The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Turning your Back

The New York Times editorial board never met a leftist politician they didn't like, and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is no exception. The NYT is exercised because NYC cops have expressed displeasure at the Mayor after he cozied up to "hands-up, can't breath" demonstrators and implied that he was with them as they spread the canard that there is systemic racism in the NYC police department. The editorial board writes:
Mayor Bill de Blasio has spent weeks expressing his respect and admiration for the New York Police Department, while calling for unity in these difficult days, but the message doesn’t seem to be sinking in.

When he spoke at a police graduation ceremony at Madison Square Garden on Monday, some in the crowd booed and heckled him. This followed the mass back-turning by scores of officers when the mayor spoke on Saturday at the funeral of Officer Rafael Ramos; the virtual back-turning the day before by an airplane-towed banner (“Our backs have turned to you”), and the original spiteful gesture by officers on the night Mr. de Blasio visited the hospital where Officer Ramos and his partner, Wenjian Liu, lay dead.
Interesting that the NYT never characterized protester chants of "what do we want, dead cops ... when do we want it, now" as despicable. In fact, I'm not even sure they reported those chants until forced to do so after other media finally did. They never fully reported the fact that cops were attacked by the mobs after those same mobs inconvenienced tens of thousand of people by closing streets, bridges, and shopping areas.

Nah ... that's the mob's first amendment right. But the cops quietly expressing their displeasure by turning their backs on the Mayor or (horror of horrors), booing be Blasio when he has the temerity to now suggest that he was always on their side ... well that's just unacceptable. The Mayor now scrambles to express "respect and admiration for the New York Police Department" only after an assassination that was an indirect result of the anti-cop climate that he helped cultivate.

The NYT is a caricature of leftist media, supposed run by elite journalists who can't see the extreme irony and hypocrisy in their positions because their abject bias blinds them to it.

The NYT has become a propaganda sheet that poses as the "newspaper of record." Read it for lifestyle, movie reviews, fashion, if you like, but for hard news, I'd advise turning your back.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Nihilistic, Bloodthirsty Incantations

Weeks of sometimes violent protests have focused on the deaths of two African American men, Michael Brown and Eric Garner, at the hands of police officers. Fanned by rhetoric from race baiting agitators like Al Sharpton, and seized on by a broad array of Leftist organizations who treated the deaths of Garner and Brown as a cause celeb, the meme became clear—the police are wantonly killing black men—executing them solely because they are black. Forget the facts of the individual cases, forget the statistics at a national level, forget the fact that cops put their lives on the line every day—living the leftist fantasy is more important than addresses the root causes within the African American community.

The meme was embraced, albeit gingerly, by politicians of the left. Barack Obama and his attorney General, Eric Holder, expressed their "understanding" of the protests, but did attempt to distance themselves from violence. New York City Major Richard DeBlasio was slightly less circumspect, meeting with protestors and icing the police.

Yesterday, two New York City cops were murdered execution style, by an African American who, it appears, was acting to exact revenge for the killing of Brown and Garner.

Rick Moran comments:
Now, if I were to analyze this incident the same way that liberals analyze similar incidents where they think they can blame conservatives, I would blame the shootings of these two officers on liberal websites fanning the flames of rage against the police. I would blame the murders on Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, the Black Caucus, the parents of Michael Brown — all the race hustlers who have been exploiting the situation for their own benefit.

I’d blame Eric Holder and Barack Obama for pandering to black anger. I’d blame the climate of cop hatred that has been created by so-called activists and has sprung up and infected black communities across the country.

But I’m not a liberal so I am going to withhold judgment until we find out why the perpetrator committed this horrific act. Anyone who takes their own life is a disturbed individual, so it’s possible that all of the above had little or nothing to do with his act of murder.
Was the murderer disturbed? Unquestionably, but that's beside the point.

Bob McManus provides this angry comment on the murderer, his motivation, and New York City's leftist Mayor and his reaction to the protests:
Violence against cops has gone mainstream — that is, violent threats to society itself can manifest virtually without a soul among [New York City's] elected leaders saying so much as boo.

Pitiful ...

Nobody knows what was in the shooter’s mind, of course; happily, he relieved society of the ­responsibility of trying to find out with a well-placed bullet to his own head.

But anybody who thinks he wasn’t emboldened by City Hall’s placidity in the face of nihilistic, bloodthirsty incantations is delusional.

And anyone who believes that the city’s decision not to draw a high-profile line — even if only symbolically — after the ­“alleged” Brooklyn Bridge attacks was not empowering to the shooter is equally wrong.

Was the shooter crazy? Define crazy. The city is full of crazies. And none of them needs to be ­encouraged in their psychoses — certainly not by the suggestion that official New York thinks they somehow may have a point.

It’s wrong to blame the protests wholly for the actions of one person — up to a point.

That is, right up to the point when the protesters began to ­demand dead cops — and nobody put a stop to it.

Right up to the point where protesters began to drop full garbage cans 10 feet down on unsuspecting cops, and nobody took it for what it was: An escalation that culminated in yesterday’s Bed-Stuy executions.

And now for the funerals — for the heartbreaking skirl of the pipes and the agony of the families; for the grim-faced officers from across America, lined to the horizon in silent tribute to ambushed brothers; for the folded flags and the endless motorcades to the cemetery.

You wanted dead cops, protesters? You got ’em.

Now live with it. If you can.
What? You hadn't heard about the demands from protesters for "dead cops" in NYC? The MSM didn't report that rather salient piece of information after obsessively reporting the protests for weeks? But why should they? It doesn't fit their narrative, and therefore, it's simply irrelevant. Isn't it?

UPDATE: (12/22/14):
Jonathan Tobin provides us with a worthwhile follow-on comentary when he writes:
Conservatives know very well that attempts to politicize violence on the part of the mentally ill is deeply unfair. They know that liberal claims that either the Tea Party or conservatives such as Sarah Palin were somehow responsible for the 2011 shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was sheer slander. If some angry supporters of the police now try to say Obama, Holder, or de Blasio approved or countenanced the actions of Ismaaiyl Brinsley, they are just as wrong. Obama, Holder, and de Blasio have all rightly condemned the murder of the two officers.

But once we acknowledge that, we cannot ignore the fact that the discussion about race and the police in this country has gotten out of control in recent months and that these same political leaders who should have been seeking to restrain the public from drawing extreme and general conclusions about two very extraordinary cases instead kept the pot boiling for political advantage.

Even worse than that, they have empowered and legitimized racial demagogues like Al Sharpton who have sought to profit from exploiting these tragedies to promote their own agendas. In turn, Sharpton and those like him who are given prominent air time on networks like MSNBC and CNN have encouraged protesters who have not only engaged in violence but often openly called for the killing of police, a stance that has been openly endorsed by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and other radicals.

The act of a single possibly mad gunman does not mean that Americans must never question the actions of police or ponder broader issues about race. It is misleading to claim that those who have raised such questions have given a green light to the murder of police officers. Yet those who have sought to take two very different and quite unusual incidents in Ferguson and New York and weave them into a neat narrative of racism and anti-black violence by police have done very much the same thing. The difference between the two is that the media spent much of the last four months seeking to establish that wrongheaded narrative as a fact while they will, quite rightly, give no credence or air time to those who will blame Obama for cop killers.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


The BBC reports on what is becoming all-too-familiar barbarism by Islamist terrorists:
The Pakistani city of Peshawar is burying its dead after a Taliban attack at a school killed at least 132 children and nine staff.

New images from the school show the brutality of the attack, with pools of blood on the ground and walls covered in pockmarks from hundreds of bullets.

Mass funerals and prayer vigils for the victims are currently under way.

Gunmen had walked from class to class shooting students in the Pakistani Taliban's deadliest attack to date.
What is truly fascinating about this horrific event is the manner in which it it being reported in the West. The details are provided to the public, the appropriate politicians cluck their tongues expressing outrage that "militants" or "extremists" have done such a horrific thing, and even in the reportage, there a subtle tone that implies this is nothing new, that it will happen again, and again, increasing in ferocity, in barbarism, in brutality.

But back to the MSM description. In almost every instance, there's no adjective used before the nouns, "militants" or "extremists." No attempt to tie the barbarians to a specific religion, ideology, or mind set. It's almost as if some in the West are afraid to face the actual problem—that a major religion has spawned a virulent subclass, and that the subclass is growing, becoming increasingly more violent, more demanding, more desperate for attention. In the west, we cling to the notion of a "lone wolf" Islamist (think Sydney as the latest in dozens of other instances), as if that somehow absolves the broader virulent subclass and the mainstream ideology from which it has been spawned from responsibility.

It's long past the time when Western leaders should use the appropriate adjectives and "have a conversation" (to use a phrase much beloved by progressives) with mainstream Islam on what can be done by it to eradicate its virulent strain.

Richard Fernandez comments:
Numerous readers in newspaper articles describing the Peshawar massacre have asked whether there is some depth to which human depravity will not go; some irreducible floor beyond which we cannot fall. The answer is probably “no”. Depravity will keep going as far as it will go. Terrorism, like all perversions, needs stronger and stronger stimuli to achieve the same result. The door to hell is self-sealing. The damned vie with each other to burrow deeper into it.

Who cares about mere beheadings any more? That’s so yesterday. The Taliban spoke the truth. The Peshawar massacre is just a trailer. The theatrical release will be much bigger, with an all-star cast and full of special effects with lots and lots of extras. Western politicians have pushed the risk out of sight. But not out of existence.
Indeed, it does seem that the Islamist barbarians—the Nazis of the 21st century—need "stronger and stronger stimuli to achieve the same" terrorist results. I suspect, sadly, that at some point we'll need to adopt stronger and stronger counter-stimuli to battle them—particularly if mainstream Islam won't do the job that is its responsibility.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


Something very troubling has been happening over the last few years—facts and objective reality no longer seem to matter if they clash will one or more well-established narratives. Let's take a look at a few of those narratives:
  • The first, espoused by radical feminists and promulgated by their media supporters, makes the claim that men are predators and that 1 in 5 college women are victims of sexual assault. 
  • A second, pushed by race-baiting opportunists and promulgated by their media supporters, is that police systematically murder black men and are representative of a broadly racist society. 
  • A third, promoted by a wide array of leftist activists, focuses on victimization—people with specific identities, normally associated with the color of their skin or their gender, are continually victimized by white male dominated society.
  • And finally, a corollary to the third narrative, again promoted by many on the left, suggests that white "privilege" is the dominant reason that some people of color struggle to make their way in life.
Each of these narratives can be refuted with facts, with hard evidence, with copious counter-examples, and with common sense, but any attempt to do so results in demonization of those who try to get to the truth.

In an excellent analysis of this phenomenon, Ross Kaminsky considers three recent cases that have gained national attention:
  • the largely unsubstantiated claim by a young women that she was gang-raped at a University of Virginia fraternity house, reported unquestioningly and without verification by Rolling Stone.
  • The highly questionable claim by actress/writer/director Lena Dunham that she was raped 10 years ago by a "campus Republican," published without fact checking by Random Hose.
  • The canard that a police officer in Ferguson, MO shot and killed a black man who had his hands raised in compliance, reported by virtually all of the main stream media.
In every instance, activists suggest that the details don't matter, that even if the claims are false, they highlight bigger issues (see the "narratives" noted earlier). As a consequence, any attempt at investigation and any delineation of facts that might disprove the original claim or more broadly, bring the entire narrative into question, are attacked viciously. The truth? Who cares?

Kaminsky comments:
With UVA and Dunham and Brown [the Ferguson case], it is depressingly easy to find shrill voices arguing that the truth is secondary to the importance of their cause.

But it’s not.

Lies are not harmless.

These lies are not harmless.

Lives are turned upside down. People [innocent, but accused of vicious crimes] stand to lose far more than Facebook “friends”; they stand to lose their futures, their ability to get jobs, their families, their reputations for the rest of their lives.

Institutions from fraternities to universities to police departments are thrown into chaos searching for a solution to a problem that does not exist to the extent the shrill voices claim — and seem to hope for in order to stay relevant. People, including our children, are being taught to mistrust others based on superficial characteristics such as gender or a uniform, a standard that in other situations the same voices would decry with great fanfare and indignation as “profiling.”
But activists are desperate to "stay relevant," and if lies help them do that ... so be it.

If it was only activists, it might be possible to dismiss all of this as a disturbing but transient phenomenon, but lies have wormed their way into the highest level of government in ways that are both unprecedented and shocking. Consider that lies were used to protect the current administration from its many scandals and to push through the healthcare law despite all of its obvious flaws. It's not even that national leaders lied, so much as the outright arrogance of those who lied—in your face, steely-eyed, unapologetic, and unrepentant when the lie comes to light.

Activists and their media supporters watch and observe as the administration that they championed lies and succeeds. They learn that it's okay to lie, if lying is done in support of the narrative. No apologies when innocent people are hurt by the lies, only their blind arrogance that the cause is just.

UPDATE (12-14-14):

Jeff Jacoby discusses the UVA rape case and the media's new goal of placing the "narrative" ahead of the facts:
Well, if the “narrative” is what matters most, checking the facts too closely can indeed be a huge mistake. Because facts, those stubborn things, have a tendency to undermine cherished narratives — particularly narratives grounded in emotionalism, memory, or ideology.

It’s a temptation to which journalists have always been susceptible. In the 1930s, to mention one notorious example, Walter Duranty recycled Soviet propaganda, assuring his New York Times readers that no mass murders were occurring under Stalin’s humane and enlightened rule. Duranty is reviled today. But the willingness to subordinate a passion for accuracy to a supposedly higher passion for “justice” (or “equality” or “fairness” or “diversity” or “peace” or “the environment”) persists.

Has the time come to give up on the ideal of objective, unbiased journalism? Would media bias openly acknowledged be an improvement over news media that only pretend not to take sides?

This much is clear: The public isn’t deceived. Trust in the media has been drifting downward for years. According to Gallup, Americans’ confidence that news is being reported “fully, accurately, and fairly” reached an all-time low this year. Would you be astonished to see that number sink even further next year? Me neither.
Over the past decade, the MSM has become a propaganda tool that pushes a collection of narratives that parrot their left-leaning biases. If you read it in the newspaper (the NYT comes immediately to mind) or watch it on any of the alphabet networks (CNN, ABC, NBC or CBS come to mind), be skeptical, very skeptical.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Yesterday, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a report (written by Democrats on the committee) on CIA "enhanced interrogation techniques" (EIT) in the immediate aftermath of the 9-11. Predictably, the report has the media all aflutter.

It does appear that harsh, but not deadly, interrogation techniques were used. It also appears that some in the CIA overstepped their legal authority. It is highly debatable whether EIT provided useful intelligence. The Democrats on the committee say "no," and the CIA begs to differ. Both sides of the argument are self-serving, so the truth is likely somewhere in between.

The main stream media and the Democrats use the word "torture" to describe the activities used in a program that ended in 2006 (at least as far as we know). The problem is that we've dumbed down the definition of the term. In the days before our new-found sensitivity, torture was viewed as an inhumane activity in which the prisoner is physically maimed or killed. To be graphic for a moment, torture was once viewed as an act in which fingers were cut off, eyes were plucked out, limbs were broken—the victim often died as a result or was permanently maimed or disfigured.

No more. Now torture is anything, it seems, that causes the prisoner significant discomfort—a feeling that you're drowning (water-boarding) is torture. Harsh physical contact that causes no permanent injury is torture, sleep deprivation is torture because it causes intense pychological discomfort. In the next iteration a decade hence, it might be that imprisonment itself will be considered "torture." Or possibly the refusal to provide Halal food to a Muslim terrorist in prison would be considered "torture." As we move along a path to an ever-expanding definition of the word, do we establish any limits at all?

And by the way, I think it's fair to state that forcing a person to choose between incineration and jumping from the 106th floor of the World Trade Center, or sawing off the head of a hostage in Syria, or maiming innocents at a road race in Boston would easily fall within the old-school defintiion of the term "torture," but I suppose that's beside the point. After all, to quote those who just love to pontificate from their high moral perch, we certainly don't want to lower ourselves to the level of our Islamist enemy, do we?

This isn't an easy issue. On the one hand, we do have values and we want to sustain them. I respect people like John McCain who, drawing on personal experience, argues that all torture is wrong—period.  On the other hand, we are at war (yes, war) with a barbaric Islamist enemy who recognizes no such abstract moral boundaries. They attack, they murder, they maim in the name of a god that seeks righteous vengeance again the "Crusaders." They've done it in the past. They'll do it again, possibly on a very big scale, in the future.

The brave and much-maligned men and women in the CIA are chartered with uncovering Islamist plots and stopping them. If that requires harsh treatment of prisoners, conducted in dark places that all of us would prefer not to visit, that's acceptable, at least under certain conditions. The alternative is deciding that protecting the delicate sensibilities of Islamic terrorists is more important than protecting the lives of your own people. For me, it a relatively simple choice.

UPDATE (12/11/14):

Richard Fernandez makes the following comment after his article at the Belmont Club. It's woprth thinking about:
Let me say for the record what I have said before. That if I were president I would openly approve a degree of coercion, including sleep deprivation, drugs and psychological pressure. And sign it. But I would not under any circumstances, authorize torture in the Gestapo or NKVD sense. No thumbscrews, bone breaking, ice water dunking, etc. Why? Because that's me. That's religious conviction speaking there.

And having disauthorized torture I would take a deep breath go to the public and say: "You folks don't necessarily share my conviction. Please understand that people are going to die because I won't authorize this torture, because it works sometimes. I want you to know that. To understand what this choice implies.

"We're giving up and advantage which is why it is morally hard. We are trading off something in the world we know in exchange for some value which may not even exist.

"If you don't like the tradeoff, I understand that too. If you object, I'll resign and gladly too. I can only promise you this: if you go along I'll make sure that if my own son were taken to be killed and I had the power to compel his kidnapper to reveal his whereabouts to me and save him, that I am prevented from making an exception. That even if he were on the phone saying, daddy, daddy, save me, that I would lift a finger against his grinning kidnapper.

"Because I am determined that if this price should be paid then should not ask someone to make a sacrifice I will not myself undertake."

"Are well on board here? Are we all willing to make the pact that if our sons or daughters were facing a horrible death; and torture could reveal their locations, that we would not do it?

"If not, then let's sign on to torture now. Own up to it like men. Because otherwise we're not serious. Let's do all the necessary torture ourselves and not outsource it to Pakistan or Egypt. But if you are determined to avoid it, then be serious about it, like the Christians of old were, and take what comes, furnace or lions den. Because that was the choice and they chose the lion's den. Take what comes or our morality isn't worth a damn.

"If you want to be a saint or a hero, prepare to pay the price. That's the way it's always been. Any politician who promises you both convenience and a good conscience is damned liar."

Friday, December 05, 2014


The Obama administration is working hard to be sure that Congress does not legislate any additional sanctions against Iran, after talks to eliminate nuclear weapons development have (predictably) failed. In fact, as an incentive for Iran to continue the talks, the foreign policy geniuses at the White House have suggested that sanctions may be reduced.

This is the same Iran that is actively preparing to build nuclear weapons, whose very leaders regularly espouse the "annihilation" of other states in the region, that is the largest and most virulent sponsor of terror in the world, that oppresses its own people, subjugates women and murders gay people, and is otherwise a bad actor on the world stage. They are also our avowed enemy. But additional sanctions, heavens no!

On the other hand, Adam Credo reports:
The Obama administration is refusing to discuss reports that emerged early Thursday claiming that the White House is considering imposing sanctions on Israel for continuing construction on Jewish homes in Jerusalem.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf dodged several questions on Thursday when confronted with reports that the administration had held secret internal meetings to discuss taking action against Israel for its ongoing building in East Jerusalem.

The classified meetings were reportedly held several weeks ago and included officials from both the State Department and White House, according to the Israeli daily Ha’aretz, which first reported on the meetings.

The possibility of sanctioning Israel for its ongoing construction sends a signal that the Obama administration is willing to go further in its denunciations of Israel then any previous White House.
So ... Iran threatens a nuclear holocaust and Obama wants to lessen sanctions. Israel builds apartments in their national capital and Obama wants to impose sanctions. Perfect!

Hopefully, some adult in the State Department (unlikely) or in the administration (impossible) will consider the idiocy of this idea and nip it in the bud. More likely, there will be significant push back from Congress. But our newly minted "emperor" president seems perfectly willing to rule by fiat. After all, it's the only way his failed presidency can remain relevant.

An active part of the Democratic base is Jewish voters, who support the party both financially and with hard work on the ground. Most of those Jewish voters recognize that Israel is an ally and a long time friend of the United States.

I truly do hope that those voters watch carefully as the story evolves. I also hope that this one time Democratic leaders reign in Obama. I'm also curious to learn Hillary Clinton's position on this travesty.

Elections truly do have consequences. Incredible.