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Friday, October 31, 2008

The Exquisitely Thin Line Between Blithe and Blithering

My Facebook friend Kathy Shaidle invited me to join a Facebook group yesterday. (BTW, for those of you who are not familiar with her, you need to go to her blog Five Feet of Fury and buy her books and frequent her blog. She writes with the clarity and power of a laser death-ray and she can be very funny too.) The theme of the group was, “Stand up for Margaret Wente”. Wente has run afoul of the political correctness crowd in Canada for speaking plainly about things that the PCers want to pretend don’t exist and many of them are clamoring for her to lose her job over it.

Kathy, many of you will know is a member of a select group of some of the best bloggers in Canada who have been subjected to inquisition and excoriation for speaking plainly so she is more than a little sensitive on this point.

I joined immediately and found that the discussion trail at the bottom of the page was full of wandering moonbats and inexplicable bloviators. Sometimes I simply can’t resist the temptation playing whack-a-whack-o but the trail at the bottom of the join the group page was just too target-rich. Embarrassing in a way and I have ADHD- just too much stimulation…

The I happened upon the “discussion board” which was much less populated. I put up a post in support of Wente and we were off to the races. There were a few satisfying encounters. There was a “Poopy-header” http://breathofthebeast.blogspot.com/2007/05/no-poopy-heads-allowed.html named Hollingsworth who tried the old back-door moral equivalency gambit of calling Wente’s article an “atrocity”. Then I got to take a swipe at a poor old left-over anti-colonialist leftie trying to flog the old canards of colonialism and racism. But the one with staying power was someone named Antonia Zebrisias. I didn’t know it at the time but she is a newspaper columnist in Toronto.

In a sly aside she asked, “Mr. Ben Moshe, a question. Are you really concerned with American indigenous people here, or indigenous people in general?” Anyone with a Jewish surname knows what THAT question is about. So I answered (edited to remove typos):

Ms Zerbisias,
I suspect the tone of your question is a geopolitical sneer so I will just say that “Indigenous” is a foolish, guilt-ridden concept and one which allows all manner of "I was there first!" quibbling. I address all of the questions in great detail in my two blog posts on the subject. In case you missed them above here they are again- just in case you, Mr. Hollingsworth or anyone else would like to engage some real information rather than slinging sneers and jibes...
My two basic posts on Indians can be found here:
http://breathofthebeast.blogspot.com/2007/04/indian-guilt-and-american-view-of-islam.html
and here:
http://breathofthebeast.blogspot.com/2007/04/indian-guilt-and-american-view-of-islam_19.html

I could see immediately what she was about. She had less of a position on this than she did a pose. She answered with one of those mind-numbingly indirect and unfocussed replies that you get when someone has no clue what they are talking about, doesn’t care to to do the research or thinking required to turn it into a position but won’t give up on their “pose”. Here she is baffeling us with movement and “stuff”:
“With respect, Mr. Ben Moshe, I have repeatedly tried but I cannot get past your inability to separate your apparent anti-Muslim agenda from any thoughts you might have regarding indigenous peoples.
I also am trouble by your constant blanket referral to ''Indian culture,'' as if the Incas were the Aztecs were the Mayans were the Anazasi were the Cree were the Sioux were the Iroquois were the Haida. Their language, art, architecture, even gods were dissimilar.
Furthermore, referring back to your blog post, many of these were matriarchal societies, a fact that the Christian invaders could not and would not deal with. The breakdown of that structure caused irreparable damage, as it did with the African-Americans whose families the slaveowners had no regard for.
As for definitions of savage, well, if you lived on the plain or in the high desert, you were hardly of the forest now, were you?”

It’s all very light and breezy sounding but quite subversive. Here is the outline of her argument- right out of the liberal check list of anti-western, multiculturalists’ playbook:
Phony respect
Lying about trying to understand
Back door accusation of Islamophobia- Implying that if you are Zionist –or even Jewish you are anti-Muslim
Silly, hair-splitting distinction about “culture(s)”
Name dropping pretense to real knowledge about Indians
New-age twaddle about Matriarchal societies
BAD,BAD Christians, Blame the BAD Westerners

What is even more disturbing though is the style- the tone. It is light and breezy- an attempt to disarm. La-de-da- she says, I just tried and tried but I don’t under stand… I’ll just rattle off names of Indian tribes, that’ll impress ya… Blah blah blah. It reminds me of Strunk and White’s caution in The Elements of Style, “Do not affect a breezy manner. The breezy style is often the work of an egocentric, the person who imagines that everything that pops into his head is of general interest and that uninhibited prose creates high spirits and carries the day.”

I was not going to let it go by:
“With equal respect Ms Zerbisias, I think you are right about some things and mistaken about other things. One thing on which you err is your accusation that I am possessed of an anti-muslim agenda. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am only pointing out that that cohort of Muslims who insist on believing (among other preposterous things) that I and all other westerners- yourself included by the way- are nothing but pigs, dogs or monkeys and that it is their duty to murder us- me and my family and you and yours- for the greater glory of Islam, should be considered a bad influence and resisted.

Even if you were a Muslim yourself, and a nice moderate one, in the prophesied days of the Caliphate (or in many Muslim countries today) that picture of you with a bottle, classy little open necked jacket and ciggy would have the local morality police on your case in a jiffy! Women in Iran and Saudi Arabia have been beaten, beheaded, stoned and hanged for the like. No, I'm not anti-muslim but I'll defend your right not to wear a burkha with my life.

On the other hand, you are quite right in that you seem to lack something (patience, fortitude, reading comprehension?) to get past that thought and get on with some of the more difficult reasoning and evidence that I have laid out in painstaking detail and at exhaustive length both here and in those posts you mention.

Another thing you are correct on is that I wrote of "Indian culture" instead of Indian cultures for although I unintentionally implied by that that there was one culture that was less sophisticated and not as technologically advanced than the western culture, there were,in fact, a whole continent full of them. Some of them were more advanced than others but you are quite correct in reminding me that they were all, every last one of them, less advanced than the West. Thanks for that!

You'll pardon me, I hope, if I point out that all of those tribes you mention practiced bloody warfare on their neighbors. Moreover, the more complex the culture the bloodier were their religions. The Incas sacrificed children to their Gods, The Aztecs took captives from neighboring peoples and cut their still beating hearts out of their chests and held them up as offering to their Gods.

Please, look again and consider your last sentence. It seems, at first to be something of a non-sequitur but underneath that appearance is something more dangerous. You see, what you have just written is that "everything is relative." It all depends on your point of view. No culture is any better than any other. That is simply not so- If you had lived in one of those wonderful matriarchal Indian cultures, the other women would turn you and your multicultural vagueness out into the wilderness. Or- just try going to Iran or Saudi Arabia and try it out.”

I had clearly let her get to me but it made me think. I could have saved myself the trouble of this long response if I had only thought of the Elements of Style criteria first. When someone is bloviating and posing as opposed to taking a reasoned position, it makes sense that it will show in their style. I have always believed that good writing , though not a guarantee, is a good clue that there is a good mind at work. A blithe response is almost a dead giveaway of a blithering idiot at the keyboard. I am going to try to use E.B. White's and Will Strunk’s test first in the future.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Here's Hoping Nice Guys Finish Last This Time Too!

Not that it doesn't sound interesting...

Mr Obama, I have nothing against you. In fact you seem like a pretty nice man. Maybe a little too nice. I think your intentions are good but, honestly I think you are a babe in the woods. You remind me of other goofy and untested Democrats of the past. In some ways you remind me of Mike Dukakis.


Governor Mike Dukakis’ was a soothing, cool intellectual just like you. Unlike you though, the press felt free to ask him hard questions. When he was asked about his failed proson furlough program here in Massachusetts his naïveté lead him to a fatal mistake. In reference to the poster boy for liberals allowing evil to eat the innocent, Willie Horton, he was asked how he would feel about “rehabilitating” someone who raped and murdered his wife. His cool, bloodless answer scared a lot of people, and rightly so.

I know you don’t understand it so I will make it explicit: that is what people didn’t like about your conversation with Joe the plumber. You, like all the other liberals who want to take care of the rest of us, are cool and bloodless when it comes even to those closest to you when they don’t fit in with your intellectual ideas about how the world should be run.

And let's face it, the lengths that you, your media worshipers and your campaign people went to to assasinate Joe's character was just plain ugly. Not at all what we would expect from someone who works so hard at "nice". Yes but is it a socialist, totalitarian kind of nice isn't it. Ask a hard question or stand up for your private property and nice turns nasty in a hurry...

You talk about Change.

The question is, “Change what, Mr. Obama?”

I’m not so sure that I want you “spreading the wealth” right now. You keep saying that in a country as wealthy as ours we ought to be able to just provide health care for everyone. That’s a very nice thing to say but I sure don’t feel so wealthy at the moment and most of the people I know don’t either. I was watching when you talked with “Joe the Plumber too”. See, I really think that this spreading the wealth deal is dangerous. It can’t help but weaken our economic power by taking money from entrepreneurs like Joe who earned it and will most likely make it work My question on that would be why take the money from him, crank it through a bigger and less efficient bureaucracy who will then dole it out in chunks to someone who may or may not do anything other than to buy extra lottery tickets and cigarettes with it.

That’s not the kind of change I believe in…

We should not be thinking about weakening our economy- especially right now. If we do, we will no longer be able to take our usual role of supplying much of the creative power to pull the world’s economies out of the recession. What country do you think would take our place in that role? China, where the economy is so dependant on selling goods designed and specified here into our market that even in the less drastic conditions before the current increase in the slow-down, analysts were predicting the possibility of social unrest?

Do you mean the America hating, oil-rich despots and potentates of Arabia and Persia, with whom you say you will confer without preconditions, perhaps? No, their only role in the world’s economy is to make sure to exert the maximum drag on the worlds economy by ratcheting our energy costs up whenever possible. Here’s a suggestion: Why don’t you make it a precondition that they at least stop promising to use the proceeds of their blackmail to try to bring about our downfall as a civilization? Is that too restrictive?

Or maybe you hope that the once strong economies of Europe, you know, the ones that have been stultified by socialistic policies similar to the ones you want to implement here, will do the job?

Anyway, the whole mortgage mess seems to have been caused by the kinds of socialistic “redistribution of wealth” you have specifically advocated and your friends at ACORN have directly lobbied for. You have even been one of the greatest beneficiaries personally – in the form of donations from Fannie Mae. So we need to back off on the “4 more years”warnings because, frankly, John McCain looks more to me like the guy who can clean this up than you do. For one thing, you don't seem to hang around with a very nice crowd...


No, I don’t think that you are the guy to bring the needed change any more than I think any of those socialist countries are up to the job of pulling up the worlds economic socks- and if you become president, maybe we won’t be anymore.

Look, most of the rest of the world is Socialist or worse, every society has its ups and downs but there is only one that has fueled all of the ups for the past couple of centuries. There is no good time to change that.

The Media's Last Chance to Give Us All the Coverage We Need

Amidst rumors of financial ruin and dark Intimations of racial and social unrest pending the results of the election next week, here are are some timely questions for the media...

If you found it easier for the past few months to get cabs and places at the bar in any of the big media center cities, it’s only partly because of the financial crisis. The other reason is that there has been an exodus of “journalists, reporters and correspondents” to the wild north. While the leaping, wriggling schools of big city media types were making the streets of Wasilla and Juneau looked more like crowded Alaskan Salmon spawning streams at the height of the run, Crickets must have been chirping in New York, Los Angeles and (especially) Chicago.

The Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism has published a pretty good study of press coverage up to the last presidential debate. The finding that has been most talked about (and misunderstood) is that in looking at the number of articles about each presidential candidate, the number of positive article about Obama outnumbers the positive articles about McCain by a margin of 3 to 1. This is dramatic and damning but is softened in the report by analysis that shows it is almost always the case that the frontrunner gets more coverage than the other candidate and that much of the positive content was about the lead in the polls. More interesting but still somewhat off the mark was the analytics on the “tone” of coverage. The tone issue is hard to measure but taken together, the study does find that the media has take a different tone with Obama than they have with McCain.

Far more important and much harder to measure is the importance of the things that do not get coverage. On this issue there is no discussion in this study and very little evidence that can be culled. It is important to try to look at what has not been covered, though, because the Media has a responsibility, not just to give accurate and complete coverage within a story, but to cover all stories that pertain to the action.

The journalistic spawning run in Alaska, the corresponding sound of chirping crickets in Obama’s Chicago precincts and the absence of any follow-through on his “lost” time at Columbia are aspects that are hard to quantify and even harder to evaluate for impact.

One indication that can be tracked however is the fact that The Second Presidential Debate offers a laboratory for the effect of one of the issues that the Media has missed on.

The Media has consistently minimized the importance of William Ayers as a negative factor for Obama. They stayed away from talking about the relationship and its meaning throughout the campaign. Then, in the second debate, John McCain, in utter frustration took on the job of informing the public about this association.

Much was made about the tactic backfiring on McCain because it pushed up his negatives noticeably. The media has given a big chuckle of amused vindication and gone back to saying “We were right not to report on it because it is not a factor- people are not interested.” But they are wrong. One look at the chart below shows how wrong they are. The Pew report identifies a clear effect, “…the McCain camp linked Obama with ‘60’s radical William Ayers, 45% of the stories studied about Obama were negative, while 25% were positive and another 30% were mixed. The McCain attacks worked, in other words, in changing the dialogue in the media, as well as the tone of that dialogue.”



The soaring negatives that the attacks brought to the McCain campaign were scalding and the campaign felt they had to be stopped immediately to cut the losses. The question remains, “What has the absence of coverage on key issues done to channel the course of the campaign?

Again, this can only be answered indirectly but the next chart offers a very important clue. The chart clearly shows that almost three quarter of the coverage of this campaign were on the two categories of subject matter (“The Political Horse Race” and “Advertising and Fundraising”) that have nothing to do with the Personal Character, Background, Record of Achievement or Ability to be President of the candidates.



What if the McCain camp were not forced to bring the negatives of Barak Obama to the public’s attention at a severe price in public opinion? What if the press spent more time looking at character, love for this country and leadership experience? How would that change their Horse Race Stories?

As we head into the final week of this election cycle we need to ask our media this question:
In the years to come, everyone will be looking at you and your role in this election. What will you say to them about it? Will you take responsibility?

You, the mainstream media, are not telling the American public what it needs to know. You are not giving us all the information we need.

The information is out there, you are not using it, not looking for it and sometimes even suppressing it .

We will be waiting.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Obama Crash?

I never do this on my blog but I am about to put up a snip and a link to someone else's post. My friend Judith Apter Klinghoffer has just put up a very important post that I think everyone should read. It is something I have been wondering about for some time- especially because it ties in so well with the Alinsky/Cloward-Piven connections that are surfacing. Please keep in mind that Judith is a fine scholar and not at all a conspiracy theory type-

MARKETS VOTE NO CONFIDENCE IN OBAMA
An Obama Panic?
...Credit markets have started to thaw, yet stocks and the larger economy keep sliding. What's going on? Among the problems are the reality of recession and the uncertainty over Barack Obama's policies.
US News and World Report blogger muses that The Barack Obama Discount May Be Real READ IT

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New Politically Correct Word for Dead Voters


Over at the League of Dead Voters, Eddie the head dead person has taken my suggestion for a new, more politically correct word for ACORN's Obamazombies- Let's call them the Necroenfranchised

Monday, October 20, 2008

Breath of the Beast #6- Asking the Right Questions

A new Beast Story is always worth the wait. Its been a while since I've had the opportunity to publish a new Breath of the Beast Story. They are far more rare than I thought they would be when I started this blog with my own. I know that many of you have read my original post and the other BotB stories that I have linked up over in the left hand column- If you have, you know that each story is different. Some of these awakenings were set off by big, shattering events and others have been inspired by subtle nuances that just happened, on a particular day, for no apparent reason, not to go unnoticed.

This is yet another unique variation. Our writer, lets call him Bill, was as close to becoming a victim on 9/11 as anyone would want to be and yet, escaped unscathed and unconverted. He was, however enlightened (in the sense that he was, at least compelled to think, seek knowledge and ask questions that prepared him, at last, for a final, subtle moment of revelation.

Bill is a professional writer so the prose is clean and terse and his ideas are clear and honest. Read and enjoy- I'll have a couple of comments at the end. Here us his story:


I felt the breath of the beast for the first time over dinner with a group of colleagues recently.

Before I tell this story, I should explain as background that I was on the last PATH train into the World Trade Center out of New Jersey on Sept. 11, 2001.

We were headed into Tower One either as or just after the first plane hit. As I left the train, I smelled jet fuel. I exited the building by walking out under the gaping hole the first plane made. I was walking up Church Street when the second plane hit. I turned around just in time to see the side of Tower Two blow out.

One would think I would have felt the breath of the beast that day. I didn't. I knew Islamists had been trying to nail us for a long time and that this time they succeeded.

To me the world had not changed. It simply finally caught up with us. 9/11 did change my reading habits, though. I began to ravenously digest everything I could get my hands on about Islam, the Middle East and America's relationship with it. I tried to read material from all political perspectives, but quickly got fed up with the Norman Finkelsteins and Noam Chomsky's of this world. I really did try, though.

Over the ensuing seven years, I learned that the situation in the Middle East is not remotely as complicated as people have been telling me. For example, Egypt and other surrounding Arab countries could end the plight of the Palestinians in about 15 seconds if they wanted to. I also learned that Islam is not a religion of peace.

Moreover, I learned Palestine is a culture of death and that the Arab world routinely embraces conspiracy theories so zany they make Oliver Stone look like King Skeptic the Reasonable.

I also learned that over the centuries, Islam has periodically gained enough strength to overrun surrounding civilizations and that this might be shaping up to be one of those times.

The current birth rates of Westerners and Middle Easterners speak for themselves.

In any case, I'm a trade reporter and was in Las Vegas covering a conference recently when some colleagues and I decided to go out for dinner.

Trade reporters are generally like their consumer brethren in that they're overwhelmingly liberal.

Hence, I was the only conservative at a table of six.

This being October 2008, the presidential election was bound to come up.

My colleagues were curious as to what I felt. I think they find me a curiosity, because they know I'm reasonably bright, but yet am still a conservative.

I told them in no certain terms that I had never been so disgusted with an American election.

My vote for John McCain would be a vote against Barack Obama the socialist, I explained. I practically spit the words. I think I said: "I hate 'em all" as I was on my second martini.

Then a fellow reporter across the table said: "I think a president with roots in the Koran would be a good thing. I'm sick and tired of Christians … well maybe I should stop there."

I said: "Yes you should stop there. I'm not a Christian but I am sick and tired of liberals' kneejerk demonization of them."

Then the conversation mercifully shifted.

There it was: the breath of the beast.

First, let me be clear. Though I believe Obama poses an economic, cultural and national security threat to the U.S., I do not think the threats he poses have "roots in the Koran." Though, Louis Ferrakhan's praise of him is deeply troubling.

Still, I could not believe what I had just heard. "A president with roots in the Koran would be a good thing?"

The ignorance of that statement took my breath away. Did my colleague have any idea what Islam has in store for him?

Here sitting across the table from me was truly nice guy who witlessly embodies the evil that liberal apologism poses to Western culture. Here was a symbol of the large percentage of the American population that is so ashamed of its heritage, it no longer wants to defend itself. He had no idea what he was calling for and how it would impact him if he got his wish.

He couldn't have realized that what he was saying was akin to: "I think a president with roots in a religious/political movement that seeks to obliterate our civilization through violence and cultural jihad would be a good thing," could he?

He also couldn't have realized what he was saying was akin to: "I think a president with roots in a movement launched by a pirate and pedophile, many of whose modern-day adherents routinely beat and murder their wives and daughters over some infantile conception of 'honor' would be a good thing."

Did he think he was showing himself to be enlightened by saying this? Did he realize that as an American secular liberal, he would be part of the second group murderously persecuted in a worldwide caliphate?

I didn't feel the breath of the beast on September 11, 2001 as I escaped from a burning World Trade Center. But my brush with death that day drove me to learn as much as I could as fast as I could about those who seek to destroy me.

As a result, I was able to recognize the stench of the breath of the beast seven years later when it came from a colleague making an obscenely ignorant statement over dinner.

The beast isn't just in those who want to kill us. It's also in those who refuse to acknowledge the beast exists.

YBM-Two things I find myself moved to point out-

First, The honesty with which Bill describes looking up and seeing the second plane hitting the tower and blowing out the side of it and still being able to tell us, "One would think I would have felt the breath of the beast that day. I didn't. I knew Islamists had been trying to nail us for a long time and that this time they succeeded." is stunning to me. The world is full of people who will aggrandize themselves by making themselves out to have been more prescient and "on top" of a situation like that than they were at the time. Bill, here, gives us a more accurate kind of self-observation that enables us to understand that even at such times and occasions as 9/11 minds don't change without preparation and background.

The other observation I'd like to make involves this sentence: "I think they find me a curiosity, because they know I'm reasonably bright, but yet am still a conservative.” I found the phrasing ambiguous- its almost as if he tacitly agrees with them that “intelligent conservative” might be a bit of an oxymoron. Conscious? Unconscious? I asked Bill and he says that he was merely representing the way his friends saw the situation. I have no doubt he is right at the conscious level but I also believe that at a deeper level he still may have the unconscious habit, as Groucho did in my last post, of mirroring the prevailing blindness- even though his mirror had been effectively shattered.

For those of us who have experienced The Beast ourselves, it is essential that we recall and understand that its existence and menace is not as obvious as it seems to us now- that the persistence of the mirror is very strong. Without enough time and information, experience itself, no matter how profound, may not be enough. Without the intellectual honesty and open-minded curiosity Bill applied to the experience of 9/11, his friends' idiotic remark would have passed un-noted.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Picking Up Hats- Waiting for Chico

Seventy-five years ago in 1933, The world was three years into The Great Depression. Hitler became the dictator of Germany in 1933. FDR was inaugurated as President of the U.S.. Also in 1933, in the Soviet Union, the famine created by the collectivization of farms was into its second year. The Soviet famine, actually a political atrocity of genocidal proportions, is thought to have claimed as many as five million lives. 1933 was also the year that the new president Roosevelt broke the sixteen-year long impasse and granted U.S. diplomatic recognition for the Communist regime in the USSR.

I’m going to forgo the obvious observations. Those who have eyes to see the parallels and implications for today will surely have seen them already and those who don’t will only become agitated. Anyway I have something startling to show you from 1933
Take a look at this short video clip:


Its from the Marx Brother’s movie Duck Soup. This is one of the great classic scenes in entertainment history and I believe that it is so memorable because it says something universal and scathing about mirrors, human behavior and illusion. The pas de deux between Groucho and Harpo starts out looking like an earnest attempt by Chico to imitate Groucho’s actions exactly- as if to fool him into thinking that he is really looking into a mirror instead of at a spy who is on a mission against him. Now, this scenario has been imitated by other pairs of actors and lesser comedic talents always play it straight. That is to say that the one playing the “Groucho” role will assume an attitude of ominous suspicion or innocent credulity.

Groucho here is playing it coy and amused through the whole exercise. We see in his attitude and our acceptance of it that the autonomic mirror is not just an urge to mirror but a reciprocal urge to be mirrored as well. He feigns trick after trick to trip Harpo up and ignores every slip.

As the scene progresses, the gap between Groucho’s actions and Harpo’s imitations widens. They even circle each other and briefly switch sides without breaking the spell. When Harpo drops his hat Groucho even surprises us by picking it up and handing it back to him. All the while, Groucho remains no more than bemused while he plays along. The peculiar brilliance here is that even while we wonder why he does not just pull the plug on the charade, we also feel the elemental pleasure/pain of the dissonance created by the elemental power of the autonomic mirroring urge as it interacts with the mounting accumulation of evidence. Finally the appearance of Chico in the scene- dressed identically- breaks the tension and Groucho is compelled to break the illusion of “mirror” he has so willingly preserved.

What we witnessed in the video clip is theater but it its greatness derives from a deep resonance in human nature. It incorporates the mirror (in this case a purely fictional one) as a central character.

As humans we are mirrors for each other throughout our lives. Mirroring each other is the way in which we learn about life, form opinion and conceive desires. We learn about our place in the larger world by reading, listening and viewing the media which are the larger mirror on which we depend for news and point of view. Intellectual, cultural and social life is really mirrors within mirrors.

There is a an elemental conflict in this scene, as one man sets out to convince the other that he is merely the mirror image of the other. This is an eternal human dilemma. If everything we do, say and think is a kind of mirroring how do we know know what is real and what is reflection and, if it is reflection is it distorted? If our behavior, thoughts and desires are reflections of those of other people, how do we establish authenticity in our own behavior? How can we be sure we are not being manipulated? These are very disquieting thoughts and in order to maintain confidence in our own actions and reactions we need to keep the reflecting relationship secret from ourselves- or at least under control to the degree that we do not see our self as unoriginal – as a mere façade.

Is it possible, you ask, if this allegory, this uncritical acceptance of an obviously flawed mirror image, has an analog in reality?

Yes, in fact, our media study under the banner of Second Draft has turned this kind of thing up in many unexpected places. The one being played out in the presidential elections in the US at this moment is one of the most obvious, though, and it is also one of the very most dangerous. In this instance the part of Groucho is played by the Main Stream Media and Harpo is Barack Obama and his campaign.

The action between Groucho and Harpo evolves as a kind of pantomime of the way in which the media, having begun to mirror a character or story it has begun to “carry” will go to fantastic lengths, even to the equivalent of Groucho (in the mirror that is not there) picking up the “dropped hat” and handing it back to a public figure when he drops it.

Picking up the dropped hat can take many forms, these include:

• Ignoring or refusing to investigate important stories that contradict the theme being “carried”.
• “Reframing” information and “putting it in context” to minimize its impact.
• Making up rationalizations and excuses for behavior and situations.
• Refusing to identify connections between obvious gaps in information

I believe that time will show that the media’s participation in the pandemic infatuation of millions of people all over the world with Barack Obama is a very dramatic example of this kind of active distortion of the mirroring relationship. Obama intentionally presents us with an image of ourselves in that is calculated to make us feel is a reflection of the kind of world we desperately long to see. Because of that image, many people have made the commitment to ignore any thing negative that may come up about him and threaten the coherence of the image. This, as in the strange little mirror dance of Groucho and Harpoo ceases to be gullibility and becomes credulity. Even in the face of mounting evidence that he is not a man of good character, experience or, even, good will.

The enticement of the “change” he offers, begins with the image of a black man who behaves like a white man ascending to the presidency “proving” that we are not a racist country and that we put equality before reason and self-reliance and ends with a bland and rational-sounding but nebulous approach to bringing about a socialist “change” in America. He leads many to believe that racism will just disappear from people’s heart and minds and seems to imply that his policies are less socialist than they are benevolent- that they will take away all the “inequalities” and suffering of normal life.

A world without racism, inequality and suffering is called Utopia. Utopia always sounds nice but go try to implement one- entirely unrealistic- we know that from thousands of failed attempts. We know it too because an honest look around the world will tell us that the countries in which the socialist engineers of equality and benevolence have had their way are the greatest sources of new immigrants into the United States. But that does not stop his mirroring minions from cheerfully ignoring both the evidence and the surreal assumptions behind their cult. It does not stop them because they don't necessarily have to believe it is possible- they just want that narcissistic mirror image of themselves trying to do it. When an outsider to the cult offers even the most reasoned argument and clear evidence, it is met with some combination of taunting, insolence, blind denial, disproportionate rage, obfuscation or sneering- none of which actually address the arguments and evidence.

I will, at least for this post, keep my word and not make all of the obvious observations. Allow me, though, one more chilling bit of information about the movie from which the mirror clip came:
Here is part of the plot summary offered by the New York Times for the movie Duck Soup
“In this 1933 Marx Brothers film, the mythical country of Freedonia is broke and on the verge of revolution. Mrs. Teasdale (Margaret Dumont), Freedonia's principal benefactress, will lend the country 20 million dollars if the president withdraws and places the government in the hands of the "fearless, progressive" Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx). At his inauguration, Firefly shows up late, insults everyone in sight, and sings a song about how he intends to abuse his power. Naturally, the crowd cheers wildly.”


Next time you see film of an Obama rally or see video of chubby middle class children being coached in the singing of hymns to the wondrousness of The One. Like this:

Keep in mind that Soros and piles of illegal foreign money has funded him, he has lived off government grants and distributed millions to radicalized haters of our values and government. He has insulted “common” people- albeit not to their faces. His friends and associates have always intended on getting power for him so they can abuse it. Even now they are registering legions of dead people, incarcerated felons and illegal immigrants to put him in power. Every time the hat drops, the media dutifully pick it up.

They refuse to follow up on the money trails, ignore his associations, soft-peddle his connection with those who are committing the voter fraud, and draw the attention away from all of these things by virtually unfolding every crumpled piece of Kleenex in Sarah Palins trash barrels in search of manufactured scandal. And still, the crowd cheers wildly. Clearly, they will keep on doing it until the "mirror" is shattered. In the video it took the arrival of Chico.

If it seems to you that everything is backwards, well that’s probably just because that’s the way things look in a mirror. My question is "Where is Chico?"

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

One American Jew's Prayer for America on the Eve of Yom Kippur

We are once again besieged.
Our financial markets are in turmoil.
Every one of us, rich and poor alike, fears for the future.
As Americans and Jews we have been virtually sleepwalking through a world that, increasingly, is murderously hostile toward us.
Our people are taking rancorous positions in a political fight for the soul of this great land.

Please, oh Lord, hear my prayer.

Give us the grace and clarity to remember who we are. Help us to bear in mind that a handful of the most courageous and practical men of their generation designed this republic not just to survive but to get stronger in times like these.

Our enemies within are more of a danger than our enemies from without. Give us the vision to recognize and resist the dead hand of the corporatization of our economy while, at the same time, you give us the strength to see through the bluster and emotional blackmail of those who seek to expand the government’s reach into our lives in the name of “the disadvantaged poor”. What’s good for giant corporations is only sometimes good for the country and serving the needs of the poor are a benefit of a free society, best done by maintaining a climate of growth and opportunity not through the oppression of bureaucratic charity.

Give us the wisdom to elect a leader who recognizes that there are times for sacrifice- as long as the sacrifice is honorable- who will defend us with confidence and vigor. Put the sword of the greatest military power on earth in the hand of one who knows its power and it limits and will use it judiciously. We depend on our leader to know when talking and negotiation can lead to peace and when it is futile and leads only to the slaughter of innocents. Please, be compassionate to those under his protection and help us select the leader who knows that peace is not a natural condition and needs to be won through strength, preparedness and intelligence.

Help us have the courage to turn back the tide of belief in human rationalism as the ultimate wisdom and government as the divider of the wealth of the nation. If history has taught us anything it is that human reason is too easily influenced by emotion and when governments take responsibility for health and welfare of individuals, it is only a short step to taking control of what they think and believe.

Whether or not (or how) our fellow citizens believe in you is irrelevant, our great country was founded on separation of church and state for the very reason that the founders in their wisdom knew it is wrong for a nation to take upon itself God-like powers. So preserve us from those who want to redistribute the wealth of people who have worked for it and help us to break the strangle hold of corporate monstrosities who use people as spare parts and deny them fair recompense.

Lord, in this time of trepidation, help us to stay true to the wisdom of Jefferson, Adams and all the others who gave us this gift of republic on this blessed soil. Only by keeping her strong, free and aware will we continue to offer a sanctuary in which the needy may, by their efforts rise to prosperity and an arsenal and protector for other democracies around the world.

Give us the wisdom and strength of purpose to remember the dictum of the great sage Lao Tzu: "Govern a great nation as you would cook a small fish. Do not overdo it."

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Field Guide for Fighting Evil- First Principles

As many of you already know, my second youngest son was born with Neurofibromatosis. NF is the perfect paradigm of evil. It is a tumor disorder in which the tumors grow along nerve fibers. Because nerve fibers are uniformly arrayed throughout the body, the tumors may appear anywhere and are usually so inextricably interwoven with the tissues of skin, organs and bone that removing them completely is impossible. That is how I see evil. It is inextricable in the fabric of humanity. What is truly important is how we try to deal with it.

Thoreau observed, “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root, and it may be that he who bestows the largest amount of time and money on the needy is doing the most by his mode of life to produce that misery which he strives in vain to relieve.” Ask anyone- they will tell you that they are opposed to evil but few understand that (as I pointed out in my post of 9/2) that evil is part of the universe and especially present in the human soul. There are three main political remedies that claim to hack away at the branches in The West, lets look at which of these might have the best shot at the root.

Progressives, Communists and Solcialists
The emotional lability of Socialism and the allied “Progressive” leftist extremism stems from their belief that it is evil for any one individual to be any better off (regardless that they may be more intelligent, or better educated or even just luckier) than anybody else- The inevitable exception, of course, being those who will run the Stalinist bureaucracy that will be required to compel everyone to accept and participate in this fantastic perversion of reality. When the revolution comes, they-or at least the ones that survive the purges and infighting that always accompanies the success of socialism- will become deities. To see the corrosive effects of the creep of this ideology into the mainstream of Western thought, simply look at the havoc created in Canada by the actions of the Human Rights Commissions. In Canada, now, if you say anything of substance about the national discourse it is considered (I borrow and paraphrase from the title of the new book by Kathy Shaidle and Peter Vere) “Not Nice” and you are fair game to be persecuted for expressing a mere thought. It is inevitable. Socialism (especially the kind that regards itself as Progressive) does not match up with the reality of human nature- so it does not stand up to reason- so the more leverage you give it the more it will attempt to stifle discussion and, ultimately, thinking. (note: for really insightful blow by blow coverage of the CHRC mess you can’t beat Blazing Catfur )

Liberals
Liberals don’t necessarily agree with socialist principals they are just slowly submitting to the emotional blackmail of the extreme left. At heart, they only want to prevent suffering and because they will not understand the nature, unavoidability and source of suffering they are drawn to the emotional appeal of socialism and its phony egalitarianism. So committed are they to this pious goal of preventing suffering, it doesn’t even occur to them that they actually end by causing much more suffering by their efforts- they are satisfied knowing that they are “doing something for change”. Few will take the trouble to deny that welfare had a great hand in destroying the African American family and that Affirmative action has cast a shadow on the reputations of two generations of black, university-educated professionals- but they support those programs and others like them out of reflex and the soft racism inherent in the inability to imagine that many black professionals could make it on their own if allowed.

Conservatives
Conservatives want only to preserve, restore and enhance the system that has proven to be the world’s most successful at espousing and enabling the individual’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They do this out of a love of liberty first but they do it in the conviction that there will always be evil and suffering and the best yet devised on earth to ensure that there will be as little evil and suffering as possible, is to leave free people in charge of themselves and give them sufficient checks and balances so that as they govern themselves, the interference of the government will be minimized, the rule of law will be paramount and (all of) the people (through their ballots) will always be in control.

So today, it appears even worse than in Thoreau's time. There are millions whose ill-conceived notions of fairness and openness are actually feeding the roots of evil rather than striking at them.

Through dealing with David’s disease we have had to become conservatives. We know that we cannot just declare the disease “Not Nice” and make it disappear. We know that we cannot prevent him from suffering with it. We can only do the things that will give him his best shot at living and being a productive and competent person. Those things do not include not talking about the problems or letting him sink into a despairing, undisciplined lack of expectations. There is no special Sharia court system, welfare or even affirmative action here. Perhaps we are very fortunate that he has the courage and intelligence to have faith in his doctors, in us and in his future but I am inclined to think that the better you understand and confront evil the more you strike at its root.

Friday, October 3, 2008

In the Celestial Mirror- Obama Messes With the Vertical


There is a story I remember from somewhere of a dog that was trotting through his suburban neighborhood one sunny day. It was moving day at a house along his accustomed route. The movers happened to lay down a large mirror on the grass to prepare it for packing just before he came by. Momentarily distracted by the activity of the movers, the dog continued trotting - right onto the mirror. He instantly noticed the cool, hard surface stopped and looked down. Seeing nothing but sky below him, feeling that he was suddenly standing on nothing, overcome with a sense of disorientation, the dog yelped in panic and confusion and leapt straight up in the air.

I’ve always been fascinated by mirrors and reflections- and the peculiar but subtle effect they have on our perception. I can remember as a child of 6 trying to work out how my newly acquired knowledge of right and left applied to my image in the mirror. I recall touching my right hand to the glass and seeing what I knew to be the left hand of my reflection reach out in return. Having recently taken apart a telescope, I was aware that there are optical lenses that would turn your image upside down as well reverse handed.

Mirrors are a good metaphor for human perception. Like a mirror, I can only reflect what I see. My senses are the limit of my world. The things that are too small for me to see, to large to behold at one time, too soft to hear, or too chaotic to recognize do not get reflected in my view of reality. The things that I choose not to see or that are not shown to me are blind spots- holes in reality.

I particularly like the story about the dog because it says something very important about our perceptions and our emotions. The visceral fear of having one’s world suddenly turned upside down, or of being in a state of free-fall it seems, is not just a human one. There is, undoubtedly, an instinctive element to it which is reinforced and entrained in the physical and mental being from the first time an infant has something fall on him from above, or raises his head only to have gravity pull it down with a thud, or he struggles to his wobbly feet only to jar his spine and upset his composure with an unceremonious “plop” back down to the ground. Up and down is the critical dimension. You can get disoriented or even lost in the horizontal plane and most of the time it works out all right but do not mess with the vertical!

There are two visions of the future in competition with each other in America today. They are mutually exclusive.
One vision believes that we must take responsibility (or at least make it our mission) to prevent suffering and to create peace. This vision is based (often unconsciously) on idealism and the belief called “humanism” which assumes the essential goodness and purity of human nature. In this vision, the utopian dream is not just possible- it is obligatory. If human nature is blameless, the reasoning goes, then the blame for war, poverty, suffering, starvation and disease must lie with things that are “other” than the individual. Thus, government, capitalism, religion and social convention become suspect as the cause of war, famine and all manner of suffering.

This vision is the one that, since the beginning of time had people praying for a “good king” to supplant their cruel one, following conquering emperors or throwing their lives into the bottomless pit of totalitarian regimes that promised utopia.

The other vision starts with proposition that suffering, poverty and conflict can not be prevented, that the best way to minimize them is to give individuals the liberty, responsibility and the protection they need to provide for their own wellbeing. This proposition stems from the understanding that human beings have imperfect natures. Do not confuse it with nihilism- it just recognizes the reality that in the human heart, spiritual grandeur and venal greed embrace each other in an intimate struggle. Like Jacob and Esau in Rebecca’s womb they are confined, tethered to the same placental blood supply. This vision grants that all people have the potential for honesty and courage but are also subject to temptation and craven greed. The image of the future that arises from this starting point looks at the evidence and finds no reason to believe that humanity will change it nature. It posits that keeping people honest and inspiring cooperation, prosperity and progress requires balance, fairness, openness and, above all, transparency. Those who share this vision believe that the positive aspects of humanity must be given space and resources to grow and flourish, but they also see that there must be forceful controls and stern consequences for the evil aspects of humanity.

This last is the founding vision of the framers of our republic- it is the reason they made three branches of government with checks and balances in the relationships among them. It is a vision of clarity and justice.

Each of these visions is a mirror of reality but it strikes me that the utopian one is much like the mirror laid down on the grass. When you step on it, you get a view of yourself either as a kind of deity- standing among the blue sky and the clouds with nothing above you but the limitless cosmos. If you look around you from that vantage, you could be forgiven for feeling that the strictures and limits others around you are acting within are somehow meaningless and arbitrary. In fact the less you actually do in the horizontal realm of reality the more convincing you are as a deity. But beware! You have just messed with the vertical!

As you might have guessed the current standard bearer for the mirror-on-the-ground vision is Barack Hussein Obama. His unspoken, unformulated call for change is perfect- perfectly above all things terrestrial. He, who has never done anything in reality, has no fear or respect for it. His lofty aspirations are above reproach. The multitudes who in past ages would pray and clamor for a benevolent king to arise, seize on his promise of change and proclaim him The One.

And the mainstream media, faithful but supine mirror, is also lying on the ground at his feet. They do not see (or at least notice) Bill Ayers the terrorist or Jeremiah Wright the demagogue or Rezko the fraud or Michelle the ingrate or his associations with socialist and subversive organizations, all they see are the clouds and blue sky!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Free Speech- Even If We Have to Put it in Code, We'll Do It!


Robert Avrech at Seraphic Secret posted this and even though I know it went up on YouTube almost a year ago - I wanted to make 3 observations on it here:

Observation 1.
The fact that it has had tens of millions of hits on You Tube (more than 66 million at this posting!) tells me that in spite of the political correctness omerta in much of the public sphere, there is a tremendous need out there to talk and think about terrorism, the Caliphate and Islam- In fact, according to YouTube's statistics this is one of the most viewed and talked about videos in history. Here is a list of its honors:
#33 - Most Discussed (All Time)
#6 - Most Discussed (All Time) - Entertainment
#8 - Most Viewed (All Time)
#1 - Most Viewed (All Time) - Entertainment
#2 - Top Favorited (All Time)
#1 - Top Favorited (All Time) - Entertainment

Observation 2.
It puts key points into a code that slips by the "correctness filter" some of the greatest differences between us and them. Here are some of them:

We have suicide hotlines- They have suicide training camps

We (in spite of the efforts of some demopathic elements) value and rely on free speech - They will kill you for saying (or even thinking) the "wrong" thing

We can laugh at just about anything (Jew joke and Catholic joke) - They laugh at nothing, although they do celebrate happily on special occasions like 9/11 and suicide bombings


Observation 3.
We all owe it to ourselves to honor the Grand Judeo-Christian tradition, especially the Anglophone democratic branch that has given rise to the finest democracies the world has ever known: Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, most of Canada and the United States of America to fight the wave of fascism and Sharia that threatens to bridle the English language by excluding the proper names for our deadly enemies. We shouldn't have to speak in code and this video might not seem quite as funny as it does if it did not seem quite so outrageous to speak these things out loud. Dammit! get out there and offend someone who deserves it today!

BTW: Please Support our efforts on Second Draft- a click on the Donate button is a vote for honest analysis, insightful research and free speech.

Also, a very hot fight is being carried on right now by our Canadian Brothers and Sisters in their fight to stop censorship by intimidation by the CHRC- Visit Blazing Cat Fur, Five Feet of Fury, Small Dead Animals, Ezra Levant, Free Mark Steyn and their friends for more...

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