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Monday, April 22, 2013

The Week That Was

“Here comes the orator with his flood of words and his drop of reason.” — Benjamin Franklin

Like most of Americans I spent much of last week watching the developing events after the bombs went off at the Boston Marathon. Almost hourly the news changed and evolved as the details began to emerge from the fog surrounding the media and their “analysts “ The reporters on the ground did a pretty good job, but the in-studio experts were more than a few steps out of bounds. Take for example CNN with their premature proclamation that an arrest had been made when no such thing had taken place. Even Fox News was taken in by this false report.

The news audience has been chopped up into ideological camps, and CNN’s middle way has been clobbered in the ratings. The legacy networks’ news divisions can still flex powerful muscles on big stories, and Twitter and other real-time social media sites have seduced a whole new cohort of news consumers.

But the biggest damage to CNN has been self-inflicted — never more so than in June, when in a rush to be first, it came running out of the Supreme Court saying that President Obama’s health care law had been overturned. It was a hugely embarrassing error.

Still, when big news breaks, we instinctively look to CNN. We want CNN to be good, to be worthy of its moment. That impulse took a beating last week. On Wednesday at 1:45 p.m., the correspondent John King reported that a suspect had been arrested. It was a big scoop that turned out to be false.

Mr. King, a good reporter in possession of a bad set of facts, was joined by The Associated Press, Fox News, The Boston Globe and others, but the stumble could not have come at a worse time for CNN. When viewers arrived in droves — the audience tripled to 1.05 million, from 365,000 the week before, according to Nielsen ratings supplied by Horizon Media — CNN failed in its core mission.

It was not the worst mistake of the week — The New York Post all but fingered two innocent men in a front-page picture — but it was a signature error for a live news channel.

And then there were the pundits with their biases who were almost praying for a result to fit their agenda. Liberal hopes were dashed with the revelation that the Boston Marathon bombers were a couple of Chechen Muslim immigrants. The Left was so sure they had finally bagged the elusive Tea Party murderer! The bombings occurred in Boston on Tax Day. Surely, at long last, the opportunity to smear libertarians, small-government conservatives, anti-tax crusaders, and the whole hellish tri-corner hat crowd was at hand! ”Two plus two equals…?” Michael Moore burbled happily, retreating back into his copious shell of sub-human idiocy when the answer turned out to be “Islam.”

That’s how the junior member of the bombing team, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, explained his “outlook” on an Internet profile. Family and friends talk of the brothers growing more intensely involved in the stricter aspects of their religion over the past few years. The older brother, Tamerlan — named after a brutal Islamic conqueror Tamerlane from centuries past — seems to have led the way, with Dzhokar trotting after him like a “puppy.” Somewhere along the way, they became radicalized — a process that will be of great interest to investigators in the weeks ahead.

Substitute the Tea Party for Islam, and liberals would be hitting the floor in a swoon of ecstasy today, their every fantasy about the adversaries of Big Government joyously fulfilled. The Internet would groan beneath the weight of their blog posts and op-eds. And it’s not hard to imagine various officials of the Obama Administration egging them on, linking the bombers to everything from the defeat of gun-control legislation to sequestration. (Well, they’re already trying to connect the bombing to sequestration — at one point, Nancy Pelosi’s minions, Steny Hoyer, explicitly blamed the loss of life on those brutal sequester “cuts.”

Every Republican would become an accessory to the bombings. They would be expected to offer ritual denunciation of Boston Marathon attacks every day, for months to come. Then they would be presented with lively figures from the outer edges of non-violent conservatism, and expected to denounce them, too. Anything less would be tacit acceptance of the “climate of hate” that could lead to more murders. Voodoo dolls from closer and closer to the mainstream of conservative thought would then be chosen for these denunciation rituals, presenting Republican political leaders with an increasingly difficult choice between meeting the expectations of the liberal media, and alienating their voters. We saw a dry run of all this when liberals invented their “climate of hate” out of thin air to link the Tucson shooter to their political enemies. Back then, two plus two was supposed to equal Sarah Palin and her bull’s-eyes-festooned electoral map.

The embarrassing failure of their “climate of hate” Tucson hysteria didn’t stop the Left from doing exactly the same thing last week, and last week’s narrative implosion won’t stop them from trying it again next time. Sooner or later, one of these maniacs will turn out to be someone who doesn’t like ObamaCare! There’s no practical reason for liberals to stop running this game; they pay no real price for getting it wrong. Dzhokar Tsarnaev celebrated Barack Obama’s re-election online, but he could easily restart the entire liberal Climate of Hate greenhouse-gas system by casually remarking to his interrogators that he’s thought it over, and now really wishes Mitt Romney had won. Do not for one moment doubt how quickly that would unleash a tidal wave of triumphant “aha, we knew it!” blog posts from the same people who got the “Tax Day bombing” smear wrong.

Here are a few examples courtesy the Independent Journal:

Jay Mohr Actor tweeted: "What bothers me most about today is that we’re getting used 2 it. ENOUGH. 2nd amendment must go. Violence has 2 stop. Culture MUST change.”

Politico in a piece on the Boston bombing: "Boston Athletic Association president Joanne Flaminio previously said that there was 'special significance' to the fact that the race was 26.2 miles long and 26 people died at Sandy Hook Elementary school."

Former Obama Adviser David Axelrod the MSNBC contributor: "And I’m sure what was going through the president’s mind is — we really don’t know who did this — it was tax day. Was it someone who was pro–you know, you just don’t know."

New York Times' Nicholas Kristof. The writer tweeted: "explosion is a reminder that ATF needs a director. Shame on Senate Republicans for blocking appointment (links to WaPo)".

Huffington Post & MSNBC's Nida Khan. She tweeted: "We don't know anything yet of course, but it is tax day & my first thought was all these ant-government groups, but who knows".

MSNBC's Chris Matthews: "Let me ask you about domestic terrorism as a category. Normally, domestic terrorists, people tend to be on the far right, well that’s not a good category, just extremists, let’s call them that."

CNN Analyst Peter Bergen: “I’m reminded of Oklahoma City, which was a bombing, which was initially treated as a gas explosion. First reports are often erroneous… We’ve also seen, for instance, right-wing groups trying to attack the Martin Luther King parade in Oregon in 2010.” Of course Bergen was wrong – it was not a right-wing terrorist but a man linked to a neo-Nazi group.

MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell: “Because it opposes tracing chemicals in gunpowder the NRA is “in the business of helping bombers get away with their crimes.”

CNN's Wolf Blitzer: "It is a state holiday in Massachusetts today called Patriots’ Day and, uh, who knows if that had anything at all to do with these explosions.”

Salon's David Sirota: "Let’s hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a white guy.”

Sick and evil people also tend to have some more “normal” interests. They can fixate on anything as the “inspiration” for a mad rampage. They can sign themselves up for fan clubs that would rather not have them. Look at the manifesto left behind by L.A. spree killer Chris Dorner. He named a lot of people and organizations in that rambling screed, speaking very highly of some. those people are not responsible for his foul deeds. Lunatics and murders should not be allowed to define the boundaries of acceptable discourse and association.

Along those lines, decent Muslims are not responsible for the atrocity perpetrated by the Tsarnaev brothers. However, it is hopelessly naive at this point to speak of a “tiny minority of extremists” hijacking the religion of a billion people. The radical elements of Islam are larger and more powerful than that. They enjoy financial and cultural support from malevolent political factions who find Islam a comfortable fit with their ideology. The same media that never stops trying to weave an intellectual web between mainstream conservatism and bloodthirsty murderers is willing to discreetly avert its gaze from the radicalization of Islam overseas, and the tentacles these radicals are working patiently to extend into the United States. Islam has a problem, and only good, outspoken Muslims can solve it. We’re not doing them any favors by soft-pedaling the magnitude of the challenge they face, or setting a low bar of expectations for their achievements.

We might have gotten a good look at one of those outspoken good Muslims last week. (It seems patronizing to refer to them as “moderate Muslims.” Moderating between what — support for terrorism and good citizenship? We shouldn’t be looking for the “moderate” region between those “extremes.”) The Tsarnaev brothers’ Uncle Ruslan — a man who must have been going through a private hell few of us can imagine, as word of his nephews’ responsibility for the Boston Marathon bombings spread — thundered that these despicable acts of murder were an insult to the honor of his family, the Chechen people, and Islam. He denounced the terrorists in no uncertain terms, calling them “losers” who sought to ruin the lives of hard-working people making an honorable place for themselves in the great “mini-world” of America. Instead of hunting for the mythical snipe and wumpus of Tea Party murderers, the Left should take a lesson from Uncle Ruslan on calling out the real extremists in our midst.

Friday morning, the entire city of Boston was put in lockdown. Residents were warned to "shelter in place," meaning staying locked in their homes, answering only to uniformed law enforcement personnel. Hundreds of police swarmed through the city, tracking a violent terror suspect who is possibly armed with explosives with a clear intent to kill. The situation is a reminder of why millions of Americans cherish their right to own guns to protect themselves and their families.

Gun control advocates mistakenly assume Americans cherish their 2nd Amendment rights because of either a cultural anachronism or an affinity for hunting. The left looks at gun control as a debate over which guns Americans "need." They often argue, for example, that Americans don't "need" a 30-round magazine to hunt deer. That's true, but the debate isn't about "needs", it is about rights.

The 2nd Amendment is not built on a foundation of hunting, but, rather, the ability to protect one's life and property. The manhunt in Boston last week shows the very real threats that occasionally enter our lives. In a situation like Boston, seconds count, while the police are minutes away.

In 2009, after Nidal Hasan's atrocities, Obama and General Casey wandered around Fort Hood like clueless yet self-righteous parents at a “don't keep score” little league game, pretending not to have any idea what the score was — and congratulating themselves on their holy ignorance. And yet, the same cause-and-effect wizard who immediately surmised that the “Cambridge cops acted stupidly” in the Gates case refused to voice the obvious about the attack. Even today, we are still told the massacre was a case of “workplace violence” and that the Fort Hood killing spree is not officially listed as a terror attack on American soil. (As an aside, Hasan knew that all the soldiers at Hood were ammo-free, thanks to political correctness, but it's not like gun rights are an issue now or anything.) Apparently, Obama is still in that “don't keep score” mode, emphasizing right after the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, that we must not 'jump to conclusions' and “take care not to rush to judgment” in the Marathon bombing case. Isn't it astounding how liberals never want to rush to judgment — unless, that is, a rush to judgment is perfectly appropriate.

There will be more to come in the days ahead as the fog begins to clear and lefty pundits crawl back into their caves to watch their reflections on the wall enforcing their cognitive dissonance like Plato’s parable of the cave. Hopefully the many questions like the story of Abdul Rahman Ali Alharb; the Saudi who was to be deported will be answered.

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