Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Who’s Killing JFK Today?

James Joyce once remarked that Rome reminded him of a man who made his living “by exhibiting to travelers his grandmother’s corpse.”  It strikes me that this observation also applies to the commercial exploitation of President Kennedy’s assassination.  After more than half a century no scrap of evidence is immune from being dislodged, mutilated, and reconstructed so as to fit more securely into the imaginative web of an aspiring conspiracy theorist. Did Oswald act alone?  Was there a gunman on the grassy knoll?  Did the doctors performing the autopsy alter the forensic evidence? Was Kennedy’s body transferred to another coffin?  Was the assassination a right-wing military coup d’état “with Lyndon Johnson waiting in the wings”?

This last theory -- concocted by Oliver Stone for the movie 
JFK -- surpassed all previous efforts in combining ideological rigidity, factual manipulation, and commercial exploitation.  The truthfulness of this assessment is open to any reader willing to peruse the writings of Gerald Posner (Case Closed), Brandeis Professor Jacob Cohen (“Yes, Oswald Alone Killed Kennedy,” June, 1992, Commentary) and finally the massive work of lawyer Vincent Bugliosi (Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy).

The sad fact is that the dead president has entered the marketplace as a salable item.  His death is not a question of historical interest but an exploitable commodity that may be packaged with impunity.  Is it really a desire to get at the truth that motivates the never-ending publication of conspiracy books and the periodic production of television specials commemorating that fateful November day?

Why, if the media are really interested in the truth, are most Americans ignorant of even the rudimentary facts about the case?  When, for example, can you remember any prominent member of the Fourth Estate mentioning these critical facts:  Oswald worked at the Texas book depository; eyewitnesses actually saw someone shoot at the motorcade from the sixth floor of the building; a witness 110 feet from the window provided police a description that fit Oswald quite well; no one else was with Oswald at the time of the shooting; Oswald had arranged book cartons to create a shooting blind by the sixth floor window; most aural witnesses heard three shots; Oswald (who didn’t drive and regularly hitched a ride to work) told his co-worker that he had some “curtain rods” wrapped in the brown paper he carried with him that morning; that brown paper, three cartridge cases, and a recently fired rifle were all found on the sixth floor of the book depository building; the rifle had been mail-ordered by Oswald a few months earlier; Oswald alone left the building after the assassination and later murdered a police officer in front of several eyewitness; Oswald kept an “Historic Diary” that made clear his radical political views and mental instability; a few months earlier Oswald had attempted to assassinate
General Edwin Walker, a fervent anti-Communist and former Texas gubernatorial candidate; four years earlier Oswald left the United States for the Soviet Union only to return in 1962; by the time of the Kennedy assassination Oswald, who was separated from his Russian wife, had become a great fan of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

I could go on and on.  I mention only a few highlights from the mountain of evidence that convinced three government committees that Oswald alone killed the president. The sad conclusion to which I must come is that most people involved in the mass dissemination of information are not really interested in these facts. That includes the bogus 1978 House Select Committee on Assassinations a majority of whom “concluded” (based solely on ridiculously subjective audio evidence from an open police motorcycle microphone) that there were four, not three, shots fired -- and thus, a second gunman.

Former assistant counsel for the Warren Commission, David Belin, provided a plethora of objections to this committee’s findings, noting that there was only one place where people actually saw a gunman and that was the School Book Depository. Furthermore, though many witnesses thought a shot or shots were fired from the grassy knoll in front of the presidential motorcade, no weapon or gun shells were ever found in that area.  Thus, Belin noted ironically, we have a gunman that no one ever saw who fired a single bullet from only 100 to 125 feet away that not only missed the president but also missed the entire limousine. 

As for the acoustical evidence so valued by the Democrat-led committee, Belin observed that the tape contained the sound of chimes, which aren’t in Dealey Plaza, but failed to include the sound of motorcycles speeding off to Parkland Hospital or the sound of police sirens, both of which should have been there.  Finally, Belin pointed out that every microphone in the presidential motorcade was on Channel 2, while the tape in question was on Channel 1.  All of this evidence supports the contention of the Dallas Police that the open-microphone chopper wasn’t even in Dealey Plaza in the first place -- a conclusion buttressed by several subsequent expert panels that thoroughly debunked this acoustical Rorschach data.  But what does evidence matter when a congressional committee wishes to keep conspiracy dreams alive that years later would be blown to gargantuan proportions by Oliver Stone.  The unpalatable alternative would be that JFK was killed, in Jackie Kennedy’s despondent words, by “some silly little communist.”   

In George Orwell’s 
1984, the Ministry of Information constantly rewrote history to fit the party’s ideological requirements.  Our reality is more crass.  History today has become a victim of both ideology and the marketplace.  Truth and decency are the casualties.  In such a society lusting for conspiracies, some people are obviously slain in perpetuity.

Richard Kirk is a freelance writer living in Southern California whose book Moral Illiteracy: "Who's to Say?"  is also available on Kindle

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Coddling of the American Mind . . . and especially leftist minds from harsh criticism


This book begins with perceptive criticisms of the “Three Great Untruths” that permeate contemporary American society:  1) the belief that humans are fragile and should avoid experiences or ideas that are unpleasant or slightly dangerous, 2) the belief that individuals should always trust their feelings, and 3) the belief that people can be divided neatly into two camps, good and evil.  These ideas, the authors observe, not only contradict ancient wisdom from a plethora of cultural sources but also result in harmful outcomes.  Moreover, perhaps to persuade youngsters and academics who dismiss out of hand the notion of “ancient wisdom,” their introductory chapters note that these great untruths also contradict the findings of cognitive behavioral therapy -- the preferred psychological approach of author Greg Lukianoff.  So far, so good.

Where the analysis becomes irritatingly infected with political bias, diminishing its value with a thousand ideologically-driven cuts, are tedious and unconvincing attempts to show that these misguided beliefs are present equally on the right and left sides of the political spectrum.  This narrative permeates their work despite the fact that all the authors’ detailed examples of campus speech codes, campus violence, and speaker intimidation concern leftist demands for ideological conformity. 

The book is almost worth purchasing for its extensive account of would-be revolutionaries consuming their own at the very progressive Evergreen State College near Seattle.  The authors (who both confess they’ve never voted for a Republican for President or Congress) describe acts of intimidation and extreme incivility by crazed, race-fixated students against a biology professor who, though sympathetic to the intentions of a no-whites-on-campus day, nevertheless declined to join in the group’s misguided means of achieving its objectives.  The up-close threats, vitriol, and involuntary confinements directed toward this professor and others tarred as white supremacists lasted for three days.  Even the ridiculous College President who kowtowed slavishly to the uncivilized mob was insulted and ordered about by these young racial Robespierres. 

To provide “balance” and indicate similar incivility on the right the authors cite “off-campus” groups, regularly described as “alt-right’ and “white supremacist,” that send online threats to political opponents, one to a professor who called for “white genocide.”  This subtle academic term, the authors explain, was taken literally by the ill-informed online bigots.  Another professor’s commencement address, they note, sparked a flurry of fifty hate-filled internet responses, as if that number of electronic threats were extraordinary given the speaker’s use of the celebratory occasion to call President Trump “a racist and sexist megalomaniac.”  Contrast those cyber-insults with the vile face-to-face confrontations and threats that were endured by an instructor at Yale’s Child Study Center who offered the modest email opinion that the school shouldn’t be so paternalistic as to prescribe Halloween costumes for adult students.  Both she and her husband were harassed and insulted by an on-campus mob.  To make matters worse, the couple received no backing from colleagues or administrators and eventually resigned over this picayune questioning of PC orthodoxy,
 
In short, Haidt and Lukianoff have transferred the bogus U.S.A. – U.S.S.R. “moral equivalence” argument to an educational setting, ignoring the fact that there are zero examples of conservative incivility on campus like those routinely practiced by leftists.  Thus, while extreme leftists, including faculty members, speak freely at universities, none need the body guards required by Ann Coulter or meet with acts of violent suppression and harassment like just-the-facts conservative speaker Ben Shapiro. Yet the authors assert, without providing specific examples, that “right-wing” attempts to squelch speech on campus are about as frequent as leftist efforts.  If true, I suspect many of those (doubtless non-violent) petitions involve the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic speakers that have proliferated on campuses in recent years -- speakers like Iran’s Holocaust-denying former Prime Minister Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Columbia.  Such pleas are really pro-Israeli and not technically right-wing.  Moreover, to weigh equally objections to Condoleezza Rice and Ahmadinejad represents a profoundly skewed moral calculus.
 
Haidt and Lukianoff further soften the clear ideological component involved in the censoring and vilification of conservatives by focusing attention on a multiplicity of other causes like social media that have contributed to the belief that “offensive speech” (as subjectively perceived by a single individual) is itself a form of violence which may be countered with actual violence.  While it is doubtless the case that social media helps fan the flames of hyper-partisanship, the book ignores the historical fact that leftist regimes have invariably suppressed dissent and vilified political opponents.  It’s also important to note, as the authors don’t, that while leftists can easily live in ideological bubbles isolated from sophisticated conservative viewpoints, the same isn’t true for conservatives who are inundated with liberal ideas from grade school on.  Finally, throughout the book the term “alt-right” is regularly teamed with the label “neo-Nazi” to imply a false connection between conservative thought and the KKK.  Actually, the latter groups’ numbers, as even Professor Alan Dershowitz has observed, are miniscule, and their cultural impact largely limited to ineffectual tweets whereas the left, as the late Charles Krauthammer repeatedly observed, has long occupied the cultural high-ground of the media as well as education and the entertainment industry.
   
If Haidt and Lukianoff weren’t bending over backward to avoid being burned at the academic stake by their more zealous colleagues, they would have observed that no conservative mobs are harassing the incendiary Congresswoman Maxine Waters like folks on the left have screamed at Mitch McConnell, Sarah Sanders, or, just recently, Tucker Carlson and his family at their home.  They might also have focused attention on the clear leftist bias of big-Tech companies like YouTube that has employed mysterious “algorithms” to limit access to straightforward, conservative Prager University videos (like Victor Davis Hanson’s five-minute overview of the Korean War) while placing no such filters on non-scholarly and often offensive rants emanating from the likes of Bill Maher.
    
Finally, if Haidt and Lukianoff wanted to present a more accurate analysis of the maladies they correctly identify, they might have considered whether President Trump’s election was as much the electorate’s response to leftist oppression as the authors view recent acts of political incivility as unfortunate reactions to Trump’s abrasive rhetoric.  A less-biased analysis would also mention at least one unhelpful Obama comment, like his implicit embrace of the false “hands up, don’t shoot” Michael Brown narrative when he said the incident “stains the heart of black children” who “feel targeted by law enforcement -- guilty of walking while black or driving while black.” Instead, Obama is uncritically presented as a champion of viewpoint diversity.
   
While there are many positive points in this book about demonizing opponents, listening to opposing views, and even a critique of the idea that equal opportunity demands equal outcomes, the authors’ unwillingness to even consider the totalitarian impulse that is baked into the DNA of leftism makes it a difficult read.  And while there is much to praise when topics like overprotective parenting and even cognitive behavioral therapy are considered, the links between these matters and the book’s primary focus on the suppression of political speech are tenuous and function more to divert attention from the factor that most promotes the “three great untruths” -- leftism.  But perhaps diluted versions of the truth is all that can, with trepidation, be expressed among academics and students who regularly vilify and threaten individuals who don’t support authoritative dicta vis-à-vis Halloween costumes.

Richard Kirk is a freelance writer living in Southern California whose book Moral Illiteracy: "Who's to Say?"  is also available on Kindle 

Friday, November 09, 2018

Fake News and the ADL anti-Semitism Study


Recently Presidential Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was challenged by CNN’s Jake Acosta to provide an example of fake news.  A poignant instance would have been NBC’s withholding a story in which Julie Swetnick’s supporting witness recanted prior statements about rape parties that Bret Kavanaugh allegedly facilitated via spiked punch -- an about face that would have been headline news had an embattled jurist been nominated to the Supreme Court by President Obama.  Given regular press demands for specifics, I think Mrs. Sanders should keep a short list of prominent fake news stories on a note card the next time CNN’s Trump-loathing correspondent disputes the all-too-obvious truth about journalistic malpractice. 

That list should include the widely disseminated Anti-Defamation League study that proclaimed a 57 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents from 2016 to 2017.  It was left to an anti-Trump law professor, David Bernstein, to fact-check this report since journalists like the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank were eager to spread, uncritically, a story line that reinforced their anti-Trump prejudice.

As Bernstein notes in his recent Tablet Magazine article, “no sound empirical data exists that shows an increase in anti-Semitism during the Trump administration that would justify” Milbank’s claim that Jews are not safe in Donald Trump’s America.  This Trump-inspired rise in anti-Semitism was repeated by, among others, NPR and The New York Times, both citing the aforementioned ADL study concerning anti-Semitic incidents.  Bernstein observes, however, that the study itself doesn’t claim to count “anti-Semitic incidents” but rather the “reporting” of incidents to ADL “by the media, law enforcement, and the public.”  Thus, as ADL itself acknowledges, “Some of the increase in documented incidents is not an actual increase but results from ‘more people . . . reporting incidents to ADL than ever before.’” 

Furthermore, the report includes incidents that are not actual examples of anti-Semitism but rather events where Jews perceived themselves as victims.  Consequently, the ADL’s total included 163 fake bomb threats, most of which were perpetrated by a mentally disturbed Jewish youth living in Israel and another by “a black radical seeking to frame his ex-girlfriend.”  In other words, neither of these two perpetrators was motivated by anti-Semitism, but their actions undoubtedly added to “perceptions of victimization.” 

The sheer volume of reportage about Trump-inspired anti-Semitism doubtless led to additional events being perceived as anti-Semitic when, in fact, they were not.  Bernstein cites a suspected case of cemetery vandalism that was actually the result of poor monument upkeep.  Another case involved a drunken rant by an individual with no anti-Semitic intent.  The cemetery “incident” was later deleted from ADL’s stats.  The latter case was not.

Eye-poppingly, the press and the ADL ignore the fact that the large increase of reported anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses from 2016 to 2017 (108 to 204) is almost totally the result of leftist anti-Israel political activism and not a product of right-wing enthusiasm.  As any sentient observer knows, conservative beliefs (to say nothing of “far-right” ideas) are all-but-forbidden on America’s institutions of “higher education.”  Academic anti-Semitism, therefore, can hardly be blamed on Donald Trump.

The coup de grâce of Bernstein’s analysis is the fact that actual physical assaults against Jews in the ADL report actually declined precipitously in 2017, from 37 to 19 -- a 47 percent decrease!  19 reported incidents in a year equals slightly less than 6 assaults for every one-hundred million Americans -- a figure that’s generally a bit lower than the number of Americans killed by lightning each year.  Despite the fact that the ADL study documents a decrease in the small number of physical assaults in 2017, ADL’s President recently declared to the New York Times that the 57 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents includes “physical assaults” -- as if the number of physical assaults followed suit with the dubious 57 percent figure.  As Bernstein notes, physical assaults constitute the “most objective sort of incident to document” and that the large decline in that number surely calls into question the “robustness” (i.e. the accuracy or reliability) of the rest of the data.

Bernstein ends his article by assuring readers he’s not a Trump supporter.  Instead, the reason for his objection to reportage surrounding the ADL study is that “the Jewish community’s assessment of the dangers of anti-Semitism should be based on documented facts, not ideology, emotion, partisanship, or panic.”  President Trump would shorten that list of distorting factors to the phrase “fake news.”  And I would urge Sarah Sanders to add this example to a short list of prominent examples for the enlightenment of Acosta and likeminded 100-percent-negative colleagues.

Richard Kirk is a freelance writer living in Southern California whose book Moral Illiteracy: "Who's to Say?"  is also available on Kindle 

Monday, October 15, 2018

GOSNELL: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer

Fake news!  The words bring to mind epic distortions and outsized emphasis on trivial events like Melania’s wardrobe or Presidential statements about crowd size.  The most devastating aspect of “fake news,” however, is the media’s ability to make a story completely disappear.  Exhibit one is the “untold story” of Kermit Gosnell, described by Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer as “America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer.” 
The movie, largely extracted from their 2017 book, premiered to nationwide audiences on Friday -- but only after overcoming huge legal and industry hurdles.  Funding for the project was accomplished via nearly thirty-thousand individuals who contributed over 2.3 million dollars to a fund-raising site.  Advertising, however, was difficult, as many outlets, including Facebook and NPR, to say nothing of the film industry, created obstacles that reduced public exposure to the project.   
The film itself is riveting with a plot that moves along briskly and focuses primarily (a la Law and Order) on the trial of Dr. Gosnell.  Shock and awe isn’t the method used to communicate this appalling, many-tiered story.  Direct exposure to gore is rejected while still presenting indirectly the horror of Gosnell’s Philadelphia abortion clinic and illegal drug dispensary.
The reluctance to hold this and presumably any abortion clinic responsible for violations of the law (including obvious health code violations) is made clear by the grand jury testimony of a stodgy health inspectress who ignored a stack of complaints about Gosnell’s facility on Governor Tom Ridge’s politically-motivated orders.  Both the Philadelphia D.A. (portrayed capably by Michael Beach) and a preliminary judge were also adamant that Gosnell’s case not be about abortion per se.
The trial, however, inevitably confronted the jury with the reality of abortion -- a reality ironically presented by Gosnell’s defense attorney in his questioning of a respected doctor from a prestigious hospital who said, somewhat reluctantly, that the institution had performed about 30,000 abortions. Thanks to the media’s virtual blackout on this topic, most Americans don’t know that for decades more than a million abortions were performed annually in the U.S., and today the honest figure (not the CDC reported figure) stands near 900,000.   
Beyond the number of abortions performed, Gosnell’s attorney (played with villainous verisimilitude by Nick Searcy) skillfully led the stylishly clad physician through the D&E (dilation and extraction) procedure, brandishing huge forceps, scissors, and the long, poison-containing needle routinely employed in a legal abortion.  Counsel methodically pointed each instrument at the designated “targets” via a black and white representation of a baby in the womb.  His point was that there’s precious little difference between what Gosnell usually did in his ramshackle clinic and what well-equipped abortion-providers do.  The climax of his cross examination occurred when he asked the physician what would happen if, despite all their efforts, the baby came out alive.  Her chilling answer was that the baby would be given “comfort care” -- i.e. placed in a tray and kept warm till it died.  Gosnell’s attorney commented that snipping the spinal cord (something Gosnell did several and probably hundreds of times) seemed like a more humane procedure -- “withdrawn.”
The jury also saw, as the movie audience didn’t, a picture of “Baby A” whose spine was snipped by Gosnell, one of the three babies judged to have been born alive and murdered by the doctor.  The way the jury members recoiled and averted their eyes provided a dramatic representation of the way media and the public in general wishes to avoid looking at the reality of this “procedure” that is mendaciously placed under the benign rubric of “reproductive health.”  
Kudos should be given to Earl Billings for his deft portrayal of Gosnell, a man who calmly greeted police and FBI agents at his home, played Chopin on the piano while agents searched the premises, and expressed concern for the turtles in his filthy clinic while he was being held over for trial.   As I noted in my review of McElhinney and McAleer’s book, “Not since Hannah Arendt’s portrait of Adolf Eichmann has there been a more provocative analysis of evil.” Gosnell’s “greed and macabre callousness” existed alongside a “cheerful disposition that accompanied various acts of charity.”  In his overly self-confidant mind, he was simply taking a legally protected procedure a few steps further.  Gosnell justified his criminal acts with a dubious claim of good intentions.  
The heroic protagonists of the film are Assistant District Attorney Christine Wechsler and Detective James “Woody” Wood (portrayed by Sarah Jane Morris and Dean Cain) two persons who are appalled by Gosnell’s macabre collection of infant’s feet, aborted babies, and refrigerated milk carton containers filled with fetal remains.  Their clearly communicated shock and disbelief allows the audience to see second hand what isn’t and probably shouldn’t be shown on screen.  The institutional obstacles these two individuals must overcome to convict a mass murderer of three homicides is indicative of the willful blindness that’s baked into contemporary American society.
Nowhere is that blindness more apparent than in a media that refuses to publicize atrocities that might actually open eyes to the reality of abortion-on-demand.  The Philadelphia D.A. is convinced that the Gosnell case will become a circus with journalists portraying the prosecution as anti-choice, anti-woman, and racist.  What happens instead is an empty courtroom and media silence.  Toward the end of the trial, thanks to the efforts of a blogger-journalist, the film shows a packed courtroom.  That image, however, is misleading, since trial coverage was largely confined to Philadelphia.  Today, the gruesome story of Kermit Gosnell is still largely untold. 
Richard Kirk is a freelance writer living in Southern California whose book Moral Illiteracy: "Who's to Say?"  is also available on Kindle 

Sunday, October 07, 2018

A Man for all Seasons and Brett Kavanaugh


A Man for all Seasons is a classic film that’s especially relevant in an atmosphere where law and truth have been discarded for the sake of political objectives--where an honorable man had his good name dragged through the mud to prevent a Constitutional tilt in the Supreme Court.

The protagonist in A Man for all Seasons is playwright Robert Bolt’s Thomas More, doubtless a more reasonable and saintly version of the actual historical figure who authored the book Utopia. Though both men are eventually executed by Henry VIII, Bolt’s More is more eloquent when it comes to matters currently facing the U.S. Senate and our country.

Early in the movie lawyer More is summoned to Cardinal Wolsey’s office to discuss King Henry’s pending divorce from Catherine who, in the then-Chancellor’s words, is “barren as a brick.” When More refuses to put political expediency over his religiously-informed conscience, Wolsey observes, “You’re a constant regret to me, Thomas. If you could just see facts flat-on, without that horrible moral squint; with a little common sense you could have made a statesman.” More replies, “Well, I believe when statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duties, they lead their country by a short route to chaos.”

More’s warning calls to mind contemporary politicians who don’t apply their “personal” ethical beliefs to political decisions. This comment should lead one to ask on what moral basis, if any, these politicians make policy choices. Judging by convenient reversals on the crucial issue of abortion (cf. Jesse Jackson and Al Gore) it’s reasonable to conclude that personal and political advantage is the primary consideration. (Note that only twenty-five years ago former Nevada Senator Harry Reid was railing against illegal immigration and citizenship for anchor babies. I doubt that a moral epiphany changed his tune.) 

Later in the film More confronts his daughter’s suitor, Roper, who wants to arrest the ambitious, recently-graduated Richard Rich who seeks a career-advancing position in court. More vigorously declines to pursue the suspicious Rich because he hasn’t broken any law. Roper, himself a good-hearted hothead, exclaims, “So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law!” The soon to become Chancellor of England, responds, “Yes, what would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?” Roper retorts, “I’d cut down every law in England to do that!” Then comes More’s eloquent conclusion: “Oh?  And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?  This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast, man’s laws not God’s, and if you cut them down—and you’re just the man to do it—do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?  Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.”

As honest observers should concede, most Constitutional limitations have long since been “cut down” by clever judicial machinations (“penumbras formed by emanations”), but in the Judicial Committee and among leftists nationwide the very “presumption of innocence” has come under attack, ditched for the politically motivated requirement that a man with a spotless adult resume disprove an alleged assault at an unknown location 35, -6, or -7 years ago. Even the rational  assessment of evidence is being exchanged, at least for the politically convenient moment, for the “believability” of an accuser whose claims are weighed on a tilted scale of sympathetic emotion—as if sworn testimony about an alleged crime were akin to a Broadway audition. 

Forget rigorous cross-examination. That’s now called “blaming the victim”—a phrase that presupposes the allegation’s veracity. In this brave new lawless world the benefit of the doubt goes to a witness with no corroborating evidence whose charge is the product of a recovered memory decades after the event—someone whose credibility is further diminished by numerous contradictory and false statements. To rephrase More’s challenge to Roper: Who will be able to stand upright with legal standards that are as capricious as the political winds? 

Robert Bolt’s drama ends with a trial in which More seems to be getting the better of his legal adversary when the ambitious Richard Rich appears in court and provides perjured testimony that seals the prisoner’s fate.  As the witness is exiting, More notes a chain of office around his neck and is informed that Rich had been appointed Attorney General of Wales.  More comments, “Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world—but  for Wales?”

It may be that Blasey-Ford’s testimony was, as Joe DiGenova believes, pure fiction and thus equivalent in mendacity to Richard Rich’s perjury. Instead of Wales she hopes to receive, at the least, Anita Hill sainthood status among the left, and if her accusation had prevailed, Joan of Arc veneration as the brave woman who took down an evil Constitutionalist. Even if she actually believes what she says is true, it’s clear to anyone with an objective mind that her testimony wasn’t sufficient to prove anything. As prosecutor Rachel Mitchell concluded after calmly interviewing (not cross-examining) Dr. Ford, no "reasonable prosecutor would bring this case based on the evidence before the Committee."

The sentence against More is handed down by a jury that needn’t heed the bench’s charge to “retire and consider the evidence.”  Henry’s legal hatchet-man, Cromwell, contravenes the judges’ instructions: “Considering the evidence, it shouldn’t be necessary for them to retire.” Cromwell then asks the jury foreman ominously, “Is it necessary?” The group settles back in their seats, huddles briefly, then renders the politically required verdict: “Guilty, my lord.”

In the Kavanaugh hearing Democrats on the Judical Committee assumed the roles of both prosecutors and jury—prosecutors without moral scruples and a jury for which no deliberation is necessary, only achieving their anti-Constitutionalist political objective. These senators—one of whom lied about his Vietnam service (Blumenthal) and another (Booker) fabricated a street-hustling Socrates pal named T-Bone who never really existed—pose as serious moral guardians while engaging in the most flagrant character assassination in the sordid recent history of the Judiciary Committee. The irony and duplicity is hard to overstate. 

At film’s end, accepting the unjust verdict against him with dignity and grace, More’s head is chopped off. It was refreshing this time to see a just (even if narrow) verdict, a verdict that did not reward rapacious mendacity but rather upheld legal precedent. It would be even more  gratifying if upcoming political and legal verdicts punish those who willfully provided false testimony under oath. In the meantime we may take courage from the words More speaks to his daughter while confined in prison: “If we lived in a state where virtue was profitable, common sense would make us saintly. But since we see that abhorrence, anger, pride, and stupidity commonly profit far beyond charity, modesty, justice, and thought, perhaps we must stand fast a little, even at the risk of being heroes.”    

Richard Kirk is a freelance writer living in Southern California whose book Moral Illiteracy: "Who's to Say?"  is also available on Kindle 


Monday, August 27, 2018

Resistance is Futile! How the Trump-Hating Left Lost Its Collective Mind, by Ann Coulter

You want evidence of justice department and media corruption?  Coulter’s got the goods -- in spades, and served with her signature rapier wit.  Resistance is Futile doesn’t simply rehash talking points about Hillary’s serial lawbreaking, Mueller’s partisan probe, or Deep State subversion of an opposition President, though all those matters are treated with lawyerly and comedic deftness.  (Think My Cousin Vinny.)  First and foremost Coulter’s book is about collusion -- the democracy-demolishing collusion between Democrats and the mainstream media that has existed for decades but which a white-hot hatred for the “vulgarian” Trump has made unmistakably clear to most Americans.  On the bright side, this exposure is actually destroying journalism, which the author says must perish and be rebuilt on an ethical foundation for democracy to survive.  Coulter provides a veritable avalanche of media inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and lost-their-mind absurdities to support her conclusion. 
For example, Democrats and their media lackeys who only yesterday decried federal surveillance of possible terrorists (and who nearly defrocked John Brennan for lying to Sen. Diane Feinstein about the CIA’s enhanced spying activity) now view that same man as a paragon of rectitude.  Indeed, they regularly denounce as unpatriotic anyone who questions the validity of warrants obtained from a secret court to spy on Americans associated with the Trump campaign -- even during the campaign!  The same coterie of co-conspirators who were eager to vindicate Alger Hiss and praise cooperation with the Soviet Union, now portray Putin’s Russia as the gravest threat to America since 9/11 or Pearl Harbor.  According to these partisans, Putin must be publicly vilified and his country harshly punished for interfering with an American election via a few thousand Facebook ads -- many supporting Trump, some supporting Bernie, others touting Ted Cruz, Jill Stein, Black Lives Matter, United Muslims of America, and even Hillary.
This breakdown comes from Muller’s own indictment of the 13 villainous Russians he is clearly not anxious to see in court, having backed away from an expedited trial when one of the Russian ham sandwiches actually sent a legal team to the U.S. to have the charges against him adjudicated.  One possibly exculpatory element of that defense would be the fact that most of the Facebook ads were placed after the election and even jumped on the Resistance bandwagon.  Mueller, by the way, has the distinction of being FBI director during two of the bureau’s most famous screw-ups.  First, Republican Senator Ted Stevens was falsely accused of lying to investigators (sound familiar?) eight days before an election that he lost by less than 2 percent.  When the trial judge discovered prosecutors had withheld vital exculpatory evidence, he threw out the case and demanded an investigation of the investigators.
Then there was the anthrax case where Mueller worked “in lockstep” with his hand-chosen investigator, Richard Palmer.  Together these vigilantes all but destroyed the life of Steven Hatfill, an innocent U.S. Army biodefense researcher whom the FBI hounded relentlessly for six years because he fit the Bureau’s profile: “a ‘flag-waving’ patriot.”  Even after a federal judge said the investigators hadn’t found “a scintilla of evidence” against Hatfill and the government later settled with Hatfill for almost six million dollars, Mueller said, “I do not apologize for any aspect of this investigation.”  There you have the “honorable” Robert Mueller.
When it comes to immigration, the media’s “heads I win, tails you lose” reportage depends on who resides in the White House.  While Obama lived there, federal law and even federal policy that ignored those laws, ruled supreme.  That’s what CNN’s law expert informed us after Arizona vainly attempted to enforce federal immigration laws in 2010. But now that Trump’s address is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, it’s perfectly ok for blue states to ignore federal immigration law.  Indeed, thanks to a few lower court rulings cheered by mainstream media pundits, the President is now unable to exercise his “clear constitutional and federal authority” to “exclude immigrants in the best interests of the United States.”   
NBC’s release of the embarrassing 2005 Access Hollywood tape just weeks before the November election provides yet another example of media partisanship.  This electoral kill-shot, according to Coulter, “breached all professional norms and probably the law.”  By contrast, NBC’s current President, Andy Lack, when heading NBC News in 1999, “held the network’s interview with Juanita Broaddrick” in which she accused Bill Clinton of rape until after the President’s impeachment trial.  In this case timing says everything you need to know about Lack, NBC, partisanship, and a willingness to place more importance on a braggadocious utterance about consensual groping within a celebrity culture (“They let you do it,” Trump added.) than multiple accusations of actual predatory behavior by a Democrat.      
Other matters diligently dissected by Coulter include Trump’s wildly mischaracterized Charlottesville statement, George Soros’s plundering of Russia and manipulation of foreign elections, the false claim that Trump asked Russia to “hack” Hillary’s private email server, the media’s misreporting about changes to the 2016 GOP Platform in order to suggest Russian influence, and an honest comparison of Watergate with the Mueller probe.  Concerning the latter, Coulter comments, “Imagine what G. Gordon Liddy could have done working from the inside of the FBI, with FISA warrants and government-paid spies!”
Coulter offers these two summary judgments about the current special prosecutor’s investigation:  “The very nature of Mueller’s probe is Soviet justice.  He has an open-ended commission to look for any crimes committed by anyone connected to the Trump campaign…. If the Russians were trying to sow discord and undermine confidence in our democracy, then the guy they probably colluded with was Robert Mueller.” 
Closing arguments directed at the media include the following observations:  “Fake news means reporting, for example, that Trump colluded with Russia to sway the election when it was the Democratic Party and the FBI that colluded with Russia to sway the election.”  Put otherwise, Russia “is accused of doing to the Democrats what the media do to Republicans every election cycle.”
Despite her full-throated defense of the President against leftist and media insanity, Resistance is Futile isn’t a Trump hagiography.  Coulter even describes the President as “utterly undisciplined” and “the crudest kind of braggart.”  In Coulter’s estimation, however, these flaws pale when compared with Trump’s failure to achieve his primary campaign promise, stopping illegal immigration.  Coulter ends her case with the less-than-sanguine hope that Trump may yet keep that promise but also with the consolation that if he accomplishes nothing else, “at least the media will be totally discredited.”
In sum, if you seek a detailed eye- and ear-catching review of news stories that have been misreported, distorted, or conveniently ignored due to Trump Derangement Syndrome, Resistance is Futile is the book for you.

Richard Kirk is a freelance writer living in Southern California whose book Moral Illiteracy: "Who's to Say?"  is also available on Kindle 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Dinesh D'Souza Versus Critics of DEATH OF A NATION

Rule of thumb: If Rotten Tomatoes and most movie critics hate a political flick, it must be good!  One of those critics who hangs out at the website RogerEbert.com deemed Dinesh D'Souza's latest film, Death of a Nation, so "shabbily constructed and artistically bankrupt" that it hardly "qualifies as a movie in the first place."  Peter Sobczynski doesn't deal seriously with the film's core assertions, which he cavalierly dismisses as "cherry-picked facts" garnished by "overt omissions." 

Those two terms do serve well, alongside "blatant distortions," as descriptions of Sobczynski's review.  D'Souza's movie, for example, compares Donald Trump to Abraham Lincoln only in certain respects, primarily as an American president who faces tremendous political hostility that once again threatens to divide the Union.  P.S. repeats a canard that D'Souza has repeatedly demolished, including in this film, that the parties "switched positions" with respect to civil rights in the 1960s.  This widely accepted misrepresentation ignores the fact that a greater percentage of Republicans than Democrats supported the '64 Civil Rights bill (which was filibustered in the Senate by Southern Democrats) and that all but two of the hundreds of segregationist Dixiecrat legislators remained Democrats throughout their long careers, including former Klansman Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia.  D'Souza also notes that the Democrat George Wallace carried the Deep South in 1968, not Richard Nixon, whose Civil Rights initiatives are rigorously ignored by leftist historians and movie critics who incessantly push the "Southern strategy" narrative.

P.S. also ignores the boatload of historical cherries that clearly put Mussolini's fascism on the "left" or socialist side of the political spectrum and has nothing to say about its curious "right-wing" repositioning after World War II.  Hitler, like Mussolini, was a national socialist.  D'Souza provides in this film several additional "cherries" that illuminate the mutual admiration that existed for years between Mussolini and FDR, as well as a few nuggets that show embarrassing links between Germany's early Nazi years and Roosevelt's New Deal.  If P.S. has any intellectual curiosity about such things, it isn't communicated in his epithet-laden review.  For those individuals who might be interested, D'Souza provides reams of additional evidence about the leftist origins of fascism in his book The Big Lie.

Other "cherries" P.S. "overtly omits" from his review include the re-segregation of the White House by President Woodrow Wilson, that same Progressive Democrat's White House screening of D.W. Griffith's Klan-boosting The Birth of a Nation, and the blatantly racist aspects of Margaret Sanger's progressive eugenics-based organization, Planned Parenthood.  Needless to say, P.S. has nothing positive to say about Trump and adds for his mindless readers that D'Souza never mentions "the countless [unspecified] scandals surrounding the administration."   

From my own perspective, Death of a Nation does cover much of the material that was dealt with in D'Souza's prior films, but this "repetitious" objection doesn't seem to count against the hundreds of Watergate or McCarthy-era retellings that continue to titillate Democrats and the mainstream media.  Moreover, it certainly takes more than a few reiterations to drive home points that counter well established lies like "the parties switched in the '60s" and "fascism is on the right."  Another important point the film makes is that northern Democrats opposed the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution that outlawed slavery and granted citizenship and voting rights to blacks.  Consequently, the Civil War was not just a war of North versus South, but, in some respects, a war of anti-slavery Republicans against pro-slavery (or anti-abolition) Democrats who resided in both the North and the South.  

A completely new component of D'Souza's recent film is his interview with a white supremacist leader, Richard Spencer, whose favorite presidents include the founder of the Democratic Party, Andrew Jackson, and expansionist Democrat slave-owner James Polk.  Far from being a conservative, Spencer sees rights being bestowed on us by "the state" and not "by God or nature."  P.S. writes in his review that D'Souza "twists things around" to get Spencer to say "I guess I'm a Progressive," but what D'Souza actually does is point out how Spencer's political beliefs coincide with the state-centered philosophy of Progressivism.  The mainstream media portray Spencer as a leader of the "Alt-Right" animated by President Trump, who, despite media claims, has actually pursued a non-state-centered agenda. 

For those of us who have seen D'Souza's prior films, Death of a Nation may seem like more of the same, even if "the same" is stuff that's essential to the nation's survival.  For those who aren't familiar with D'Souza's work, Death of a Nation could be a revelatory moment that turns their political world upside-down.  At the very least, for those folks whose minds are at all open, it can be an invitation to explore whether ideas that most folks take for granted are actually true – and if they aren't true, how and by whom those lies came to be propagated.

Richard Kirk is a freelance writer living in Southern California whose book Moral Illiteracy: "Who's to Say?" is available on Kindle.