Monday, July 26, 2010


My heart goes out to bloggers such as A Conservative Teacher. Here is a person passionate about the teaching profession, who writes about political events that affect the future of our children.

We don’t know the name of this blogger. It is a price the blogger pays for protection of career and family.

Tim Daniel, the inspiration behind Left Coast Rebel (and a supporter of this blog), recently had a post in The Daily Caller. The article displayed Tim’s understated “can you believe THIS!” style of writing, and yet it was significant for another reason.

Tim published it with his name and photograph.

Why is this significant? It is because our culture supports the idea of Republicans being continually “under siege.” We accept Republicans having shoes thrown at them, eggs thrown at them, speeches drowned out, and cars vandalized. Our culture simply shrugs and continues with the idea that Republicans deserve this treatment.

It makes a difference. It intimidates us. We hesitate.

That’s why this has been an interesting week. The people who run the town of Bell, California didn’t expect pushback from folks like Tim Daniel. Senator Kerry didn’t expect to be called on his tax avoidance techniques. The NAACP didn’t expect to be criticized for working to label Republicans as “racists.”

The blogging community is now the primary agent for transparency over governmental heavy-handedness. It’s a service delivered unapologetically, with a simple appeal to human fairness.

Tim Daniel is a leader in this effort. Let’s wish him all the best, as well as the quick reflexes to dodge any shoes that come flying his way!

Thanks for the link, Tim.  Maybe as Glenn Reynolds says, there truly is "An Army of Davids" out there. Thanks also to A Conservative Teacher for the comment on the dangers of expressing your opinion.  Here is a link to the post about Bill Ayers from that comment:

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I’ve pointed out in earlier posts (here and here) the structural bias in our printed media: The anti-Republican stories are printed as “News” while the stories that support Republicans are printed as “Opinion.”

Today’s Denver Post (7/21/2010) illustrates the technique.

A couple of recent news stories have been about federal government officials. One relates to the head of NASA supporting Muslim outreach, while another is about an official from the USDA discussing racial preferences at a banquet for the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). The newsworthy issue in both cases is whether this kind of posturing is appropriate for government administrators acting in their official capacity.

The Post helps us sort out the correct understanding. With regard to Shirley Sherrod, the Georgia state director of rural development for the United States Department of Agriculture, a Washington Post story is presented on page four. The lead paragraph begins, “A fuzzy video of an Agriculture Department official opened a new front Tuesday in the ongoing war between the left and right…” The story goes on to explain, “A video of the full, 45-minute-plus speech shows that Sherrod was trying to make a very different point than the one her critics saw…”

The Post lets us know that the issue is not whether racism is displayed in the actions of a government official, but that Republicans misunderstood the good intentions of this Democratic Party appointee.

The Morning Brew column by Mike Littwin is on page two of today’s Post. (I featured an earlier column by Mr. Littwin here.) This morning, Mr. Littwin straightens out our understanding of the interview given by Administrator Charles Bolden of theNational Aeronautics and Space Administration. He does it from the context of a line delivered by Jane Norton, a Republican candidate for Senator from Colorado. He quotes Mrs. Norton as saying in a debate, “We need a NASA budget that doesn’t cater to making Muslims feel good but that is strong on science…”

Mr. Littwin helps us understand that the issue is not whether Muslim outreach is an appropriate mission of NASA, but that Republicans are naturally anti-Muslim. He even (reflexively? predictably!!) invokes Sarah Palin to strengthen his point.

In its first section, the Post helps us understand what “News” is, and how we should think about it. Is there an opposing point of view?

Well, yes there is…

The Post places it in the Op-Ed section, where David Harsanyi points out a disconnect with President Obama’s claim that Republicans are demonstrating a “lack of faith in the American people.” Mr. Harsanyi uses his column to cite evidence of our federal government treating Americans as clueless pawns. He concludes with the contention, “Obama is probably confusing faith in people with faith in power. Because as hard as one tries, it is difficult to find any instances of choices expanding under this administration. That’s the true test of confidence in the citizenry.”

Mr. Harsanyi makes a good point. Unfortunately, his readership is limited to those who venture into that strange new world where analysis is presented as Opinion.

When a tree falls in a forest with no one to hear it, does it make a sound?

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

In Plain Sight

Power Line's Scott Johnson posted an article by Maimon Schwarzschild on 7/19/2010 that explores the “One-Party Media” that exists in the United States.

Mr. Schwarzschild writes, “It is extraordinary, and I think unprecedented, that a free press has voluntarily transformed itself into something not very different from the controlled press in an undemocratic country.”

Mr. Schwarzschild finds this hard to believe, and yet notes that it is backed by “innumerable examples.”

The Census Bureau map illustrates the quandary. We live in diverse geographies and come from diverse ancestry. We can’t shed our diversity.

But what if analysts are looking at the wrong data? While searching for the “holy grail” hidden within the diversity puzzle, they are missing the bigger picture?

What is NOT diverse is our CULTURE, and I think Mr. Schwarzchild is beginning to see it.

In America, the Democratic Party represents “the good guys.” This is the organization that tells us how to interpret the news, how to enjoy our entertainment, and what is acceptable and what is controversial.

If you are looking for a framework to explain what is in plain sight, don’t bother with census data or opinion polls.

Simply look at our culture.

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Friday, July 16, 2010


Robert Stacy McCain is a god.

That being said, Stacy’s recent post on Media Matters is disquieting.

The masthead of his blog (The Other McCain) states, “One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up.” It is a quote from Arthur Koestler, known for his book “Darkness at Noon” and for a life that ricocheted against the edges of human torment.

Koestler’s quote comes to mind as Stacy takes on the Media Matters’ coverage of Pamela Geller at Atlas Shrugs. Ms. Geller is critical of Islamic extremism, and comes under fire for her viewpoints.

Stacy characterizes the Media Matters’ criticism of Ms. Geller in this fashion (emphasis mine):

--“Media Matters is trying to suppress dissent.”
--“Endeavoring to dismiss the story as insignificant…”
--“Eric Boehlert wants to rule such questions as out of bounds…”
--“Media Matters is attempting to discredit the messenger.”
--“Media Matters is attempting to exercise the power of an arbiter…

I don’t believe that Media Matters and similar voices within our culture are upstarts having a fling at influencing opinion. They do it with a calculated plan of action, using repetitive themes and a coordinated choice of language. Stacy’s wording makes Media Matters seem tentative.

It might be fun to think of our anti-Republican culture as something without substance and force, but Pamela Geller has a better approach.

She sees a threat and responds accordingly. I’ll bet Arthur Koestler would approve.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Courageous Restraint

Royal Marines in Afghanistan
Photograph by Jane Mingay, Courtesy of the Telegraph

In January of 1973, Time Magazine published a story about B-52 pilot Captain Michael Heck refusing to fly missions over North Vietnam. According to Time, Captain Heck’s rationale was that “the goals do not justify the mass destruction and killing."

A case of “courageous restraint?”

This term might be unfamiliar to you, as it has just burst onto the scene. Here’s an Associated Press article published in May, 2010 at

NATO Pushes ‘Courageous Restraint’ for Troops

The idea is creating some consternation in the United States military, but its genesis is in our culture. We seem interested in replacing tried-and-true rules such as “Thou Shalt Not Kill” with a more interpretive standard of “Thou Shalt Do the Right Thing.” The advantage of the updated standard is that it requires a centralized moral authority to ensure the standard is administered properly.

Are you starting to feel the influence of politics?

Here are some situations to consider:

An elderly gentleman in Wheat Ridge, Colorado was recently charged with attempted murder. On February 24, 2010, Robert Wallace, an octogenarian, allegedly fired a handgun at a couple of people who were (allegedly) stealing a flatbed trailer from his home. Mr. Wallace thought he was defending his property. The Wheat Ridge police think that Mr. Wallace lives in a safe neighborhood and he should have used “courageous restraint”.

In Arizona, Governor Jan Brewer is quite concerned about the lawlessness that comes with Mexican gangs using the Arizona border as an arena for drug trafficking and kidnapping. The head of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, has a different point of view. She feels that in the 18 months of her tenure, great progress has been made “addressing current challenges with our federal, state, local, tribal and Mexican partners in order to keep our communities safe from threats of border-related violence and crime.” One gets the feeling from Janet Napolitano that the Southwest border has never been safer.

While Governor Brewer sees the need for decisive action, Secretary Napolitano sees the need for courageous restraint.

And so it appears that the idea of courageous restraint is situational. By that, I don’t mean we have to look into such things as the ethnicity or gender of the people involved. Nor does it depend on the life experience of anyone; whether he or she had an abusive childhood or experienced bullying in school. Rather, it is based on the perspective of the individual thrust into the action versus the perspective of the moral authority with power over that individual. Depending on where you fit in that situation, you take one side or the other.

In the military, the troops at the “pointy end of the spear” often have a different perspective than the people in the Headquarters or Command Post facility. The operators (people in the trenches) don’t like being “used,” and particularly don’t like being pawns in a political game that treats their lives as expendable items.

Those who are removed from the battlefield are not physically at risk, and get to make their decisions from a safe and dispassionate sanctuary. These authority figures on any given day can actually render a moral judgment about a particular combat action and then later move on to the responsibilities associated with photo-ops, golf games and encounters with famous entertainers.

But back to the issue of the medal itself…

There is a hierarchy in military decorations. With the United States military, the decorations are awarded in this type of sequence:
Armed Forces Service Medal – if you are in a military unit but not subject to hostile action.
Southwest Asia Service Medal – if you are in theater and are supporting combat operations.
Presidential Unit Citation – if you are assigned to a unit in action against an armed enemy.
Purple Heart – if you are wounded or killed in combat.
Silver Star – for gallantry in combat.
Medal of Honor – for risking your life above and beyond the call of duty.
As you can tell, the more involved you are in combat operations, the higher the ranking of the medals being awarded. With this hierarchy in mind, where do you think a Courageous Restraint Medal should be placed?

While pondering that question, do you get a bad taste in your mouth; a feeling that makes you want to turn your head and spit?

A characterization of that feeling might be “disgust.”

UPDATE 7/17/2010:
Here is a Denver Post quote from a local judge making a ruling on the "Stolen Valor Act:"
"To suggest that the battlefield heroism of our servicemen and women is motivated in any way, let alone in a compelling way, by considerations of whether a medal may be awarded simply defies my comprehension."
That's U. S. District Judge Robert Blackburn declaring the 2006 Stolen Valor Act unconstitutional on free speech grounds.

Judge Blackburn says our Constitution allows people to make bogus claims of military service and decorations as protected speech.  He also feels that military decorations do not have a political component.  (I assume that Judge Blackburn would think the Courageous Restraint issue is trivial.)  The whole concern about the significance of military medals "defies [his] comprehension."

Unfortunately, people think of military decorations in different ways.  A posthumous award of a Purple Heart has greater significance to family members than the Purple Heart Senator John Kerry accepted for his injuries in Viet Nam.

An awards ceremony where a battle action is commemorated and some soldiers are awarded medals for valor while others are awarded medals for courageous restraint will cause a few people to feel uncomfortable.

The point to keep in mind is that when our leaders bring politics into a situation (especially where great physical risk and loss of life are in play) they are dealing with human emotions at their greatest intensity.

Many people would find that NOT to be trivial.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Friday, July 2, 2010

Sexual Assault

Byron York, writing for the Washington Examiner, has an opinion piece in “Beltway Confidential”. It appeared on 7/1/2010 and is titled: “Portland police: We messed up the Gore sex investigation.”

Photo of Al Gore by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Mr. York includes this five-paragraph statement from Michael Reese, Chief of the Portland Police Bureau:

The case concerning allegations against Al Gore began in 2006, when an attorney representing the woman involved contacted the Portland Police Bureau. Detectives arranged to meet with the woman on three different occasions. All of these meetings were cancelled by the woman’s attorney. Detectives were then told by her attorney that the woman was pursuing civil litigation. The District Attorney was consulted, but without the woman’s cooperation, the case was cleared.

In 2009, the woman involved asked Portland Police Detectives to take her statement. She read a prepared statement and a Detective asked follow-up questions. The Police Bureau did not contact Mr. Gore, nor did it refer the case to the District Attorney at that time.

In June 2010, when a national tabloid published a story, the Police Bureau received public records requests for the police reports regarding these allegations. In accordance with public records law and because it was a closed investigation, the Police Bureau released those redacted reports.

In reviewing this case, we have determined there were procedural issues with the 2009 investigation that merit re-opening the case. There should have been command level review at the time on the specifics of this case and decisions on whether the investigation should go forward.

The decision to re-open the case was solely made by the Portland Police Bureau. It is our responsibility to both parties involved to conduct a thorough, fair and timely investigation. As with any open investigation, it is inappropriate for the Police Bureau to comment on any specifics regarding the investigation. We ask for the public’s patience as we let the facts of the investigation guide us and ensure the integrity of the investigation. I have asked Detectives to assign appropriate resources in the interest of conducting a complete investigation in an expedited manner.
Did you notice anything interesting about the statement from chief Reese?

His statement doesn’t name the specific allegation against Mr. Gore. Unless you have some prior information, you don’t know what this is about!

Contrast chief Reese’s statement with this excerpt from a Denver news story on 5/28/2003:

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The 45th class of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs graduated today under the cloud of several scandals first reported by 7NEWS.

Reports that 57 female cadets were sexually assaulted between 1990 and 2003 led to removal of the superintendent and commandant last month.
It looked like any other Air Force Academy graduation, caps tossed in the air, Thunderbirds screaming overhead.
But the senior commanders who had led the 974 cadets through their last two years weren't present Wednesday, removed because of a sexual assault scandal at the school. Two senior cadets scheduled to graduate were omitted at the last minute.
I am struck by the difference in tone between the two situations.

One is characterized as a scandal. The other is simply an “effort to be fully transparent.”

Is this disparity “right and natural”?

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

James Taranto

James Taranto has the laid-back look of a George Wendt (Norm Peterson in the “Cheers” television comedy):

But looks can be deceiving.

Mr. Taranto is a gifted editor and columnist. He provides us with a daily jewel in The Wall Street Journal Opinion and Commentary section. His column is titled “Best of the Web Today”.

Best of the Web Today” analyzes content published on the Internet, with examples of writing that demonstrates the proper use of metaphor and headline. While this sounds a little on the dry side, Mr. Taranto works in mischievous fashion, and entertains and instructs while enticing a collective smile from his readership.

I enjoy the section titled, “Everything Seemingly Is Spinning Out of Control.” You have to understand the context of the expression, but once you do, you will find this segment to be hilarious.

Mr. Taranto’s writing has a serious side. My attention was drawn to his column of 6/29/2010. It had commentary on an obituary written of Senator Robert Byrd. Here is Mr. Taranto’s analysis:

Compare and Contrast
The men who rank first and third in the list of longest-serving U.S. senators, Robert Byrd of West Virginia and Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, both died this decade. That's not the only thing they had in common. Both began their careers as segregationist Democrats but later repented and supported civil rights legislation. Both had obituaries in the New York Times written by Adam Clymer--but therein lie some differences:

The Thurmond obit, published June 27, 2003, was headlined "Strom Thurmond, Foe of Integration, Dies at 100."

The Byrd obit, published today, is headlined "Robert Byrd, a Pillar of the Senate, Dies at 92." (The early online headline said "Respected Voice" rather than "Pillar.")

The Thurmond obit mentioned the senator's opposition to civil rights in the third paragraph.

The Byrd obit, doesn't get to his opposition to civil rights--and his membership in the Ku Klux Klan--until paragraph 16, the topic sentence of which is, "Mr. Byrd's perspective on the world changed over the years."

Now it is true that Thurmond ran for president in 1948 as a "States' Rights Democrat," so that he was a more important figure in the reaction against civil rights than Byrd was. On the other hand, compare and contrast these details from deep in the two men's obits:

Byrd, paragraphs 17-18: "Mr. Byrd's political life could be traced to his early involvement with the Klan, an association that almost thwarted his career and clouded it intermittently for years afterward. In the early 1940s, he organized a 150-member klavern, or chapter, of the Klan in Sophia, W.Va., and was chosen its leader."

Thurmond, paragraph 16: "In 1940, he called on the grand jury in Greenville to be ready to take action against the Ku Klux Klan, which, he said, represented 'the most abominable type of lawlessness.' "

There was one other big difference between the two superannuated senators: Whereas Byrd remained a Democrat until his death yesterday, Thurmond became a Republican in 1964. That may account for the somewhat different treatment they got from Clymer.
Mr. Taranto might attribute Mr. Clymer’s bias to flawed journalistic skills. (Reporters, after all, are expected to be objective and accountable.)

I don’t think that is quite right. I would attribute the bias to our anti-Republican culture: Mr. Clymer is simply writing with a perspective that is … expected.

So what is the point?

Our school system teaches us to be wary of opinion. If we are sourcing a writing assignment, we learn that news stories can be treated as “objective”, but opinion columns are typically “slanted”.

And that is the takeaway…

Mr. Clymer’s work is classified as “News”.

Mr. Taranto sets the record straight and his work is “Opinion”.

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