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Michael Barone and The Mysterious Case of the ‘Democratic Dogs That Aren’t Barking’

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Silence of the Dogs

Barone-3Sherlock Holmes famously solved a mystery by noticing the dog that didn’t bark in the night. Dogs that are not barking at night — nor in prime time — provide some useful clues to understanding the significance of this year’s election.

Contrary to the disparagement of some liberal pundits, this election is not about nothing. But is not about certain, specific things they might like to hear.

[Michael Barone is the Senior Political Analyst for the Washington Examiner. Read the rest of Barone's article here]

President Obama recently said that Democrats in serious Senate and House contests this year back “every one” of his programs. But you hear very little dog-no-barkabout those programs in their ads.

Stimulus Package

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Higher Tax Rates on High Earners

Foreign Policy

The stimulus package, for example, is not mentioned much. Nor are proposals by serious Democrats like Clinton administration veteran William Galston for a national infrastructure bank. These dogs aren’t barking.

“As Holmes might deduce, the solution to the clue of the non-barking Democratic dogs is that most voters lack faith in government to solve problems, to make their lives better or even to perform with minimal competence.”

The reasons are obvious. The stimulus didn’t stimulate the economy the way the Reagan tax cuts did in the 1980s. As for infrastructure, as Obama sheepishly admitted, there is no such thing — given environmental reviews and bureaucratic torpor—as a shovel-ready project. Read the rest of this entry »

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Government Experts Going Into Battle Facing The Wrong Way: The Last Anti-Fat Crusaders

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Experts now designing the next set of dietary recommendations remain mired in the same anti-fat bias and soft science that brought us the low-fat diet in the first place

For WSJ, Big Fat Surprise author Nina Teicholz writes: The top scientist guiding the U.S. government’s nutrition recommendations made an admission last month that would surprise most Americans. Low-fat diets, Alice Lichtenstein said, are “probably not a good idea.” It was a rare public acknowledgment conceding the failure of the basic principle behind 35 years of official American nutrition advice.

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Yes, it’s good for you

“The USDA committee’s mandate is to ‘review the scientific and medical knowledge current at the time.’ But despite nine full days of meetings this year, it has yet to meaningfully reckon with any of these studies—which arguably constitute the most promising body of scientific literature on diet and disease in 50 years.”

Yet the experts now designing the next set of dietary recommendations remain mired in the same anti-fat bias and soft science that brought us the low-fat diet in the first place. This is causing them to ignore a large body of rigorous scientific evidence that represents our best hope in fighting the epidemics of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

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“Instead, the committee is focusing on new reasons to condemn red meat, such as how its production damages the environment. However, this is a separate scientific question that is outside the USDA’s mandate on health.”

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans—jointly published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) every five years—have had a profound influence on the foods Americans produce and consume.

Since 1980, they have urged us to cut back on fat, especially the saturated kind found mainly in animal foods such as red meat, butter and cheese. Instead, Americans were told that 60% of their big-fat-surprisecalories should come from carbohydrate-rich foods like pasta, bread, fruit and potatoes. And on the whole, we have dutifully complied.

[Order Nina Teicholz's book "The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet" from Amazon]

By the turn of the millennium, however, clinical trials funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) were showing that a low-fat regime neither improved our health nor slimmed our waistlines. Consequently, in 2000 the Dietary Guidelines committee started to tiptoe away from the low-fat diet, and by 2010 its members had backed off any mention of limits on total fat. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Lowry: Will Incumbency Prevail Over Obama’s Unpopularity in November?

Rich Lowry, Special Report, 10-28-2014

via YouTube


U.S. Rape Rate Reality Check: Declining for last 20 Years and was Lowest Last Year Since 1972


History: 50th Anniversary of ‘The Speech’

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“Government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except the sovereign people.”

– Ronald Reagan, 1964

For the LA TimesCraig Shirley and Laura Ingram write:

Today marks the 50th anniversary of private citizen Ronald Reagan’s landmark speech in behalf of Barry Goldwater‘s presidential candidacy in 1964. Reagan’s remarks gave meaning to a campaign the establishment had said was a fool’s errand, and offered a response to those who said conservatism was not sophisticated or viable as a governing force.

The facts have proved otherwise, and that speech made Reagan the leading conservative in America. Years after his passing, he still holds that title. Who calls himself a Nixon Republican or a Bush Republican? Most call themselves Reagan Republicans, even if they don’t know the true meaning of Reaganism….(read more) LA Times

“I’ve spent most of my adult life as a Democrat. I’ve recently seen fit to follow another course”

For NROJohn Fund writes:

Today marks the 50th anniversary of what has become known as simply “The Speech.” The actual title Ronald Reagan gave to the address with which he electrified a nation during a 30-minute broadcast for the failing Goldwater campaign was “A Time for Choosing.” Goldwater lost a week later to Lyndon Johnson, but conservative presidential politics had a North Star in Reagan after that. “It defined conservatism for 50 years,” Reagan biographer Craig Shirley concluded.

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“This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government, or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.”

Washington Post columnist David Broder wrote that the night of Reagan’s address represented “the most successful political debut since William Jennings Bryan” and his “Cross of Gold” speech in 1896. “I didn’t know it then,” Reagan wrote in his 1991 autobiography, “but that speech was one of the most important milestones of my life.”

Barry Goldwater's conservatism was doomed in 1964, but it may have planted seeds for the future election of Ronald Reagan. They are seen together in 1981.

Barry Goldwater’s conservatism was doomed in 1964, but it may have planted seeds for the future election of Ronald Reagan. They are seen together in 1981.

“No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size.”

Financially, it raised a stunning $8 million (over $60 million in today’s money) for the flailing Goldwater campaign, most of which couldn’t be spent in those days when checks were delivered by regular mail. But as former Reagan aide Jeffrey Lord reminds us, “the real importance of the speech was that Reagan had looked Americans in the eye and stood for something.”nbc-crash-reagan-gold-buck

“If government planning and welfare had the answer, shouldn’t we expect government to read the score to us once in a while?” Shouldn’t they be telling us about the decline each year in the number of people needing help? But the reverse is true.”

It was a different Ronald Reagan than the one many Americans remember as president who gave “The Speech” that night. As historian Steven Hayward noted in the Washington Post on Sunday, it “was not the avuncular, optimistic Reagan of his film roles, or of his subsequent political career that emphasized ‘morning in America’ and the ‘shining city on a hill,’ but a comparatively angry and serious Reagan, serving up partisan red meat against liberalism and the Democrats” (whose party he had been a member of only two years before). Read the rest of this entry »


The New York Times, Charles C.W. Cooke, and Nicholas Johnson: The Black Tradition of Arms and Historical Illiteracy

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Nicholas J. Johnson is Professor of Law, Fordham University School of Law is the author of Negroes and the Gun: The Black Tradition of Arms. He is the lead editor of Firearms Law and the Second Amendment: Cases and Materials (Aspen Press, 2012).

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nicholas-J-JohnsonFor the Online Library of Law & Liberty, Nicholas J. Johnson writes:

In a January 17  speech to students at Texas A&M University, Danny Glover, the actor from Lethal Weapon etc., attempted to disparage the constitutional right to arms with the critique that “The Second Amendment comes from the right to protect themselves from slave revolts, and from uprisings by Native Americans.”

This is abundantly wrong and I hope the students will not consider Mr. Glover a definitive source on the question.  But I will give him credit for the try.  He attempted to engage the issue by at least skimming one piece of the voluminous scholarship in this area.

[Conservatives at Texas A&M University blast ‘leftist bias’ after Danny Glover ties Second Amendment to slavery at a school event - New York Daily News]

His comment seems based on a cursory reading of a 1998 law review article by Professor Carl Bogus.  First, it warms the academic’s heart that a Hollywood actor would sit down and read a law review article, although I negores-guns-bookacknowledge the possibility that someone just told him about it.

[Check out Nicholas Johnson's book "Negroes and the Gun: The Black Tradition of Armsat Amazon]

Also see – [VIDEO] How the Civil Rights Movement Changed Black Gun Culture

Either way, his education is incomplete (as is true for all of us).  Mr. Glover’s mistake is to have taken one dubious thing and run with it.  That is almost always a mistake and especially so in the gun debate.  But Danny Glover’s mistake is also a teaching tool that illuminates the broader conversation. Read the rest of this entry »


The Gangsters of Election 2014: The Paramilitary Arm of Wisconsin Progressive Democrats’ Campaign to Defeat Scott Walker

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The Nastiest Political Tactic this Year

imrs.phpThe early-morning paramilitary-style raids on citizens’ homes were conducted by law enforcement officers, sometimes wearing bulletproof vests and lugging battering rams, pounding on doors and issuing threats. Spouses were separated as the police seized computers, including those of children still in pajamas. Clothes drawers, including the children’s, were APPROVED-STAMP-panic-redransacked, cellphones were confiscated and the citizens were told that it would be a crime to tell anyone of the raids.

“Such misbehavior takes a toll on something that already is in short supply: belief in government’s legitimacy.”

Some raids were precursors of, others were parts of, the nastiest episode of this unlovely political season, an episode that has occurred in an unlikely place. This attempted criminalization of politics to silence people occupying just one portion of the political spectrum has happened in Wisconsin, which often has conducted robust political arguments with Midwestern civility.

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Because of Chisholm’s recklessness, the candidate he is trying to elect, Burke, can only win a tainted victory, and if she wins she will govern with a taint of illegitimacy.

From the progressivism of Robert La Follette to the conservatism of Gov. Scott Walker (R) today, Wisconsin has been fertile soil for conviction politics. Today, the state’s senators are the very conservative Ron Johnson (R)and the very liberal Tammy Baldwin (D). Now, however, Wisconsin, which to its chagrin produced Sen. Joe McCarthy (R), has been embarrassed by Milwaukee County’s Democratic district attorney, John Chisholm.

“Chisholm’s aim — to have a chilling effect on conservative speech — has been achieved by bombarding Walker supporters with raids and subpoenas: Instead of raising money to disseminate their political speech, conservative individuals and groups, harassed and intimidated, have gone into a defensive crouch, raising little money and spending much money on defensive litigation.”

He has used Wisconsin’s uniquely odious “John Doe” process to launch sweeping and virtually unsupervised investigations while imposing gag orders to prevent investigated people from defending themselves or rebutting politically motivated leaks.

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks in Chicago. (Kamil Krzaczynski/AP)

According to several published reports, Chisholm told subordinates that his wife, a teachers union shop steward at her school, is anguished by her detestation of Walker’s restrictions on government employee unions, so Chisholm considers it his duty to help defeat Walker.

[More Dirty Tactics in Wisconsin Governor’s Race]

[Also see - Gangster government — Michael Barone’s description of using government machinery to punish political opponents or reward supporters]

In collaboration with Wisconsin’s misbegotten Government Accountability Board, which exists to regulate political speech, Chisholm has misinterpreted Wisconsin campaign law in a way that looks willful. He has done so to justify a “John Doe” process that has searched for evidence of “coordination” between Walker’s campaign and conservative issue advocacy groups. Read the rest of this entry »


Charles C. W. Cooke: ‘Today’s Shooting Tells Us Nothing About the Law’

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NRO’s Charles C. W. Cooke:

cookeFrom the CNN report on today’s shooting:

The gun used in the shooting has been traced to Fryberg’s father, a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN. It is a “high capacity” one, but did not have an extended magazine, the source said.

Investigators are executing a search warrant at the family home, according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

A Beretta .40-caliber handgun is believed to have been used, a federal law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN.

First off, there is no such thing as a “high capacity” handgun that does “not have an extended magazine.” This is just nonsensical media-speak for “a standard handgun.” Handguns typically come with 12-18 marysville-school-shootinground magazines, the average .40-caliber magazine holding 12 rounds.

“The shooter was 14-years-old, which means that he was not allowed to do anything at all with a handgun outside of his parents’ care. In the course of his crime, he broke the rules regarding possession…”

We don’t know which model he used, but Beretta’s offerings are well within the standard range: In .40, the Px4 Storm, comes with a 14-round magazine; the 96 comes with an 11-round magazine; the 8000 comes with a 15-round magazine. There is nothing odd or “high capacity” about these weapons. There are tens of millions like them in the country.

Second, if this report is correct and the shooter did indeed use a “Beretta .40-caliber handgun,” then we can stop debating what this tells us about the law before we even start. The shooter was 14-years-old, which means that he was not allowed to do anything at all with a handgun outside of his parents’ care. In the course of his crime, he broke the rules regarding possession: Federal law prohibits anybody under 18-years-old from possessing a handgun or handgun ammunition. Read the rest of this entry »


The Truth About the Minimum Wage

From the Foundation for Economic Education: People don’t like to think that anyone’s labor is worth less than the minimum wage. Someone might end up flipping burgers for $5.00 an hour. You might think the minimum wage is a way of paying some sort of dignity premium–hence language like “livingteen-worker wage.” People with such good intentions look at the direct beneficiaries of these policies, say, burger flippers now making $7.50 an hour. They pat themselves on the back. But they rarely count the invisible costs: willing human beings who never get hired in the first place.

[Also see - Fast Food Management and Customers Alike Have Every Reason to Tell Big Labor: 'Go Pound Sand']

“But $5.00 an hour is not enough to live on!,” they’ll say. For whom? A teenager living at home with his parents? An elderly person who wants simply to stay active? A single mom with three kids? A single woman sharing an apartment with 2 roommates? Of course, not all of these people could live off of $5.00 an hour. But some of them could given the opportunity. Concerns about those who couldn’t don’t justify minimum wages even if we ignored the invisible costs of the policy, which include reduced margins to businesses that might otherwise grow (and hire more people).

In other words, if you take off the bottom two rungs of the income ladder, many will never climb it. That’s the effect of the minimum wage. The more cynical side of me says that’s how many politicians and the overpaid teamsters want it.

Enjoy this great video and some timeless pieces on the minimum wage by some of FEE’s excellent scholars.

-The Editors

The Truth About the Minimum Wage

Further Reading:

Minimum Wage, Maximum Folly by Walter Williams

“While there is a debate over the magnitude of the effects, the weight of research by academic scholars points to the conclusion that unemployment for some population groups is directly related to legal minimum wages. The unemployment effects of the minimum-wage law are felt disproportionately by nonwhites. A 1976 survey by the American Economic Association found that 90 percent of its members agreed that increasing the minimum wage raises unemployment among young and unskilled workers. It was followed by another survey, in 1990, which found that 80 percent of econo­mists agreed with the statement that increases in the minimum wage cause unemployment among the youth and low-skilled. Furthermore,­­ whenever one wants to find a broad consensus in almost any science, one should investigate what is said in its introductory and intermediate college textbooks.­ By this standard, in economics there is broad agreement that the minimum wage causes unemployment among low-skilled workers.”

Raising the Minimum Wage Will Do No Harm? It Just Ain’t So! by Richard McKenzie

“With the money-wage hike and the reduced benefits, workers can be left worse off since the fringes and slack work demands taken away were provided in the first place because workers valued them more highly than the wages forgone for those benefits. Given the findings of his own as well as other researchers’ studies, Wessels deduces that every 10 percent increase in the hourly minimum wage will make workers 2 percent worse off.” Read the rest of this entry »


Heather Mac Donald: The Public-Health Profession is More Committed to Social Justice than to Sound Science

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Infected by Politics

For City JournalHeather Mac Donald writes: The public-health establishment has unanimously opposed a travel and visa moratorium from Ebola-plagued West African countries to protect the U.S. population. To evaluate whether this opposition rests on purely scientific grounds, it helps to understand the political character of the public-health field. For the last several decades, the profession has been awash in social-justice ideology. Many of its members view racism, sexism, and economic inequality, rather than individual Unknownbehavior, as the primary drivers of differential health outcomes in the U.S. According to mainstream public-health thinking, publicizing the behavioral choices behind bad health—promiscuous sex, drug use, overeating, or lack of exercise—blames the victim.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthy Communities Program, for example, focuses on “unfair health differences closely linked with social, economic or environmental disadvantages that adversely affect groups of people.” CDC’s Healthy People 2020 project recognizes that “health inequities are tied to economics, exclusion, and discrimination that prevent groups from accessing resources to live healthy lives,” according to Harvard public-health professor Nancy Krieger. Krieger is herself a magnet for federal funding, which she uses to spread the message about America’s unjust treatment of women, minorities, and the poor. Read the rest of this entry »


Europe’s Teen ISIS Girls, What Do They Want?

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Why the Teenage Girls of Europe Are Joining ISIS

Because They Want the Same Things Teenage Boys Want: A Strong Sense of Meaning and Purpose

For Tablet MagazineLee Smith writes: Teenage girls are the West’s center of gravity: Virtually all of Western pop culture, the key to our soft power, is tailored to the tastes of teenage girls. Through the wonders of information technology, the mobile phone mass-produced the mores and habits of phone-mad teenage girls locked in their bedrooms. Indeed, Western civilization is a success largely insofar as it has made the world a safe place for teenage girls—to go to school, get a job, and decide who and when to marry, or if they want to marry. When teenage girls turn away from One Direction and embrace ISIS, it means the West is losing.51TVFjKStQL._SL250_

[Order Lee Smith's "The Consequences of Syria (The Great Unraveling: The Remaking of the Middle East)"]

“The idea of a caliphate, ripped from the pages of Muslim history, resonates with a kind of existential authenticity missing from the vast and drab European suburbs warehousing Muslim youth.”

A Washington Institute poll last week showed that the Islamic State has more support in Europe than it does in the Middle East. The poll reported that only 3 percent of Egyptians, 5 percent of Saudis, and under 1 percent of Lebanese “expressed a positive opinion of the IS.” On the other hand, 7 percent of U.K. respondents had a favorable view of the group, as did 16 percent of French polled—with 27 percent of French citizens between 18-24 responding favorably.

“So, why given a choice between a comfortable, if somewhat boring, life as a pharmacist in Hamburg, or fighting and dying in the desert, are thousands of Western Muslims opting for the latter?”

The numbers should hardly come as a surprise. Thousands of young European Muslims have already left the continent for the Middle East to help the organization’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, build an authentic Islamic caliphate. Doubtless thousands more are on their way, to kill and die for an idea they believe in.

“Because, for all the awesome social services and consumer goods it can offer, Europe has become incapable of endowing the lives of its citizens, Muslim or not, with meaning. “

It is a striking fact that ISIS appeals not only to young men, but also young European women, many hundreds of whom have gone to Syria and Iraq to marryIslamic State fighters. Sure, some of them, like the 15-year-old French Jewish girlNora el-Bathy, may have come to regret their decision. But that hardly alters the essential point: The girls sought out IS fighters because the West seems weak and unmanly and they pine for real men who are willing to kill and die for what they believe in. Read the rest of this entry »


Reality Check: 70% Favor Legalizing Over-The-Counter Birth Control

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The latest Reason-Rupe poll finds 70 percent of Americans favor legalizing over-the-counter birth control pills and patches without a doctor’s prescription, 26 percent oppose such a proposal, and 4 percent don’t know enough to say. There has been a slight uptick in support for OTC birth control, rising from 66 percent in May of 2013. Moreover, Reason-Rupe finds that women across income groups highly support legalizing OTC birth control at birthcontrol2about the same rates.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have announced their support for such a proposal arguing it could improve contraceptive access and use and decrease unintended pregnancy rates. Republicans too have been pushing for this reform, with Democrats surprisingly reluctant.

Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal raised the idea in 2012 in his widely read Wall Street Journal op-ed:

“As an unapologetic pro-life Republican, I also believe that every adult (18 years old and over) who wants contraception should be able to purchase it. But anyone who has a religious objection to contraception should not be forced by government health-care edicts to purchase it for others. And parents who believe, as I do, that their teenage children shouldn’t be involved with sex at all do not deserve ridicule.”

Planned Parenthood and some Democrats have pushed back, expressing concerns that legalizing OTC birth control would require women to pay for it, rather than have it paid for by their health insurance premiums. For instance, Rebecca Leber explained:

“For low-income women, cost can be what’s most prohibitive. Under the Affordable Care Act, the pill and other forms of contraception count as preventative care, which means insurance covers them completely—without any out-of-pocket expenses.” Read the rest of this entry »


Reality Check: Is an Ebola Flight Ban a Good Idea? Nate Silver Doesn’t Think So

editor-commen-deskIt’s exceedingly rare that I agree with an Obama administration decision (though the decision is infirm, and could be weaseled any way the wind blows over the next several weeks) but the increasing calls to impose an Africa travel ban strike me as reflexive, not founded on proven disease strategy. Unlike a lot of bellyaching conservatives, and a handful of election-panicked Democrats, I’m not convinced that declining to respond to pressure to impose a travel ban is a bad thing. And I don’t think it’s motivated purely by narrow political or economic interests. That said, I don’t claim to be informed enough to have a clear opinion either way. So this morning I saw this, and thought it might be useful reading.

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Nate Silver writes:

On Sept. 19, Thomas Eric Duncan boarded a flight in Monrovia, Liberia, possibly after having lied on a screening questionnaire about his contact with persons carrying the Ebola virus. The next day, Duncan arrived in Dallas to visit his fiancée and son. Initially complaining of a fever, Duncan would soon become the first person in the United States diagnosed with Ebola. Before dying of the disease on Oct. 8, Duncan would transmit it to two nurses, Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, who treated him at Dallas Presbyterian Hospital.

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Duncan’s case has sparked calls to ban flights to the United States from the countries hardest hit by the recent Ebola outbreak — Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone — possibly along with others in West Africa. While some of these APPROVED-non-stop-panicarguments have been measured, others seem to convey the impression there are thousands of passengers arriving in cities like Dallas each day from flights originating in these countries.

There aren’t. We searched on Kayak.comExpertFlyer.com and airline websites for direct flights from West African nations (as the United Nations defines the region) to destinations outside the African continent. Specifically, we looked for flights available for the week from Jan. 2 to Jan. 8, 2015, a time period far enough in advance that such flights are unlikely to have sold out.

There are no regularly scheduled direct flights to the U.S. from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone — and very few from other countries in West Africa. There are far more flights from West Africa to Western Europe instead. Duncan’s case was typical. Before arriving in the United States, he connected through Brussels.

Here are all the routes we identified:

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Our search may be missing a few flights here and there, but it ought to be reasonably comprehensive, especially for travel to and from the United States. Read the rest of this entry »


Cheap Oil Pops the Green Policy Bubble

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Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. writes: Tesla, an electric-car company on which the political class has showered subsidies, rolled out its newest model last week, complete with high-tech safety features like lane-departure warning, blindspot monitoring, collision avoidance and self-parking. Tesla’s stock promptly dropped 8%, though probably not because these mundane features long have been available in other luxury models.

At $2.99, the price to which gasoline had fallen at some California stations last week, electric cars becoming a mass-market taste and not just an item for wealthy hobbyists recedes from probability. If Democrats especially start to find it politically no longer saleable to subsidize a toy for the rich, the company may be in real trouble.

Since World War I, the retail price of gasoline has fluctuated in a band between $2 and $4 (using 2006 dollars as a benchmark). Since the 1970s, though, politicians have repeatedly wedded themselves to policies premised on the idea that oil prices can only go up, up, up, in prelude to oil running out altogether. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Al Arabia Reports on Ceylan Ozalp Story; Verification Remains Elusive

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The reports of her suicide, which follows the beheading of seven men and three women by ISIS in Kobane earlier this week, took social media by storm and appeared in several Turkish news websites such as the daily Radikal.

editor-commen-deskUPDATE: Readers familiar with our coverage of the Ceylan Ozalp story will note that while our efforts to find credible sources to confirm whether Ceylan is dead or alive have yet to produce any new information, we’ve begun to build up a list of references and links as the media’s interest in the story continues to develop momentum. We were among the first news sites to pick up the Ceylan Ozalp suicide story and stick with it, with the aim of verifying it.

Mostly it’s been an internet myth. The lack of good information is problematic. Some sites and social media outlets simply circulate the story as-is, noting that it’s not confirmed, and include a direct link to where they found it. Other sites are less skeptical. Some are opportunistic, with an agenda to promote, and understandably have less regard for facts or useful attribution. This ismusissue unfortunate. One site in particular undercut the effort to verify the Ceylan Ozalp story by posting text copied (from LIVELEAK) with a headline nearly identical to oursremoving the link to LIVELEAK’s original source (this site) then posting it, with uncorrected, misleading quote attribution, and no direct links anywhere. Their defense for a practice that’s closer to propaganda than journalism? Claiming it’s “reader submitted”.

Because it’s an advocacy (“educational purposes”) site run by self-described “human rights activists”, there’s a different standard at work. Disassociating content from sources, suggesting the content arrives to them as provided by “the public” (whatever that means) anything goes. Neglecting to make an effort to verify a rumor or credit sources happens frequently on advocacy sites, so this isn’t unusual. Since the internet is a global (mostly) open marketplace of ideas and information, readers are aware that false or incomplete information goes with the territory. Skeptical readers can take into consideration the nature of unconfirmed reports, and the chaotic and propagandistic reality of warfare, when they explore stories like this.

This story is unusual because a lot of readers are searching, and often finding the same incomplete information. Or perhaps misinformation? Since the majority of the traffic involves sites that aren’t in English, western readers have indirect or secondary exposure to the media storm.

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The question remains: Is the Ceylan Ozalp story true or false?

We don’t claim to know. We’re interested, but skeptical. If you see a site that unquestioningly promotes the image of Ceylan as a “brave fighter” and heroic martyr, (and there are many) you’re likely reading propaganda. Or if you see a site, or a tweet, that claims the story is false, you might also be seeing the flip side of a disinformation campaign. Or, it might simply be a healthy challenge to the current media slant, the unquestioned rumor of Ozalp’s suicide.

Legitimate news sites are uniformly guarded about the veracity of the alleged Ceylan Ozalp battlefield suicide report, as it makes its way from social media outlets to more mainstream news outlets. Which brings us to the most current crossover news story by Al Arabiya.

When we first reported last week the story was little more than an internet rumor circulating in social media. In the past several days, it’s been picked up in Germany’s BILD magazine, The International Business Times UK, and now, several hours ago, this appeared in Al Arabiya.

As described above, our view remains a skeptical one. Is Ceylan Ozalp a brave fighter who killed herself rather than fall into the hands of ISIS? Or is Ceylan’s merely an image that’s being used by unreliable or self-interested international actors as a fictional propaganda puppet?

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Some of the photos of Ozalp show her in fighting poses (like this one) or heroic, scenic poses that could be staged, or could be real. We simply don’t know yet.

As we see in the story below–like all legitimate mainstream media reports–responsibly include this important disclaimer:

“Al Arabiya News Channel could not independently verify the authenticity of the report on her suicide.”

Go here for the full text of the following news story.

By Staff Writer, Al Arabiya News
Sunday, 5 October 2014

A Syrian Kurdish female combatant, who appeared on a BBC report in September, shot herself with a last bullet during fighting with militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) last week, according to media reports.

Ceylan Ozalp, 19, was reportedly surrounded by ISIS fighters near the Syrian Kurdish city of Kobane also known as Ain al-Arab. After she run out of ammunition Ozalp said “goodbye” over the radio and spent her last bullet on killing herself.

Also read: Biden apologizes to UAE for remarks about ISIS

The reports of her suicide, which follows the beheading of seven men and three women by ISIS in Kobane earlier this week, took social media by storm and appeared in several Turkish news websites such as the daily Radikal.

But other reports suggested Ozalp, also known as Diren –which means “resist” in Turkish, never left the northern Syrian town of Jezaa, which is still under the Kurdish control, according to International Business Times.

Al Arabiya News Channel could not independently verify the authenticity of the report on her suicide.

During her interview with the BBC last month, Ozalp said: “We’re not scared of anything…We’ll fight to the last. We’d rather blow ourselves up than be captured by IS (ISIS).”

“When they see a woman with a gun, they’re so afraid they begin to shake. They portray themselves as tough guys to the world. But when they see us with our guns they run away. They see a woman as just a small thing. But one of our women is worth a hundred of their men,” Ozalp told the BBC. Read the rest of this entry »


Is Hillary Clinton’s Messaging Strategy Straight from the 1988 Dukakis Campaign Playbook?

eye-of-hillary

Hillary Clinton: Dukakis in a Pantsuit? 

editor-commen-deskYes, I confess, this is mainly an excuse to use this really scary photo of Hillary. We already know what Mrs. Clinton looks like in a pantsuit. But how many of us know what it’s like to be that close to one of her eyeballs? Highlights from Jonah Goldberg’s weekly G-File. It includes a bonus excerpt from Jonah’s review of Piketty’s Marxist book (there’s no other thing to call it) and since it’s a book that even dedicated neo-Marxists only pretend they read all of, I imagine even some of them are taking Jonah’s word for it. See that full review, in Commentary, here.

For the article excerpted below, see the full text here.  (I suggest you read all of it, otherwise you’ll miss the joke about spoon-banging on a high chair). Anything else? Yes! Order Jonah’s book here.

…I have no doubt that Clinton likes data. When she was working on Hillarycare in the early 1990s she assembled hundreds of wonks collecting literally millions of pieces of data, filling filing cabinets like the warehouse in Indiana Jones. When a journalist asked her if she needed anything else, Clinton replied something like “just a little more data.” As if her entire Rube Goldberg machine would click into place and hum with perfection if she just got a few more columns of numbers on heart-bypass rates in Missoula.

hillary-pantsuit-gfile

But just because Clinton likes data doesn’t mean this isn’t a crock. Oh, it’s savvy. But if her husband taught us anything, it’s that bullsh*tters can be savvy. First, all of this data talk is a brilliant way to exploit the “Big Data” fad in elite circles these days and subtly play lip-service to the liberal conceit that “facts have a liberal bias.” If she were running in the late 19th century she’d be talking about canals on Mars.tyranny-of-cliches

[Jonah's book, The Tyranny of Cliches, is available at Amazon]

If she were running in the 1920s, she’d be saying “Engineering, Engineering, Engineering.” In the 1960s, she’d be saying “Plastics, Plastics, Plastics.” If she were running in 50,000 B.C. she’d be going around saying “Fire, Fire, Fire.” I talked about this a bit in my review of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century:

Marx tapped into the language and concepts of Darwinian evolution and the Industrial Revolution to give his idea of dialectical materialism a plausibility it didn’t deserve. Marx-TVSimilarly, Croly drew from the turn-of-the-century vogue for (heavily German-influenced) social science and the cult of the expert (in Croly’s day “social engineer” wasn’t a pejorative term, but an exciting career). In much the same way, Piketty’s argument taps into the current cultural and intellectual fad for “big data.” The idea that all the answers to all our problems can be solved with enough data is deeply seductive and wildly popular among journalists and intellectuals. (Just consider the popularity of the Freakonomics franchise or the cult-like popularity of the self-taught statistician Nate Silver.) Indeed, Piketty himself insists that what sets his work apart from that of Marx, Ricardo, Keynes, and others is that he has the data to settle questions previous generations of economists could only guess at. Data is the Way and the Light to the eternal verities long entombed in cant ideology and darkness. (This reminds me of the philosopher Eric Voegelin’s quip that, under Marxism, “Christ the Redeemer is replaced by the steam engine as the promise of the realm to come.”)

lips-of-hillary

But the more important point is that Clinton’s messaging gambit is an entirely obvious indictment of Barack Obama. The need for “evidence-based optimism” isn’t a shot at Republicans. It’s a shot at the guy who beat her out for the nomination in 2008 by running as the Pope of Hope. Read the rest of this entry »


Paul Bedard: Northeast Loses 40% of House Seats as People Flee High-Tax States

The Northeast, once the nation’s political engine that produced presidents, House speakers and Senate giants including the late Edward M. Kennedy, is losing clout in Washington as citizens flee the high-tax region, according to experts worried about the trend.

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“This result is one of the most dramatic demographic shifts in American history. This migration is shifting the power center of America right before our very eyes.”

The Census Bureau reports that population growth has shifted to the South and the result is that the 11 states that make up the Northeast are being bled dry of representation in Washington.

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“The movement isn’t random or even about weather or resources. Economic freedom is the magnet and states ignore this force at their own peril.”

Critics blame rising taxes in states such as Massachusetts and Connecticut for limiting population growth in the Northeast to just 15 percent from 1983 to 2013, while the rest of the nation grew more than 41 percent. Read the rest of this entry »


The Inequality Bed-Wetters are Misleading You

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The Gilded Gelded Age

editor-commen-deskI offer this for two reasons. One, because I’ve never read anything by Kevin D. Williamson that I didn’t like and want everyone to read. And two, because there’s this very disturbing photo of Paul Krugman that I’ve been dying to get off my desk. Now you can have nightmares about Krugman’s face, staring scoldingly into the abyss. And I can go back to my usual nightmares about Obama cutting a nuke deal with Iran in order to speed up the coming global apocalypse. Which reminds me. Do you have Williamson’s book yet? I think everyone should read that, too. See the full text of Williamson’s article here.

For National Review OnlineKevin D. Williamson writes: The inequality police are worried that we are living in a new Gilded Age. We should be so lucky: Between 1880 and 1890, the number of employed Americans increased by more than 13 percent, and wages increased by almost 50 percent.kevin-williamson

“…if your assumption here is that this is about redistribution, then you should want the billionaires’ incomes to go up, not down: The more money they make, the more taxes they pay, and the more money you have to give to the people you want to give money to, e.g., overpaid, lazy, porn-addicted bureaucrats…” 

I am going to go out on a limb and predict that the Barack Obama years will not match that record; the number of employed Americans is lower today than it was when he took office, and household income is down. Grover Cleveland is looking like a genius in comparison.

“…poor people are not poor because rich people are rich, nor vice versa. Very poor people are generally poor because they do not have jobs, and taking away Thurston Howell III’s second yacht is not going to secure work for them…”

The inequality-based critique of the American economy is a fundamentally dishonest one, for a half a dozen or so reasons at least. Claims that the (wicked, wicked) “1 percent” saw their incomes go up by such and such an amount over the past decade or two ignore the fact that different people compose the 1 percent every year, and that 75 percent of the super-rich households in 1995 were in a lower income group by 2005.

“The 3 million highest-paying jobs in America paid a lot more in 2005 than did the 3 million highest-paying jobs in 1995” is a very different and considerably less dramatic claim than “The top 1 percent of earners in 1995 saw their household incomes go up radically by 2005.” But the former claim is end-is-neartrue and the latter is not.

[If you haven't read Kevin D. Williamson's  "The End Is Near and It's Going to Be Awesome"  then your Global Panic checklist is incomplete. Fear not, it's available at Amazon]

Paul Krugman, who persists in Dickensian poverty, barely making ends meet between six-figure sinecures, is a particularly energetic scourge of the rich, and he is worried about conspicuous consumption: “For many of the rich, flaunting is what it’s all about. Read the rest of this entry »


Glenn Reynolds: For Next Attorney General, Reach Across Aisle

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Eric Holder has announced that he will be stepping down as attorney general as soon as a replacement can be named. And already, National Journal notes that with Holder’s departure, President Obama will be losing one of his few friends in new-schoolWashington.

“…Holder’s role has been not so much law enforcement as ‘scandal-goalie,’ ensuring that whatever comes out in the news or in congressional investigations, no one in the government will go to jail…”

[Glenn Reynolds' book The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself is available at Amazon]

As the article by George Condon notes, in choosing a friend, Obama was following in the footsteps of presidents going all the way back to George Washington, who named Revolutionary War comrades-in-arms to the slot.

“Writing in Above The Law, Tamara Tabo notes that Holder’s stonewalling, which led him to be the first attorney general ever found in contempt of Congress, has poisoned relations between the Justice Department and legislators, ensuring a rocky reception for whoever Obama names next.”

John F. Kennedy named his brother Robert to be attorney general, and Richard Nixon named his law partner, John Mitchell. In many ways, this makes sense: The attorney general of the United States is at the top of the law enforcement apparatus, and in that position, you want someone you can trust.

Read the rest of this entry »


Head Off a Tiananmen Massacre in Hong Kong

 HK-protests-getty

“Two of the world’s powerful autocracies, both rooted in the idea and practice of communist dictatorship, are bent on encroaching upon freedom and democracy on two different fronts: Ukraine and Hong Kong.”

Yang Jianli, president of Initiative for China, Teng Biao, a human-rights lawyer, and Hu Jia, winner of the Sakharov Prize, are former political prisoners of China. They write:

Thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators turned out in Hong Kong on Monday, defying a government crackdown over the weekend that saw riot police using tear gas, pepper spray and batons against protesters. As demonstrations grow against Beijing’s violation of its promise to allow universal suffrage, there is a danger that the infamous 1989 massacre in Tiananmen Square could be repeated in Hong Kong.

“Requiring voters to select leaders from two to three candidates selected by a committee controlled by Beijing is not meaningful “universal suffrage.'”

The crisis began in June, when Beijing released a white paper that reneged on the “One Country Two Systems” principle laid out in the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 and the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s constitution.

[Also see - Democracy in China: 'The struggle for Hong Kong,' or 'The Great Leap Sideways']

China had pledged that Hong Kong could rule itself on all matters apart from defense and foreign affairs, and voters could freely choose their own leader.

Instead, the white paper claimed that Beijing has complete jurisdiction over Hong Kong, with the only autonomy being what the central government decides to grant. All aspects of local government are subject to oversight by Beijing, and even judges must meet its standard of patriotism. Read the rest of this entry »


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