When Reading the News, Skepticism is the Way to Go

A very good and interesting piece from Matthew Continetti:

Events are turning me into a radical skeptic. I no longer believe what I read, unless what I am reading is an empirically verifiable account of the past. I no longer have confidence in polls, because it has become impossible to separate the signal from the noise. What I have heard from the media and political class over the last several years has been so spectacularly proven wrong by events, again and again, that I sometimes wonder why I continue to read two newspapers a day before spending time following journalists on Twitter. Habit, I guess. A sense of professional obligation, I suppose. Maybe boredom…

I’ve been saying that for a while, myself. But I’m rather late to the game. Here’s another view:

It is the one great weakness of journalism as a picture of our modern existence, that it must be a picture made up entirely of exceptions. We announce on flaring posters that a man has fallen off a scaffolding. We do not announce on flaring posters that a man has not fallen off a scaffolding. Yet this latter fact is fundamentally more exciting, as indicating that that moving tower of terror and mystery, a man, is still abroad upon the earth. That the man has not fallen off a scaffolding is really more sensational; and it is also some thousand times more common. But journalism cannot reasonably be expected thus to insist upon the permanent miracles. Busy editors cannot be expected to put on their posters, “Mr. Wilkinson Still Safe,” or “Mr. Jones, of Worthing, Not Dead Yet.” They cannot announce the happiness of mankind at all. They cannot describe all the forks that are not stolen, or all the marriages that are not judiciously dissolved. Hence the complete picture they give of life is of necessity fallacious; they can only represent what is unusual. However democratic they may be, they are only concerned with the minority. –G.K. Chesterton, The Ball and the Cross

As I’ve said before, even when journalism is trying to get it right, it really can’t. As Chesterton noted, it only concerns itself with the small number of people who do something odd or have something odd done to them. But it’s even a bit worse than that – because of time and space limitations, journalism can’t give us the full story even of these small slices of human life. Even the most intrepid and honest reporter simply won’t be able to give us all the facts. Outside that, the real problem comes in when the journalist is not being intrepid or honest – when he is just mouthing a line designed to serve a particular end and dressing it up as honest journalism. This is where we are today – in a world where hardly anyone is even trying to report it straight. Everyone’s got an agenda.

It must be remembered that you don’t have to push entirely false information to push an agenda. You can have a whole bunch of true things in there, even if you are trying to get across the most monstrous of lies (such as, for instance, the lie that Hillary was even remotely qualified to be President, let alone the allegedly most qualified person, ever). In fact, the more true stuff you can squeeze in there, the better – makes it harder to attack the main lie. But as I’ve also said before, if you add a ounce of lie to a pound of truth, what you’ve got is all lie. The two things just don’t mix. In the end, you are either telling the truth, or you are telling a lie…there is no half-truth, there is no white-lie.

The bottom line, for me, is that I simply do not believe what I’m reading unless I can ascertain a demonstrable fact…and even then I must be able to fit it all into a coherent worldview, informed by my knowledge of history. Skepticism is a requirement these days – you simply can’t take what is said in the media immediately at face value. It has to be checked – and it has to be pondered. Does it make sense? For instance, in that Georgia House race…we were told, endlessly, that the Democrat was a little ahead and that Democrat enthusiasm was at a huge peak…well, in the end, the Democrat lost by 4 percentage points and didn’t get any more votes than the Democrat had in 2016. It was a gigantic nothingburger from start to finish. I was confident all along the GOPer would win – because there was nothing real which would indicate that a GOP-leaning district was going to repudiate the GOP and Donald Trump. I believed this because I didn’t find any facts to dispute it and all my knowledge indicated it would be like that. But there we went, for weeks people salivating over it…and pouring in untold millions of dollars based upon reports which were simply false.

It is rather sad that it has to be this way – and the fix for it would be easy, and quick. All the MSM would have to do is report things straight for just a few weeks and their credibility would be restored. They won’t do it, at least not any time soon, because most of them are committed to the Progressive cause and all of them are fearful of the wrath of the Progressive gate-keepers if they step out of line. So, for now, all we can be is skeptics.

Out and About on a Monday

Got 1,500 words done on the novel last night – now closing in on 32,000 words. My big problem, now, is that I’m liking the sidekick and his romantic interest best of all the characters.

Pakistan may extend naval facilities to China. Pakistan would do this because they don’t trust us (we don’t trust them, either – and why we’re still giving them foreign aid is really beyond me; but that’s for another time) and because both Pakistan and China wish to thwart Indian power. This is real world stuff, folks – and the Chinese navy having a base on the Indian ocean would complicate a lot of things for us and for India. And this is why I’ve never gone on the warpath against Putin’s Russia. First off, because it is absurd – Russia is no threat to the United States. Secondly, because we might find Russia a friend in time of need…like if we ever had to tangle with China. Right now, China is moving into the South China Sea; it is making friends with Russia, Pakistan and Iran; it is putting huge resources into eastern Africa; it is refusing to make any real effort to curb North Korea. In short, China is making the military, diplomatic and economic moves it would have to make to prepare for war with the United States. This doesn’t mean they’ll start one with us, but it does mean they are getting ready for one…and we’d better get ready, too. And that means strengthening our relations with India, Japan…and Russia.

Mueller needs to quit – and I agree. I just want an end to this whole Trump-Russia farce. There’s nothing there. Bring me some stand-up-in-court evidence, or let it go.

It is too late to save the day in Afghanistan? I might be. I’m not sure if I’m on board with a renewed US effort…but its either clear out right away, or go full blast. One or the other.

Turns out, even if there is such a thing as “hate speech” it is protected under the Constitution. This is a bit of amazingly good news – because, remember, to some on the left, merely not saying leftist things is “hate speech”.

Democrats are upset that the GOP isn’t letting them in on the ObamaCare replacement details. I’ll pause while all of you cry them a river.

Some bad news for the Global Warming alarmists. I think for most of us, this is getting to be a bore…and now that Trump doesn’t seem interested in providing massive government funding, it is becoming a bit of a non-issue. Warming or cooling or staying the same – we and the rest of life on Earth will adapt. If life can survive massive meteor strikes, it can survive SUVs.

Not too worried about those Russian threats about US planes in Syria – the Russian air force probably doesn’t want to tangle with the USAF.

Thoughts on the Shooting

Yes, he was a nut – but he was a nut set off by the violent rhetoric of the left. All that talk of Trump not being the legitimate President; of he and his supporters being Nazis; of those opposing them being the “resistance”, as if they were French patriots under German occupation during World War Two. All that means something – and to some people, it means you have to fight. If you say that Trump and his people are an existential threat to all that is good and true in the world, some people will take you seriously, even if you don’t intend it that way. It doesn’t matter that your goal was just a cynical firing up of the base for next year’s mid term elections…it still works out that you incited violence.

Democrats do this sort of thing because it works. Time and time again they’ve used violent, over-the-top rhetoric to fire up their base…it is a very large reason why Obama was re-elected in 2012. People forget that he’s unique – the first President to be re-elected with fewer votes than he got the first time around. He should have lost – and likely would have lost save for a relentless campaign of hatred designed to keep just enough of his troops in line to make a difference…had Romney been just a bit more of a street fighter, Obama would have lost, in my view.

Democrats can end this in a moment, if they choose – all they have to do is get all their senior people to go out in public and say, “President Trump is the legitimate President of the United States”. Sure, that won’t convince the full-on fanatics, but it’d dial down the heat and the kooks would be isolated. But Democrats won’t do that – because they don’t want their side cooled down and they also don’t believe they’ll pay a price at the ballot box. I’m hoping that in 2018 they are disabused of this notion – and I think they may well be. You see, for all the firing up of the base on the left, I believe that the Trumpsters will troop to the mid term polls in record numbers, determined to record a vote of confidence in their man…and a vote of rejection to those who want to annul the 2016 result. We won’t know if I’m right until election day next year – and even if I am right, it won’t show up in polling, even if the polling is trying to be honest. But I do believe I’m right. I’m thinking that people have had enough of this – and in talking to regular folks who don’t think about politics all the time and don’t engage on social media, I see a line being drawn between the leftist rhetoric and the leftist violence: people are seeing that one causes the other.

Weekend Open Thread

On the grounds that Indy authors simply must help each other, I recommend New River (Images of America) by Marcy J. Miller – a great and kind lady who lives in Arizona. I’ve interacted with her on Twitter for quite some time and she’s just a wonderful person who lives out “back of beyond” in some beautiful Arizona countryside. I admit to being insanely jealous when she posts pictures of sunsets and desert thunderstorms…and of her horseback rides. Check it out – you won’t be disappointed.

As for my book, I’m past 30,000 words, now – I’ve got my characters in a bit of a jam, but a friend of mine suggested a way out, so I’m going to give it a shot. It’s really a rip-roaring story, or at least I think so. Hope people like it!

So, PM May’s gamble on a snap election came up snake eyes. I admit to not paying too much attention to the British election as it unfolded. Most polls, right up to the end, showed the Tories making substantial gains against Labour run by a completely out-there leftwing kook. But, didn’t work out that way – the Tories still gained the most votes and seats, but lost their majority and will now have to work with the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland for a working majority. And, man oh man, the DUP is quite the Conservative party! I can see why the Tories would prefer to stay a mile away from them. I’m naturally suspicious of the DUP given its anti-Catholic roots, but the anti-Catholicism seems to have moderated over the past couple decades. Main thing, they are very socially Conservative and Euro-skeptic. This means Brexit is still very much on track – but I suspect the Brits will have another election in a year or two to sort things out. A better Tory program more pitched to middle and working class people, I think, would do the trick…a great deal of UKIP votes slipped over to Labour (when everyone expected it all to go Tory) because Corbyn was at least smart enough to offer them some goodies. Tories will have to do that, as well, to bring them back.

That leaker who got arrested – main question: how in heck did she get a security clearance? Robert Stacy McCain boils down her background and it is pretty much a compendium of every lunatic position imaginable.

The House has passed a repeal of the misbegotten Dodd-Frank law, but it’s future in the Senate is murky. John Hindraker says that this is a good time to get rid of the Senate filibuster completely – it may be the only way we really get reform done. I realize that we Conservatives are naturally unwilling to tamper with something like the filibuster…but we don’t live in a world where political compromise is possible. Maybe some day in the future we shall, but for now we have to exercise every ounce of legal power we have to get our way.

Our little Progs were all eagerly watching the Comey hearings…and somebody caught their crestfallen looks on camera. Its not quite a fun as their election night meltdown, but its pretty good.

Bernie Sanders glided really close to demanding a religious test for public office – something banned by the Constitution. The man’s offense? He pointed out (in something entirely unrelated to the job he’s being appointed to) that in Christian dogma, you have to believe in Christ. Horror of horrors! Sanders seems to think that holding such a view is disqualifying…that it is bigotry against all non-Christians. But that would be as if I were to say that a Jewish guy can’t be my Senator because he doesn’t accept Christ as savior. Balderdash. I fully expect my Congresscritters to uphold the laws of our nation, regardless of their personal faith. I don’t expect them to tell me that their faith is false in order to make me feel good.

American oil exports continue to grow. This is the key to America’s industrial resurgence. In addition to that, it also cuts at the financial power of a great number of nations which wish us ill.

Feeling Better But Not Quite Good Open Thread

Legal Insurrection is taking note of the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War; covering it on a day-by-day basis, as it were.

The bottom line of that war was that the Israelis had the better troops and, even more importantly, the better commanders. Leadership in war is one of the most difficult things to do – to walk, open eyed, into peril without ever being able to know exactly how it will come out is the most difficult thing to do. Most military commanders never really master it – they become prey to their doubts and try to take out insurance against disaster. Normally, that just leads to disaster. The great commanders of history all have this in common: the willingness to commit 100% to the plan (the ability to rapidly adjust the plan to changing circumstances is where you differentiate between a great commander and a military genius). But just that ability to step off into the unknown – that, in itself, takes immense courage, and most people simply lack the ability. But those who have it go down in history – the difference, in American terms, between the way we remember McClellan and Grant.

It was an immense and glorious victory; it mostly recovered the disastrous outcome of the 1956 Suez Crisis (where we essentially ordered the French, British and Israelis to relinquish their already-defeated foe). Crucially, Israel regained control of their own capital city, Jerusalem – and for the first time in untold ages, Jews were able to rule themselves in their own home. All honor to those Israelis who fought hard and with skill against an enemy who wished them all dead – and who would have carried out the most horrendous massacre, had not the IDF been up to the task.

Long criminal history; refugee; terrorist connections – naturally, manages to get a gun and engage in a shoot out with the police and, of course, to murder an innocent man. We’re simply not taking the threat seriously, folks.

America’s oldest veteran turned 111 – still smoking and drinking. God bless him. Hope he lives many more years – and we’d better darn well do a State funeral for him when the time comes.

Kurt Schlichter has some words for those “Conservatives” who don’t seem to want to get into the fight:

These wimps whimper and wail about our cultural decline and then, when presented with a golden opportunity to make our conservative case and run up the score, they go AWOL because they don’t want to get their soft, girlish paws dirty by actually fighting for what they say they believe in. They are frauds and scammers. They were happy to sit in their donor-funded sinecures waving their fingers at liberalism’s relentless march through our culture, but all of a sudden it turned out that we normals expected them to actually fight. And when that ginger geriatric cryptkeeper of a comic gave us a blood-soaked opportunity on a platter, they turned tail and ran rather than jam it down our enemies’ collective throat. Losers.

The Conservative leaders have lead us to the point where we’re no longer arguing about the benefits of Conservative ideals, but just how fast we’ll allow Progressive dictates to be imposed on us. No, thanks. I’d rather fight for Conservatism.

Speaking of which, Don Surber lays into National Reviews recent request for money.

So, there’s been an arrest in the whole leaking mess. If this is the quality of our opposition, then we’ve really nothing to worry about, long term.

Unilateral Withdrawal From the Open Thread

Trump disappointed me in deciding against moving the US Embassy officially to Jerusalem, but the withdrawal from Obama’s bogus Paris deal makes up for that quite a lot.

First off, the deal was unconstitutional: it was a treaty which Obama never submitted for ratification. And it was not submitted because it would have been swiftly voted down. Secondly, it didn’t do anything – even in theory, if all its provisions were carried out, the apparent supposed benefit was a mere 0.2 degree reduction from expected warming by 2100, or something. Finally, it appears to require us to shovel many buckets of money at foreign governments and progressive NGO’s. I don’t see any point to the agreement, folks.

It has been very revealing that many of the Never Trump Conservatives are taking exception to this action – including those who had called the agreement, when reached, a bad thing. All of a sudden, it is bad for our global leadership position to withdraw! This is absurd – and shows that Never Trump isn’t motivated by principal, but merely by animus towards Trump. Which is fine – but if you just hate the guy, say that: don’t try to tell me you’re trying to save Conservatism from Trump and then go off and defend something as anti-Conservative as the Paris deal.

Memorial Day Weekend and I’m Sick Open Thread

Strangest thing – over the course of about half an hour as I was driving the Mrs back home from dinner, started to feel an ache in my legs…by the time I got home, the ache was from head to foot. But, that was just the start! My sinuses plugged up in an awesome way so that not only was breathing a tricky thing, but I got one of those headaches which is at the top of your head any every time you cough – or even move suddenly – it feels like the top of your head is exploding. Then, it started to get bad – a stomach ache and associated gastro-unpleasantness. Hope all of you are having a better time of it!

Trump, keeping his promise, is making sure that the criminal aliens are rounded up. Our Progressives, I guess, consider this a bad thing.

Instapundit notes a Jerry Pournelle quote:

We have always known that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. It’s worse now, because capture of government is so much more important than it once was. There was a time when there was enough freedom that it hardly mattered which brand of crooks ran government. That has not been true for a long time — not during most of your lifetimes, and for much of mine — and it will probably never be true again.

Our job, as Conservatives, is to find a way to reduce this dangerous concentration of power so that it won’t matter quite to much which pack of fools is elected…but it will be a difficult task, and as we do it we’ll have to ensure that the left has no easy means of restoring Big Government. We’ll probably have to massively amend, or completely re-write, the Constitution, at the end of the day.

Rich guys are getting vasectomies so that they can’t get “trapped” into paternity. Call me old-fashioned, but I suggest a simpler device – keep it in your pants until you get married.

Half of an 8th grade class refuses to pose with Speaker Ryan – this is what happens when the vials of wrath get filled, folks. This is not a good thing – it is, in fact, terrible. And the parents who went along with it did a great disservice to their kids.

Hillary is still rather upset over her defeat. Taking one thing with another, I’m ever more convinced she’ll try again in 2020. She consoles herself with her popular vote “win” and is actually accusing Donald Trump of being a “soulless manipulator”…supposing he is such, this would still very much be the pot calling the kettle black.

A man bought a ticket to an all-woman showing of the new Wonder Woman movie, and the left had a melt down over it. All in all, I see the point he was trying to make but, on the other hand, does he fully realize just what sort of crowd he’d be sitting among in that theater?

The Obama spying scandal is growing by leaps and bounds.

ACORN is back, this time with an $80 million grant from Soros.