They Were A Bit Slow To See It Because They Were Not Smart Enough To Understand That It Was Inevitable

PenPo Number 70 mentioned a phenomenon that was not new: a few folks were starting to fret that Obama was going off the reservation. Here we go again.

The left is starting to notice that President Obama is doing all those things that Candidate Obama complained that President Bush was doing.

That’s because President Bush did what you have to do during a war.

You do not give the enemy any legal rights.

That’s insane.

That’s crazy.

And of course, that is the policy of the American left.

Glenn Greenwald, a lawyer, should know this, but he continues to play dumb, demanding unprecedented “rights” for unlawful combatants. Wrote Greenwald: “The Obama DOJ is now squarely to the Right of an extremely conservative, pro-executive-power, Bush 43-appointed judge on issues of executive power and due-process-less detentions.”

Which drew a rebuke from law Professor Reynolds: “Yeah, it’s as if all that talk about the evil power-grabs of the Bush Administration was just insincere electioneering. What made those power-grabs evil, in Obama’s eyes, wasn’t that they were power-grabs. It was that they were by the Bush Administration.”

A Plea For Justice

The former PM of Thailand, a villain named Thaksin, just tried to take over his country by inciting a revolution. He created underground cells of activists, hired mercenaries (“demonstrators”) to rally and riot, shattered Thailand’s hosting of a conference of Asian heads of government, set off violence in which at least two people were killed, and promised to return to Thailand (he’s a convicted felon who fled to avoid incarceration) to govern it as soon as his gullible pawns and hired thugs had staged the revolution. Thailand has been humiliated and severely damaged economically as a direct result of the traitor’s plotting. The Thai government has issued a second warrant for his arrest. He is probably in Dubai now. Notice to all principled governments: either follow the example of the UK and don’t let this murderer into your country, or capture him and ship him in chains to Bangkok.

Fakes, Reality And Faith Both Good And Bad

It’s called “astroturfing,” and it means faking a grass-roots reaction. You organize (no offense) a crowd, rally, demonstration, or public gathering/protest that is crafted to look spontaneous, in other words. Well, the “wingnuts” with their tea parties are driving the “moonbats” crazy, because this does indeed look like genuine grass-roots sentiment, and try as they do, the “moonbats” can’t match it. So of course they are accusing the righties of cheating. Wow, now there’s a totally unexpected development!

Then we have the craft of setting up a meet with the troops. Well, the basics are a snap. These folks learned from the people who were so familiar with fakery that they assumed W’s turkey was plastic! Remember that?? Unh, funny thing, though, if memory serves, when W showed up in the mess hall, nobody had told the troops he was coming, so there was no way to hand-pick who would be there. Well, never mind that politically incorrect detail, which can be forgotten along with the genuinely spontaneous reception W got.

It was not long before the anti-W crowd got behind “Shock Troops,” and that scam worked beautifully for a few weeks. It was an extension of the defeatist mindset that gave us the “high suicide rate” of GIs in Iraq, and it fitted right in with the claims made for the horrors of depleted uranium, but instead of just fizzling out as did those two hoaxes, it backfired noisily. How Foer survived his blunder remains a puzzle.

And how are things today? Well, the loyal opposition is rallying, and the culture war is flaring up again. There are agents provocateursand accusations of astroturfing and attempts to infiltrate and emasculate the demonstrations. Basically, once again it’s the genuine competing with the fake. One side continues to behave itself (having learned from the Nixon experience?), while the other can’t play without stacking the deck.

Reminder: see PenPo No. 73 for info on how the Obamaniacs rigged the numbers. It’s under “More Organizing Needed, Obviously,” and in the Links section, see the item on “new math.”

This Is No Small Deal

From a weblog post:

“Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.” P.J. O’Rourke

Our plan, designed over Easter brunch, is to figure out how to get our taxable incomes under Obama’s $250,000 tax increase.

So our Yankee-based Movement is this: Get a group of friends together and hire some planners and accountants, and figure out a way to get yourself below the bar – even if it means donating more than 10% of your income to your charities (although they are trying to eliminate those deductions too), increasing your mortgage (although they are trying to reduce that loophole too), putting money in trusts, reducing one’s charges for loyal clients – or plain old working less.

Let’s all of us prosperous non-wealthy… get under the bar – even if it means that we work less and play more like the lazy Europeans – more boating, golf, tennis, fishin’, hangin’ out in cafes drinkin’, and shootin’ and huntin’ – and more vacation time with less expensive vacations.

I ain’t slaving for 36-43 cents on the dollar (which is where I would end up after Fed taxes, CT income taxes in which the marginal rate covers all income if you make over 250, and property taxes. I am patriotic, but not stupid. I do not want to be a victim of plunder. I also tithe to church and charities, but that doesn’t count: it’s voluntary.

Imagine that! They would rather not have the extra money than let it go to the government!

A government that provokes productive people into this kind of behavior will both damage the nation and cut its own throat.

In Her Eagerness To Be A Good Little Obama Vassal, The Secretary Has Waxed Hypocritical

You probably know there is a flap over another of those “risk assessment” reports the bureaucrats produce from time to time; Secretary Napolitano, head of Homeland Security, has been criticized by everybody from veterans’ groups to the ACLU. (In case you did not hear about this, catch up with events by reading this story which, though it is in a Moonie paper, can be trusted, and/or this report. Then compare to an item in PenPo 72 (which linked to this). The controversial Homeland Security report, widely circulated, claimed it attempted

…to ascertain with greater regional specificity the rise in rightwing extremist activity in the United States with a particular emphasis on the political, economic, and social factors that drive rightwing extremist radicalization.

In response to howls from virtually all segments of the political spectrum, Napolitano tried to clarify and defend her department’s fumbling scholarship.

“Let me be very clear: We monitor the risks of violent extremism taking root here in the United States. We don’t have the luxury of focusing our efforts on one group; we must protect the country from terrorism whether foreign or homegrown, and regardless of the ideology that motivates its violence,” Ms. Napolitano said.

“We are on the lookout for criminal and terrorist activity but we do not – nor will we ever – monitor ideology or political beliefs. We take seriously our responsibility to protect the civil rights and liberties of the American people, including subjecting our activities to rigorous oversight from numerous internal and external sources.”

(Source.) This deserves rational analysis. (Others have responded trenchantly, of course.)

Some things jump out at you as you read the report. It is pure speculation, for example, and the speculation is based on opinions, not hard facts. (If the results of surveys and surveillance are the basis for the claims in the report, they are not referenced.)

There is nothing wrong with speculation, but when it masquerades as risk assessment, a correction is required.

Too, the thought may have occurred to you that this risk assessment could have been written by a college sophomore who had no access to any references. Let it go.

Now to work. First let it be posited that no one in Napolitano’s department knows how many returning veterans of the Iraq campaign will attack the government they volunteered to serve, but it is reasonable to assert that some of them might.

And why is that? Because of the things they believe. Their experiences may have led them to understand the world in ways that require them to kill people. How dangerous such people are is extremely hard to say — until they have committed homicide. In the last fifty years, the USA has known many private militias, and the total amount of violence committed by all of them adds up to zero, as far as the PenPo has been able to determine. Tim McVeigh’s mass murder in Oklahoma City probably can’t be ascribed to a militia, but appears to have been the act of a tiny group. (Yes, the PenPo may have missed some crimes, and yes, correction is welcome.) There is simply little evidence that civilian paramilitary groups on the political right are dangerous.

But the way these people think is of concern to any left-wing government, and particularly so, as the left has a history of violent fantasies, theories, and actions. The folks most likely to suspect trickery in others are tricksters, and accomplished liars tend to assume that others will lie to them. It’s difficult for lefties and righties to see the world the same way, and the self-protective urges of both groups differ. The collectivist wants to disarm everybody, while the individualist wants to arm himself and be selective about his targets. And so on.

Civilian politically-motivated violence has been almost totally confined to the extreme left in the USA for over a half-century; Marxism exalts violent revolution; “progressives” have flirted with genuinely violent groups such as the Black Panthers (as Tom Wolfe’s Radical Chic reminds us); when the left organizes a protest, it often deteriorates into planned violence. The risible photo shows Ward Churchill holding what may be an AK-47. (Oh, how the hard left hissed and spat at W’s flight suit when he landed on an aircraft carrier! Mad Mary Mapes had a wonderful time with it, here’s some understated scorn, and then the right noticed the hatefest.) Here’s a leftist’s view of a very recent violent denial of freedom of speech; compare this with the way an extremely influential hard-left weblog portrays the incident.

The contemporary US left, from mild liberals to hard core radicals, has a demonstrable tendency to incorporate physical intimidation, violence and censorship in its agenda. This is because of its ideological heritage, which emphasizes class envy/resentment, the importance of mass action, demonstrations, civil disobedience, and other types of direct action. The folks who trash McDonald’s outlets when the World Bank or the IMF comes to town are not on the political right. From Billy Ayers to Sara Jane Olson/Kathleen Ann Soliah, the left bristles with violent nutcases, while the right, for all its paranoia and nonsense, has but a handful. The KKK mentality is still alive, but it is no longer part of the “wingnut” tradition, and it is loathed by virtually all on the right. The righties have, in other words, grown up.

The federal bureaucracies, however, sometimes behave as if this were 1919. They hate most of all the alienated “wingnuts” who can’t cope with society and have left it behind in a quest for a tranquil existence. The infamous incident at Ruby Ridge epitomizes the government’s blind hatred, for the question has never been answered: why did such irrationally persistent zeal drive the entrapment of the delusional and reclusive Randy Weaver? Had that not been what the government did — FBI director Freeh admitted “exaggerated application of federal law enforcement” and that the FBI “overreacted” — Weaver would never have ultimately triumphed in court (his convictions were for having cut one-quarter inch too much off two shotgun barrels; though the federal government wanted to execute him or at least lock him up for life, he was eventually exonerated from all other charges). The government gave the victims $3.1 million dollars out of the reasonable fear that a jury might award the surviving Weaver family one hundred million dollars or more.

This mindless hatred of the “wingnuts” is now being expressed as a fear, even a warning. Some folks seem to be operating on the principle that if nothing else binds the electorate to The One, terror at the prospects of being murdered by camo-clad crazies shouting “Don’t tread on me!” may do the trick.

Wild, fearful speculation. It can’t help, but it can provoke others to similar excesses. How great a reach would it be, for example, if this newsletter were to say, “Napolitano is trying to frighten the public into accepting the federal domestic security force Obama has promised, and we are going to live under a military dictatorship!”?

Whoa! You see how these debates can spin out of control.

Yes, of course returning vets do pose a threat; so do high schoolers, dentists, left-handed people, and truck drivers. And it’s true that the DHS has named other segments of society as possible sources of trouble, so the right, including both the responsible and the loony segments thereof, is not alone in being targeted.

The ethical breaches Napolitano has committed are not in those areas, however. Sure, identifying all vets as potential killers is silly and useless, but that’s not what she has done that is so terribly wrong.

Her sins are two: first, she has claimed that she does not “monitor ideology or political beliefs.” That is a lie. She keeps an eye on the opinions of others, all right, and the fact that she does not do it even-handedly or rationally is temporarily filed away for future reference.

Here’s the crux of the matter: did the blatant contradiction slip past you? (Either it was invisible to Napolitano, or she assumes everybody is really, really stupid.) Didn’t you notice that the report puts “…a particular emphasis on the political…factors…” and Napolitano said “…we do not — nor will we ever — monitor…political beliefs”?? Isn’t that a distinction without a difference? Yes. It is.

If Napolitano claims that her department does not in fact look at — “monitor,” her word for it — ideology or political beliefs, how, exactly, has she identified vets as a potential source of trouble??

There is no way to ascribe any potential for violence to people without looking at their mindset, and an examination of their ideology and/or political beliefs will tell you almost all you need to know. Skip those areas, if you work for the Department of Homeland Security, and you are derelict in your duty.

Second, as far as this newsletter has been able to determine, the DHS has never issued any report dealing with the divine commandments the creator of mankind has given to Muslims.

Islam is composed of people who, to varying degrees, consider the Koran and hadith to be messages from on high. Anyone can see that those messages include unambiguous exhortations to mass murder, the enslavement of human beings, and a relentless attempt to conquer the earth.

Nothing in “wingnut” propaganda of the most insane sort matches the hate, intimidation by threats of eternal torture, and sheer fury of the Koran.

And…there is abundant horrible evidence to demonstrate that Islam’s agenda is not just empty words. We are pondering the theology of a functional death cult.

If those are not reasons to issue a report warning of potential trouble, what might be?

Napolitano smears returning vets as a potential problem, yet she has ten thousand times the evidence for the real and imminent danger presented by all Muslims. Yes, all. Recall the reaction of Muslims worldwide to the fatwah against Rushdie, and consider the communal support given to jihadis around the world — from southern Thailand to Afghanistan and Chechnya, from Manchester to South Carolina. The pattern is undeniable. Even the “moderate,” large, overwhelmingly Muslim nation of Turkey has millions of citizens who endorse suicide bombing as a heaven-sent way of dealing with unbelievers (see PenPo No. 3).

We should ask why, exactly, Napolitano’s department says not one word about the scriptural basis of Muslim violence, and about the implications of the fact that observant Muslims everywhere, including those living in the USA, accept the Koran as inerrant. Those are, after all, the real threats.

Napolitano would respond by pointing yet again to McVeigh’s successful attack, and saying that Muslims have not managed to accomplish anything since late 2001. Is that how we estimate the probability of catastrophe? It may be a good answer for the press, but is it a rational basis for security planning?

A moment’s consideration of the social and economic support jihadis in the USA have in place indicates that the domestic threat is considerable. Go to this website and scroll down until you see the entries in the left margin under the title “Jamaat ul-Fuqra.” You may be shocked.

The right, in all its goofy varieties and incarnations, poses no potential danger comparable to that presented by the Muslim communities in the USA. Those groups can harbor, train, sustain and enable jihadis who are eager to die if they can destroy a Jewish hospital.

The British example is proof of concept. It’s the neighborhoods you have to fear, for they sustain the teachings and provide the support.

It’s Napolitano’s job to identify and report on real threats, telling local law enforcement agencies whom to watch. Yet the reports she has issued are useless; “watch out for vets!” It’s pathetic. Sheriffs and police chiefs across the country must be shaking their heads in disgusted disbelief.

Napolitano should be replaced by someone who knows more than she does about law enforcement, security and intelligence, and has solid common sense. She’s just another smug lawyer stalking about in a bureaucratic maze.

It seems a lot of people in politics believe lawyers are automatically qualified to do any job, fill any position, and carry it off brilliantly. Big mistake.

As for Lance Corporal Joe Garcia, USMC, just back from a tour in Iraq, well, this newsletter is prepared to buy him a meal and welcome him home. That’s how fearless the PenPo is….


The USA, the UN, and the meaning of “human rights” as defined by nations such as Cuba and Pakistan: madness. But that’s Hope and Change for you….

Europe’s puzzling passion for political propriety produces “policies and laws designed to avoid hurting the feelings of people who want to subvert freedoms Europeans struggled for centuries to achieve.” How charmingly addled.

Here’s a song from Les Miserables. A tip of the hat goes to GB for passing this video on. The singer is one Susan Boyle. Addendum: GB reminds that there is an earlier, similar story in this video. Bangkok is a bit isolated, obviously….

Texas. No link; just “Texas.” Or maybe Texas. It means whatever you think it means. But…don’t mess with it.

Wonderful speech Obama read to his Georgetown audience (late at night, April 14, Bangkok time). There was nothing about this sort of thing in it, though. You would think it would be a politic tactic to mention it.

Speaking of the speech, the PenPo notes that Obama mentioned digital medical records and precious little else that will, he says, lower the cost of medical care. Oh, yes, better preventive medicine, but that may actually drive the costs up by keeping people alive longer so they suffer utterly inevitable maladies in greater numbers. Meanwhile the real point is this, isn’t it? And the USA had better pay attention to the hard facts, though it seems Obama would not like that. As bad as things are now in US hospitals — and they are not nearly as good as they should be — the British example suggests strongly that when everything is run by the government, patients will fare far, far worse than they do today.

You say you can’t keep the bills straight — cap and tax, cap and trade, cap and ball, whatever? The PenPo hasn’t even tried. Evidently cap and tax is dead for now, but then this is not, and it’s dangerous. Oh. — Er, cap and ball? Powder first, then ball!

More on Koh, the Obama appointee who is mentioned in PenPo 73 and 75: “If anything could reignite the culture wars, it would be a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to thwart deeply felt currents in American public opinion in the name of the international community.” Spotted here.

Zowie… this is exactly the book you need to give to that testosterone factory of a Lothario who is sniffing around your sixteen year-old daughter.

From The Archive

It was inevitable: lies have become accepted truth. Like the falsehood that has G. W. Bush saying that the danger presented to the USA by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was “imminent,” the fake stories about hurricane Katrina are now part of the public’s understanding of how Bush blundered. The major media are responsible for having created an inaccurate impression of what happened and why, and in that regard, it is important to note the history of the reporting — which includes AP’s forced admission that it had published defamatory claims regarding Bush’s inaction and mindset. The full truth is complex, and while Bush was willing to admit that the federal government was indeed too slow in responding to the catastrophe, local governments were the major offenders. In fact Bush took entirely too much blame upon both himself and his agency — but then he was trying to be sympathetic and gracious. If Louisiana and New Orleans had been honest and prudent before the hurricane hit, the damage would have been far less. Here is what The Terrapin Gazette published on March 6, 2006:

Whoosh, Splash And Smear

In past months, The Terrapin Gazette has savaged the Associated Press as gatekeepers who are not only eager to censor, but to lie. We have accused AP of being blatantly, shamelessly biased.

The latest fuss kicked up by AP deals with what Bush knew before Katrina hit land, how callous and uncaring he was (presumably because of his racist tendencies) about doing anything to help the hurricane’s victims…and, oddly enough, how accurate AP’s reporting has been.

At first it was claimed that Bush knew the New Orleans area levees were going to fail, and that he could not have cared less. Then AP, in what we view as a stunning reversal of attitude, admitted that Bush was told no such thing and that earlier AP reportage was incorrect.

Corrections are fine, but they are seldom noticed by many and they are not likely to change the prevailing impressions and understandings created by the original erroneous reports. So we are still left with the same overall public awareness of what happened in Katrina before AP admitted its error. To us, it seems that the catastrophe, as explained by the major media, is understood by the public as…

1. …a failure of the federal government to lift a finger to help desperate people, possibly or probably because the Bush administration is racist, and as…

2. …a breakdown of order characterized by looting, rape, murder, attacks on rescue services, and the abandonment of their posts by fire and police personnel.

What is the truth?

Slowly, slowly. The Katrina disaster was a huge and incredibly complex event. Recall that the devastation covered an area roughly the size of Great Britain. It simply is not possible to know what happened, let alone explain why specific human actions were taken, from our vantage point. We insist that historians will be sifting through facts for many years, and that piecing together an accurate picture will not be easy.

Snap judgments about huge events are extraordinarily unwise. We believe many hasty conclusions have been drawn already, and that they have almost without exception served narrow ideological purposes.

As regards AP, it seems reasonable to argue that the agency has learned that it must be a bit more careful when it tosses slogans and factoids around.

There was a time when AP could lie and get away with it. It did not respond to proof of its lies; there was no need. The AP gatekeepers simply ignored the damning evidence and carried on. That is a hallmark of arrogant fanaticism.

Now, however, the ideologues are at the very least aware that their lies will be checked — and exposed. While that certainly has not changed their ideological slant, and while it has not reduced their reflexive desire to “spin” stories that permit it, it has alerted them to the fact that they are being watched.

We call this the Porky Pig response — “Jiggers, it’s the c-c-c-c- police!”

Knowing that you are observed does not make you honest or decent, but it can make you careful. It can also teach you to fake a sincere contrition. We think that’s all we can reasonably expect of professional propagandists.

We are pleased to provide you with some sources of information on Katrina and the AP attempt to smash Bush in the face with a cream pie. Possibly the best overall roundup of facts is found here. Then here’s more on AP’s story, as it originally appeared and then was “corrected”: first source, and then the second source.

Finally, we note that under the federal system followed in the USA, the national government is absolutely not supposed to be the first responder in disasters. State and local governments are deemed best qualified to evaluate the situation and then, if they need to, request aid from the federal government. But in no case are the feds permitted to sweep in, brush the local people aside, and take over. The government in Washington is clear on this: it will take time for federal people and equipment to arrive, so prepare locally for the disasters you know are likely in your area. You are already on the scene, so the immediate reaction is totally your responsibility, not ours.

Ultimately, of course, personal welfare is up to the individual. Read this entire post, and note especially the last few paragraphs.

Our parting shot: what is chronicled here is more media irresponsibility and yet more deliberate fostering of untruths that become accepted wisdom. There is a political motive behind this. The intelligent news consumer has, therefore, good reason to move further from the major media as sources of truth and reason.

This Just In As We Were About To Send This Issue Your Way

Go here and read the weblogger’s (very brief) comments; he’s a law professor, so what he says about the law is probably true. More to the point, the press is going to dig itself deeper into its current bog if it does not handle this issue very, very skillfully. It’s almost an impossible dilemma for the gatekeepers.