphere again, if you only plan to dash them in the end like Lucy, Charlie Brown, and the football? Heck, doing that might decisively turn the Democratic base against the One, so they sit out next year's congressional elections. Surely Holder wouldn't want that!

But General Holder has faith in the fairness and forgiveness of the American people; he believes that when the public hears the full perfidy of the Bush torture regime -- trickling water on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's face, which even the anti-war Left has compared to the Chinese Water Torture... except that our worthy Chinese brothers could never have been as cruel and inhumane as the Bushies were; slapping the faces of top members of al-Qaeda; and... that caterpillar incident that still gives Gen. Holder and President B.O. the willies -- there will be a "a groundswell of support for an independent probe."

Oh, wait; my mistake. That's not what Holder thinks now... that's what he thought back in April, when he first strongly hinted that a criminal probe of the previous administration was in the offing. Didn't quite pan out back then: When the "torture memos" were released, the public reacted with emotions that ranged from a shrug from the huge bulk of the population -- to misplaced, admiring praise for interrogators' ingenuity in protecting America from a follow-on attack after September 11th, 2001.

Of course, that last ugly reaction was from charter members of the same vast, right-wing conspiracy that shot down Hillary Clinton's previous attempt at putting all medical care in America under strict government control; led the Swift Boat Vets' hideous slanders and libels against the greatest war hero of the Vietnam holocaust, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA, 95%) -- imagine, accusing Kerry of bearing false witness against his fellow Vietnam Veterans! -- and even the same VRWC that stole both the 2000 and 2004 elections.

But I digress. Let's just forget that such bloodthirsty ghouls even exist within America. Even so, the rest of the population signally failed to rise up as one with torches, forks, and knives when they learned about the atrocities the previous administration visited upon guests who had not even been convicted in a civilian criminal court. After the torture memos were released...

Holder and his team celebrated quietly, and waited for national outrage to build. But they'd miscalculated. The memos had already received such public notoriety that the new details in them did not shock many people. (Even the revelation, a few days later, that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and another detainee had been waterboarded hundreds of times did not drastically alter the contours of the story.)

But that was then, this is now. Perhaps nobody was particularly outraged by the fiendish devices we used upon those who (supposedly) carried out the 9/11 attacks; but that was back in April, when President Obama had sky-high approval ratings in every poll. (Well, almost every. At least several.) Perhaps people were just so happy that America had finally, finally elected an African American president, thus was no longer the most racist country on the face of the Earth, that they just couldn't muster a bad emotion or a discouraging word about anyone... not even against the Bushies.

Surely now that voters are losing confidence in Obama's economic plans, having grave doubts about his bipartisanship, starting to worry that he's dismantling the very intelligence policies that have kept us safe for the past eight years, getting nervous that Barack H. Obama may be out of his depth (or his mind), and increasingly convinced he's on a madcap quest to turn America into the Netherlands -- which may be on the verge of becoming a Moslem state in a generation -- surely with such terrifying and stomach lurching danger on all sides, voters will turn with a great sigh of relief to the much easier to understand and much more urgent task of putting all the top officials of the previous administration in prison, for the crime of going overboard in protecting American citizens (without the slightest regard for the rights of jihadis).

Yes, this time everything will be totally different. This time, the mass of men and women from sea to shining sea will be filled with revulsion at the suffering of the waterboarding victims -- Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, and several thousand American military volunteers during SERE-school training. (The latter don't count, however, because they're cruder, less well educated, and were probably going to be stuk in irak anyway; the al-Qaeda detainees are sensitive plants, and must be treated more kindly than American grunts and SEALs.)

But politics will surely follow policy. Seeing the administration at last turn its sites on the real enemy we face in these parlous times -- George W. Bush and his rampaging Republicans -- ecstatic voters will rally behind the Obamacle, as he restores America's reputation, repairs relations with our traditional allies (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Russia, the United Nations, China, North Korea), and makes Americans finally feel clean again. This will translate into a Democratic landslide in 2010, bringing FDR-like control of Congress, and the president's reelection two years later -- followed, the year after that, by the swift and emphatic repeal of that pesky 22nd Amendment.

See? In the end, surely Attorney General Eric Holder will discover that he can do the righteous thing, while at the very same time advancing the political fortunes of the One We Have Been Waiting For. (As in, "Just wait until your father gets home, you nation of cowards!")

Who says you can't eat your cake and have it, too?

Cross-posted in Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 12, 2009, at the time of 6:32 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 10, 2009

Is ABC Tappering Off Obamania? Heck No!

Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

Today, ABC's Jake Tapper stoops to rebut the charge that President Barack H. Obama ogled a sixteen year old Brazilian girl in L'Aquila, Italy.

Tapper struggles manfully to suggest the president was merely looking down to help wife Michelle down some steep steps; Tapper even posts video of the incident -- but is forced to conclude "Although: not everyone agrees. Judge for yourself."

All right; judge! (I can't embed it here; you must go to the link.)

To be fair to Tapper, it's clearly a humorous piece; the laughter in the background may be his colleagues in the newsroom during whichever show broadcast this clip. Still and all, I find it interesting that ABC continues to see itself as an adjunct PR firm for the administration. Somehow I doubt such a video would have been released -- even as humor! -- on behalf of George W. Bush's reputation and marriage...

My own take: It looks to me as if his first glance was absolutely at the girl's gluteus maxi-maximus. Then he seems to realize what he's doing and that he's doing it directly in front of his wife... so he turns it into a "let me help you down these steps, Michelle ma belle" move -- much like when you think you see a friend and raise your hand in a preliminary wave, then abruptly realize it's a total stranger, so you seamlessly turn it into a quick brush to "smooth down" your hair.

Hey, I'd've looked at her too... and I don't give a hoot if she's only sixteen. I wouldn't date her (not even were I single), but I won't censor my eyeballs!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 10, 2009, at the time of 4:21 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

July 9, 2009

Finally, the Ultimate Word on the A.D.D.D.D.A. - Lizards' Prediction Pans Out!

Democratic Culture of Corruption , Election Derelictions , Liberal Lunacy , Media Madness , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

This is the last (I think) post on this bizarre and surreal chapter of the New York state senate. Our previous posts on this tintinnabulant topic are:

Two A.D.D.D.D.A. posts ago, on June 16th, Big Lizards made the following prediction:

The majority leadership of Dean Skelos now hangs by a Gordian thread of Damocles: All the Democrats need do is offer both amnesty and a promotion to Espada (and possibly the squelching of the various ethics charges against him), and they can reel him back in. If Espada has a pact with Monserrate, the two can easily enforce the caucus's capitulation by threatening to re-bolt and start the nightmare all over again if the caucus doesn't deliver.

I suspect the Democratic caucus sees the "mene mene tekel upharsin" writ on the wall of the Senate's executive washroom, and they will do exactly this; Smith will be cast down, the terms agreed upon, and Espada will return to the fold, probably within a week from today.

We stand by our previous prediction:

  • Once Smith is gone, the Democrats will bite the bullet and cut a deal -- legitimate or corrupt -- with Espada and Monserrate, and they will rejoin the fold. The insurrection will fizzle, and Democrats will again be in charge.
  • And the New York State Senate will swiftly pass the same-sex marriage bill already approved by the State Assembly, becoming the fourth state (after Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire) to enact SSM without being extorted by the judicial branch.

Surprise! Today the state Democrats and Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. made good on our predictions:

  • Espada is returning to the the Democratic caucus.
  • Espada gets his promotion; he will now be majority leader of the state senate.
  • Sen. Malcolm Smith, erstwhile leader of the senate, is relegated to a largely ceremonial post during "a transition period of an undetermined length."
  • The Democrats will regain control of the state senate with a bare 32-30 majority.
  • The Republicans are betrayed by a Janus-faced Democratic ally. Again. ("I'll hold the football, Charlie Brown, and you come running and kick it.")
  • And while they haven't yet passed a same-sex marriage (SSM) bill, it's clearly in the offing, along with other Democratic dream bills.

Anent that last point, it's so late in the day that we might get a brief reprieve, at least until next session:

Senate leaders, sounding by turns apologetic, fatigued and self-congratulatory, vowed to quickly take up the scores of bills they had neglected during the leadership struggle....

Senators were uncertain Thursday when or whether several high-profile issues stalled by the leadership battle, including same-sex marriage and changes in rent control laws, would be taken up. The regular legislative session ended on June 22.

All this came a little later than we expected: They fumfahed around longer than I thought any sane group of people could tolerate; but of course, they're not only Democrats, they're New Yorkers. In the end, it was fear of dispossession that finally awakened them:

But it appears that Mr. Espada may have been driven to make a deal to return as majority leader out of fear of being marginalized, because a separate Democratic faction was moving to establish a power-sharing deal with the Republicans.

Indeed, the Democrats have become increasingly polarized, often along racial lines. Mr. Espada and other Hispanic senators have pushed for more influence from Mr. Smith and Mr. Sampson, who are black.

Separately, the faction of seven white Democrats, led by Senator Jeffrey D. Klein of the Bronx, that had sought the power-sharing deal with the Republicans is especially uneasy with Mr. Espada, who faces investigations related to nonprofit health clinics he runs, his campaign finance practices and whether his primary residence is in the Bronx. Any arrangement they reached with Republicans would probably have pushed Mr. Espada aside.

For an amusing coda, the Republicans are gleefully licking their dentures in pre-prandial, salivary anticipation; they don't expect the reconciliation to last much longer than a Hollywood marriage:

Dean G. Skelos, the leader of the Senate Republicans, speculated that the Democratic caucus would break apart again.

“This is my prediction,” Mr. Skelos said at his own news conference, his caucus surrounding him. “Within a few months, maybe six months, there is going to be so much discord within that conference that we’re going to be running the Senate, all right?”

He added: “There are so many factions there that would like to, quite honestly, slit the other factions’ throat. I think it’s going to be very, very difficult to lead and govern.”

Howbeit,

The year 's at the spring,
And day 's at the morn;
Morning 's at seven;
The hill-side 's dew-pearl'd;
The lark 's on the wing;
The snail 's on the thorn;
God 's in His heaven --
All 's right with the world!

In this case, Browning's got it a bit wrong: God's laughing in His heaven; and all's Left in the world again... especially its epicenter, the zero-point from which all other distances are measured: New York.

Case closed; a Mark VII production.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 9, 2009, at the time of 10:23 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 5, 2009

Spreading the Holiday Smear

Liberal Lunacy , Media Madness , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities
Hatched by Dafydd

So you've been wondering how the administration of President Barack H. Obama (and Vice President Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., a.k.a. a guy named Joe) would spin the rather damning facts that:

  • Their economic policies are in ruins;
  • Their wildly expanded (far above what President George W. Bush pushed) "stimulus" package has failed to stimulate anything but more unemployment;
  • That said unemployment rate, in fact, is higher than at any time since the worst of the recession in 1986;
  • They themselves have predicted trillion-dollar deficits for the next ten plus years (numbers hard to wrap one's frontal lobes around), which nearly every economists admits will lead to massive inflation fairly soon (coupled with no growth -- Jimmy Carter style "stagflation");
  • They have nationalized two of the Big Three automobile giants, several banks, an insurance company, and they threaten to nationalize -- well, just about every other sector of the economy they can get their hands on, including health care and the weather -- all to no effect (no good effect, that is);
  • The American people appear to have lost all confidence in Obama's economic policies;
  • And that the only response of the Democratic Party -- is to suggest more (and more devious) taxes to levy against those disloyal people... including a "Fair Tax" proposal in addition to raising income taxes. (Hey, Medved was right!)

I know you've been dying to hear what they could possibly say to turn all that around to their benefit. Somehow.

Wonder no longer; Mr. Biden has the scoop:

"The truth is, there was a misreading of just how bad an economy we inherited," said Biden, who is leading the administration's effort to implement it's $787 billion economic stimulus plan.

And there you have the answer: More than six months into the new administration, with a complete radical rewrite of economic policy rammed through a supine Congress -- and it's still all George Bush's fault!

But fret not; Biden realizes that the administration he is rumored to be a member of cannot entirely escape scrutiny; he understands that they, too, must give an accounting. Consequently, he spreads the responsibilty around a bit:

"Now, that doesn't -- I'm not -- it's now our responsibility. So the second question becomes, did the economic package we put in place, including the Recovery Act, is it the right package given the circumstances we're in? And we believe it is the right package given the circumstances we're in," he told me.

So having carefully weighed all the pros and cons, the administration gives itself, oh, let's say a B—... and gives George W. Bush an F minus minus minus. But don't take it out on the current administration; it's not as if they just make these scores up, you know.

Oddly, the journalist who authored this ABC blog entry did not really press Biden on the manifest failures so far; nor on the fairly obvious fact that, having completely changed everything Bush had done, they have consequently assumed all responsibility and accountability for its failures... that Obama and Biden cannot blame the ill effects on the policies of the Bush administration when (a) they have put their own, utterly different policies in place -- and (b) it got much, much worse when they did.

It's doubly odd that a news organization so respected for its unbiased, adversarial relationship with the current president would so neglect its duty to question, probe, and confront to get to the real truth. And it's especially shocking that a such a beloved career journalist as George Snuffleupagus would fail to ask such obvious follow-up questions. I can only conclude that there simply wasn't any time to ask them.

I know he would've if he could've: After all, Snuffleupagus was a great enough newsman to seize control of This Week with David Brinkley from pikers like Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts after its intelligent designer and namesake retired; Snuffleupagus must be one of the pantheon of reporter demigods, right up there with Walter Cronkite, Edward R. Murrow, and Helen Thomas.

I'm sure he'll get around to holding Biden's nose to the fire as soon as humanly possible.

Sachi adds: What a real journalist would ask as a follow-up question is: "So you're saying you implemented a massive economic stimulus package before fully understanding the full scope of problem; isn't that more than a little irresponsible?"

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 5, 2009, at the time of 2:35 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 3, 2009

Puppet on a News Wire

Media Madness , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities
Hatched by Dafydd

In a previous post, I noted how the New York Times, the Washington Post, and AP had all recently engaged not only in heretical questioning of the mysterious ways of the One, but had even mocked him.

Today, Power Line adds the more personal, visceral, and (dare I say it) honest reaction of the doyenne of dimwitted Democrats, Helen Thomas (she was once a journalist, now she's just a spectator allowed to sit at the big kids' table). She compares him (unfavorably) to another recent president -- well, "recent" on the time scale of Ms. Thomas, at whose first presser, it is rumored, all the gentlemen wore knee-pants and powdered wigs:

Following a testy exchange during Wednesday's briefing with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas told CNSNews.com that not even Richard Nixon tried to control the press the way President Obama is trying to control the press.

"Nixon didn't try to do that," Thomas said. "They couldn't control (the media). They didn't try.

"What the hell do they think we are, puppets?" Thomas said.

While it's amusing to see fellow liberal fascists (in the Goldbergian sense) beating up on the president, it begs the real question: Are they puppets after all?

I suspect the answer is -- No, they are not... and Barack H. Obama is about to find that out in a most unpleasant way.

I know many readers of this blog are startled, having thought I would say they were, in fact, puppets; but that is assuredly not the way they see themselves, as Thomas' outburst and the earlier mockery should indicate.

So what do they see when they look in their magic mirrors? I am absolutely convinced that most elite "journalists" envision themselves as co-pilots of the magical misery tour that is Obamunism:

  • I'm certain they support everything he is doing to turn America, at the very least, into a Euroleft welfare state, in which every major industry is partially or wholly owned by the government;
  • I'm positive they salivate, like Pavlov's dogs, at the thought of government-run health care;
  • And I am secure in saying they think a massive tax increase is the "adult" thing to do -- no more of this pie in the face fantasy that we can help the ailing economy by clipping the wings of government and letting the private sector resume control... those are heartless industrialists we're talking about, robber barons!

But Obama has made the dreadful mistake of treating co-conspirators as employees, as his own, personal PR flacks. In journalism, economics, and the arts, the elites see themselves as Barack Obama's equals -- not his subordinates. And it boils their blood when he orders them around: "Put this story Robert Gibbs wrote on the front page -- stop demanding investigations -- you don't have to decide what to publish, I'll tell you what to publish -- go fetch me a hamburger, Pinch, and I want fries with that!"

The president's problem is that he can't wrap his planet-sized ego around the fact that the elites have egos that are just as big, or perhaps a smidgeon bigger. They, too, are used to having their "people" cater to their every momentary whim; they're not used to being told to clean the windows and take out the rubbish.

But Obama's own ego will not allow him to see them as anything other than extensions of Barack Obama, part of the body that is the Obamacle; and he cannot treat them as independent cronies, because he sees that term as an oxymoron: Cronies, by his own definition, obey and ask no questions other those the White House chooses to plant on them, for purposes of deluding the masses that Obama's "town hall" meetings are anything but stage-managed photo-ops.

So Obama will continue to treat the elite media, Hollywood, and Big Science as ring-kissing lickspittles, and the acolytes will get madder and madder; until eventually -- like kernals of corn in hot fat -- they will start to pop. And once they get going, President Obama may well be inundated by a tidal wave of bad press that could even rival the worst journalistic excesses that plagued the Bush Administration.

After all, hell hath no fury like a kept woman scorned.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 3, 2009, at the time of 8:24 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 1, 2009

With Fiends Like These...

Globaloney Sandwich , Health Insurance Insurrections , Media Madness , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities
Hatched by Dafydd

Is the worm beginning to turn the tide?

AP breathlessly writes about President Barack H. Obama's health-care insurapalooza today in Virginia -- but look what they're saying! The tough-love starts with the headline: "Emotion, few details, in Obama's health care pitch"... and it only goes south from there:

  • "The health care changes that Obama called for Wednesday would reshape the nation's medical landscape. He says he wants to cover nearly 50 million uninsured Americans, to persuade doctors to stress quality over quantity of care, to squeeze billions of dollars from spending.

    "But details on exactly how to do those things were generally lacking in his hour-long town hall forum before a friendly, hand-picked audience in a Washington suburb."

  • "Some of Obama's questioners Wednesday were from friendly sources, including a member of the Service Employees International Union and a member of Health Care for America Now, which organized a Capitol Hill rally last week calling for an overhaul. White House aides selected other questions submitted by people on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

    "Republicans said the event was a political sham designed to help Obama, not to inform the public.

    "'Americans are already skeptical about the cost and adverse impact of the president's health care plans,' Republican National Committee spokesman Trevor Francis said. 'Stacking the audience and preselecting questions may make for a good TV, but it's the wrong way to engage in a meaningful discussion about reforming health care.'"

  • "'The biggest thing we can do to hold down costs is to change the incentives of a health care system that automatically equates expensive care with better care,' the president said. He said the formula system drives up costs 'but doesn't make you better.'

    Obama did not make specific recommendations for changing the incentive formulas."

  • "Obama said, however, that he is working with the American Medical Association to explore ways to reduce liability for doctors and hospitals 'when they've done nothing wrong.' He offered no specifics for a problem that has vexed the medical and legal industries for decades."
  • "Obama said a government-run 'single-payer' health care system works well in some countries. But it is not appropriate in the United States, he said, because so many people get insurance through their employers working with private companies.

    Still, he again called for a government-run 'public option' to compete with private insurers, a plan that many Republicans oppose."

Each of these points is factually correct, and one might argue that each is neutral; but they are not presented in a neutral way... and astonishingly enough, the spin is entirely anti-ObamaCare.

Even the last point presents the government option as a refutation of his pledge not to push a "single-payer" system, tacitly accepting the well-founded GOP warning that a subsidized and privileged government option will necessarily drive employers away from private plans for their employees, plans that are overtaxed, heavily regulated, and disfavored in a myriad other ways.

The Washington Post was nearly as bad; please pay close attention to the adjectives used in the opening of their story:

President Obama offered today a wonkish defense of his embattled health care reform effort during an hour-long town hall meeting in Annandale that featured seven questions, including one sent in via Twitter and several from a hand-picked audience of supporters.

As the president's health care bill struggles on Capitol Hill, the administration increasingly is seeking to pressure lawmakers with evidence of the public's desire to get something done as well as proof that the health care industry is a stakeholder in -- not an opponent of -- the effort.

The tone sometimes turns neutral, but never pro-Obama. And I nearly fell out of my chair reading this a few paragraphs later:

In the highly stage-managed event, questions for Obama came from a live audience selected by the White House and the college, and from Internet questions chosen by the administration's own new-media team.

Of the seven questions the president answered, four were selected by his own staff from people who submitted videos on the White House Web site or who responded to a request for "tweets" from the administration.

The president called randomly on three audience members. Each turned out to be members of groups with close ties to his administration: the SEIU union, Health Care for America Now, and Organizing for America, which is a part of the Democratic National Committee. White House officials said that was a coincidence.

Yeah, yeah, a "coincidence" -- that's the ticket!

If the president turns to the New York Times for succor, he will be disappointed. Here is a news commentary story on the global-warming bill just passed in the House; the story is written by John M. Broder, and it's found in the Politics section, not among the Op-Eds:

As the most ambitious energy and climate-change legislation ever introduced in Congress made its way to a floor vote last Friday, it grew fat with compromises, carve-outs, concessions and out-and-out gifts intended to win the votes of wavering lawmakers and the support of powerful industries.

The deal making continued right up until the final minutes, with the bill’s co-author Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California, doling out billions of dollars in promises on the House floor to secure the final votes needed for passage.

The rest of the piece details some of these payoffs -- including a number that are sure to produce screams of anguish and rage from potential Obama supporters, including:

  • Utilities that operate coal-power plants will receive "tens of billions of dollars worth of free pollution permits," as well as "billions for work on technology to capture carbon-dioxide emissions from coal combustion to help meet future pollution targets." Broder notes that the deal was negotiated by Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA, 84%), "a conservative Democrat from Virginia’s coal country;" that is the only concession to the Times' traditional animus against "conservatives." (When did someone who votes 84% liberal become a conservative Democrat?)
  • A billion dollars of pork for Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL, 33%) to distribute around Chicago.
  • "Democrats from Southeastern states" got a special deal: reducing the target for getting energy from renewable resources from 25% to 15%, "with states given the ability to reduce it further if they cannot meet the target."
  • More tens of billions of dollars in government goodies for refineries, rural energy co-ops, and a massive expansion of "carbon offsets" that can be sold by argibusiness -- as well as shifting their regulatory burden from the EPA to the "farmer-friendly Department of Agriculture."

I wonder if this change in the media weather has something to do with the Obamacle's sagging approval ratings? Today, Rasmussem Reports has the president's approval down to 54% positive, 45% negative -- which can hardly be called "sky high" anymore -- and with an approval index (percent strongly approving minus percent strongly disapproving) in negative territory, at —1% -- 32% strongly approve, 33% strongly disapprove.

CNN/Opinion Research notes that, although Obama's approval remains high at 61%...

"Since March, Obama's approval rating has gone down one percentage point each month in CNN polls," notes CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

If that continues for another year...

In the current ABC/Washington Post poll, Obama's approval advantage has dropped from 43 points in February to 34 points in June -- still high, but still shrinking.

Gallup still maintains the fiction that Obama's approval is 2-1 positive; but even they show his disapproval rating rising 20 points since he was inaugurated.

In any event, no matter what the reason, the antique news media have begun to wake from their Obamic torpor: They are finally starting to question the One about his supposed solutions, though they still give him a pass on his own litany of the problems he "inherited" from "the previous administration." (Watch for them to give Barack Obama the credit for winning the Iraq war, because the final pullout will occur on his watch.)

Huzzah. Now let's see some actual coverage of the many, varied, and far more American Republican alternatives to Obamunism.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 1, 2009, at the time of 4:59 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 24, 2009

No Time for Sergeants - the First Post-Penultimate Word on the A.D.D.D.D.A.

Democratic Culture of Corruption , Election Derelictions , Liberal Lunacy , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

I know I said the last post was the penultimate one on the subject of the Anti-Democratic Democrats' Denial of Democracy in Albany; but something so Kafkaesque has just happened in the New York State Senate that I cannot silently wait for the ultimate post... which will be the one where everybody's hash is finally settled. I am optimistic about much mirth and hijinks to ensue; I'm calling this the first post-penultimate word.

Our previous posts on this titillating topic are:

The current hilarity writes itself:

In Albany, Separate Senate Sessions for Each Party

Republicans and Democrats attempted to hold separate Senate sessions at the same time on Tuesday, leaving the Capitol in confusion and bickering as members of both parties shouted over each other on the Senate floor, and each party claimed it was in control.

Though Democrats had entered the Senate chamber through a back hallway just before 12:30 p.m. and locked the doors -- much to the surprise of Republicans -- Republicans moved ahead with plans for their own session and began calling for votes on bills as Democrats sat silent in protest.

Exactly who was in control of the Senate -- or whether any of the procedural action the Republicans had taken was legally valid -- was unclear. Democrats were successful in blocking Republicans from taking control of the Senate gavel, which remained firmly in the hands of Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins of Westchester County, who was guarded by sergeants-at-arms on both sides.

The first point of puzzlement is why the sergeants-at-arms have sided with the Democrats... aren't they supposed to be neutral? How do they know which party legally controls the body? Are they lawyers? Have they even consulted with lawyers -- upon whose authority?

UPDATE, une 24th, 2000: Heh... that was how the story read yesterday; but today, the Times pulled another fast one: They jacked up the URL and ran a whole new story under it -- headline, body, page count, pocket change, blood chemicals, and all. Gone are the paragraphs quoted above, to be replaced by this:

Come to Order! Not a Chance, if It’s Albany

New York did not have one State Senate on Tuesday. It had two.

Democrats sneaked into the Senate chamber shortly after noon, seizing control of the rostrum and locking Republicans out of the room. Republicans were finally allowed to enter about 2:30 p.m., but when they tried to station one of their own members on the dais they were blocked by the sergeants-at-arms.

So then something extraordinary -- and rather embarrassing -- happened.

The two sides, like feuding junior high schoolers refusing to acknowledge each other, began holding separate legislative sessions at the same time. Side by side, the parties, each asserting that it rightfully controls the Senate, talked and sometimes shouted over one another, gaveling through votes that are certain to be disputed. There were two Senate presidents, two gavels, two sets of bills being voted on.

What is the point of such stealth-rewrites? They didn't make it any better for Democrats or harsher on Republicans... they just didn't like the first version (which can still be seen here), so they substituted a different one, with the same URL. Yeesh.

To serious-up for a moment, what I consider the most significant bill caught up in the maelstrom of madness -- a bill to legalize same-sex marriage throughout New York, the third-largest state in the United States -- might be doomed for this term. From a subsequent article in the Times:

Senators defied Gov. David A. Paterson on Wednesday and refused to take up any of the 10 issues he put on the schedule for a legislative session, indefinitely postponing votes on same-sex marriage and other signature items of the governor’s agenda....

Though gay rights supporters were initially pleased that the governor had placed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage on the agenda, many gay rights advocates were saying on Wednesday morning that they did not believe a vote would accomplish anything. There are myriad legal questions clouding any piece of legislation that the Senate takes up, and supporters of same-sex marriage are wary of seeing their issue turned into a political football.

“Nobody wants it to pass under a cloud, so it will be immediately subject to legal challenge,” said Assemblyman Daniel J. O’Donnell, a Democrat from the Upper West Side who sponsored the same-sex marriage bill that passed the Assembly last month. Even if the Senate did pass the bill the governor put on his agenda for Wednesday, and the legal issues were not so complicated, Mr. O’Donnell said same-sex marriage would still not be legal because the governor’s bill would have to be passed again by the Assembly.

The normal session expired in the middle of this month; depending on the outcome of the stalemate (I'm tempted to call it "Fool's Mate" instead), there may be insufficient time to bring up the same-sex marriage (SSM) bill before the expiration of the current "extraordinary session," called by N.Y. Gov. David Paterson. If it expires, and if Paterson does not call another, then I think the Senate is in recess until January... at least so the New York State Senate's own website seems to say.

Will there still be such impetus next year for jamming through such a fundamental change to a foundational insitution as marriage -- without any referendum of New Yorkers? I don't know; but at this point, those of us averse to monkeying with one of the foundations of Western civilization should be grateful for any delay we can get. Perhaps legislators will have an opportunity to think a second time, as Dennis Prager likes to say.

But back to whipping the cat in Albany! Let's run with both versions of the Times story; maybe by tomorrow, yesterday will have never happened at all.

We still have the same problem with the sergeants-at-arms siding with the Democrats -- the default-to-the-liberals favoritism found in Democratic states like New York. First the guards defended the "Democrats' gavel" against the rampaging Republicans, notwithstanding a 32 to 30 vote to oust former Majority Leader Malcolm Smith (D). The same majority then elected Sen. Dean Skelos (R) majority leader and Sen. Pedro Espada (D) as president of the Senate; how can the sergeants unilaterally decide to abrogate that vote, "blocking Republicans from taking control of the Senate gavel?"

But then they did something even worse, discussed in detail in the first version of the story but only sketched in the second: When Majority Leader Skelos called Sen. George H. Winner, jr. to the podium... oh, but let the Times tell it in its original words, before editors decided to merely hint around the bush:

Shortly after Republicans walked onto the Senate floor on Tuesday afternoon, their leader, Dean G. Skelos, called the chamber to order and asked one of the Senate Republicans’ deputy leaders, George H. Winner Jr., to “take the podium.” Mr. Winner, who was standing at the front of the chamber, attempted to climb the stairs that lead to the podium where the presiding officer stands but was stopped by a Senate guard.

“Senator Skelos,” Mr. Winner responded, “I have been instructed by the sergeant-at-arms not to take the podium.” Mr. Winner then walked to a desk in front of the podium, called the Senate to order from there and began calling votes on a list of bills. Since Democrats sat silent and did not voice any objections, Mr. Winner claimed that each bill passed by a vote of 62 to 0.

So in addition to defending the Democrats' presumably inherent right to hold the gavel at all times, regardless of any organizing votes to the contrary, the sergeants also forcibly prevented a Republican senator from even approaching the podium -- because the Democrats didn't want him to be allowed to speak.

One final example deserves note of the sergeants abandoning their traditional role as neutral defenders of the peace -- in order to concentrate on their other traditional role as New York civil servants, that of being liberal Democratic partisans. In the original version:

Republicans seemed just as caught off guard as the rest of the Capitol when the Democrats came in at 12:30 p.m. As news of the Democrats’ move spread, some Republican staff members rushed to the Senate chamber and peered in through the windows to watch the Democrats congregating inside.

Senator Winner, a Republican from central New York, described the Democrats’ move as unnecessary and possibly against the law.

“It seems to me somewhat petulant and or illegal to lock the doors,” Mr. Winner said.

The outer doors to the chamber were kept locked by the sergeant-at-arms of the Senate, but some reporters were able to gain access through a back door.

The new version of the story makes clear that the Democrats snuck in alone -- and locked the doors against the Republicans. Thus, the sergeants-at-arms must have been holding the door against duly elected Republican state senators entering the state Senate chambers:

Democrats sneaked into the Senate chamber shortly after noon, seizing control of the rostrum and locking Republicans out of the room....

Early Tuesday, Republicans seemed as surprised as the rest of the Capitol when Democrats took over the chamber. Some Republican staff members rushed to the chamber to peek through small windows to watch the Democrats congregating. Some reporters were able to gain access to the locked chamber through the office of Mr. Espada, hurrying through a side room where Mr. Espada’s grandson was parked in front of a television, watching the Cartoon Network.

Note the curious omission of the fact that it was the sergeants who prevented Republican senators from entering the chamber (replaced by the reference to the Cartoon Network -- product placement, or do the Times editors simply have a "thing" for cartoons?) This fits in with the new version omitting the tidbit about sergeants jealously guarding the "Democrats'" gavel and brushing past the same sergeants preventing Sen. Winner from speaking from the podium. Could that be the reason for the rewrite -- to whitewash the complicity of the supposedly neutral guardians of the Senate in a partisan dispute against the GOP?

If so, what a sad and petty reason to engage in such an Orwellian rewrite of history. Times publisher "Pinch" Sulzberger should busy himself reading his Shelly; it may tell him some inconvenient truths about his own future and that of his family's media legacy:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert…. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 24, 2009, at the time of 5:39 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 2, 2009

"Double Standard" Watch on the Rind Continues

Illiberal Liberalism , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

Well, mañana has come ("Aye Caesar, but not gone!") Still haven't seen a single story quoting a single anti-war activist denouncing, condemning, or for that matter even mentioning the assassination of Pvt. William Long and the wounding of Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula.

None of the suspects listed in our previous post has stepped up to the plate and plainly said "Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad does not kill on my behalf." Nor has a single elite news agency even asked anti-war leaders the question, so far as I have seen.

The New York Times continues to have no editorial on the attack, though they quickly editorialized on the murder of Dr. Tiller (blaming it on pro-life conservatives). They finally posted an article on the shootings; but nowhere in it do they trouble to demand whether anti-war protesters and agitators support or condemn the brutal murder and attempted murder.

Andrew Sullivan has at last deigned to note the occurance of the assassination... but only in order to mock Michelle Malkin, whom he dubs a "self-parody" for imagining that it could possibly be considered terrorism -- not like that Tiller killing!

The Washington Post has printed no editorials or opinion pieces on the murder. It has published two articles on the shooting, here and here; neither even so much as raises the question of whether the extremist anti-war, anti-military rhetoric of the American and international Left played any role in persuading native-born American citizen Mr. Muhammad that being a Moslem required him to murder his own country's servicemen. Nor does either article ask any anti-war protester or leader what he or she thinks of Mr. Muhammad's tactics.

None of the usual suspects can any longer claim that they haven't had enough time to prepare such a story; each swiftly published stories, editorials, and opinion pieces savaging the entire pro-life movement (of which I am not a member, by the way) for the murder of Dr. Tiller... and especially lighting on Fox News populist demagogue Bill O'Reilly as the real killer behind the killer. These stories appeared within 24 hours of the Christian domestic terrorist attack.

But the Moslem domestic terrorist attack appears to have elicited a collective "ho hum" from the elite news media. It's quite clear which religious extremism they think is the real threat to America.

I'm too smug and self-satisfied to look at other lefty websites besides the ones I've enumerated here; but I highly encourage readers to do so: Please look through posts from June 1st forward, or search the websites for the victims' names, and post the results in the comments section. Here are the questions before the house:

  • Will any anti-war organization, leader, or even individual protester go on record condemning or denouncing the killings of Long and Ezeagwula?
  • And will any elite-media newspaper, TV news or talking-head show, news magazine, or internet site put the question to any of the usual chanters, protesters, rioters, and puppeteers whether their own virulent and hysterical anti-war rhetoric could have helped push Muhammad over the edge?

It seems that the intense search for the "root cause" of political violence begins and ends with violence from the deranged Right, no matter how tangentially connected to the sane Right (the tangential connection will of course be exaggerated to the point of complete identification).

Inquiring minds still want to know.

Tick tick tick tick tick tick tick...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 2, 2009, at the time of 1:54 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

The Double-Standard Gauntlet Is Thrown

Media Madness , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities
Hatched by Dafydd

From yesterday's New York Times unsigned (thus from the editorial board) editorial:

The murder of Dr. George Tiller, who was shot to death as he stood in the foyer of his church in Wichita, Kan., on Sunday morning, was a reprehensible act of domestic terrorism directed toward the dwindling cadre of physicians who risk their safety to perform legal medical procedures....

Responding to Dr. Tiller’s slaying, President Obama expressed shock and outrage and said that profound differences over issues like abortion “cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence.” Mr. Obama recently called for Americans to find common ground on reducing the need for abortions. In that spirit, abortion opponents should refrain from the “baby killer” rhetoric that inflames an already heated debate....

There must be a sustained focus by federal and state officials to prevent further acts of violence and intimidation. If it turns out that additional laws are needed, Congress should take action.

So far as I've heard, every single pro-life organization and a great many pro-life individuals denounced and condemned this murder as despicable, cowardly, and a violation of the entire thrust of the pro-life community. And they did so the very day it happened, Sunday, May 31st, 2009.

But I have yet to hear or read a single radical leftist anti-war organization, politician, or blogger condemning the assassination of Private William Long, United States Army, and the attempted assassination of Private Quinton Ezeagwula, United States Army. As of the timestamp of this post, not a word on the website of International ANSWER; nary a peep from the chicks at Code Pink.

Dennis Kucinich (D-OH, 95%), "America's most courageous congressman," hasn't the courage to speak out against killing American soldiers in America's heartland -- not even on his Twitter feed. Perhaps if it turns out that additional laws are needed, Congress should take action; Rep. Kucinich could introduce a bill.

Andrew Sullivan -- I've heard he has a blog or something; I think it's called the Daily Dirt; or something -- found occasion to publish 58 blogposts yesterday, including many about the assassination of Dr. Tiller. But Sullivan found no occasion even to mention the assassination of Long and the attempted assassination of Ezeagwula.

But it's early yet. Maybe mañana.

Tick tick tick tick...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 2, 2009, at the time of 2:07 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 1, 2009

AP's Brand New, Never Before Tried Approach to Islam: Appeasement

Media Madness , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities
Hatched by Dafydd

The Associated Press lays its own cards on the table anent how President Barack H. Obama should woo the Moslem world to the side of hopey-changitude:

Respect for Islam, a prescription for Palestinian statehood and assurances of a speedy U.S. pullout from Iraq - that's what Muslims from Morocco to Malaysia say they want to hear from President Barack Obama this week when he addresses them from this Arab capital.

His speech Thursday from Cairo University will try to soften the fury toward the United States among so many of the world's 1.5 billion Muslims, ignited by the U.S. occupation of Iraq and the hands-off attitude toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict of his predecessor George W. Bush.

Obama's offer of a new beginning is seen as an attempt to stem the growing influence of extremists - particularly Iran, with its regional and nuclear ambitions - and to bolster moderate Muslim allies.

Yeah, I recall that: The Moslem world just loved us until George W. Bush came along and ruined everything!

Although Obama isn't expected to get very specific, AP shows no such shyness or reluctance:

Obama "has to walk the talk [sic]," said social activist Marina Mahathir, daughter of Malaysia's former prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad.

But with rising hopes come the risk of disappointment. Obama isn't expected to present a detailed vision of a Mideast peace deal - potentially the most effective antidote to anti-Western sentiment - until later.

And there is doubt the U.S. president can change entrenched foreign policy, particularly what is perceived in the Muslim world as Washington's pro-Israeli bias. What Muslims see as America's repeated failure to hold Israel to its international obligations is a sore point. A construction freeze in Israeli West Bank settlements -- Obama wants it, Israel rejects it -- is shaping up as a major test.

To be sure, Obama is doing everything possible, short of endangering his own political future, to tilt America away from Israel and towards our enemies. For example, AP notes that he is headed off to Saudi Arabia to confab with King Abdullah -- where perhaps the president will again bow deeply from the waist to show submission to the king of the land of the two holiest cities; but he plans to snub Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by bypassing that country on his trip.

And President Obama continues to appease the ummah:

The president's initial actions have earned him good will. He's reached out to Muslims in an interview with an Arab satellite TV station, in video message to Iranians on the Persian new year and in a speech to the Turkish parliament. He ordered Guantanamo prison closed within a year and said the U.S. would not engage in torture, reversing two Bush policies seen here as having targeted Muslims.

(I'm not exactly sure who we were supposed to incarcerate in the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility, if not those who were fighting a war against the United States -- who were, not coincidentally, radical, militant Moslems. And note the casual way that AP tries to slip it past us that it was "Bush policy" to "engage in torture," a deft and subtle touch by reporters Hadeel al-Salchi and Karin Laub.)

AP next employs one of its very favorite techniques... attributing its own opinions to anonymous "experts" or "analysts":

If Obama wants to rally Muslim support to rein in Iran, analysts say, he will have to prove his good intentions elsewhere. In particular, he needs to move to end Israel's occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, lands the Palestinians want for a state.

Left unsaid is that the only concession that would truly "rally Muslim support" would be for Obama to end Israel's occupation of Israel. I wonder whether that's a part of the president's plan that he hasn't yet shared with us.

It's no surprise that AP advises the president to play the appeasement card, but it's depressing that they appear to imagine it hasn't already been played -- and played and played -- anent the Arab Moslem world... or that this time, it will have a different result than encouraging the latter to demand even more, as appeasement has every other time it's been tried. (Those who cannot remember Santayana are condemned to regurgitate him.)

I cannot resist ending as AP does, with a quotation that I'm certain perfectly encapsulates the entire elite media's jubilation towards the new era of hope, change, and nationalization of American industry, ushered in by the election of the One They Have Been Pining For:

Still Obama gets some credit up front for just being himself. Many were inspired by his victory, emotionally connecting to his African and Muslim roots and his childhood in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation.

"It's so exciting to have a black man run the entire world," said Awni Shatarat, 45, a clothing store owner in the Palestinian refugee camp of Baqaa in Jordan.

Does this qualify as "Barack the magic Negro"-ism?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 1, 2009, at the time of 5:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Tale of Two Shootings

Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

Just out of curiosity, does anybody believe that the Arkansas shooting of two Army recruiters, one fatally, will get the same kind of political scrutiny as the shooting of a late-term abortion doctor in Kansas?

Will the former be adduced as left-wing extremism against the military, as the latter is already being exploited as right-wing extremism against abortion rights?

We don't yet know why the recruiters were shot; perhaps it's entirely personal. On the other hand, we really don't yet know why Dr. George Tiller was murdered, either; that too could be personal, or it could be that his killer (perhaps in custody) was simply deranged and had no rational motive at all.

But my question is not about the reality of motive but the political reality of spin... and I just don't see the same intensity of speculation among the elites in the Army-recruiter story as the abortion-doctor one.

But maybe it's just I.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 1, 2009, at the time of 2:45 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

May 10, 2009

Q: Which Wanda Sykes Statement Is the Most Outrageous?

Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

Wanda Sykes, unfunny comedienne and B-grade actress, spoke at the White House correspondents' dinner yesterday -- the premier social event of the D.C. calendar. The eyes of the elite-media world were upon her; here is a clip from the joint:

 

 

She made three intriguing statements; in reverse order, they were:

  1. "Rush Limbaugh.... I hope his kidneys fail -- how 'bout that?"
  2. "I think maybe Rush Limbaugh was the twentieth hijacker; he was just so strung out on Oxycontin, he missed his flight."
  3. "Rush Limbaugh said he hopes this administration fails. So you're sayin', I hope America fails! I don't care about people losing their homes, their jobs, our soldiers in Iraq... He just wants the country to fail. To me, that's treason: He's not saying anything different than what Osama bin Laden is sayin'."

In the third statement above, Sykes casually equates Barack H. "Lucky Lefty" Obama with the United States of America; thus if Limbaugh hopes for the failure of Obama's massive expansion of the federal government to control every aspect of our lives, then that means Limbaugh wants America itself to fail. Hey, Obama -- America -- same thing: The One We Have Been Waiting For begins Le Grand Siècle Nouveau des États-Unis.

"L'État c'est moi!"

I can't answer the question in the title of this post, which of the three statements is most outrageous; but I certainly maintain that the final statement above is the most unAmerican. Alas, it is also the least controversial -- among America's media elites.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 10, 2009, at the time of 2:34 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 5, 2009

Taming the Beast

Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

The Washington Times -- still one of the very few national newspapers not worshipping at the shrine of the Obamacle -- reports on the "taming" of the White House press mob since You-Know-Who moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave:

The White House press corps, once accustomed to examining the world in excruciating detail, is now under the microscope.

Speculations are afoot among observers who say the media have gone soft, solemnly rising when President Obama walks into the room or delivering cushy questions like strategic softballs. Journalists, the arguments go, are either delirious over Mr. Obama or shellshocked by eight years with President Bush.

But not to worry! Long-time veterans, such as ABC's Sam Donaldson, assures us that this is only a temporary swoon, that soon the ship of fourth estate will right itself, and everything will be back to norbal:

"Have no fear. The White House press corps will come to life in good time," said Sam Donaldson, a longtime ABC News anchorman.

"Right now, President Obama is riding a great wave of public approval and, let's face it, so far has not made any large missteps. But his real challenges lie ahead and, as all presidents do, he will face some tough times. And, I say again, fear not: The press corps will do its duty in holding his 'feet to the fire.' "

No large missteps? Au contraire, mon ami. Has Sammy D. given some thought to any of the following?

  • A $3.6 trillion (and counting!) budget with at least $1 trillion deficits as far as the eye can see, that has reduced President Barack H. Obama to pleading with China to continue financing his spending spree -- while simultaneously setting up a Ponzi scheme (sayeth GW at Wolf Howling) where debt incurred by U.S. government agencies will be purchased by other U.S. government agencies, then (one must assume) resold back to its original owners. Sound familiar? It's what Japanese banks were doing anent real estate to create a "bubble" of price inflation, so they could lend far more money than their actual reserves would permit. Then the bubble burst, and the rest is history.
  • This mind-numbing level of federal indebtedness would be "paid for" either by a colossal tax hike (on everyone, not just the rich -- unless you believe "the rich" includes anyone who pays any income tax at all), Latin-America-sized hyperinflation, or most likely, both.
  • A mewling, belly-crawling foreign policy that appears to combine one part begging other countries, especially our enemies (Iran, China, North Korea), to help us achieve our policy objectives, even when they run directly counter to theirs, with three parts apologizing profusely for ever having pursued our own national interest in the first place.
  • A policy of treating man-caused disaster-causing men detained during our overseas contingency operation (abroad) or our overseas contingency operation (homeland) just as if they had been arrested by local cops and charged with credit-card fraud. Each detainee shall have the right:

    • to refuse to answer any questions (and not to be interrogated without his Hezbollah or al-Qaeda lawyer present);
    • to have a speedy trial under civilian court rules, before a civilian judge appointed by Carter, Clinton, or Obama, in front of a jury of his peers (other radical Moslems);
    • to see all the evidence to be used against him, including highly classified intelligence information, all of which must also be shown to his legal team;
    • to be set free on bail pending trial;
    • to remain free even after being convicted, pending endless appeals to higher courts;
    • to ultimately appeal the entire case to the International Court of Euroleft Opinion for mandatory review.
  • A domestic policy that envisions expanding government to control virtually every aspect of our lives, including medical care (rationing, both direct -- what medical treatments you're allowed to get -- and indirect -- rationing by waiting list); education (the feds decide every school's curriculum, funding, classroom size, special programs, and of course the political orientation of the school; note that this will apply from K all the way through University); the workplace (many of which the government will actually own... sort of like Venezuela under Hugo Chavez, or Cuba under the Castros); union membership (the Employee Freedom from Choice Act); and the entire financial sector (federal government decides who gets a loan, how much, what interest rate, when, and for what reason).
  • A political jam-down of all of the above without the slightest nod to the democratic process by:

    • secret Democratic-Party caucusing;
    • injective massive, revolutionary changes into the reconciliation process (to prevent Republicans from even having the opportunity to fillibuster any of Obama's agenda);
    • corrupting the decennial census to artificially inflate Democratic districts and artificially suppress Republican ones;
    • out and out electoral fraud, such as that for which ACORN was just criminally charged (again);
    • and enticing Democratic districts in purple states to engage in corrupt inflation of their vote counts, as we saw in the Al Franken campaign in Minnesota's senatorial race.
  • All informed by an adolescent worldview (see, e.g., Obamunism - Through the Eyes of a Child; Obamunism II - the Infection Spreads; and Obamunism III - Biden His Time) that elevates "teen logic" to the level of philosophy -- and party loyalty to the level of religious faith.

Note: This is just what Obama or his administration has already enunciated -- discussed, floated, proposed, or enacted; we haven't even delved into abortion on demand, from conception likely all the way through the fifth trimester; strict gun control; same-sex marriage (and eventually polygamy); an actual, for-real amnesty for illegal immigrants (not the plea-bargain offered by Bush and Sen. John S. McCain, R-AZ, 63%, but literal amnesty); and a war against Judeo-Christian religion that will dwarf that waged by Jimmy Carter -- even the Jimmy Carter of today. That's all coming, but it's not here quite yet, so I mention it not.

Of course, Sam Donaldson likely doesn't consider any of these discontinuities to be a "misstep;" he might think some are politically premature. But I wonder if he has bothered consulting with his colleague at ABC, Jake Tapper, about whether Tapper thinks Obama has committed any "large missteps."

Tapper is currently undergoing an artillery barrage from the sinistrosphere for daring to report that some of Chrysler's "secured" (there's a laugh!) creditors are being bullied and strong-armed by the One and his acolytes into abandoning all but a few pennies on the dollar of the loans they extended, in good faith, to the car company. Why should they write off those loans, taking billions and billions of dollars in losses? So that the administration can fully reimburse the United Auto Workers union with a combination of preferential payoffs in the bankruptcy proceedings and 55-gallon drums of Chrysler stock that will leave the government owning about 50% -- and the UAW owning about 40%. (Hat tip to Wolf Howling)

(One wonders how this will affect collective bargaining, when the union both represents the workers... yet is also "management." Will the UAW call a strike against itself?)

Perhaps I'm unduly cynical in my late youth. Perhaps in just a year or so, in enough time to affect the 2010 elections, the elite news media will begin applying the degree of scrutiny to the administration of Barack H. Obama that they applied to George W. Bush for nine years (starting during the campaign).

Perhaps they will drop the double standard and begin treating both Left and Right the same, in terms of trust, investigation, and holding accountable for hypocrisy.

Perhaps they will once again seek to earn their readers' and viewers' trust by reporting the facts, in as unbiased a fashion as humanly possible, without political and ideological spin.

Perhaps they will rediscover their duty, as the "fourth estate," to hold government accountable to the American polity; their patriotism, to defend American exceptionalism; their decency, not to savage their opponents just because they can; and above all, their journalistic curiosity: to report the news, not simply take dictation from the Democratic Party and print slightly rewritten White House press releases.

 

Perhaps baboons will learn to dance the Argentine Tango.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 5, 2009, at the time of 6:56 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 10, 2009

Obamunism II - the Infection Spreads

Iraq Matters , Liberal Lunacy , Media Madness , Obama Nation
Hatched by Dafydd

On Monday, in Obamunism - Through the Eyes of a Child, we lit into President Barack H. Obama for enunciating a very juvenile and immature philosophy, one based upon four pillars:

  • Dividing world actors into either heroes or villains (based on whether they're considered generally Left or Right, respectively), as in the comic books of earlier generations (oddly, many comics have a more sophisticated worldview today than does the president);
  • Misapprehending current events in a very superficial, childish way;
  • Rewriting the chaos of history to make it a more exciting and melodramatic story -- complete with plot, conflict, climax, and dénouement (resolution of the climax)... they remember things not the way they happened but the way they should have happened;
  • And magical thinking, in which deep, non-logical or paralogical connections exist between seemingly disconnected events or people, such that doing some apparently irrelevent thing (throwing the ring of power into a volcano) results in some vital consequence (the evil Sauron is destroyed).

Today, Friday -- bookending the week -- I have a perfect example of such pre-pubescent behavior; but this time, it's not just on the part of the president... it has spread through Western civilization at least as far as Merrie Olde England, as the Times (of London) joins in the juvenalia. Thus Obama does not merely enunciate a philosophy of childishness, he exemplifies what is rapidly becoming a movement of childishness.

In a straight-reporting article on Gen. Ray Odierno's fight in Iraq, primarily in the cities of Mosul and Diyala, we read the following description of the so-called "surge," which I prefer to call the counterinsurgency:

Despite the rise in the number of attacks, overall violence is still far below levels of two years ago when the surge of an extra 30,000 US forces -- a strategy created and implemented by General Odierno and his boss, General Petraeus -- was just getting started. That risk paid off, subduing a civil war that was killing thousands of Iraqi civilians and scores of American soldiers every month.

Let's take a look at that one paragraph. First of all, the definition of civil war is not "kills thousands of civilians and scores of soldiers every month." A civil war requires opposing armies -- each drawn from and led by citizens or subjects of the same country -- engaging in actual combat operations.

Neither of these was true in Iraq. There were initially two armies, that of Saddam Hussein and the one fielded by the American-led coalition. After the former collapsed and up until today, there has been only one army: the latter. In addition, there have been various home-staffed but generally foreign-led terrorist groups... and there is even a small force of militants fielded by a foreign power, Iran. But there is not now, nor has there ever been (during the third millennium) a "civil war" in Iraq.

This is story-telling as described above. It's very dramatic to describe the violent conflict from 2004 through 2007 as a "civil war;" the term conjures up images (in America) of horrific battles like Antietam (Sharpsburg) and Gettysburg and hundreds of thousands of dead soldiers on both sides. In Great Britain, readers envision the English Civil War in the mid-seventeenth century, between "cavaliers" (royalists) and "roundheads" (parliamentarians), in which King Charles I was executed by Parliament, his son driven into exile, the monarchy temporarily abolished, and a new government "Protectorate" established under Oliver Cromwell. Man, that's exciting!

By contrast, the reality in Iraq was nothing like that. The government was never in danger of being overthrown by al-Qaeda, which fielded no real army; the terrorists never really governed territory, though they held sway in some areas (e.g., Anbar province); all they could ever do was kill people, more or less at random.

In addition to the storytelling, the paragraph quoted above demonstrates the oversimplification and superficiality of Obamunism, despite coming from across the Atlantic ocean. Note the claimed provenance of the counterinsurgency: "a strategy created and implemented by General Odierno and his boss, General Petraeus."

This puts all the praise squarely upon the military itself, a safe and politically neutral repository... and it denies credit to the civilians (some former military) who actually crafted the plan, particularly the authors of the American Enterprise Institute's report: Fred Kagen and retired Gen. John "Jack" Keane.

Why should the Times want to deny credit to the AEI? Because it is a preeminent politically conservative organization. To grant the AEI its due entails admitting that the conservative approach to the Iraq crisis was correct; while the liberal view of withdrawal from the cities, handing everything over to the Iraqis, and quickly withdrawing from Iraq altogether -- as enunciated by, e.g., Gen. William Casey and retired Gen. Eric Shinseki, along with nearly every liberal Democrat especially including then-Sen. Barack Obama -- was dead wrong, failed, and nearly cost us the war.

(Even worse would have been the madcap scheme pushed by then-Sen. Joe Biden, among many others, to "partition" Iraq into threes, Sunni, Shia, and Kurd. Within a few months, the Sunni regions would all be controlled by al-Qaeda with support from Pakistan; the Shiite regions would all be controlled by Muqtada Sadr and his puppetmasters in Teheran; and Kurdistan would have managed to provoke a war with Turkey.)

Thank goodness the AEI made such a good counter-case.

Finally, note the truly glaring omission among those who should receive credit for the counterinsurgency, which seized victory from a battlefield where the Left had already declared defeat. Who was the one person most responsible for what the press enjoys calling "the surge?" Who was the actual decider? Who took the political heat? Who was called everything from a moron to a Nazi for pushing it?

The Times has surgically removed President George W. Bush from the story; it's as if he wasn't even there. Evidently, these two generals, Petraeus and Odierno, just got it into their heads to totally change the war-fighting strategy in Iraq. They invented the counterinsurgency out of whole cloth and somehow found a way to increase the forces on the ground as well... and all without any input or decision-making by the Commander in Chief!

Imagine how terrible it would be to have to admit, in one of the most respected organs of the elite media, that George W. Bush was right, and Barack H. Obama was catastrophically wrong on the Iraq war... that if we had followed the Obama-Biden-Reid-Pelosi-Kerry recommendation to declare defeat and go home, we would have lost the war; but because Bush instead implemented a strategy of victory, we have won it. If the Left confessed that, how could it ever hold up its head again?

Far better to praise a couple of more or less apolitical generals, pat the troops on the head, and cut all the political actors out of the picture, like a deranged divorcée cutting her ex-husband's head out of all the wedding photos. Or perhaps more appropriately, the Soviet habit of making former heroes of the revolution "vanish" from official photographs when they fall from power.

But the Times only takes its cue from President Obama himself; during his surprise trip to Baghdad Wednesday, he lavished praise on the American military presence there, crediting them with the "surge of troops;" but he pointedly refrained from mentioning President Bush's courageous decision to implement the counterinsurgency strategy in the first place. This has been Obama's modus operandi from the days of the campaign (which still hasn't ended) through the first months of his presidency: Everything bad that happens in America he blames on Bush; but he shifts credit for all the successes of the Bush administration -- and there were many -- to other entities, either liberal (Congress) or neutral (the military).

This is typically juvenile behavior, now being copied by leftists across America and even in supposedly sophisticated Europe. The childishness of our Childe President is spreading like a virulent malaise through an unsanitary grade school. Heaven only knows how long the epidemic will rage.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 10, 2009, at the time of 2:39 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 2, 2009

Triumph at the Summit of Mount Obamarama

Beggar's Banking Banquet , Liberal Lunacy , Media Madness , Obama Nation
Hatched by Dafydd

A summit just concluded in London among the G-20, the group of 20 richest nations; the heads of state spoke to each other without visible brandishing of weaponry. This much we can all agree upon.

But that's about all we can agree upon. Here is AP's take on the outcome:

At his summit debut, President Barack Obama failed to persuade foreign counterparts to commit to fresh and lavish spending to boost economic revival. And the success he did achieve in finding common ground was as much the result of modified goals as swaying other countries to bend to U.S. priorities.

Still, he emerged with much of what he wanted from allies on the flailing global economy. And he helped thwart a French-backed attempt to set up an international financial regulator.

And here is the assessment by the New York Times:

After more than 11 hours of meetings, Mr. Obama emerged Thursday from his first summit meeting with a handful of modest concrete commitments. He did not get much of what American officials had been hoping for, notably failing to persuade other countries to commit to more fiscal stimulus spending.

Oh, yes; they're clearly singing from the same hymnal.

So what exactly does AP see as emerging with "much of what he wanted from allies on the flailing global economy?" Oh, that's as clear as crystal:

Thursday's daylong gathering of the G-20 nations pledged $1.1 trillion in loans and guarantees to struggling countries, agreed to crack down on tax havens, large hedge funds and other risky financial products, rejected protectionism that hampers foreign trade and committed to upgrading an existing financial forum to flag problems early in the global financial system. Those were all elements Obama was seeking.

And, as he hoped, the leaders also rejected a push by French and German politicians for a global financial super-regulator, a proposal that had been expected to go down in defeat. The emphasis, instead, was on cooperation among nations to each choose it own way to enact "a stronger, more globally consistent, supervisory and regulatory framework...."

Still, the leaders, many wary of piling up debt, did not sign off on large new stimulus packages for their own countries. Obama's administration had initially pushed for such a commitment, but backed off in recent days as European opposition solidified.

So Barack H. Obama elicited a few trivial, generalized noises from the other members about markets and trade; he managed to "thwart" a French demand for one-world government (at least on financial issues) that everybody knew going in was "expected to go down in defeat" anyway... and he bowed to the rest of the wealthy nations on a world-wide stimulus package, dropping it the moment it met the slightest resistance. Or skepticism.

Obama's "agreement" comprised caving to Europe; there will be no such global stimulus, as the One had long insisted was vital to preventing complete economic meltdown.

Mind, I'm very glad he caved; it's a craven admission by the president that his earlier sepulchral warnings and nigh-biblical denunciations were just so much hot air (no offence to Captain Ed, et al)... and the confession that, in the end, doing nothing is preferable to doing Obamunism -- even to the Euroleft! Still, it's always easy to come to agreement when One is willing to jettison all of One's demands; it rarely takes much diplomatic genius to persuade people to accept their own position instead of yours.

Oh, wait; there was one other signal triumph by the Childe President: According to AP, Obama somehow got the developed nations to "agree[] to crack down on tax havens."

Bully! So no longer will China allow companies to incorporate in Macao or Hong Kong and thereby skate on paying their "fair share" of taxes. But how did he do it?

Sayeth the Times, the big disagreement was between President Nicolas Sarkozy of France -- who wanted the nations to commit to a "name and shame" policy anent tax havens -- and President Hu Jintao of Red China, who did not want any such naming and/or shaming of the two biggest tax havens in Asia, to wit, those very same Chinese provinces of Macao and Hong Kong.

Here is how it all played out:

Mr. Sarkozy wanted the big communiqué produced by the Group of 20 to endorse naming and shaming global tax havens, maybe even including Hong Kong and Macao, which are under China’s sovereignty. Unsurprisingly, Mr. Hu was having none of it. He appeared angry that Mr. Sarkozy was effectively accusing China of lax regulation, and that the French leader was asking China to endorse sanctions issued by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a club of wealthy nations that Beijing has yet to join.

According to accounts provided by White House officials and corroborated by European and other officials also in the room, Mr. Obama escorted both men, one at a time, to a corner of the room, to judge the dispute. How about replacing the word “recognize,” Mr. Obama suggested, with the word “note?”

The result: “The era of banking secrecy is over,” the final communiqué said. “We note that the O.E.C.D. has today published a list of countries assessed by the Global Forum against the international standard for exchange of tax information.” Hong Kong and Macao did not appear on the list.

And there we have it. In a stunning tour de force, Barack Obama has achieved the trifecta:

  • He grabbed credit for "thwarting" a French plan that was already doomed before Obama set foot in Londontown;
  • He obtained a broad agreement with the other nations by taking the signal policy he has claimed for months was the only thing which could save the world economy -- and consigning to the dustbin of non-history;
  • And he resolved a conflict between Europe and China over the latter's tax dodgers by kow-towing to the Chinese, ensuring that Macao and Hong Kong can continue to operate without any fear of being outed, named, isolated, or shamed.

Well now! See how much can be accomplished if America really sets its mind on diplomacy, rather than the Cowboy-George, go-it-alone policy of dictating to the rest of the world? The Times sums up what our man in London has taught us about our proper place in the world:

Gone are the days, from Pax Britannica to Pax Americana, when Britain and the United States made the rules that others followed.

“If there’s just Roosevelt and Churchill sitting in a room with a brandy, that’s an easier negotiation,” Mr. Obama said during his hourlong meeting with the international news media, during which he called on reporters from India and China to ask him questions. “But that’s not the world we live in, and it shouldn’t be the world that we live in.”

Yes, he has certainly proved that those days (of two years ago) are gone. Forgive me if I don't caper and frolic in glee; I've been feeling a bit enervated for the last two-plus months.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 2, 2009, at the time of 11:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 30, 2009

Shock Report - NYT (!) Admits the ABA Favors Liberal Judges Over Conservatives!

Injudicious Judiciary , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

Despite the category above, this is actually not an example of media madness, but rather an unexpected gust of media sanity:

Two weeks ago, the American Bar Association’s eight-year exile ended. The Obama administration restored the group to the special status it had enjoyed since the Eisenhower years, and it will once again get early word about potential nominees to the federal bench.

The group says it is serious and diligent about evaluating candidates without regard to ideology. But there is reason to wonder whether Alberto R. Gonzales, who was White House counsel at the time, might have had a point when he told the group eight years ago that its help would not be needed.

The A.B.A. is, after all, a private trade association, not an arm of the government. It takes public and generally liberal positions on all sorts of divisive issues. And a series of studies suggest that candidates nominated by Democratic presidents fare better in the group’s ratings than those nominated by Republicans.

For its part, the American Bar Association has utterly refuted the malicious lie that they're biased to the left:

Kim J. Askew, the chairwoman of the association’s 15-member Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, which performs the evaluations, said her group is independent, hardworking and completely divorced from politics.

“We are an impartial group of lawyers that bring a peer review to the process,” Ms. Askew said. “We are all lawyers. We are officers of the court. We speak the language of the law. We do not consider politics.”

Well! Who could argue with that? It's not the A.B.A.'s fault that liberals tend to be capable and intelligent, whereas conservatives just happen to be incompetent and stupid.

Alas for the ABA, even the New York Times now admits that "a series of studies have found indications that liberal nominees do better in the process than conservative ones." No, really. The latest shocking, jaw-dropping assessment is from the University of Georgia and Emory University:

“Holding all other factors constant,” the study found, “those nominations submitted by a Democratic president were significantly more likely to receive higher A.B.A. ratings than nominations submitted by a Republican president.”

The differences matter, said Amy Steigerwalt, a political scientist at Georgia State and an author of the study, along with Richard L. Vining Jr, of the University of Georgia and Susan Navarro Smelcer of Emory.

“A nominee who has a higher A.B.A. rating is more likely to move through the process,” Professor Steigerwalt said. “When problems arise, a higher A.B.A. rating provides one piece of ammunition for the president and supporting senators about why a person should be confirmed to the federal bench.”

I won't say too much about this stunning conclusion, which surely breaks new ground that nobody has ever before trodden, because the dextrosphere is replete with actual lawyers, not sea-lawyers like me; I have a premonition that Power Line, Patterico's Pontifications, Instapundit, Beldar, the Volokh Conspiracy, et al will cover the topic rather thoroughly -- and probably have already done so in much greater depth than we; I haven't looked yet. (When I do check, I'll add links to the relevant posts of each of the blogs above... just because, unlike all those heartless conservatives out there, we care.)

Huh. As of this moment, none of the above blogs has so much as mentioned this Times article! Well, since I have little more to say, I think I'll post quickly -- and get a rare-to-vanishing Big Lizards scoop!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 30, 2009, at the time of 2:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 25, 2009

More Obamunism: Who Controls the Newspapers Controls the Present

Congressional Calamities , Democratic Culture of Corruption , Liberal Lunacy , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd
"Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."
-- "George Orwell" (Eric Blair), Nineteen Eighty-Four

Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD, 100%) has ridden in on his white horse with a wonderful suggestion for newspapers that are in financial trouble (which is pretty much all of them): Reincorporate as 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit educational institutions, which would exempt them from most income tax (except for "unrelated business income").

Of course, the move would also absolutely prohibit political advocacy, lobbying, or electioneering... which as I read it would even preclude publishing editorials critical of, e.g., the administration of Barack H. Obama. Or of individual Democratic senators, such as Benjamin Cardin. But that ought to be a good thing, no? Surely we all want newspapers to be politically neutral gatherers of fact and disseminators of the truth!

With many U.S. newspapers struggling to survive, a Democratic senator on Tuesday introduced a bill to help them by allowing newspaper companies to restructure as nonprofits with a variety of tax breaks.

"This may not be the optimal choice for some major newspapers or corporate media chains but it should be an option for many newspapers that are struggling to stay afloat," said Senator Benjamin Cardin....

Cardin's Newspaper Revitalization Act would allow newspapers to operate as nonprofits for educational purposes under the U.S. tax code, giving them a similar status to public broadcasting companies.

Under this arrangement, newspapers would still be free to report on all issues, including political campaigns. But they would be prohibited from making political endorsements.

The comparison to PBS is apt; as we have all seen, PBS is forbidden from any political editorializing, politicking, electioneering, or advocacy. But of course, if they're merely reporting on issues -- straight "reporting," such as:

  • That the Iraq war was a disastrous defeat for America;
  • That rampant, unregulated, laissez-faire Capitalism is what got us into the financial crisis;
  • That the only thing that will save us now is complete nationalization of the economy;
  • That Israel is the cause of all problems in the Middle East;
  • That without government-run health care, we'll all die of cancer by age 60;
  • That anthropogenic global climate change is universally accepted by "science;" thus the time for denial by denying deniers (i.e., "high crimes against humanity and nature" or "intergenerational crime in the face of all the knowledge and science from over 20 years") has ended once and for all;

...That sort of straight, unbiased, apolitical news reporting will naturally still be allowed. You can't prohibit educational institutions such as the New York Times and the Washington Post from educating, can you?

But biased, divisive, obstructionist, obsolete, disloyal, and partisan politicking will no longer be legally allowed in newspapers. After all, they have a duty (as tax-exempt organizations) to educate, which means to tell the truth... "the truth" to be determined by the unbiased, professional, expert auditors at the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Who else?

Ergo, newspapers would have to cease publishing any future columns or opinion pieces by such talking-point, robot-army soldiers as Douglas Feith, David Freddoso, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Steyn, or John Hinderaker. But the papers wouldn't suffer from a lack of content, as they would be perfectly free to publish nonpartisan disseminators of pure truthful information, free from slant and politics, including Molly Ivins, Markos Moulitsas, Keith Olbermann, Jim Lehrer, and Bill Moyers.

What I cannot fathom, however, is why a Democrat, a member of the ADA's "100%-er" club, would push for the elite newspaper medium to switch from publishing such ardently tilted and mendacious flummery (such as opinion pieces by atmospheric physicists or meteorologists disputing Algore's 95 theses on globaloney) to the calm, measured, unemotional, multilateral, fact-based pronouncements of Nobel Prize winners such as, well, such as Algore. And Paul Krugman.

All this time, I've wrongly accused Democrats like Cardin of being mindless, vermin-infested, screeching blue monkeys, swooping overhead and hurling their feces down on the rest of us, then hauling us off to the Wicked Rodham of the West. And the little dog we rode in on, too.

I'm stunned that such a senator would abandon faction and ideology for the cold, unadorned, reality-based solution of turning profitless newspapers into non-profit ones, in effect, nationalizing the entire news-gathering industry. (To promote greater freedom of speech, of course.)

Go figure!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 25, 2009, at the time of 9:44 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

March 23, 2009

Déjà Vu About Vujà Dé

Beggar's Banking Banquet , Liberal Lunacy , Media Madness , Obama Nation , Toxic Jackassets
Hatched by Dafydd

I once crafted a neologism, vujà dé, bouncing off of the psychological term déjà vu -- the false feeling that something you are now experiencing happened before. My new word vujà dé means -- the false feeling that something that actually happened before is really brand, spanking new!

I woke up this morning -- well, this afternoon -- and read the following new financial-rescue plan from Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner:

The Obama administration formally presented the latest step in its financial rescue package on Monday, an attempt to draw private investors into partnership with a new federal entity that could eventually buy up to $1 trillion in troubled assets that are weighing down banks and clogging up the credit markets....

Initially, a new Public-Private Investment Program will provide financing for $500 billion in purchasing power to buy those troubled or toxic assets -- which the government refers to more diplomatically as legacy assets -- with the potential of expanding later to as much as $1 trillion, according to a fact sheet issued by the Treasury Department.

At the core of the financing package will be $75 billion to $100 billion in capital from the existing financial bailout known as TARP, the Troubled Assets Relief Program, along with the share provided by private investors, which the government hopes will come to 5 percent or more. By leveraging this program through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Federal Reserve, huge amounts of bad loans can be acquired.

The private investors would be subsidized but could stand to lose their investments, while the taxpayers could share in prospective profits as the assets are eventually sold, the Treasury said. The administration said that it expected participation from pension funds, insurance companies and other long-term investors.

This gave me an intense feeling of déjà vu (not vujà dé); didn't... we... see something like this sometime before? Not very long ago? Something... something... it's all coming back to me now....

Oh, wait. This may be it:

As proposed by Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson and Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke, the putative "$700 billion" "bailout" is actually neither: It will neither cost that much, nor will it bail out those financial institutions that wrote bad loans for people they knew were not likely to be able to pay them off.

As I understand it, here is the basic plan. Note that I'm drawing this from many sources, it's not yet written in stone -- or even in ink -- and I can't give you sources. If you want more information, you're on your own! But here is what I've been able to glean:

  1. The Treasury is given authority to spend up to $700 billion (outstanding at any particular moment) to buy MBSs, CDOs, and related instruments that have become "illiquid." These "toxic assets" will be purchased from their current owners at a huge discount... meaning the banks and other investors who purchased these pigs in pokes will, in fact, take a significant financial hit... they're not being "bailed out."

So the Treasury can buy up these toxic assets; what do they do with them?

  1. I believe the plan (which has not yet been formalized in legislation) is to create a Treasury owned and managed resolution corporation that will take ownership of these toxic assets. Analysts will then pore through each MBS, determining the status of all the underlying mortgages and making a report publicly available. This will make the opaque assets completely transparent. All the financial fundamentals will be visible, so analysts at private companies can examine all of the securities and decide how much they would pay for each.
  2. The resolution corporation will then auction off each of the the now-transparent MBSs, selling it to the highest bidder; that very action allows the market to reset the value of the security.

That is why I characterize this rescue operation as "pressing the reset button."

Once some corporation has examined the fundamentals of the security and offered the winning bid for it, the MBS becomes (by definition) liquid; it is no longer a toxic asset. Its value has been reset... and it can go up or down after that point based upon subsequent, well-understood events (defaults, repayments, prepayments) in the underlying mortgages and reevaluations based upon other, market-based criteria. In other words, it becomes just like a mutual fund.

The crisis was the inability to value MBSs; the solution is to reset their values. The beauty of the Paulson-Bernanke plan is that this resetting is done by the free market, not by government decree.

Finally, note this point:

  1. When the Treasury-owned resolution corporation auctions off the now-transparent MBSs, it can use that money as income. Since the asset is now much more valuable than before (having been scrubbed into transparency), if it becomes saleable, then it will certainly sell for more than the discounted rate at which the corporation bought it. In other words, the resolution corporation will make a profit on every security it resells -- so the program will not actually cost $700 billion... it may even end up completely in the black.

That's why the Paulson-Bernanke plan is neither a bailout -- the so-called beneficiaries in fact must pay dearly for their folly -- nor massively expensive, since it resells most of the securities it bought, and at a profit. It could still end up costing money, depending on how many of the MBSs end up still toxic even after the complete report (if too many of the underlying mortgages are in default, for example); but the losses won't be anywhere near $700 billion, and they may be less than the profits.

That was a Big Lizards post from September 22nd, 2008; the differences between the old plan, from almost exactly six months ago -- developed by George W. Bush's Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and then Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke -- and the new plan just proposed today by Barack H. Obama's Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and current Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke are... well, subtle:

  • The Paulson-Bernanke plan wasn't quite as expensive as the Geither-Bernanke plan;
  • It didn't have the patina of private investors coming along for the ride (heavily subsidized by the federal government and leveraged by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, FDIC) that we see in today's version;
  • In the original version, the government would buy the toxic assets from their current owners at a discount; Treasury (or a Treasury-owned resolution corporation) would investigate and "valuate" them (determine the actual value of the underlying mortgages that make up each mortgage-backed security, MBS, and related debt instrument); and then private investors would buy the formerly toxic, now liquid assets from the government at an auction. In the new version, the government will partner with private and corporate investors, leveraged by the FDIC, to buy the assets; then they would be auctioned to other private and corporate investors.

I don't know about you all, but the distinction between the two plans doesn't leap off the screen for me. The Times doesn't report whether the feds will undertake the intermediate step of investigating and reporting the details of these toxic assets, but I think it must be so; I can't see how else could they be turned from illiquid to liquid, except by injection of what I called in a later post, "timely, honest, accurate, and believable information," or THABI.

It seems I wasn't suffering from déjà vu after all. As the great sage Bert the one-man band, sidewalk chalk artist, and chimney sweep said, "Can't put me finger on what lies in store, but I feel what's to happen all happened before."

The current plan even includes the reset-by-auction of toxic assets that I gleaned from the original plan; from the Times story above:

An attractive feature of the program is that it will allow the marketplace to establish values for the assets -- based, of course, on the auction mechanism that will signal what someone is willing to pay for them -- and thus might ease the virtual paralysis that has surrounded those assets up to now.

For a relatively small equity exposure, the private investor thus stands to make a considerable return if prices recover. The government will make a gain as well. In the worst case, the bulk of the risk would fall on the government. The presumption, of course, is that the auction will lead to realistic purchase prices.

So where does vujà dé (not déjà vu) enter into it? Simply this: I haven't seen a single elite-media commenter point out that this is the very same plan we started with... lo these many months ago; the same plan that was quickly derided by congressional Democrats, railed against by presidential-candidate Barack Obama, dismissed as nonsense by voters (and by Wall Street), and derailed in favor of direct investments in -- that is, nationalization of -- banks, savings and loans, insurance companies like AIG, and so forth.

Everyone writes and speaks as though this is a brilliant innovation -- imagine, buying up toxic assets and using public auctions to establish a "realistic purchase price" for them! Who but Geithner could possibly have thought of such a corker of a solution? He's finally demonstrated the mental superiority with which he was hailed when he was nominated (so brilliant, we simply had to overlook that little kerfuffle about evading income taxes when he worked at the International Monetary Fund).

I still have a few questions:

  • How long will the elite media continue to heap scorn upon that fool, Henry Paulson, and his ludicrous plan to buy up toxic assets -- while lavishing praise upon that genius, Tim Geithner, for his fantabulous plan to buy up toxic assets?
  • And what about the hundreds of billions (or is it over a trillion? I can't remember) already spent or pledged by the federal government to buy "equity interests" in hundreds of financial corporations? Do we perpetuate the mass nationalization program even as Treasury crows that the wonderful thing about the new rescue plan is that it privatizes the bailout?
  • Does the Obama White House suffer from Multiple Ideology Syndrome?

Everything old is new again, the wheel has come full circle, and what a long, strange trip it's been!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 23, 2009, at the time of 3:30 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

March 21, 2009

The Great Dictator

Beggar's Banking Banquet , Liberal Lunacy , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

In 1940, socialist Charlie Chaplin -- acting as screenwriter, director, producer, and of course star -- released the Great Dictator, which parodied Adolf Hitler in particular and fascism in general. Chaplin played both Adenoid Hynkel, dictator of Tomania, and also a Jewish barber who happens to look exactly like Hynkel.

But the Great Dictator of 2009 may turn out to be glib huckster from Hawaii by way of Chicago named Barack H. Obama; for the administration appears poised to enact rules that could end up completely controlling all executive compensation for every major company that has anything to do with financial matters, or is publicly held, or has any sort of requirement to report anything at all to the SEC -- even including companies that never took a dime of TARP or stimulus money:

One proposal could impose greater requirements on the boards of companies to tie executive compensation more closely to corporate performance and to take other steps to assure that outsize bonuses are not paid before meeting financial goals.

The new rules will cover all financial institutions, including those not now covered by any pay rules because they are not receiving federal bailout money. Officials say the rules could also be applied more broadly to publicly traded companies, which already report about some executive pay practices to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Last month, as part of the stimulus package, Congress barred top executives at large banks getting rescue money from receiving bonuses exceeding one-third of their annual pay.

Beyond the pay rules, officials said the regulatory plan is expected to call for a broad new role for the Federal Reserve to oversee large companies, including major hedge funds, whose problems could pose risks to the entire financial system.

Of course, there is virtually no chance that any scheme this radical could get through Congress, where Republicans still have at least some say in enacting legislation -- if only to filibuster something this grandiose, anti-capitalist, and authoritarian. But Obama has an answer for that minor roadblock as well; if the Times is to be believed, he intends to impose wage controls by direct decree, bypassing Congress entirely:

The officials said that the administration was still debating the details of its plan, including how broadly it should be applied and how far it could range beyond simple reporting requirements. Depending on the outcome of the discussions, the administration could seek to put the changes into effect through regulations rather than through legislation.

The plan is certainly audacious. I would rather say breathtaking, stunning, shocking, jaw-dropping, mind-boggling -- and of course, quite mad. But when the president of the United States believes he can simply dictate (by executive order) how much everybody working in any publicly traded company is paid, I don't think it can be called anything less than a form of socialism.

But what kind? Certainly not Marxism, because he is not abolishing corporations or private capital. Rather, this sort of corporate socialism was invented in the 1920s by a fellow in Italy named Benito, who called it "fascism." Barack Obama evidently plans to go the "full Jonah," returning liberal fascism to America for the first time since Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society," and following in the footsteps of such liberal-fascist/populist luminaries as Franklin Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Theodore Roosevelt.

To the list of reactions above, let me also add -- ominous.

So how much executive power would Obama seize to himself? How about this:

A central aspect of the plan, which has already been announced by the administration, would give the government greater authority to take over and resolve problems at large, troubled companies that are not now regulated by Washington, like insurance companies and hedge funds.

That proposal would, for instance, make it easier for the government to cancel bonus contracts like those given to executives at the American International Group, which have stoked a political furor. Under the proposal, the Treasury secretary would have the authority to seize and wind down a struggling institution after consulting with the president and upon the recommendation of two-thirds of the Federal Reserve board.

So a contract is a contract -- unless the president doesn't like it, in which case he will be able to rewrite it (or void it) at will. When contracts between third parties stand only as long as the head of government allows them to stand, then there is no stability and no predictability: In short, there is no more rule of law, and capital pulls up stakes and moves to a sunnier clime. Then, of course, there will be a great many more "struggling institutions."

Who decides which institutions are struggling? Perhaps that too will be decided by the same deciders: the Secretary of the Treasury, the president, and five out of the seven members of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. If so, then the president can point to any corporation, family business, or not-for-profit organization, declare it to be "struggling," and then take it over, rewriting contracts, compensation packages, benefit plans, retirement funds, and (one presumes) prices and wages.

At that point, there truly is no limit to the president's power to personally dictate and direct the nation's economy. We will no longer have a capitalist or even quasi-capitalist state but direct fascism, without even the liberal "smiley face" to adorn the invisible foot of government.

So what sort of dictator would Mr. Obama be?

In unveiling the regulatory plan this week, President Obama would signal to Europe that he intended to crack down on the risk-taking and other free-wheeling practices by the financial industry that resulted in the global economic meltdown.

...And that also resulted in the greatest creation of wealth in all of human history. We'll have none of that, buster!

And who is behind the move? It appears to be Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke more than Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner:

From the outset of the Obama administration, officials and European leaders have disagreed over how much to limit pay. And Mr. Geithner has discouraged the administration from imposing across-the-board limits on compensation of all employees at troubled companies receiving federal assistance and more burdensome pay restrictions at healthy institutions that the administration is trying to encourage to take government money so they can increase lending.

Last week, Ben S. Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, also called on regulators to supervise executive pay at banks more closely to avoid “compensation practices that can create mismatches between the rewards and risks borne by institutions or their managers.”

Presented with a choice between two top advisors, one of whom cautions against a radical nationalization of the entire corporate world, the other of which urges just that approach -- Obama opts for the latter. Surprise, surprise, on the Jungle Boat ride tonight. So if the Times report is accurate, then the Executive branch will determine what risks are acceptable for businesses to take; what rewards they are allowed to bestow upon their employees; and presumably every phase of the transaction in between. Can wage and price controls be far behind?

So what do Republicans have to say about this plan? I don't know -- because the New York Times elects not to inform us. They neither quite nor even paraphrase any response by anybody other than members of the administration and Democratic leaders in Congress. Evidently, the rest of us have become invisible.

But I make no doubt that Arlen and the gals from Maine will, with "great reluctance," throw their weight behind the necessary step of putting capitalism under state control... "just for the duration," of course.

So how long, exactly, does the duration endure? Until we're as prosperous as we were during most of the Bush administration? I fear that with the advent of liberal fascism, and the resulting destruction of the economy that will provoke, that new golden age could be a lang, lang time a-growin'.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 21, 2009, at the time of 9:53 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 20, 2009

NYT: Deification of National Leader a Bad Thing (Sometimes)

Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

From the New York Times:

A Leader Beyond Reproach Limits the Possibilities for Political Change.

Step one block off almost any main road and the streets here are badly damaged or completely unpaved. There are problems with the schools, the health care system and the government bureaucracy, which is plagued by corruption and inefficiency.

Wow, amazing... has the Times finally come to its senses? Have editors finally realized that without honest debate, without a free back-and-forth, without a real debate between competing parties and factions, the administration becomes not only authoritarian, but incompetent as well?

I must be fair to the Times: They do actually understand this point; that's why they're such enthusiastic fans of a two-party system, of freedom of speech, and of national leaders actually listening to the opposition, even if they already control all levers of power.

Well... in Libya, at least:

Libya is a police state, but the trains still do not run on time.

“The administration has failed and the state economy has failed, enough is enough,” Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi said in a recent speech that made no mention of his own role as the man in charge for the last 40 years.

Libya recognizes its problems and is trying to respond, after a fashion. But whatever Libya does, it must stay within the boundaries of a system created by Colonel Qaddafi, or Brother Leader, as he is called. And that is the country’s Achilles’ heel: by nearly every practical measure, the system has failed Libyans, but it is his system, so it is above reproach.

Physician, heal thyself; charity begins at home.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 20, 2009, at the time of 1:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 19, 2009

When the Levee Barack

Democratic Culture of Corruption , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

Ahem...

The economic stimulus signed by President Barack Obama will spread billions of dollars across the country to spruce up aging roads and bridges. But there's not a dime specifically dedicated to fixing leftover damage from Hurricane Katrina.

And there's no outrage about it.

Democrats who routinely criticized President George W. Bush for not sending more money to the Gulf Coast appear to be giving Obama the benefit of the doubt in his first major spending initiative. Even the Gulf's fiercest advocates say they're happy with the stimulus package, and their states have enough money for now to address their needs.

If anybody is larding out "benefit of doubt," it's the Associated Press accepting at face value the claims by various "silent Dems" that they're no longer shrieking about Hurricane Katrina because they're simply "granting Obama leniency due to the magnitude of the country's current economic challenges."

I suspect the reason is at once more corrupt and more prosaic; two important circumstances have changed since the shameful scandalmongering of Katrina past:

  • The President of the United States is now a Democrat, Barack H. Obama;
  • The Governor of Louisiana is now a Republican, Bobby Jindal.

Between them, this change gives us hope that we won't have to listen to future whining about $175 billion for rebuilding -- mostly earmarked for New Orleans -- being just not enough.

Even panhandler-in-chief Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA, 80%) didn't bother asking for more money:

"I'm not saying there won't be a need in the future, but right now the focus is not on more money, it's on using what we have," said Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who has criticized Democrats and Republicans alike over Katrina funding.

Evidently, federal money for rebuilding New Orleans has suddenly become less important to her than full funding of ACORN's voter-fraud programs.

What amuses me, besides the childish faith Democrats in Congress have in the One, is the contempt with which they hold the rest of us; they really do think we're extraordinarily stupid:

"Any new president is going to have a little honeymoon," said [former Republican Rep. Jim McCrery of Louisiana], who is now a lobbyist [thus snuggling up to the Obama administration and congressional Democrats]. "I'd like to think that the tone would have been the same with any new president...."

!

"Hopefully they've gotten some promises behind the scenes about longer-term commitments," [Thomas] Langston said [Langston is a political scientist, whatever that means, at Tulane University in New Orleans]...

"I think people looked at how generous Congress has been in the past," said Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee. "(The states) have to demonstrate that they can be good custodians of the money."

!

Did any Democrat ever fret whether former Louisiana Democratic Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco was a "good custodian of the money" she demanded and by and large received? I may be confabulating, but I'm certain I recall Democrats excoriating President George W. Bush and the congressional Republicans for even questioning the smallest jot and tittle of Katrina money for Louisiana... and even accusing the GOP of "racism," because (as we all know) New Orleans is a "chocolate city." Even when the Katrina funding was shoehorned into an urgently needed emergency defense appropriations bill for funding troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, Democrats insisted every nickle was sacrosanct:

Just last summer, Democrats accused Bush of putting Iraq before New Orleans when he sought to block Gulf Coast reconstruction money from a $162 billion war spending bill. Bush was pilloried for not mentioning the disaster in back-to-back State of the Union addresses.

Clearly Bush opposed Katrina terabucks in a vital war-funding bill because he just doesn't like black people and wants to see them suffer and die. I can't think of any other possible explanation... can you?

AP repeats, without question or comment, the self-serving justifications by Democrats for their silence today, with a new president and governor... after wailing like banshees with snow up their kilts during the old regimes; but at least AP reports the incongruity at all -- a vast improvement over their risible performance during the campaign, when it really mattered.

Perhaps after a few more years of waste, fraud, abuse, neglect, incompetence, ideological fanaticism, and vague doubletalk, the elite media will finally get round to showing a bit of skepticism about the One They Had Been Waiting For.

Oh, wait; we'll be smack in the middle of another presidential election then.

Never mind.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 19, 2009, at the time of 5:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 10, 2008

American Special Forces in Afghanistan Accidentally Defend Themselves

Afghan Astonishments , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

This is rich. First read AP's headline:

US Special Forces mistakenly kill 6 Afghan police

Next, the beginning of their lede graf:

U.S. Special Forces killed six Afghan police and wounded 13 early Wednesday in a case of mistaken identity...

Finally, here are the complete first two paragraphs:

U.S. Special Forces killed six Afghan police and wounded 13 early Wednesday in a case of mistaken identity by both sides after the police fired on the Americans during an operation against an insurgent commander, officials said.

A U.S. military statement said police fired on the American forces after the troops battled and killed an armed militant in the city of Qalat, the capital of the southern province of Zabul. The Americans returned fire on the police but only later learned their identities. One Afghan civilian was also killed in the exchange.

Anybody reading just the headline (which is all that is shown in some news feeds), or even just the headline plus the beginning of the lede (which might be all that is shown on most other feeds), is bound to come away with the impression -- as I did -- that once again, those vicious, violent, bloodthirsty American soldiers were firing indiscriminately, wildly shooting at anything that moves, and they killed a bunch of innocent victims. Again.

But the reality is that the Americans did not make any mistake: They simply returned fire when fired upon, an action always allowed of any unit in any combat zone... even the Dutch can do that much!

But even after admitting that we responded to being fired upon, AP is still determined to blame America for the deaths. They quote a self-serving statement by the deputy governor of Zabul:

Gulab Shah Alikhail, the province's deputy governor, said U.S. Special Forces carried out an operation in a small village near a police checkpoint on the outskirts of Qalat. The police, thinking it was a Taliban attack, opened fire, he said. Then a helicopter fired on the security post and destroyed it, he said....

"Unfortunately, the Special Forces didn't inform the police that they were going to the village," Alikhail said.

Of course, they never quote a single person exonerating the Americans; instead, they earlier quoted a U.S. military spokesman, who says that "Coalition forces deeply regret the incident of mistaken fire," despite the obvious purpose of the statement to provide face-saving cover for the Afghans, who started the whole thing by opening fire without clearly identifying their targets first.

The closest AP comes to admitting that we were not even at fault in keeping the operation secret from the Afghan police is a non-sourced non-quote:

U.S. officials quietly admit that they are hesitant to share detailed plans of raids against militant commanders for fear that government officials connected to the Taliban could tip off the militants of the impending operation. ["Quietly admit," as if they're ashamed of their (probably racist) feelings?]

This comes, of course, seven paragraphs into a ten-paragraph story.

Bear in mind, this is the supposedly "good war" in Afghanistan, that one that even Barack H. Obama supports; yet even so, the elite news media still bend their necks backwards trying to find a way to pin ersatz war crimes onto the American military... even after the ascension of the One!

Reflexive, compulsive habit is evidently very hard to overcome.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 10, 2008, at the time of 12:53 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

November 12, 2008

Hey, My Memory Yet Lives

Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

We all know what's right with this picture -- but what's wrong with it?

Pirates caught redhanded by one of Her Majesty’s warships after trying to hijack a cargo ship off Somalia made the grave mistake of opening fire on two Royal Navy assault craft packed with commandos armed with machineguns and SA80 rifles.

In the ensuing gunfight, two Somali pirates in a Yemeni-registered fishing dhow were killed, and a third pirate, believed to be a Yemeni, suffered injuries and subsequently died. It was the first time the Royal Navy had been engaged in a fatal shoot-out on the high seas in living memory.

We'll get back to what's wrong with this picture in a moment. First, a little more of what's right. The HMS Cumberland noticed a dhow towing a skiff (cool maritime words whose meaning is lost on me, except they're both types of boats); they realized they'd detected some pirates that attacked a Danish ship yesterday, so they dispatched some Royal Marines in the Brit equivalent of a couple of Zodiacs. The pirates decided the best response would be to open fire on the Marines ("Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time"), and the rest is predictable:



Moslem pirates surrender

Moslem pirates surrender

It sure was a vast improvement over this:

The gun battle was in stark contrast to the Royal Navy’s last encounter with a boatful of armed men - when crew members of HMS Cornwall, also a Type 22 frigate, patrolling in the Gulf in rigid raiders, were surrounded by heavily armed Iranian Revolutionary Guards in March last year. Eight sailors, including a woman, Leading Seaman Faye Turney, and seven Marines were taken hostage without a shot being fired, and detained for 13 days. The Commons Defence Committee described the incident as “a national embarrassment”.

The Times (of London) dryly remarks that the Marines evidently have "a new policy of maximum robustness," which nowadays includes fighting back when attacked. Jolly good!

Oh, back to what's wrong with the last sentence of the second paragraph quoted at the very beginning of this post: "It was the first time the Royal Navy had been engaged in a fatal shoot-out on the high seas in living memory." I note for the record that some of us have "living memories" that stretch all the way back to 1982 (and even earlier!)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 12, 2008, at the time of 11:46 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

November 1, 2008

Another Caution: Ignore Projections Based Upon Exit Polling

Media Madness , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

This is another tip for watching the returns Tuesday night: You cannot project the winner of a state from the exit polling, becuase by its very nature, the respondent pool is not representative of the voters themselves..

The respondent pool in any exit poll of a state comprises:

  • Those voters who waited to vote until election day and --
  • Who voted at one of the precincts where the pollsters were polling --
  • At the time of day during which they were polling --
  • Who volunteered to stand still and be asked a bunch of intrusive questions that, in spirit, violate the sanctity of the secret ballot and --
  • Who decided to tell the truth about how they cast their votes.

Needless to say (but try to stop me!), none of these characteristics fits the voting population as a whole. A very significant portion of voters in most states vote early or absentee; pollsters don't lurk at every polling place but only a select few; they don't stay there from opening to closing, but only as long as they have money to pay for workers; Democratic voters tend to be more eager than Republicans to talk to pollsters (they see kindred souls); and of course, the "PC effect" is at super strength when voters are being interviewed face to face, without even the anonymity of the telephone: Many people are apt to tell you that they voted the politically correct way, no matter how they actually voted; they don't want an interviewer to think them ignorant, bigoted, or unsophisticated.

Predicting how the state will turn out was never the reason for exit polling, because most good pollsters realize the two pools (poll respondents and voters) are quite divergent. Rather, it was supposed to be an informational tool for statisticians to study elections after the fact and determine why people voted the way they did.

How do they do that? It's actually interesting: Rather than using the poll to predict the actual vote -- setting the stage for losers to think "we wuz robbed" -- valid pollsters collect all the exit-poll data, then align the respondent pool to the actual vote in that precinct, rather than the other way 'round. This allows them to draw reasonable inferences about what caused voters to vote a certain way... "Voters for Barack H. Obama were most persuaded by arguments or policies A and B, while McCain voters were most persuaded by C, D, and E." This allows for a post-mortem on the entire election, giving a wealth of data and correlations to all parties.

But it's incompetence bordering on malfeasance to attempt to project from the unrepresentative exit polling to declare who will win the state. Unless, of course, the goal is to suppress the Republican vote by projecting an Obama landslide.

(Contrariwise, it's perfectly proper to project who will win a particular state based upon the partial count by precinct -- provided you know enough about each precinct and polling place to know which voting patterns correlate to victory and defeat. Michael Barone, author of the Almanac of American Politics, is particularly adept at doing this.)

So don' t be a sucker: Ignore any state projection based upon exit polling -- even if they're calling it for John S. McCain.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 1, 2008, at the time of 6:28 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 31, 2008

How to Watch the Election and Know What's Going On

Media Madness , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Movie Badger

Note from the Mgt: Movie Badger is a new occasional contributor to Big Lizards. It is not any of the normal contributors. It is involved in the entertainment industry, thus prefers anonymity to avoid job complications... since it emphatically is not a liberal.

Watching election night coverage can be confusing and frustrating, because reporters rarely give you a complete picture of what's going on. They want you to keep watching and think every development is of utmost importance; clarity often gets sacrificed for this end.

This is your guide of what to look for and how to determine the results of the election before the news is willing to tell you.

First, I urge you to download the Election Tracker I put together:

  1. Right-click the link;
  2. Select save link or save target from the context menu that opens.

This Microsoft Excel file will combine results with expected results from safe states, and give you predicted vote totals. There are lots of websites that let you do the same thing with maps, but they'll all be slammed on election night; this tracker will actually be saved on your local system, so there will be no internet-induced delays. (Plus my interface is quicker.)

If you have trouble getting the tracker to work, please leave a comment and I will try to help.

Will the election be close?

Polls range from showing a statistical dead heat to Obama with an insurmountable lead. Which ones are right, if any?

The answer is that nobody really knows. Built into every poll are the pollsters' own assumptions about voter turn-out. The pollsters all predict huge Democratic turn-out -- far more than in previous elections; but these assumptions are little more than educated guesses. They may turn out to be right, since the pollsters are the experts about this sort of thing. But there's no science behind them, and they could just as easily turn out to be wrong. Treat these predictions as having the same degree of veracity as an expert sportswriter's opinion on who's going to win the Superbowl.

There are some indications that these turn-out guesses could be wrong: In early voting, the split has been pretty even between Democrats and Republicans, and both campaigns (who have access to much more accurate polls than the public ones) are acting as if the election is close. But then, early voters aren't necessarily representative of voters in general; and strategically, it makes sense for both campaigns to act as if the election will be close, even if they think this only has a small likelihood of being the case. If the election's a blowout, nothing they do will matter at this point; so they might as well focus exclusively on the possibility that it won't be.

This analysis will allow you to determine relatively quickly whether the election's a blowout or not. If it is, you'll be able to turn off the TV at 8:30 Eastern Time, knowing that Obama's the winner. If it's close, you'll know what to look for to figure out the winner before anyone else.

Safe states

Each nominee has a bunch of safe states they are almost certain to win. The media may try to hype results from these as if they're news, but they're not. You can just check them off the list. On the other hand, if a nominee loses any of his safe states, that's huge news; that can only happen if he is losing horribly overall. If any of these states switch sides, the election is over, and you can turn off the coverage.

McCain will almost certainly win the following 21 states:

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming.

Obama will almost certainly win the following 16 states:

California, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine*, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington.

With these safe states, Obama has 197 electoral votes, while McCain has 163. (It takes 270 to win, but the nominees can theoretically tie at 269 each; see below for that possibility.)

In addition to safe states that each nominee will certainly win, each nominee has states that he must win; if he loses one of these, you can count the election over. (Unless the nominees start trading must-win states; but with a few exceptions, that's not very likely. Overall opinion will lean one way or the other, which ought to have a similar impact on each state's race.)

I'll take these by region, in order of when the polls close.

The East

Obama must win: Pennsylvania
McCain must win: Florida, North Carolina, Virginia*
Toss-ups: New Hampshire, one electoral vote of Maine.

If both nominees win their must-win states, then it's a close election. In that case, New Hampshire will be a good bellwether: Its four electoral votes may not determine the election, but should give you a good idea of which way the toss-up states are leaning. And there are a lot of scenarios in which those four votes could make the difference.

Maine is a safe state for Obama; but Maine and Nebraska have a different system for allocating electoral votes than all other states (which are winner-take-all). In Maine and Nebraska, two electors are chosen by the statewide vote total, but the rest are allocated district by district. This won't matter for Nebraska, which will be solidly McCain; but Maine may not be solidly Obama: One of its two districts -- therefore one of its electors -- might go for McCain. Like New Hampshire, this is a bellwether that has a slight chance of determining the election.

I put an asterisk by Virginia because it's not quite a must-win for McCain; if McCain loses Virginia but wins New Hampshire, there are still some realistic but less likely paths to victory for him. He'd either have to pick off one of Obama's must-win states, or win every toss-up. On the other hand, Obama winning Virginia and McCain winning Pennsylvania is one of the realistic swaps of must-wins; in that case, Obama's the one who's in a lot of trouble. He would have to either pick off another McCain must-win or else sweep all the toss-ups. (If McCain loses Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire, the election is over.)

The center

Obama must win: Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin
McCain must win: Indiana, Missouri, Ohio

No toss-ups or complications here. Just a simple opportunity to call the election over if one of the nominees loses a must-win state.

Mountain and Pacific states

There are no must-win swing states in these areas. Only safe states and toss-ups.

Toss-ups: Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico

Putting the math together

If each nominee wins his safe and must-win states, McCain would be leading by 260 electoral votes to Obama's 254, with 24 votes up for grabs: 4 for New Hampshire, 1 for the swing district of Maine, 9 for Colorado, 5 for New Mexico, and 5 for Nevada. As the toss-up states are announced, you can add up these numbers. McCain would need 10 points worth of toss-ups to win, while Obama would need 16.

Adjust these as necessary for any wackiness. For example, if they swap Pennsylvania and Virginia, that nets McCain 8 votes; he would only need 2 more from the toss-ups, whereas Obama would need all 24 available votes. By contrast if McCain loses Virginia and Obama holds Pennsylvania, McCain will need to win 23 of the 24 toss-up votes available, while Obama would just need to win 3.

What if there's a tie?

If it's tied 269 to 269, the first thing to worry about is a faithless elector: If someone votes differently from how his state voted, and if that ends up being determinative, it will cause a constitutional crisis that will make the 2000 debacle look like peanuts. Electors are generally chosen because they're party faithfuls -- but even the most partisan of partisan whores can be bribed or blackmailed.

Assuming we get past that minefield, and every elector votes the way he's supposed to, the election will be decided by the newly elected House of Representatives, with each state getting one vote; Democrats currently have a slim majority of delegations, which they will probably, but not definitely, hold in the election... so a tie means that Obama will probably but not definitely win. The vice president is chosen by the Senate using ordinary voting rules, and the Democrats will certainly keep their majority; so Joe Biden would definitely be selected VP. There is an outside chance that we could end up with McCain as President and Biden as VP, which would be silly.

How to know the results early

The media will know more than they're telling you. They wait until polls are closed before giving out results, and will err on the side of caution to avoid a repeat of the 2000 Florida debacle. [Or not; they've been awfully much in the tank this year. -- Dafydd.] But you should be able to get some idea of what's going on just by looking at the news anchors. If you see a lot of happy faces, that's good news for Obama. A lot of sad faces in the media is good news for McCain. (Reverse that if you're watching Fox News.)

Also, as one nominee nears the 270 electoral-vote threshold, the media will start getting more and more reluctant to call states that put a nominee over the top. But if you look at different channels, you'll see that they are calling different states. If any one channel is confident enough to call a state, they're probably right -- unless there's a freak mishap like in Florida in 2000 when some flunkie in charge of compiling exit poll data mistyped the results.) If you add up the states that different channels are calling, you may find that one of the nominees has enough to win. In 2004, I used this method to figure out the winner a half-hour before any channel was willing to declare it.

Lastly, use the tracker I made. If it's a really close election, they may not be willing to call it until the last polls close in Hawaii and the Aleutian Islands. But except for Nevada, everything in the Pacific time zone and points west is safe for one nominee or the other, so by that point the tracker should be making it obvious who's going to win.

Hatched by Movie Badger on this day, October 31, 2008, at the time of 1:18 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

October 30, 2008

...And the Elite Media Are NOT the "Fat Ladies" We Mean

Media Madness , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

I titled an earlier post Don't Give Up the Ship Until the Last Fat Lady Is Hung. I want to make it clear that each and every one of the drive-by media anchors is going to try to become a "fat lady" and sing in the landslide for the One. Let me be less poetic and more specific:

Every network (except maybe Fox News) is at some point going to erroneously call a state for Barack H. Obama (or even accurately but untimely call a state for Obama), in order to suppress GOP voter turnout in states further west... just as Voter News Service did in 2000, with the early and false call of Florida for Al Gore.

(Even Fox News jumped on the pony cart in 2000, but that was only because they too were part of VNS; I expect Brit Hume has learnt his lesson.)

Considering the closeness of Florida, no statistical analyst who looked at the exit polling there could possibly believe that Florida's result was callable -- especially not while polls in the Florida Panhandle were still open It's a statistical absurdity that a state that ends up being so close it takes weeks to decide could possibly have been clear enough to call the moment the polls closed in Miami.

That is why I have always believed that that first call, while polls in Florida were still open, was a deliberate attempt to suppress the GOP vote there... and indeed, across the nation; if a Republican voter believed that Bush had lost Florida, he would think the presidential election was over; such disheartened GOP voters would be less likely to turn out and vote.

In fact, the corrupt early call led directly to the election deadlock -- which was the single greatest factor in the Democratic Party being able to claim with a straight face that Florida was "stolen," and that President George W. Bush was not the legitimate president.

Professor John R. Lott did a statistical analysis of voting patterns in the Panhandle before the call, after the call, and after the retraction; and he concluded -- and nobody has a contradictory analysis of similar heft -- that the early call, which included the false claim that the polls were closed across the state, cost Bush at least 7,500 votes and as many as 10,000 votes in Florida. (Not to mention the vote hit that Bush took for one hour in every other state in the Central and Pacific time zones.)

In other words, were it not for those false claims, repeated many times over the next hour by every major network news team, Bush would have won Florida by 7,500 to 10,000 votes... and I doubt Gore would ever have gone to court over it. No recount imaginable would switch that many votes, so why take the PR hit for nothing?

Just think how different Bush's first term would have been without the meme that he was the "commander in thief" or the "president select!" No long count, no Supreme Court of Florida (SCOFLA) decision for the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn, no news "consortium" to revote the election, no chanting mobs.

And we had to suffer through all this why? Because the elites tried to throw the election to Gore by falsely calling Florida for Gore, when they knew for a fact it was too close to call.

Two events were required for this reptilian maneuver (let me rephrase that...) this sly, calculated maneuver to have the effect it did; the first we have no control over:

  • The elite media had to be willing to throw its journalistic reputation into the Andy Gump in order to try to get Al Gore elected;
  • But just as important, Republicans had to be gullible enough to be fooled into staying home and sulking, rather than going out and defiantly voting anyway.

After all, even were it true that the presidential race was lost, and that Gore -- or today, Barack Obama -- was the president-elect, there were still other races. There are representatives and senators to elect to Congress: A President Obama with 45 Republican senators is worlds apart from a President Obama with 40 Republican senators, or even 42 (we would always be in thrall to the most liberal RINOs, who would threaten to vote for cloture unless they got A, B, and C).

There are governors to elect; besides running your state, which may well affect you more directly than whatever the president does, where do you think our candidates for president and vice president in 2012 and 2016 will come from? There are state legislators to vote for, legislators who are not only the guys and dolls who enact state law but also our recruiting pool for the U.S. House and Senate.

And of course, many states have important initiatives on the ballots that can dramatically affect our culture; here in California, for example, we have the marriage amendment, Proposition 8, that would change the California constitution to restore traditional, man-woman marriage (after our state Supreme Court tossed out an earlier citizen's initiative and mandated same-sex marriage). But there are other initiatives on our ballot Tuesday:

  • Proposition 4, amending the California constitution to require parental notification before a minor can get an abortion;
  • Proposition 9, a crime victims' bill of rights;
  • Proposition 11, changing the authority for drawing legislative districts from the legislature to a citizen committee.

The bottom line is this: Democrats prefer to win by silencing (or pre-eliminating) their opponents. We see this most clearly in Barack Obama, who has a disturbing habit of finding a way to disqualify all of his opponents before the election, thus leaving voters with only one choice -- the One. He even tried it with John S. McCain, sending his minions out to argue that McCain was not a "native born American" because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone, where his father, a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, was stationed (both McCain's parents were American citizens).

One of the Democrats' favorite techniques is to try to demoralize Republican voters, so they will stay home instead of voting on election day. And the easiest way to do this is to falsely claim the election is over. In fact, the Democratic Party, though its media wing (the elite news media), has already been playing the card for the last several months... don't bother voting, Republicans; Obama has the cat in the bag!

Don't be a sucker. Don't believe anyone who tells you that we've already lost, so there's no point in going to the polls and voting... not even if the person telling you this is a Republican poltroon too afraid (or effete) to fight. Do not believe any stunning Obamic pronunciamento until the last polls close in the Pacific (Hawaii and Alaska are both already in the bag -- HI for Obama and AK for McCain -- so Pacific Time is the line to watch). What an anchor has done, an anchor can aspire to do.

Here in California, the polls close at 8:00 pm PST (please remember to turn your clock backwards one hour this Sunday from 2:00 am to 1:00 am, as Daylight Savings Times switches back to Standard Time). That's 11:00 pm in the East. Anything you hear about states before that time is at least partially intended to suppress Republican voting in the West.

So don't listen. Remember AD 2000, smile quietly, and go ahead and vote. Vote early, vote often.

Just take a vow today not to play Charlie Brown to Obama's Lucy and the football, and you will have disarmed the Democrats of their most potent weapon: Republican fatalism.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 30, 2008, at the time of 5:26 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 26, 2008

Obama MUST win!

Media Madness , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dave Ross

Barack Obama must be elected president! We are told this by no less than the mainstream media, which long since abandoned any pretense of neutrality in covering the election.

We are told this by the Europeans, and pretty much the rest of the world, who will never forgive us if we don’t elect this attractive, articulate man who will make them forget how much they resent us -- if only for a few hours.

We are told this by many blacks themselves, who imply none too subtlely that to vote against this handsome young black man is the equivalent of being a bigot. Never mind that he is a socialist.

Do you doubt that? Just check out the online link where Obama was confronted by a plumber. “Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn’t it?” the plumber asked.

Obama replied:

It’s not that I want to punish your success... I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they’ve got a chance for success too. My attitude is that if the economy’s good for folks from the bottom up, it’s gonna be good for everybody... I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.

Finally, we are told that if we don’t elect Obama president, whether or not we like his politics, that we can expect the oppressed underclass to take to the streets and do whatever spoiled underclasses do when they don’t get their way. Burn stuff, I guess.

Obama must be elected. We have no choice!

Hatched by Dave Ross on this day, October 26, 2008, at the time of 10:37 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

October 16, 2008

A Call for Some Admiral Restraint

Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

This is really apropos nothing, though it's yet another example of conservatives adopting the destructive, anti-Republican memes of the elitist Left; but it has annoyed me for months now... and I insist that it cease. Immediately. That is an order!

The latest miscreant is Ace of Spades, of all people:

If I had to guess... John McCain has always been fairly well-off. The son of an admiral isn't hurting.

This is especially galling, as Ace of Spades HQ is generally considered a milblog site (even worse, despite getting more hits per day than we get in two months, he doesn't link to Big Lizards). I have no idea whether "Ace" himself is a vet, since I don't even know who he is; still, he should know better.

But Ace isn't the first, of course; hundreds, probably thousands of negative stories have referred to John S. McCain the same way: having grown up as "the son of an admiral." The impression is clear: McCain is a rich, privileged scion of wealth and power, sort of like William F. Buckley, jr., without the vocabulary. His father was the little guy in the Monopoly game, with the top hat, cutaway coat, and spats. McCain grew up in a whirlwind of mansions, cotillions, and coming-out parties (I mean for 16 year old girls, not 40-something year old men tired of "living a lie")... so what the heck can he know about regular folks like us?

[Typically typed by "regular folk" liberals who believe in redistribution of wealth (other than their own), same-sex (and polyamorous) marriage, socialized medicine for the peons (not them), ultraviolence in TV shows and movies (shown on HBO at 7:00 pm), progressive sex education (for kindergartners), abortion for any reason (or no reason) anywhere up through the fourth trimester, hate-speech codes (for Republicans), and the basic decency and goodness of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Oogo Chavez, Bashar Assad, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad (P and E), and Jimmy Carter. Sadly, some "regular folk" conservatives have jumped aboard the bandwagon as well.]

My friends, let's get one thing straight:

John McCain did not grow up as "the son of an admiral," for God's sake.

John Sidney McCain III -- the current senator and presidential candidate -- is the son of John Sidney McCain, jr., naturally enough. And it is indeed true that McCain jr. became a four-star admiral (which rank is simply called "admiral")... but not until 1967, when Sen. McCain was 31 years old!

In fact, Adm. McCain didn't even make rear admiral until 1958, the year that Sen. McCain graduated from Annapolis and was commissioned an ensign in the United States Navy... thus out on his own, in flight training at NAS Pensacola, drawing (and living on) his own meager salary. (That rank is typically divided into two: rear admiral lower half (a.k.a. commodore) and rear admiral upper half; judging from the time factor, I believe 1958 was when Adm. McCain was promoted to rear admiral lower half.)

At the time Sen. McCain was born (not yet a senator) in 1936, his father was -- wait for it -- a lieutenant (O-3) in the U.S. Navy, assigned, as we all know now, to the Panama Canal Zone. I don't know when exactly Adm. McCain became a lieutenant commander (O-4), the next step up the food chain; but in the normal progression, that would be about 1939. We know that he was already Lt.Cdr. McCain at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7th,1941; but a lieutenant commander is still considered a junior officer rank, or "company grade."

He made O-5 commander -- the first indisputably mid-level officer rank ("field grade") -- in 1946, when Sen. McCain was ten, and O-6 captain four years later. Eight years after that, he finally became O-7 Rear Admiral John S. McCain, jr., when Sen. McCain was 22.

So that's when the McCains became rich, privileged fat cats, no? Yeah, right. Here is the salary breakdown of the military today; and bear in mind, we pay our officers comparatively more now than back in the 30s, 40s, and 50s, when Sen. McCain was growing up (this table is entirely in 2008 dollars, of course; the "years" is how many Adm. McCain had actually served by the time he was promoted to that rank):

 

Current submarine officer pay
Rank and years Base pay Sub pay Annual
Ensign (0 years) 2,555.70 230 $33,428
Lieutenant j.g. (2 years) 3,353.10 305 $43,897
Lieutenant (4 years) 4,545.60 510 $60,667
Lt. Commander (8 years) 5,428.20 705 $73,598
Commander (15 years) 6,596.40 790 $88,637
Captain (19 years) 8,075.10 835 $106,921
Rear Admiral lower (27 years) 10,647.90 355 $132,035
Vice Admiral (32 years) 13,911.90 355 $171,203
Admiral (36 years) 16,555.50 355 $202,926

 

Note that consistently, at every paygrade, military officers make less money than corresponding professionals in civilian fields -- engineers, doctors, lawyers, architects... even schoolteachers make more money, bearing in mind that the later ranks correspond to vice principal, principal, district supervisor, and so forth.

Here is another way of looking at it: The moment that Barack H. Obama was sworn into the United States Senate, he personally -- not even counting Michelle Obama's hefty salary -- was making more money (in constant dollars) than McCain's father would have made until he was at least a vice admiral, when McCain was 27 years old... and possibly more than Adm. McCain would have made in his entire military career, considering that we didn't use to pay the military as well as we do today.

Not exactly white tie and spats, is it? At best, all we can say is that the McCains were low middle-income -- and would have done better financially in almost any other profession. You don't get rich soldiering or sailoring.

There are some other advantages; base housing or a housing allowance, for example. But there is one very huge disadvantage: The husband/father or wife/mother is absent for very long periods of time during the children's most formative years.

So can we please knock off the "son of an admiral" slam against Sen. John S. McCain? It's not only increasingly irritating, it's foolish. And I'm surprised that some very smart conservatives have fallen for yet another Democratic talking point.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 16, 2008, at the time of 1:13 PM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

October 2, 2008

It's Official: AP Really Does Come from Another Planet

Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

How else could this possibly slip past those multiple layers of editing?

Bleak data released overnight in the U.S. added to fears for the world's largest economy. Auto sales plummeted, and a key measure of U.S. manufacturing activity hit its lowest level since the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2002 terrorist attacks.

It's as absurd as if a vice presidential nominee were to laud Franklin Delano Roosevelt for addressing the nation, on television, to reassure folks in the immediate aftermath of the 1929 stock market crash.

(I wonder how long it will take before anyone notices...)

UPDATE: As of 2:00 pm PDT, no correction yet. Tick tick tick...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 2, 2008, at the time of 4:03 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

September 21, 2008

"Lazy," "Violent," or - Huh?

Media Madness , Polling Keeps a-Rolling
Hatched by Dafydd

John Hinderaker of Power Line descent -- my favorite blogger at my favorite blogsite -- has a nice post up about that silly survey that tries to set the stage for Democrats to claim, when they wake up to President-elect John S. McCain on Guy Fawkes Day, that Barack H. Obama only lost because of anti-black prejudice and racism among whites. Or at least white Democrats.

John quotes from a survey conducted by Stanford University on behalf of the yahoos at AP-Yahoo, then effectively analyzes the output. He finds the result less than persuasive -- as it quotes selectively from sections of the survey results unavailable to anybody but AP reporters. But I believe John missed one point, the donkey in the room that is so obvious, it's easy to overlook (like Poe's "Purloined Letter"). Here is the first paragraph of the AP story:

Deep-seated racial misgivings could cost Barack Obama the White House if the election is close, according to an AP-Yahoo News poll that found one-third of white Democrats harbor negative views toward blacks—many calling them "lazy," "violent" or responsible for their own troubles.

So now it's "racist" to believe that blacks, like everybody else, are "responsible for their own troubles?"

I certainly understand why blacktivists, liberals, liberal fascists, and other Democrats would believe this. But do the survey designers themselves share the belief that blacks are unique in not being responsible for their own troubles, and that anybody who believes an individual black person should be held accountable for problems that, in a white person, would be called "self-inflicted," is therefore racist?

If so, then I think we have all the information necessary to evaluate how accurate or authoritative this survey really is.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 21, 2008, at the time of 5:52 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 16, 2008

Sarah Palin Should Rest Her Case With This

Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

CBS's Marketwatch columnist Jon Friedman smirks that "the Sarah Palin phenomenon is doomed" (hat tip to frequent commenter Wtanksleyjr, through the Lizardly Tips e-mail link here... this is what it's for, sending us hot tips!):

But it's not because of her lack of foreign policy experience or her deer-in-the-headlights look during part of her interview last week with ABC's Charles Gibson.

The primary reason why the Palin bubble will burst is that the media will decide that they are bored with her. They'll need to move to shine a light on a fresh issue or individual.

This is how the world works in the age of 24/7 news cycles. Whether the subject is Britney Spears, Michael Jordan or Sarah Palin, we inevitably raise stars to mythic levels, out of all reasonable proportions. Then we knock them down. (Look out, Michael Phelps. Your time is coming, too.)

So according to Friedman, We made you and we can break you! Anytime we want! You big phony baloney! The miasma of hubris is thick enough to choke a dinosaur.

But towards the end, he offers a searing indictment of her unpreparedness... which in fact turns out to be one big, fat admission against interest:

Specifically, Palin seemed to have little idea about the Bush Doctrine, in which the U.S must spread democracy around the world to halt terrorist acts. When Gibson put it to her and asked if she agreed with the doctrine, she answered, "In what respect, Charlie?"

Some analysts [where "analysts" here means "liberal media pundits"] have suggested that Gibson knew more about the Bush Doctrine than the vice-presidential candidate.

"She sidestepped questions on whether she had the national security credentials needed to be commander-in-chef," the Associated Press noted.

Really? Is that what the "Bush doctrine" comprises -- that "the U.S. must spread democracy around the world to halt terrorist acts?" Well yes, actually; that is the Bush doctrine... one of them.

Alas, it's not the same Bush doctrine so smugly enunciated by Charlie Gibson, as he mocked Palin for not knowing what "the" Bush doctrine was:

GIBSON: Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?

PALIN: In what respect, Charlie?

GIBSON: The Bush -- well, what do you -- what do you interpret it to be?

PALIN: His world view.

GIBSON: No, the Bush doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before the Iraq war.

PALIN: I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell bent on destroying our nation. There have been blunders along the way, though. There have been mistakes made. And with new leadership, and that’s the beauty of American elections, of course, and democracy, is with new leadership comes opportunity to do things better.

GIBSON: The Bush doctrine, as I understand it, is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense, that we have the right to a preemptive strike against any other country that we think is going to attack us. Do you agree with that?

PALIN: I agree that a president’s job, when they swear in their oath to uphold our Constitution, their top priority is to defend the United States of America.

I know that John McCain will do that and I, as his vice president, families we are blessed with that vote of the American people and are elected to serve and are sworn in on January 20, that will be our top priority is to defend the American people.

GIBSON: Do we have a right to anticipatory self-defense? Do we have a right to make a preemptive strike again another country if we feel that country might strike us?

PALIN: Charlie, if there is legitimate and enough intelligence that tells us that a strike is imminent against American people, we have every right to defend our country. In fact, the president has the obligation, the duty to defend.

Let's compare and contrast the two pronunciamenti from two of the many mouths of the elite news media:

  • Charlie Gibson of ABC World News knows for a fact that the Bush doctrine comprises "anticipatory self-defense... the right to a preemptive strike against any other country that we think is going to attack us."
  • Jon Friedman of CBS Marketwatch knows for a fact that the Bush doctrine comprises "the U.S.... spread[ing] democracy around the world to halt terrorist acts."

And both castigate Palin as a dunce, as does practically the entire massed elite media, for responding to Gibson's question, "Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?", by asking, "In what respect, Charlie?"

If there is any better demonstration that there is no one "doctrine" that can fairly be called the Bush doctrine -- and that therefore Sarah Palin was absolutely right to ask Gibson which one in particular he meant -- I cannot imagine what it is. (And as soon as Gibson clarified which particular Bush doctrine he was interested in, Palin answered -- not "sidestepped" -- the question quite forthrightly: The answer is Yes, we do have the right of "anticipatory self-defense.")

Charles "the Sauerkraut" Krauthammer -- who has never been called "Charlie" in his entire 93 years of life -- was absolutely correct in his column in pointing out that there are in fact four distinct Bush doctrines, as dubbed by various elements of the elite news media (Krauthammer himself created the term for the first version):

  1. Rejecting or withdrawing from useless and unenforceable diplomatic hand-waving agreements, such as the ABM Treaty and the Kyoto Protocol (pre 9/11);
  2. "Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists" -- no neutrality in the war against the al-Qaeda/Iran axis (immediately post-9/11, September 2001);
  3. Anticipatory self-defense (shortly before the Iraq war, late 2002);
  4. "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world" -- spreading liberty to drain the fever swamp that sustains militant Islamist terrorism (Bush's second inaugural address, January 2005).

Had Gibson asked me the same question, I would have been just as stumped as Gov. Palin... and I have been avidly following the news, voraciously reading everything on the subject I could find, since long before George W. Bush was elected. I wouldn't have come up with the first definition above, but I certainly knew about the last three [I suspect Palin would say the same; pace, Sauerkraut, but nobody remembers the first except you].

I passionately believe that Friedman's thesis shatters against the rock-ribbed common sense and basic reason of the American voter. The drive-by media did not create Sarah Palin and John McCain, and they cannot "knock them down," either. They've been trying desperately to do just that for two years now -- and failing miserably.

They tried to build Barack H. Obama into a superstar who is beyond criticism; but he is now almost universally seen as just another politician. And they've been trying to blot out John S. McCain, who they always recognized as the most dangerous opponent for the One, since he first declared his candidacy for president.

True, his campaign faltered at one point; but that was not due to attacks by the mainstream media so much as by McCain's own maverickness (conservatives deserted him for various alternative GOP candidates). But even then, the media were unsuccessful in driving a stake through the heart of the Straight Talk Express, and McCain rose again like a phoenix, the namesake of Arizona's state capital. Today, McCain is running ahead of Obama in nearly every poll (excepting only Hotline), despite the elite media's best efforts at knocking him down.

And they will fail just as surely trying to knock down Sarah Palin; because, when all is said and done, she is far more real to most people than are the entire elite news media.

One of the five greatest movies of all time, Mary Poppins, offers the best summation ever of the self-inflicted immolation of the news media -- even though the movie dialog is directed at a very different target. The children's father, George Banks, has been summoned to an emergency board meeting of the Dawes, Tomes, Mousely, Grubbs Fidelity Fiduciary Bank... whence he has just been sacked:

Mr. Dawes Sr.: Well, do you have anything to say, Banks?

George Banks: Well, sir, they do say that when there's nothing to say, all you can say...
[He feels his son Michael's tuppence in his pocket, takes it out and looks at it]

Mr. Dawes Sr.: Confound it, Banks! I said do you have anything to say?

George Banks: [begins giggling hysterically] Just one word, sir...

Mr. Dawes Sr.: Yes?

George Banks: Supercallifragilisticexpialidocious!

Mr. Dawes Sr.: What?

George Banks: Supercallifragilisticexpialidocious! Mary Poppins was right, it's extraordinary! It does make you feel better! Hee hee hee hee!

Mr. Dawes Sr.: What are you talking about, man? There's no such word!

George Banks: Oh yes! It is a word! A perfectly good word! Actually, do you know what there's no such thing as? It turns out, with due respect, when all is said and done, that there's no such thing as you!

This is perhaps the best epitaph ever for a once-great -- or at least once-trusted and respected -- institution.

UPDATE from Sachi: The day after the interview, the news spread all the way across the Pacific to Japan, where I was temporary stationed in my capacity as a civilian employee of the United States Navy. On a political analysis show, they showed the ABC segment; after a newscaster characterized Palin's reaction as "ignorant about foreign policy," one of the commentators protested: "That was an unfair question," he said; "there is no one thing called 'Bush doctrine'. It was a word invented by the media, composed of many different aspects. Palin was right to ask which aspect of it Gibson was talking about."

So even the Japanese are learning, on their regular news talkshows, that it was Charlie Gibson, not Sarah Palin, who was confused about the so-called "Bush Doctrine." I wonder how long it will be before Americans get to hear that?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 16, 2008, at the time of 3:38 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

July 22, 2008

In This Corner, the NYT: Even Worse Than We Thought!

Iraq Matters , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

The story about the New York Times refusing to run John McCain's op-ed responding to Obama's propaganda piece is "old news"... which wouldn't stop us ordinarily; we love to take on old news -- even ancient history -- if we can offer a unique, lizardly slant on things. But in this case, it had seemed kind of cut and dried, with everything obvious we could say having already been said by, e.g., Power Line and Patterico's Pontiff Vacation (Wolf Howling is on the same track as we).

But here is a rare piece of breaking news on Big Lizards... as in, breaking the facade of elite journalistic objectivity wide open. In a stunningly candid attempt to "defend" his position, the editor of the Times' editorial pages, David Shipley, has admitted that he spiked the McCain op-ed precisely because he doesn't agree with it... despite the fact that "op-ed" -- which literally means "opposite the editorial pages," in terms of its physical placement on the other side of the printed sheet -- has historically also indicated an opinion piece that differs from that of the editors... even at the august NYT:

In an e-mail to the campaign on Friday, David Shipley, an op-ed editor at the newspaper, said he could not accept the piece in its current form, but would look at another version. In the e-mail, released by McCain's campaign, Shipley wrote that McCain's article would "have to lay out a clear plan for achieving victory -- with troops levels, timetables and measures for compelling the Iraqis to cooperate. And it would need to describe the senator's Afghanistan strategy, spelling out how it meshes with his Iraq plan."

In other words, sure, we'll publish your opinion piece... when you adopt Barack H. Obama's position on a set timetable for withdrawal, no matter the facts on the ground.

While no legal rule requires a newspaper to be fair -- obviously, or the elite print media wouldn't even exist -- the Times and other top "news"-papers has certainly claimed for decades that they do not discriminate against those candidates they oppose, that they are unbiased in their willingness to allow both sides of contentious issues to be aired, that they are not simply partisan propaganda mills for liberal Democrats. But this brazen new fracas puts paid to that false preening. Shipley has as much as said that he won't publish McCain's response unless McCain relents and "admits" that Obama is right and McCain is wrong on the critical foreign-policy issue of this campaign.

As I've said before, the new motto of the New York Times should be, "all the news we see fit to print!"

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 22, 2008, at the time of 8:29 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

July 20, 2008

Will Elite Media Ask Obama Whether Their Coverage of Him is Fair?

Media Madness , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Well, we're not quite back yet; but we're out of the back country and rarin' to jump back into the political fray. So cowboy up and read on!

˜

The elite media love to gaze upon Barack H. Obama... but if there is anything they love more, it's gazing upon their own navels. Thus, we're not at all surprised to note that the big story of the day is -- "What should the big story of the day be?" Or in this case, who should it be... and should it be Barack H. Obama all day, every day?

Television news' royalty will fly in to meet Barack Obama during this week's overseas trip: CBS chief anchor Katie Couric in Jordan on Tuesday, ABC's Charles Gibson in Israel on Wednesday and NBC's Brian Williams in Germany on Thursday.

The anchor blessing defines the trip as a Major Event and -- much like a "Saturday Night Live" skit in February that depicted a press corps fawning over Obama -- raises anew the issue of fairness in campaign coverage.

The news media have devoted significantly more attention to the Democrat since Hillary Rodham Clinton suspended her campaign and left a two-person contest for the presidency between Obama and Republican John McCain, according to research conducted by the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

The media have two competing impulses here:

  • One is the irresistable force of their desire to elect the "revolutionary" Obama, whose soap-bubble-thin image mirrors every radical longing these wannabe Weathermen wannasee crammed down the throat of real America... each desire highlighted in the prismatic, rainbow aura in which these "journalists" see themselves.

(I remember when I was about five and a half years old and in a funk about something bad that had happened, I would visualize myself standing tall, arms akimbo, atop a platform shaped like a giant, scintillant number six; I convinced myself that When I Was Six, all would be airy perfection and rushy success.

(I envison Charles Gibson and Brian Williams doing roughly the same thing; respected elder statesmen that they are, they're still but pre-schoolers in the emotional and spiritual sense.)

  • The countervailing impulse is the immovable object of journalists' song of themselves: pristine, Ivory-Soap exemplars and Templars of absolute neutrality and unbiased, tell it like it is honesty.

Their desire to save the world careers headlong into their Gibraltaresque image of themselves as Murrow, Cronkite, and Rather tossed together and covered with Green Goddess dressing; they cover Obama obsessively, all the while questioning their own politicking with a primal, narcissistic scream of existential angst.

I fill to the brim with sardonicism.

A large part of my amusement flows from the inability of newsies even to recognize how biased they really are. For example, throughout this song of themselves, all actors assume that naturally, what Obama does is truly "newsworthy"... while McCain is just the same, boring old story:

News executives say there are reasons for the disparity, such as the continuing story about whether Clinton's and Obama's supporters can reconcile. [What about the "continuing story" about whether McCain and conservatives can reconcile?] They even partly blame McCain. By criticizing Obama for a lack of foreign policy experience, McCain raised the stakes for Obama's trip, "especially if he winds up going into two war zones," said Paul Friedman, senior vice president of CBS News.

Obama has traveled to Afghanistan and is expected to go to Iraq. He is also scheduled to visit Jordan, Israel, Germany, France and England. Network anchors stayed home during McCain's recent foreign excursions.

When McCain travels to Afghanistan and Iraq, it's stale, old news. When Obama does the same, it's Obama traveling to two war zones! -- and it leads. But it's worse than that... the elite media simply cannot imagine that anyone in the country is interested in anything that a Republican says or does, except to the extent that it illustrates his perfidy. Thus, in their minds, there are no McCain stories to report in the first place:

Friedman cautioned against reading too much into things like PEJ's coverage index, noting that it's a long campaign. Yet it's an open question about whether Obama is simply a more interesting candidate at this point, partly because McCain has been on the scene longer.

While fairness is the goal, "what are we supposed to do, go gin up some story about McCain to get some rough equality of airtime?" he said. "I don't think so."

Well, for starters, CBS and the other nets could try honestly reporting McCain's speeches, policy proposals, legislation, pork-busting activities, biography, and growing support within both the Republican and independent communities... you know, the same things they report with breathless excitement about Obama. (Except that B.O. hasn't any of those qualities but the first -- a few speeches that push all the right buttons in all the right megaphonic media mavens).

But such open-minded, democratic coverage you will not see. Boiled down, the nabobs simply cannot bring themselves to believe that anybody cares a fig for John S. McCain. So they will go through the motions, rolling eyes and hucking and smirking, reassuring themselves that they're beacons of objectivity... all the while making the world safe from democrazy and other derangements.

But it's to no avail, because these media legends in their own minds are about as subtle, opaque, and inscrutible as Barack Obama's personal presidential seal. With every
"fawning" performance, the American voter will further discount anything he sees, reads, or hears about the Obamessiah from the anointed ones.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 20, 2008, at the time of 10:54 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

July 6, 2008

War Trauma, Media Style

Afghan Astonishments , Iraq Matters , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

A judge in upstate New York has set up a special court for veterans, evidently on the media-driven, criminal-justice theory that staggering numbers of vets, far more than ever in the past, are returning PTSD-struck from the parade of horribles in Iraq and Afghanistan:

While the defendants in this court have been arrested on charges that could mean potential prison time and damaging criminal records, they have another important trait in common: All have served their country in the military.

That combination has landed them here, in veterans treatment court, the first of its kind in the country.

[Judge Robert] Russell is the evenhanded quarterback of a courtroom team of veterans advocates and volunteers determined to make this brush with the criminal justice system these veterans' last.

"They look to the right or to the left, they're sitting there with another vet," Russell said, "and it's a more calming, therapeutic environment. Rather than them being of the belief that 'people don't really understand me,' or 'they don't know what it's like' - well, it's a room full of folks who do."

All right; I don't really have any objection to such a special court... in theory; though I have yet to see any evidence that veterans, as a group, tend to be more criminal-minded than civilians who have never seen an actual battlefield. (In fact, I'm of the impression vets are less likely to commit crimes than eternal civilians.)

I would expect such a court to be geared specifically towards those vets with extensive combat experience, having seen their best friends murdered by Islamist terrorists, who have seen children blown to pieces by al-Qaeda bombers. I can imagine a veteran who has had to deal with such death-worshippers and human-sacrificers might have problems adjusting to civilian life.

You know, vets like this guy:

Charles Lewis, who stood before Russell at a recent session, may be exactly the kind of defendant the judge had in mind. The 25-year-old acknowledged walking out in frustration from his last counseling session.

"We all know that you're a good person who at times has done some inappropriate things," Russell told him. "It's time to get past the nonsense, don't you think?"

Lewis nodded in agreement. A jet mechanic four years into what he thought would be a 20-year Navy career, he severely injured his leg on the flight deck of the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in 2004 and was discharged.

One can only imagine the horrors he must have seen. I don't exactly recall which combat operations in Iraq or Afghanistan used carrier-based aviation, nor do I quite understand exactly what trauma would be faced by a mechanic who stayed on the ship. But it must have been something pretty horrendous to produce such symptoms...

Admittedly stubborn -- he walked out of counseling because he got tired of hearing people complain -- the 25-year-old father of four is only now addressing anxiety and attention disorders linked to his wartime service and the toll it took on his leg and hearing. A 30-day stay in rehab to get off prescription drugs began his path through veterans treatment court.

Here is another obvious case of combat psychosis:

The approach cultivates a sense of trust and understanding, said Guy LaPenna, a 40-year-old veteran with a history of stealing and drug violations. The high-stress life of Navy duty aggravated problems he had before, but he said he left the service an angry alcoholic battling mental health issues.

Russell is "appreciative that we're working so hard," said LaPenna, a high-energy personal trainer. He is following the veterans court program to see a petit larceny charge dismissed, "but the real reward is getting my life back and functioning as a member of society, a productive member of society," he said.

Before I get lynched by vets, I want to say that I don't begrudge any service veteran getting some special treatment later in life; vets give a portion of their lives to their country, it's reasonable that they get some consideration in return.

But when the media begins slinging around words like "post-traumatic stress disorder" causing "anxiety and attention disorders" that are "linked to his wartime service" or "the high-stress life of Navy duty," I honestly expect better examples than four gut-churning years working below decks on an aircraft carrier which never came under attack (none of them have).

Rather than allow what could be a valuable program to be hijacked by anybody who has ever worn a uniform, no matter how far removed from the action or whether he even left the United States, I wish they would direct the benefits to those vets who actually fought and bled for America.

And I really, really wish the elite news media would stop trying to portray all veterans -- even those whose service was more or less indistinguishable from similar jobs in the private sector -- as ticking time bombs just waiting to explode. It's offensive and jarringly tendentious.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 6, 2008, at the time of 10:10 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 25, 2008

Blackballing Charlie Black

Dancing Democrats , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

Both wings of the Democratic Party (the political wing and the elite media) have piled onto poor, old Charlie Black, a senior advisor to John S. McCain, for a comment of his. Yet nobody has the faintest idea how the exchange actually ensued, or whether Black was an idiot or was set up (after the fact).

Even so, and not surprisingly, a passel of crowing, self-righteous Republicans has loudly joined the scrum, eager to do as much damage to their own candidate as possible... a sadly typical manifestation of the Republican tendency towards self-immolation that we've seen in every election from 1988 onward. It seems we must always fight on two political fronts: against the Democratic nominee and against all Republicans who supported a different candidate to be the GOP nominee.

For the record, here is the entire "terrorist attack" exchange from Fortune Magazine that has caused all the ruckus. McCain is asked what will be America's biggest economic challenge during the next president's administration, and he answers, "Well, I would think that the absolute gravest threat is the struggle that we're in against radical Islamic extremism, which can affect, if they prevail, our very existence. Another successful attack on the United States of America could have devastating consequences."

Not a bad answer; the attack on September 11th, 2001, was apocalyptic not only due to the loss of more than 3,000 innocent lives (counting those who died in the moment and those who died later), but even more via the crushing blow to the American economy it precipitated, which affected everyone, rich and poor alike. McCain answered Fortune's question exactly, despite the rather adolescent response of Editor at Large David Whitford:

Not America's dependence on foreign oil? Not climate change? Not the crushing cost of health care? Eventually McCain gets around to mentioning all three of those. But he starts by deftly turning the economy into a national security issue - and why not? On national security McCain wins. We saw how that might play out early in the campaign, when one good scare, one timely reminder of the chaos lurking in the world, probably saved McCain in New Hampshire, a state he had to win to save his candidacy - this according to McCain's chief strategist, Charlie Black. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December was an "unfortunate event," says Black. "But his knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who's ready to be Commander-in-Chief. And it helped us." As would, Black concedes with startling candor after we raise the issue, another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. "Certainly it would be a big advantage to him," says Black.

Following which, the article simply moves on, making no further reference to Black's response; evidently, the supposely staggering nature of this allegedly shocking admission entirely escaped the notice of Mr. Whitford at the time.

As Fortune admits, it was they, not Black, who "raised the issue" of who would benefit from a terrorist attack on the American heartland. Black merely responded to the question.

And to what question, exactly, was Black responding? Fortune doesn't tell us, and there is evidently no transcript or video available. Perhaps it was super explicit: Mr. Black... if there were another 9/11, would that benefit Barack Obama or John McCain most? Yet on the basis of that single, flimsy piece of evidence, Republicans are willing (eager) to ascribe the basest and vilest motives to Black.

One prominent conservative blogger (much prominenter than we) goes so far as to sarcastically ask whether Black thinks that it would be even more advantageous if a terrorist attack slew Obama himself and all other Democratic candidates in some blue state... a smear I consider low enough to have been published by a Markos Moulitsas or a Juan Cole.

But what is so outré about his answer? If Whitford asked Obama's campaign mangler whether a sudden downturn in the economy would be good for his client, and if he answered honestly that it probably would, would anyone -- even Republicans -- be up in arms? Or would they simply agree?

For some reason, when a disaster or catastrophe occurs, Republicans (but not Democrats) grow suddenly reticent about noticing that it might have a political impact among all the other real-world effects it causes. Desite our evident foot-scuffing, red-faced embarassment at noticing such trivia in the midst of crisis, politics is an integral part of our lives... and the shifting sands of electoral fortune usually determine whether we respond to adversity with courage and vigor -- or whether we turn tail and run from the fight.

Take Hurricane Katrina. Even before it made landfall (at a greatly reduced category 3), Democrats were already on the air slamming Bush for his "non-response" (which was actually one of the fastest and most effective disaster responses in history, as we noted more than two years ago). Yet rather than fight back against the Democratic smear machine, Republicans lined up by the score to castigate, ream, and verbally defenstrate the president for his "pathetic," "incompetent" preformance. They cheered Democrats on as the latter singled out FEMA director Michael "Brownie" Brown and called him a clownish dullard who allowed hundreds of helpless old people to drown -- by not waving his hands and magically diverting the storm elsewhere.

Republicans have a terrible penchant for joining any hysterical lynch-mob attack on fellow Republicans: Perhaps to prove they're not really the heartless, unfeeling fiends that liberals portray them to be; more often to advance their sectarian civil war with other GOP blocs. But rather than engender respect from the Left for their principled nuance and unbiased fair-mindedness, they call only even more energetic contumely upon their heads.

We have a bad habit of playing dhimmi to the Democrats... and it's so ingrained that many conservatives cannot help themselves, even when they know the scam being run. They eat their own as inevitably as a dead frog leg twitches when you zap it with a few volts of electricity.

As here. There is nothing indefensible about what Black said; he spoke the truth: Another terrorist attack would focus voters' minds on national security, just as another Senate scandal would focus voters' minds on congressional corruption. Either might turn the election.

So let's cut the dramatics and stop pretending that politics doesn't matter, or that it should be "above the fray" of real-world battles and other incidents. Had the counterinsurgency gone ill, doed anyone think Democrats would have hesitated for a nanosecond to use that failure -- which could have led to the deaths of far more than 3,000 Americans -- to ride their way into la Casablanca?

Instead of trying to suck up to the Left by cannibalizing our own troops, why don't we point out the hypocrisy of a party whose motto is "the personal is political," and which has in very recent memory politicized the war, 9/11, various natural disasters, and the funeral of Sen. Paul Wellstone, whining that Charlie black is trying to "politicize" a presidential election.

Of course a terrorist attack would affect the vote. So would an assassination, the capture of bin Laden, an Iranian demonstration of a nuclear bomb, or an economic collapse (which the Democrats are assiduously trying to bring about, in contrast to Republicans, who are doing their best to prevent another 9/11). How could such earth-shattering events fail to influence the vote?

Instead, let's defend the importance of politics and the election. Let us note that Democrats seem more than eager to return to the halcyon days of Jimmy "Malaise" Carter and Walter "We Must Not Arm the Heavens" Mondale. And let's stick up for Charlie Black telling it as it is... something Democrats couldn't do if their reelection depended upon it.

And for God's sake, stop playing errand boy to Barack Obama. Let him pedal his own smears.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 25, 2008, at the time of 3:47 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 24, 2008

The Big Lizards "Name That Party" Drinking Game!

Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

Welcome, gentle readers. Here are the official rules to the new, fad drinking game of -- Name That Political Party.

Here are the rules:

  1. Find a story published by some member of the elite media (or wannabe-elite) about political corruption;
  2. If the first paragraph of the story reveals that the corrupt pol is a Republican, take a shot each and every time the story mentions that urgent fact;
  3. Contrariwise, if the first paragraph of the story does not say anything about the political party of the indicted, investigated, or indicted politician, take one shot for each and every paragraph that does not mention any political party;
  4. Finally, in the event of rule (3), where the story does not mention the political party of the elected official of interest, you must look him or her up by other means -- and if it turns out, by wild coincidence, that he or she is a Democrat, you must take two more shots.

Here is a sample, so you can see how the game is played...

The story in the Baltimore Sun (in the elite-wannabe category, I would say) is "Dixon gifts probed; Prosecutors look at mayor's ties to developer who got city breaks." It begins thus:

Prosecutors are investigating whether Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon received thousands of dollars in gifts -- including fur coats -- from a prominent developer whose projects benefited from tax breaks and zoning changes she supported as City Council president, a document obtained by The Sun shows.

We can now begin the game. Note that the first paragraph does not say "Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, a Republican;" thus we invoke rule 3, and you must drink a shot for the opening paragraph (running shot total: 1).

A little later in the article, we find this paragraph:

Dixon was also scheduled to meet with Lipscomb and Sen. Ulysses Currie, a Prince George's County Democrat who is now under federal investigation, in February 2004, according to the documents. They do not say what the meeting was about.

Although this says nothing about the political affiliation of Mayor Dixon herself, it does mention a political party; thus technically you do not have to take a shot for this paragraph... only for the intervening paragraphs from the beginning until this one (running shot total: 26). (If you're simultaneously playing the "Politicians With Doofus Names drinking game," add another shot for "Ulysses Currie" and increase all totals below by 1.)

There are no other mentions of political parties in the story, so just take a shot for each of the remaining paragraphs (running shot total: 32).

Finally, per rule 4, we turn to Wikipedia and look up the party of Ms. Dixon (final shot total: 34).

See? Another marvelous media method to get faced, courtesy the malevolent muttonheads at the MSM!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 24, 2008, at the time of 2:53 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

May 29, 2008

McClellan's Losing Campaign - Part II

Iraq Matters , Liberal Lunacy , Media Madness , Plame Blame Game , Wordwooze
Hatched by Dafydd

Scott McClellan's pathetic campaign against George W. Bush -- hence for the election of Barack Obama -- continues apace; he keeps talking about more snippets from the book in interviews.

Today, McClellan bores deep into the Plame name blame game, which he sees as a "turning point" in his relationship with the president. But here is an oddity: It was clear to everyone from at least October 28th, 2005 -- the day that Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald indicted "Scooter" Libby -- that it was not true that Libby was uninvolved in the inadvertent leak of Valerie Plame's CIA affiliation; and it was also well known by then that Karl Rove had testified five times to Fitzgerald's grand jury, correcting some of his testimony. As I recall, we already knew at that time that the correction involved a conversation Rove had with Matt Cooper of Time Magazine... which clearly implied that Rove, too, had inadvertently revealed Plame's employment.

So by late October, 2005, Scott McClellan already knew that what he told reporters in 2003 was wrong. This was the moral "turning point," he now says.

Yet he continued in his White House employment, after Libby's indictment, for six more months; he did not resign until late April, 2006 -- when he was ousted by new White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten. Some "turning point!"

And once again, not a single charge of McClellan's is backed up by any evidence so far released... and much of it is in fact contradicted by strong, available documentation. (And this complete lack of evidence does indeed make McClellan, as Rove put it, sound like a "liberal blogger!")

Not only that, but McClellan and his new allies in the elite media (didn't they used to despise him?) now stoop to deliberate obscurantism to hide the absurdity of what they're claiming. Viz:

[McClellan] was ordered to say from the press room podium that White House aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby were not involved in leaking CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity to the press. Later a criminal investigation revealed that they were.

Revealed that they were "involved," yes; revealed that they were criminally culpable? No.

In fact, neither I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, then Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff, nor Karl Rove, then Deputy White House Chief of Staff for Policy, was ever indicted for leaking Plame's name or CIA affiliation: Libby was indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice, and Rove was never indicted for anything at all.

("Involved" -- what a weasel word! For that matter, Robert Novak, Matt Cooper, and Tim Russert were also "involved," weren't they?)

During the investigation, Richard Armitage, then Deputy Secretary of State to Secretary of State Colin Powell, admitted that he was the first to inadvertently leak to reporter Robert Novak the fact that Lyin' Joe Wilson's wife was in the CIA; Armitage was also never indicted on any charge. Had the leak been intentional, the leaker would almost certainly have been indicted; thus it's a pretty fair conclusion that the Special Counsel believed the leaks were unintentional and inadvertent. (Particularly so since Armitage, like his boss Colin Powell, opposed the Iraq war... so why would be try to "discredit" the guy who was trying to prevent it?)

So yes, Libby and Rove were "involved in leaking CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity to the press;" but AP (and McClellan, so far as they report) fail to mention that they were both exonerated of the accusation that they did so deliberately in order to discredit Wilson.

You would think that would be an important part of the story.

Here's another wonderful bit of half-truth misdirection from AP, which they save to the end as the supposed killer-anecdote that demonstrates, to everyone who already suffers from BDS, what a liar and hypocrite is George W. Bush:

And [McClellan] recalled a day in April 2006, when the unfolding perjury case against Libby had revealed that Bush secretly declassified portions of a 2002 intelligence report about Iraq's weapons capabilities to help deflect criticism of his case for war. High-profile criticism was coming from Plame's husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, in those days before the war. [Take note that AP doesn't reveal what this "declassified" intelligence report was; but I'll let the beans out of the bag in a moment.]

The president was leaving an event in North Carolina, McClellan recalled, and as they walked to Air Force One a reporter shouted a question: Had the president, who had repeatedly condemned the selective release of secret intelligence, enabled Libby to leak classified information to The New York Times back then to bolster the administration's arguments for war?

McClellan took the question to the president, telling Bush: "He's saying you yourself were the one that authorized the leaking of this information."

"And he said, 'Yeah, I did.' And I was kind of taken aback," McClellan said.

"For me I came to the decision that at that point I needed to look for a way to move on, because it had undermined, I think, a lot of what we had said."

Really? Let's stick a few particulars into that vague and smelly indictment...

First, anytime an administrative official speaks to a news source off the record -- even if fully authorized -- that could be called "leaking." As McClellan himself has done this many times (along with every other White House Press Secretary), he should not feign such horror.

Second, let's clarify what "intelligence report" Bush "declassified" in 2003 or 2004 (not 2006). There are only two possibilities that McClellan could be referencing, and the first is easily dismissed:

  • The October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate;
  • Or the 2002 intelligence report on the debriefing of a certain former ambassador who was recommended by his CIA wife to be sent to a certain African country.

The October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate

President Bush relied upon this estimate, compiled by the CIA, in his decision to ask Congress for an Authorization for the Use of Military Force; an AUMF is the legal equivalent of a declaration of war.

By mid-2003, with the war in full swing, the elite media was abuzz with claims that the 2002 NIE had said that Iraq had no WMD and was not even trying to develop any. In particular, these many stories claimed that the idea that Saddam Hussein was trying to obtain Uranium had been "debunked" by the CIA before the war -- and that the war was therefore entirely predicated on a lie.

It turns out that all these stories had a single source: Former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, who had been sent to Niger by the CIA in response to his CIA wife's nagging of the Agency.

It was absurd that the CIA accepted Plame's suggestion of her husband for the trip. Its purpose was ostensibly to determine whether Saddam Hussein was trying to buy Uranium yellowcake, yet Wilson had no expertise whatsoever in nuclear or WMD investigations. He did, however, have one indispensible qualification: He already believed the story was a fairy tale, even before he left for Africa.

When he returned, and after he was debriefed by his CIA handlers (see below), he covertly went to numerous elite-media sources and told them that he had found that the idea that Hussein was trying to acquire Uranium yellowcake was bunk. Later, he published an op-ed in the New York Times (July 6th, 2003) titled "What I Didn't Find in Africa," in which he peddled the same claim.

As more and more people came to believe, because of this disinformation campaign, that the administration had "lied us into war" (a cherished Democratic mantra), the president decided to declassify parts of the NIE on which he had relied. Not the whole thing, as that would reveal sources and methods; just the "key judgments" that the CIA presented the White House. He did so with great fanfare on July 18th, 2003... the day after Scott McClellan was named White House Press Secretary. This is an important point: McClellan was already the presidential spokesman when Bush announced the declassification of parts of the NIE and distributed it to reporters; and even prior to his promotion, he was the Deputy Press Secretary to Ari Fleischer.

Therefore, I suggest that the NIE cannot be the "2002 intelligence report about Iraq's weapons capabilities" that Bush "declassified," which McClellan now says he first found out about in April of 2006. Obviously, McClellan knew about the declassification of portions of the 2002 NIE way back in 2003... when the rest of the civilized world found out about it.

So this cannot possibly be what AP means above, unless Scott McCellan is dumber than a box of Barbara's boxers. That leaves only one other reasonable possibility:

The 2002 intelligence report on Joe Wilson's debriefing by the CIA

On July 7th, 2004, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence issued a document titled Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq. In the section titled "Niger," there is a chapter tantalizingly called "the Former Ambassador." It includes the following summary of the previously classified CIA debriefing of "the former ambassador" -- that is, of Lyin' Joe Wilson -- when he returned from the trip to the African nation of Niger that his CIA wife, Valerlie Plame, wangled for him. The briefing was included in an intelligence report disseminated within intelligence-community circles on March 8, 2002.

When the Senate Intelligence Committee wanted to publish their report, they asked the president to declassify any intelligence in the report that was still classified. Bush complied; we don't know whether Wilson's debriefing was declassified at that point or before, but I don't recall anybody writing about it until after the report came out.

I strongly believe that this is what AP means when they write "Bush secretly declassified portions of a 2002 intelligence report about Iraq's weapons capabilities to help deflect criticism of his case for war." I can think of no other 2002 intelligence report that has made its way into the unclass information world besides these two... and it cannot possibly be the NIE for reasons elucidated above.

But why did this declassification so enrage the Left -- and so horrify Scott McClellan, becoming one of his "turning points?" Let's see what, exactly, former Ambassador Joe Wilson did tell his CIA handlers when he returned. In this case, speculation is unnecessary, because we know exactly what information Wilson gave them from his little Nigerien adventure. From that same chapter linked above:

The intelligence report based on the former ambassador's trip was disseminated on March 8, 2002. The report did not identify the former ambassador by name or as a former ambassador, but described him as "a contact with excellent access who does not have an established reporting record." The report also indicted that the "subsources of the following information knew their remarks could reach the U.S. government and may have intended to influence as well as inform." DO officials told Committee staff that this type of description was routine and was done in order to protect the former ambassador as the source of the information, which they had told him they would do. DO officials also said they alerted WINPAC analysts when the report was being disseminated because they knew the "high priority of the issue." The report was widely distributed in routine channels.

(Redacted) The intelligence report indicated that former Nigerien Prime Minister Ibrahim Mayaki was unaware of any contracts that had been signed between Niger and any rogue states for the sale of yellowcake while he was Prime Minister (1997-1999) or Foreign Minister (1996-1997). Mayaki said that if there had been any such contract during his tenure, he would have been aware of it. Mayaki said, however, that in June 1999, (Redacted) businessman, approached him and insisted that Mayaki meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss "expanding commercial relations" between Niger and Iraq. The intelligence report said that Mayaki interpreted "expanding commercial relations" to mean that the delegation wanted to discuss uranium yellowcake sales. The intelligence report also said that "although the meeting took place, Mayaki let the matter drop due to the UN sanctions on Iraq."

And there you have it: In setting straight the record of prewar intelligence on Iraq, the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee had to note that former Ambassador Joe Wilson (husband of former CIA employee Valerie Plame) told his CIA handlers that the former prime minister of Niger revealed that an Iraqi delegation tried to meet with him to discuss "expanding commercial relations," which the former prime minister believed was an attempt to purchase Uranium.

Wilson then went to the elite media and lied through his teeth... covertly, at first; but when that failed to bring down the Bush regime, overtly in an op-ed in the NYT. Thus, the Senate Intelligence Committee's report exposed Lyin' Joe Wilson as exactly what he was; and for that, the Left will never forgive either the president who declassified the debriefing or the committee that revealed Joe Wilson to the world.

For reference, here is what President Bush said in his January, 2003 State of the Union address... the very "sixteen words" that Wilson flatly claimed in his op-ed "was not borne out by the facts as I understood them."

The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

Sounds like an excellent summary of what former Nigerien Prime Minister Ibrahim Mayaki told former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson.

Selective declassification vs. selective leaking

The elite media and its new sock puppet Scott McClellan make much to-do out of this final point, as if it were the synecdoche that encapsulates McClellan's entire charge:

Had the president, who had repeatedly condemned the selective release of secret intelligence, enabled Libby to leak classified information to The New York Times back then to bolster the administration's arguments for war?

Once again, vagueness to the rescue! There are two ways to "selective[ly] release" classified information; one is completely legal, the other criminal, despicable, and a gross and offensive betrayal of the United States of America:

  1. The president or some Congressional committees can legally declassify specific information, in consultation with the agency that classified it, and release it to the general public, including the news media;
  2. A disgruntled government employee, fighting against the express policy of the elected government, can criminally "leak" the classified information to individual elite reporters he believes are friendly to his cause, in an effort to destroy whatever legal intelligence program he dislikes.

AP is correct: The president has on many occasions decried a "selective release of secret intelligence" of Type 2, such as the leak of details about the Terrorist Surveillance Program (the NSA al-Qaeda telephone intercepts) or our perfectly legal -- nobody even denies this -- voluntary surveillance of the SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) system, part of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program to find and interdict terrorists' money transfers.

This sort of "selective release" does incalculable damage to our intelligence-gathering capabilities, puts human sources at risk, and alerts death-cult terrorists that they should change their modus operandi to avoid detection by intelligence and law-enforcement agents. Such leaks kill good people and aid and abet al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and other evildoers.

But that's not what McClellan is whining about. He was so shocked and horrified that he "came to the decision that at that point [he] needed to look for a way to move on" because the president made no attempt to conceal the fact that he had engaged in a perfectly legal Type 1 "selective release of secret information": He formally declassified part of a CIA debriefing, after consultation with the CIA, possibly even at the request of the United States Senate Intelligence Committee.

Are you able to detect the subtle, miniscule difference between some low-level toady in the NSA leaking details of the Terrorist Surveillance Program, thus shutting off the flow of information about potential al-Qaeda cells in the United States -- and the president declassifying a summary of a debriefing that the Senate Intelligence Committee wanted to release as part of a report on pre-war intelligence, more than a year after the debriefing was conducted?

If so, then you're one up on both the former White House Press Secretary and the elite media!

What McClellan didn't prove in his book

I'm sorry that so many folks are shocked to learn that former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson is a liar; but it's hardly the president's job to keep old intelligence documents classified -- even when the Senate Intelligence Committee wants to publish parts of them -- just to preserve Wilson's reputation... so he can continue to accuse President Bush of lying, when in fact the evidence indicates that all along, the liar was Wilson himself.

And I note, once again, that all of this was printed not only in the Senate report on July 7th, 2004; it was also discussed extensively -- and put into the context of debunking Joe Wilson's lies -- in a July 12th, 2004 column in the National Review by Clifford May. I myself was late to the game; I didn't start blogging (on Patterico's Pontifications) until May of 2005. But by October of that year, I was already posting about this on Big Lizards.

Where the hell was Scott McClellan that he wasn't already aware of this until sometime in April of 2006? The rest of us knew it eight months earlier.

More and more, the evidence indicates that McClellan's faux horror and his "turning points" are entirely fabricated after the fact... and the only two reasons I can imagine are (1) to sell more copies of his book, and (2) to set himself up for a position in the fantasized administration of President Barack Obama.

The saddest part is that even if Obama were elected, then just as with David Brock (anyone remember him?), he would no more give a job to a betrayer like Scott McClellan than he would pluck somebody else's used Kleenex out of the rubbish and blow his own nose into it.

McClellan is burning all his former friends and colleagues for nothing.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 29, 2008, at the time of 6:41 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

May 28, 2008

McClellan's Losing Campaign - Part I

Liberal Lunacy , Media Madness , Plame Blame Game , Wordwooze
Hatched by Dafydd

I believe that McClellan's campaign will turn out to be a disaster, not for the president but for McClellan himself.

(And I assume you all realize I mean the campaign by Scott McClellan, White House Press Secretary until he was ousted by incoming Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten -- and not a minute too soon! -- to damage the GOP enough that Barack Obama wins the presidency in 2008... not the failed presidential campaign of ousted -- and not a minute too soon! -- Civil War Gen. George McClellan in 1864.)

Alas, I was scooped on the following observation by John Hinderaker at my favorite blogsite, Power Line; but I shall persevere, secure behind the lizardly firewall of "Never first, always final."

What has struck me is "the Case of the Missing Evidence": McClellan is quoted as leveling numerous charges against President Bush and members of his administration, from "misleading" us into the Iraq war by spreading "propaganda," to McClellan's accusation that Karl Rove and "Scooter" Libby conspired together to out Valerie Plame and then lie about it to the grand jury, to -- this is truly bizarre -- McClellan's psychic claim that Bush lied about never having tried cocaine. Yet in not a single accusation in a single article I have read (I've read six) is there even a shred of evidence offered for the claim, other than the rather dubious word of a man hawking his new "tell-all" book.

Nothing. Nada. Bagel.

Here is a typical example from our ancient enemy, the Times:

Mr. McClellan writes that top White House officials deceived him about the administration’s involvement in the leaking of the identity of a C.I.A. operative, Valerie Wilson. He says he did not know for almost two years that his statements from the press room that Karl Rove and I. Lewis Libby Jr. were not involved in the leak were a lie.

“Neither, I believe, did President Bush,” Mr. McClellan writes. “He too had been deceived, and therefore became unwittingly involved in deceiving me. But the top White House officials who knew the truth -- including Rove, Libby, and possibly Vice President Cheney -- allowed me, even encouraged me, to repeat a lie.”

Of course, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald extensively investigated Karl Rove in that case, calling him back numerous times for more testimony. Rove even corrected some of his testimony, which almost certainly led to even more intense investigation by Fitzgerald. Yet after all that, Fitzgerald -- who was highly motivated to find some legal victim higher up the food chain than the chief of staff to the Vice President -- couldn't even gain an indictment from a grand jury... which hears only the prosecution's case.

But I'm sure McClellan knows better. I wonder whether he shared whatever evidence he has with Fitzgerald, who obviously considered it pretty unconvincing (or he would have used it) -- or whether McClellan only discovered this "evidence" of perjury and obstruction of justice after Fitzgerald failed to indict Rove.

Here's another good one:

[McClellan] is harsh about the administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina, saying it “spent most of the first week in a state of denial” and “allowed our institutional response to go on autopilot.”

Does anyone else detect a pattern here? Systematically, McClellan is working his way, one by one, through every anti-Bush fairy tale promulgated by the "reality-based community," the nutroots of Daily Kos. (I fully expect that somewhere in the book, which I will not waste time reading, McClellan will express his doubts that 9/11 was really carried out by al-Qaeda -- maybe it was Mossad! -- and will suggest that the Pentagon was hit by a U.S. missile and that the World Trade Centers were taken down by controlled demolition...)

Anent Katrina, I was going to make some scathing response about how effective President Bush really was, in contrast to the Demo-lib caricature; but then I remembered I already did -- two years ago. I'll stack my evidence up against McClellan's any day... or I would, if McClellan could find any.

Maybe McClellan should start reading Big Lizards before writing future books.

Although I did independently come up with this observation, I must confess that John beat me into print phosphor with this addendum to an excellent (if short) post by Paul Mirengoff:

JOHN adds: McClellan was a lousy press secretary. A much better spokesman, Tony Snow, once told me that the best thing about his job was the opportunity to follow President Bush around and observe his conduct of the Presidency. Tony said that he came away with a deep appreciation of President Bush's character, judgment and knowledge of the issues. Unless McClellan can come up with some facts to back up his claims--facts have been notably absent from the press accounts I've seen of his book--I think Tony's assessment is considerably more reliable.

I could not agree with John more... especially the part about McClellan's squirmy "talents" as a presidential press secretary; he always came across to me a lot less like Ari Fleischer, or even Clinton's Mike McCurry, and a lot more like Jon Lovitz's pathological liar character from Saturday Night Live in the late 1980s ("Yeah, yeah, the Queen of England... that's the ticket!")

But I also agree with Paul: McClellan's tabloid trash is going to get a full-court press of reviews, news articles, and free PR by the Democratic Party (both political and journalistic wings)... making the contrast all the more stark with the brilliant insider tome War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism, by former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith.

Feith's book received no reviews by any major elite-media source except for Bret Stephens' review at the Wall Street Journal... despite the fact that War and Decision was written by the man who actually made (in consultation with his direct boss, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld) the important decisions he discusses; while What Happened -- say, if this is about McClellan's career, then didn't the printers accidentally leave off the question mark that should have been at the end of that title? -- is nothing but the ramblings of a man whose only function was to explain other people's decisions to the press.

Say, has anybody else ever noticed that life isn't fair? (Darn... I think I was scooped on that observation, too.)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 28, 2008, at the time of 5:12 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

May 26, 2008

All the Views They Spit Into Print

Media Madness , Military Machinations
Hatched by Dafydd
Traduce: v.t.; to cause humiliation or disgrace to by making malicious and false statements; to make defamatory statements about: asperse, backbite, calumniate, defame, malign, slander, slur, tear down, vilify.

It's a vile word. It combines slander and vilification, the essence of what the Bible calls "bearing false witness." A traducer is a person without a conscience, without a chest; a hollow, soulless spirit. Stitching together the worst segments of a harpy and a demon, traducers are sociopaths who literally feel absolutely nothing for their fellow men and women but contempt. They are unable to conceive of other human beings as persons; lives and reputations are tools to be manipulated for the day's desire.

But it's not quite strong enough to describe the editorial board of the New York Times.

There are lies, damned lies, and the Times. To the editors, a man's good name is a wad of toilet paper to be used once then flushed away. Truth is an alien contagion to be warded off by voodoo chants and stuffed alligators. Accuracy is a speedbump on the slander track, over which the Times SUV smashes at unstoppable speed.

Not sure what I'm talking about? You all know that there are several proposals for a "new G.I. Bill" kicking around D.C.; two are significantly popular within Congress.

The first, supported by Democrats, such as Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA, 85%), whom voters fantasized was a moderate non-partisan when they elected him by a razor's edge over George Allen; this followed yet another Democratic campaign of lies and ad-hominem attacks, which is all they have been able to muster in the way of argument in the seven lean years of political oratory. It's also supported by RINOs like Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE, 79%)... a man who, through thick and thin, is always there when he needs you.

This version of the new G.I. Bill gives full benefits -- the same benefits -- to every vet who served at least three years. The net effect of this, of course, is to encourage veterans to leave the service after a mere three years, typically before even rising to the rank of sergeant or petty officer third class. Every institution from the Pentagon to the Congressional Budget Office agrees that it would hurt retention of combat veterans -- in the middle of a war.

The other version is supported by the likes of Republican presidential nominee and Sen. John McCain and by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC, 88%), and Richard Burr (R-NC, 92%)... and also by the President of the United States, Commander in Chief of the armed forces, George W. Bush. This version has two major differences with the other:

  • It pays benefits on an increasing scale based upon time in service, so the longer the vet has served before retiring, the more benefits he or she receives. This is far superior to the Webb bill, because it encourages enlisted members to stay in military service longer.

    Non-commissioned officers are the backbone of the American military. We give our NCOs unprecedented command authority, setting us apart from, and making us far more victorious than, the other militaries of the world.

  • It allows the veteran to transfer the educational benefits from himself to his spouse or children, thus helping veteran families pay for college eduction for their kids.

With that prolog, here is how the editorial by the New York Times linked above describes, in an unbiased and non-partisan way, the president's and the nominee's rejection of the first G.I. Bill, the one by Sen. Webb:

President Bush opposes a new G.I. Bill of Rights. He worries that if the traditional path to college for service members since World War II is improved and expanded for the post-9/11 generation, too many people will take it.

He is wrong, but at least he is consistent. Having saddled the military with a botched, unwinnable war, having squandered soldiers’ lives and failed them in so many ways, the commander in chief now resists giving the troops a chance at better futures out of uniform. He does this on the ground that the bill is too generous and may discourage re-enlistment, further weakening the military he has done so much to break.

So lavish with other people’s sacrifices, so reckless in pouring the national treasure into the sandy pit of Iraq, Mr. Bush remains as cheap as ever when it comes to helping people at home.

Where on Earth -- or further south -- did the Times get such truculent and absurdist rhetoric? Where did they get the cockamamie idea (whether they believe it or are simply lying for political purpose) to say that Bush and McCain reject the Webb bill because it's "too generous?" What brilliant reporter dredged up a hidden memo, a secret meeting, a cabal of Republican infamy that spouted such a phrase, to justity the New York Times using it as a bludgeon?

Oh, wait; now I remember. Does this sound at all similar?

Barack Obama told veterans Saturday that he can't understand why Republican John McCain opposes legislation that would provide college scholarships to people who have served in the U.S. military.

"Now, let me be clear: No one can dispute John McCain's love for this country or his concern for veterans. But here's what I don't understand. I don't understand why John McCain would side with George Bush and oppose our plan to make college more affordable for our veterans," the Democratic presidential candidate said. "George Bush and John McCain may think our plan is too generous. I could not disagree more."

Or maybe it's from this article, which appeared in an obscure publication that the New York Times may perhaps have missed:

Mr. Obama and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, his rival for the Democratic nomination, voted to expand the benefits. Mr. McCain was not present.

“There are some who oppose this benefit, arguing that our men and women in uniform haven’t earned it, that it’s too generous,” Mrs. Clinton said. “I could not disagree more strongly. It’s time we match our words with our actions.”

Thus we now learn that the Times now farms out their editorial pages. With all the journalistic standards and gravitas of a pack of gibbons flinging poo at their rivals, the Times simply parrots Barack Obama's and Hillary Clinton's gross and offensive caricature of the objections of serious critics of the Webb bill. Apparently, Democratic campaign staff were invited to New York to ghostwrite an "editorial" befouling Bush and McCain.

(I suggest the Federal Election Commission investigate whether this editorial constitutes a substantial and unreported in-kind donation to Barack Obama's campaign, possibly violating McCain-Feingold.)

If you're still not convinced of the mendacity here, let's read a little more of the Times' love letter to Obama:

The Senate version was drafted by two Vietnam veterans, Jim Webb, Democrat of Virginia, and Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska. [Ah, so this version is supported by "Vietnam veterans"... unlike the other version, which is only supported by chickenhawks like McCain.] They argue that benefits paid under the existing G.I. Bill have fallen far behind the rising costs of college.

Their bill would pay full tuition and other expenses at a four-year public university for veterans who served in the military for at least three years since 9/11....

Mr. Bush -- and, to his great discredit, Senator John McCain -- have argued against a better G.I. Bill, for the worst reasons. They would prefer that college benefits for service members remain just mediocre enough that people in uniform are more likely to stay put.

What a nice thing to say about Sen. McCain. Of course, liberals would treat him with more respect had he, you know, served his country, as Democrats do.

Lest you think the Times has not thought about the arguments against the bill they support (that is, the one that drains us of our non-coms), here is their unassailable answer:

They [Republicans like McCain] have seized on a prediction by the Congressional Budget Office that new, better benefits would decrease re-enlistments by 16 percent, which sounds ominous if you are trying -- as Mr. Bush and Mr. McCain are -- to defend a never-ending war at a time when extended tours of duty have sapped morale and strained recruiting to the breaking point.

Their reasoning is flawed since the C.B.O. has also predicted that the bill would offset the re-enlistment decline by increasing new recruits -- by 16 percent [imagine a dramatic "ta-dah" playing in the background]. The chance of a real shot at a college education turns out to be as strong a lure as ever. This is good news for our punishingly overburdened volunteer army, which needs all the smart, ambitious strivers it can get. [As opposed to the tired, cynical, doddering NCO hacks the Times wants to boot out.]

So let's see... we lose a bunch of Army Staff Sergeants, Air Force Top sergeants, Navy Petty Officers, and Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeants. But that's okay, because we gain an equal number of buck privates, airman recruits, seaman recruits, and privates.

So what are those ungenerous, veteran-hating Republican macacas whining about? The same number of losers will still be stuk in irak, right? They should instead be grateful the Democrats don't simply ban NCOs all together -- "three stripes, you're out."

The Times editors hasten to add that they support a "larger, sturdier military;" but what is now as obvious as Michael Moore's, ah, fundaments is that liberals, especially those anointed beings who control the elite media, consider the United States military as primarily a massive jobs and welfare program. Its only purpose is to support those illiterate, uneducated, stupid people who didn't study in school. One soldier, one widget is more or less interchangeable with another. And they want to cycle the widgets through the military entitlement complex as quickly as possible, so they can go to college and get "real" jobs.

Like, for example, moving to Chicago to become a "community organizer." I understand that's a career path where you can get to the top really fast.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 26, 2008, at the time of 6:20 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

May 23, 2008

California Marriage Protection Act Gets a Jump at the "Starting Gun"

Matrimonial Madness , Media Madness , Polling Keeps a-Rolling
Hatched by Dafydd

The starting gun was just fired for the November campaign... and in this case, I mean the campaign for the California Marriage Protection Act, a citizen's initiative state constitutional amendment to restore the traditional definition of marriage in California -- now that four judicial activists on the California Supreme Court overpowered three judicial conservatives to force same-sex marriage on America's largest state.

By "starting gun," I mean the Los Angeles Dog Trainer Times has comissioned the first set of polls since the court's decision -- and in a twist that evidently bothered the Times enough that they tried to cover it up by circumlocution, it turns out that Californians begin with a wide and deep antipathy to changing the definition of marriage. All three major party registrations -- Republican, Independent, and Democratic -- support the constitutional amendment, as do men (narrowly) and women (very strongly), as well as (I surmise from the silence) all age demographics; if some age group opposed it, I believe the Times would not be reticent about mentioning the fact.

These poll numbers are spectacularly good for an opening bid! (Hat tip to Patterico.)

And the Times cannot even blame it on "homophobia," an accusation that has become the first refuge of scoundrels in this debate, because by wide margins, respondents have no problem with gays or homosexuality itself.

Let's jump right to the numbers from the L.A. Times poll:

Either way, the poll suggests the outcome of the proposed amendment is far from certain. Overall, it was leading 54% to 35% among registered voters. But because ballot measures on controversial topics often lose support during the course of a campaign, strategists typically want to start out well above the 50% support level.

As Patterico points out on the post linked above, that is a 19-point margin of victory before the first salvo from the pro-amendment camp is fired. But he also notes (with wry amusement, I would imagine) that the Times tries to bury this lede under a flood of generally pro-gay sentiment. Here are the opening two grafs of the article; there are three more "great news for gays!" paragraphs before the Times finally gets around to reporting the actual numbers (so much for the traditional "inverted pyramid" structure that is supposed to characterize news stories):

By bare majorities, Californians reject the state Supreme Court's decision to allow same-sex marriages and back a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at the November ballot that would outlaw such unions, a Los Angeles Times/KTLA Poll has found.

But the survey also suggested that the state is moving closer to accepting nontraditional marriages, which could create openings for supporters of same-sex marriage as the campaign unfolds.

A reader may imagine that the Times is onto something when they say that "because ballot measures on controversial topics often lose support during the course of a campaign, strategists typically want to start out well above the 50% support level." But it's just more disingenuousness on the part of our wretched monopoly newspaper.

In fact, on this particular ballot issue last time, support for the identically worded Proposition 22 actually rose from its initial support to its final victory in June, 2000. Here is a fairly liberal blogger (Calitics) who is a strong supporter of legalizing same-sex marriage:

We all know that initiatives need to be well ahead to start before the advertising ramps up and the No side chips away at the lead. This poll would traditionally signal an initiative in the danger zone. However, the initial polls for Prop. 22 in 2000 were at 58%, and it rose to 61% by election day. Opinions may be fairly hardened on this one.

Support for the amendment is fairly consistent in all demographic groups; Republicans, Independents, and Democrats all support it:

Generally, the poll found consistency between views on the court decision and the proposed amendment. Overall, Californians opposed the court's view by a 52%-41% gap....

Yet support for the ruling did not necessarily lead to opposition to the proposed constitutional amendment, and vice versa. Democrats and independents narrowly backed the amendment despite their support for the court action. Democratic men favored the ruling but were split on the amendment. Democratic women, meanwhile, approved of both the court decision and the amendment.

Also, according to the few internals the Times released (as a graphic!), while men are almost evenly split on how they would vote in the amendment (43% for, 41% against), women -- generally more liberal than men on other issues -- are resoundingly in favor by 58 to 31, a whopping gender gap of 25%, with women being much more supportive of the amendment.

Note: Due to a bit of confusion, let me explain why I say 25%, rather than 27%. By "gender gap," I mean the gap between what the men say vs. what the women say.

The men support the amendment by 2%; the women support it by 27%. Thus, the gap between the genders is 27 - 2 = 25%. Comprendez-vous

?

But the strong, across-the-board support for the amendment cannot be attributed to bigotry or homophobia. In fact, a solid majority of Californians agrees with me (which means they are correct, for a change): There is nothing immoral about same-sex relationships, and there should be no legal stumbling blocks preventing two (or more) adult men or women -- or mixed groups -- from living together and doing whatever they want to do behind closed doors. That is a simple question of individual liberty.

More than half of Californians [54 to 39] said gay relationships [not marriage] were not morally wrong, that they would not degrade heterosexual marriages and that all that mattered was that a relationship be loving and committed, regardless of gender.

Overall, the proportion of Californians who back either gay marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples has remained fairly constant over the years. But the generational schism is pronounced. Those under 45 were less likely to favor a constitutional amendment than their elders and were more supportive of the court's decision to overturn the state's current ban on gay marriage. They also disagreed more strongly than their elders with the notion that gay relationships threatened traditional marriage.

Oh, yeah, and by the way, they strongly reject the court's decision and resoundingly support the amendment to restrict marriage to the traditional definition. But that's a side issue -- we're talking "generational schism" here!

Interestingly, however, a significantly greater number of registered voters younger than 35 think that same-sex relationships are "morally wrong" than those over 35: 48% of 18-34s think such relationships are "morally wrong," compared to 27% of 35-44s, 37% of 45-64s, and 44% of respondents aged 65+. A greater percentage of young people think gay relationships are "morally wrong" than of senior citizens!

But the fact that a strong majority does not see gay relationships as "morally wrong" does not mean we should change the traditional definition of marriage, upon which our civilization is founded. We have seen what happened in Europe when marriage was steadily eroded as a special institution -- not only in Belgium and the Netherlands, where same-sex marriage was allowed (even encouraged), but in other European countries that abandoned religious-based marriage: Marriage itself was devalued, the marriage rate dropped, and more worrisome, so did the fertility rate among native-born Europeans. (See Mark Steyn's book America Alone: the End of the World As We Know It for why a diminishing fertility rate throughout Western Civilization, other than the United States, is a terrible problem.)

For example, in the Netherlands, according to CBS, from 1995 to about 2000, the marriage rate was struggling back from a previous sharp drop. But when the campaign to legalize same-sex marriage began in 2000, culminating with full legalization nationwide in mid-2001, the rising tide of marriage did a U-turn -- and by 2005, it had plummeted to the lowest level since World War II, when couples in war-ravaged Holland postponed marriage "for the duration."

Another CBS table shows that the marriage rate (marriages per 1,000 Netherlanders) had remained fairly steady, averaging 5.5 from 1995 to 2000; but in 2001, it began a precipitous decline down to 4.4 by 2006, a drop of 20%.

During that period, the fertility rate (children born per woman per lifetime) rose significantly, from 1.53 to 1.73, an increase of 13%... but the entirety of that rise was due to presumably Moslem immigrant women born in Morocco and Turkey. The fertility rate among women born in the Netherlands stayed absolutely stagnant at 1.7 from 2000 to 2005 -- well below the bare replacement rate of 2.1.

Obviously, not all of this drop in marriage and fertility rates among cultural Europeans can be attributed to same-sex marriage; the marriage rate also dropped precipitously in France, which did not legalize same-sex marriage.

But all the factors cited for the drop in marriage across Europe --

  • Easy, no-fault divorce laws
  • Increasing rejection of religious marriage in favor of civil marriage
  • Increasing acceptance of shacking up and out-of-wedlock births as normal
  • More leftist and socialist governments that are hostile to traditional religion and values
  • And a general rejection of religion by the populations in Europe

-- fit very well into the same disastrous social attitude: Europeans have lost their belief that there is anything special about traditional moral values, including traditional marriage. Expanding marriage to include same-sex couples is just one more example of that, albeit an important one.

So far, we have not seen a similar precipitous decline in the marriage rate or the fertility rate in the United States; and if this Times poll is an indicator -- conducted, as it is, in one of the most liberal states in the nation -- we're also not likely to legalize same-sex marriage in the United States anytime soon.

If this trend holds and the amendment passes, as I believe it shall, we will still be back to the same paradigm we have always had: It's never the people but always the "experts" -- especially our robed masters -- who push radical ideas like legalizing same-sex marriage.

When the people actually get to vote, as in California, they invariably reject same-sex marriage and support traditional marriage, even as they accept same-sex unions short of marriage.

But what about Massachusetts, arguably the most liberal state in the Union? If those who favor same-sex marriage truly believed they could ratify their court-imposed regime with a vote of the people, wouldn't they jump at the chance? Yet the opposite has happened: Democrats in Massachusetts have hysterically opposed any actual vote there.

The simplest explanation is the most likely one: I suspect they have their own internal polling, and they already know who would win.

~

Our previous (recent) posts on this subject have been:

  • Californichusetts, originally posted in March but bumped up to May 15th, 2008, after the court announced its decision; this post lays out the many arguments against same-sex marriage and explains why it is so bad and dangerous -- not just for America, but for Western Civilization itself.
  • Marriage, Money, and Ursus Maritimus, posted May 21st, 2008; this post attacks the appalling way that same-sex marriage was thrust upon the people of my home state of California, against their democratically expressed will, by a breathtaking act of judicial activism.
  • Patterico and Gay Soldiers: Strict vs. Rational - Liberty vs. Privilege, posted May 22nd, 2008; this post argues a different aspect of the debate -- I voice stalwart opposition to laws criminalizing "sodomy," on grounds that they violate basic human liberty, but distinguish between that liberty and support for traditional marriage.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 23, 2008, at the time of 6:24 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 19, 2008

It's Not the Crime, It's the Cover Up: NYT Still Shielding Obama On "No Preconditions"

Iran Matters , Media Madness , Mysterious Orient , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

Today, even AP admits that Barack Obama did indeed say that he would hold summit meetings with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Syrian President Bashar Assad, Venezuelan President Oogo Chavez, and North Korean Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il "without precondition"... the very policy that prompts many in the GOP (including Big Lizards!) to dub Obama an "appeaser."

(Actually, Obama is even more feckless than Neville Chamberlain: Great Britain had no military to speak of in 1938; they used the eleven months between the dissection of Czechoslovakia -- "peace for our time" -- and Nazi Germany's invasion of Poland in a massive mobilization and buildup for a long war. Obama has no such easy excuse.)

Yet amazingly, the New York Times continues to run interference. Even today, they still pretend that what's at issue is meeting with our enemies at all, rather than meeting with them at a presidential level without any prior agreement to moderate their behavior.

Here is the Times blog the Caucus on the dustup today between John McCain and Barack Obama:

Mr. McCain, who was in Mr. Obama’s hometown to address the National Restaurant Association, diverged from prepared remarks on economic issues to get in his jab at Mr. Obama.

Believing keeping the focus on national security is advantageous to Mr. McCain, his campaign has been continuing to try to make hay over Mr. Obama’s stated willingness to sit down with the leaders of rogue nations.

The Caucus follows this bare-faced mischaracterization of the nature of the dispute with a spirited defense of Obama, just in case any readers were still confused which side was "right":

Arguing for engagement with the country’s foes, Mr. Obama said in a speech on Sunday that “strong countries and strong presidents talk to their adversaries.”

“That’s what Reagan did with Gorbachev,” he said, adding, “I mean think about it. Iran, Cuba, Venezuela -- these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don’t pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us. And yet we were willing to talk to the Soviet Union at the time when they were saying we’re going to wipe you off the planet.”

He went on to argue that Iran spends “one-one hundredth of what we spend on the military. If Iran ever tried to pose a serious threat to us, they wouldn’t stand a chance. And we should use that position of strength that we have to be bold enough to go ahead and listen.”

To which, according to the Caucus, John McCain had no answer and was reduced to impotent harumphing...

Mr. McCain seized upon those comments today, his voice stern and dripping with contempt: “Obviously, Iran isn’t a superpower and doesn’t possess the military power the Soviet Union had. But that does not mean that the threat posed by Iran is insignificant.”

How weak! How embarassing! Things certainly look bleak for McCain's chances, when even a wimp like Obama can spank McCain like a stripper at a stockholder's meeting.

By the way, just to correct the record: Reagan certainly did not, as Obama claimed, talk to Gorbachev when the Soviet Union was saying "we’re going to wipe you off the planet." It was Nikita Kruschev who said "we will bury you" in 1956, three decades before Reagan's summit. The whole point of that meeting was that General Secretary Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev had already drastically reformed the Soviet Union -- remember perestroika and glasnost? -- long before Reagan agreed to that summit.

This summit represents the polar opposite of what Obama actually proposed, and which the Times continues to work overtime to suppress: You won't read a word about Obama's promise to hold summits "without precondition" in this article... nothing.

By contrast, here is AP's version of that same exchange:

Republican John McCain accused Democrat Barack Obama of inexperience and reckless judgment for saying Iran does not pose the same serious threat to the United States as the Soviet Union did in its day. McCain made the attack Monday in Chicago, Obama's home turf.

"Such a statement betrays the depth of Senator Obama's inexperience and reckless judgment. These are very serious deficiencies for an American president to possess," McCain said in an appearance at the restaurant industry's annual meeting....

McCain listed the dangers he sees from Iran: It provides deadly explosive devices used to kill U.S. soldiers in Iraq, sponsors terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East and is committed to the destruction of Israel.

"The threat the government of Iran poses is anything but tiny," McCain said.

AP goes on to characterize -- correctly, we note -- the nature of the dispute:

At the heart of the dispute between the candidates is Obama's assertion that, as president, he would meet with leaders of these rogue countries without preconditions. Obama insists that direct engagement with the Soviets helped prevent nuclear war and, over time, helped to bring down the Berlin Wall.

McCain strongly disagrees with Obama's position; he argues such a meeting would lend international prestige to U.S. foes.

"A summit meeting with the president of the United States, which is what Senator Obama is proposing, is the most prestigious card we have to play in international diplomacy," McCain said.

"An unconditional summit meeting with the next American president would confer both international legitimacy on the Iranian president and could strengthen him domestically, when he is very unpopular among the Iranian people," McCain said.

As to Obama's assertion (as paraphrased by AP) that "direct engagement with the Soviets helped prevent nuclear war and, over time, helped to bring down the Berlin Wall," I refer you to our earlier post, Appease Porridge Hot, Appease Porridge Cold: There's engagement (Kennedy style), and then there's engagement (Reagan style).

Back to the Times. The Caucus takes no judicial note of the about-face Obama took after McCain called him out. Responding to McCain, Obama today denied he had said Iran posed no threat to us:

Speaking during a town hall meeting in Billings, Mont., Senator Obama fired back at Senator McCain. “Let me be absolutely clear: Iran is a grave threat.” But the Soviet Union posed a bigger threat, he said.

A grave threat? "Grave," in the sense used here, means "fraught with danger or harm," "portending future disaster," "involving or resulting in serious consequences : likely to produce real harm or damage," "very serious : dangerous to life." But here is what Obama said over the weekend, while he was still trying to defend his promise to meet "without precondition" with leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, and North Korea by pretending that was a commonplace diplomatic act in which U.S. presidents always engage:

“That’s what Reagan did with Gorbachev,” he said, adding, “I mean think about it. Iran, Cuba, Venezuela -- these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don’t pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us."

He didn't say "they don't pose as serious a threat," he said "they don't pose a serious threat." But maybe he just misspoke. He's a Democrat; he has a license to flub. But what about the overarching point?

Suppose Iran completes development of its nuclear warhead. Then suppose it passes a couple of nukes to Hamas, which passes one to al-Qaeda, which smuggles it into a busy American port and detonates it. (Hamas uses its other nuke on Tel Aviv.)

Wouldn't that be far "graver" than anything the Soviet Union actually did to us? Remember, in one sense, the threat from the Soviets was weaker: Unlike Islamist "martyrs," the Soviet Union wanted to live. We deterred them by threatening nuclear retaliation... a strategy we called "mutually assured destruction," or MAD.

Iran could make retaliation unlikely by putting several cutouts between itself and the nuclear bomb; and al-Qaeda or other apocalyptic, human-sacrificing death cults cannot be deterred by threats of retaliation, because they long to die in the blast anyway, believing that's an express ticket to paradise and the 72 virgins and 72 wives (or perhaps chilled raisins instead).

But evidently, none of this has occurred to the first-term senator from Chicago. He cannot conceive any way in which Iran could pose a serious threat to the United States. Except that he simultaneously believes that it constitutes a "grave threat!"

And the Times doesn't notice any contradiction. This raises an interesting thought... Given the New York Times' inability to stay afloat financially, and given their clear ideological leanings -- maybe it would make more sense for them simply to disband the company and reorganize themselves as the Democratic Party of the Times Square District.

I think they would be a lot more financially secure with a piece of Barack Obama's fundraising action than they are now trying to peddle their "newspapers."

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 19, 2008, at the time of 3:46 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

May 16, 2008

Democrat Limbo - How Low Can They Go?

Media Madness , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

An amazing accusation has just been flung at John McCain by a completely "disinterested" party: James Rubin, President Clinton's State Department spokesman. Rubin accuses McCain of "hypocrisy" for attacking Barack Obama on his willingness to meet with rogue leaders and America's enemies throughout the world. While it seems a simple smear job -- easily debunked, as we do in this piece -- it's also a window into the utter inability of Democrats, not Republicans, to parse nuance, to understand why talking is sometimes good -- and sometimes a horrible blunder.

And as always, a primer into how deeply the elite media is in bed with Obama. "Slither on" for the whole sordid tale...

The bluff...

Let's open with Rubin's smear. In his op-ed in the Washington Post, he writes:

McCain, meanwhile, is guilty of hypocrisy. I am a supporter of Hillary Clinton and believe that she was right to say, about McCain's statement on Hamas, "I don't think that anybody should take that seriously." Unfortunately, the Republicans know that some people will. That's why they say such things.

But given his own position on Hamas, McCain is the last politician who should be attacking Obama. Two years ago, just after Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary elections, I interviewed McCain for the British network Sky News's "World News Tonight" program.

Rubin then gives a single pair of question and answer; I am always suspicious when a person is accused of some terrible sin -- and the only evidence offered is such a small snippet that we cannot possibly know what, exactly, the target meant.

So I hunted a bit and managed to find a brief video clip from Sky News which shows part of the piece where Rubin interviews McCain. I use Rubin's own transcript, which seemed accurate -- as far as it went (except for one mistranscribed word, in blue font):

Rubin: Do you think that American diplomats should be operating the way they have in the past, working with the Palestinian government if Hamas is now in charge?

McCain: They're the government; sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them, one way or another, and I understand why this administration and previous administrations had such antipathy towards Hamas because of their dedication to violence and the things that they not only espouse but practice, so... but it's a new reality in the Middle East. I think the lesson is people want security and a decent life and decent future, then they want democracy. Fatah was not giving them that.

The continuation bet...

Based upon this single Q&A of ambiguous meaning, Rubin builds an imposing edifice of sweeping conclusion:

For some Europeans in Davos, Switzerland, where the interview took place, that's a perfectly reasonable answer. But it is an unusual if not unique response for an American politician from either party. And it is most certainly not how the newly conservative presumptive Republican nominee would reply today.

Given that exchange, the new John McCain might say that Hamas should be rooting for the old John McCain to win the presidential election. The old John McCain, it appears, was ready to do business with a Hamas-led government, while both Clinton and Obama have said that Hamas must change its policies toward Israel and terrorism before it can have diplomatic relations with the United States.

Even if McCain had not favored doing business with Hamas two years ago, he had no business smearing Barack Obama. But given his stated position then, it is either the height of hypocrisy or a case of political amnesia for McCain to inject Hamas into the American election.

Rubin plays to the crowd...

Notice the sly way that Rubin seeks to play into what he perceives as McCain's greatest weakness -- the supposed squishiness of conservative support for the "maverick" nominee:

  • Rubin compares McCain to "Europeans in Davos, Switzerland;"
  • He calls McCain "newly conservative," as if he had switched his positions in order to fool the Republican electorate (Rubin names no issue on which McCain has become "newly" conservative);
  • He says that McCain in 2006 "was ready to do business with a Hamas-led government, while both Clinton and Obama have said that Hamas must change its policies toward Israel and terrorism before it can have diplomatic relations with the United States;" in fact, McCain says no such thing in this exchange... he says that because Hamas was elected, "sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them, one way or another." With the modifier "one way or another," how could anybody dispute this statement?
  • Finally, Rubin says that it was McCain who "inject[ed] Hamas into the American election;" actually, it was Hamas itself, by endorsing Barack H. Obama... and domestically, it was Obama's former advisor Robert Malley, who got the boot from the Obama campaign a week ago today, after he disclosed that he had actually been negotiating with Hamas. (So much for Team Obama's revulsion at the very thought of meeting with terrorists!)

Before truth can lace up its boots...

The Associated Press has already run with the Rubin smear, others are sure to follow. Naturally, AP simply accepts the accusation as proven beyond all reasonable doubt -- in spite of the fact that even the snippet Rubin himself offers (his only evidence) falls short.

In fact, there is much better evidence that Rubin's claim is groundless and fraudulent; but it requires more work to ferret out than big-budget elite-media reporters can afford to give it. Thus, you must turn to a more determined source, one with the tenacity to dig deeper than the lazy reprinting of other people's stories that is the specialty of the mainstream media: You're left to the tender mercies of Big Lizards instead.

It turns out that the clip on Sky News doesn't end where James Rubin -- the interviewer -- chooses to stop transcribing. Behold, there is a second Q&A that Mr. Rubin asks McCain, but which he chose not to highlight... and you'll see why directly.

Before we look at it, however, let's turn to the question of what, exactly, John McCain accused Barack Obama of doing. (This seems jumpy, but we're going somewhere... trust the lizard.)

The Democrats -- both the main party wing and the media auxiliaries (the Fleet Street Irregulars) -- persistently misstate why McCain and other Republicans have chastised Obama. They repeatedly claim (as does Obama himself) that Obama is attacked for wanting to talk at all to leaders of rogue nations, as in the AP story linked above:

On Thursday, McCain suggested that Obama was naive and inexperienced for expressing a willingness to meet with rogue leaders like Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In another AP story, Obama repeats that mischaracterization of his blunder:

Meeting with reporters, Obama argued that tough-minded diplomacy and engagement with rivals is a bipartisan foreign policy that dates to former Presidents Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan.

"That has been the history of U.S. diplomacy until very recently," said Obama, who said he was comfortable engaging McCain in a foreign policy debate. "I find it puzzling that we view this as in any way controversial. This whole notion of not talking to people, it didn't hold in the '60s, it didn't hold in the '70s ... When Kennedy met with Kruschev, we were on the brink of nuclear war."

He also noted that former President Nixon opened talks with China, "with the knowledge that Mao had exterminated millions of people." He said he was confident making the case that McCain's policy is flawed.

Don't know much about history...

Even this short response from Obama reveals the shallowness of his understanding of history -- and his inability to parse simple English statements. First of all, Obama is right; "Mao had exterminated millions of people." We agree.

But those exterminations occurred from 1949 to 1953; Mao's subsequent idiotic agriculture policies caused tens of millions to starve to death from 1959 to 1962.

Nixon met with Mao in 1972 -- a decade after the famine, and nearly twenty years after the exterminations ended. In the interim, China had changed dramatically. It was still totalitarian and Communist, but it had certainly stopped murdering millions of people a year, as it did at the beginning of the Communist era. It was only murdering a handful... which, believe me, is great progress where Communist dictatorships are concerned. (They're even better now, though they took a Great Leap Backward with their brutal suppression of dissent and protest in Tibet as the Beijing Olympics approached.)

Perhaps more to the point, Nixon did not meet with Mao "without precondition," as Obama would meet with the presidents of Iran, Syria, and Venezuela and the Dear Leader of the DPRK; President Nixon himself met Mao only after many months of secret discussions between National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and his Chinese counterpart, including a visit by Kissinger to China in 1971. During those earlier discussions, China agreed to several preconditions of any future agreement or diplomatic recognition, including the following:

  • They agreed not to launch a military invasion of Taiwan;
  • They agreed that they would be satisfied with a statement that both Taiwanese and mainland Chinese agreed that there was only one China, and that Taiwan was part of it -- without demanding that Taiwan agree that the government of this "one China" would be the Communist government of Red China.

These were both very significant: Until the Kissinger visits, China insisted that Taiwan was a renegade province of the People's Republic of China. After meeting with Hammerin' Hank, the Red Chinese agreed to disagree about the final status of Taiwan.

Thus, far from being an example of the kind of meeting Obama wants to hold, Nixon in China demonstrates the polar opposite approach: A long, slow, careful buildup of diplomacy and negotiation, culminating with -- not starting from -- a mano-a-mano summit.

That long, long river in Africa...

This short history lesson illuminates the actual accusation against Obama: naïveté and fecklessness. It's not that he would meet with leaders of rogue states (Iran, Syria, North Korea, Venezuela); there are certainly situations where that would be useful. It's that he would do so without any preconditions -- without a preliminary agreement on what the final agreement would and would not contain. Such open-ended summit meetings serve only two purposes:

  • They legitimize the leaders of nations that support terrorism against the United States and our allies;
  • And they offer the great temptation for the American president, desperate for a deal, any deal, to agree to unconscionable terms that empower our enemies and enervate our allies and our own forces, civilian and military.

Today, Obama himself and through his spokespeople, denies that he ever said he would meet with such despots "without precondition." Here is Susan Rice, Obama's foreign policy advisor and an official spokeswoman for the campaign, in full denial mode:

Susan E. Rice, a former State Department and National Security Council official who is a foreign policy adviser to the Democratic candidate, said that “for political purposes, Senator Obama’s opponents on the right have distorted and reframed” his views. Mr. McCain and his surrogates have repeatedly stated that Mr. Obama would be willing to meet “unconditionally” with Mr. Ahmadinejad. But Dr. Rice said that this was not the case for Iran or any other so-called “rogue” state. Mr. Obama believes “that engagement at the presidential level, at the appropriate time and with the appropriate preparation, can be used to leverage the change we need,” Dr. Rice said. “But nobody said he would initiate contacts at the presidential level; that requires due preparation and advance work.”

The house of cards...

Yet here is what the man himself said, during the fourth Democratic debate on July 23rd, 2007, in response to a question about meeting with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bashar Assad, Kim Jong-Il, or Oogo Chavez without any preconditions:

COOPER: Let’s go to another YouTube video.

QUESTION: In 1982, Anwar Sadat traveled to Israel, a trip that resulted in a peace agreement that has lasted ever since.

In the spirit of that type of bold leadership, would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?

COOPER: I should also point out that Stephen [the question submitter] is in the crowd tonight.

Senator Obama?

OBAMA: I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them -- which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration -- is ridiculous.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, Ronald Reagan and Democratic presidents like JFK constantly spoke to Soviet Union at a time when Ronald Reagan called them an evil empire. And the reason is because they understood that we may not trust them and they may pose an extraordinary danger to this country, but we had the obligation to find areas where we can potentially move forward.

And I think that it is a disgrace that we have not spoken to them. We’ve been talking about Iraq -- one of the first things that I would do in terms of moving a diplomatic effort in the region forward is to send a signal that we need to talk to Iran and Syria because they’re going to have responsibilities if Iraq collapses.

They have been acting irresponsibly up until this point. But if we tell them that we are not going to be a permanent occupying force, we are in a position to say that they are going to have to carry some weight, in terms of stabilizing the region.

Translation: Obama plans to have a summit with Ahmadinejad "without precondition," during which he will tell the Iranian president that we're going to pull out... and invite Iran to step in and "carry some weight" in Iraq. This is precisely why such ad-hoc summit meetings without our enemies are so pernicious... Obama is just looking for a chance to hand Iraq over to Iran for safekeeping.

If you're still skeptical, here is the YouTube of Stephen's question and Obama's answer:

 

 

Like a web, the pieces start to fall in to place...

First of all, even the New York Times, in the story linked above, added a correction contradicting Dr. Susan Rice and admitting that Obama said exactly what McCain accused him of saying, just as the transcript above shows.

And second, if you further in the transcript of the debate, both Hillary Clinton and John Edwards are asked the same question, and both insist that such meetings must be preceded by much groundwork and preconditions describing the scope of any future final agreement. Obama listens to both his main Democratic rivals... yet he never says a word; he never says, "Oh, yes, I meant with preconditions and groundwork," or anything similar. He simply stands on his original answer of "I would."

It's a head-cutting competition, and Obama clearly is contrasting his own reckless boldness with the almost conservative sobriety of Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.

Thus we draw the following conclusions:

  1. McCain's charge against Obama is not simply that he would meet with tyrants, despots, and Hezbollah's grandboss, but that Obama himself said -- unlike either Clinton or Edwards -- he would hold such meetings without any preconditions whatsoever;
  2. Obama did indeed say that; both the NYT transcript of the debate and a YouTube clip from it clearly prove McCain's charge was true and accurate;
  3. Nevertheless, Obama now denies ever having said such a thing, though even the Times must admit Obama is lying;
  4. Worse, he and many other Democrats now pretend that McCain attacked Obama merely for saying he would meet with rogue leaders... as if the Obama version of a summit were no different than those held by Nixon with Mao or Reagan with Gorbachev.

    Obama claims the mantle of "statesman" by impulsiveness and shooting from the lip.

The bluff rebuffed...

And now, at long last, we can return to Clintonista-turned-Obamaniac James Rubin's smear of John McCain. When we last left him, Rubin had called McCain a hypocrite based upon the former's interview of the latter for Britain's Sky News:

The old John McCain, it appears, was ready to do business with a Hamas-led government, while both Clinton and Obama have said that Hamas must change its policies toward Israel and terrorism before it can have diplomatic relations with the United States.

Even if McCain had not favored doing business with Hamas two years ago, he had no business smearing Barack Obama. But given his stated position then, it is either the height of hypocrisy or a case of political amnesia for McCain to inject Hamas into the American election.

As I said, however, the Sky News clip linked above runs on past the single pair of question and answer Rubin quoted; it also includes the next question Rubin asked of McCain, a Q&A Rubin himself seems curiously anxious to forget. This is my own transcript; I haven't seen this anywhere else; I'll give you the original Q&A first, followed by the second:

Rubin: Do you think that American diplomats should be operating the way they have in the past, working with the Palestinian government if Hamas is now in charge?

McCain: They're the government; sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them, one way or another, and I understand why this administration and previous administrations had such antipathy towards Hamas because of their dedication to violence and the things that they not only espouse but practice, so . . . but it's a new reality in the Middle East. I think the lesson is people want security and a decent life and decent future, that they want democracy. Fatah was not giving them that.

Rubin: So should we, the United States, be dealing with that new reality through normal diplomatic contacts to get the job done for the United States?

McCain: I think the United States should take a step back, see what they do when they form their government, see what their policies are, and see the ways that we can engage with them. And if there aren't any, there may be a hiatus. But I think part of the relationship is going to be dictated by the way Hamas acts, not by how the United States acts.

In other words, John McCain most certainly was not "ready to do business with a Hamas-led government;" far from it: McCain said we'll have to "deal with them, one way or another"... and then he went on to explain, face to face with Rubin, that how we deal with Hamas will depend entirely upon what course Hamas pursues. He says nothing about any meetings, with President McCain or any member of his administration. And he says nothing at all about meeting "without precondition."

Like a puzzle, the fine strands come together at the center...

So we can add to our conclusions above:

  1. James Rubin has completely fabricated the entire "hypocrisy" charge against McCain.

It is the lie direct: And I think Rubin knows it, because he says, "Even if McCain had not favored doing business with Hamas two years ago, he had no business smearing Barack Obama." That's a dead giveaway that this is not merely "political amnesia" on Rubin's part... it is a brazen falsehood.

I think the thought never occurred to Mr. Rubin that Sky News would so inconveniently make available a clip, not only of the one question Rubin wanted to highlight, but also the next question he asked -- which shows conclusively that McCain did not mean what Rubin slyly tried to make it seem he meant.

Just as Seymour Hersh was caught with his pants on fire when the Taguba Report about Abu Ghraib was released, Rubin has now been caught with smoking trousers with the release by Sky News of the clip we linked above.

And the fact that all this is already in the elite-media record -- and in fact, the New York Times already included a correction in its own article that Obama did indeed say just what McCain chastised him for saying -- leads to the final conclusion:

  1. The Democrats -- elected and media -- know full well that their attacks on McCain are scurrilous lies... yet they make them anyway, hoping they will not be exposed before the November elections.

They are slanderers, false witnesses, and traducers of better men -- McCain, David Petraeus, Mitt Romney, and yes, George W. Bush -- than any screamer of the Left can ever hope to be. (If indeed they hope to be anything other than what they already are.)

I suspect most readers of this blog already knew that; but there are still people in this country for whom hard evidence still counts for something. Chalk it up to tarring and feathering the dead horse.

'Tis better to keep silent and be thought a fool...

I have one final cautionary parable...

One example that Barack Obama cited for how productive and important are such ad-hoc meetings between the President of the United States and our enemies' leaders -- the one he seemed most proud of -- was the June 1961 meeting in Vienna between President John F. Kennedy and General-Secretary Nikita Khrushchev of the Soviet Union; from the first AP story linked above:

Meeting with reporters, Obama argued that tough-minded diplomacy and engagement with rivals is a bipartisan foreign policy that dates to former Presidents Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan.

"That has been the history of U.S. diplomacy until very recently," said Obama, who said he was comfortable engaging McCain in a foreign policy debate. "I find it puzzling that we view this as in any way controversial. This whole notion of not talking to people, it didn't hold in the '60s, it didn't hold in the '70s ... When Kennedy met with Kruschev, we were on the brink of nuclear war."

Like the proposed Obama summits, this meeting was held without preconditions or much legwork on the part of the Kennedy administration.

Many historians now consider that Vienna summit to have been a disaster for the United States. Kennedy was unprepared for the bombastic and overbearing Khrushchev, who had already been in power for eight years (JFK had been president for only five months). It now appears that it was Kennedy's weakness and unpreparedness that gave Khrushchev the impression that he could put nuclear missiles into Cuba with impugnity:

One key that did not come loose without a struggle, however, was the translator's notes from the 1961 Kennedy-Khrushchev summit meeting in Vienna.

Mr. Beschloss made five requests for the notes, from mid-1986 until they were released in September of last year. What did they add?

"There was nothing earth-shattering," he said, but the "virtually a word for word" account of two days of talks gave a feel for the meeting, and in particular a sense that "Kennedy's Cuba language was vague enough to have contributed" to Mr. Khrushchev's belief that he could get away with putting missiles on the island.

As Hugh Hewitt noted on his show today, contrary to Obama's misinformed claim, we were not "on the brink of nuclear war" with the Soviets in June 1961; but we certainly were after that disastrous conference, which likely precipitated the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

And that, evidently, is the template which Obama looks to for his own diplomatic adventures, should he become president (heaven forbid).

Conservatives, our country simply cannot afford to have this man as president. You have to come home to the GOP, even if John McCain is not your choice for nominee. You cannot sit back and allow a man like Barack Hussein Obama to become president by default: The stakes are too high.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 16, 2008, at the time of 10:10 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 13, 2008

Hagee Non-Recants and Issues Non-Apology Apology for Words He Never Said

God and Man In the Blogosphere , Media Madness , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

The neverending quest by liberals to find a "conservative Jeremiah Wright" to bash over John McCain's head -- uh -- never ends. The newest wrinkle is the putative "open letter of apology" that Pastor John Hagee sent to the President of the Catholic League, William Donohue.

Nearly every elite-media source has falsely reported that Hagee admitted he made the attacks he has been denying all along... thus, they falsely accuse him of hypocrisy and perjury. (Wouldn't the Ten Commandments call that bearing false witness?) Here are a couple of examples...

Fox News:

Televangelist John Hagee, one of John McCain’s highest-profile supporters from the religious right, has apologized for calling the Roman Catholic Church “the great whore” and “the apostate church....”

Pastor Hagee, leader of San Antonio’s Cornerstone Church, had said his anti-Catholic remarks had been taken out of context, but in the letter he appeared to own up to them.

“Neither of these phrases can be synonymous with the Catholic Church,” he wrote. [How exactly does this quotation "own up to" the supposed "anti-Catholic remarks?"]

The Los Angeles Dog Trainer:

The Catholic League called on McCain to repudiate Hagee at that time, stating that he had "waged an unrelenting war" against the church and noting the pastor had referred to the Catholic Church as a "false cult system," among other terms. Hagee also said Hurricane Katrina was "the judgment of God" on the city's "sin...."

In his letter to the Catholic League today, Hagee said he now understands that other terms he used to describe the church -- "the great whore" and the "apostate church" -- are "rhetorical devices long employed in anti-Catholic literature." He said he had gained a better understanding in recent weeks of the Catholic Church's relationship to the Jewish faith. Hagee wrote of his "profound respect for the Catholic people" in the letter and said he hoped to advance "greater unity among Catholics and Evangelicals."

The New York Times:

Some have interpreted Mr. Hagee's references to “the great whore” prophesied in the Book of Revelation, as a slur on the Catholic Church. Mr. Hagee now says that was never his intention. In his book, “Jerusalem Countdown,” he accused the Vatican of collaborating with Hitler in the Holocaust. [Given the Times' record, can we please see the passage in question?]

Note the cowardice of the New York Times, which poltroonishly attributes the interpretation to "some," rather than to the Times itself -- which is what the author really means. This is an old and dishonorable rhetorical trick to say the most appalling things with "plausible deniability" when someone calls you out.

I was intrigued by the selective quotations and strange refusal to quote the letter at length... and I suspected foul play, particularly after reading one somewhat less-unfriendly source, the Political Intelligence blog on the Boston Globe's website. That story raised this cryptic point, quoting from William Donohue:

"And while he stresses that his invocation of terms like 'apostate church' and the 'great whore' were never meant by him to describe the Catholic Church, he acknowledges that anti-Catholics have long employed such language," Donohue said in his statement.

But was that really true? Phrased better, did John Hagee ever actually call the Catholic Church either "the Great Whore" or "the apostate church," either of which would be clear and unambiguous anti-Catholic bigotry? I know that many conservatives say he has not; yet that is the type of negative claim that is virtually impossible to prove but easy to disprove -- all you need is one example.

So far, however, such a clear example has not forthcome... in contradistinction to Jeremiah's jeremiad, which triggered scores of similar examples from primary sources -- newsletters, sermons, publications, speeches, interviews, interviews with parishoners -- and YouTube after YouTube, until we were nearly inundated in Jeremi-ism:

And thick and fast they came at last,
And more, and more, and more --
All hopping through the frothy waves,
And scrambling to the shore.

Here is the usual source cited by liberals trying to make Hagee out to be as bigoted and conspiratorial as the Right Reverend Wright, Barack Obama's spiritual mentor (until political expediency forced a schism), a sermon on the Great Whore and apostate church, a snippet of which was shown on YouTube:

 

 

Again, this is unsatisfying to anyone with a skeptical mind: Nowhere does Hagee say that those two terms represent the Catholic Church today, or as a whole in any era. While I am certainly no specialist in eschatology, it sounds as if Hagee is talking about one specific manifestation of some (unnamed) church during the eventual Apocalypse.

So I really, really wanted to read Hagee's entire letter. Did he really "own up to" calling the Church "the Great Whore" and "the apostate church," as Fox News claims?

It took some digging, but at last, I found a newspaper with guts enough to print the full letter that Hagee sent. It was the Wall Street Journal; here is what the Journal had to say in its Washington Wire blog about the letter:

John Hagee, the controversial evangelical pastor who endorsed John McCain, will issue a letter of apology to Catholics today for inflammatory remarks he has made, including accusing the Roman Catholic Church of supporting Adolf Hitler and calling it “The Great Whore....”

Hagee’s letter explains some of the harsh words he has used when describing the Catholic Church. “I better understand that reference to the Roman Catholic Church as the ‘apostate church’ and the ‘great whore’ described in the book of Revelation” -- both terms Hagee has employed -- “is a rhetorical device long employed in anti-Catholic literature and commentary,” he wrote. [Again with the vague implications! All right, he "employed" those terms -- but in that context?]

After Hagee’s endorsement of McCain, both came under fire after the spotlight was placed on other disparaging comments Hagee has made in the past. The dissection of their relationship -- How did the McCain campaign court Hagee’s endorsement? Did he know about Hagee’s comments at the time? -- coincided partly with the attention placed on Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the former pastor of Barack Obama.

(It's important to understand that, other than their editorial pages, the WSJ is pretty much just as left-liberal as the rest of the elite, drive-by media.)

The article contains a link to a PDF of the letter -- just a graphic image, not OCRed. As a service to the blogosphere, I transcribed it to ordinary text; you'll find it in the "slither on."

Despite years chronicling what I call "media madness," I was nevertheless stunned by the sheer mendacity of the mainstream press, and by their casual willingness to destroy a man's life just to try to mitigate the relationship between Barack Obama (their favored candidate) and a truly horrific example of "Black Liberation Theology," the racist, America hating, conspiracy monger Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

Let's start with the repeated claims that (a) John Hagee used those terms to refer to the Catholic Church, (b) lied about having done so, and (c) has now confessed to his religious bigotry. A few newsies covered Hagee's defense of himself by quoting a scant single sentence out of context; here's the Fox News version:

“Neither of these phrases can be synonymous with the Catholic Church,” he wrote.

By itself, that is baffling... especially after the same article has just told us that "Hagee... has apologized for calling the Roman Catholic Church 'the great whore' and 'the apostate church.'" The obvious conclusion we're expected to draw is that Hagee is simply lying, and clumsily so.

Yet here, from Hagee's actual letter, is the entire paragraph ending with that sentence, quoted in full:

I hope you recognize that I have repeatedly stated that my interpretation of Revelation leads me to conclude that the "apostate church" and the "great whore" appear only during the seven years of tribulation after all true believers -- Catholic and Protestant -- have been taken up to heaven. Therefore, neither of these phrases can be synonymous with the Catholic Church.

I'm not a theologian, either... but a person who believes the above would never use either term to identify the Catholic Church. Just as no religious Jew could believe that a man can be "the Messiah," no matter how holy, if he has already died -- without gathering all the Jews together again from the Diaspora, rebuilding the Temple, or ushering in the world of Isaiah's dream of beating swords into ploughshares.

Eschatologists believe in a particular sequence of events during the End Times, and the "Great Whore" and "apostate church" do not come before, but after the rapture. So Pastor Hagee has a pretty good argument that he did not mean to identify today's Catholic Church with those terms.

Any purveyor of so-called "news" with the least interest in truth would have investigated the slurs before repeating them, being squeamish about libeling an innocent man. But journalists are made of sterner stuff: For the cause, they're always willing to sacrifice -- the nearest conservative, Republican, or Christian.

So there we are. The news media live by a Spartan ideology:

  1. Anent conservatives, good news is no news;
  2. The media motto is "All the news we see fit to print;"
  3. Truth is negotiable; its definition is "That which advances the prospects of the Democratic Party;"
  4. November elections are decided in May -- so by election day, the Democrats have already won;
  5. If the Republicans win, see (4);
  6. And the typical American is liberal headed towards socialist, angry at conservatives, and an atheist, as proven by the fact that this describes the typical respondent in any media-sponsored political poll.

If you bear this in mind, a lot of otherwise inexplicable actions by the elite media suddenly make perfect sense.

As promised, click the Slither On to read the complete (two full typewritten pages) letter from John Hagee to William Donohue.

Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights
Attn: Mr. William Donohue, President
450 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10123

Dear Mr. Donohue,

Insofar as some of my past statements regarding the Roman Catholic Church have raised concerns in your community, I am writing in a spirit of mutual respect and reconciliation to clarify my views.

Out of a desire to advance greater unity among Catholics and Evangelicals in promoting the common good, I want to express my deep regret for any comments that Catholics have found hurtful. After engaging in constructive dialogue with Catholic friends and leaders, I now have an improved understanding of the Catholic Church, its relation to the Jewish faith, and the history of anti-Catholicism.

In my zeal to oppose anti-Semitism and bigotry in all its ugly forms, I have often emphasized the darkest chapters in the history of Catholic and Protestant relations with the Jews. In the process, I may have contributed to the mistaken impression that the anti-Jewish violence of the Crusades and the Inquisition defines the Catholic Church. It most certainly does not. Likewise, I have not sufficiently expressed my deep appreciation for the efforts of Catholics who opposed the persecution of the Jewish people. It is important to note that there were thousands of righteous Catholics -- both clergy and laymen -- who risked their lives to save Jews from the Holocaust. According to many scholars, including historian Martin Gilbert and Rabbi David Dalin (author of the Myth of Hitler's Pope), Pope Pius XII personally intervened to save Jews.

In addition, I better understand that reference to the Roman Catholic Church as the "apostate church" and the "great whore" described in the Book of Revelation is a rhetorical device long employed in anti-Catholic literature and commentary.

I hope you recognize that I have repeatedly stated that my interpretation of Revelation leads me to conclude that the "apostate church" and the "great whore" appear only during the seven years of tribulation after all true believers -- Catholic and Protestant -- have been taken up to heaven. Therefore, neither of these phrases can be synonymous with the Catholic Church.

In recent decades, Catholics and Evangelicals of good will have worked together to defeat the evil of Communism, promote what Pope John Paul II called "a culture of life" that protects every human life from conception to natural death, honors the institution of marriage, and defends the rights of the poor.

As I wrote in my tribute to Pope Benedict XVI after President Bush welcomed him to the White House, he "spoke for all of us when he said that 'any tendency to treat religion as a private matter must be resisted' and called for Christian participation 'in the exchange of ideas in the public square.'" Both Catholics and Evangelicals have been engaged in an effort to assert the primacy of faith and values in our increasingly secular society.

My profound respect for the Catholic people has been demonstrated in my own ministry. For example, when the Ursuline Sisters of San Antonio were on the verge of losing their home, our church bought the property for our school and allowed them to continue living in their home free of charge for twelve years. The sisters were part of the daily life of the school, walking the grounds and the hallways where the children would embrace them and hold their hands in friendship. The love of our school children for these sisters symbolized my own feelings as well. I pledge to address these sensitive subjects in the future with a greater level of compassion and respect for my Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ.

It is this sense of Christian fellowship I hope to reestablish with Catholics with whom I and all Evangelicals must unite to be a voice for life, the family, marriage, and Christian values to our nation and the world.

Sincerely,

Pastor John Hagee

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 13, 2008, at the time of 6:36 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

May 12, 2008

When Harry Met Nancy

Congressional Calamities , Energy Woes and Wows , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

A funny thing happened on the way to the fact checker...

AP distributed a very illuminating article today. They compared the major energy proposals of both Democrats and Republicans, in each case reciting the "spin" from proponents -- then following with the "facts," as defined by said checker of said facts.

Here is where illumination sets in: For every single proposal in the Democrats' plan, the "facts" discovered by AP completely contradicts the "spin" from the Democrats. Viz.:

THE DEMOCRATIC PROPOSALS.

_Enact a windfall profits tax on oil companies.

SPIN: Oil companies are making too much money, earning $123 billion last year while motorists faced soaring gasoline costs. Imposing a 25 percent windfall profits tax on the five largest oil companies and repealing $17 billion in tax breaks could help the shift away from fossil fuels toward alternatives. Taxes could be avoided if profits are used for refinery expansion or development of wind, solar or biomass projects.

FACT: Profits are large because the companies are huge, and oil now sells for well over $120 a barrel. The taxes could spur some new alternative energy projects, but economists say they also could reduce investments in oil and gas exploration, and are unlikely to affect prices. They could do more harm than good, says Robert Hansen, senior associate dean at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business. "Anytime you put in a tax you create an incentive to avoid it," says Hansen.

And so forth. All in all, here are the proposed Democratic policies and AP's reaction to them:

  • "Windfall profits" tax: AP finds that the oil company profits are entirely legitimate and that such a tax would probably backfire;
  • Make energy "price gouging" illegal: Nobody can define "gouging," which means the law will end up being de facto "price controls;"
  • "Stand up" to OPEC: With the world oil market (and especially with both India and Red China ramping up industrial production), we can't force OPEC to pump more oil or lower the price... but we can prompt them to retaliate against us even trying.

But then the elite media turns its gimlet eye to the (cue scary music) Republican policies. Here, the "fact checker" seems to have found a very different pattern: For every single proposal in the Republicans' plan, AP finds that Democrats in Congress plan to block it from floor action.

In other words, All the Democrats' proposals are stupid and unworkable; and the GOP proposals cannot pass a Democratic Congress!

Case in point:

THE REPUBLICAN PROPOSALS....

_Develop vast amounts of oil and natural gas in offshore waters now off limits.

SPIN: For a quarter century, energy development has been blocked in more than 80 percent of U.S. coastal waters, depriving the country of vast oil and gas resources. States should be allowed waivers to the moratoria and get some of the revenues from development.

FACT: Most areas of federal offshore waters outside the western Gulf of Mexico and off much of Alaska have been placed off limits to drilling by a succession of presidential orders and congressional action to protect tourist industries and avoid the risk of spills and environmental damage. The House has twice approved giving states the right to opt out of the federal ban.

Let's run through the Republican proposals and AP's "fact checking" anent them...

  • Pump oil from ANWR: Democrats in the House and Senate and President Clinton have always opposed this, and there's no indication they'll accept it now. Besides, while it's undisputed that we can get billions of barrels of oil from ANWR, it's still a small amount compared to the total world supply (but a large percent of the American supply);
  • Drill in the Gulf and other offshore locations: Stubborn Democrats refuse to allow this, too;
  • Build new refineries: Because of the ethanol mandate, oil executives don't expect much growth in oil demand; so they prefer to expand existing refineries rather than build new ones;
  • Coal-based diesel: Runs afoul of liberal global-warming policy to reduce greenhouse gases. (While John McCain supports doing something about "Anthropogenic global climate change," his plan is nowhere near as draconian as either Hillary Clinton's or Barack Obama's.)

So the problem with the Democratic proposals is that they simply won't work as advertised... and the real problem with the Republican proposals is the absurd politicization of the House and Senate Energy Committees by vindictive and "world-saving" Democrats, as personified by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 85%) and Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 65%).

This analysis sounds so even-handed and mature, I'm shocked, shocked to see it come from the drive-by media.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 12, 2008, at the time of 5:14 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

May 5, 2008

NYT: Leadership and Patriotism Merely "Symbolic" "Distractions" From the Issues

Media Madness , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Here is a fascinating (and betimes repellent) glimpse inside the liberal mindset, where a "distraction from the real issues" is any ground on which the Democrat in question doesn't want to fight.

Yesterday, the New York Times published another of its unbiased, nonpartisan analyses of the race; oddly, it turns out that Democrats are fighting on important issues (like gasoline prices -- what is Obama going to do, impose price controls?)... while Republicans are squabbling over irrational, distracting, and "symbolic" issues -- leadership, character, patriotism, and the candidates' visions of a future America:

Sometimes, as Senator Barack Obama seemed to argue earlier this year, a flag pin is just a flag pin.

But it can never be that simple for anyone with direct experience of the 1988 presidential campaign. That year, the Republicans used the symbols of nationhood (notably, whether schoolchildren should be required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance) to bludgeon the Democrats, challenge their patriotism and utterly redefine their nominee, Gov. Michael S. Dukakis of Massachusetts.

The memory of that campaign -- reinforced, for many, by the attacks on Senator John Kerry’s Vietnam war record in the 2004 election -- haunts Democrats of a certain generation.

And by the way, Barack Obama is now playing the race card. I know this comes as a great shock to readers here, who never thought that the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy -- and a Democrat! -- would ever use his race as an issue in the campaign. I mean, that’s a storybook, man. But there he goes again:

Mr. Obama himself seemed chastened by the re-emergence of the old politics last week. “Let’s be honest,” he said in an interview on NBC. “You know, here I am, an African-American named Barack Obama who’s running for president. I mean, that’s a leap for folks. And I think it’s understandable that my political opponents would say, ‘You know, he’s different. He’s odd. He’s sort of unfamiliar. And what do we know about him?’ ”

Note that he didn't try to demonstrate any actual racism directed against him; he flings the inuendo of bigotry while taking constant refuge within real bigotry, as with his twenty-year flirtation with the race-baiting Jeremiah Wright. It's as if racism has no inherent evil but is freely available for anyone to use as a weapon against the Right ("any stick to bash a conservative"). Consider this a preview; we'll come back to this later, when it will become the central point.

What fascinates me is that Democrats still don't understand the whole "values" thing; and I begin to believe that, like eunuchs in a seraglio, they're aware of something wonderful going on, but they're unequipped by their natures to participate.

Like George H.W. Bush and the "vision thing," that failure to understand speaks volumes, saying more about the unacceptability of Democrats in a time of war than any policy dispute their political opponents can raise. Consider this, the heart of what drew me to this Times story in the first place:

But David Axelrod, chief strategist to Mr. Obama, argues that any Democratic nominee will be subject to the same withering attacks on values and character.

Character, of course, is a moral value; it includes such "symbolic" elements as courage, honesty, loyalty, patriotism, civility, constancy, and -- wait, what is that again? oh yeah -- leadership. Democrats still can't wrap their brain lobes around the fact that the American people consistently elect their president based on these "symbols," rather than on the "plan" that the "man" (or woman) enunciates.

Perhaps it would penetrate if we noted that absent those seven deadly virtues above, it's impossible to know whether the man will actually implement the plan... or will change his mind, lie to his constituents, and do something completely different once elected.

Remember this? Bill Clinton ran, among other platform planks, on fully integrating gays into the military; it was, he said several times, going to be his "first executive order." But once elected, the Democratic Congress turned truculent on gays. So without a second thought, Clinton dropped the whole issue like a wad of used Kleenex

It makes no difference whether you agree or disagree with the policy. The point is that character matters a great deal more than any particular "issue." Those who voted for Clinton because he had "the plan" they liked, and who were angry and impatient with anyone who questioned his character, got the shock of their lives when "the plan" went straight into the can:

  • He ran as a moderate charter member of the Democratic Leadership Council, but immediately turned hard left; then after the 1994 elections handed Congress to the Republicans, Clinton made another U-turn to start "triangulating" on issues such as welfare and taxes. This is inconstancy.
  • He threw a bunch of Army Rangers into Somalia, vowing to track down Mohamed Farrah Aidid and bring him to justice (Operation Gothic Serpent); but when a couple of Black Hawk helicopters were shot down and 18 Rangers killed in the subsequent battle -- and even though they killed about 700 Somali militiamen -- Clinton nevertheless panicked and yanked out the troops; this demonstrates a distinct lack of courage.
  • He denied the accusations of having an affair with Monica Lewinsky (in the Oval Office of the White House -- rather, the small working vestibule off of the Oval Office) and even sent surrogates out to the talk shows to insist it was all a GOP hit job on him. He detailed Hillary Clinton to declare it a "vast right-wing conspiracy." Then, when the blue dress was produced, he almost casually did another about-face, admitting everything (including the lies)... leaving all his sock puppets looking like liars and fools (including Mrs. Rodham Clinton Rodham). Thus his basic dishonesty.

One of the most gifted politicians of the post-World War II era did himself in by his own colossal narcissism, dishonesty, and other character flaws. One would think, given this example, even Democrats would understand why character is not just a "distraction," and values are not just "symbolic" issues.

Yet evidently not; they still don't get it... and I believe this stems from the very character flaws that led them to liberalism in the first place: moral vacuity, nihilism, and terminal egoism.

This isn't the 1930s, 40s, or even early 60s, and today's liberals didn't become so in response to Jim Crow, Joseph McCarthy, or the Great Depression. The most seminal influence on their political walkabout was the rioting and unrest of the late 60s and early 70s. Their heroes were the overeducated, overfed, and overly pampered ersatz "revolutionaries" of that era. Their heroes were those:

  • Who zealously took up the Red crusade to create the New Socialist Man;
  • Who spouted the jingoisms of America's enemies during the Vietnam War;
  • Who accused America of being the biggest terrorist and war criminal in the world;
  • Who didn't want to save the environment for people, but rather from people;
  • Who demanded that we fight "racism" (meaning the bad life decisions made by people of "protected" racial groups) by instituting even more racism;
  • Who preached that whites were racially guilty, males were sexually guilty, and ordinary, middle-class people had stolen everything they had from the poor, from minorities, and from "Native Americans;"
  • And who never saw a problem they didn't want to politicize and turn into a statist grab.

These are the saints of contemporary left-liberaldom: Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman, Bernadine Dohrn, Bill Ayers, Tom Hayden, Jane Fonda, Andrea Dworkin, Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Malcolm X, Russell Means, and "Field Marshal Cinque" of the Symbionese Liberation Army.

Their contemporary followers are neither so grandiose nor as infamous; in fact, they are rather squalid: Markos Moulitsas, Keith Olbermann, Sean Penn, Janeane Garofalo, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Spike Lee, Ward Churchill, and Eli Pariser of MoveOn.org. Their worldview is likewise squalid, unimaginative, concrete-bound, and transcendentally narcissistic. David Axelrod -- chief "strategist" to Obama, remember him? -- continues, with an interpretive assist from Times reporter Robin Toner:

“The question,” Mr. Axelrod said, “is whether given the abysmal state of our economy, given the war, given all the challenges that people sense we face that have led George Bush to have the lowest rating ever, do you believe that voters are going to be distracted from the fundamental need for change? I think the answer to that is no.”

In fact, as Mr. Axelrod suggests, these are very different times.

Twenty years ago, the nation was in an era of comparative peace and prosperity; a sense of crisis did not hang over the election [I reckon the imminent collapse of the evil empire doesn't count]. Today, with the war in Iraq in its sixth year and the economy stumbling, more than 8 in 10 Americans say the country is on the wrong track. A new generation of voters have entered the electorate, who may not be as susceptible to values issues.

In such a climate, it would presumably be far more difficult than in 1988 to keep the campaign focused on symbolic, values-related issues, or matters of personality.

Honesty, courage, loyalty, patriotism, civility, constancy, and leadership -- just "matters of personality." A belief in freedom, personal responsibility for one's own life, Capitalism, rugged individualism, the unique greatness of America... just "values-related issues."

Some people are tone deaf; they literally cannot distinguish one melody from another or from a random collection of notes. Contemporary liberals are values-deaf -- they cannot distinguish virtues from vices, their only principle is expediency, and they imagine that any grab-bag of disconnected "issues" constitutes a "political philosophy."

Thus, they fly into a rage whenever Republicans or conservative, the elite media, or the people themselves begin questioning them about "distractions" from the "real issues," distractions like Hillary Clinton's fundamental dishonesty or Barack Obama's appallingly bad judgment and almost belligerent vagueness... from the complete lack of a real vision for America that both Democrats share. (According to the Times: "Mr. Obama rose to national prominence largely on the basis of his oratorical skills, and has never been accused of lacking vision!")

To leftists, American values have no intrinsic worth or meaning. The only function of such "symbolic" issues is to bludgeon the enemies of contemporary liberalism. For example, the New York Times falsely accused John McCain of adultery in February of this year, made no attempt to back it up, and refused to make a correction when the charge fell apart. Yet have they ever been concerned about such "distractions" when the accused was a Democrat? To paraphrase Tim Rice, lyricist of Jesus Christ, Superstar, "What is this new respect for marriage? Till now this has been noticibly lacking!"

Liberals fling accusations of sin and corruption the way monkeys fling poo at rival tribes... as a smelly missile weapon that actually came from themselves, not the target.

So the next time some progressive New Leftist works himself into a lather about the "distractions" of "symbolic, values-related issues" -- followed immediately by an attack on the character of the nearest conservative -- give him a banana, and maybe he'll go away.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 5, 2008, at the time of 4:46 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

April 30, 2008

Ask Not for Whom the Death Toll Tolls

Iraq Matters , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

On March 25th, Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered a surprise attack on Sadrite militiamen in Basra. It was such a surprise, he forgot to tell the American forces about it until a couple of days before it began.

We scrambled to catch up with the Iraqi Army to give them the close-air support and logistics they needed. For a while, the battle for Basra seemed a bit dicey; a green Iraqi unit broke and ran during a counterattack, but Maliki was quickly able to replace them with forces he brought in from elsewhere in Iraq. Another front opened in Sadr City, a slum section of Baghdad controlled for many years by the Mahdi Militia; we took the lead there, and we've seen much success.

The fighting has been intense... but at last, with Iraqis in the lead, we're seeing exactly what military experts and even many Democrats have said is essential for Iraq to unite as a viable nation: The Shiite majority has proven that it governs for all Iraq, not just for the Shia... and they did it by finally confronting the Shia insurgent Muqtada Sadr, who has been in hiding in Iran for about a year now, and the Mahdi Militia that he either controls or doesn't fully control, depending who you ask.

Now, after more than a month of fighting, it has become increasingly clear that Maliki's gamble paid off:

  • The Sadrites are in full retreat in Basra and other cities and provinces, and in complete disarray in Sadr City;
  • The Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashemi, has called on his bloc to return to the government in direct reaction to Maliki's campaign against Sadr;
  • Sadr himself has been shown to be near impotent: Recently, he threatened "open war" against the Iraqi government if it did not end the campaign (Operation Knights' Charge) against the Mahdi Militia. One week later, Sadr rescinded the threat and again begged for a ceasefire;
  • Maliki continues the offensive; combat has now changed to mopping up; the Iraqis have demonstrated they can run their own operations and troop movements, needing only logistical and close-air support from us; and most of the political demands of the Democrats upon the Iraq -- including this one -- have been met or are in the process of being met.

Here are the specifics... The return of the wandering Hashemi is a very big story; it's the birth of an Iraq Venus on the half shell:

Iraq's Prime Minister met on Sunday with the Sunni Vice-President to discuss reintegrating Sunni political parties into his Shiite-dominated government as five people died in clashes and a suicide car bombing in Baghdad, police said. [Talk about your non-sequiturs... can anybody imagine a story that begins, "Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton met for a debate last night as 47 Americans were murdered across the country"?

The meeting between Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki and Tariq Al Hashemi came a day after the Sunni leader described the return of his boycotting political bloc, the National Accordance Front, to the Cabinet as a priority....

Al Hashemi has been one of Al Maliki's most bitter critics, accusing him of sectarian favouritism, while the Prime Minister has complained that the Vice-President is blocking key legislation. But Al Hashemi and other Sunni leaders apparently have been swayed by Al Maliki's crackdown against Shiite militias.

And here is the devolution of Sadr's position. Here is Sadr defiant on April 19th:

Anti-U.S. Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is threatening a new uprising if an American-Iraqi crackdown against his followers continues.

The cleric says he is giving his final warning to the Iraqi government to stop working with the U.S. military against him or he will "declare an open war until liberation."

Saturday's statement has been posted on al-Sadr's Web site.

The threat to lift a more than seven-month-old cease-fire comes amid fighting between al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia and U.S.-Iraqi troops in Baghdad's Sadr City and the southern city of Basra.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki also has said the Sadrists will be politically isolated if the Mahdi Army isn't disbanded.

And here he is with his tail between his legs just seven days later, on April 26th:

Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called for an end to Iraqi bloodshed on Friday and said his threat of an "open war" applies only to U.S.-led foreign troops -- stepping back from a full-blown confrontation with the government over a crackdown against his followers.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, meanwhile, took a hard line against al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia and other illegally armed groups, setting conditions for stopping military operations against them that included surrendering weapons.

Al-Sadr's new message, which was read during prayers and posted on his Web site, eased fears that the anti-U.S. cleric was planning to lift a nearly 8-month-old cease-fire, a move that would jeopardize recent security gains....

"I call upon my brothers in the police, army and Mahdi Army to stop the bloodshed," al-Sadr said in the statement. "We should be one hand in achieving justice, security and in supporting the resistance in all of its forms."

All in all, April was a very, very good month in Iraq for the forces of democracy, and a catastrophic month for the terrorist forces of chaos and human sacrifice. So how would you expect the mainstream media to characterize the Battle of Basra and Baghdad, which has routed the Mahdi Militia from the south and shattered many of its elite terrorist cells in Sadr City?

You guessed it: US troop deaths push monthly toll to 7-month high in Iraq:

The killings of five U.S. soldiers in separate attacks in Baghdad pushed the American death toll for April up to 49, making it the deadliest month since September. One soldier died when his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb. The second died of wounds sustained when he was attacked by small-arms fire, the military said Wednesday. Both incidents occurred Tuesday in northwestern Baghdad.

A third soldier died after being struck by a bomb while on a foot patrol early Wednesday in a northern section of the capital, while another roadside bomb killed two American soldiers in southern Baghdad, the military said in separate statements.

The spike in U.S. troop deaths comes as intense combat has been raging in Sadr City and other neighborhoods between Shiite militants and U.S.-Iraqi troops for more than a month.

In all, at least 4,061 members of the U.S. military have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

"We have said all along that this will be a tough fight and there will be periods where we see these extremists, these criminal groups and al-Qaida terrorists seek to reassert themselves," U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. Kevin Bergner told reporters in Baghdad.

"So, the sacrifice of our troopers, the sacrifice of Iraqi forces and Iraqi citizens reflects this challenge," Bergner said in response to a question about what's behind the increase in American troop deaths.

Trust AP to turn a proactive campaign begun against the most deadly group in Iraq (they've killed several times more innocent Iraqis than al-Qaeda has), the militia that currently most threatens the stability of the Iraqi government, into nothing but a rise in "US troop deaths!"

Worse, AP uses selective quotation to make it appear as though the fight is being taken to us, willy nilly, by the Sadrites as they "reassert themselves." (They just started killing the American Army and Marine victims, who were helpless against the onslaught!) Leaping lizards; is AP ignorant of the operational tempo, or do they know what they're implying is the mirror opposite of reality?

I suppose it never crossed the minds of AP writers Slobodan Lekic, Sinan Salaheddin, and Qassim Abdul-Zahra that anytime democratic forces initiate a major operation against terrorists and insurgents, our death toll will necessarily go up: In military terms, that's normally called being "aggressive" and "taking the fight to the enemy."

Figures I've seen indicate that while we lost 45 soldiers, Marines, and British soldiers in April, the Mahdi Militia appears to have lost somewhere between 400 and 1,000 terrorist killers. Once again, we're in that 15:1 ratio of dead enemies to friendlies. I know the Pentagon hates body-count comparisons... but that's a heck of a victory nonetheless.

Of course, while the Associated Press compares the April, 2008 combat-death figure to that of September, 2007, they don't actually tell us the September figure. I suspect it's because that datum might interfere with "the story," which appears to be -- stop me if you've heard this -- that "the surge," as so many refer to it, has failed. After all, if the intent was to lower casualties, and here we just had the highest death toll in seven months, then good heavens, the surge didn't do a thing!

So what was the number of Coalition deaths back in September? According to Iraq Coalition Casuality Count, it was 69 -- averaging 2.3 per day -- contrasted with 1.63 per day this month. In other words, the death toll in April is still less than 2/3rds that of September. And it's important that in September 2007, the counterinsurgency had already begun having its effect and combat deaths were down. The local peak of coalition combat fatalities was May 2007, when 131 troops died (4.23 per day). April 2008 was only a third of that... and that's during an offensive campaign.

iCasualities also reports that April saw 565 Iraq civilian deaths, compared to 752 in September 2007 and 2,864 in February 2007; April 2008's civilian death toll is only 22% of February 2007. I think most folks would consider a 78% drop in civilian deaths -- which is, after all, the main goal of a counterinsurgency strategy, to protect the civilian population -- a positive thing. But from the lack of interest on the part of the elite media to report on this, I suppose they either don't consider "fewer dead civilians" to be positive, or at the very least, they're not sure. ("We're unbiased journalists, so we can't have any opinion!")

Elite Iraq-war journalists: Can't live with 'em; can't... hm.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 30, 2008, at the time of 4:11 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

April 22, 2008

LAT: Is McCain Fit to Serve as Prez - Even Though He Can't Raise His Arms Above the Shoulder?

Media Madness , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

This entire post is a fractal, contained within its title. Only a quote or two is necessary from today's Los Angeles Times:

John McCain gets tax-free disability pension [merely for being disabled! Outrageous!]

The disclosure of the Navy benefit for injuries incurred as a Vietnam POW may raise fitness questions.

When McCain released his tax return for 2007 on Friday, he separately disclosed that he received a pension of $58,358 that was not listed as income on his return.

On Monday, McCain's staff identified the retirement benefit as a "disability pension" and said that McCain "was retired as disabled because of his limited body movements due to injuries as a POW."

McCain campaign strategist Mark Salter said Monday night that McCain was technically disabled. "Tortured for his country -- that is how he acquired his disability," Salter said.

Raise your hands, everybody -- not you, Sen. McCain -- who believes Mark Salter actually said that McCain was only "technically disabled."

Evidently, it's the Times' position that if one is disabled enough to receive a disability pension, then one is utterly incapable of doing anything with one's life. Disabled people should have no lives; they should just sit in a room waiting for relief from the State, or perhaps sit with a bowl in the train station hoping for handouts. God knows they shouldn't be in the Senate, certainly not the White House.

Blind people should be selling pencils from a tin can, for example; certainly not serving as the governor of a state. I'm certain I remember the Times inveighing against just the thought of such a thing. Thank goodness we've never had to face that horrific possibility.

Just to be sure we all realize what, exactly, the Times is saying...

McCain spent 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war in Hanoi. After he was released in 1973, he returned home on crutches and began a painful physical rehabilitation. He later regained flight status and commanded a Navy squadron before retiring from the service in 1981....

The fact that he is legally designated with a disability pension may raise further questions.

"It is a legitimate question to ask about the commander in chief: Is he fit to serve [despite not being able to play basketball!]," said Robert Schriebman, a senior Pentagon tax advisor and tax attorney who recently retired as a judge advocate for a unit of the California National Guard.

If McCain can hike across the Grand Canyon, then why should he be getting disability payments from the government that are tax-exempt, Schriebman asked.

A friend of McCain's who spent some time with him in that North Vietnamese resort in Hanoi has an answer:

Paul Galanti, another former POW in the group, said that while McCain's injuries were serious enough to qualify him for disability, it would not affect his performance as president.

"I don't know of any physical requirements to be commander in chief," Galanti said. "He would have a nice car to drive around in and a nice airplane to fly in."

But really... how could anybody serve as president if he can't raise his arms above his shoulders? How could he do the Macarana, which I understand to be a job requirement?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 22, 2008, at the time of 11:59 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

April 19, 2008

Response to Patterico: the Two-Timing Times and Its Two-Time One-Timer

Liberal Lunacy , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

Oddly enough, Patterico noted a very amusing mistake by the Los Angeles Times. (I say "oddly" because Patterico's well-known aversion to that paper generally causes him never to write about it or even mention it on his blog... except occasionally, perhaps 300 or 400 times a year.) The TV cricket of the Times, Mary McNamara, wrote the following:

George Washington (David Morse) so quickly tired of the infighting among his Cabinet and vagaries of public opinion that he stepped down from the presidency after a single term. "I know now what it is like to be disliked," he says to Adams, his perpetually disliked vice president.

That would be the single term from 1789 to 1793 and from 1793 to 1797, I presume.

After gleefully noting this latest stupidity from his foil, Patterico -- who evidently hasn't yet watched his tape of the relevant episode -- added this cautionary disclaimer:

Straining to give [the Times] the benefit of the doubt, I wonder: Does the miniseries somehow portray Washington as having served only one term? I haven’t seen it, but I doubt it.

So to prevent some lefty blogger friend of Patterico's to be the latter's only source, I herewith offer the services of Big Lizards... for we have watched our DVR recording of the relevant episode, and in fact all of them to date.

Thus I can state authoritarianly, "No, Patterico; the miniseries didn't get it wrong." But I think I see where the Times was misled.

  1. The HBO miniseries presumes throughout that viewers have some basic knowledge of colonial and early American history -- a rather unfair disadvantage to liberals in the first place. Ergo, it doesn't bang you over the head with irrelevancies... such as Washington's 1792 reelection.

    They don't bother showing it: Nobody "ran" for president back then, as you know; the electors were chosen by the states and sent to the capitol (Philadelphia, in Washington's case) to cast their votes. Washington was unanimously elected in 1788 and again in 1792... so with no campaign and no competition, and since the focus is on John Adams anyway, not GW, the miniseries doesn't even mention the election.

  2. There is a dispositive line towards the end of the episode wherein Adams has his vice presidency (repeated at the beginning of the next episode, his presidency): Abigail Adam flatly marvels that Washington would step down "after two terms," when he could have been president for life. But it's not emphasized in the episode, and it would be easy to miss for a viewer paying only half attention. (As I expect "Mary McNamara, Times Television Critic" was -- bored to tears because it wasn't about her, and it wasn't even about a real revolutionary and hero of the people -- "Che," for example. Later in the same column, she says about the series, "I myself remained underwhelmed.")
  3. Washington did choose to step down rather than run; as he was the first president, there was of course no tradition yet of serving only two terms. He does say the line McNamara quotes -- but it's after his second, not first term. It is true, however, that Washington stepped down because he was frustrated by the rise of political parties and by how politics had overtaken patriotic duty.
  4. So in this case, McNamara put 2 and 2 together and alas got 7.3. Since Washington chose not to run when he could have, and since McNamara is probably unaware that the "two-term" rule was only added to the Constitution in 1951 via the 22nd Amendment, she probably thought that if he stepped down, it must have been after only one term... otherwise, assuming she thought the two-term limit comes from the Constitution itself (not a 20th-century amendment), after two terms, he would have to step down.

    In any event, her little column wasn't really about all that imperialist warmongering at the founding of the most vile and degraded country on the planet; it was about the much more urgent subject of contrasting establishment HBO to the hipper Showtime.

So there you have it; the miniseries got it right, but Mary McNamara has such a skullful of liberal mush that it's not really her fault when she gets so confused about basic American history -- such as President George Washington and his giant blue ox, Babe. After all, you can't make a silk purse out of a pig's breakfast.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 19, 2008, at the time of 6:27 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

April 15, 2008

Move 'Em Out - Lock 'Em Up

Blogomania , Media Madness , Mysterious Orient
Hatched by Sachi

I've been reading comments on my last entry, and I realized that many American readers are unaware of the atrocities committed by China against the Tibetan people in the last month. For that matter, many readers don't know that the Chinese government has been "cracking down" on Chinese dissidents, Christians, Buhddists, bookstore owners, unlicensed pamphleteers -- and even forcibly removing ordinary citizens and demolishing their homes, without compensation, just because they were in the way of new Olympic-related development. And all in the name of renewal for the 2008 summer Olympics.

Shortly after Beijing was selected in 2001 by the International Olympic Committee -- years before the recent Tibetan problems began -- there was already talk of a boycott in the Japanese-language conservative blogsphere. By now, readers must have seen the "Boycott Beijing" logo of Reporters Without Borders:



Olympic handcuffs

Boycott Beijing 2008 logo

Reporters Without Borders, an international organization advocating freedom of the press, has been running a boycott campaign for more than a year now.

Anti-Chinese sentiment is very strong among the Japanese right-wing; many believe fascist Japan's invasion of China in the 1930s actually "rescued" the latter from a state of primitive feudalism, "modernizing" them into the twentieth century. Sound familiar? Although that is a very tendentious reading of history, the antipathy of the Japanese Right towards Communist (or fascist) China today is completely supportable: Whatever some may say, the government is unquestionably evil.

Before I go on, I should tell you a bit about me: I am a naturalized American citizen, but I was born and raised in Japan during the cold war. I have always hated Soviet Communism with a passion, as well as its Chinese cousin. I despise the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, as well as the Cambodian and Vietnamese revolutionary Marxist/Maoist movements.

It shouldn't be necessary to tell you that I do not hate the Chinese people. I have many Chinese friends, such as Mr. Ching; and they hate Communist China more than you can imagine. I am furious at Mao and his successors for what they did to their own people, as well as to others, including Tibetans, Mongolians, and other minor local tribes.

So let me tell you what the ChiComs -- I'm proud to use that word -- have been doing to "prepare" for the Olympics; you may not be quite so quick to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Forcible evictions

The Communist government has been forcibly removing residents unfortunate enough to live on future Olympic sites. Since government-owned construction developers do not sufficiently compensate evicted residents (sometimes not at all), many refuse to move. So what happens? This is what happens.



Olympic removal

Olympic renewal = peasant removal

I found a version of the original article in Japanese; here is my translated summary:

Last November, a married Beijing farm couple, who were protesting the destruction of their home of 30 years, attempted suicide when construction workers tried to remove them by force. Their house was located on the site where the Communists plan to build an expensive condominium for Olympic use. Construction workers had just dug a ditch around the couple's house, totally isolating it.

On November 29th, security guards hired by the construction company cordoned off the area and ordered the couple -- 殷永利, 53 and his wife 廬桂敏, 50 -- to leave. They climbed onto their roof and refused to move. When the workers forcibly tried to get them down, the couple swallowed pesticide. They were immediately carried to a nearby hospital, but the husband is in critical condition. Later that day, their house was completely demolished with everything still inside it.

This is hardly an isolated case. This type of forced eviction has been going on for years:

The Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) handed China one of its not-so-prestigious "Housing Rights Violator Awards" in 2005. The Centre's executive director Scott Leckie stated, "The Beijing government has admitted [to] a minimum of 400,000 people [being] moved to create space to build various Olympic venues...."COHER also reports the "800 year old Jiaodoku neighbourhood was flattened in July 2003, destroying over 2,000 households, to make way for Olympics-related construction."

Like the couple above, many citizens who lost their homes resorted to suicide as a form of protest:

Another widely reported protest occurred on October 1, 2003. Beijing resident Ye Guoqiang jumped from the Jinshui Bridge in an attempted suicide to protest how the Chinese government forcefully evicted him from his home to make way for Olympic construction. He survived the fall but was jailed for illegally demonstrating. Apparently Guoqiang was not alone; in November of 2003, over 1,200 Beijing residents signed a petition on the Internet in support of his actions. Seven other protesters were charged with causing social unrest in October 2003, and two more protesters were detained. In 2004, another protestor, Ye Guozhu was detained "and sentenced to four years' imprisonment for protesting against the razing of his home and two of his restaurants." Daily protests against demolition and eviction occurred in Tiananmen Square and the Zhongnanhai Compound from September to December of 2004.

Crackdown on dissidents

Gearing up for the Olympics, China's repression of journalists -- and of many other professions that might offer visiting foreigners a glimpse of China contrary to the government-mandated image -- has gone into full throttle:

"There has been a renewed crackdown on journalists and internet users in the past year -- a fact that makes government commitments to 'complete media freedom' ring hollow," said Catherine Baber. "The current state of affairs runs counter to the most basic interpretation of the 'Olympic spirit' with the 'preservation of human dignity' at its heart...."

As well as carrying out forced evictions from Olympic related sites, Beijing city authorities have decided that in order to clean up the city's image in the run-up to the Olympics, targets of 're-education through labour' -- imprisonment without charge -- should to be expanded to include 'unlawful advertising or leafleting, unlicensed taxis, unlicensed businesses, vagrancy and begging'.

Religious persecution in China is infamous; but it has accelerated in recent years, according to the February 7th, 2008 issue of Christian Post:

China stepped up its crackdown on Christians last year compared to 2006, with an overall increase in reported persecutions of believers, according to the China Aid annual report released Wednesday.

There were a total of 60 cases of known house church persecutions by the government covering 18 provinces and one municipality in 2007, up from 46 cases in 2006, according to the report. The number of people persecuted was 788, up from 665 the previous year, and the number of people arrested and detained increased 6.6 percent, from 650 to 693.

The number of people sentenced or imprisoned decreased slightly from 17 in 2006 to 16 people in 2007....

Besides targeting house church leaders, China focused on disrupting Christian activities occurring in urban areas. Over half of the reported persecution cases occurred in urban areas, accounting for 58.3 percent of the 60 cases. The number of people persecuted in urban areas was 599, which is 76 percent of the total number of those persecuted.

The Chinese government also targeted Christian publications, with seven cases related to the operation, printing, transportation and distribution of Christian literatures.

Here's one amazing bit of news, unknown to those Americans who haven't paid much attention to China in recent years:

A notable case is that of Christian businessman and well-known house church leader Zhou Heng, who was formally arrested on Aug. 31, 2007, for receiving 3 tons of Bibles.

Zhou is the manager of a registered bookstore [!] that sells some Christian books published legally and officially inside China. He was detained when he went to pick up three tons of Bibles at a bus station. The Bibles were reportedly donated by South Korean churches and intended for local believers free of charge. But the government only allows officially sanctioned (state) churches to print and distribute a limited number of Bibles each year.

It is reported that Zhou was beaten in prison severely by inmates and prison guards.
Court officials, after investigating Zhou’s case, returned it to Public Security Bureau (PSB), ruling insufficient grounds for prosecution, according to the latest update. The PSB has neither sentenced nor released Zhou, who remains in detention.

Olympic Tibetan-baiting competition

China controls speech and access to the press; it controls all aspects of politics; it controls sports, and virtually every profession must be licensed and strictly regulated; even bookstores must be registered, and the owners can be arrested for selling unapproved Bibles. The Party controls the religion of their subjects -- and of course, even the number of children families can bear. Chinese are arrested without charge, held for indeterminate sentences, and beaten; they have no recourse at law against the will of the Party.

But thank goodness they're not "totalitarian."

In this context, it is undestandable that the Chinese Communist Party, facing unprecedented foreign-press scrutiny because of the Olympics, would decided to teach Tibetans a lesson in blind obedience, to crack down on whomever may have even thought about conducting an unlawful assembly -- of course, all assemblies are unlawful, unless they have government approval -- or otherwise embarassing the government, say by receiving unlicensed Bibles. But how would the Chinese leadership justify brutalizing people who are known for nonviolence?

In my estimation, the most obvious play would be first to stage a "violent riot" or two in Tibet, led by supposed Buddhist monks... and even one or two violent incidents in foreign countries, supposedly carried out by supporters of Tibetan independence. This would give the elite new media around the world the impression that Tibetans are the real problem, not their Chinese occupiers, oppressers, brutalizers. "They" (those protesting enslavement) are the ones disrupting the Olympics -- not those enslaving them!

How is this any different than saying the civil unrest in America in the late 1950s and early 60s was all the fault of those blacks who didn't know their place -- not those white politicians who enacted Jim Crow laws in the first place?

Judging from some of the comments we received, I must say this Chinese propaganda has worked very well indeed.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, April 15, 2008, at the time of 11:19 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

April 9, 2008

Between the Lines

Congressional Calamities , Iraq Matters , Liberal Lunacy , Media Madness , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Sachi

It's never safe to take at face value anything written by the mainstream media about Iraq. You must always tease the real story from the misleading and sometimes completely fabricated "first draft of history" they publish. But even propaganda can reveal the deeper truth.

It's now clear that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the Iraqi army and Iraqi National Police showed decisive leadership and initiative -- perhaps a bit too decisive! -- during the recent Operation Knights' Charge in Basra. Even AP is reluctantly reporting the latest achievement of Nouri al-Maliki... though of course they couch it in dismissive terms:

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's faltering crackdown [!] on Shiite militants has won the backing of Sunni Arab and Kurdish parties that fear both the powerful sectarian militias and the effects of failure on Iraq's fragile government.

The emergence of a common cause could help bridge Iraq's political rifts.

The head of the Kurdish self-ruled region, Massoud Barzani, has offered Kurdish troops to help fight anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia.

More significantly, Sunni Arab Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi signed off on a statement by President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, and the Shiite vice president, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, expressing support for the crackdown in the oil-rich southern city of Basra.

The elite media used to criticize Maliki for not being able to bring other parties together and for not going after Shiite militias (that is, the Mahdi Militia, a.k.a. Jaish al Mahdi, or JAM). It's true that Vice President Hashemi and Prime Minister Maliki have been bitter rivals; but then, now that Hashemi has decided to support Maliki’s effort, how can the "crackdown" be “faltering?” Rather, shouldn't it now be called "strengthening" -- or even that other favorite media word, "mounting?" (I forgot for a moment: Only problems for Republicans are allowed to "mount.")

Political players in the Middle East are not known for backing the underdog; the best conclusion is that Hashemi has correctly assessed that the Basra crackdown is working, so now he wants to join the "strong horse." Of course, the Associated Press has its own defeatist tale of how the Battle of Basra ended:

The Basra crackdown, ostensibly waged against "outlaws" and "criminal gangs," bogged down in the face of fierce resistance and discontent in the ranks of government forces. Major combat eased after al-Sadr asked his militia to stop fighting last Sunday.

But al-Maliki continued his tough rhetoric, threatening to take his crackdown to the Mahdi Army's strongholds in Baghdad. Al-Sadr hinted at retaliation, and the prime minister backed down, freezing raids and arrests targeting the young cleric's supporters.

How can a campaign that ends with the enemy’s surrender be described as “bogged down?” (Thank goodness they didn't say "quagmired.") It's true that Maliki stated that he would halt offensive action for ten days, but not because he was afraid of Sadr’s revenge; if he feared Sadr, he would never have attacked in the first place -- or at least he would have stopped the moment he saw that the JAM was stronger than he expected.

But instead, Maliki responded to the fierce fighting by sending reinforcements into the battle and driving the JAM out of their entrenched positions. Now it's the Iraqi army that patrols the streets of Basra, not the Mahdi Militia.

There's more, much more that we now learn...

Here is what Bill Roggio (you knew he had to come into this debate somewhere!) has to say about the Battle of Basra:

Subsequent to the ceasefire, the Iraqi military announced it was moving reinforcements to Basra, and the next day pushed forces into the ports of Khour al Zubair and Umm Qasr. Iraqi special operations forces and special police units have conducted several raids inside Basra since then, while an Iraqi brigade marched into the heart of a Mahdi-controlled Basra neighborhood on April 2. And two days after Sadr called for a ceasefire, the government maintained a curfew in Sadr City and other Shia neighborhoods in Baghdad. None of this would be happening had Maliki simply caved to Sadr. [So much for the image of the PM cowering in fear of the sidelined Muqtada Sadr... who is himself still hiding in Qom, Iran, and afraid to show his face even in the Shiite areas of Iraq.]

Maliki's governing coalition did not revolt over this operation. When the Iraqi opposition held an emergency session of parliament to oppose the Basra operations, only 54 of the 275 lawmakers attended. AFP reported, "The two main parliamentary blocs--Shiite United Iraqi Alliance and the Kurdish Alliance--were not present for the session which was attended by lawmakers from radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's bloc, the small Shiite Fadhila Party, the secular Iraqi National List and the Sunni National Dialogue Council." The fact that the major political blocs in Iraq's parliament ignored the emergency session is politically significant, and no evidence suggests that Maliki's governing coalition has been jeopardized since then.

(Roggio is now posting at a new website you should all bookmark, Iraq Status Report)

The ten days suspension of offensive operations in the south was meant to give militia members time to lay down their weapons and surrender. Operation Knights' Charge continues against those Iran-trained, Iran-led elements of the JAM that have not stopped their own attacks, according to Roggio, this time writing in the Long War Journal, which he edits.

One of the reasons cited by the elite media to prove that Muqtada Sadr won the Battle of Basra is that Sadr's followers listened to him and stopped fighting when he told them. But it has become increasingly clear that Sadr himself no longer has operational control over the JAM; those element who were actually fighting against the Iraqi army were under the direct leadership of Iranian Qods Force commanders (the so-called "Special Groups")... as is Sadr himself, as Bill Roggio notes in the Long War Journal:

Just as the new Iraqi forces began to arrive in Basrah and US and British forces were gearing up to augment the Iraqi military, Muqtada al Sadr, under orders from Iran’s Qods Force, called for his fighters to withdraw from the streets. Sadr issued a nine-point list of demands, which included that operations cease. Maliki refused and Iraqi and US forces continued to move into Basrah and conduct pinpoint raids against Shia terror groups. More than 200 Mahdi Army fighters were killed, 700 were wounded, and 300 captured during the six days of fighting in Basrah alone.

Despite Sadr’s so-called "order" for them to stand down, some of these Special Groups continue to fight... and continue to be driven out. Eventually, they will have nowhere left to flee to except back into Iran, where they came from.

The media have also criticized Maliki for "not making political progress." Several senators said as much to Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker during the hearings in the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But now, as Maliki successfully reaches out to Kurds and Sunni and gains their support, do the MSM praise his effort? (Is that a rhetorical question?)

Of course they don't. They accuse him of seeking short term political gain for his own interests:

But other motives may have played a role in the crackdown.

Provincial elections are scheduled to be held before Oct. 1 and Shiite parties are gearing up for a tough contest in the Shiite heartland of southern Iraq, where oil-rich Basra and the wealthy religious centers of Najaf and Karbala are prizes.

A successful crackdown in Basra would have boosted the election chances of al-Maliki's Dawa party and his Shiite allies in the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, whose Badr Brigade militia is the Mahdi Army's sworn enemy.

Let's pause a moment to ponder that last sentence. Nouri al-Maliki was originally a client of Muqtada Sadr. The Dawa Party has historically been associated with the JAM; opposing them on the Shiite side, as AP admits, has been the Badr Brigades (now Badr Organization and no longer functioning as a private militia), controlled by the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (formerly the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq).

So AP says that Maliki attacked the militia associated with his own Dawa Party, rather than the one associated with the SIIC, in order to get more Shia to vote for both Dawa and the SIIC.

This is as creative an interpretation as their line that the Iraqi forces were utterly crushed, and Muqtada Sadr was on the brink of wiping them out and making himself Caliph of Mesopotamia... when he suddenly had a change of heart and surrendered instead.

If that makes perfect sense to you, you're probably a liberal.

And now, Maliki and the leaders of the other parties in the Iraqi parliament are taking a bold step to isolate the JAM even further -- by barring any party that maintains a militia from even contesting seats in the Iraqi provincial elections this coming October. From the same Long War Journal piece linked above:

Less than two weeks after Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki launched Operation Knights' Assault to clear the Mahdi Army and other Iranian-backer militias in Basrah, the Iraqi government is moving to ban Muqtada al Sadr's political movement from participating in the election if it fails to disband the militia. Facing near-unanimous opposition, Sadr said he would seek guidance from senior Shia clerics in Najaf and Qom and disband the Mahdi Army if told to do so, according to one aide. But another Sadr aide denied this.

The pressure on Sadr and his Mahdi Army started on Sunday after Maliki announced the plans to pass legislation to prevent political parties with militias from participating in the political process. "The first step will be adding language to a draft election bill banning parties that operate militias from fielding candidates in provincial balloting this fall," Reuters reported on Sunday. "The government intends to send the draft to parliament within days and hopes to win approval within weeks...."

The legislation is said to have broad support from the major Sunni, Kurdish, and Shia political parties, and is expected to quickly pass through parliament.

This leaves the Sadrists in a pickle: If they disband the JAM, then they're just another (minor) political party in the Shiite alliance. But if they don't, they will be nothing but a militia. At that point, Maliki would have even more support for annihilating all trace of the mighty Mahdi Militia from Iraq: They would be the Iranian version of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

But of course, the elite media assure us that Muqtada Sadr won the Battle of Basra, while Prime Minister Maliki was politically ruined.

Yesterday and today, Gen. Petraeus and Amb. Crocker testified on Capitol Hill to various congressional committees. As a glimpse into our political leaders' understanding of such a crucial issue of the Iraq war and how it relates to the larger war against global caliphism, the transcripts of those hearings are illuminating, frightening, and frustrating.

(The transcript for the House Armed Services Committee hearing can be found here; the transcript for Senate Armed Services Committee hearing here; and the transcript for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing here.)

Judging from the Democratic senators’ questions during General David Petraeus’s testimony before Congress this morning, their understanding of the Basra situation is little better than that of the MSM. For that matter, Democratic senators' understanding of Iraq itself, let alone the war, is completely outdated: They imagine it's still 2006, the "civil war" still rages, and a hundred civilians are being slaughtered each day.

But according to Iraq Coalition Casualities, during last month, civilian deaths averaged 27 per day, not 100; but that included the Battle of Basra. February saw only 19 killings per day across the whole country, a drop of more than 80% from the highs of late 2006, before we changed to the counterinsurgency strategy. This stunning turnaround has mostly flown below the Democrats' Iraq-success radar -- which, to be perfectly blunt, is rarely even turned on.

Some of the exchanges are laugh-out-loud funny, such as this between Gen. Petraeus and a certain senator with a "chest full of medals," during the former's testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The good senator was trying to get Petraeus to admit that our continued presence in Iraq was the only reason that Iraqis have not stepped up to the plate; if we simply walked away, that would make everything much better:

SEN. KERRY: But isn't there a contradiction, in a sense, in your overall statement of the strategic imperative? Because you've kept mentioning al Qaeda here today. Al Qaeda -- AQI, as we know it today -- first of all didn't exist in Iraq till we got there. The Shi'a have not been deeply interrupted by AQI. The Kurds --

GEN. PETRAEUS: Oh, sir, they were. They were blown up right and left by AQI. That was the height of the sectarian violence.

SEN. KERRY: I understand that. I absolutely understand that. But it is not a fundamental, pervasive -- I mean, most people that I've talked to, Shi'a, and most of the evidence of what's happened in the Anbar province with the Sunni is that once they decided to turn on al Qaeda and not give them a welcome, they have been able to turn around their own security --

GEN. PETRAEUS: And we helped them, sir.

SEN. KERRY: (Inaudible.)

GEN. PETRAEUS: And we cleared Ramadi, we cleared Fallujah, we cleared the belts of Baghdad --

SEN. KERRY: And every plan I've seen --

GEN. PETRAEUS: -- (inaudible) -- Baqubah and everything else.

SEN. KERRY: Every plan I've seen here in Congress that contemplates a drawdown contemplates leaving enough American forces there to aid in the prosecution of al Qaeda and to continue that kind of effort.

GEN. PETRAEUS: That's exactly right, yes, sir.

SEN. KERRY: But then why doesn't that change the political dynamics that demand more reconciliation, more compromise, accommodation, so we resolve the political stalemate which is at the core of the dilemma?

GEN. PETRAEUS: Sure. No, that's -- sir, that's a great question. One of the key aspects is that they are not represented right now. And that's why provincial elections scheduled for no later than October are so important. The Anbar sheikhs, for example, will tell you "We want these elections," Senator, as they, I'm sure, did, because they didn't vote in January 2005. Huge mistake.

SEN. KERRY: (Inaudible.) [By this point, Kerry appears to be just making small squeaking noises.]

GEN. PETRAEUS: And they know it. They'll do much better this time than they did before. More important, even in Nineveh province, where because they didn't vote you have a different ethnic group, actually, that largely is the head of the provincial council. So again, all of those.

SEN. KERRY: (Inaudible.)

GEN. PETRAEUS: Yes, sir. Thank you.

Here is another exchange, this time with Sen. Barbara "Mrs. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" Boxer (D-CA, 80%): She seizes an extremely important, even urgent issue in her teeth; and like a deranged Pekingese, she won't let it go:

SEN. BOXER: If I could say, I agree with you that there are certain factions there that certainly support Iran. That's part of the problem. But my question is this. Ahmadinejad was the first national leader --

AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Off mike.)

SEN. BOXER: Can you please cool it back there? Ahmadinejad was the first national leader to be given a state reception by Iraq's government. Iraq President Talabani and Ahmadinejad held hands as they inspected a guard of honor while a brass band played brisk British marching tunes. Children presented the Iranian with flowers. Members of Iraq's Cabinet lined up to greet him, some kissing him on both cheeks. So it's not a question about the militias out there. I'm saying, after all we have done, the Iraqi government kisses the Iranian leader! And our president has to sneak into the country. I don't understand it Isn't it true that after all we've done, Iran has gained ground?

AMB. CROCKER: Senator, Iran and Iranian influence in Iraq is obviously an extremely important issue for us, but it's very much, I think, a mixed bag. And what we saw over these last couple of weeks in Baghdad and in Basra, as the prime minister engaged extremist militias that were supported by Iran. is that it revealed not only what Iran is doing in Iraq, but it produced a backlash against them and a rallying of support for the prime minister in being ready to take them on. Iran by no means has it all its own way in Iraq. Iraqis remember with clarity and bitterness the 1980 to '88 Iran-Iraq war.

SEN. BOXER: Yes. Well, that's my point.

AMB. CROCKER: In which --

SEN. BOXER: And now he's getting kissed on the cheek. That's my point.

AMB. CROCKER: And there was a lot of commentary around among Iraqis, including among Shi'a Iraqis, about just that point; what's he doing here after what they did to us during that war? But Iraqi Shi'a died by the tens, by the hundreds of thousands defending their Arab and Iraqi identity and state against a Persian enemy, and that's, again, deeply felt. It means when Iran's hand is exposed in backing these extremist militias that there is backlash, broadly speaking, in the country, including from Iraq's Shi'a. And I think that's important, and I think it's important that the Iraqi government build on it.

SEN. BOXER: I give up. It is what it is. They kissed him on the cheek. I mean, what they say over the dinner table is one thing, but actually kissed him on the cheek. He got a red carpet treatment and we are losing our sons and daughters every single day for the Iraqis to be free. It is irritating is my point.

AMB. CROCKER: Senator, the vice president was in Iraq just a couple of weeks after that, and he also had a very warm reception.

SEN. BIDEN: Did he get kissed?

AMB. CROCKER: I believe -- (laughter) -- he did get kissed.

SEN. BIDEN: I want to know whether he got kissed. That's all. (Laughter.)

Perhaps the general and the ambassador can educate this sad crew of media manipulators in motley; but somehow I doubt it.

Dafydd adds: "The Lord helps those who help themselves." We should begin an urgent project of homeschooling Senate Democrats.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, April 9, 2008, at the time of 7:08 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

April 8, 2008

ABC Newsflash: 100% of US Troops In Iraq Plan to Vote Democratic

Iraq Matters , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

In an ABC News story titled "Surprising Political Endorsements By U.S. Troops," crack reporter Martha Raddatz finds that 80% of all troops interviewed plan to vote for Barack Obama, while 20% plan to vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton Rodham. None at all plans to vote for John McCain.

  • 60% of all the soldiers interviewed said the main reason they supported Obama was that he would bring them, personally, home immediately, regardless of whether the job is finished.
  • That includes 20% whose support for Obama was due to the fact that he would "probably support us a lot more." Raddatz helpfully clarified: By "support," that 20% interviewed meant "pulling out troops."
  • 20% cited Obama's "representation for change." I'm not exactly sure what that means, but clearly Republicans are all lying criminals.
  • By contrast, the remaining 20% of all American troops interviewed supported Hillary Clinton, because "we should have a gradual drawdown."
  • No troops whatsoever supported McCain, or indeed made reference to him. It's doubtful that anyone in the military is aware that the Republican Party still exists. Even those who seemed to support the mission generally were not quoted as having any particular preference for president, oddly enough. One can only surmise that soldiers must look down upon veterans with a strong and particular distaste.

Surprisingly enough, the American military in Iraq totally opposes the war and wants an immediate end to it, no matter what happens, according to ABC:

Though the military is generally a more conservative group, soldiers like Sgt. Justin Sarbaum are just as eager for a pull-out as the Democratic candidates. Sarbaum said he wondered which presidential candidate would be able to better the U.S. relationship with rogue nations, such as Iran, so that soldiers are not sent off to another war.

"Iran is obviously a big issue," Sarbaum said, "Here in Iraq for my third time; starting another war right now -- is it really necessary?"

Although some might think that the survey's sample size -- five soldiers -- is somewhat, er, scant, the overwhelming, Saddam-sized support for a Democrat in the White House in 2008 (100% of all soldiers whose interviews ABC printed) surely makes up for not having interviewed, say, 1200 or 1500 soldiers instead of five.

(And in fact, to be fair to ABC, they did interview six additional soldiers but chose not to print their preferences for president. You can't say ABC didn't go the extra mile.)

Based on the astonishing unanimity of opinion, it's very clear that the Army hates George W. Bush as commander in chief and would much prefer Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. Once again, the elite media has exposed another myth pushed by Christianist conservatives: that soldiers actually want to win the wars they fight. Now that we know they don't care about the mission -- only their personal safety -- I believe the Democrats can and should make a strong case for dissolving the military entirely.

If voters are concerned about so-called "national security," perhaps a bunch of yeoman farmers (equally divided between the sexes and all races, proportionately represented, except for males without color) -- armed with olive branches, trained doves, horns of plenty, and inflatable puppets -- would do a better job "defending" America than a bunch of warmongers in "uniform."

I believe we all owe ABC a debt of "gratitude" (and a couple of Pullet Surprises) for opening our eyes to the "lies" we have swallowed since 1776.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 8, 2008, at the time of 3:22 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

April 2, 2008

Who Won the B. of B., and Who Lost? Hint: Listen to the Military Guys

Good News! , Iraq Matters , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

Power Line asks "the question;" so do the Counterterrorism Blog and Col. Austin Bay. Bill Roggio is too busy answering the question to ask it. The elite media thinks it has the answer, but it's fooling itself (and us), as usual.

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line is skeptical of all sides, as is his wont. Alas, in this case, extreme skepticism leads to terminal agnosticism; but I think we have, at the least, a method we can follow to decide who won: Stop paying attention to the spin and just look at the actual facts on the ground.

Uncle!

Start with this one: In any military engagement, the side that calls for a ceasefire soonest and loudest is almost certainly the losing side. Why would the winner be anxious to terminate a successful operation before it's over?

In the case of Operation Knights' Charge, all sides agree that it was Muqtada Sadr who called for a truce, and he did so repeatedly. Buttressing this position is the fact that Sadr accompanied his call for a ceasefire with a series of imperious demands -- for example, that the Iraqi government must immediately release all imprisoned members of the mighty Mahdi Militia who had not yet been convicted of crimes. Yet despite the concession inherent in that last point, nobody, not even the elite media, claim that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has acquiesced to a single demand... but the Mahdi Militia surrendered Basra anyway.

For example, a fawning, almost sycophantic story yesterday on Time Magazine's website mentions the main demand, but then curiously drops the subject without saying whether Maliki accepted it:

One of Sadr's principal demands when he met with the delegation of Shi'ite political leaders to discuss the new cease-fire was that more of his forces be released under the amnesty law. This was to appease his disgruntled followers whose brothers and uncles are the ones behind bars and who feel they have taken an unfair brunt of the surge while former Sunni insurgents are getting paychecks in the Concerned Local Citizens units. Like any good politician, he has to prove he can deliver the goods to his followers -- even if he has to go to war for it.

And there the piece ends! Does anyone think that if reporter Charles Crain had the slightest bit of evidence that Sadr's demand was met, he wouldn't have shouted it from the rooftops? Especially in a piece titled, in typical unbiased fashion, "How Moqtada al-Sadr Won in Basra."

Location, location, location

Another clear indicator is where each side is when the fighting stops. At the beginning of the Battle of Basra, all sources agree that the Mahdi Militia was virtually in control of the city of Basra -- thanks to the British policy of walking softly and carrying a toothpick. The militia patrolled the streets, they shook down citizens, they paraded openly, they held major rallies in public. They kidnapped and killed people at will; they controlled the airport, the seaport, and the oil fields.

Today, it is the Iraqi Army that patrols the streets of Basra; the militia -- again, all sides agree -- has pulled its fighters from the streets and no longer asserts control of the city. From the International Herald Tribune:

Iraqi troops met no significant resistance as a dozen-vehicle convoy drove Wednesday into the Hayaniyah district of central Basra, scene of fierce clashes last week with al-Sadr's Mahdi Army fighters.

Troops set up checkpoints and searched a few houses before leaving the neighborhood after a couple of hours, witnesses said.

Here is what Bill Roggio says:

While the intensity of operations against the Mahdi Army in Basrah and the South have decreased since Sadr called for his unilateral cease-fire, Iraqi security forces continue to conduct operations. Today the Iraqi Army marched through the Mahdi Army-infested Hayaniyah district in central Basrah. On April 1, the Hillah Special Weapons and Tactics unit captured 20 “smugglers” in Basrah. On March 31, Iraqi Special Operation Forces killed 14 “criminals” during a raid against Mahdi Army forces occupying a school in Basrah.

The Iraqi security forces will continue to clear Basrah, according to the Army. During Sunday’s press briefing, Major General Abdul Aziz said several districts of Basrah were cleared, and these operations would continue. “Our troops managed to clear certain areas in Basra, Najubya, Al Ma’qil, Al Ashshar Wazuber and Garmat Ali and other places as well,” said Aziz. “Starting from today, we will work on clearing the other places from the wanted individuals and criminals and those who are still carrying weapons....”

The Iraqi Army has also moved troops into the ports of Khour al Zubair and Umm Qasr in Basrah province on April 1. The Iraqi troops replaced the facility protection services guards, who are often accused of criminal activities.

Clearly, the Iraqi Army ends the operation (or rather, the major-combat element of it) in a significantly improved position from where they started, while the militia is correspondingly dispossessed. Based on this metric alone, the winner should be clear.

Hip hip, chin chin, to the rhythm section

Another good measure is which side controls the post-combat operational tempo. Here again, there is no dispute, even among those who claim that Sadr won: The Iraqi Army continues its operations, while the militia removes itself from the streets, and it hides. The army continues raiding "safe" houses, arresting wanted militants, securing the area, and sending in reinforcements to hold the territory.

The Potter's Field

The "body count" metric is not always dispositive by itself; but combined with the other measures above, it adds its amicus curiae argument. Hundreds of Mahdi Militia members were killed, hundreds more captured, and hundreds more were wounded. Nobody claiming that Sadr won has even hinted that Iraqi Army casualties were anywhere near that high.

Roggio's latest numbers:

The Mahdi Army has also taken high casualties since the fighting began on March 25. According to an unofficial tally of the open source reporting from the US and Iraqi media and Multinational Forces Iraq, 571 Mahdi Army fighters have been killed, 881 have been wounded, 490 have been captured, and 30 have surrendered over the course of seven days of fighting.

Austin Bay has slightly different numbers (because they are official, so probably err on the side of caution):

A dispute over casualties in the firefights has ensued, as it always does. An Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman alleged that Sadr's militia had been hit hard in six days of fighting, suffering 215 dead, 155 arrested and approximately 600 wounded. The government spokesman gave no casualty figures for Iraqi security forces.

No one, of course, could offer an independent confirmation, but if the numbers are accurate they provide an indirect confirmation of reports that Sadr's Mahdi Militia (Jaish al-Mahdi, hence the acronym JAM) had at least a couple thousand fighters scattered throughout southern Iraq. This is not shocking news, but a reason to launch a limited offensive when opportunity appeared.

Assuming Austin Bay's estimate of 2,000 fighters (before Knights' Charge) in southern Iraq is accurate, that means that Sadr lost at least 18.5% of his force killed or captured, taking the official Iraqi Interior Ministry lowball, and perhaps as much as 53% (!) if Roggio is more accurate. But even a loss of 18% of the southern force and an overall casualty rate of 48% is a staggering blow... particularly to a clandestine organization that will now have a significantly harder time recruiting, since they're no longer seen as being "in charge."

How the elite media tries to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory

So how on earth does anyone argue that Sadr was the victor? Very simply; in each case (yes, even with Andrew Cochran's tendentious editorial on the Counterterrorism Blog), those claiming Sadr won -- or more accurately, those claiming that Maliki lost -- completely ignore the facts on the ground and claim that Maliki suffered a political loss because the Iraqi Army didn't grind Sadr's bones to make their pita bread... and do it in six or seven hours, eight tops.

The fact that Sadr is still sucking air, that he can still give orders and have some portion of the militia listen, and the fact that the intrasectarian struggle ain't over yet -- hey, that's good enough to throw Maliki under the tank treads. Time Magazine:

In the view of many American troops and officers, the Mahdi Army had splintered irretrievably into a collection of independent operators and criminal gangs. Now, however, the conclusion of the conflict in Basra shows that when Sadr speaks, the militia listens.

That apparent authority is in marked contrast to the weakness of Iraq's Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki. He traveled south to Basra with his security ministers to supervise the operation personally. After a few days of intense fighting he extended his previously announced deadline for surrender and offered militants cash in exchange for their weapons. Yet in the cease-fire announcement the militia explicitly reserved the right to hold onto its weapons. And the very fact of the cease-fire flies in the face of Maliki's proclamation that there would be no negotiations. It is Maliki, and not Sadr, who now appears militarily weak and unable to control elements of his own political coalition.

He does? Despite numerous calls by Sunni, Kurdish, and pro-Sadr Shiite elements within Iraq, Maliki not only continued to fight, the army continues its operations against Sadr to this very day. Yet Crain, who seems to have an odd and somewhat disturbing admiration for Muqtada Sadr, insists it was really Sadr who won because when he called on his troops to abandon control of Basra, they listened to him. Such loyalty!

In Cochran's case at the Counterterrorism Blog, the partisan nature is diametrically opposite that of Time, which evidently wishes Sadr (hence Iran) would take control of the entire country. It's clear to me, by contrast, that Cochran is furious that Maliki didn't press the assault until every last Sadr lieutenant, every wanted militant, every member of the militia, every Shia who had ever picked up a gun, and Sadr himself were all dead and dismembered... and the little dog he rode in on, too.

(Killing Sadr would have been a particularly remarkable achievement, since I've seen no evidence that Muqtada Sadr has even returned to Iraq from Iran. Certainly none of the articles I've seen has claimed he's back; when they need a Sadr quotation, they always get it from his spokespeople.)

Despite Time and the Counterterrorism Blog being on opposite sides, they link arms to attack the center in a conspiracy of shared short-term interests. Thus, Cochran agrees with Time that Maliki lost; he believes that Sadr won because he's still sucking air, as if a Monty Pythonesque "I'm not dead yet!" is Sadr's only victory condition:

Based on reports from the area since then, including this morning, I'll conclude that the short-term gains that U.S. forces made are bound to give way to a long-term strategic victory in Iraq for Moqtada al Sadr, the broader Shiite community, and Iran, unless the U.S. redeploys significant numbers of our troops to Shiite strongholds throughout Iraq.

Contradictory signals abound in asymmetric conflicts like the Iraqi offensive. An Iranian general who is a designated terrorist played some significant role in the ceasefire, thus vaildating my prognosis. Sadr's backers in Baghdad are claiming victory today, even as U.S. troops patrol their streets. [Sic; Roggio, et al, say it is the Iraqis patrolling the streets; Cochran offers no evidence that American forces are doing it instead.] The British are now freezing plans to withdraw more troops from that city, signaling a lack of confidence that the Iraqis will secure the area anytime this year. But an admission from a U.S. Army general in Iraq is telling:

"Army Maj. Gen. Kevin Bergner said he welcomes the Iraqi government’s commitment to target criminals in Iraq’s second-largest city but he concedes there are challenges. He said most of the Iraqi troops “performed their mission” but some “were not up to the task” and the Iraqi government is investigating what happened. The government was surprised by ferocious resistance from followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to the offensive. The Iraqi campaign in Basra also faced desertions and mutiny in government ranks before a cease-fire order by al-Sadr on Sunday."

The "admission" by Gen. Bergner has been flashed around the news world by the drive-by media; it's their only take-away from the fight: Some Iraqi "security units" (as AP calls them) "were not up to the task." Left unexplained is whether these security units were army or police (both were involved in the fight), how many were not up to the task, and whether they damaged the operation or just didn't fight as effectively as we hoped. If it's a small number of units, mostly from the National Police, and if they were helpful but not as much as demanded by our very high standards, that's a far cry from the media implication -- that the entire Iraqi Army is worthless.

But the last sentence in the Cochran quote above is hardly a surprise: We have long known that some National Police stations were compromised by Sadrites. The main 30-man unit that defected to Sadr's side, or probably was in Sadr's pocket all along, has been captured and disbanded... which is yet another blow to the Mahdi Militia, which now has one fewer covert platoon in the Iraqi National Police.

Victory through superior winning

Reading through Cochran's biography, it appears he was a career bureaucrat (lawyer, CPA) at the Commerce Department, then senior oversight counsel to the House Committee on Financial Services, where he first appears to have gotten experience with counterterrorism... in particular, tracking terrorist groups by the financial trail of breadcrumbs they dribble behind them. This is an incredibly valuable skill, and I have no doubt he is an expert in all fields financial and in the finances of terrorism.

But I don't see any indication of a military background or strategic experience. Consequently, I prefer to listen to the military guys, like Bill Roggio and Austin Bay, rather than financial guys like Andrew Cochran. Particularly when Cochran's analysis doesn't even mention any of the military facts on the ground.

So to answer Paul Mirengoff's question, I would have to say that the clear winners were Nouri al-Maliki and Iraq. Not a single one of these points is even in dispute:

  • It was Sadr who called for the truce, made the Mahdi Militia's surrender conditional, then surrendered anyway even when the conditions were not met by the Iraqi government;
  • The Iraqi Army now controls the territory formerly controlled by the Mahdi Militia;
  • The army has continued operational tempo, while the militia is in hiding, its leader afraid to show his face in public (in Iraq, at least);
  • The militia suffered a loss of at least 18% of its total southern force with another 30% wounded;
  • The most that critics of the war can say is that Sadr "won" by virtue of not being killed (wherever he is) and because his Mahdi Militia was not utterly annihilated and have not utterly repudiated him.

If readers still wish to be agnostic about victory, well, it's a free country... now.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 2, 2008, at the time of 4:35 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

March 31, 2008

Elites vs. Roggio - the Split Widens

Iraq Matters , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

The elite media, rather than trying to reel in their unsourced and increasingly risible claims of a great patriotic victory by Muqtada Sadr in the battle for Basra and Baghdad, is doubling down. From the Associated Press:

The peace deal between al-Sadr and Iraqi government forces - said to have been brokered in Iran - calmed the violence but left the cleric's Mahdi Army intact and Iraq's U.S.-backed prime minister politically battered and humbled within his own Shiite power base.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had promised to crush the militias that have effectively ruled Basra for nearly three years. The U.S. military launched air strikes in the city to back the Iraqi effort.

But the ferocious response by the Mahdi Army, including rocket fire on the U.S.-controlled Green Zone and attacks throughout the Shiite south, caught the government by surprise and sent officials scrambling for a way out of the crisis.

The confrontation enabled al-Sadr to show that he remains a powerful force capable of challenging the Iraqi government, the Americans and mainstream Shiite parties that have sought for years to marginalize him. And the outcome cast doubt on President Bush's assessment that the Basra battle was "a defining moment" in the history "of a free Iraq."

Bill Roggio's take on the exact, same story from the Long War Journal:

One day after Muqtada al Sadr, the leader of the Mahdi Army, called for his fighters to abandon combat, the fighting in Basrah has come to a near-halt and the Iraqi security forces are patrolling the streets. While Sadr spokesman said the Iraqi government agreed to Sadr's terms for the ceasefire, Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki has said the security forces will continue operations in Basrah in the south. Meanwhile, the Mahdi Army took heavy casualties in Basrah, Nasiriyah, Babil, and Baghdad over the weekend, despite Sadr's call for the end of fighting.

Maliki was clear that operations would continue in the South. "The armed groups who refuse al Sadr's announcement and the pardon we offered will be targets, especially those in possession of heavy weapons," Maliki said, referring to the 10 day amnesty period for militias to turn in heavy and medium weapons. "Security operations in Basra will continue to stop all the terrorist and criminal activities along with the organized gangs targeting people...."

The reasons behind Sadr's call for a cessation in fighting remain unknown, but reports indicate the Mahdi Army was having a difficult time sustaining its operations and has taken heavy casualties. "Whatever gains [the Mahdi Army] has made in the field [in Basrah], they were running short of ammunition, food, and water," an anonymous US military officer serving in South told The Long War Journal. "In short [the Mahdi Army] had no ability to sustain the effort.

TIME's sources in Basrah paint a similar picture. "There has been a large-scale retreat of the Mahdi Army in the oil-rich Iraqi port city because of low morale and because ammunition is low due to the closure of the Iranian border," the magazine reported.

I notice that AP writer Robert H. Reed is aided by three AP writers in Baghdad: Qassim Abdul-Zahra, Bushra Juhi and Sinan Salaheddin. I wonder what part of Baghdad they're from and what are their own positions on the Mahdi Militia... if they come from Sadr City and voted for the Sadr Bloc, what would that tell us about the contribution they may have provided to this AP story?

This is why I reject as nonsense the traditional journalistic claim that their own beliefs and political positions have no bearing on the stories they write; we are all to some extent captive of our own pasts. If the question is who "won" a complex factional struggle between Iranian-backed Shia like Muqtada Sadr and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki -- formerly a protege of Sadr himself, but now backed by the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (even though Maliki is from the Dawa Party) -- then it sure as shootin' does matter whether the observer is a supporter or opponent of Muqtada Sadr. How could it not?

Bill Roggio is completely open about his background and his many embedded deployments. But we know nothing at all about Mr. Reed or his various Iraqi (and one American) collaborators.

It's time for staff writers and especially local stringers in the elite media to start outing themselves, as we bloggers routinely do -- even without benefit of those "multiple layers of editing" that make AP and the New York Times and such so unbiased and nonpartisan.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 31, 2008, at the time of 4:36 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 29, 2008

Elite Media: Never Let Your Right Hand Know What Your Left Hand Is Washing

Iraq Matters , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

A sample platter of silly contradictions and absurdities in the AP's confusticated account of the Battle of Basra... thank goodness for those "multiple layers of editing" that separate the professional media from blogs!

Take me to your leader

British ground troops, who controlled the city until handing it over to the Iraqis last December, also joined the battle for Basra, firing artillery Saturday for the first time in support of Iraqi forces....

The fight for Basra is crucial for al-Maliki, who flew to Basra earlier this week and is staking his credibility on gaining control of Iraq's second-largest city, which has essentially been held by armed groups for nearly three years.

Who was that masked man?

With the Shiite militiamen defiant, a group of police in Sadr City abandoned their posts and handed over their weapons to al-Sadr's local office. Police forces in Baghdad are believed to be heavily influenced or infiltrated by Mahdi militiamen.

"We can't fight our brothers in the Mahdi Army, so we came here to submit our weapons," one policeman said on condition of anonymity for security reasons....

Iraqi police said that earlier in the day a U.S. warplane strafed a house and killed eight civilians, including two women and one child. They spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release the information.

Wait -- does the claim we killed women and children come from the same anonymous Iraqi police who defected to Sadr? Or does AP have rival, unfriendly anonymous sources?

Depends on what the meaning of "civilian" is...

Iraq's Health Ministry, which is close to the Sadrist movement, on Saturday reported at least 75 civilians have been killed and at least 500 others injured in a week of clashes and airstrikes in Sadr City and other eastern Baghdad neighborhoods.

The U.S. military sharply disputes the claims, having said that most of those killed were militia members.

Well actually, Dude, except for those Mahdi Militia members who also happen to be in the Iraqi Army...

'Ere now, what's all this then?

If you're interested in what's really "goin' down" down south in Mesopotamia, try Bill Roggio instead of the Associated Press. Roggio sums up his post thus:

Fighting in Basrah and Baghdad and throughout much of the South continues as Iraqi security forces and Multinational Forces Iraq press the fight against the Mahdi Army and other Iranian-backed terror groups. The Iraqi Army has moved additional forces to Basrah as the US and Iraqi military have conducted significant engagements in Shia areas of Baghdad. The Mahdi Army has taken significant casualties. The US military has denied the Mahdi Army has taken control of checkpoints in Baghdad.

You won't read this in the elite media; it just doesn't fit "the story."

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 29, 2008, at the time of 8:33 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The Missing Piece

Iraq Matters , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

See if you can guess what is missing from this brief news squib about the movie Stop Loss. By "missing," I mean a vital contextual element missing from Nikki Finke's analysis of why Stop Loss and other "Iraq war movies" are doing so badly at the box office:

I'm told #7 Stop-Loss opened to only $1.6 million Friday from just 1,291 plays and should eke out $4+M. Although the drama from MTV Films was the best-reviewed movie opening this weekend, Paramount wasn't expecting much because no Iraq war-themed movie has yet to perform at the box office. "It's not looking good," a studio source told me before the weekend. "No one wants to see Iraq war movies. No matter what we put out there in terms of great cast or trailers, people were completely turned off. It's a function of the marketplace not being ready to address this conflict in a dramatic way because the war itself is something that's unresolved yet. It's a shame because it's a good movie that's just ahead of its time."

Please post a comment that includes a one-sentence observation of what major point Ms. Finke may be missing. (Ignore the poor grammar; she's from the elite media.)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 29, 2008, at the time of 7:11 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

March 28, 2008

Newsflash: NYT Misunderstands Modern Warfare!

Iraq Matters , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

This may be quite a shocking story with the potential to shake the worldview of readers of this blog; if there are children reading over your shoulder, they should be sent to bed without their suppers immediately, before you read another line. (Of course, if your kids read faster than you, perhaps they should send you to bed without din-dins.)

Forwarned is four-horned. I don't want to judge before all the facts are in, but it appears from available evidence that the New York Times has only a dim idea of how we conduct modern warfare. And by "modern," I mean all warfare since the introduction of the airplane. First, the factual content:

American warplanes struck targets in the southern port city of Basra late Thursday, joining for the first time an onslaught by Iraqi security forces intended to oust Shiite militias there, according to British and American military officials.

I realize some of you reading this, those with military experience or an interest in military history, may be nodding heads and saying, "yeah, yeah, so what's your point?" After all, we've been using close air support since the Great War... which coincidentally was the first significant war for the United States after the development of heavier-than-air flying machines in December, 1902. (Europeans had a bit of a jump on us here, as they had more wars.)

First, let's introduce one more fascinating fact into the mix:

The strikes by American warplanes in Basra, one on a militia stronghold and a second on a mortar team that was attacking Iraqi forces, were made at the request of the Iraqi Army, said Maj. Tom Holloway, a spokesman for the British Army in Basra.

Major Holloway said that the Americans conducted the air attack because the Iraqi security forces did not have aircraft capable of making such strikes. American and British forces have been flying surveillance runs over Basra since the latest fighting in the city began this week.

“I think the point here is actually that the Iraqis are capable, they are strong and they have been engaging successfully,” Major Holloway said.

All right; so in Basra, Iraqi forces are calling in airstrikes against stubborn targets of Mahdi Militia. Again, what's the point of this post? Isn't that SOP for modern warfare? Of course... and this brings us to the crux of the Times and its "understanding" of that subject. Read on:

But the airstrikes by coalition forces after a four-day stalemate in Basra suggested that the Iraqi military has not, on its own, been able to rout the militias, despite repeated statements by American and Iraqi officials that its fighting capabilities have vastly improved.

In other words, the Times hears that Iraqi army units routinely call in airstrikes during combat, which are supplied by American helicopters and fixed-wing attack aircraft -- and the Times pronounces that a failure of the Iraqi military. Have I missed something vital here?

Let's rephrase the sentence above. Suppose some reporter heard about an American action in which soldiers on the ground called in an airstrike against an enemy position:

But the airstrikes by the [Air Force] after a four-day stalemate in [Upper Iguana] suggested that the [Army Infantry] has not, on its own, been able to rout the militias, despite repeated statements by [Pentagon] officials that [the Infantry's] fighting capabilities have vastly improved.

Do you see why this statement is absurd? It's not a failure of the Infantry when they call for airstrikes from the Air Force, the Marines, the Navy, or even an Army aviation unit; that's how modern warfare has been conducted for decades. It's what distinguishes a modern army from a pre-modern one... coordination between different branches.

The extremely close operational relationship between ground and air forces, which coordinate so well nowadays that they fight as if they were a single unit, is one of the most significant developments of contemporary warfare. And that is exactly what happened in Basra... except in this case, the operational relationship was forged not just between different branches (infantry and aviation) of the same military, but between different branches of two different militaries, Iraq's and America's.

Far from constituting a failure on the Iraqis' part, this is exactly what "success" looks like: the coordination of all branches of allied militaries to achieve victory over the joint enemy.

But the Times doesn't get it; nobody has ever before suggested, so far as I recall, that every time we supply close air support to Iraqi units, that's a black mark against the latter. In reality, this is precisely the relationship we expect and need to see anent the New Iraqi army:

  1. When violence arises, the Iraqis make the initial response;
  2. They evaluate whether the situation can be handled by police or requires military force;
  3. If they decide upon the latter, they build up their own forces and make contact with the enemy, while we ready ourselves in case they need support;
  4. If the Iraqis decide they need support -- close air support, strategic bombing, aerial surveillance, or satellite intelligence -- and they don't have their own helos, fixed-wing aircraft, bombers, drones, or satellites available (they will probably never have MilSats), then they call on us... but it's the Iraqis who coordinate the attack, not the United States.

When all engagements proceed as the one in Basra has, then we can honestly say we have stood up a modern, effective, and independent Iraqi army. At that point, we can withdraw to well-defended bases in Iraq, whence we can sally forth not just to help keep Iraq free -- but also to fight anywhere in the Middle East where American national security requires our military presence.

That's not failure, "Pinch" Sulzberger; that is the face of victory.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 28, 2008, at the time of 3:55 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

March 27, 2008

Iran's Pawn Squirms Under Knights' Assault

Good News! , Iraq Matters , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

All right, we've got good news and bad news. Which do you want first?

Why am I asking you?

The good news is that Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is proving steadfast at taking the initiative and maintaining operational tempo (like the military-sounding buzz phrases?) against the Iranian puppet Muqtada Sadr's Mahdi Militia, ensconced in Basra, thanks to our British allies, and in the Sadr City slum of Baghdad. Basra is the second-largest city in Iraq and the center of its oil industry, according to Bill Roggio.

The bad news is that the elite news media still doesn't get it.

In the AP story, good and bad news crowd together like fans and hooligans jostling each other at a soccer match:

The Iraqi leader made his pledge to tribal leaders in the Basra area as military operations persisted for a fourth day with stiff resistance.

"We have made up our minds to enter this battle and we will continue until the end. No retreat," al-Maliki said in a speech broadcast on Iraqi state TV.

The events threatened to unravel a Mahdi Army cease-fire and lead to a dramatic escalation in violence after a period of relative calm that had lasted for months.

Let's get to the good stuff first... a line whose significance not even the reporter, Kim Gamel, realizes: "The Iraqi leader made his pledge to tribal leaders in the Basra area..."

What's significant about Maliki's audience is that he is talking to Shiite tribal leaders in Basra... the very people who would have been Sadr's strongest supporters just a year or so before. I highly doubt he would give a speech to his enemies; in Iraq, that's tantamount to suicide (without martyrdom). Thus the logical conclusion is that "salvation councils," by whatever names, are sweeping Shiite Iraq as they did Sunni Iraq, causing the Shia to reject Muqtada Sadr and his Iranian masters just as the Sunni turned on al-Qaeda this year.

Neither in the AP story nor the New York Times version do we find any recognition of this major breakthrough. Nevertheless, it presages a complete defeat of the Shiite insurgents; just as al-Qaeda in Iraq has been driven from pillar to pooch, to the point where they have but a single stronghold left, in Mosul... and in a few months, they will have none.

I anticipate the same fate for Iran's insurgents in Iraq; but the elite media doesn't understand that this is the real lede, not the fact that 5,000 Sadrites paraded around Sadr City with balloons and banners, protesting the crackdown.

Here is a naturally arising example, by the way, of the Argument by Tendentious Redefinition so beloved of the Left:

The demonstrating Sadrists are angry over recent raids and detentions, saying U.S. and Iraqi forces have taken advantage of the August cease-fire to crack down on the movement.

They have accused rival Shiite parties, which control Iraqi security forces, of engineering the arrests to prevent them from mounting an effective campaign after the Iraqi parliament agreed in February to hold provincial elections by the fall.

U.S. commanders have insisted the fight is being led by the Iraqi government and was not against al-Sadr's movement but breakaway factions believed to be funded and trained by Iran, which has denied the allegations.

The word "cease-fire" has two definitions: the order to stop shooting, or a negotiated truce between warring parties. Clearly this putative cease-fire was not the latter sort; neither we nor the Iraqis engaged in any negotiations to craft a truce with the Mahdi Militia.

But if all AP means is that the leader of the militia ordered his people to stop resisting, then what is the problem with "taking advantage" of that partial surrender to go after the holdouts who refuse to lay down their arms? That's a perfectly normal response -- not just here but in the Middle East, as well. Yet the protesters react as if Sadr's declaration of a unilateral cease-fire created a bilateral truce, which the Iraqis have violated.

It seems clear to me that this is the take-away AP pushes: Those dastardly, Bush-backed Iraqis took "advantage" of the trusting Sadrites to violate the cease-fire in a surprise attack!

But of course, a unilateral cease-fire is just that: one-sided. It imposes no moral or ethical obligation on anybody else, so long as a state of hostilities still exists (as clearly it does).

And of course, it's not as if even the Mahdi Militia itself were keeping this so-called "cease-fire." From Bill Roggio's post:

Basrah has seen an uptick in Iranian-backed terror activity since the British withdrew from the city late last year. Political assassinations and intimidation campaigns have been on the rise as the Iranians work to extend their influence in the oil-rich city....

Sadr's Mahdi Army has been formed by Iran's Qods Force along the lines of Lebanese Hezbollah. Imad Mugniyah, the senior Hezbollah military commander who was killed in Syria in February, was among those behind the formation and training of the Mahdi Army. Iran established the Ramazan Corps to run weapons, fighters, and support to the Special Groups, which include significant elements of Sadr's Mahdi Army.

With Sadr himself having, in his own words (per Roggio), "isolat[ed] myself in protest" of his own failure to conquer Iraq, drive out the Americans, and Islamicize the Iraqis, many of his former commanders have left Sadr behind and led their own attacks against the Iraq government and against the Coalition. Maliki had ample reason to go after them hammer and tooth.

Back to the protesters. The Times has more detail on their complaints, since that -- not the successful extension of the counterinsurgency by the Iraq army to Iran's proxies -- is the focus of the story:

In Baghdad, close-packed crowds numbering perhaps 5,000 demonstrated in Sadr City, the focal point of the capital’s protests, taking over the main street, chanting, dancing, holding up banners, and declaring their readiness to continue to oppose the Iraqi Army’s attempt to wrest control of Basra from Mr. Sadr’s Shiite militiamen, a major onslaught that began on Tuesday....

Some of the protesters criticized the United States -- Mr. Sadr considers the Americans occupiers -- but most of their criticism was aimed at Mr. Maliki and Abdul Aziz al-Hakim. Mr. Hakim leads the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, which has emerged as a rival political force to Mr. Sadr’s Mahdi Army and also commands a rival militia, the Badr Organization. [Which, however, has not been attacking anyone lately.]

The protesters criticized what they said was a strengthening alliance between Mr. Hakim’s political group and the Iraqi government to squeeze Mr. Sadr from power. Mr. Maliki’s government depends on support from Mr. Hakim’s party, reducing the need for alliances with the Mahdi Army and making it easier for Mr. Maliki to move against it.

(That shift in support from Muqtada Sadr -- Maliki's original patron -- to Hakim is a direct result of the Mahdi-Militia bloc boycotting the Iraqi parliament for several months last year. Smooth move, Ex-Lax.)

The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on; the Times disgorges the self-description by the protesters themselves, then makes no further comment. My sense is that they side (as usual) with the protesters but are cagey enough to realize that wouldn't go down well with most Americans; so they stand, silent and smug.

But let's ask ourselves: Don't we want "the Iraqi government to squeeze Mr. Sadr from power?" Isn't this the answer to exactly what war critics have decried, that radical Shia would turn Iraq into a theocracy? The Iraq army's Operation Knights' Assault, which (per Roggio) follows a troop buildup that began last August, is precisely aimed at the Iran-backed theocrats in the Mahdi Militia; what more could the Left ask for?

Oh, I forgot; they're only against theocracy and sharia where its allied with America, such as the UAE... where they're the wrong kind of theocrats. When theocracy is anti-American, as in Iran, then the Times is all for it.

Everything the protesters say should make a real American more supportive of Iraq, Maliki, and Operation Knights' Assault; yet by their refusal to take sides between Iran-controlled terrorists and ordinary Iraqis who just want to live their lives, the elite media in fact side with the Sadrites.

Finally, although they're forced to admit it's going fairly well so far, the media wants to assure us that it will all end in tears and defeat. Again from the Times:

American officials have presented the attempts by the Iraqi Army to secure Basra as an example of its ability to carry out a major operation on its own. But a failure there would be a serious embarrassment for the Iraqi government and for the army, as well as for American forces eager to demonstrate that the Iraqi units they have trained can fight effectively on their own.

During a briefing in Baghdad on Wednesday, a British military official said that of the nearly 30,000 Iraqi security forces involved in the assault, almost 16,000 were Basra police forces, which have long been suspected of being infiltrated by the same militias the assault was intended to root out.

I'm not sure I can take seriously such denigration coming from an official of our allies... who sadly failed in their task in Basra, even while we were succeeding in the rest of Iraq. Rather than switch to a counterinsurgency strategy and finish the job, as soon as Tony Blair passed the torch to Gordon Brown, the new prime minister pulled all the British troops back to the Basra airport. From the Guardian in September 2007:

The Iraqi flag flew over Basra Palace today as British troops completed their withdrawal from the city in a move Gordon Brown said was "pre-planned and organised" and not a defeat.

The removal of 550 British troops to the city's airport leaves Basra largely under the control of Iranian-backed Shia militias.

The move came as the US president, George Bush, made a surprise visit to Iraq in an attempt to win support from an increasingly sceptical US public for his "surge" of troops....

The 550 soldiers began handing over control of the palace, the last British stronghold in downtown Basra, to the Iraqi army shortly before 1am local time (2200 BST yesterday), the army said. They then joined the 5,000 other British troops based at an airfield 13 miles away on the fringes of the port city.

And now Basra has become the last redoubt of the mighty Mahdi Militia... and some British bloke sniffs that the operation to clean up the mess the Brits left won't work, because the Basra police are fatally compromised. Thanks, mate.

The hidden assumption is that all members of the Mahdi Militia are true believers who actually declare Muqtada Sadr to be the Mahdi Himself. But as we all know (or ought), a hallmark of powerful political movements is that they force everyone to join the party, literally.

Oskar Schindler likely joined the Nazi Party because it was the only way to do business in Nazi Germany. He obviously had no serious objections to Adolf Hitler -- at first; but by the same token, he was no Horst Wessel either.

The same is likely true for many Shia in Basra or Sadr City who "joined" the militias (Mahdi Militia or the Badr Brigades -- now the Badr Organization). There is no doubt that many members are fanatical fighters; but in addition, a great many are "fair-weather" members. The significance is that the latter can be turned.

Erstwhile "members" of AQI, tribal leaders who supported Musab Zarqawi in 2006, turned against the terrorist leader and against al-Qaeda in general in 2008, once they had a lingering, dyspeptic taste of the caliphate. So too can many "members" of the Mahdi Militia who have "infiltrated" the Basra police forces (alternatively, people who want jobs as policemen in Basra who discover that one of the de facto job requirements is to swear fealty to Muqtada Sadr) will turn, once they see that the federal government really is a government for all Iraqis, as Maliki and George W. Bush have been saying... and not under the leash of the Americans, as Sadr has said (from under the leash of Iran).

That is what counterinsurgency is all about; and that's what our eternal friends the Brits should have been doing in 2007 and 2008, instead of fleeing to the airport and prematurely handing over the province to "the Iraqis," without first inquiring exactly which Iraqis were reaching for it.

But better late than not at all. Let Operation Knights' Assault continue and the good news roll!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 27, 2008, at the time of 6:11 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

March 15, 2008

Persistence of (the) Vision and the Crisis-Myths of the Fascist Left

Iraq Matters , Liberal Lunacy , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

I am always amazed by the curious immunity the Left has to truth, no matter how well established, if it doesn't fit what Thomas Sowell calls "the vision of the anointed." A factoid that seems to fit the preexisting story persists forever, regardless of how often debunked... just as creationists cite the same "failures" of evolutionary theory over and over, without regard to lengthy -- sometimes even book-length -- debunking:

  • The "stupidity and illiteracy" of George W. Bush (and Ronald W. Reagan), 1999-2008 (1979-2008);
  • The Mohammed al-Dura "murder by Israelis" in 2000;
  • The Bush "suppression" of the black vote in Florida in the 2000 election;
  • The Florida vote in 2000 that Al Gore would have won if "all the votes" were counted;
  • The "specific warning" from the CIA before the 9/11 attacks of 2001;
  • Our Afghan allies who "deliberately allowed bin Laden to escape" from Tora Bora in 2001;
  • The "Jenin massacre" of 2002;
  • The Bush administration "lying us into war" in 2003;
  • The Iraqi "wedding party" massacre in 2004;
  • Police Captain Jamil "Lt. Kyje" Hussein, 2004-2006;
  • "Murders" in the Superdome during Hurricane Katrina in 2005;
  • The "Iraqi civil war" of 2006-2007;

But one has persisted above all others: The ludicrous Johns Hopkins "survey" that found more than 600,000 Iraqi civilians had been killed by the Iraq war. It persists to this day, despite repeated, highly credible debunkings by everyone from statisticians to the military to the Associated Press to the Iraqi government itself. And here it bubbles up again from AP -- an unquestioned bit of lore that has become part of the Left's Iraq-war catechism:

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, 3,987 American soldiers and at least 128 journalists have died in Iraq since the U.S.-led war began. But to me, they were all just numbers until last year.

The best estimate actually available is on a website called Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, which is updated from all reports filed by the international and American elite media, the United States and coalition militaries, and by the Iraq government. As of March 13th, they estimate total Iraqi civilian deaths to be 40,765 plus some unknown number killed before 2005; but civilian casualties were low in the early days of the war (prior to the destruction of the al Askiriya "Golden Dome" mosque in Samarra in 2006).

Thus, the best evidence that comes from actually counting bodies finds only 7% of the original "estimate" from Johns Hopkins, and only 4.7% of their later, upgraded guess of more than a million deaths. But the myth persists and probably will continue to be misreported as fact a hundred years from now, when government-mandated history books will use it to teach the "history" of our imperialist, oil-stealing warmongering in Iraq.

The myth of the 600,000 (or one million) dead Iraqis is successful precisely because it feeds into the general "crisis-myth" of the Left: That America is being led to economic and political disaster (recession, tyranny, loss of rights) by a ruinous war started by the Capitalists to steal Iraq's oil and make billions of dollars for their fat-cat cronies. But really, all the myths above tend to the same overarching story... the imperialist warmongering and crimes against humanity of America and Israel, and the concommitent victimhood of the Left and the ummah.

Before fascism can really take hold, the fascists must discover (or create) an enduring myth of a great crisis that will serve to unify the country under the banner of national socialism; for the Nazis, the myths they finally settled upon were the perfidy of the Jewish "race" (of course) -- and the "martyrdom" of Horst Wessel, a National Socialist street fighter who was killed by a Communist (perhaps even a Jewish Communist!) in 1930.

The triple-crisis comprised the clinging vestiges of Capitalism (which had brought Germany to the disasterous Great War and the Treaty of Versailles, the Nazis preached), the rise of Communism (which threatened to erase national boundaries and put Russians and Slavs above Aryan Germans), and naturally, the mindless genius of the Jews -- who, despite being inferior to Aryans in every way (physically, intellectually, and morally), had managed to foil the rightful ambitions of the master race again and again. Against all three crises stood the bulwark of the Nazi Party.

Wessel came originally from the radical monarchist German National People's Party, but he left them and joined the Nazi Party (and its militant core, the SA "stormtroopers") in 1926. He was an amateur poet as well as a brownshirt, and his poem "Die Fahne hoch" ("Raise the Flag High") became the official Nazi anthem, which today we call the Horst Wessel song.

Although Wessel was a minor player of little account during his lifetime, after he was slain, Josef Goebbels seized upon the "martyr" and turned him into the great, unifying myth-figure of the Nazi movement, according to Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism. Calling him the "Socialist Christ," Goebbels churned out hundreds of thousands of words of "hagiography" about Wessel and his heroic combat against Capitalists, Communists, and Jews.

The fascist crisis-myth is vital to the movement, whether in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s or America in the 21st century, because of its ability to unify the people (Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer!), to crush dissent (stop the mouths of seditionists!), and to rally die Volk behind a leader who will make quick decisions to save them (no time for democracy in such an emergency!).

Fascism's great goal is always the complete unity of the people, the land, and the leader. In practice, of course, eine Reich must become Lebensraum: Socialist states are by nature contraeconomic and can only survive by relentless expansion and conquest; when they run out of land to conquer, they collapse under the bloat of their own unworkable economic policies... as the Soviet Union did in 1991.

They are also by nature totalitarian; and the first step in seizing power is generally to take control of the nation's news sources. By controlling the newspapers and airwaves, they get to write the mythic "first draft of history" without pesky debate or dispute from the peanut gallery. Hence the continued rush of modern American liberals into journalism for the entire twentieth century and what we've experienced of the twenty-first... as well as into other information-hoarding and -controlling fields, such as publishing, teaching, the law, the federal and state bureaucracies, and Hollywood.

This has given the Left command of news and opinion (propaganda mongering), popular novels and histories, children's education and indoctrination, legal interpretation and regulatory regimes, and the great American mass-art forms, television and the movies. Thus they hope to control the totality of information that passes before the eyes, ears, and ultimately the minds of the American people:

"Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."
-- "George Orwell" (Eric Blair), Nineteen Eighty-Four

The American fascist moment came (and went) in the teens, under President Woodrow Wilson; it came and went again in the 1930s and 40s, under Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It came and went a third time in the 1960s and 70s, with the rise of the fascist New Left and the riots, takeovers, demands, and murders of the SDS and Weathermen, NOW, the Black Panthers, the gay-rights movement, and finally the Symbionese Liberation Army. The Left lives eternally with the audacity of hope that a facist utopia is just around the corner.

The unifying crisis-myth of the first fascist moment was the purification of morals by Prohibition, of the national soul by the Great War, and of the white race by "scientific eugenics." This was summed up by Woodrow Wilson's slogan "100% Americanism," and resulted in mass arrest of "seditionists," press censorship, and rule by presidential decree and executive committee.

The unifying myth of the second fascist moment was first the Great Depression that was "caused by Laissez-Faire Capitalism;" and later by the war against the Nazis and their Japanese allies. These crises resulted in the New Deal, which again allowed the president to bypass all normal democratic channels in the rush to remake the entire country according to a "progressive" (fascist) model -- complete with yet another scapegoat race. (First the Jews, then the blacks, now the Japanese; it's not coincidental that FDR was Wilson's Assistant Secretary of the Navy.)

And the unifying myths of the third American fascist moment were:

  • Consciousness raising via psychedelic drugs, music, street theater, puppets, teach-ins, and protests to produce the new, psychedelicized, socialist man;
  • The rise of feminism against patriarchial oppression;
  • The rise of Black Power against the institutionalized racism of "the system;"
  • The rise of countless other protest movements (parodied by Allan Sherman's "the 'Let's All Call Up AT&T and Protest to the President' March," decrying "all-digit dialing" of telephone numbers). The real, underlying purpose of all these "movements" was to level the entire American establishment ("the Man"), so a radical, Stalinist society could be installed in its place. (Hillary Clinton, the man who would be queen, was deeply enmeshed in this radical movement.)

This "consciousness raising" resulted in the entire panoply of Great Society programs: the civil rights movement, the "war on poverty," the Department of Education, the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Medicare and Medicaid, the National Endowment for the Arts and for the Humanities, and modern radical environmentalism (the Endangered Species Act, the Clear Air, Water Quality and Clean Water Restoration Acts, and so forth). All had the same purpose: the complete nationalization of American life and the end of Federalism.

The last fascist moment was not as successful or totalitarian as the first two, to a large extent because the unifying myths didn't really unify. There was never any national front; the radicals forgot about what the Nazis called the "forgotten man," or what Richard Nixon dubbed at the time the "silent majority."

Thus, the radicals were undercut by "reformers," more moderate in ideology but no less obsessed with power, including the national leader, President Lyndon Baines Johnson. The radical leftists turned on Johnson (and against the Vietnam War, where we clearly were on "the wrong side," they -- including John Kerry -- decided) even during his presidency -- "Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?" -- forcing him to withdraw from his reelection campaign in 1968. To this day, leftists hate and despise Johnson.

So far, we have not reached any fascist moment today; the forces of liberal fascism -- many of them youths, as the usual pattern has it, but also quite a few aging hippies, Yippies, and other moldy, 60s leftovers -- have been singularly unsuccessful in their quest for a unifying myth... but as we see, it's certainly not for lack of trying.

The problem is still, as it was four decades ago, that the crisis-myths the radicals put forward (see the top of this post) exclude ordinary people; they still have not learned the lesson that you cannot foment a fascist revolution by appealing only to the fringes. Populism, a necessary element of fascism, only works when one appeals to the center of the population.

The radical revolutionary also cannot attack the military itself; he must co-opt it. In the end, all civilian society must be militarized; thus the successful radical must champion and extol martial virtues, such as courage, sacrifice, obedience, and dehumanization of the enemy. Jingoistic chants of "question authority" (or more strongly, "f--- authority") actually undermine the stated goal of revolutionary transformation: The very system the Left wants to impose on the American people is even more authoritarian than what we have now; and the same slogans they sling with such wild abandon are sent stampeding, like Hannibal's elephants, back through the ranks of the attackers.

To produce another fascist moment, the Left will have to abandon its anti-authoritarian rhetoric and refocus on pure, unabashed, and unstinting populism, where the masses have the "right" to whatever material possessions they think will make them happy... money, cars, consumer electronics, food, drugs, free health care, and free sex; but they must combine this with a censorious control of all aspects of Americans' lives, from drinking alcohol to smoking cigarettes to driving recreational vehicles to (naturally) what they can read, watch, or listen to. You have a right to satisfaction of all your material needs -- but only as we specify.

And they will need an all-purpose scapegoat; that is just as essential as populism -- someone to blame for the inevitable crises intentionally provoked and created by the leader.

We're just beginning to see exactly that progression in the alliance of the New Left and the Global Caliphists, which really began with the 1979 Islamist revolution in Iran; say what you will about Wahhabis, Salafis, and Khomeiniites... they know how to unify a people through mass-media propaganda, and they know how to fight. The Left can learn a lot from their new mentors; the rise of extreme antisemitism among American and especially European "Progressives" indicates they've become good students.

Keep your eyes on the liberal crisis-myths. The time to worry is when they start to "make sense" to regular Americans; that is when they become truly dangerous.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 15, 2008, at the time of 6:35 PM | Comments (24) | TrackBack

February 24, 2008

No "There" Here, There, or Anywhere

Media Madness , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Close scrutiny of a lengthy article in today's Washington Post about John McCain's nefarious dealings with an admitted lobbyist reveals -- that absolutely nothing happened.

Here is the core of the article:

The McCain campaign said Thursday that the senator had not met with Paxson or Iseman on the matter. "No representative of Paxson or Alcalde and Fay personally asked Senator McCain to send a letter to the FCC regarding this proceeding," the campaign said in a statement.

But Paxson said yesterday, "I remember going there to meet with him." He recalled that he told McCain: "You're head of the Commerce Committee. The FCC is not doing its job. I would love for you to write a letter."

All right: McCain doesn't remember a personal meeting, Paxson does; neither has documentation that would prove one way or another whose memory is better. But who cares? What is the point? The point is McCain's communication with the FCC... and on that, everyone is in agreement:

On Nov. 17, McCain sent a letter to FCC Chairman William E. Kennard saying, "I write today to express my concern about the Commission's continuing failure to act" on the three-station deal involving Paxson....

The second letter was sent to other members of the FCC after McCain had not received a reply from Kennard.

"The sole purpose of this request is to secure final action on a matter that has now been pending over two years," McCain wrote. "I emphasize that my purpose is not to suggest in any way how you should vote -- merely that you vote...."

After the letters became public in 2000, they were widely criticized. Kennard's predecessor, however, defended McCain, saying he did not find the letters objectionable. A subsequent review by the FCC General Counsel's Office determined that McCain had violated the commission's ex parte rules, though the breach was deemed inadvertent.

Five days after McCain's second letter, the FCC voted 3 to 2 to approve the deal. The commission also imposed a condition prohibiting Cornerstone from "proselytizing." Cornerstone would not agree to those terms, and the deal collapsed.

And that's it! That's all John McCain stands accused of: lighting a fire under a foot-dragging federal agency. FCC Chairman William Kennard, appointed by Bill Clinton in 1997, thought it was improper for McCain to tell him he was incompetent and to get his posterior in gear; but there is not even agreement among FCC chairmen appointed by Bill Clinton... as Kennard's predecessor, Reed Hundt (1993-1997), saw nothing wrong or improper about it.

There's a fancy term for a representative or senator prodding a federal agency to fish or get off the pot, to stop dawdling and do its job, to make a decision one way or another instead of endlessly dithering and doing nothing: We call it "constituent services," and it's a vital function of the legislative branch -- which has, after all, oversight over federal agencies.

I think I've told you before that when Sachi was trying to become a citizen, the INS threw one roadblock after another in her way. At the end, she had satisfied every requirement (some of them more than once, as INS would, e.g., delay responding to her for eight months -- then tell her that her fingerprints had "expired" and had to be retaken). All she needed was the ceremony where they would swear her in... but they refused to set a date! They just wouldn't respond; and Sachi knew that if they delayed long enough, she might have to start the process all over again.

So we contacted our then-representative, and he contacted the INS and yelled at them. They finally bestirred themselves and gave Sachi a swearing-in date.

What is the difference between that service and the one McCain performed for Lowell "Bud" Paxson?

"But Paxson gave McCain money!" So what? We had contributed to our congressman's reelection.

"But Paxson flew McCain around in his corporate jet!" That was perfectly legal at the time (1999); it has since been banned, but there is no ethical requirement that a senator anticipate future decisions of the Senate to change its procedures.

"But McCain interfered with the functioning of the Federal Communications Commission!" Right -- and they bloody well needed interfering with, if they were going to leave a company dangling for thirty months, while the FCC decided whether leftist activists in Pittsburgh could derail a business deal because of their own anti-religious bigotry:

The transaction called for the Christian broadcaster Cornerstone TeleVision of Wall, Pa., to take over the noncommercial license of WQEX, the sister station to public broadcaster WQED. Cornerstone would then sell its commercial license to Paxson for $35 million. The money would be split between Cornerstone and WQED, which was operating in the red.

The proposed station swap was highly contentious in Pittsburgh and involved a multi-pronged lobbying effort by the parties to the deal. Local activists and some community leaders had objected to one of their public TV stations being turned over to a religious channel.

The public opposition caused a long delay at the FCC, and by late 1999, it had been 30 months since the deal was offered for FCC approval. "What you had was the FCC normally taking a year to approve the transfer of stations, but they took two years," Paxson said. [Actually, the FCC took two and a half years, to be precise; and they would have taken another two and a half years, had McCain not kicked them in the glutes.]

And this is the absolute worst that the New York Times and the Washington Post, not to mention AP and a raft of lesser "elite" media sources, can find to smear John McCain; this is the big scandal that is supposed to sink his campaign.

(Oh, I forgot one other "McCain" scandal: According to many news sources, John McCain (R-AZ, 65%) actually represents the same state as some other guy, Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ, 84%), who was just indicted; even worse, the Republican representative from Arizona volunteered for the presidential campaign of the Republican senator from Arizona.

(Of course, Renzi didn't engage in any land-swapping deals with McCain -- as did a certain other senator running for president with his longtime pal and fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko, now under indictment for political corruption; but that, as Democrats are wont to say, is totally different.)

This McCain "scandal" -- he wrote a couple of letters to the FCC telling them to get on the hump and make a decision, but pointedly told them he didn't care what the decision was -- is so limp that I'm amazed the drive-by media isn't embarassed to flog it. But flog it they are, and flog it they shall, swallowing their humiliation in the desperate hope against hope that they can portray McCain as corrupt... which is about the only chance they have to defeat him and put Barack Obama in la Casa Blanca.

It's so sad, the depths to which the fourth estate has sunk. Why doesn't the Washington Post just end the suspense -- and reorganize itself as a 527?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 24, 2008, at the time of 2:30 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

February 21, 2008

Associated Press, Like Others, Retails Malicious Rumor as "Reporting"

Media Madness , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Don't you just love this headline? Cindy McCain, Like Others, Stands by Man

Hm... now what might this imply via subtext? Oh, let's read a little further:

She and her husband, likely Republican presidential nominee John McCain, emphatically denied suggestions in published reports that he had an affair with a lobbyist.

A coterie of wives has confronted the public pain of such an accusation. Smaller still is the band who, like Cindy McCain, have spoken out.

Now, bear in mind that this AP article arises in response to a sleazy New York Times article from earlier today -- which implied but did not openly claim that John McCain had some sort of affair with a 40-something lobbyist... eight years ago. There is a reason that the Times was so circumspect: Not a single person has stepped forward to say such an affair occurred. Nobody.

Here is how the Times put it:

A female lobbyist had been turning up with him at fund-raisers, visiting his offices and accompanying him on a client’s corporate jet. Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself -- instructing staff members to block the woman’s access, privately warning her away and repeatedly confronting him, several people involved in the campaign said on the condition of anonymity.

When news organizations reported that Mr. McCain had written letters to government regulators on behalf of the lobbyist’s client, the former campaign associates said, some aides feared for a time that attention would fall on her involvement.

Mr. McCain, 71, and the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, 40, both say they never had a romantic relationship. But to his advisers, even the appearance of a close bond with a lobbyist whose clients often had business before the Senate committee Mr. McCain led threatened the story of redemption and rectitude that defined his political identity.

Understand? Not only has nobody come to the Times and said "they were having an affair." Even the people who did talk to them don't claim to have known that; they were simply worried that others -- read "the elite media" -- might leap to that conclusion.

Yet somehow, this non-allegation allegation has metastasized into "suggestions in published reports that he had an affair with a lobbyist," as AP put it. (Like those "suggestions in published reports" that John McCain fathered a "black child.")

And now we see the insidious nature and tactics of rumor-mongering... because AP goes explicit, just in case you missed the connection (they know their core audience, and they know they have to be spoonfed the slimy inuendo):

Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former first lady who is battling Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination, memorably insisted to CBS's "60 Minutes" during the 1992 campaign, "I'm not sitting here, some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette." She sat beside husband Bill.

And there was her cool demeanor, six years later, at the news conference where her husband declared of Monica Lewinsky: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman."

Mrs. Clinton made this barbed observation to the journalists who were present, "I'm pleased to see so many people in attendance who care about child care," a reference to the reason the news conference had been arranged.

You see? So Cindy McCain is standing by her man and insisting that he didn't have the affair, just as Hillary Clinton did with Bill Clinton. But of course, when Hillary did so, she was either lying herself -- or she let her husband make a fool of her.

Can anybody guess what the subtextual implication of this is, anent the McCains?

Think it was just a coincidence? How about this paragraph:

On Thursday, Cindy McCain struck a balance between strident and shocked as she calmly helped her husband confront the allegations. She was no Hillary Clinton, but neither was she silent, like the wives of New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey and Idaho Sen. Larry Craig. The first announced he was gay, the second said he was not.

Hillary Clinton's husband really was having multiple affairs in the White House. Dina Matos McGreevey's husband really was having an affair with a male aide. Suzanne Craig's husband really did pled guilty to making homosexual advances to an undercover police officer in a public toilet. Cindy McCain's husband...

Just in case the connection hadn't been hammered home enough... the AP story goes on to compare Cindy McCain to the wives of Louisiana Rep. David Vitter, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, and Sen. Gary Hart... all of whom have admitted -- or been caught red-handed in -- their extramarital sexual affairs.

This inuendo is simply loathsome. Here is the chain of "reasoning" so far in this "news" story:

  1. Some former McCain staffers -- anonymous, of course (doesn't any source give his name anymore?) -- were worried that McCain's friendship with Vicki Iseman might possibly be improper, though they had no evidence that it was;
  2. Others were worried that gutter-minded journalists might leap to the conclusion that it was improper, especially if McCain were nominated;
  3. Therefore, they discouraged her from hanging around McCain;
  4. The Times decided it was urgent to bring this before the American people, so that McCain would have to answer for his transgressions -- real or confabulated;
  5. This gave AP cover to openly compare McCain's wife to the wives of numerous politicians who were openly accused of sexual impropriety by the other women/men involved... and who subsequently admitted their sins;
  6. Therefore, we are to conclude, John McCain must be equally guilty.

Well! Who could argue with that?

Then, like any successful used-car salesman, the writer (Libby Quaid, whoever he or she is) "closes the deal" in the final paragraph:

"The allegation of infidelity is still a powerful allegation, and it remains powerful because it's about trust and responsibility, the idea that if you're cheating on your spouse, what can we expect of you in the presidency," he said. ["He" = Stanley Renshon, "political psychologist" -- huh? -- at CUNY.]

Get the point, you Bible-thumping, woman-hating, judgmental Evangelical Christians who have been threatening to sit out the election? John McCain is just like womanizer Bill Clinton, party-boy Gary Hart, and gay Gov. Jim McGreevy! So go ahead and sit home in a snit on November 4th... you don't want to put some atheist sex maniac like him in the White House, do you?

Great leaping horny toads. At least the Weekly World News has faux photographs of the space aliens who are taking over the world. AP doesn't even bother with that level of substantiation! What next... will they hint that Cindy McCain had thespian encounters at USC, and that McCain himself has been caught masticating in public?

As Mark Twain put it (with a slight lizardian edit) in Life on the Mississippi...

There is something fascinating about [yellow journalism]. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 21, 2008, at the time of 4:50 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 28, 2008

Romney Not Buying Election As We Predicted... What's Wrong With Him?

Media Madness , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Another bizarre spurt of media madness. Let's just start with the headline:

Despite Wealth, Romney Keeps Fundraising

Hunh? What the heck is this supposed to mean?

Mitt Romney's millions aren't limitless, nor is his willingness to spend them, so the Republican presidential contender has begun taking valuable time from his primary campaign to raise money from outsiders.

Once in Massachusetts the day after the New Hampshire primary, three times here in Florida this weekend and three more times this coming week in California, Romney has scheduled fundraisers to underwrite the expense of his campaign.

Really? You could've knocked me over with a sledge hammer, pally.

This makes no sense at all. Has there ever been a presidential candidate in the modern era who totally self-financed his campaign? Even H. Ross Perot held fundraisers (and so will Michael Bloomberg, if he runs... despite the fact that he would be the richest man who ever ran, at a net worth estimated by Forbes as $5.5 billion in 2007).

That a man worth a scant $150 million - $250 million would choose to raise funds for a White-House run, rather than simply firing off personal checks for everything, could only befuddle a complete political ignoramus. In fact, if the authors read their own story, they would realize how absurd is this idea:

Through Sept. 30, the date for the most recent federal campaign finance reports, Romney led the Republican field with $63 million in contributions. [That includes about $17 million of his own money.]

That's through September 30th, 2007. Had he simply written a check for that much to his campaign, he would have reduced his personal net by at least a quarter and as much as a third. That's not even counting Q4 of 2007, not to mention whatever he would have to spend in 2008.

Back in 2004, President Bush -- the incumbent -- raised $259 million for the primaries alone; after accepting the nomination, he then shifted to public financing (as nominee John Kerry had done a month earlier, after raising $233.5 million for primary season).

Even if Romney bankrupted himself, he wouldn't have anywhere near as much as Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama will have spent by the convention next year. And why should Mitt Romney spend his last dime, when he's so good at raising money from contributers who are desperate to give him money to defeat the Democratic nominee? (Folks are also donating millions of dollars to Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, and even John McCain, Mr. Death to Campaign Contributions himself.)

Given that none of the candidates intends (at this point) to take public matching funds in the general election either (because they come with spending limitations attached), Romney (or any of them) would necessarily have to raise an additional $150 million or so in addition to the $250-$300 million raised for the primaries. It should be obvious to any fool that he cannot self-finance his entire campaign. (Bloomberg could, but he won't; the fundraising acts as a alternative measure of support besides polling.)

AP appears shocked, shocked to discover that Romney isn't simply whipping out his checkbook and buying the election; but that only means that the Associated Press envision Republicans, especially successful businessman Mitt Romney, sort of like the little guy in the Monopoly game: A passel of Phineas Jehosephat Bigbucks with bottomless wallets, lighting cigars with $100 bills... "A hundred million here, a hundred million there; what's money for, if not to spend?"

Amazingly enough, Romney has no plans to leave himself a pauper in his quest for the White House; and neither do the Clintons, the Obamas, the McCains, or the Bloombergs. Fundraising among individual donors is one of the finest examples of participatory democracy: Donating money is a way of exercising our right of freedom of speech. Or didn't AP know that?

Perhaps they've been spending too much time on the Straight-Talk Express.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 28, 2008, at the time of 4:48 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 24, 2008

Romney's Turn at the Times: Everybody Hates Him!

Media Madness , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

The New York Times has been working its way through attacking every single competitor to John McCain, their favored GOP candidate; and they've gotten to the Rs now: It's Romney time!

Beginning with the subtle headline -- "Romney Leads in Ill Will Among G.O.P. Candidates" -- They segue into the New Left's media specialty... the content-free hit piece:

With so much attention recently on the sniping between Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama on the Democratic side, the almost visceral scorn directed at Mr. Romney by his rivals has been overshadowed.

“Never get into a wrestling match with a pig,” Senator John McCain said in New Hampshire this month after reporters asked him about Mr. Romney. “You both get dirty, and the pig likes it.”

Mike Huckabee’s pugilistic campaign chairman, Ed Rollins, appeared to stop just short of threatening Mr. Romney with physical violence at one point.

“What I have to do is make sure that my anger with a guy like Romney, whose teeth I want to knock out, doesn’t get in the way of my thought process,” Mr. Rollins said.

The Times takes the putative hatred of Mitt Romney so much for granted, all that remains is explaining why. Here's the explanation by the Straight-Talk Express:

“He doesn’t play by the same rules the rest of us do,” said Charlie Black, a senior McCain strategist.

The Times continues, telling us that the McCainiacs were "positively gleeful" when they watched the tape of the aggressively belligerent AP "reporter," Glen Johnson, who started shouting at and arguing with Mitt Romney during a recent press conference. Johnson -- the AP employee assigned to follow Mitt Romney from town to town and belittle him at every turn -- was defending McCain from Romney's scrurrilous charge that McCain's campaign was run by lobbyists... a task made more difficult by the fact that it's absolutely accurate: McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, is, in fact, a former lobbyist.

(Frankly, I doubt the hell out of the Times' claim that McCain's people were "gleeful," considering how badly their surrogate, Glen Johnson, did in that exchange, which we covered here.)

Rather, I buy the explanation by this independent observer for any so-called animosity between the other candidates and Mitt Romney:

Mr. Schnur used a schoolyard analogy to compare Mr. Romney, the ever-proper Harvard Law School and Business School graduate, to Mr. McCain, the gregarious rebel who racked up demerits and friends at the Naval Academy.

“John McCain and his friends used to beat up Mitt Romney at recess,” Mr. Schnur said.

(Dan Schnur is a Republican strategist who has worked with John McCain in the past but is not connected to any campaign right now. He has doubtless seen McCain's mindless rages before.)

McCain, a notorious hellraiser, foul-mouthed and given to extraordinary temper tantrums, grudge-holding and vindictive, probably does resent Mitt Romney... who doubtless reminds McCain of the serious-minded, brown-nosing midshipmen who get stuffed into lockers at Annapolis. It's entirely possible that McCain, Mike Huckabee, and the ever-pugnacious Rudy Giuliani are befuddled and infuriated that one of those kids made it big in the financial world, becoming far more successful than the three of them combined -- bank accounts, pocket-change, Sunday clothing, blood chemicals, and all.

So who's next? Perhaps Mike Huckabee, having served his purpose in knocking down Romney (McCain's rival) in Iowa, will be next in the crosshairs. I suspect the line of attack will be, "He's too religious!"

Or maybe it will be Giuliani, whose messy personal life will open him up to the charge, "He's too irreligious!"

But I suspect that when all is said and dried, the one man who will not be brass-knuckled by Pinch's pals will be Sen. John Sidney McCain the IIIrd. Unless he wins the nomination, of course... in which case he'll become the "Raging Bullslinger," and will be pummled mercilessly right up through November.

Just speculation on my part, of course; I don't have any crystal ball. (Well, actually I do; but all it ever says is "Reply hazy, ask again.")

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 24, 2008, at the time of 1:45 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

January 23, 2008

How to Lie About Lying

Iraq Matters , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

This one is simply befuddling:

A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The study concluded that the statements "were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses."

Now, would any disinterested party read the above -- and not think the study authors were accusing President Bush and his administration of deliberately lying us into war? Surely this subtextual implication must have crept in because of bad writing; I can't imagine that the elite media would be so intentionally partisan.

Here are the specific charges:

The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them or had links to al-Qaida or both.

"It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to al-Qaida," according to Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith of the Fund for Independence in Journalism staff members, writing an overview of the study. "In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003."

One notes that "Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith of the Fund for Independence in Journalism staff members" -- isn't that a lovely grammatical construct? -- do not deny that Iraq was "trying to... obtain" WMD, even though they appear to include such claims under the category of "false statements."

Nor do they deny the administration's claim that Iraq had "links" with al-Qaeda. They merely dispute the meaningfulness of those links... and dub that another "false statement" by the president and his administration.

Here is that section from the report itself, from their database of "false statements;" it's a perfect primer on the anatomy of a falsehood:

In July 2002, Rumsfeld had a one-word answer for reporters who asked whether Iraq had relationships with Al Qaeda terrorists: "Sure." In fact, an assessment issued that same month by the Defense Intelligence Agency (and confirmed weeks later by CIA Director Tenet) found an absence of "compelling evidence demonstrating direct cooperation between the government of Iraq and Al Qaeda." What's more, an earlier DIA assessment said that "the nature of the regime's relationship with Al Qaeda is unclear."

This one is instructive to deconstruct:

  1. What they say: "In July 2002, Rumsfeld had a one-word answer for reporters who asked whether Iraq had relationships with Al Qaeda terrorists: 'Sure.'"

    What they mean: Rumsfeld asserts that relationships exist between Iraq and al-Qaeda.

  2. What they say: "[A]n assessment... found an absence of 'compelling evidence demonstrating direct cooperation between the government of Iraq and Al Qaeda.'"

    What they mean: The later assessment found that there were relationships, but they did not rise to the level of military alliances.

  3. What they say: "[A]n earlier DIA assessment said that 'the nature of the regime's relationship with Al Qaeda is unclear.'"

    What they mean: Before we found out the nature of the relationships, we did not know the nature of the relationships.

If you can find that Rumsfeld's statement (1) -- which evidently consisted of the single word "Sure" -- is falsified by either (2) of (3), please take to the comments and explain it to the rest of us... because to me, laboring under the disadvantage of having been intensely trained only in the lesser rhetorical art of mathematical logic, they appear to be able to exist in the same 'hood without bothering each other.

Here is another "false statement" (we are meant to understand "obvious lie") that the Center discovered, after digging deeply into the substrata of hidden rhetorical diplospeak. I must admit, this one was a marvel of original research that all by itself may justify the report -- if only to bring this one hidden, obscure falsehood to the light of day:

On January 28, 2003, in his annual State of the Union address, Bush asserted: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production." Two weeks earlier, an analyst with the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research sent an email to colleagues in the intelligence community laying out why he believed the uranium-purchase agreement "probably is a hoax."

This is such an out of the blue, never before seen accusation that I haven't had time to formulate a response. He has me there!

Thus the massive database of dishonesty and mountain of mendacity they unearthed, dutifully reported by the Associated Press... with but a single effort to elicit a general response from the administration -- and no attempt whatsoever to delve into these alleged "false statements" to see whether there is even a contradiction between what the administration said and what the Center for Pubic Integrity said. Yet there is also this unanswered (unasked) question that seems somewhat pertinent, at least to me:

How many of these "false statements" were, in fact, believed true by virtually everybody, Republican and Democrat alike, when they were made? How many were parroted by Democrats, including those on the House and Senate Permanent Select Intelligence Committees, who thereby had access to the same intelligence as la Casablanca? The Center doesn't tell, and the incurious media elites don't ask.

This is as close as they come in their executive summary:

Bush stopped short, however, of admitting error or poor judgment; instead, his administration repeatedly attributed the stark disparity between its prewar public statements and the actual "ground truth" regarding the threat posed by Iraq to poor intelligence from a Who's Who of domestic agencies.

On the other hand, a growing number of critics, including a parade of former government officials [Eric Shinseki? Weasely Clark? Bill Clinton?], have publicly -- and in some cases vociferously ["rabidly" would be the better word choice] -- accused the president and his inner circle of ignoring or distorting the available intelligence.

A growing number of critics! Well, who could argue with that?

Here are a couple of inconvenient truths the AP story neglects to tell us:

  • "A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations..."

    The Fund for Independence in Journalism says its "primary purpose is providing legal defense and endowment support for the largest nonprofit, investigative reporting institution in the world, the Center for Public Integrity, and possibly other, similar groups." Eight of the eleven members of the Fund's board of directors are either on the BoD of the Center for Public Integrity, or else are on the Center's Advisory Board. Thus these "two" organizations are actually joined at the hip.

  • "Fund for Independence in Journalism..."

    The Center is heavily funded by George Soros. It has also received funding from Bill Moyers, though some of that money might have actually been from Soros, laundered through Moyers via the Open Society Foundation.

    Other funders include the Streisand Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts (used to be conservative, but in 1987 they veered sharply to the left, and are now a dyed-in-the-wool "progressive" funder), the Los Angeles Times Foundation, and so forth. The Center is a far-left organization funded by far-left millionaires, billionaires, and trusts.

Even the New York Times, in their "me too" article on the data dump, admits that there is nothing new in this release... just a jumble of statements, some of which later turned out to have been erroneous, others which just constitute heresy within the liberal catechism:

There is no startling new information in the archive, because all the documents have been published previously. But the new computer tool is remarkable for its scope, and its replay of the crescendo of statements that led to the war. Muckrakers may find browsing the site reminiscent of what Richard M. Nixon used to dismissively call “wallowing in Watergate.”

By "wallowing," the Times means those in the terminal stage of BDS can search for phrases like "mushroom cloud" or "yellowcake" and be rewarded by screens and screens of shrill denunciation of the Bush administration... just as Watergate junkies used to do (without the benefit of computers) in the early 1970s. (Mediocre science-fiction author and liberal "paleotruther" Isaac Asimov called this, evidently without realizing the irony, "getting my Watergate fix.")

The Nixon reference appears to have been suggested by the report itself; the executive summary ends:

Above all, the 935 false statements painstakingly presented here finally help to answer two all-too-familiar questions as they apply to Bush and his top advisers: What did they know, and when did they know it?

I'm certain it's sheer coincidence that this nonsense was spewed across the news sockets during the peak of the election primary season... and right before the primary in Florida, of all states. Had anyone at AP or the Times realized how this might affect the election, I know their independent journalistic integrity would have suggested they hold this non-time-constrained story until afterwards. Say, they could even have used the time to consider whether "Iraq and al-Qaeda had a relationship" and "the relationship didn't amount to direct cooperation" contradict each other.

A less charitable person than I might imagine this "database" was nothing but a mechanical tool to allow good liberals easier access to a tasty "two-minutes hate."

But realizing that the elite media has only our best interests at heart, my only possible conclusion is that, despite the multiple layers of editorial input that must occur at these venues, several important facts just slipped through the cracks:

  • The fact that the Center for Public Integrity is a Left-funded, leftist, activist organization with a serious hatchet to grind with the Bush administration;
  • The fact that the Fund for Independence in Journalism is neither independent, nor is it engaged in journalism (it's a front group of mostly the same people whose purpose is to shield the Center from lawsuits);
  • And the fact that the vast majority of the supposed "false statements" are in fact simply positions with which liberals disagree, or else statements widely accepted at the time that later investigation (after deposing Saddam Hussein) showed to be inaccurate.

I must assume that these self-evident facts must simply have been honestly missed by the gimlet-eyed reporters and editors at AP and the NYT. Heck, even Pinch nods.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 23, 2008, at the time of 1:55 AM | Comments (37) | TrackBack

January 17, 2008

When Did "Semantics" Become a Pejorative?

Media Madness , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

This exchange recounted by Mike Allen at Politico (linked by Drudge) leaves me dumbfounded. Have I suddenly lost all understanding of the English language?

Mitt Romney was holding a news conference in Columbia, South Carolina, when a reporter dragged him into the following argument:

“I don’t have lobbyists running my campaign,” Romney said. “I don’t have lobbyists that are tied to my --”

Glen Johnson, an Associated Press reporter who was sitting on the floor as he typed on his laptop computer, interrupted to point out that Ron Kaufman, one of Romney’s top advisers, is a lobbyist.

“That’s not true, governor!” Johnson interjected, according to CBS News’ Scott Conroy, who was there. “That is not true. Ron Kaufman is a lobbyist.”

All right, let's stop right there: Romney had just said he didn't have lobbyists "running [his] campaign." Before he could get another sentence out, an AP reporter leaps up and hysterically screams "that's not true!"

When did it become the job of a news scribbler to interrupt a principal in the middle of a news event to "interject" the reporter's own opinion, shouting down the principal in the process? The arrogance of this little vontz would curdle fresh milk.

But there is another problem at the heart of the issue: Is English Mr. Johnson's primary language?

Romney just said he didn't have any lobbyists running his campaign; Johnson bellowed forth that this was a lie, because there was a lobbyist working as an advisor -- an unpaid advisor -- to Mitt Romney's campaign. He clearly imagines he has caught the candidate in a vile lie (read on). We continue:

“Did you hear what I said -- did you hear what I said, Glen?” Romney replied. “I said, 'I don’t have lobbyists running my campaign,' and he’s not running my campaign. He’s an adviser. And the person who runs my campaign is [campaign manager] Beth Myers, and I have a whole staff of deputy campaign managers.”

Kaufman has traveled on Romney’s campaign plane. Johnson asked if that means Kaufman is “window dressing -- he’s a potted plant on your plane?”

Romney fairly politely points out that Kaufman is not involved in running Romney's campaign; he's just an advisor. So Johnson demonstrates his unbiased non-partisanship by demanding whether that means Kaufman is just a "potted plant."

Yeah. I reckon those are the only two options: Either you actually run the campaign -- as former lobbyist Rick Davis actually runs John McCain's campaign as his campaign manager, which is what Romney was pointing out -- or else you're just "window dressing," just a "potted plant." You're either the king or a peasant; there's nothing in between.

On we go; Johnson is just getting started:

“Ron is a wonderful friend and adviser,” Romney said. “He’s not paid -- he’s an adviser, like many others. But I do not have lobbyists running my campaign.”

[Evidently, Johnson began hooting with laughter, though Politico doesn't mention it; I infer from Romney's response. -- The Mgt.]

“Glen, I’m appreciative that you think that’s funny,” Romney said. “But Ron Kaufman is not even in on the senior strategy meetings of our campaign.”

There you go; if true -- and not even Johnson has gainsaid it -- that should be definitive: While not everybody who sits in on the strategy sessions could be said to be "running" the campaign, those who don't get invited certainly are not. It's a necessary (though not sufficient) criterion. "Running" a campaign means setting strategy, as I think everyone understands... except perhaps the truculent reporter.

But Glen Johnson isn't ready to relinquish his self-appointed "j'accuse" role:

The exchange continued when Johnson questioned the portrayal of Kaufman as uninvolved in campaign strategy.

“Excuse me, Glen,” Romney shot back. “He is not in on the senior strategy meetings of our campaign.”

“Was he in debate [prep] sessions at all -- any time?” Johnson asked.

“At any time, has he ever been in a debate session?” Romney asked. “Sure. Is that a senior strategy meeting? Is that a senior strategy meeting of our campaign? No."

But here is the part that personally irritated me:

Romney and Johnson got into it again briefly as the event was breaking up, with Johnson telling Romney he was engaged in “semantics.”

Anybody here know what the definition of "semantics" is? Raise your hand if you think that word means "dirty, underhanded, mendacious verbal tricks designed to deceive people into believing a lie."

Anybody who raised his hand -- leave the room; that includes Glen Johnson.

The definition of semantics (in the sense clearly meant by Johnson) is:

  • "The meaning or the interpretation of a word, sentence, or other language form: We're basically agreed; let's not quibble over semantics."
  • "The study of the meaning of words."
  • "The study of language with special concern for the meanings of words and other symbols."

Every source I looked at agrees: semantics is the study of what words mean. It exists as a field of study because meaning matters: The noun-phrases "running my campaign" and "adviser" have two entirely separate meanings... which is, yes, a semantical statement.

If I said that "I made the decision to buy a car," what would you think of the intelligence -- not to mention the honesty -- of a person who immediately shouted, "That's a dirty lie! I know for a fact that you asked a friend whether he thought it was a good deal before you signed the contract!"

I would think such a person a boor, a lout... and someone who had a secret agenda to assassinate my character. And that is precisely what I think of Mr. Johnson anent Mitt Romney: The reporter seems to have a great passion for trying to "prove" that Romney is a liar, even if that means twisting the clear and familiar meaning of common words into a pretzel.

But this plays directly into the tendency of liberals (I think I've pointed this out before) to engage in what I call "Argument by Tendentious Redefinition." That's when one takes a dreadful word -- such as racism, pederasty, or rape -- and redefines it to mean something completely different, with a much lower threshold for application: Driving a snowmobile is "raping the environment;" having sex with a nubile 19 year old girl is "child molestation."

Then the arguer uses the word without explanation of the redefinition, knowing that listeners will take it in its original meaning: "Jane Smith is a rapist! Father Jones is a child molester!"

I see this all the time on the Left, as when radical feminists imply that, because of the "power relationship," all heterosexual sex is rape... and then they routinely call ordinary family men "rapists." Or when leftists redefine the word "fascist" to mean "anyone who supports traditional American values," then casually call all Republicans fascists.

If you oppose same-sex marriage, you're a "homophobe;" against racial preferences, you're a "racist;" support a foreign policy the contemplates the use of force, and you're an "imperialist out to conquer the world;" and all businessmen and woman are "robber barons."

And now we can add a new one: If you dare to use the English language with clarity and precision, rather than allow some nitwit illiterate who managed to get a job at the Associated Press to falsely claim that you're a liar... then you're engaging in "semantics!"

Does Glen Johnson realize what a prize jackass he's made of himself?

I have no idea whether Johnson has a personal animus against Romney; he certainly has a career interest in scandal, because then he can write about it. But there is no question that, like David Lynch's "World's Angriest Dog," Johnson was straining at his leash to sink his teeth into Mitt Romney's glutes.

That is what comes through stark and clear in this exchange... not that "Mitt Romney is a liar," but that "Glen Johnson is a boor who tried to pick a fight with the candidate for his own personal, psychological, or career issues." He needs to be reassigned to a position of less responsibility.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 17, 2008, at the time of 4:44 PM | Comments (20) | TrackBack

January 16, 2008

Kids... Those Darn - Kids!

Dastardly Demography , Media Madness , Opinions: Nasty, Brutish, and Shortsighted
Hatched by Dafydd

I was reading a piece on AP which reported that in the United States, births are significantly up; fortunately, AP gave us the benefit of its anointed, elite-media analysis of the looming catastrophe -- a rising fertility rate -- that will positively dwarf the pending disaster of global climate change:

Bucking the trend in many other wealthy industrialized nations, the United States seems to be experiencing a baby boomlet, reporting the largest number of children born in 45 years.

The nearly 4.3 million births in 2006 were mostly due to a bigger population, especially a growing number of Hispanics. That group accounted for nearly one-quarter of all U.S. births. But non-Hispanic white women and other racial and ethnic groups were having more babies, too.

Good heavens! More children; don't these people know that we're destroying the Earth as it is? What can be causing this aberrant behavior?

Experts believe there is a mix of reasons: a decline in contraceptive use, a drop in access to abortion, poor education and poverty.

Zounds, have things gotten so bad that women are forced to start having babies again? Quelle horror!

One of those religious fanatics might suggest that more people are simply deciding to have more children, perhaps because they believe in the future here -- as they certainly do not in the socially conscious European countries. (Since there is no future, believing in one is a sign of desperation, delusion, or senility.) But even if the religious explanation is true, it just proves what unsophisticated boobs red-state Americans are:

"Americans like children. We are the only people who respond to prosperity by saying, 'Let's have another kid,'" said Nan Marie Astone, associate professor of population, family and reproductive health at Johns Hopkins University.

Those crazy Americans. Don't they understand the danger the human population poses to this planet? And will this boomlet continue? AP turns to the most appropriate subject-matter expert to ask about this freakish rise in childbirth:

Demographers say it is too soon to know if the sudden increase in births is the start of a trend.

"We have to wait and see. For now, I would call it a noticeable blip," said Brady Hamilton, a statistician with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Yep, when I want to learn more about the causes of an inexplicable increase in fertility, my first choice would certainly be to contact the Centers for Disease Control. And Prevention.

At least there is a dark lining to this silver cloud:

To many economists and policymakers, the increase in births is good news. The U.S. fertility rate - the number of children a woman is expected to have in her lifetime - reached 2.1. That's the "magic number" required for a population to replace itself....

But the higher fertility rate isn't all good. Last month, the CDC reported that America's teen birth rate rose for the first time in 15 years.

Aha! So the increased fertility rate reflects nothing more than rampant unmarried teen mothers. We always knew the evil of the anti-family Republican regime would eventually catch up with us; this must be the explanation for the putative "boomlet." Oh, wait:

The same report also showed births becoming more common in nearly every age and racial or ethnic group. Birth rates increased for women in their 20s, 30s and early 40s, not just teens.

Oh. Ah, nevermind.

Demographers say there has been at least one boomlet before, around 1990, when annual U.S. births broke 4.1 million for two straight years before dropping to about 3.9 million in the mid-1990s. Adolescent childbearing was up at the time, but so were births among other groups, and experts aren't sure what explained that bump.

It's just totally counterintuitive: Why on earth would anybody want to have children? For God's sake, a Republican is in the White House! Shouldn't this be a time to protest by refusing to have babies, thus denying the regime the cannon fodder it needs to threaten the world?

Unless... maybe it's a result of all those union-job-stealing illegal immigrants swarming in with their crazy foreign ideas that there's something good, in some mysterious way, about having a family:

The high rate probably reflects cultural attitudes toward childbirth developed in other countries, experts said. Fertility rates average 2.7 in Central America and 2.4 in South America....

Some complain that many illegal immigrants come here purposely to have children.

"The child is an automatic American citizen, thus entitled to all benefits of American citizens. This gives a certain financial incentive for people coming from other countries illegally to have children here," said John Vinson, president of the Virginia-based American Immigration Control Foundation.

There you go: Even those hardline, anti-immigration, militia-joining, federal-building-bombing, Buchanan-supporting, white supremacist, hood-wearing members of the Taliban wing of the Republican Party agree with us that having kids is unAmerican.

So what can we do about this scourge of spawning? Isn't there some sort of international "Protocol" we can join against childbirth? One must exist, because the European Union and Japan have clearly negotiated just such an agreement. How else to explain their refreshingly low fertility rates?

Here are some possible solutions we can consider:

Fertility levels tend to decline as women become better educated and gain career opportunities, and as they postpone childbirth until they are older. Experts say those factors, along with the legalization of abortion and the expansion of contraception options, explain why the U.S. fertility rate dropped to its lowest point -- about 1.7 -- in 1976.

Sadly, however, it appears that the contrarian American public just doesn't get it, like they just don't understand the peril of unbridled Capitalism and the immorality of having a strong military:

But while fertility declines persisted in many other developed nations, the United States saw the reverse: The fertility rate climbed to 2 in 1989 and has hovered around that mark since then, according to federal birth data.

Kohler and others say the difference has more to do with culture than race. For example, white American women have more children than white European -- even though many nations in Europe have more family-friendly government policies on parental leave and child care.

More proof, as if any were needed, of the greater enlightenment of women on the other side of the pond.

Finally, there is one other dark side to this that we will never talk about. Except we have to let you know about it, because how else would you know what we're not going to talk about?

The influence of certain religions in those latter regions is an important factor, said Ron Lesthaeghe, a Belgian demographer who is a visiting professor at the University of Michigan. "Evangelical Protestantism and Mormons," he said.

Either Professor Lesthaeghe was cut off in mid-sentence, or else Catholics have finally come to their senses. Maybe next they'll go all the way and start supporting a woman's right to choose!

In any event, surely you can see the dilemma here: How on earth can we cure this problem of excess births? What external controlling factor is forcing more and more women back into the baby quagmire... women who should be in the vanguard of freeing themselves from biological servitude?

It's a serious problem. We'll need some major research grants to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to finally reverse this epidemic of new life.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 16, 2008, at the time of 5:36 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 15, 2008

The Hewitt-Medved Steel Cage Death Match

Media Madness , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Gaaah!

Between Hugh Hewitt, completely in the tank for Mitt Romney, and Michael Medved, completely in the tank for John McCain -- except insofar as it becomes necessary to take a temporary skinny-dip with Mick Huckabee (or, as today, Huckabee surrogate Chuck Norris) in order to promote Anybody But Romney -- I can hardly listen to the radio anymore.

Sean Hannity is on opposite Medved; but for some reason, the ABC network comes in really badly on my radio... lots of static. I tried listening to find out for whom he's in the tank, but all I heard were listener calls; it's hard to judge someone's positions when he's responding to other people's questions and comments.

Rush Limbaugh comes on here in the unholy timeslot of 9:00 to noon. That's too early for any decent-minded person to listen to talk radio.

What goes here? I understand talk radio folk tend to be more overtly political than newsreading heads (who simply do a better job of concealing their biases). Still, I don't recall the hosts being so completely identified with particular Republican candidates in the primaries back in 2004 and 2000. Is it just me, or have conservative talk-show hosts become more nakedly partisan this cycle?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 15, 2008, at the time of 4:23 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

January 13, 2008

Paul of Mises; or How the New Republic Bewitches the Right

Media Madness , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Is it possible to publish a scurrilous hit piece -- on a scurvy knave? I believe it is.

The New Republic -- which used to be in the conservative doghouse, after its endless flogging of the American soldier via its "diarist" penned by Scott Thomas Beauchamp (and its even more endless halfwitted "defense" of those pieces) -- now appears to have found favor once more with prominent movement conservatives.

How? By attacking the hated Ron Paul with the same venom, and the same disingenuousness, that it normally reserves for attacking people the Right actually likes.

Tsk; are we really that easy a house of roundheels, falling on our backs for any man with a flashy smile and a nasty assault on Ron Paul? (If Bill Burkett shows up tomorrow with documents "typed in 1972" that accuse Paul of being a Soviet agent, will we swallow those, too?)

Still, even the worst barnacle on the bloated belly of the GOP deserves his Zola; and I figure I can do at least as well as that socialist Frenchie. John Adams defended the soldiers of the Boston Massacre; Horace Rumpole is willing to stand up for thieves, brigands, and murderers; and today, I'm willing to bat aside this atrocity exhibition of an article... while not conceding my right to fling my own mud at the appalling Paul in the morning.

Note that my defense is accompanied by the background music of Ron Paul himself, bleating that he didn't write it and had no idea what people were writing in his name for more than a decade:

“This story is old news and has been rehashed for over a decade. It's once again being resurrected for obvious political reasons on the day of the New Hampshire primary.

“When I was out of Congress and practicing medicine full-time, a newsletter was published under my name that I did not edit. Several writers contributed to the product. For over a decade, I have publicly taken moral responsibility for not paying closer attention to what went out under my name.” [Quotation marks in original]

So the louse is a lying libertarian! No matter -- I'm not defending Ron Paul per se (I have no idea whether he is merely a loser or a thug as well); I'm defending all those from whom such statements might be heard and grievously twisted to make them appear to be racist, sexist, homophobic, and all the other ists and ics in the demonology of contemporary liberalism. And I'm chastising (in future, that might be "horsewhipping") those Republicans and conservatives who are so anxious to hurt Ron Paul that they will champion any attack on him, no matter how unprincipled itself.

Let's start with hit-piece author James Kirchick's root accusation: The main attack on Ron Paul in this article is that he accepts a libertarian view of history. Libertarians, as a group, are obsessed with intellectualism; they wear it on their sleeve. One axiom understood well by them is what I call the Orwellian Observation, which I have quoted several times already:

"Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."

That in mind, libertarians are unwilling to concede to the Left the holy task of writing history; they understand that if you allow socialists to write history, history will be viewed through the eyes of socialism. Ergo, libertarians love to reinvestigate historical "truths" (as seen by liberals and statists). They call this activity "revisionist history," "revisionist politics," and so forth.

The revisionist libertarian view of politics is that, "Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."

Some of you may still recognize that quotation. For the rest, shame on you; you need to go wash your brains out with soap.

The difference between libertarians and Ronald Reagan is only that they see this rule applying, not just in "this present crisis," but as a general matter: Thus, anything that vastly increases the cost, size, or reach of the federal government is the wrong approach, as far as libertarians believe.

From what I can gather by reading as much of Kirchick as I can find on the web, he is a conservative establishmentarian not much given to originality of thought. He is certainly not a liberal, but neither is he a libertarian (not even small-L). He doesn't see government as the problem... he sees liberal government as the problem, with more conservative government as the solution.

Kirchick is not even particularly Reaganesque, let alone Heinleinian. He is perfectly happy to submit his gems to a magazine like TNR -- alongside fellow-writers like Beauchamp, and under the editorial tutelage of Franklin Foer -- and magazine and editor are perfectly pleased to publish Kirchick. (He also writes long, run-on paragraphs and could benefit by tighter editing.)

At a guess, I would say Kirchick is a big fan of the Claremont Institute. It's a great bunch of folks; but it also happens to be more or less at war with libertarianism in general -- and with the Ludwig von Mises Institute in particular.

That is the first damning charge out of the blocks: Ron Paul is associated with the von Mises Institute. But to use the Institute as a bludgeon against libertarians displays the same bigotry as using the Federalist Society to beat down conservatives. One would think that conservatives would show some caution about an argument of "guilt by association with the innocent." One would think.

However, like the English Puritans -- who escaped persecution in England only to resurrect it in the American colonies -- what conservatives actually learned from being pummeled over their association with the Federalist Society is how effective such an attack can be. Thus, they applaud the same kind of attack on libertarians!

The Institute's faculty includes Bruce Bartlett, Wendy McElroy, and Paul Craig Roberts, and it is largely based around the writings (besides Mises) of the late Murray Rothbard. To see how "racist" and "radical" the Institute is, you can read the Rothbard article "Myth and Truth About Libertarianism" and decide for yourself whether you agree with Kirchick -- and with boatloads of "me too" conservatives -- that libertarians want to restore black slavery, put women back in the kitchens with leg irons, and institutionalize atheism.

Which brings us to what is certainly the most controversial belief of many libertarians -- one that Kirchick and the New Republic twist into a Gordian pretzel of inuendo and conclusion-jumping: Many (perhaps most) libertarians believe it was not a good day but a bad day when the North won the Civil War... but not for the reason that Kirchick maliciously implies. He wants to push the meme that libertarians lament the victory because they're all racists... which is utterly preposterous to any educated person who knows anything at all about the libertarian philosophy, to which slavery and racism are anathema.

Rather, libertarians lament the ending of that war because of the extraordinary expansion of authoritarian federal government that followed.

The three or four libertarians in America who are wise realize that it wasn't just the victory; it was the victory plus Abraham Lincoln's assassination, which led to the horrors of Reconstruction. Many of us believe Lincoln himself would have ensured that the South was not utterly subjugated. Slavery would have been abolished, good for liberty; but the secessionist states would not have been made permanent "wards of the court," which was bad for liberty. Alas, John Wilkes Booth shot and killed the Great Emancipator, leaving the Weak Equivocator in nominal control; and Andrew Johnson was unable to rein in the vengeful Republican Congress.

This accounts for about half the attacks in Kitchick's article, nearly all of which take this form:

The politics of the organization are complicated--its philosophy derives largely from the work of the late Murray Rothbard, a Bronx-born son of Jewish immigrants from Poland and a self-described "anarcho-capitalist" who viewed the state as nothing more than "a criminal gang"--but one aspect of the institute's worldview stands out as particularly disturbing: its attachment to the Confederacy. Thomas E. Woods Jr., a member of the institute's senior faculty, is a founder of the League of the South, a secessionist group, and the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, a pro-Confederate, revisionist tract published in 2004. Paul enthusiastically blurbed Woods's book, saying that it "heroically rescues real history from the politically correct memory hole." Thomas DiLorenzo, another senior faculty member and author of The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, refers to the Civil War as the "War for Southern Independence" and attacks "Lincoln cultists"; Paul endorsed the book on MSNBC last month in a debate over whether the Civil War was necessary (Paul thinks it was not). In April 1995, the institute hosted a conference on secession at which Paul spoke; previewing the event, Rockwell wrote to supporters, "We'll explore what causes [secession] and how to promote it." Paul's newsletters have themselves repeatedly expressed sympathy for the general concept of secession. In 1992, for instance, the Survival Report argued that "the right of secession should be ingrained in a free society" and that "there is nothing wrong with loosely banding together small units of government. With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, we too should consider it."

Well, I warned you about Kirchick's paragraphs.

The only way this can be twisted into something horrific is if one mentally edits the statement "the right of secession should be ingrained in a free society" into "the right of secession in order to push blacks back into slavery should be ingrained in a free society."

This is a very, very liberal way to argue. Isaac Asimov does it all the time; for example, when he confronted (in one of his thirty or forty autobiographies) the idea of a looser confederation of states, united regionally but not so strongly as today, his response was that we had already tried that before: We called it "feudalism," and it was notable chiefly for the bubonic plague.

There you have it: America must remain as nationalist and top-down authoritarian as we are in order to avoid the Black Death!

The people surrounding the von Mises Institute--including Paul--may describe themselves as libertarians, but they are nothing like the urbane libertarians who staff the Cato Institute or the libertines at Reason magazine. Instead, they represent a strain of right-wing libertarianism that views the Civil War as a catastrophic turning point in American history--the moment when a tyrannical federal government established its supremacy over the states. As one prominent Washington libertarian told me, "There are too many libertarians in this country ... who, because they are attracted to the great books of Mises, ... find their way to the Mises Institute and then are told that a defense of the Confederacy is part of libertarian thought."

Well... in fact, it is. It's not the only part, and not every libertarian agrees with the argument (I reject it on grounds that the Confederacy was in fact less free than the Union, so its victory would not have promoted liberty). But it is a long-established libertarian argument that is uncontroversial in libertarian circles... and it is not a veiled support for racist ideas about the supposed inferiority of blacks.

This attack-track reminds me of those who repeatedly claimed that the Charles Murray-Richard Herrnstein book the Bell Curve was a "racist book." The claim never rose to the level of argument, because an argument requires actual citation of evidence... along with at least some indication that the argument's proponents have at least glanced once or twice inside the book they are denouncing. Having actually read that book -- and disagreed strongly with its conclusion -- I feel nothing but disgust for those conservatives who leapt aboard the "Charles Murray is a well-known racist" slanderwagon. Murray is, of course, anything but a racist.

In any event, the belief that the Civil War utterly remade America is not confined to libertarians; at the very end of the novel Lincoln, by Commie-symp leftist Gore Vidal -- the man who famously called William F. Buckley, jr., a "crypto-Nazi" in a 1968 TV debate (Vidal claims he misspoke, intending merely to call Buckley a "crypto-Fascist") -- we find the following passage. American historian Charles Schermerhorn Schuyler is speaking to John Milton Hay, erstwhile private secretary and assistant to Abraham Lincoln, at a diplomatic reception at the Tuileries in 1867. He asks Hay what had become at that time "the question":

"Where," asked Mr. Schuyler, "would you place Mr. Lincoln amongst the presidents of our country?"

"Oh, I would place him first."

"Above Washington? Mr. Schuyler looked startled.

"Yes," said Hay, who had thought a good deal about the Tycoon's place in history. "Mr. Lincoln had a far greater and more difficult task than Washington's. You see, the Southern states had every Constitutional right to go out of the Union. But Lincoln said no. Lincoln said this Union can never be broken. Now, that was a terrible responsibility for one man to take. But he took it, knowing he would be obliged to fight the greatest war in human history, which he did, and which he won. So he not only put the Union back together again, but he made an entirely new country, and all of it in his own image....

[They compare Lincoln and Otto von Bismarck, who did the same thing among the German states.]

"It will be interesting to see how Herr Bismarck ends his career," said Hay, who was now more than ever convinced that Lincoln, in some mysterious fashion, had willed his own murder as a form of atonement for the great and terrible thing that he had done by giving so bloody and absolute a rebirth to his nation.

I would think that the basic fact that the Civil War constituted a "bloody and absolute rebirth" of America, which "made an entirely new country," would be by and large uncontroversial among historians. The only real difference here between establishment thought and revisionist libertarian thought would be the reaction of the thinker: The former applauds the rebirth, the latter bemoans it.

Shame on any "conservative" who condemns Ron-Paul libertarians simply because they disagree with the likes of Gore Vidal, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Isaac Asimov, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and other lefties and liberals about the joys of unbridled nationalist authoritarianism -- or even internationalist authoritarianism.

Kirchick uses the "anti-nationalization = pro-slavery" meme to lay a foundation to interpret every other writing attributed to Ron Paul in a way that emphasizes race (tribe) over individualism. I hope all those conservatives who wave this hit piece as a "bloody shirt" against libertarian thought simply don't understand it (but why not?); because they are, in fact, championing "affirmative action" in all its inglory. I would be repulsed if they did so in full knowledge of their apostasy, so I prefer that they know not what they do: Their ignorance is my bliss.

But whether or not Kirchick thinks himself conservative, that is what he is doing. Viz.:

Paul's alliance with neo-Confederates helps explain the views his newsletters have long espoused on race. Take, for instance, a special issue of the Ron Paul Political Report, published in June 1992, dedicated to explaining the Los Angeles riots of that year. "Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began," read one typical passage. According to the newsletter, the looting was a natural byproduct of government indulging the black community with "'civil rights,' quotas, mandated hiring preferences, set-asides for government contracts, gerrymandered voting districts, black bureaucracies, black mayors, black curricula in schools, black tv shows, black tv anchors, hate crime laws, and public humiliation for anyone who dares question the black agenda."

Setting aside the inflammatory diction, exactly which part of this analysis is now rejected by mainstream conservatism?

This litany is simply a somewhat more aggressive phrasing of what has also been said -- before and since -- by such well-known "racists" as Newt Gingrich, Bob Barr, Bill Bennett, Walter Williams, Thomas Sowell, and Dinesh D'Souza (e.g., the latter's discussion of the cult of the "bad Negro" in his seminal book the End of Racism).

Kirchick is not utterly consumed by Paul hatred; he does toss the man one bone:

To be fair, the newsletter did praise Asian merchants in Los Angeles, but only because they had the gumption to resist political correctness and fight back. Koreans were "the only people to act like real Americans," it explained, "mainly because they have not yet been assimilated into our rotten liberal culture, which admonishes whites faced by raging blacks to lie back and think of England."

Again, I'd like a show of hands of all conservatives who believe that defending one's own property from rampaging mobs is now a disreputable act. It must be so in Kirchick's mind, because he uses it as the "counterweight" that negates the praise "Ron Paul" seems to heap upon a racial minority at the expense of the white majority. Without such a negation -- sure he did X, but that's only because of Y! -- would otherwise severely undercut the "Ron Paul as racist" meme that Kirchick is developing here.

The only correction I would make -- bear in mind, I was in the middle of the riots, as I lived in the Wilshire District of Los Angeles in 1992; buildings were torched on all sides of my duplex -- is that most of the "raging" rioters were illegally resident, Spanish-speaking immigrants... though a solid 40%+ were unquestionably "raging blacks."

Note, by the way, that the writings to which Kirchick objects (and which he believes paints Paul as a racist) were not published in the sober light of detatched analysis after years of brooding. They date from June, 1992... published a scant month and a half after the explicitly racial riots ended... and likely written a fortnight to a month before then. These newsletters were written in the white heat of passion, with echos of gunfire still reverberating in the night and a pall of smoke from thousands of arson fires still wafting across the Southwest.

I believe a little excess passion can be excused.

Where is the racism that Kirchick so evidently sees (or imagines)? It comes from one simple identification he makes at the beginning, which I believe to be a misidentification: When "Paul" (or whoever ghostwrote the pieces) writes about "blacks," Kirchick clearly believes he means, "People with significant African ancestory." But what I think he really means is, "People who accept and live within the American black culture."

There is a huge difference between these two meaning: The first is immutable; the second can be changed. While you cannot change the color of your skin (except via the Michael Jackson method), you can always change your culture.

Look, white people aren't born as "white people;" they have to learn to be "white" (that is, the majority cultural norm) over many years of growing up. Certainly immigrants have to struggle even harder... and we have a special word that corresponds to this effort: to assimilate. But native-born Americans -- black and white and everything else -- must assimilate just the way foreigners do; they must jettison those personal and family characteristics that hinder their advancement in their chosen world and encourage and inculcate those characteristics that enhance their advancement.

It's impossible to tell from the snippets that Kirchick gives us whether the writer of the newsletter pieces was always careful to refer to black culture; or whether he occasionally slipped up and said something that applied onto to blackness as a race or color issue. Nor would I take Kirchick's word for it, because I have already seen that he'll say anything to dig the knife in deeper. But I have certainly known libertarians who have said similar things; and in those cases, their attacks were meant for the negative aspects of black culture, not skin color. None of those I personally knew applied those same stereotypes to Sowell or Williams or Justice Clarence Thomas, to Ward Connerly or Larry Elder, or even to Alan Keyes.

But look how Kirchick uses such ambiguous phrases for the purpose of painting a very ugly picture in primary colors:

In an October 1992 item about urban crime, the newsletter's author--presumably Paul--wrote, "I've urged everyone in my family to know how to use a gun in self defense. For the animals are coming." That same year, a newsletter described the aftermath of a basketball game in which "blacks poured into the streets of Chicago in celebration. How to celebrate? How else? They broke the windows of stores to loot." The newsletter inveighed against liberals who "want to keep white America from taking action against black crime and welfare," adding, "Jury verdicts, basketball games, and even music are enough to set off black rage, it seems."

Odd; I'm sure I've heard Bill Cosby say much the same thing.

Each of these mini revelations about Ron Paul is designed to play into conservative stereotype of libertarianism as a cover for racism, sexism, homophobia, religious discrimination, and everything else that too many conservatives think is the natural consequence of "godless" libertarianism, which they tend to see as simple libertinism tarted up with a fancy pedigree.

You would think that with all this "racism" going on, Kirchick would be able to fine one, single, unambiguous example of bona-fide racial prejudice. But the most he can offer are a few instances where a Paulite newsletter referred to savage street thugs who happen to be black as "animals" and noting the propensity of many urban dwellers, who happen to be black, to "celebrate" by violence.

You would think; but I haven't seen one. Instead, Kirchick reports with incredulity verging on parody that the "Ron Paul" newsletters predicted a collapse of civilization when South Africa became a "multiracial democracy" (or as a libertarian would see it, yet another socialist, authoritarian state); and in fact, we saw exactly that, with South Africa moving from a net exporter of food to a net importer.

And then Kirchick writes -- as if relating the shocking news that Ron Paul believes in the Tooth Fairy -- that one of the articles warned of a "South African Holocaust."

Kirchick was right; we never saw a South African Holocaust when that country shifted from a de facto colony run by the Boers to a "multiracial democracy" run by Nelson Mandela.

It happened in Zimbabwe instead, as it shifted from a de facto colony run by the heirs of Cecil Rhodes to a monoracial, bloodthirsty dictatorship whose president-for-life, Robert Mugabe, has nearly succeeded in ethnically cleansing all the whites out of what was once Rhodesia... using mass murder and "nationalization" to turn "the breadbasket of Africa" into yet another African basket case. This is supposed to make you shake your head and tsk-tsk about Ron Paul and his groupies and surrogates who actually write the column.

But Kirchick went even farther, trying to hang David Duke from Paul's neck like an albatross. But again, it's a mendacious melange of inuendo and sly wording:

While bashing King, the newsletters had kind words for the former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke [But Kirchick cites no "kind words;" only factual analysis]. In a passage titled "The Duke's Victory," a newsletter celebrated Duke's 44 percent showing in the 1990 Louisiana Senate primary. "Duke lost the election," it said, "but he scared the blazes out of the Establishment." In 1991, a newsletter asked, "Is David Duke's new prominence, despite his losing the gubernatorial election, good for anti-big government forces?" The conclusion was that "our priority should be to take the anti-government, anti-tax, anti-crime, anti-welfare loafers, anti-race privilege, anti-foreign meddling message of Duke, and enclose it in a more consistent package of freedom." Duke is now returning the favor, telling me that, while he will not formally endorse any candidate, he has made information about Ron Paul available on his website.

If Kirchick wants us to believe that Ron Paul is an enthusiastic Duke supporter, then riddle me this: Why is Paul dismissing Duke as being insufficiently pro-freedom? Isn't the simpler explanation that Paul liked "the anti-government, anti-tax, anti-crime, anti-welfare loafers, anti-race privilege, anti-foreign meddling message" espoused by David Duke (who was probably lying about what he really believed) -- but that Paul did not like the racism and other anti-freedom positions?

James Kirchick and the New Republic are not content to smear Paul as a racist; he must be discredited with all special interests. So naturally, he must be shown to be homophobic as well. Kirchick spends another pair of interminable paragraphs lambasting Paul for the withering scorn he heaps upon "the gay lobby" (does Kirchick think there isn't one?) and upon gay activists who have transformed AIDS into "a politically protected disease thanks to payola and the influence of the homosexual lobby" (does our intrepid "diarist" imagine AIDS research has no federal funding advantage over, say, research into prostate cancer, adult stem-cells, or allergies?

Each of these areas of medicine has the potential to save more American lives than if we developed a full-blown cure for AIDS tomorrow. But on the other hand, none is considered "sexy;" and none has a guardian angel like AIDS has in ACT-UP, GLAAD, and Queer Nation.

First he came for the blacks, then he came for the gays, and at last he has come for the Jews, as we all knew he would: Ron Paul the Closet Nazi is nothing if not predictable.

By "Jews," of course Kirchick means "Israelis;" and by "obsession with Israel," he means Paul frequently denounces the country that veers between being socialist, when somebody like Shimon Peres is in command, and being welfare-statist, when a Likudnik like Yitzhak Shamir sits in the big chair.

False inference piles upon misunderstood argument, forming towers of paralogical paradox. Each piece of misinformed speculation solidifies into a foundation for a confabulated conclusion.

I hope the Colossus of Kirchick is emerging from the clutter. As I have said many times, it's easy to win an argument when you get to script both sides. Kirchick has mastered the art of cherry-picking (or hairball-picking) a word, a phrase, even a sentence fragment that is ambiguous enough that by judiciously presenting it in the worst possible light... he can make anybody, including Ron Paul, resemble Paul Josef Goebbels. Let me give you another example:

Well, this fellow claims to have spend more than a year trying to prevent a war; but he inadvertently reveals that he thought all along that "insurgent agents" -- whom he doesn't name -- secretly intended to "make war rather than let the nation survive." This seems rather dishonest as a diplomatic effort (and more than a little paranoid, to boot).

But then, he shifts the blame for war to "colored" people, writing quite openly that "this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war." Without even realizing the irony, he wonders aloud how he "should dare to ask a just God's assistance" to rain death and destruction upon innocent people. I think we all know the answer: He should not.

Having gone wholly over to the dark side, the president opines that God Himself conveniently ordained the subjugation of black persons (when that was good for the white economy), then made an abrupt U-turn and suddenly declared evil what He had previously blessed as good when that became the president's new position. What a perfect religious rationalization for political flip-flopping!

Having now declared himself fully justified by God to do whatever he feels like doing ("as God gives us to see the right"), and while acquitting himself of the charge of "malice," for of course he has only the best of intentions, the president is able to countenance the horrific death and destruction he unleashed by making his followers the too-easy promise "to care for... his widow, and his orphan." He forgets to mention that he was the one who created those widows and orphans in the first place.

Thus might James Kirchick analyze Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address.

There is much more in this article, including a hoot of a section on Paul's supposed conspiracy mongering: That is, Paul evidently peaceably assembled with people who espoused "anti-government paranoia that festered among right-wing militia groups during the 1980s and '90s." I'm not sure when conservatives shifted to the FBI's side in the Ruby Ridge incident and to Janet Reno's side at Waco, but the transformation appears to be complete.

At least Paul's "conspiracies" are "shopworn," according to Kirchick -- meaning they're the sort believed in by wackos who imagine the government spies on dissident groups, assaults children and dogs, besieges compounds for the crime of wanting to live apart, and tears screaming children from their loving relatives' arms in order to ship them back to a Soviet-style hellhole in the Caribbean. How droll! Fortunately, not even Kirchick goes so far as to accuse Ron Paul of believing himself the victim of alien abduction or demonic possession; but that's about all I can say in Kirchick's defense: He may submit to the New Republic, but he draws the line at the Weekly World News.

But I think we've all seen enough. I would have to say I gave Kirchick a fairer shake than Kirchick gave Paul; but the former's selective quotation, inuendo, and paralogia convict Kirchick via his own words.

What's worse, he puts people like me in the irritating position of having to defend the indefensible Paul -- not because we like or support him, but simply because we're appalled by the unfairness of the attack... and its broad brush, which might apply to any movement libertarian who ever dared read the evil Murray Rothbard or support the wicked economics of Ludwig von Mises. I haven't felt this dirty since Rudy Giuliani pulled a shabby lawyer's trick to deny John "the Dapper Don" Gotti counsel of his choice (Bruce Cutler, for those with short memories).

But I'm sure it will sell magazines. And I'm sure it will further Kirchick's career. And heck, it's only Ron Paul, the nutty uncle in the attic; who cares if he's libeled?

The conservative blogosphere forgets everything it has ever known or believed about such magazines and such smears: It laps up Kirchick's unctious implications as eagerly as a rat terrier at the River of Lethe.

If this is today's "intellectual" conservatism, you can have it.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 13, 2008, at the time of 6:41 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

January 7, 2008

Nix On "Negative" Nomenclature

Media Madness , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Am I the only person whose bones boil whenever he hears every "compare and contrast" ad lumped together with character-assassinating hit pieces under the all-purpose pejorative of "negative campaigning?"

I declare a temporary ban on the use of that phrase. Thwart me at peril to your immortal soul. In the meantime, here is a quick primer on negativity:

  • If Mitt Romney puts up an add accusing John McCain of authoring a bill to grant "amnesty" to illegal aliens, rejecting the Bush tax cuts, and killing the nominations of several conservative circus-court nominees via McCain's "Gang of Fourteen," that is a perfectly legitimate issues ad.
  • If McCain responds with an ad calling Romney "untrustworthy" and a "liar," that is a petulant and scurrilous personal-attack ad.

The latter is never justified by the former, unless the so-called "victim" of the first ad (McCain in this case) can show that his opponent's ad really was misleading to the point of being a lie; not just by the ever-fluid definition of John Sidney McCain III, but by the ordinary dictionary definition as well.

But to the elite media, which this year wants the GOP nominee to be Mike Huckabee or John McCain (and which always wants a vicious civil war among Republicans), any ad that looks critically at any issue belonging to either of the two favored candidates -- when coming from one of the disfavored ones -- is functionally identical to personal excoriation of the sort that a hundred years ago would require my friends to pay a visit upon your friends: Saying McCain struck a great blow against freedom of speech with McCain-Feingold is, to the elites, ethically the same as saying "McCain does Girl Scouts."

So how does the drive-by media -- itself interested only in snippets of sound to bitch-slap the Right -- expect mere mortal voters to make up their minds about the vote? If not from a candidate's rivals, then how?

Do they imagine we can rely upon each candidate to tell us where he falls short, when he stepped off the path of ideological righteousness, and why he says one thing while doing another? Or do the media think there is another electoral entity, one perched far above the madding campaigns, who will remind us what each candidate did that he now wishes undone? (Yes, of course they do: themselves!)

I want to see "negative" issue ads. I want to hear from Romney what McCain did, and from Huckabee what Romney said. When Gaylord Parkinson, Chairman of the California Republican Party in 1966, enunciated his Eleventh Commandment -- Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican -- he said nothing about his fellow Republican's cockamamie proposals, bills, and resolutions. Those are, and have always been, fair game in a campaign. Heck, primaries have to run on some kind of fuel besides hot air.

I also want to see positive issue ads: I want to know what are the candidate's priorities, what he proposes, and what grand vision superglues his propositions seamlessly together. Both positive and negative approaches have their validity, so long as we don't transmaugrify disagreement into demonization.

The only time it's appropriate to attack a candidate's character -- is when that character is so toxic and villainous that even electing a Democrat is preferable... such as the 1991 gubernatorial election in Louisiana.

The Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke, placed second in the open primary when many voters cast "protest votes" against incumbent Republican Gov. Buddy Roemer. This put Duke into the runoff with the Democrat, Edwin Edwards... and the Louisiana Republican Party actually endorsed Edwards, the Democrat, for governor.

So yes, Sen. McCain... you are welcome to attack the character of your opponent in an election; but only if you can make the case, with a straight face, that he's as evil as David Duke. If not, then shut your pie-hole and stick to the issues.

And in the meantime, Ms. CNN newsreader, Mr. Times Square traducer, Mr. Boston Globe brahmin... see if you can wrap your "multiple layers of editing" around the distinction between examination and extermination.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 7, 2008, at the time of 3:39 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

December 30, 2007

The Best Years of Their Lives: Hollywood and Franklin's War

Media Madness , Movie Madness and Fractured Flickers , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

This JoshuaPundit piece, which we linked on an earlier Watcher's Council post, raises an interesting question: Why were Americans so much more supportive of World War II -- demonstrating what I would call a "frenzy of patriotism" -- than they are of the current War Against Global Hirabah (WAGH)?

Certainly the WAGH is even more "existential" than the so-called good war: On December 7th, 1941, Japan bombed a fairly remote territory being used as a forward operating naval base in the northern Pacific. When that famous headline appeared -- "Japan Attacks Pearl Harbor" -- I suspect the vast majority of Americans had no idea where Pearl Harbor even was. Or Oahu, for that matter; how many even knew that was an island in Hawaii?

By contrast, every American who wasn't a subliterate troglodyte knew what the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon were. Do you know anybody who didn't (and who was over five years old)?

During the war, many Americans may have fretted that the Japanese and Germans would attack the American heartland; but they never did. By contrast, the 9/11 attacks, which killed more Americans than died at Pearl, struck at three of the four chambers of America's heart: the financial center in Manhattan, the central fortress of the American military, and the political center of the White House or Congress (we don't know the intended target of Flight 93). Had that third prong of the attack succeeded, the devastation could have rivaled the sacking and burning of Washington D.C. during the War of 1812. (The only chamber they missed was some social and entertainment center, such as Disneyland in Anaheim, California.)

Finally, even had we lost World War II, the suffering caused to America would probably be less devastating than it would be if we were to lose the WAGH: Hitler wanted to control America, but he didn't want to kill us all and burn America to the ground.

So why are Americans not particularly anxious to do everything they can to win this war, as they were during World War II? Why do so many Americans urge appeasement, surrender, and even nakedly support the enemy during wartime?

Freedom Fighter's answer was that President Franklin Roosevelt was simply a much better leader than Bush; but I believe that is simply unsupportable. As much as people like to extoll FDR as a leader comparable to Washington and Lincoln, the plain fact is that he just wasn't.

He was likeable; but sheer likeability is not the same as leadership... Bill Clinton was eminently likeable, even lovable; but that didn't make him a leader.

Mere likeability doesn't explain the willingness of Americans to sacrifice virtually every traditionally American verity: the ability to travel freely (rationing of gas and tire-rubber), to eat what we want to eat (food rationing), to be free of massive government intrusion into our lives (the militarization of the country), and even the most essential freedoms of speech, the press, and assembly (censorship, wholesale violation of habeas corpus at Manzanar, even direct control of media outlets by the government).

FDR was certainly not a great leader in terms of policymaking; his response to the Great Depression that brought him to power was an exercise in futility. The unemployment rate spiked to 25% in 1933, then remained mired in the low-20s over the next two years. Until 1940 and the wartime boost in industrial output, unemployment never dropped below 14%, more than five times the unemployment rate of in 1929 (3.2%). Most of the time, it was at 17% or more; that's a lot of Americans out of work and standing in breadlines.

The stellar book by Amity Shlaes, the Forgotten Man, demonstrates quite unequivocably that FDR's economic policies were disastrous and almost certainly prolonged the Great Depression years longer than necessary.

Once I built a railroad,
Made it run,
Made it race against time;
Once I built a railroad, now it's done...
Brother, can you spare a dime
?

Roosevelt's wartime leadership was hardly any better. Starting with Pearl Harbor, the Army and Navy under Roosevelt made an avalanche of stupid mistakes. It was only because of the even more colossal mistakes by Adolf Hitler, such as holding his Panzer divisions back and allowing the Brits and free French to evacuated more than 300,000 soldiers from Dunkirk, that we were able to stay in the war until our superior industrial capacity could finally put us back in the driver's seat in 1943-1944.

And then the pinnacle of poor leadership occurred in February 1945, when Roosevelt made the colossal mistake of going to Yalta personally, despite his serious illness, to preside over what turned into the enslavement of half of Europe, handed over lock, stock, and manacles to Roosevelt's great friend, Josef Stalin.

Roosevelt didn't simply honor our Soviet allies... he deified them. One need only watch Mission to Moskow, the FDR-ordered Warner Brothers hagiography of Stalin, to see what I mean... but more on this amazing movie later.

And of course, it's hardly the mark of leadership to allow Stalin's spies to riddle the American administration from top to bottom.

So if it wasn't Roosevelt's putative "leadership" that brought virtually Americans on board during World War II, then what did cause that "frenzy of patriotism," and why isn't it happening today? In a single word, the answer is Hollywood.

World War II was America's first "movie war." While there were newsreels made (often staged) during "the Great War," and even some fiction movies, film was still in its infancy in 1917. But by the late 1930s, movies had supplanted radio (which had, in its day, supplanted vaudeville); film was the dominant American art form and primary entertainment medium in the country. Everybody went to see every film that came out; it was a shared American gestalt that we've only recreated since then for rare, exceptional TV shows, such as the Tonight Show during the decades when Johnny Carson was hosting... and even rarer historical events: the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy on November 22nd, 1963; the moon landing on July 20th, 1969; the days right after 9/11.

World War II married the power of the great American medium to the ideological fervor of its creators: The struggle gave leftist Hollywood both an enemy it could truly hate -- Fascism -- and an ally it could truly love, the Soviet Union (at least, after that embarassing little interlude from 1939 to 1940).

Both partners in the nuptials were necessary to produce that frenzy of patriotism. Had we decided to join Germany in its war against the ComIntern, instead of the other way around, we would never have seen the tidal wave of patriotic movies that flooded theaters in the 1940s. But Roosevelt hated Hitler and loved Stalin, so our decision was foreordained (and to be fair, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan were certainly the most immediate dangers to the United States).

Counting B-movies and featurettes, I'm sure there were more than a thousand World War II-related movies and shorts produced during the war... and every, single film made about the war during the war was completely and unabashedly on the side of the United States and our allies, and against our enemies.

It is probably the only time in American history that the Brahmins of art and intellectualism were 100% behind the actions of a presidential administration during wartime. Gone was the world-weary cynicism, the smirking and winking, the nihilist anarchy we generally associate with the leftist intellegencia. Peer pressure, ideology, personal economic benefit, and the Vision of the Anointed crashed together in a perfect storm of patriotic production.

Every movie, every radio broadcast, stage production, article in a national magazine, pronunciamento from the White House, and congressional floor speech (from either side the aisle) sent Joe Dokes the same message: If you don't jump aboard the military bandwagon, you're a slug and a creep and fair game to be stomped by your erstwhile friends.

Look, there were anti-war movies before WWII -- though like All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) and the Road to Glory (1936), most of these pacifist flicks were about non-American forces. And there were anti-war movies made after WWII, including From Here to Eternity (1953), Paths of Glory (1957), and Catch-22 (1970). But from 1942 through 1945, and probably for a number of years after we won, no movie about the war could be produced unless it took America's side.

America's side and the side of Hollywood's favorite American ally: In 1943, FDR personally ordered the very-conservative Jack Warner to produce Mission to Moscow. This flick, astonishing to see today, is a two-hour journey by Roosevelt's ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1936-1938, Joseph Davies, from credulous naïveté to full-blown Stalin worship. You will never believe it until you actually see it; and even then, your mind may boggle at what your eyes and ears tell you. You may think it was somehow faked by Karl Rove; but I assure you, it is absolutely real. And Mission to Moscow is more typical than anyone cares to remember: Song of Russia (1944) also extolled Stalinism; while in Tender Comrade (1943), Ginger Rogers learns the joy of American-grown Communism.

In any event, during the war, more than a hundred million Americans watched scores of movies telling them that their patriotic duty was to sacrifice their time, money, and freedom "for the duration"... movies that had become the bedrock of the shared American community were all pulling in the same direction, like a twenty-mule team.

It's hardly a shock that Americans patriotically supported World War II like no other before or since: They received the word from on high, delivered by the holy bishops of Hollywood, from Jimmy Stewart to Irene Dunne, to Spencer Tracy, Esther Williams, John Wayne, Rita Hayworth, Humphry Bogart, Jane Wyman, Errol Flynn, Ann Miller, Henry Fonda, Betty Grable, Gary Cooper, Marlene Deitrich, Clark Gable, Carol Lombard, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Van Johnson, Hedy Lamarr, and on and on. If the Almighty could be half as persuasive as the American cinema in full cry, He would be a happy deity.

Not to mention the songs, of course... from Vera Lynn to Dinah Shore to Sophie Tucker to the Andrews Sisters (I won't bother listing any guys, you know who they are). In every jukebox in America and on every radio broadcast, citizens back home could expect to hear "The Last Time I Saw Paris," or "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B," or "Der Fuhrer's Face," or any of a thousand other pro-war, anti-Nazi songs.

It was not government leadership that drove patriotic support for the war; it was the vise-like grip on popular media by the pro-war Left. There were also pro-war novels, plays, production numbers, paintings, and pin-up girls. You couldn't hardly swing a dead Kraut without hitting some elitist member of the Communist Party or fellow traveler -- from Ernest Hemingway, to Dashiell Hammett, to Lillian Hellman, to Dalton Trumbo, to Paul Robeson, to Pete Seeger, to Eleanor Roosevelt -- manipulating some aspect of the mass media to promote victory over the "right-wing" hordes in World War II.

And of course, the right-wingers in the arts (John Wayne, Adolph Menjou, Jimmy Stewart, et al) were bright enough to keep their mouths shut about any disagreements they had with the way FDR ran the country -- or even the war itself -- and just pull along with everyone else... a talent that the Left has sorely lacked (when the president is Republican) since "the big one."

The distinction between then and now is manifest... and maddening. For years, Hollywood simply ignored the WAGH, as if it were all just a crashing bore. And now, finally, they're releasing some war-related product. But what do we get?

  • Paradise Now (released on October 28th, 2005);
  • Jarhead (November 4th, 2005);
  • Syriana (November 23rd, 2005);
  • Day Night/Day Night (May 7th, 2007);
  • In the Valley of Elah (September 14, 2007);
  • The Kingdom (September 28th, 2007);
  • Rendition (October 19th, 2007);
  • Lions for Lambs (November 9th, 2007);
  • Redacted (November 16th, 2007).

Can anyone find a single moment in any of these movies that takes America's side in the war on global hirabah? Can anyone think of a single serious movie -- with the possible exception of a Mighty Heart (June 22nd, 2007) -- that was released after the 9/11 attacks that unambiguously takes America's side in this war? (Even considering comedies, I can only think of one: Team America, October 15th, 2004.)

In music, there are some Country-Western songs that are pro-America or anti-terrorist, from Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue" to Darryl Worley's "Have You Forgotten?" to Chely Wright's "the Bumper of My S.U.V.," probably lots of others. But the saturation is nowhere near as overwhelming as it was in the 1940s; I can't offhand think of a single rock song that fits the category.

And of course, the nattering nabobs of the elite "news" media keep up a steady tom-tom beat of negativism: We're losing, we've already lost, even if we win we've lost our soul; America is on the verge of collapse, we're going to hell in a hambone; say... did George W. Bush bring down those buildings by controlled demolition?

The huge gulf between the movies, music, arts, and literature of World War II and the same sources today explains the difference in patriotic fervor quite nicely... and much more believably than the supposed "leadership" of FDR, or the concomitant "leaderlessness" of George Bush. There is no need to look any deeper for an explanation than the hurricane of bleeding hearts and artists, and what they tell today's media-driven culture, about commerce and conquest, freedom and sharia, the modernity of the West and the Mediaeval pinings of radical Islamists -- and the steel-cage death match they're fighting between them for control of tomorrow.

Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 30, 2007, at the time of 11:57 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

December 26, 2007

Another "Anti-Endorsement" of Mitt... This Time By a McCainiac Paper

Media Madness , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Is this becoming a disgusting, new trend?

The Manchester Union Leader, generally considered a fairly conservative newspaper which has been openly campaigning for Sen. John McCain (R-AZ, 65%) since the mating season began, endorsed him in the ordinary way on December 2nd:

On Jan. 8, New Hampshire Republicans will make one of the most important choices for their party and nation in the history of our presidential primary. Their choice ought to be John McCain.

We don't agree with him on every issue. We disagree with him strongly on campaign finance reform. What is most compelling about McCain, however, is that his record, his character, and his courage show him to be the most trustworthy, competent, and conservative of all those seeking the nomination. Simply put, McCain can be trusted to make informed decisions based on the best interests of his country, come hell or high water.

The Union Leader is an odd duck. Although McCain shocked the George W. Bush campaign by winning the New Hampshire primary in 2000, McCain did so without the help of the newspaper, which did not endorse him. Nor did they endorse Bush, either: In 2000, the Union Leader endorsed the powerhouse candidate Steve Forbes, who went on to win a solid 13% of the vote and send two whole New Hampshire delegates to the convention, out of 17. (Bush already had a solid majority before the convention, of course.)

Then again, the Union Leader hasn't a particularly good track record for picking the eventual nominee. Here are all their GOP endorsements over the past three decades:

  • 2000: Steve Forbes (while attacking John McCain as the most liberal Republican in the race); Bush was nominated.
  • 1996: Pat Buchanan; Bob Dole was nominated.
  • 1992: Pat Buchanan; George H.W. Bush was nominated.
  • 1988: Pete DuPont; George H.W. Bush was nominated.
  • 1984: Ronald Reagan -- but this doesn't really count, since he had no credible GOP opposition;
  • 1980: Ronald Reagan -- who actually won the nomination, the only time in the last thirty years that the Union Leader "hit" in a contested GOP primary;
  • 1976: Ronald Reagan; sitting president Gerald R. Ford was nominated.

I can understand them endorsing candidates that did not go on to win the nomination, even if they did win New Hampshire. And I can even understand doing a 180 on a particular candidate (would that, perhaps, be considered a "flip flop" by the Union Leader?) Candidates change, the field changes, and the editors can simply change their minds (or change their editors).

But the paper was not content with the perfect credible and acceptable endorsement of McCain early this month. After watching the very liberal Concord Monitor make an "anti-endorsement" of Mitt Romney, the Union Leader decided to jump on the slimewagon today and do the same:

In this primary, the more Mitt Romney speaks, the less believable he becomes. That is why Granite Staters who have listened attentively are now returning to John McCain. They might not agree with McCain on everything, as we don't, but like us, they judge him to be a man of integrity and conviction, a man who won't sell them out, who won't break his promises, and who won't lie to get elected.

Voters can see that John McCain is trustworthy. Mitt Romney has spent a year trying to convince Granite Staters that he is as well. It looks like they aren't buying it. And for good reason.

I wonder what the paper will do if Romney ends up being the nominee... write an editorial urging voters to elect Hillary Clinton?

But after slamming Romney for not being "trustworthy" and implying that he would "lie to get elected," the Union Leader levels an outrageous and "demonstrably false" charge against him:

Last week Romney was reduced to debating what the meaning of "saw" is. It was only the latest in a string of demonstrably false claims -- he'd been a hunter "pretty much" all his life, he'd had the NRA's endorsement, he marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. -- that call into question the veracity of his justifications for switching sides on immigration, abortion, taxes and his affection for Ronald Reagan.

I don't think even liberal Democrats have accused Romney of saying that he, himself marched with Martin Luther King.

Romney said that he saw his father, Michigan Gov. George Romney, march with King. Romney might have meant that he was aware his father did; and some have questioned whether George Romney ever personally marched with King, though everyone agrees that George Romney was a civil-rights leader and led his own marches supporting King and King's cause.

So does this minor, little false accusation -- part of the paper's campaign to get John McCain nominated for president -- "call into question the veracity of" the Manchester Union Leader's editorial attack on Mitt Romney? I think it certainly calls into question the paper's claim to dispassionate analysis, as opposed to over-the-top emotional bleating.

Alas, the "anti-endorsement" -- where a newspaper, radio station, or television station singles out one despised candidate and urges, "For the love of God, anybody but him!" -- appears to be the vile, new fashion in American electoral politics.

I hope it doesn't work. I hope that the Union Leader is slapped down (as they often are), and Mitt Romney wins the primary and the nomination. If for no other reason, I wouldn't want to think that such a smarmy and false attack on a candidate by a partisan newspaper was instrumental in killing that candidate's campaign. Such power would create a craven new world of media hegemony.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 26, 2007, at the time of 3:20 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

December 24, 2007

Yes, "Romney... Must Be Stopped" Crosses the Line, Too

Media Madness , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

It has become tradition -- goodness only knows for how many decades or centuries -- for newspapers to believe they have a sacred duty to tell us whom to vote for; to endorse various candidates for public office... as if they knew any better than the average Jorge in the street.

We put up with it because it's amusing, it's fun, and it doesn't cause much harm. But Saturday, a paper turned that tradition on its head by telling us whom not to vote for: The Concord Monitor of New Hampshire cast an "anti-endorsement," singling out Mitt Romney and virtually pleading with voters to reject him, specifically:

If you were building a Republican presidential candidate from a kit, imagine what pieces you might use: an athletic build, ramrod posture, Reaganesque hair, a charismatic speaking style and a crisp dark suit. You'd add a beautiful wife and family, a wildly successful business career and just enough executive government experience. You'd pour in some old GOP bromides - spending cuts and lower taxes - plus some new positions for 2008: anti-immigrant rhetoric and a focus on faith.

Add it all up and you get Mitt Romney, a disquieting figure who sure looks like the next president and most surely must be stopped.

To be sure, the paper is a liberal one; their previous editorials include:

  • An attack on Rudy Giuliani for promoting the "short, emphatic and deceitful" canard that the election of Ronald Reagan had anything at all to do with the Iranian revolutionaries releasing our hostages:

    Yes, the hostages, most of whom worked at the American Embassy, were released less than an hour after Reagan took office.... But it was Carter's negotiations, which included an agreement to release $8 billion in seized Iran assets, that clinched the deal -- that plus the invasion of Iran by Iraq.
  • An earlier attack on Mitt Romney for his "speech on religion:"

    The founders, Romney said, banned the establishment of any state religion, but "they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation 'Under God' and in God, we do indeed trust."

    Wrong again. The founders wanted a nation in which non-believers as well as believers were equal. They believed in freedom from religion as well as freedom of religion.

  • And an editorial on illegal immigration in which they did indeed say -- as the Romney campaign characterized the paper's position after Saturday's anti-endorsement -- that it was a good idea to give drivers licenses to illegal immigrants:

    The public does appear soundly opposed to granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, though for reasons of public safety if nothing else it's a good idea. But polls also suggest that a large majority of Americans prefer providing a path to citizenship, however tortuous, for the illegal immigrants who are already here.

Right or wrong on the merits (I support a version of the last), these are liberal, not conservative positions. But even were a conservative newspaper (say, the Washington Times) to opine that Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton "most surely must be stopped," I would say a line was crossed that ought not have been.

Maybe it's just my subjective reaction; but to me, there is a Grand Canyon sized chasm between a newspaper, radio, or television editorial positively saying that Mr. Fry Me would make the best president... and that same source negatively saying that Mr. Fritter My Wig is a dishonest louse, and we don't care who you vote for so long as it en't him.

I see nothing particularly wrong with ordinary people saying "anybody but Hillary" or "I won't vote for Romney," though it can be dangerous if that becomes such an absolute obsession that they vote against their own interests. Individuals are individuals; they haven't the imprimatur and nihil obstat of the fourth estate. But when a powerful news source singles out one candidate for such vilification, it becomes a dangerous demagogue, a bully who simultaneously vilifies anyone who supports the pariah.

But what was the Concord Monitor's beef with Romney in the first place? Their excuse is so flimsy, it cannot possibly be the reason:

If you followed only his tenure as governor of Massachusetts, you might imagine Romney as a pragmatic moderate with liberal positions on numerous social issues and an ability to work well with Democrats. If you followed only his campaign for president, you'd swear he was a red-meat conservative, pandering to the religious right, whatever the cost. Pay attention to both, and you're left to wonder if there's anything at all at his core.

As a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 1994, he boasted that he would be a stronger advocate of gay rights than his opponent, Ted Kennedy. These days, he makes a point of his opposition to gay marriage and adoption.

There was a time that he said he wanted to make contraception more available - and a time that he vetoed a bill to sell it over-the-counter.

The old Romney assured voters he was pro-choice on abortion. "You will not see me wavering on that," he said in 1994, and he cited the tragedy of a relative's botched illegal abortion as the reason to keep abortions safe and legal. These days, he describes himself as pro-life.

There was a time that he supported stem-cell research and cited his own wife's multiple sclerosis in explaining his thinking; such research, he reasoned, could help families like his. These days, he largely opposes it. As a candidate for governor, Romney dismissed an anti-tax pledge as a gimmick. In this race, he was the first to sign.

People can change, and intransigence is not necessarily a virtue. But Romney has yet to explain this particular set of turnarounds in a way that convinces voters they are based on anything other than his own ambition.

Note two points: Each of these changes is in the same direction, from Left to Right; and they occurred here and there over the space of years, not all on the same day. In other words, the Concord Monitor says that Romney "most surely must be stopped" because he grew more conservative as he grew older and more experienced.

While this echoes the refrain from some conservative Republicans, who are suspicious of anyone who wasn't "right from the beginning," the reality is that most people move rightwards as they gain more experience in life... and in particular as they gain more personal experience with what Milton Friedman -- summoning up the image of the "invisible hand" of the market that guides sellers to buyers -- calls the "invisible foot" of government, which sticks out to trip us up.

Those who have made such a journey famously include Ronald Reagan himself, of course, as well as Irving Kristol, Whittaker Chambers, Robert A. Heinlein, Michael Medved, Dennis Prager, David Horowitz, former California Gov. Jerry Brown (he's still a liberal but far less so than thirty years ago), the lads at Power Line, and half the founding staff of the National Review. There's even a word for such a person: The original meaning of the neologism "neo-conservative" was a liberal who became a conservative -- generally because of Reagan (a.k.a. "Reagan Democrats").

(People occasionally go the opposite way, but it's atypical and usually based upon some perceived personal slight by the GOP establishment -- as with David Brock and with Mike and Arianna Huffington.)

Hitting the hysteria button over such a commonplace conversion puts the lie to the Monitor explanation: That cannot be the reason, because