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A Reminder to Be Skeptical

Credit goes to The Blaze for bringing this story from the New York Times to my attention.

Now, I know what long time followers will say: Doug! You’re linking the New York Times, bastion of progressive hedonism! What happened?

For once, the New York Times committed actual journalism. I won’t focus too much on the article itself, The Blaze has already done a fine job summarizing the article which is very much worth the read. In brief, an agency from Russia committed an elaborate hoax of a chemical plant explosion in a small american city. Said hoax included staged video of supposed ISIS terrorists claiming responsibility for the attack, hundreds of twitter accounts posting faked photos and video, and duplicate versions of authentic websites meant to trick the unwary.

The main reason I bring this is up is to share my experience as an old hand at consuming news, and in our era of always evolving news reporting there has been a universal constant:

First reports are always wrong.

That doesn’t mean you disregard breaking news. It means you view it with a critical eye. Always, no matter the source. Even when youtube came out, even during the aftermath of the Boston Bombing in which Twitter was the most reliable information source and absolutely creamed the mainstream media in reporting, any self respecting news analyst, amateur or otherwise, took to heart deep down that you always double check, you always triple check, and you verify your information through third parties.

And no, citing twitter and then citing a news story citing twitter doesn’t quite count, that’s ontological sourcing. What first reports are useful for are leads. The broad gist, the smoke in the room that one might chase down in order to find a possible fire. Or, in this case, a foreign country sponsoring a group of professional trolls blowing a tremendous amount of smoke.

I have always encouraged my listeners and readers to do their own homework, and, by and large, the list of websites and broadcasters I draw the majority of my information from encourage their audiences to do the same thing. In the example of the Columbia Chemical hoax, those initially caught up in the thrill of the moment would have verified the non-event by checking CNN, the local radio affiliates, drudge, ABC, state authorities.. the list goes on and on.

Yes, the problem of a legitimate website being ‘duped’ with a fake exists, and took place in that example. But for an event as serious as the one the hoax was trying to push – a major chemical plant explosion on September 11th – you treat those cases with extra scrutiny and make sure they look really good before firing the broadsides of everybody panic!

There are people out there who want to cause mischief. There are cases where they are willing to go to tremendous lengths to do so. Sometimes, those actors are countries, or sponsored by countries. Whatever major conflict happens next to humanity will almost certainly involve informational warfare, and, arguably, one could call this incident a major test-case. It’s in no way my intention to scare or fear monger or anything of the sort.

Merely, this is just a gentle reminder: When you see that sweet juicy story full of blood and guts splattering the windows, make sure the big and little dogs out in the wild actually have something in their jaws. Which you should have already known to do, anyway.

I’ve said in the past that twitter is a decent means of getting a feel for the ‘pulse’ of a current event. By and large, it still is. But now more then ever, if a current event is highly controversial while its unfolding, you’re going to want to take extra time to ensure the tweets you’re following come from verified, trustworthy people. And even then…



Minor housekeeping note:

I am currently exploring options for rebooting the podcast, favoring blogtalkradio but willing to consider other venues. While I would like to reach out to other conservative folks out there I kind of need to earn my street cred back, and what I really need to do is actually start commenting on news articles again, in addition to writing posts about them, on the sites I frequently mention here. (Like Legal Insurrection, Instapundit, and Ace of Spades). 

I’m torn between whether I want to focus on California politics, or my usual schtick of a focus on national issues with whining about California sprinkled in between. Realistically, my entry back will be the short, frantic half hour weekly shows where I don’t have to pay for a BTR subscription, but we’ll see. I am guilty of sometimes overthinking this stuff.

As always thoughts and comments are appreciated.

It Ain’t Over till the Fat Lady Sings, But…

Those are painful words to type, but I’m a mature person. If trends continue this will be a popular vote win for Romney and an electoral win for Obama, keeping him our president. You will not, by the way, see me calling for an overturn of the electoral college system and I very much discourage my ideological companions from touching that argument with a ten foot pole.

America losing touch with economic reality doesn’t change the economic reality facing this country. I’m frankly a little disappointed in my country tonight, but I will persevere.

Tom and I have some humble pie to chew into from today’s show in calling a landslide – perhaps we were picking up on the popular tally, perhaps we fell into the classic political junkie trap: We saw an amazingly strong case against Obama’s policies and stances, we saw so many instances where he outright lied, we’ve seen numerous scandals that colored him in a horrible light, and we just couldn’t see how people could not see those stories, take them to heart, and see that this nation needs a different course.

I’m not certain what this says specifically about the American electorate, but I can say one thing – it seems America’s historical problem of having to take a pounding before it turns around is again playing out before our eyes. We have an economic disaster on the horizon, period. It seems America has done an effective job of convincing itself that the problem is either too harrowing to contemplate or that the fed can happily print money with no consequences. The fantasy that federal money is free continues.

Obama owns the last four years. A large number of his major policy moves were offset to kick in after the election, and in 2014. I will say it again: America is insisting that it needs a sucker punch before it sees the light of day. Fine. It will come. But I will go on the record – this mess would not have been entirely diverted by Romney. Romney would have given us an emergency landing as opposed to a crash. It could have been side stepped. It could have been cushioned. Instead we’re apparently going to accelerate.

Buckle up, folks. It’s going to be rough ride. Remember: As a country, this is the path we’ve chosen.

And I will still not give up on my country.

I remain, as ever, an optimist. I do, however, despair that this nation is now stepping into a period of history where we have never been so sharply divided politically, and where a campaign oriented around shallow tactics managed to win with classic politics. Obama has always been a master politician, and it’s something I will never deny or contest about him.

I intend to remain active, and bite the bullet and march on. And unfortunately – for my family, this election has direct consequences on our lives, and we’ll be making a number of hard decisions soon. I imagine it’s the same way for many, many other Americans tonight.

I’m feeling much the same way I did when Justice Roberts made the deciding vote to uphold Obamacare. Conservatism as a movement in this country is being given an incredibly trying test. We will ultimately be stronger for it – but damn if it isn’t painful not seeing the ‘easy route’ pan out.

Things to Watch:

  • Benghazi
  • Precious Metals
  • The Federal Reserve (specifically Ben Bernanke)
  • Ripple effects of Obamacare solidfying sinking in over the next two weeks
  • Overall regulations via the EPA aimed at energy producers firing over next several months, particularly coal

More thoughts from Vodkapundit via PJM that I encourage all of you to read.

Update: Why on earth is THIS my 100th post? Talk about bitter tastes left in the mouth.

ALSO: This piece is linked in one of the instapundit links, but a qoute from a Bom Krumm piece is worth highlighting:

“We are an evenly divided nation between two irreconciable ideologies.  On the one side is the collectivist progressive who knows that by centralizing control in the hands of leaders empowered by special powers, that America will be a fairer place.  On the other side is the rugged individualist who knows that if he were freed of extraordinary restrictions that he could accomplish extraordinary things and that will make America a stronger place.

This is not a new conflict.  In fact, it’s the conflict that gave birth to our nation, when we left and England and an anointed elite behind.  But we didn’t leave it entirely behind.  And by degree, collectivism has returned.  For decades we have been able to paper over the differences between the two camps through the incredible surplusses that we have amassed.  But those surplusses are soon to come to an end.”

Additional Reading

I really ought to listen to myself more often. Sometimes. Back then I was very put off by Romney – my opinion on Romney the man has changed considerably since then.

Skeptic Conservative Going on Strike Against SOPA

((The protest is over, but the issue is not! Bill comes to a vote on the 24th!))

You can officially consider the Skeptic Conservative, Imperial-Gaming, and Totalwartracker to be endorsing the protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act as well as the Protect Intellectual Property Act currently threatening to make their way through congress.

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BREAKING: Kim Jong Il of North Korea – DEAD

Thank you Drudge!

And Pajamas Media!

The best timestamp I can put on this is ~7:30pm Pacific Time

Normally this would warrant a Short Notice Skeptic Conservative Podcast in the veins of the fabled “Bin Laden is Dead” show, done 2 hours after the event took place.

Instead, I encourage all of you to listen in to Flyoverterritory’s Show for tonight, as he might break it down later on in the broadcast.

What does Kim’s death mean? It could mean a lot of things! It certainly puts a death clock on the North Korean regime.

I’ll break this down here as the night goes on – After the jump below. Newbies should look here! Anyone should ask questions regarding North Korea via comment here and they will be addressed!

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