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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.

To All Those Mad As Hell about the Zimmerman Case —

Please for the love of all that is good and holy:


Article includes several myth debunkings and links to several more. Some critical things to keep in mind about this trial:

  • Racism was not involved. This is supported by an FBI inquiry.
  • When Zimmerman was told “we don’t need you to do that” by the police dispatcher, he replies “ok”. 90 seconds of conversation follow, the start of which  Trayvon is nowhere to be seen and is effectively disengaged from the initial confrontation.
  • The prosecution’s job was to prove 2nd degree murder beyond a reasonable doubt, not introduce doubt into the self defense theory which was essentially their trial strategy.
  • Following someone suspicious, contrary to popular belief, is not illegal and does not, by itself,  justify the followee committing assault.

The amount of willful ignorance about this trial is mind blowing. As mentioned on the show (Part 1, part 2), it seems this explosion of fury is people latching onto their precious narrative because they so badly want it to be true. If you’re upset about the verdict, have an actual reason beyond baseless speculation! This trial has been talked and analyzed to death, yet the narrative orienting almost entirely around bad reporting and outright lies somehow is dominating the popular sphere at the moment. It’s unbelievable. Hit these people with facts and you get called racist or ‘pro zimmerman’ or they simply laugh at you. Nevermind the rule of law or the basic human right to self defense.

If they were so concerned about human lives being lost they would get this upset over the 61 murders that took place in Chicago during the trial itself. Why these activists are so fixated on repelling ‘stand your ground’, which has nothing to do with this case, blows my mind. What is there to be gained by removing a powerful tool that allows people to defend themselves from violence? 

Bonus reading: The Marissa Alexander Case. Because somehow this got revived and, again, the facts are being bent to support the Almighty Narrative.

Update: In case you’re wondering why this matters, this is the kind of thing incitement leads to. As well as vague, aimless ‘we gotta do something’ protests.

Mark Levin on the Immigration Bill

Mark Levin is one of the more fiery hosts on the AM dial, with a rather unique voice to boot. I haven’t always been a fan of his, but there are times where he makes excellent points — and much like Rodger Hedgecock, he leverages his audience to make things happen to pursue reform, which is something I wished more talk hosts did!

This monologue was spurred during a break, apparently, and not only is an excellent sum up of the primary fronts of this latest immigration amnesty push, but is an excellent example of great impromptu material.

Listen here.

Please listen to the whole thing.

Perhaps this sounds like overarching rhetoric, but the stats he cites regarding American’s general opinion on immigration reform aren’t made up. This bill still being drafted has been proven to be misleading, and much like Obamacare places an enormous amount of decision making powers into the hands of un-elected regulators. People, not equal treatment under the law, will be the decider behind whom gets favorable treatment or not under this new system, which further opens the door for unfettered political gamesmanship.

I have never been a proponent of amnesty because it spits in the face of every person who attempts to immigrate to the US legally and rewards flagrant lawbreaking. A surge of millions of new american citizens at a time when the economy is so fragile and unemployment is chronically high is going to do a great deal of harm and overburden the system. No-one wins including the new citizens — only the politicians reap what they think will be a bountiful harvest of new voters.

This is the only thing this bill is about for the political class. New voters. Democrats want a horde of new democrat voters to tilt the scale even further in their favor. The Republican establishment is tired of dealing with the tea party and their supporters, and thinks that throwing Hispanics a bone will win them voters because that’s the “moderate” thing to do. Rather than focus on reforming their party, they just want to play to demagoguery. Worked out really well back in the Reagan years, didn’t it? (it didn’t. hispanic share of vote for Republicans DECLINED in the wake of the Reagan amnesty).

This bill will be a disaster. Mark Levin puts great voice to why. This is by design. To quote a line referenced frequently by Instapundit, “They’ll turn us all into beggars ’cause they’re easier to please”

Yes, there’s quite a bit else happening right now. But this should get more attention.

Soak The Rich

Want to try your hand at taxing your way to prosperity?

Have fun.

Hat tip to Instapundit

Off to the Races: Who to Watch?

Soon, I will be scampering off to UCSD to burst into hysterics of some form or fashion over the preliminary results tonight. What bout you, dear readers?

I recommend tuning in to The Blaze. You can sign up for a 14 day free trial period and get some high quality election coverage from a pioneering internet network. Obviously this is a conservative network – but you know what you’re tuning into and frankly I’d rather not listen to Chris Matthew’s breathless 10,000 words per minute reporting on MSNBC.

Of course, you can take the sane option and simply break away from it all until tomorrow morning. Your blood pressure will likely thank you.

Breaking: Election is a the City of Notch

Dixville Notch in New Hampshire has reported their vote count, a remarkable tie with Barrack Obama pulling in five votes, and Mitt Romney pulling in…five votes.

Still waiting on word from the White House as to how the nation will respond to this developing, shocking crisis.

Great Kickstarter Project – Planetary Annihilation

Go. Click. Now.

Longtime audience members know just how much of a strategy game nut I am. I like the hardcore, slowpaced, immersive sort of game that has juust the right mix of micromanagement and real time action, like Supreme Commander or Medieval Total War 2.

With the latest update brought out in the last week of this kickstarter project, this game has gone from potentially great to potentially AWESOME.

I know this isn’t politics – I’m still a gamer at heart, folks! Think of this as a fun little distraction, and even if you don’t chip anything in – something to look forward too since the base game has already been confirmed.

I like the idea of crowdsourcing, and the thumb it sticks in the eyes of massive game publishers. It’ll be great to see what a talented group of game developer pros can do with the gift of utter freedom!

Media – The Fourth Branch of Government

An issue that’s been addressed before but never -really- fleshed out in depth on my part.

Red State offers a great summation of the latter end of this campaign season.

“The feedback loop between the Democrats and the media has pushed the Democrats well outside the mainstream and I believe there is a silent majority looking at this festival of the bizarre in Charlotte in absolute revulsion. They hear “fair share” and cringe. They hear Bill Clinton ask if people are better off than they were four years ago and are shocked the Democrats yell back “yes.” “

The democrats have gone off the deep end in a number of ways – and their tactical calculus has basically been ‘The American people are stupid and won’t notice’. Their campaign orients around connecting with the lightly informed voter – but it seems every week they do something else that amounts to overreaching heavily.

The DNC essentially booing God and Israel is important, as is their embrace of a radical stance on abortion. They’re getting their base -drooling-. Everyone else? Not so much.

I’ve had this impression outlined in the article for a long while now – if a hard backlash doesn’t happen this election, it almost certainly will down the road.

Expect the media on election night – if it turns in Romney’s favor as I’m daring to hope! To come out “shocked” and “surprised” about Romney’s “unexpected” victory and lambast about how they never saw it coming.


Hat tip to Instapundit for sharing the article. Seriously, you guys ought to look at it at least once a day.

Mia Love Speaking at the RNC

Continuing the theme of ‘Doesn’t Get Enough Attention’, I bring you Mia Love speaking at the Republican National Convention.

Two things are worth noting:

  1. The mainstream media in this country are being especially blatant in their bias by how much they’re ignoring speeches such as this. Watching NBC last night, all speeches (including this!) were ignored except for Christ Christie and Ann Romney. Don’t want to threaten the “Republicans are racist!” narrative!
  2. Conservatives win if they stay positive. The convention’s theme so far can be summed up as ‘We will fix it’, in lieu of ‘He broke it’. We are getting positive, uplifting messages from almost every speaker. This connects with America’s overall attitude, and will take us to great places. Now if they can only keep it up…

I don’t know about you guys, but I am savoring the eventual debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan. Poor Joe doesn’t stand a chance.

Hat tip to Zombie from PJM for the video.

Glenn Reynolds on Voter ID

File this under ‘doesn’t get enough attention’. Good summary of the broad issues in the voter ID debate, written by the man behind Instapundit

My personal take: Right now the system is -designed- to make it extremely difficult to track possible fraud. It should be common sense to have some kind of ID check for something as monumental and important as voting. There’s no reason for democrats or republicans to oppose voter ID – both sides should benefit from honest elections.

Little bit of site news today – I have five total wordpress followers! Thanks guys, I hope that my occasional stabs of writing continue to interest and inform you.

Of course there are more followers on facebook, email, etc – but it’s fun to get attention from fellow bloggers.