Archive for April 12th, 2009

April 12, 2009

Pigs 1, Orwell 0

“We have no conviction that this is the right point of view from which to criticise the political situation at the current time.”
T.S. Eliot, an editor at British publisher Faber & Faber in 1944, in a letter rejecting George Orwell’s Animal Farm

April 12, 2009

Heroic U.S. captain escapes; SEALs kill 3 Somali ‘pirate’ terrorists, capture another

Go Navy!

More at Memeorandum.

UPDATE 3:34 P.M. ET: The Associated Press:

An American ship captain was freed unharmed Sunday in a U.S. Navy operation that killed three of the four Somali pirates who had been holding him for days in a lifeboat off the coast of Africa, a senior U.S. intelligence official said.
One of the pirates was wounded and in custody after a swift firefight, the official said.
Capt. Richard Phillips, 53, of Underhill, Vermont, was safely transported to a Navy warship nearby.

On Twitter, Tammy Bruce responded to the news by observing that the U.S. had apparently employed her plan: “Four bullets for four terrorists.” Meanwhile, our friend Paco has a modest proposal.

UPDATE 3:37 P.M. ET:The spirit of United 93 remains alive and well.”

UPDATE 3:51 P.M. ET: I’d been curious to know how William Teach at Pirate’s Cove would react to this news, but nothing yet. However, it is “Patriotic Pinup Sunday.”

Meanwhile, I’m wondering why the headline at Ace of Spades HQ is not:
Somali pirates die of dehydration, seasickness and precisely aimed automatic weapons fire from U.S. Navy SEALs, but mostly . . .

UPDATE 4:10 p.m. ET: Fausta on Twitter: “The real meaning of Easter SEALS!”

UPDATE 4:17 p.m. ET: Via Outside the Beltway, the statement from the shipping company:

Norfolk, Va., April 12, 2009: Maersk Line, Limited was informed by the U.S. government at 1330 EDT today that Captain Richard Phillips has been rescued. John Reinhart, President and Chief Executive Officer of Maersk Line, Limited, called Captain Phillips’ wife, Andrea, to tell her the good news. The crew of the Maersk Alabama was jubilant when they received word.
Mr. Reinhart said, “We are all absolutely thrilled to learn that Richard is safe and will be re-united with his family. Maersk Line, Limited is deeply grateful to the Navy, the F.B.I. and so many others for their tireless efforts to secure Richard’s freedom. We join Richard’s family, his crew and his colleagues ashore in celebrating this wonderful news. We look forward to welcoming him home in the coming days.” Mr. Reinhart will hold a media briefing in Norfolk, Va., later on Sunday.

“Somebody grew a pair.”

UPDATE 4:20 p.m. ET: “From now on . . . ‘negotiations’ should be us telling the pirates and their envoys that if they surrender, we’ll let them live. If not, no quarter.”

UPDATE 4:27 p.m. ET: Linking a Boston Herald story about Capt. Phillips’ family reacting to the news, Jules Crittenden adds:

“[T]hose Somali elders the Americans were negotiating with might want the bodies of their clansmen. I’d suggest a delivery from altitude.”

Nah. Freaking pirates. Dump ’em overboard. Sharks got to eat too, ya know.

UPDATE 6:45 p.m. ET: Tom Maguire says, “Go Navy!”

UPDATE 7:30 p.m. ET: Donald Douglas: “[M]any of those on the left aren’t celebrating this event for the triumph of heroism that it is.” You don’t say! Professor Douglas links a liberal blogger who says: “I wonder which principled member of our corporate media will point out that, in the big picture, the Somali pirates are acting in self-defense?” Classic.

UPDATE 8:18 p.m. ET: “Anyone want to join me in a rousing game of Spank the Weasel?”

UPDATE 8:21 p.m. ET: by Smitty
Gateway Pundit points to Blackfive reporting, contrary to the AP, “This was not a rescue attempt ordered by National Command Authority i.e. the President. It was a reaction by the on scene commander under standard authority to safeguard the life of a hostage.” IOW, common delegation from policy makers to military has occurred. Encouraging.

UPDATE 10:07 p.m. ET: by Smitty
Squid blog Information Dissemination links Reuters quoting the pirates:

Somali pirates were quick to vow revenge over the shooting of their comrades, as well as a French military assault to rescue a yacht on Friday.
“The French and the Americans will regret starting this killing. We do not kill, but take only ransom. We shall do something to anyone we see as French or American from now,” Hussein, a pirate, told Reuters by satellite phone.

Because, somehow, merely ransoming prisoners makes the US the bad guy here.

April 12, 2009

Memo to Steve Benen, et al. (Or How to Deal With a ‘Progressive,’ If You Must)

Dear Mr. Benen:
In pursuance of the JournoList-approved Meme of the Day, that the nationwide April 15 Tax Day Tea Party rallies are not legitimate “grassroots” events, you quote Oliver Willis:

“When people were protesting the Iraq War, they didn’t have $500 a plate fundraisers. Then again, they didn’t have sponsorship from Fox News, the backing of corporate lobbyists and the attendance of prominent conspiracy theorists like Alan Keyes.”

Given that this is self-evidently an ad hominem attack, I will begin by responding with the question: Who is Oliver Willis?

Full Name: Lloyd Oliver Willis, Jr.
Age: 31
Date of Birth: 12/06/77
Place of Birth: Silver Spring, MD
Blogging since: December 2000-present
Work: Web Producer for Media Matters for America.

And, of course, Who is Media Matters? Which is to say that Mr. Willis is a paid, full-time, professional propagandist for his “progressive” cause. It is his job to promote stories favorable to his cause, and to derogate stories unfavorable to his cause. Q.E.D. (And what is your job, Steve Benen? Let us not digress.)

What is the substance of Mr. Willis’s accusation here? That the Tea Party movement is illegitimate because:

  • Fox News has given it favorable coverage;
  • Supporters are holding fund-raising dinners;
  • “Corporate lobbyists” are involved; and
  • Former Ambassador Alan Keyes will speak at one of the events.

This set of (non-randomly-selected) facts Oliver Willis contrasts with the protests against the Iraq War which, the reader is intended to assume, were legitimate grassroots events because similar facts did not apply. Which therefore raises the question: Who sponsored the protests against the Iraq War?

Having reported on the Iraq War protests, I know the answer to that question. In fact, I covered the very first major anti-war protest in D.C. after 9/11, the so-called “S29” demonstrations on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2001.

Sponsors of that protest included the International Action Center — a front for the Marxist splinter Workers World Party — as well as the Revolutionary Communist Party and its Maoist front group Refuse & Resist, and the Communist Party USA-affiliated Young Communist League, with support of the CPUSA-linked National Lawyers Guild.

Furthermore, I know that the S29 demonstration was actually planned before 9/11. It was organized as a protest against “globalization” during the World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings scheduled that weekend. Because of the 9/11 attacks, the commie organizers just switched the topic. So what had been intended as just another commie protest against an international free market (i.e., capitalism) like the notorious 1999 Seattle riot instead became a commie protest against “U.S. imperialism.”

All of that was a legitimate “grassroots” movement, per Oliver Willis.

Fuck you, sir.

Sincerely,

Robert Stacy McCain

P.S.: I don’t know about anyone else, but my participation in the Tax Day Tea Party is not sponsored by Fox News or “corporate lobbyists.” As every regular reader knows, my fundraising approach is direct and simple: Hit the tip jar, you ungrateful bastards! Or else I’ll ask you to speak to Gunnery Sgt. Hartman.

UPDATE 4:45 p.m.: Just had to delete a comment by a “Concern Troll.” Nice try, Anonymous: “Oh, I’m a loyal reader and you shouldn’t be so nasty to other writers. Blah blah blah.”

Yeah? Well, guess what, Anonymous? If you were such a loyal reader, you’d know that I routinely punk-smack people that piss me off. Steve Benen has forfeited any claim to respect by shilling for Media Matters while pretending to be an honest broker.

If you arrogant leftoids think I’m so stupid that I can’t spot coordinated messaging, and if you think I’m so naive that I can’t recognize the “concern troll” tactic, you’ve got another think coming.

UPDATE 6:40 p.m.: Over at The American Spectator blog, I’ve added some Cold War historical context to this. One of the problem we have is that relatively few Republican media operatives have ever studied the tactics of Communist subversion, and there is today very little institutional memory about that stuff, especially among younger conservatives.

The fact is that the old CPUSA propaganda methods have never ceased to be used by the Left. Saul Alinsky learned these methods and taught them to a generation of “New Left” activists (although many leaders of the New Left were “Red Diaper babies” who didn’t really need to be taught). Groups like Media Matters are merely replicating in up-to-date fashion communication strategies that worked for the Old Left in the 1930s and ’40s, and for the New Left in the 1960s and ’70s. (The smear campaign against Joe McCarthy was a classic example.)

Consider Kathy Shaidle’s shock of recognition when I described the “diamond pattern” tactic by which a handful of Communist operatives could manipulate public meetings. If you’ve studied the old CPUSA subversion methods, you learn to recognize the repeated use of the same familiar tactics.

Why do you think I’m so angered by “conservatives” who attack Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter? Nothing is more important to the Left than to destroy the prestige of effective conservative leaders. And nothing is more helpful to the Left than “conservatives” who assist them in such efforts, because everyone is more sympathetic to arguments made by their friends.

One of the ways that the Left destroyed McCarthy was by persuading Republicans that McCarthy was a political liability. All it took was for a few liberal Republicans to heed the Left’s argument — so that McCarthy was attacked from within the GOP — and the Left not only destroyed McCarthy but effectively undermined U.S. anti-subversive investigations for 40 years.

This is not to say that Limbaugh, Coulter or anyone else is above criticism. What it means is that your best defense against being manipulated is to understand that there are people trying to manipulate you. The Left has obvious motives for wanting to smear effective conservative leaders, and they have equally obvious motives for trying to persuade “conservatives” to assist them in their dirty work.

The Left has no moral scruples as to their methods. Their reasoning — and if you would read The Vision of the Anointed, you might begin to understand this — is that the “progressive” cause is so intrinsically moral as to justify even the most vile acts committed to advance the cause. (Pol Pot: Progressive Activist!)

The Left understands that the conservative constituency adheres to a bourgeois ethos of Judeo-Christian morality, civility, etc. Thus, any “scandal” or attack that makes a conservative leader or conservative movement appear disreputable by bourgeois standards will have the intended effect of undermining morale and cohesion among the Left’s opponents. The Left never heard of a “fair fight,” but fairness is intrinsic to bourgeois ethics, and so the Left is always winning battles by employing tactics that would be considered “scandalous” if employed by the Right.

Of course, the Left will cry “red-baiting” and “McCarthyism” when you accuse them in this manner, but if you watch them in operation long enough, and if you understand the history of the Left, you see the continuity from the “Popular Front” of the 1930s and ’40s, through the Cold War era, and into the 21st century.

It’s not “conspiracy theory” to say that the Left is engaged in coordinated messaging. As the JournoList revelations showed, it’s simply a statement of fact. So when you see Steve Benen hyping the same “the Tea Parties are a Murdoch hoax” meme being hyped by Oliver Willis and Jane Hamsher, you don’t need to wonder whether they’re all singing unison by accident.

And the fact that Left is using these dishonest methods to attack the Tea Party movement should tell you something else: Every conservative should be there on April 15!

WOLVERINES!

UPDATE 7:20 p.m. ET: Note the method: Why is James Dobson “far right”? The objective of the Think Progress propagandist is to imply that Dobson (and other social conservatives) are extremists, part of a fringe movement. This is an invitation to “moderate” or “mainstream” (i.e., respectable) conservatives to jettison social conservatives. This tactic of portraying powerful allies of the Right as disreputable “extremists” is certainly not new, and was used against both Goldwater and Reagan.

UPDATE 7:45 p.m. ET: William Jacobson on Oliver Willis:

Yet another irony lost, a blogger who works for a media organization promoting opposition to a protest movement because the protest movement is promoted by a media organization.

UPDATE 11:20 p.m. ET: Jimmie Bise: “I think I’ve detected a theme here, haven’t you?” Also, a little advice on dealing with trolls.

April 12, 2009

Obama’s Kenyan half-brother is ‘linked’ in sex assault on 13-year-old British girl

Via Memeorandum, the Times of London:

Barack Obama’s half-brother has been refused entry to Britain after reportedly being accused of an attempted sex attack on a 13-year-old girl on his last visit.
Samson Obama, who runs a mobile phone shop in Nairobi in Kenya, was on his way to the president’s inauguration in January when he tried to stop over in Britain to visit relatives. But he was turned away by immigration officers who declined to issue a visa on the grounds of deception.
Biometric tests carried out at East Midlands airport showed that he was linked to the attack on a girl in Berkshire last November but never charged, according to a report last night. Further checks identified Samson as the half-brother of President Obama, leading to a hurried call to the White House.
A Home Office source told the News of the World: “This was obviously an extremely sensitive issue when it was flashed up by the database.” Officers had noticed that one of the documents that Samson had supplied with his visa application was false which led them to make further inquiries, according to a Home Office spokesman.
Details on the database suggested that he was the same man who had been arrested by police in Berkshire after approaching a group of young girls, including a 13 year-old, and allegedly trying to sexually assault one of them, the News of the World reported.

The original News of the World exclusive is here. Obviously, the president is not responsible for the (alleged) misconduct of his siblings, but (a) exactly how many half-siblings does he have? and (b) imagine the media reaction if there was a case like this involving a relative of Sarah Palin.

UPDATE: Tim Graham’s memory is helpful:

Clinton’s White House aides complained about all the British press clips the “Clinton haters” used to start up negative coverage in the United States. . . . . I’d venture that if American media outlets found it newsworthy that President Bush’s niece Noelle falsely tried to grab a prescription for Xanax in 2002, a teen-sex controversy over a half-brother might be worth a few sentences.

A few months before I joined the staff of The Washington Times, the Clinton White House put together a 331-page report entitled “The Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce.” The object of the report was to explain how scandal stories about the Clinton administration originated outside the big mainstream press (New York Times/Washington Post/TV networks) and subsequently made it into the mainstream. The Washington Times figured prominently in that conspiracy theory, as did the Telegraph and other British newspapers.

The Fleet Street Formula
OK, to get into a wee bit of journalistic “inside baseball” here, you have to understand the “Fleet Street” mentality of the British press. God bless ’em, the British tabloids are utterly without shame. They have the insane belief that the object of journalism is to sell newspapers, and they go about with admirable capitalistic insight: Give the customers what they want.

It’s a simple formula: Celebrities, sports, sex, crime and scandal. The ideal British tabloid story would be if Victoria Beckham were having an affair with a member of Parliament whose mutilated corpse turned up in the trunk of the Saudi ambassador’s car. (Adding the irresistible “wog” angle to the story, you see.)

To a British reporter, the president of the United States is merely another celebrity, whose name and picture on the front page can help sell papers, especially if there is some kind of scandalous whiff of sex, crime or scandal involved.

Trust me, the boys at the British tabs were saying “thank you, God” when Sarah Palin was announced as the Republican vice presidential candidate. A good-looking bird is always news on Fleet Street. (Old Benny Hill joke: “What’s the hottest part of the sun? Page Three!”)

Beyond the obvious insight that “sex sells” (Rule 5C) British editors seem to understand the power of news as publicity. This was something that my hero, Hunter S. Thompson, figured out early in his journalism career: At some level, a lot of what a reporter does is to publicize people and events. (Thompson learned this in his early career as a sports editor, which he recounts briefly in the “Epitaph” at the end of Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72.)

Trump, Gotti and Vince Foster
To understand the value of this insight, consider how the New York Post — the nearest U.S. equivalent of a Fleet Street tabloid — made celebrities of John Gotti and Donald Trump. Gotti was just another mobster in a town with lots of mobsters, and Trump was just another real-estate developer. But because of the way the NY Post lavished these two figures with front-page coverage, they became celebrities. The same is true of Amy Fisher, the “Long Island Lolita.”

Which brings us back to the Clintonian conspiracy theory of White House scandal coverage during the 1990s. That 331-page report (which was accompanied by a wacky-looking chart that used to be prominently displayed in one assistant editor’s cubicle at The Washington Times) evidently began with an effort to figure out how the Vince-Foster-Was-Murdered story became a continuing headline saga.

Vince Foster was an old Little Rock law firm colleague of Hillary Clinton’s who became a minor official — Deputy White House Counsel — in the Clinton administration. And then one day in July 1993, his body was found in Fort Marcy Park with a bullet through his head. Every investigation into Foster’s death has ruled it a suicide but, as with the assassination of JFK, suspicious minds were . . . well, suspicious.

Here’s the thing to understand: Until he shot himself, Foster was obscure, but in death he became a celebrity. Why? Because, among other things, you can’t libel the dead.

Dead men don’t file libel suits, which is why the skeptic must keep a container of salt handy when considering all those tales of JFK’s notorious womanizing. There is abundant reliable testimony that JFK wantonly indulged his voracious sexual appetites, but the story of any specific Kennedy liaison (e.g., Marilyn Monroe) must be scrutinized with profound skepticism simply because (a) we’ll never hear JFK’s side of the story, and (b) the journalist who alleges the affair can never be sued for libel.

Britain’s libel laws are much more plaintiff-friendly than U.S. law. An American journalist sued for libel knows that the burden is on the plaintiff to prove his story false; a British journalist must prove his story true. But in England as in America, you can’t libel the dead, and after he reached room temperature, Vince Foster was fair game.

It was an Irishman, Brendan Behan, who is credited with the famous P.R. maxim, “There is no such thing as bad publicity,” although the full quote is: “There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary.” And Foster’s obituary was very bad publicity, indeed.

The fact that Foster had been involved in helping the Clintons deal with the Whitewater scandal — once famously described as “a cover-up in search of a crime” — generated a massive tsunami of fresh reporting on a story that the Clintonistas wanted to go away. And thus the administration assigned White House staffers to prepare the “Conspiracy Stream of Commerce” report, in an effort to explain how a story by Christopher Ruddy of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review or Jerry Seper of The Washington Times ended up getting ping-ponged around until it was big enough news that Peter Jennings felt obligated to mention it for 40 seconds on the ABC Evening News.

Spiking the Scandal
Naturally, the Clintonistas had a propaganda objective: To convince mainstream journalists to stop reporting Clinton White House scandals. “No story here. Asked and answered. Next question.” And this pushback against negative reporting had a real impact.

Everybody journalist in Washington knows that Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff had the Monica Lewinsky story wrapped up about two weeks before it finally made the front page of the Washington Post. It was Matt Drudge (who figured prominently in the “conspiracy stream of commerce” theory) who broke the news that Isikoff’s story had been spiked, setting off a furious scramble by D.C. news organizations to confirm the Lewinsky story.

I’d only been in town two months at that point (I started with The Washington Times in November 1997) but I’ll never forget how close one of our reporters came to beating the Post on the Lewinsky scandal. The Post and Newsweek are part of the same operation, so the Post‘s reporters had the inside line, but it was nonetheless a close contest. And the main reason we couldn’t beat them, of course, was that the people pushing the story didn’t want the story to break in a “right-wing” publication; they wanted a respectable “mainstream” publication to be the first with the story.

Fortunately for Monica Lewinsky, she didn’t have to turn up dead in Fort Marcy Park — or crash into the side of a mountain in Croatia, like Ron Brown — to become a celebrity. My advice to Samson Obama? Don’t forget to pay your life-insurance premiums.

April 12, 2009

‘Epic Fail,’ Starring Jane Hamsher

(BUMPED; UPDATES BELOW) Yet another brilliant move, Jane:

UPDATE: by Smitty (h/t: Insty)
FoxNews, while not funding the protests, does offer some tips to avoid Hamsher’s rattiness.

UPDATE II: Little Miss Attila mocks the madness of Crazy Jane who — need we remind you? — last week was whining that Democrats aren’t forking over to pay off their blogbots. A bit of the old “jobs for the boys” mentality over on the Left side of the ‘sphere, and then Crazy Jane projects her madness on the Right by accusing Fox of fomenting the Tea Party movement.

Crazy Jane should be grateful she’s not like the workers at SEIU’s Washington HQ who got laid off after their union spent $85 million in members’ dues to elect Obama.

UPDATE III: Via Memeorandum, more commentary at TrogloPundit, Instapundit, Hot Air, Founding Bloggers, Blue Crab Boulevard, Gay Patriot, PoliGazette., and Dan Riehl.

Meanwhile, Crazy Jane continues to insist there is PROOF that Rupert Murdoch plotted the Tea Party movement. Right. And fire can’t melt steel.

UPDATE IV: Reply to Steve Benen, et al., Or: How to Respond to a “Progressive” (If You Must).

UPDATE V: Linked at Capital Research Center.

April 12, 2009

Department of Ungood Statistics

by Smitty

via Digg, here is a NYT article citing a British Medical Journal article about China’s worsening demographic imabalance:

In 2005 , they found, births of boys in China exceeded births of girls by more than 1.1 million. There were 120 boys born for every 100 girls.
This disparity seems to surpass that of any other country, they said — a finding, they wrote, that was perhaps unsurprising in light of China’s one-child policy.

*squawk*Unintended consequences of government intervention*squawk*
More to the point, where do those strapping lads go for, you know, wives?
Bad as the current situation looks, we can take some left-handed comfort in knowing that, in the out decades, the current challenges shall likely seem a breeze.

April 12, 2009

Stop me if you’ve heard this one . . .

“Did you hear about the Catholic, the Jew and the Muslim who walked into a theatre in London, Ontario? It’s a stellar bill – Kathy Shaidle, Ezra Levant and Salim Mansur, three staunch friends of real human rights taking on Canada’s pseudo-‘human rights’ racket — live this Monday evening. If you’re in the neighborhood, make sure you’re there.”

Mark Steyn

April 12, 2009

Rule 5 Sunday, Slightly Early Edition

By Smitty
This post is going up just before Sunday. We’re not hugely sanctimonious here. Every day is Christmas, every day is Easter, for all I care. Won’t detail my actual Easter activities here, lest I sound immodest. Is that sufficient fluff? To the links:

  • Leading off, we have Monique Stewart going for the tasteful retro pose with Kate Perry.
  • Fausta has, for the ladies, an edgy meditation on chest hair. On a purely academic basis, one wonders about her Billy Mays policy.
  • The Physics Geek traces a linear trajectory through a trio of blonds. Physiques Geek?
  • Chris Muir’s Day by Day helps us with scientific rationale surely as valid as anything fronted by a former Vice President:



    Day by Day rocks, but you knew that.

  • Pat in Shreveport contributes to the Hugh Jackman thing. An allusion to the Beatallica link here?. Remember: “hybrid children watch the sea” and beware!
  • The Troglopundit has some good clips. Padma remains a vision, Metallica is silly (they’re great musicians, how about targeting a post-angst market?), but the jedi catfight makes it worthwhile.
  • Track-a-‘Crat offers left-handed complements to a couple of blonds. One of whom triggers a dip into the Kristen Wiig locker:

  • Under the wire is the stalwart left coast American Power Blog, featuring Kristin Cavallari
  • Carol over at No Sheeples Here fancies some Brosnan, which was late, but she flattered me, and there’s no doubt about what kind of man I am, though the price was low enough to compare with GM shares…
  • The Political Castaway drags in close to the see-you-next-week line. For some reason, he thinks an interest in Anna Rawson’s athletic activities might be spiritually unhealthy. What’s wrong with a bit of sport?

Blow up my email box with your Rule 5-age, here, and I’ll queue you up.