Get Smart

August 8, 2006

Sissy Willis is smart. No news there. Sissy Willis is also a sharpshooter and Sissy Willis hits the bullseye.

Her post, Sometimes “False Accurate” Is Just Bad News, is the perfect chaser to our post, Adnan Hajj, Katie Couric And The Anchoress.

Sissy quotes an article in The Australian.

Success is anathema to the Left because it puts an end to victimhood; without victims the Left has no reason to exist,” writes retired neuroscientist Brian Wimborne in The Australian [via Western Defense] in a most exhilarating and enlightening explication of “why they [the Left] hate us [We're all Israelis now]“:

Well go on, read it all.

What do Adnan Hajj and Katie Couric have in common?

Everything.

Adnan Hajj manipulates photos to press a certain agenda. Katie Couric manipulates truth so that her agenda might be brought to the fore.

They both claim to be journalists and they both have been employed by major media media companies that have made agenda, rather than news gathering and reporting as their priority. There is no other explanation for their respective transgressions.

While it remains true that Adnan Hajj used Reuters as the outlet for his agenda, CBS has in many ways, was no less guilty when it was faced with fraud. The Rather debacle would have gone away, had CBS backed away the moment the documents came into question. Instead, they assumed a fortress mentality and defended the material they had to know was phony after a few days. Both Rather and Mapes could have been told to stay quiet- instead, they eventually assumed the position that the fraud was irrelevant- it didn’t matter if the documents were lies, it didn’t matter where the documents came from. What was important was that Mr Bush was guilty. It was Mary Mapes story- and Mary Mapes wasn’t going to be denied- even if that meant fudging a bit to in an attempt to discredit the President of the United States of America. Even now, after the fact, Ms Mapes would have you believe that she is the victim, a moral waif abandoned.

In A Few Thoughts On The Eve Of Couric, The Anchoress has written a post that needs to be a part of every civics class, every year. She starts her post deliberately and methodically, recognizing and crediting much of the blogosphere and the new media. Then, with a firm grasp of reality, she notes:

However, I also recognise that broadcast news is not going to go away. Up until the moment the levees of New Orleans broke and the press completely drowned its credibility in self-indulgent hysteria I would have told you that broadcast journalists were unbeatable when it came to breaking news. They certainly handled the attacks of 9/11/01 – and the immediate aftermath – with sound professionalism that did service to the nation and justified the public’s trust in the craft of journalism and the credibility of reporters.

She goes on to think out loud if you will, and in doing so, gives voice to what many have felt but could not articulate.

Something happened after that, though, and I have often wondered if the devolution of the press in general and the mainstream broadcast media in particular didn’t have to do with the fact that a year after 9/11, President Bush’s poll numbers were still in the stratosphere. I began noticing that his more visionary speeches, such as his commencement address at West Point and this one at Whitehall went under-covered, with major networks actually cutting away from Whitehall in mid-speech, and (C-Span never replaying it), and I thought that was pretty interesting – and troubling. Broadcast media’s coverage of all things regarding Bush, the War on Terror and the issue of WMD’s underwent remarkable changes between the years 2002 and 2006, particularly re WMD, which the press suddenly seemed content to pretend no one had ever mentioned, prior to President Bush.

News delivery is now being fueled by emotionalism, which has gummed up a powerful engine. Things have gotten so far out of hand that broadcast media are now occasionally admitting that they are not even in control of some of what we’re seeing.

The great American Fifth Estate is no longer being defined by the likes of Woodward and Berstein’s outstanding- and triple verified- work . News organizations are now defined by likes of Eason Jordan, admitting that CNN coverage in Iraq was compromised and in an outright lie, the same Eason Jordan denied he made the outrageous accusation that American troops deliberately targeted journalists for death in Iraq- until he was informed the remarks were taped. News organizations today have also come to be defined as ‘deaf, dumb and blind,’ when it comes to policing their own. Is that a fair assessment? Perhaps, or perhaps not. In the eyes of the public, however, the perceptions are clear.

The ‘blue wall,’ that goes up around cops accused of misdeed is real, indeed. It is also that there is no ‘blue wall’ when the accused cop crosses a line. The cop who turns a blond eye to a free lunch at the deli will most assuredly not turn a blind eye on other cops who rape, abuse children or prey on the helpless.

In the world of journalism today, unless caught red handed manipulating or distorting the truth, media has nothing to say. That may not be perceived as truth in the newsrooms across America, but it sure is perceived as true in living rooms across America.

The Anchoress goes on to note,

So…and for God’s sake, I can’t believe I’m writing it…I am actually looking at Katie Couric and hoping that somehow she…(SHE, egad!) might be enjoined to undertake the huge and heroic task of recovering the credibility and respectability of the press, of fomenting a kind of rehabilitation of the craft. It would be a noble endeavor, and I have no reason at all to believe she’s capable of it…

I’m really hoping that somewhere inside all of the “glam and gloss of Katie” there is that quality of strength and independence (like biting on a piece of tinfoil) that works for something beyond mere “success” – something like restoration and recovery.

I have every reason to believe this will not happen. I have read more than I care to about Couric’s “listening tour” (made up of “select” opiners) and what it “taught” her and I’ve come away thinking she is spouting the most obvious sort of doublespeak, that can be taken one way on the surface and an entirely different way beneath it. I’m seeing “I went on a listening tour among select people, and they told me that they want me to explain everything to them…”

To John Q Public, Couric’s ‘tour’ was no more than a media event- and an insurance policy. Couric and her handlers will not make the same mistake Mary Mapes and Dan Rather made. Couric wants to be perceived as coming from the ranks of news consumers, as opposed to coming from the ranks of highly paid TV personalities. Nothing CBS can do will change the way Katie Couric is perceived. When the inevitably low news ratings will be published, a new haircut won’t cut it like it does on network Morning variety shows (that is after all, what they are- a place where ‘anchors’ pretend to belong in the thick of things everywhere and all the time. Sort of ‘The East Enders’ on steroids).

The Anchoress offers up the only recipe for a CBS win with Katie Couric- a return to real journalism. Katie Couric has the opportunity to join the long and illustrious list of journalists that came in through the back door, without the ‘right’ credentials. If she can push back the agendistas, hacks and Starbucked-buzzed politically correct and feeling types (walking and talking emoticons), she can light a fire.

OK, back to reality. Will that happen? Probably not. The Anchoress doesn’t think so, either.

What I am getting is that the CBS Evening News is going to commit to even more aggressively “instructing” us rather than simply giving information…

While she’s busy providing “context and perspective” is she going to review… I highly doubt it, and that’s a damn shame – because frankly THAT would provide some much needed context and clarity.

The Anchoress is tired- as well are:

I want to give Couric a chance – but I do not want her instruction. I don’t want anyone “explaining it all” to me.

Americas are – by and large – pretty well-educated and sensible. Give us the facts and we can put things together for ourselves, but give us real facts, not “frames,” “memes” or “narratives.” Give us real background, not carefully plucked and edited pieces of history. If there must be analysis (and most times there really needn’t be) make it go beyond all the favorite cocktail-party talking-heads spewing the same narrow (and stultifyingly predictable) view. Really, is Doris Kearns Goodwin ever going to say anything that surprises anyone? Is Russert? Is David Gergen? Is Andrea Mitchell? It’s all so tired and none of them stray from the script – they even use the same words, trying desperately to convince us that things need “gravitas” that things are a “quagmire” that things are “paradigms” that things are “archtypes” or whatever the new word for the week is, every stinking week - they can’t all be thinking the same damn thing, all the time, can they?

Will Katie Couric become a kind of Adnan Hajj, manipulating what we see and hear?

Probably.

When Katie Couric leaves CBS News, she will be none the worse for wear and whole lot richer.

CBS News, on the other hand, will be like Reuters, in denial and nurturing the same delusions- that they are world class news organizations, dedicated to their professions.

You know, like aging whores who believe that with a bit of makeup and a push up bra, they can compete with younger girls out there.

The fountain of youth, the tonic that will forever keep CBS News and Reuters young and relevant, is journalism and honest reporting.

Read The Anchoress- and think about it.

Courtesy of Darcey, of Dust My Broom, comes this:

There can never be peace in the absolutist sense, only phases of relative success in managing conflict.

Peace is never made, established or reached; there is no such thing as a peace treaty. There is no “soft” peace or “hard” peace. This is because, immediately on signature of any agreement, deal or treaty, negotiated or not, even after the cessation of hostilities, the dynamic of conflict begins again immediately, perhaps transmogrified into different forms on different issues and with varying intensity. But, left unchecked by lack of will or knowledge, or by being blinded by the laissez-faire ideal of peace, it is likely that “post-peace conflict” will devour the participant again. It is no coincidence that merely two decades separated two colossal conflagrations – the 20th century world wars.

There is no such thing as a peace process, but rather the altogether less sexy process of perpetual conflict management. It is no coincidence that there is still no reconciliation between the Palestinians and Israelis after repeated attempts. The protagonists have been hoodwinked for years by the idea of a peace process, leading to a universal settlement of all conflict in one dramatic flourish. A more realistic approach may be to take the conflict apart one smaller piece at a time and build new structures to absorb the inevitable future conflict.

Some will recoil from this kind of talk in fear of feeling hopelessness. But perhaps hope is more likely nurtured by tackling conflict in a realistic way with greater prospect of longer-term stability than by constant disillusionment before an ideal than will never be reached.

The idea of “peace” is dangerous because it is an enabler. It allows us to underestimate the hard work required to earn success in confronting conflict, and a safe haven to hide from reality. It is a distraction because it leads us to false conclusions on the basis of something that does not exist. While we wait for peace, conflict steeps. The greatest threat to any chance of managing our way out of conflict is the idea that peace just happens by willing it…

Conservative hawks in Washington and chanting protesters have one thing in common. They are both addicted equally to the idea of peace, albeit in polar opposite ways. The former assume at the core that the military option alone can settle immediate conflict; this explains partly the mess in post-Saddam Iraq. The latter believe that conflict will settle itself as long as there is no military tool at all; they genuflect before the idol of peace. Both are passive in equal parts in the face of the challenge of conflict that requires relentless and never-ending application of human effort. Both want the quick fix that the dream of peace offers and a return on investment without making the investment in the first place.

Read more, here.

Newsweek looks at a giant in our midst, Billy Graham, as he reflects on a life truly lived in a service to mankind. Like all great men, he contemplates his shortcomings and not his accomplishments:

If he had his life to live over again, Graham says he would spend more time immersed in Scripture and theology. He never went to seminary, and his lack of a graduate education is something that still gives him a twinge. “The greatest regret that I have is that I didn’t study more and read more,” he says. “I regret it, because now I feel at times I am empty of what I would like to have been…”

Graham continues to teach, by example. The man who has dined with presidents, kings and queens, finds satisfaction closer to home:

Ruth dwells at the center of his world. “At night we have time together; we pray together and read the Bible together every night,” he says. “It’s a wonderful period of life for both of us. We’ve never had a love like we have now—we feel each other’s hearts.”

Newsweek recounts,

…he seems congenitally incapable of surrendering completely to the weakness of the body. “All my life I’ve been taught how to die, but no one ever taught me how to grow old,” Graham remarked one day to his daughter Anne Graham Lotz. “And I told him, ‘Well, Daddy, you are now teaching all of us’.”

Indeed. As the giant in our midst comes to rest, he can teach us much.

Hat Tip: Kate, of Small Dead Animals.

The Arab League is preparing for it’s day in the international sun. As the entire world watches, that seemingly august body will present a case, ostensibly in the best interests of Lebanon, in the attempt to influence a UN ceasefire resolution that might be more mindful of Lebanon’s ‘special needs.’
Sounds reasonable, right? Wrong.

The Arab League is neither NATO or the Moose Lodge.

Even the name, ‘Arab League,’ is deliberately misleading. In fact, that organization does not represent Arab interests at all- and never has. The Arab League has not sponsored a single educational, economic or real democratic reform and empowerment program in it’s entire existence. The Arab League is an organization dedicated to maintaining the status quo and preserving the leaders of some of the most repressive and dysfunctional regimes in the world. That is it’s entire raison d’etre.
Now, it is this body that wants to address the United Nations and the western world and be heard as the unified voice of the Arab world.

That is the equivalent of a bunch of witch doctors trading in their beads, bones and grass skirts and visions, to don western clothes, attend a convention of neuro-surgeons, and then they be considered equivalent medical professionals.

The Arab League has nothing offer the western, civilized world. That their efforts go into preseving and protecting that assembly of murderous, tyrannical and dysfunctional Arab world leaders is reason enough to disqualify anything they might have to say. As we have noted in Why War Works,

When nations that are that are led by or are under the influence of tyrants or dictators, attempt to justify those actions, we can rightly assume that justification is false. Tyrants and dictators do not make moral choices, because moral choices can only lead to the demise of the tyranny.

Clearly, anyone that comes to the defense of tyrannical regimes and their leaders, have themselves made a conscious choice to defend and stand by what is immoral. That is clearly applicable to the Arab League.

That the United Nations has agreed to give the Arab League equal standing is yet more unassailable evidence that the United Nations has been reduced to another League of Nations- a well meaning organization, rendered useless and ineffective. While it would be easy to say the UN has been reduced to a mass of benign irrelevance, that would not be accurate. Just as the League of Nations impotence in facing down Germany’s rearming in the 1930′s, the UN is now watching helplessly as Iran chases nuclear weapons and has overseen the mass genocide of millions over the last decade- and done nothing.

By providing a platform for the Arab League the UN has made it clear they are more than willing to providing a platform for any and all other racist and bigoted organizations.

The civilized world is measured by accomplishment and achievement. As we have noted many times, cultures, societies and religions are measured by what they build and not by what they destroy.

The Arab world has proved to be devoid of any meaningful achievements, save for hating Jews and America. In that endeavor, they excel. Manipulated by tyrannical and oppressive leaders, much of the Arab world has chosen to identify themselves by whom and how much they hate, rather than by anything they might accomplish.

The Arab League is complicit in maintaning that status quo in the Arab world. It is after all, a lot easier to hate than it is be productive- and that is just what the sponsors of the Arab League, dysfunctional and corrupt regime leaders, pay for.

When the cameras and lights at the United Nations are finally turned off, the Arab League representatives will shed their Saville Row suits and go back to their beads, bones and grass skirts. The ummah has been trained well- they need nothing more than a few witch doctors, invoking visions, magic and miracles, to keep them in line.

Blazing Character

August 8, 2006

In America, every kid grows up wanting to be cowboy. In Ameriac. it’s possible to be a cowboy. Sure, you could be a cowboy in Canada or Australia, but they weren’t real cowboys- they were- but they weren’t. You know.

In Europe, no matter how hard 7 and 8 year old little boys wished (and 7 and 8 year old boys can wish very, very hard), there was no way that was going to happen. There wasn’t a boy in all of Europe (save the kid who wierd kid wanted to join the ballet or Mummenschanz dance troup) that at one time or another, want to run away from home on a raft and land on the beaches of Montana or Wyoming.

We wanted to be American, with the swagger, the self effacingness and most of all, we wanted to be heroes- and in America, everyone can be a hero.

Americans are heroes because Americans don’t only save nations and important stuff like that- Americans save real people- and in America, everyone can be a hero.

More from Gagdad Bob.
Continuing with our interview, the nosy Sigmund, Carl and Alfred next want to know, “What are your politics, and why?,” and “Why have so many of us lost the will to fight and defend what we value or defend our beliefs? Is there a kind self hatred at work?”

I have answered that first question in so many ways, that I think I’ll refrain from doing so again. My political views are summarized in a couple of posts from last March, Political Seance, Parts One and Two. The rest is commentary, as they say.

As for the second question, I think I’ll try to address it from an angle I haven’t tried before, one that was provoked by Dr. Sanity’s eloquent and moving post yesterday, entitled My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys. If this turns out to be a short post, it’s because I’m thinking this through for the first time, and my thinking may or my not arrive at its appointed destination. In other words, it may go nowhere.

Dr. Sanity writes that “I grew up with cowboys. Not in real life, of course, but on the TV screen. My earliest heroes were those rough, tough shoot-em-up guys whose goal was justice and who seemed oblivious to their own tragic fate as they pursued that justice with single-minded efficiency.”

I can’t summarize, so I’ll just quote her at length: “The cowboy hero of my youth was a simple man who minded his own business and valued his freedom. It would take a lot to stir him up, but once aroused, he was unstoppable. His talk might be drawling or lazy, but not his principles; and the violence which was always there under the surface of his placidity could be called on to defend and protect that which he valued. Then he would ride out into the sunset; his job done, his duty fulfilled.

“He never turned away from what had to be done; and he never cared much for nuance or appeasement. He always understood and accepted the consequences of his actions, not caring if he was liked or loved; but doing what he thought was right, no matter what the cost.

“Today the American cowboy lives on in spirit in many aspects of our society. But if anything, there is even more contempt and anger heaped on him by our modern, cynical, and metrosexual society; who long ago stopped valuing the heroic and sees no need for cowboys in the new age.

“Today, any hint of unsophisticated cowboy heroics or clear talk of right and wrong, good and evil are met with scorn by the spoiled elites of the world, who perceive the modern cowboy as an unwanted anachronism and a genuine liability–his mere existence a frightening threat to the fantasy world of love and peace they have created in their minds.

“Still, it is lucky for us that our modern cowboys in the law and military continue to do what all real cowboys were born to do.

“Zane Gray and many other western authors understood that the only thing standing between civilization and the outlaws who preyed on the innocent were those few cowboys who held to the code of the west. Civilization might hate and despise them for the violence of their methods–but civilization most certainly could not survive without their moral clarity and protection.”

As it so happens, back when I was in film school, we studied various genres, one of which was the western, a form that is as uniquely American as jazz or baseball. I still have some of my old notes, outlining the classic structure of the western film:

1. The hero enters a social group.
2. The hero is unknown to the society.
3. The hero is revealed to have an exceptional ability.
4. The society recognizes differences between themselves and the hero.
5. The society does not completely accept the hero.
6. The villains threaten and eventually do harm to the society.
7. The villains are stronger than the society; the society is weak and ineffectual, unable to defend itself or punish the villains.
8. The hero initially avoids involvement in the conflict.
9. There is a past history, or some kind of symmetry or respect between the hero and villain(s).
10. The villains do something particularly evil or personal to draw the hero in.
11. A representative of the Democratic Party, I mean society, asks the hero to give up his revenge.
12. The hero fights the villains.
13. The hero defeats the villains.
14. The society is safe.
15. The hero gives up his special status, the society accepts the hero, and the hero enters society.

I remember as a kid, seeing the film True Grit, the one for which John Wayne received an Oscar. On the surface, it is only a mediocre film, but I saw it again on TV a few years back, and I remember being extremely impressed with what I realized was an entirely allegorical plot that touches in some way on most of the elements described above. I’ll just hit a few highlights.

The film begins with 14-year-old Mattie Ross looking for someone to hunt down the man who killed her father and bring him to justice. Initially the straight-laced and annoyingly sanctimonious Mattie wants to work within the system, and repeatedly makes reference to her fancy lawyer, who you might say is analogous to the entirely ineffectual UN, or to “international law.” Mattie could have had her pick of lawmen, but in the end chooses the aging Cogburn for the job, because she believes he possesses “true grit.”

Interestingly, Cogburn is depicted as someone who is entirely on the fringes of society–actually, beyond the fringe. Like Presidents Bush or Reagan, he would never be accepted by the elite and effete standard-bearers of society. While not a criminal, he is also not a member of society. In fact, he is a fat, one-eyed drunk who lives with a cat and a “chinaman,” playing cards all day. The obvious message is that society, in order to protect itself, may have to rely upon slightly unsavory people who are not properly members of it–violent and “uncivilized” men who care much more about freedom, honor and justice than mere law and order.

Cogburn’s exceptional ability is revealed during a drunken rant, when he pulls his gun and blows away a hungry rat in the far corner of the room. Mattie hires him to catch the killer, Tom Chaney, but only in order to bring him back alive so that he can be properly tried. As a typical liberal, she wants this to be a police action, not a war. For his part, Cogburn has no interest whatsoever in the legal system or in bringing Chaney back alive. He is his own justice system–in fact, he represents justice as such, and will be just as happy to blow Chaney away and be done with it.

An interesting father-daughter dynamic develops between Mattie, who represents law, and Cogburn, who represents primordial, pre-civilized justice. At first, there is even a pronounced gender confusion in the tomboy Mattie, who has a brittle sort of compensatory pseudo-masculinity symbolized be a ridiculously oversized and impractical gun that is “all for show,” like the French army.

The transformational moment occurs in the plot when Mattie is captured by Chaney. I forget how, but she somehow falls into a snake pit, which obviously represents the underworld, or hell. In short, she suddenly finds herself in a dangerous and deadly place that is completely outside the illusory safety of society. Rooster–and only Rooster–can save her, by descending into hell and snatching her out. Sort of like a psychoanalyst, only with guns.

Here again, the allegory is clear. Only a complete man, someone who has “one foot in hell”–who knows the territory–is capable of going into hell and battling the demons. Only ShrinkWrapped can save us!

After Rooster pulls Mattie out, he has to make a mad dash back to civilization in order to get her medical assistance. Symbolically she has died, and Rooster’s regenerative act will be to bring her back to society, where she will be healed and “reborn.” In so doing, he replaces her worldly father and becomes the true father of her higher self–a self that is no longer naive, but integrates abstract law with the dirty reality of worldly justice.

For his part, Rooster is reborn as a father instead of the drunken bachelor who lives on the outskirts of society. The conclusion of the film takes place in the family burial ground, where Mattie has set aside a plot for Rooster, right next to her’s. The brutal and uncivilized Rooster is not only integrated into society, but has a place in eternity as well. How fitting.

So, where does this leave us? What was the question? Oh yes, “Why have so many of us lost the will to fight and defend what we value or defend our beliefs? Is there a kind self-hatred at work?”

Yes, there is surely “white guilt” and self-hatred on the part of the Left, which is not even as mature as Mattie in the beginning of the film. At least she wants justice. If she were a leftist, the film would end with her realizing that Chaney had killed her father because he was poor and her father was wealthy. She would realize her own guilt, and campaign to prevent Chaney from being hanged.

At least Mattie, like some Democrats, wanted to bring the killer to justice. But as the film unfolds, her naiveté is replaced by hard-won insight into the human condition, specifically, into the implacable nature of human evil. In the end, she can only be saved by the man who lives outside the pleasant and comfortable illusions of society, who has one foot in both camps, who is basically good but who has no self-deception about the heart of darkness within man.

Rooster has no pretensions about human beings. Before you can have a civilization, before you can have a justice system, before you can have peace, you must have the will and the capacity for raw, barbaric violence. Because if you won’t do it, someone else will have to do it for you–or to you. You can be a spiritually decadent pacifist, but only because there is a freedom-loving, civilized barbarian with a mailed fist watching your wimpy liberal Euro ass. Behind every thousand or so feckless liberal castrati is a man with true grit. And we want terrorists and their enablers to scratch their heads and never stop asking, “why does this gritty bastard hate us so?”

We’ll close things out with a little tune. Glen? Glen Campbell? You wanna come on up? Good deal! Boy howdy folks, Glen Campbell live on the One Cosmos Frontierland Bandstand in Branson Missouri!

One day, little girl,
The sadness will leave your face,
As soon as you’ve won the fight
To get justice done.
Someday little girl,
You’ll wonder what life’s about,
But other’s have known,
Few battles are won alone.
So, you’ll look around to find
Someone who’s kind,
Someone who is fearless like you.
The pain of it
Will ease a bit
When you find a man with true grit

One day you will rise,
And you won’t believe your eyes,
You’ll wake up and see,
A world that is fine and free.
Though summer seems far away,
You’ll find the sun one day

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