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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.

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.

Day before Election Day – Ballot Guide and Thoughts

Forgive the thrown together nature of this post, I have been very busy!

Scroll down for the voter guide. I can’t guarantee it but if I can –  it will be in pretty colors.

Last Week’s Show

First off – last week’s Invisible Voice show has tacked to 1063 archive listens within one week. This is terrifying in a wonderful way. I have no idea where the traffic has come from, but that show has the distinction of being my most popular piece of content within one week of all time. Hearty kudos are extended to my cohost, Tom Webb, as well as to the thirty two folks who listened live throughout the two hour broadcast. You can listen to the show directly by clicking here.

That’s a pretty awesome milestone to hit as an online content producer. What does this mean, going forwards? All Invisible Voice shows will now be simulcast on BTR. This means that post show sharing and turn around will be almost instantaneous. Exposure is simply too valuable to loose.

Some folks have requested cross posting to youtube, because of complaints with the Blog Talk Radio player. First: please subscribe to the rss feed if you have problems with BTR! Second: I will be blunt, as I have in the past. I am working almost full time in the service industry. Money is a significant concern for me, as is my time. I am in BTR’s revenue sharing program in order to help justify the amount of time I spend on making content. I am not outright asking for donations at this time, but it’s simple economic reality that if the choice is between more hours at work, or more hours mixing audio and video when I have bills to pay – I have to take more work hours.

I want to cut back on work hours, and as my income stabilizes it becomes more viable, but that time hasn’t come yet. I still aspire to enter the broadcasting industry, but I need to build up savings to go to community college first, and my job is simply the most practical way to do that. IF. Huge IF – but IF online income through donations or other means is able to replace at least part of my work wages, I can consider cutting back on hours and devoting more time to production, but that’s not something I’m going to ask of you. If it happens, it happens. If not, that’s ok. I proceed as planned, work hard at my job, and make the most of it I can.


Quick Voter’s Guide (CA focused)

Alternate Voter Guides:

President: Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan

US Senate: Elizabeth Emken

US House: Brian Bilbrary

San Diego Mayor: Carl DeMaio

Prop 30: No

Prop 31: Abstain

Prop 32: YES

Prop 33: Abstain

Prop 34: NO

Prop 35: Abstain

Prop 36: No

Prop 37: No

Prop 38: No

Prop 39: No

Prop 40: Yes


Why so many abstains? If I don’t have full understanding of a proposition or what it will do, my default is usually ‘no’ – but I’ve been convinced on those three to abstain since they could be good, or they could be bad. I don’t know, I’m not informed, and cannot make an informed decision.

These recommendations are simply my opinion and mine alone! Please come to your own conclusions when voting!


What do I think happens tomorrow?

I will only place a cautious call on the overall presidential election. I don’t even begin to know how individual propositions or races are standing.

Based off of the overwhelming turnout on ‘Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day’ and an overall sense of pent up momentum across the news cycle, I predict that the Mitt Romney Paul Ryan ticket will win a narrow Electoral College victory and be within five points positive leading the popular vote.

My heart predicts a landslide tomorrow. My brain is more cautious. We will see tomorrow, hopefully.

Based on overall news cycle movements, some bullet point predictions. Also, remember that polling is notoriously bad lately. Majority of media favored polls are sampling as if 2008 is happening again, which is not rooted in reality.

  • If Romney wins, media will blame it on ‘extremist’ tea party and GOP vote stealing.
  • If the election is within 3 points we will not know who the president is for a month.
  • If Romney wins, the floodgates on news of the dire economic situation this country faces will open, especially once inauguration takes place. Media will cease being the fourth branch of government but will heartily continue being the publicity arm of the Democrat Party.
  • Whomever wins, the aftereffects of the Benghazi scandal will lead to criminal trials and possible impeachment unless something else big grabs national attention.

There’s a show tomorrow morning – see the next post for details!

Short Take — Libyan Embassy Crisis

The attack on the Libyan embassy and continued demonstrations at other embassies is deeply significant. First, this:

I largely agree with Barry Rubin here. I am getting very steamed off by the administration’s response to this incident and the almost non nonchalant way they’re glossing over the death of a US ambassador. Don’t buy the ‘This stupid film caused it’ line. These people were looking for any kind of justification and to step into the trap of attacking free speech would only play into their hands.

This incident in Libya should have provoked the wrath of God from the US. And I don’t mean war per say – We should have been demanding protection and threatening to withdraw all support from affected countries immediately if they hemmed and hawed. Instead – we prattle, apologize, blow in the wind. It makes our country look weak and uncaring, and gives our friends even more reasons to doubt out word.

The killing of Americans – or any westerner, for that matter – should not be allowed to become a trivial act. If we fail to respond decisively to the death of an ambassador and several diplomats – an act throughout history traditionally regarded as an act of war – we simply undermine ourselves. 

I’ll break things down in more detail another day. But a few more thoughts –

It is likely that Iranian intelligence / Hezbollah was behind this attack, or Al Qaeda. Whatever party orchestrated what was absolutely a deliberate, planned out, targeted assassination is attempting to stoke a regional war, and as we all know with politics – it could be for any number of reasons.

I’m also deeply frustrated that the western press is so eager to baby and excuse religious bigotry when it come from radical Islam. There is a hard line in the sand when it comes to freedom of speech and expression, and people who wish to live in a modern world have to learn to take blows and suck it up just like everybody else does. Christianity and most modern mainstream religions regularly get ridiculed. Fundamentalist Islam should not get a pass just because they get violent.

This has just been an awful week news wise. A wonderful lead in to the election season!

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.

Why it’s Hard to Remain an Optimist

It can be very difficult when people like Victor Davis Hanson give good rational to the bad ju-ju I’ve been feeling ever since Obamacare held.

Some excerpts. First of five reasons for conservative’s need to be cautious this election season:

1. The so-called Obama crash. I believe that Obamism — 41 months over 8% plus unemployment, anemic GDP growth, serial $1 trillion deficits, unsustainable rates of new aggregate debt, the takeover of health care, record numbers on unemployment insurance and food stamps — is not only strangling the country, but in the long run will be seen as such by most Americans. Obama is incoherent — castigating the Supreme Court’s right to overturn a law, then himself suing to overturn state laws, while simply ignoring federal laws. Abroad, even his supporters cannot claim the Russian reset was a success. What was so hard about supporting the Iranian dissidents in the spring 2009 demonstrations, or expressing support for secular democratic movements in the Middle East rather than praising the Muslim Brotherhood? Why treat Israel or Canada worse than Turkey? And was it worth the administration chest thump to risk the security of the United States by leaking classified information about Predators, the cyber war against Iran, the Yemeni agent, and the bin Laden raid?

Sometimes when I watch Fox News, listen to talk radio, or read the blogs, I fear too many are in a strange bubble: the Obama embarrassments are tallied, his crashing defeat predicted — but no one seems to say, “But hey, he is still after all that ahead in the polls!” And to the extent someone might point to polling, he is met with “But the polls are biased!” Perhaps they are by 3-4 points.  But right now, given the power of incumbency, the changing nature of the U.S., and the no-holds-barred methods of Barack Obama, the advantage is still all Obama’s — and almost all the polls show that. And we should remember that fact rather than be told simply how bad Obama is.

And from the conclusion:

None of us know what November brings. We all imagine the race will be far closer than 2008. We worry that eight years of this administration will institutionalize what we saw during the first four years. That said, every person worried about the direction of the country will have to vote, donate time or money, or offer public or private commentary. We are going to see things in September and October that we have not quite seen before in an election, as our modern Borgia pulls out all the stops to do whatever is necessary to win.

We have a president who was not truthful about his prior associates and pastor, raising taxes, the Bush-Cheney protocols he once demonized, and promises to follow the law. The law now is followed largely to the degree that it is judged most progressive for most people. On a mundane level, a president is up for reelection who, by common assent, made up almost all the key details in his own memoir, claimed on his own bio that he was born in Kenya, jokes with his middle finger on his chin, laughs about Predator assassination drones protecting his daughters, offers a double-entendre about a sex act with his wife, and links “BFD” T-shirts to his website. From the fundamental to the ridiculous, Obama is sui generis. After all, we have a man of the people in the White House who has set presidential records for golf outings and fat-cat fundraisers, while running on them/us class warfare — to the delight of 50% of the country.

A hard lesson of being a news junkie and amateur political analyst is that the majority of one’s country is not as in-tune with events as one’s self. The internet has changed this decisively and has largely sidelined the TV ‘mainstream media’ – but it stands that news is apparently still boring to people until it affects them.

Maybe that’s why politics is so shallow and flashy these days. It’s effective towards those who don’t pay much attention or don’t really care.

I need some freaking coffee.



More negativity! It’s freaking disappointing having it hit home that politics happened in the supreme court, not constitutional judicial review.

Well, fine then. Politics has always been shallow but it’s still frustrating!

Update: Threw in some excerpts of the Victor Davis Hanson piece, since people aren’t clicking links. Tsk.

Update Update: In which another blogger reminds that opinion polls aren’t necessarily elections.

Barry Rubin on Egypt – Looming Radicalization Spurring Moderates to Flee

Yet another link I had to share as I continue to wallow in allergies. This time, from Barry Rubin –

PJMedia – Rubin Report: Good-Bye, Middle East! Liberals and Minorities are Fleeing

Some excerpts, emphasis mine:

What’s so terrible about the ideological, agenda-based domination of the mass media and academia is that people don’t ask critical questions that undermine their political positions.

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Obama to Invoke ‘Fairness’ as Campaign Push in State of the Union Address

Yet another example of the kind of story that made me scream at my radio.

I have said multiple times that I felt that the 2012 reelection strategy for president Obama would be a class warfare battle.  To be more precise, he would take essentially the occupy movement’s stance on things – Republicans are wall street, they are rich and thus terrible, they don’t care about anybody and are heartless, and just want to be big ol’ meanies and hoard their money while they -take- all your benefits away.

More after the jump.

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