"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Very Good News About the Walker-Burke Race

From the Marquette poll:

Final pre-election Marquette Law School Poll finds Walker leading Burke in Wisconsin governor’s race

MILWAUKEE – A new Marquette Law School Poll finds Republican Gov. Scott Walker leading Democratic challenger Mary Burke 50 percent to 43 percent among likely voters in the Wisconsin governor’s race. Another 3 percent say that they are undecided or that they do not know whom they will support, while 1 percent say that they will vote for someone else. Likely voters are those who say that they are certain to vote in the November election.
Among registered voters in the poll, Walker receives 46 percent and Burke 45 percent, with 4 percent undecided and 1 percent saying that they will vote for someone else.
The poll interviewed 1,409 registered voters, including 1,164 likely voters, by landline and cell phone Oct. 23-26. For the full sample of 1,409 registered voters, the margin of error is +/- 2.7 percentage points. The margin of error for the sample of 1,164 likely voters is +/- 3.0 percentage points. This is the final Marquette Law School Poll before the Nov. 4 election.
The previous Marquette Law School Poll, conducted Oct. 9-12, found the race tied among likely voters, with the candidates holding 47 percent each, while 48 percent of registered voters supported Walker to Burke’s 45 percent support.



***

My thought... this has probably been the real race all along.   Burke is a nobody and a bad candidate... a trust fund kid with no accomplishments, no husband, no children.   Those last two things might make me sound mean, but it's simply reality... people like Burke who don't have children to me don't have skin in the game.   And they lack the life experience that parents have.   I think most people recognize that, and that the race has always been Walker's.   The MU poll is probably just catching up late to save its credibility... probably by adjusting how it screens for likely voters.   That's a very old gambit of pollsters.

The Lights Are Out Now

main image

They were on Tuesday night for Oscar Taveras' funeral.   I still can't talk about this and don't want to think about it.   I was trying to remember a similar situation in sports... maybe Len Bias in 1986?   I don't know.   But that wasn't one of my Cardinals.   Just a terrible, terrible thing.

Girl of the Day - Nazanin Boniadi




























Iranian-born Nazanin Boniadi plays an analyst turned spy on Showtime's Homeland series.   On the show they appear to dowdy her up a little.   Here's what she looks like in real life:

NazaninBoniadi1


Which leads me to the main problem with Homeland this year (among the myriad plot holes that the show has had every year)... the plot so far revolves around a young Pakistani med student who is related to a famous terrorist, and Carrie Matheson's attempt to turn him into a CIA assset by seducing him.   First she tries using Fara (the Nazanin Boniadi character), but he rejects her.   So Carrie has to do the seduction herself, ending up bedding the 21 year-old boy-man.   But, good gracious... what man in his right mind would reject this girl?   And certainly not for the schizo, 35 year-old spymaster who's just back from having a baby by a C-section (ickily noted during the show's love scene).  

Am I the only one who notices this?

"Worse than anything Nixon ever did."


























Hard to even know what to say about this story about former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson, and what happened to her when she was breaking the Benhazi cover-up story:

Next big moment: Attkisson gets her computer checked out by someone identified as “Number One,” who’s described as a “confidential source inside the government.” A climactic meeting takes place at a McDonald’s outlet at which Attkisson and “Number One” “look around” for possibly suspicious things. Finding nothing, they talk. “First just let me say again I’m shocked. Flabbergasted. All of us are. This is outrageous. Worse than anything Nixon ever did. I wouldn’t have believed something like this could happen in the United States of America.” That’s all coming from “Number One.” 
The breaches on Attkisson’s computer, says this source, are coming from a “sophisticated entity that used commercial, nonattributable spyware that’s proprietary to a government agency: either the CIA, FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency, or the National Security Agency (NSA).” Attkisson learns from “Number One” that one intrusion was launched from the WiFi at a Ritz Carlton Hotel and the “intruders discovered my Skype account handle, stole the password, activated the audio, and made heavy use of it, presumably as a listening tool.” 
To round out the revelations of “Number One,” he informs Attkisson that he’d found three classified documents deep inside her operating system, such that she’d never know they were even there. “Why? To frame me?” Attkisson asks in the book. 
So CBS News hires an independent computer analyst whom Attkisson identifies as “Jerry Patel,” also a pseudonym. He finds a massive amount of suspicious activity in the computer, including the removal of all kinds of log messages. The author describes the scene as “Patel” does his work: “Now he’s breathing heavily. It alarms me because it alarms him and he’s not easily alarmed. His voice becomes more formal and he launches into what sounds like a speech for posterity. ‘In my professional opinion, someone has accessed this box … I see evidence that shows a deliberate and skilled attempt to clean the log files of activity.’” Intrusions of this caliber, concludes “Patel,” are “far beyond the the abilities of even the best nongovernment hackers.”

Too easy:   if this were a Republican administration, we'd already have impeachment articles drawn up.

Closer to the truth:  we are in the first moments of what will be a long war between citizens and the soft totalitarianism of the vast federal bureaucracy.  

Two Stories About Voting That Are Really the Same Story

Wisconsin, my home state, passed a voter ID bill years ago, but it has never been implemented due to legal challenges from Democratic Party groups.   They say it disenfranchises the poor citizen who may not have a photo ID.   Reading between the lines, what they mean is that it disenfranchises the poor black citizen and that Republican efforts to pass and enforce voter ID laws are racist attempts to "suppress" the black vote, which, of course, votes predominantly for Democrats.   Whether that is so (the huge black turnouts in 2008 and 2012 suggest that African-Americans don't have trouble getting to the polls), and whether it actually shows the racism of liberals (are black voters really too stupid to obtain photo IDs... I doubt it)... those are topics for another day.

But here are two stories that show that the issue of photo IDs isn't that having them disenfranchises American citizens, but that not having them enfranchises non-citizens.   Here's the first story, about a study of voting patterns in the past few elections:
But persuasive evidence that vote fraud is both real and consequential has appeared. A new academic paper published in the journal Electoral Studies provides evidence of voting by non-citizens that directly contradicts the Democrats’ “nothing to see here” mantra. Under the neutral headline “Do Non-Citizens Vote in U.S. Elections?” three professors from Virginia universities answer in the affirmative. Using an enormous database of voters nationwide (32,800 from 2008, and 55,400 in 2012), the authors find that about one-quarter of the non-citizens who participated in the survey were registered to vote. 
Studying survey responses, the authors judge that non-citizen voters tend to favor Democratic candidates by large margins. 
In many states, their participation wouldn’t be large enough to make a difference, but in North Carolina in 2008, the authors calculate, non-citizens may well have tipped the state into Obama’s column. “So what?” you may say. Even if John McCain had won that state, it wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the national election. True, but remember the presidential race in 2000? Remember “hanging chad” Florida? 
Several House seats, and one very significant Senate seat, were probably won by Democrats on the strength of illegal votes. In 2008, the authors note, Senator Al Franken won by just 312 votes in Minnesota. That seat was the sixtieth vote to give Democrats a filibuster-proof supermajority to pass major legislation such as Obamacare. “[Voting] participation by just 0.65 percent of non-citizens in Minnesota is sufficient to account for the entirety of Franken’s margin,” the authors write. “Our best guess is that nearly ten times as many voted.”
Now, if that's not chilling enough, here's today's story about how La Raza, the Hispanic immigration pro-amnesty group, is promoting a list of states where there are no requirements for photo ID to vote:
The pro-amnesty Hispanic activist organization the National Council of La Raza helpfully promoted a Washington Post article explaining which states people can vote in without having to use a photo ID. 
“Voter ID laws are at-issue across the country, with newly Republican-controlled legislatures having passed them in numerous states after the 2010 election,” explained The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake. “Most states still request some form of ID, but don’t require it. Another 20 states don’t require identification. In case you’re wondering where your state is at in all of this, a helpful (sic) graphic from the Post’s graphics team.” 
So who ended up using the Post’s helpful graphic? The country’s foremost pro-amnesty Hispanic immigrant organization.

Hmmmm...

This is why Republicans have to win outside the margin of cheating.   Because if the Democrats can steal a close election, they will steal a close election, with non-registered voters, felon voters, and non-citizen voters casting ballots for liberal Democratic candidates who, not incidentally, plan to enact more and more wealth transfer programs and less and less restrictions on immigration and, ultimately, amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

If You've Lost Jimmy Carter...

Oh, dear.

Carter said it was hard to figure out exactly what President Obama’s policy is in the Middle East. 
“It changes from time to time,” Carter said. “I noticed that two of his secretaries of defense, after they got out of office, were very critical of the lack of positive action on the part of the president.”

If Jimmy Carter thinks you are weak and vacillating in your foreign policy, maybe you should get out of the President business.  

Read more here: http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/2014/10/08/3344313_jimmy-carter-unhappy-with-obamas.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Latest from the Regular Son:

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

President "Plausible Deniability"


































Girls of the Day - Greer Garson and Deborah Kerr

I happened to glimpse two minutes of an old movie this morning while I was waiting for a man to come to our house to give us a quote on tree removal.   The movie starred Spencer Tracy, apparently as a very wealthy financier with a troublemaker son, who appeared in the two minute scene I saw to be paying off the headmaster of his son's school to keep him on.   Anyway, the next scene, only a fifteen second thing, featured his wife, whom I believed was played by a very young and very beautiful Greer Garson.   Which would put the movie in the late 1930s.

And now... the miracle of the Internet... I've figured out that the movie was called Edward, My Son, and it wasn't Greer Garson, it was a very young Deborah Kerr, and it wasn't the late 1930s, it was the late 1940s.    Hmmmm... the mind plays tricks.  

Anyway, that error permits me a two-for-one Girl of the Day.


Golfing and Watching ESPN
























That's apparently what President Obama has been doing while ISIS has taken over 35,000 square miles of Syria and Iraq, an area about the size of Indiana.   What else can we conclude from this report, via Breitbart, of a Government Accountability Institute report that Obama has missed more than half of his daily intelligence briefings during his Presidency:

This is not the first time questions have been raised about Obama’s lack of engagement and interest in receiving in-person daily intelligence briefings. On September 10, 2012, the GAI released a similar report showing that Obama had attended less than half (43.8%) of his daily intelligence briefings up to that point. When Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen mentioned the GAI’s findings in his column, then-White House Press Secretary Jay Carney dubbed the findings “hilarious.” The very next day, U.S. Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens and three American staff members were murdered in Benghazi. As Breitbart News reported at the time, the White House’s very own presidential calendar revealed Obama had not received his daily intel briefing in the five consecutive days leading up to the Benghazi attacks.

You know what we've got... we've got President Bartelby.  

AIDE:   Mr. President, it's time for your daily intelligence briefing.

OBAMA:   I would prefer not to.

***

UPDATE:   Supposedly from a national security staffer via the Daily Mail:


'It's pretty well-known that the president hasn’t taken in-person intelligence briefings with any regularity since the early days of 2009,' the aide said. 'He gets them in writing.'
'And it's well-understood why. No one sits and watches him read them, and no one can come back later and tell Congress in a closed session that "I told the president this specific thing was likely to happen".'


If accurate, that's unbelievably damning.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Birthday Today - The Boss Turns 65!

Still the greatest live act ever:




Who Do They Make Excuses For, and Who Do They Always Suspect?

Victor Davis Hanson, as is his wont, today speaks a good deal of truth about both the Obama administration and radical Islamists in the Middle East:

We see this [gullibility] in the administration’s fashionable collective denial that the Islamic State has anything to do with Islam — as if foreign tourists visited Mecca as freely as they do the Vatican; as if Muslim apostates picked and chose their new religions as easily and safely as do Protestants; as if beheadings and stonings were as frequent in Paris and Houston as they are in Riyadh and Teheran; as if Bibles were brought into Iran and Saudi Arabia as freely as Korans are into America; as if churches sprouted up in Turkey, Iran, and Gaza as do mosques in Britain and Michigan; and as if women and gays were as equal in the Middle East as they are in the West.

Hanson is honest and courageous in an age of euphemism.... the truth is that no sane person is afraid to walk into any Catholic Church anywhere in the world, but everyone who isn't Muslim would rationally be terrified to walk into any number of mosques in London or Paris or Amsterdam, much less in Mosul.   And shouldn't that be the test of whether Islam really is a "religion of peace," as Obama tries to tell us?

But what interests me is the impulse of liberals to make excuses for Islam and reject tarring the entire religion because of the sins of some of its adherents.    It interests me because it is the exact opposite of what liberals do with Christians.   In America, our liberal elites in the media and academia never excuse Christians, never check themselves from generalizing from the actions of a few to the beliefs of the many.   You can see it in the products of Hollywood most clearly -- how many times in TV shows has the villain been a Christian, Catholic or Evangelical?

It tells you a lot to observe who liberals will make excuses for, and who they always hold in suspicion.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Actual Journalism on What the Climate Change Movement Wants

By Reason magazine:


The Media and the "Rape on Campus" Hysteria




I've been paying some mild attention lately to the oddity of liberal politicians (including President Obama) spending a good deal of effort to highlight what they allege to be an "epidemic" of sexual assaults on the predominantly liberal campuses of America's elite universities.   Many have touted the supposed statistic that one in five young women undergraduates will be sexually assaulted on campuses, including in the article in the Washington Post linked above, which cites how "studies" have reached that conclusion.  

Hmmm... pro tip to the media... here are two easy methods to determine whether this claim is fact or fiction.

First, you might just check the incidence of sexual assault in the United States as a whole.   This information is available with about fifteen seconds of clicking on the Internet through the FBI's data bases here.   The answer:   the rate of forcible rape in the United States in 2012 was 26.7 per 100,000 inhabitants.   Let's assume that all of the rapes were of women (note:  they weren't), and let's assume that there is roughly one woman to every man.   So 26.7 per 50,000 women would be about 1 in a little under 2000.  

In East St. Louis, Illinois, the incidence of rape is 60 per 100,000.   So a little more than double the national average, but still you're looking at only a little more than 1 in a thousand women getting raped in one of the historically and famously worst cities for crime in the nation.

That's a little different than 1 in 5, isn't it?

But, hey Mr. Reporter, if arithmetic and casual research is too much for you, how about just doing about five seconds of hard THINKING.   Consider this logic:

  • Any one of your Ivy League liberal friends in your nice liberal enclaves in nice suburbs in New Jersey or Massachusetts or Maryland or northern Virginia would absolutely be horrified if their 18 year-old daughter was required to spend even a single night in a hotel in East St. Louis.   (And rightly so.)
  • But the same exact people will celebrate the admission of the same daughter to Princeton or Harvard or Yale, even though, according to the statistics cited by Obama and WaPo, the likelihood of them being raped at those august institutions is about two hundred times greater!

Look, I'd say Q.E.D., but I suspect that our educational system has failed to teach Americans any Latin either.   But here's the gist... the "rape epidemic on campus" story cannot possibly be true, because if it were true, the applications to Princeton and Harvard and Yale, etc., would plummet.   The same parents who won't let their kids ride their bikes without helmets aren't going to send their daughters to rape factories.  

***

P.S. The fact that this campaign against rape is coming out in September before a November mid-term in which the Democratic Party is facing a big uphill climb leads me to two conclusions:

1. The Dems are really worried about voter turnout among young women and particularly young college women, who voted heavily for Obama in 2008 and 2012.   So they are going to try to gin up a not-so-subliminal campaign theme that, if you oppose Obama and the Democrats, you are pro-rape.

2. Look for reporters to ask "gotcha" questions of Republican candidates for Senate about campus rape.    Can you imagine what will happen to a Republican who has the audacity to suggest that the statistics are bogus or that the so-called "epidemic" is hysteria, or, worse, has the audacity to suggest that maybe we should be teaching young women to avoid drinking too much and/or to practice abstinence sexually?  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mark Cuban on the NFL

Dallas Mavericks mark cuban












































Mark Cuban, the billionaire Internet entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, is a very very smart fellow.   So when he talks about anything having to do with the business of sports, he's worth listening to.   But this is amazing... from six months ago, Cuban wrote on Facebook about problems facing the NFL:

2. Player Behavior.
The NBA learned this lesson. Fans don’t like to see players acting the fool. While fans may forgive players over time, advertisers have long memories.
It is hard to ask players to be warriors on the field and perfect citizens off. Across a population of more than 1500 players under the age of 30, you can bet that they will have continuing issues. With the unquenchable thirst the online and media world have for HEADLINE PORN, and the ever growing availability of pictures of those mistakes appearing online, it is not inconceivable that over the next ten years something could impact the perception of the game enough to impact attendance and viewership.

The Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson stories are perfect examples of bad behavior by players, captured on video or photographs, generating "headline porn" for the 24/7 media machine.   Will advertisers turn away?   Maybe.   Will fans?   Probably not.   What will affect fans over time is another point Cuban makes:


1. I wouldn’t want my son playing football, would you?
I’m sure helmet technology will improve over the next 10 years, but why risk it? There are plenty of sports to play. Plenty of ways to get exercise and if my son decided to do anything outside of sports and never pick up any ball of any kind, I’m fine with that. I can think of 1k things I would prefer him to get excited about doing.
As far as watching, I good with that.
I don’t think I’m alone. If we start to see a decline of popularity at the high school and then college level because kids choose other sports, it will hurt the interest in watching the NFL

Like I said... he's a very smart fellow.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Here's How to Stop Intolerance by Islamists






































This sort of story is becoming too commonplace:

Islamist police in Saudi Arabia have stormed a Christian prayer meeting and arrested its entire congregation, including women and children, and confiscated their bibles, it has been reported. 
The raid was the latest incident of a swingeing crackdown on religious minorities in Saudi Arabia by the country's hard-line Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.  
The 28 Christians were said to be worshipping at the home of an Indian national in the eastern city of Khafji, when the police entered the building and took them into custody. They have not been seen or heard from since, raising concerns among human rights groups as to their whereabouts.

It has to stop.   Religious tolerance is the sine qua non of modern civilization.   Christians must be permitted to worship wherever they live in the world -- and this goes for Saudi Arabia and Iran and Egypt and every other Islamic country where Christians are persecuted.   Israel's right to exist must be respected by the same Islamic countries.   If they choose not to live in peace with Jews and Christians, if they choose to be in a perpetual holy war against Jews and Christians, then it's time we start obliging them.  

King Abdullah (pictured above) ought to be getting a stern message through back channels and off the record... if Christians are harmed in your country simply because they are worshipping, you are a dead man.   If the 28 Christians your government has taken into custody are harmed in any way, a drone will be sent to rain destruction on you and your family.   Period.  End of story.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Atlanta Hawks' Owner and Pseudo-Racism

























We have gotten to the point in this country where you don't have to yell the "N" word at an innocent black child, or refuse to rent to a black family or to serve a black man at a restaurant to be labelled "Racist."   Now, apparently, if a white man talks about race at all, he can be accused of racism.

Witness Bruce Levenson, the soon-to-be-gone Atlanta Hawks owner.   Two years ago he writes an email wondering how the team can attract more fans and, specifically, affluent white fans.   To my ear, the email isn't racist at all, but simply a thoughtful analysis based on data and demographics and some conjecture about what different audiences might prefer for their entertainment dollar:

Regarding game ops, i need to start with some background. for the first couple of years we owned the team, i didn’t much focus on game ops. then one day a light bulb went off. when digging into why our season ticket base is so small, i was told it is because we can’t get 35-55 white males and corporations to buy season tixs and they are the primary demo for season tickets around the league. when i pushed further, folks generally shrugged their shoulders. then i start looking around our arena during games and notice the following:
— it’s 70 pct black 
— the cheerleaders are black 
— the music is hip hop 
— at the bars it’s 90 pct black 
— there are few fathers and sons at the games 
— we are doing after game concerts to attract more fans and the concerts are either hip hop or gospel.
My theory is that the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a signficant season ticket base. Please dont get me wrong. There was nothing threatening going on in the arean back then. i never felt uncomfortable, but i think southern whites simply were not comfortable being in an arena or at a bar where they were in the minority. On fan sites i would read comments about how dangerous it is around philips yet in our 9 years, i don’t know of a mugging or even a pick pocket incident. This was just racist garbage. When I hear some people saying the arena is in the wrong place I think it is code for there are too many blacks at the games.
Again, to my ear that sounds like  a man who is anti-racist but who is sensitive to the fact that some out there in Atlanta might still harbor some racist stereotypes.

But to see even more clearly why this isn't racist, let's play the substitution game.   Imagine that a black owner, say, Magic Johnson, wrote an email saying that he had noticed that the crowds at Dodgers games (he's a part-owner) are predomimantly white, and that they have all white ball-girls and play classic 70s rock between innings and had an Eddie and the Cruisers reunion concert after the game to attract more fans, and then wondered whether black patrons feel uncomfortable in that circumstance and stay away, and then asked his subordinates what they can do to attract more black patrons.   Maybe play some hip-hop in one of the stadium bars?   Maybe have a few more black ball-girls?    Would anyone say he was being racist?   Or would they say he was a businessman trying to diversify and expand his clientele?

Sheesh!   And yet Levenson himself, presumably so indoctrinated by the culture of white liberal guilt that he feels the need to confess to a crime he didn't commit, has pledged to sell the team.

By the way, Kareen Abdul-Jabbar agrees with me.   Jabbar is fast becoming my go-to pundit for all issues having to do with race, because, for whatever reason -- maybe it's just because he's really smart -- he seems to make sense and think outside-of-the-box.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Le Deluge

A colleague asked me why I haven't been blogging as much lately, and I told him that most of my usual topics -- basically centered around politics -- feel crushingly boring to me.   I told him that it was difficult to get interested in writing anything about Obama, because there is nothing new to be said... in my view he's so obviously a no-talent, all-hat-no-cattle narcissist whom the media has promoted and then protected for the past decade or so, that reiterating that conclusion seems pointless.   If any conscious adult would come to the same conclusion... why write about it?

As evidence for this position, I submit today's article from Victor Davis Hanson.  It certainly feels like nearly every other article he's written for the past five years and while he's right in his damning indictment of Obama, it's also basically a catalogue of things we already know:

We can usefully view the Obama administration’s chronic untruthfulness as a sort of multifaceted corporation of untruth, with all sorts of subsidiaries. 
Remember the al-Qaeda-is-on-the-run 2012-election talking point? It was mostly a lie. The administration deliberately released to sympathetic journalists only those documents from the so-called Osama bin Laden trove that revealed worry and dissension among the terrorists. Then it nourished essays by pet journalists trumpeting the decline of al-Qaeda. Disturbing memos that confounded that narrative, as Weekly Standard journalist Steven F. Hayes recently noted, were kept back. “On the run” was dropped after the 2012 election, when events on the ground made such an assertion absurd. 
Recent disclosures by some of the combatants about the night of the Benghazi attack remind us that almost everything Jay Carney, Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton, and President Obama swore in the aftermath of the debacle was knowingly false. A video did not cause the attack. The rioting was not spontaneous. A video-maker, an American resident, was soon jailed, while one of the suspected killers was giving taped interviews at a coffee house in Benghazi. There were ways of securing the consulate and the annex that were not explored, both before and during the assault. Talking points were altered. Again, the catalyst for untruth was reelection worries by an administration that believes its exalted ends of social justice allow any means necessary for reaching them. 
Has anything the administration said about pulling our troops out of Iraq proven true? Was it really the Iraqis’ fault or George Bush’s? Was our leaving proof that Iraq might be one of the administration’s “great achievements”? Was the Iraq that we left without any peacekeepers really “stable”? On more than ten occasions the president bragged on the campaign trail that he alone had ended American involvement in Iraq. When Iraq predictably blew up after our departure, he snarled to reporters that he was angry that anyone would dare accuse him alone of being responsible for our precipitate departure.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Sausage-Factory of Modern Journalism






















Like many people, and particularly as someone who grew up in St. Louis, lately I've been following the story of the Ferguson riots fairly closely.   Partly, however, my ability to follow it is a function of the enormous media presence that has descended on the small, near-in St. Louis suburb.   I doubt that I am alone in thinking that the media presence has exacerbated the tensions and, in effect, induced the riots, at least to a degree.   Certainly it has attracted protesters/activists/troublemakers from around the country to travel to Ferguson, a town that most probably had never heard of before the recent events.

Stick with me here... I've also lately been reading a truly great novel by the Russian journalist and novelist, Vasily Grossman, called Life and Fate.   Not published during his lifetime, it centers around the defense of Stalingrad.   It is not too much to say that it is the 20th Century's War and Peace.

At one point, Grossman's story focuses on an editor of a newspaper in Moscow.   Naturally, the paper is a propaganda tool for the regime and Stalin.   But this description of how the editor selects news and shapes what counts as news as a  way of educating his readers strikes me as very applicable to modern journalism:
He considered that the aim of his newspaper was to educate the reader -- not indiscriminately to disseminate chaotic information about all kinds of probably fortuitous events.   In his role as editor Sagaydak might consider it appropriate to pass over some event: a very bad harvest, an ideologically inconsistent poem, a formalist painting, an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, an earthquake, or the destruction of a battleship.   He might prefer to close his eyes to a terrible fire in a mine or a tidal wave that had swept thousands of people off the face of the earth.   In his view these events had no meaning and he saw no reason why he should bring them to the notice of readers.... He himself felt that his power, his skill and experience as an editor were revealed by his ability to bring to the consciousness of his readers only those ideas that were necessary and of true educational benefit.
I thought of this passage this week when I read this terrific story by Matti Friedman about the press' coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict this summer.    It raises many questions that editors and journalists, but mostly readers, should consider whenever they pick up a newspaper.   Why is this story so prominent?   What was the principle the editor applied in deciding to send reporters out to cover this rather than that?   Why are the lives of A,B and C apparently more important, more newsworthy than the lives of X, Y and Z? 

In short, it forces you to understand that, just like when you eat a hot dog that hot dog had to be made in a sausage factory somewhere, and how that factory works ought to matter to you, when you read a newspaper that newspaper was put together by human beings with biases and career interests and bosses and advertisers breathing down their necks, and how that all happens also ought to matter to you.

Anyway, here is just a bit of the article, but it's really worth reading all of it:
Staffing is the best measure of the importance of a story to a particular news organization. When I was a correspondent at the AP, the agency had more than 40 staffers covering Israel and the Palestinian territories. That was significantly more news staff than the AP had in China, Russia, or India, or in all of the 50 countries of sub-Saharan Africa combined. It was higher than the total number of news-gathering employees in all the countries where the uprisings of the “Arab Spring” eventually erupted. 
To offer a sense of scale: Before the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, the permanent AP presence in that country consisted of a single regime-approved stringer. The AP’s editors believed, that is, that Syria’s importance was less than one-40th that of Israel. I don’t mean to pick on the AP—the agency is wholly average, which makes it useful as an example. The big players in the news business practice groupthink, and these staffing arrangements were reflected across the herd. Staffing levels in Israel have decreased somewhat since the Arab uprisings began, but remain high. And when Israel flares up, as it did this summer, reporters are often moved from deadlier conflicts. Israel still trumps nearly everything else. 
The volume of press coverage that results, even when little is going on, gives this conflict a prominence compared to which its actual human toll is absurdly small. In all of 2013, for example, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict claimed 42 lives—that is, roughly the monthly homicide rate in the city of Chicago. Jerusalem, internationally renowned as a city of conflict, had slightly fewer violent deaths per capita last year than Portland, Ore., one of America’s safer cities. In contrast, in three years the Syrian conflict has claimed an estimated 190,000 lives, or about 70,000 more than the number of people who have ever died in the Arab-Israeli conflict since it began a century ago. 
News organizations have nonetheless decided that this conflict is more important than, for example, the more than 1,600 women murdered in Pakistan last year (271 after being raped and 193 of them burned alive), the ongoing erasure of Tibet by the Chinese Communist Party, the carnage in Congo (more than 5 million dead as of 2012) or the Central African Republic, and the drug wars in Mexico (death toll between 2006 and 2012: 60,000), let alone conflicts no one has ever heard of in obscure corners of India or Thailand. They believe Israel to be the most important story on earth, or very close.

In the same way, news organizations have decided that the single young black man, Michael Brown, killed in an altercation with a white police officer in Ferguson two weeks ago somehow merits massive media coverage, while the dozens, if not hundreds, of young black men killed in St. Louis and Chicago and Detroit and all of the other dysfunctional American cities this summer by other young black men somehow doesn't merit such coverage, but instead merits what amounts to statistical reporting, as if those deaths, that violence, that carnage, was just the weather.   Five killed over the weekend on the South Side of Chicago is reported with the bland tone of "eighty-two degrees and partly cloudy."

Why?  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Girl of the Day - Adelaide Clemens of Rectify

We've just barely started watching Rectify, the series on the Sundance Channel that just finished its second season.   The show has to do with the return of a man, Daniel Holden, to a small town where he had grown up after twenty years on death row, from which he has been released because of newly-discovered DNA evidence.   Many still believe he committed the brutal rape and murder of a young girl, and many hope that he will be convicted in a new trial.   Meanwhile, the young man descends on the world of the Internet and cell phones and laptops like a Man from Mars; everything is new and strange and a little scary to him.   And, as the viewers, we don't know if his own alien strangeness is a sign of his innocence, or a sign that something dark and potentially murderous lurks within him.

In short, it looks like a very very good show.

A minor character so far, but I suspect a major character in the long run, is the devout Christian wife of Holden's step-brother, played by Adelaide Clemens, whom we first saw in the very good HBO version of Parade's End with Benedict Cumberbatch.   Here's a terrific scene early in the first season with her and Holden:



And, as always, here she is in her civvies:

This Pretty Much Says It All


Beware the Marquette University Poll
















Hot Air is highlighting the most recent Marquette University polling data which shows, bizarrely, that Governor Scott Walker leads Democratic challenger Mary Burke among registered voters, but somehow trails her among likely voters.   The poll overall assumes an enthusiasm gap in favor of the Democrats, skewing D+6 among likely voters.

Well, I call bullshit.   There is literally no way after what the Dems tried to do to Walker in the recall election, and after the recent primary win by pseudo-Democrat Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee County (essentially running as the conservative in the Democratic primary for an unopposed office and opposed by liberals, including Mayor Bloomberg of New York) in which many Republicans, including yours truly, crossed over to vote, that the enthusiasm gap is somehow skewing Democratic in Wisconsin when everywhere else in the country it's skewing strongly for Republicans.    No f'in way.

Walker will win, and win fairly handily.   Mark it down.   He's done a good job, and everyone knows it.   Wisconsin Republicans are not going to sit on their hands at home when the Dems try to take it away.  

Monday, August 18, 2014

78 Days







































By the way, Election Day 2014 is 11 weeks from tomorrow.   I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the economy, Obamacare, Iraq, Ferguson, Benghazi, the VA scandal, the NSA scandal, the IRS scandal, Fast and Furious, the border crisis, "lost" emails, Executive Order power grabs, almost 200 rounds of golf, Martha's Vineyard vacations, the Ukraine, Afghanistan, etc., etc., etc., aren't going to miraculously get solved by then.   The overwhelming evidence of gross incompetence on the part of the Obama Administration and the Democratic Party as a whole (I'm 55 and St. Louis hasn't been run by Republicans in my lifetime) is in.   November is going to be a wipeout.   Then watch the media, Hollywood and the usual liberal suspects howl at the moon.   It's hard to stay rational when your entire worldview comes crashing down.

Girl of the Day - Chrissie Hynde

We happened to listen to The Pretenders on the radio recently, and I had forgotten how great Chrissie Hynde was.   So... enjoy!


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Kevin Williamson on Ferguson et al.

Kevin Ferguson at NRO sums up what the libs like to call the "root causes" of urban unrest such as the rioting we've seen over the past week in Ferguson, MO:

The more progressive the city, the worse a place it is to be poor and/or black. The most pronounced economic inequality in the United States is not in some Republican redoubt in Texas but in San Francisco, an extraordinarily expensive city in which half of all black households make do with less than $25,000 a year. Blacks in San Francisco are arrested on drug felonies at ten times their share of the general population. At 6 percent of the population, they represent 40 percent of those arrested for homicides. Whether you believe that that is the result of a racially biased criminal-justice system or the result of higher crime incidence related to socioeconomic conditions within black communities (or some combination of those factors) what is undeniable is that results for black Americans are far worse in our most progressive, Democrat-dominated cities than they are elsewhere. The progressives have had the run of things for a generation in these cities, and the results are precisely what you see.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Who Lost Iraq?

I'll give you a hint:



The naivete of Obama was on full display this morning again when he gave a CYA statement from the White House on Iraq. Essentially, in response to critics who say (correctly) that the turmoil over there would never have happened if he had successfully negotiated a Status of Forces Agreement and kept a small but useful deterrent of United States Armed Forces personnel in that country, Obama offered a platitude that (I'm paraphrasing) "if the different tribes and ethnicities and religions can't accommodate each other, then no amount of U.S. force can do any good."

Well. Let's boil that down... what Obama is saying is that, until history stops and utopia commences, prudential use of force to maintain order is useless. Using that same logic, why should we have a military at all? Why should we have police officers? Or borders? Or laws? Since human nature is what it is, and no amount of force can change it, why not just relax and watch Sports Center and make a tee time for later this afternoon?

Oh... yeah.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Hillary Clinton's University Speeches and Money Laundering to Avoid Campaign Finance Laws



























Regarding the exorbitant fees Hillary Clinton has received for speaking engagements on college campuses, I had this same thought, but John Hinderaker beat me to it:

What does Hillary do? No sane person would pay to sit through one of her speeches. The universities that pay her hundreds of thousands of dollars are always quick to say that it wasn’t their money–it doesn’t account for their spiraling tuition!–but rather, it was contributed by donors. This is called money laundering. No one could contribute $250,000 to Hillary’s campaign–legally–but anyone can give the money to a university to underwrite her fee for a forgettable speech.

Why doesn't some enterprising reporter at the Washington Post or New York Times ask Hillary and these universities to disclose who exactly the donors were who contributed the funds necessary to pay Hillary Clinton $250k for an hour of droning?   Consider if the Koch brothers had donated, say, $250k to each of 20-30 universities for the express purpose of paying for a Ted Cruz speech, then Ted Cruz used the resuting $5-7.5 million in "personal" wealth to fund the early stages of his Presidential campaign.   Would they be interested in the topic then? 

See, if it were Republicans, someone in the Justice Department might notice that university administrations, wealthy donors, and the Hillary Clinton permanent campaign, are engaged in something called a CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT CAMPAIGN FINANCE FRAUD, which I strongly suspect is a federal crime punishable by prison terms.