Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Few Facts

I know I touched on this earlier, but it needs to be revisited for the same reason I visited it in the first place. The media are talking about the Hamas/Israel situation and suggesting that there might be another attempt at a cease fire. Of course, people are hoping this happens, but there are some facts that aren't being covered in the media and, thus, people don't know them.

At least, until now.

- Hamas doesn't want peace with Israel. Let's get this one out of the way first thing. Hamas doesn't want to live in peace with Israel at all. For those of you thinking my bias for Israel has tainted my thinking, let me point out to you that Hamas started attacking Israel immediately upon the expiration of the last cease fire agreement. If Hamas really wanted peace with Israel as badly as some would lead us to believe, why wouldn't they have lobbied to extend the cease fire agreement? Simple. Peaceful coexistence with Israel has never been an option for them. They want Israel destroyed so that they can take "their land."

- Israel doesn't belong to the Palestinians. This is another fact that isn't talked about in the media because, well, it would require them to actually do some research instead of just reading what Hamas's PR department gave them. As it turns out, Palestine isn't where Israel currently sits. Actually, Palestine used to be in and around where Jordan is today. Yet, they're going after Israel's land, oddly enough fueled by the very people who actually have the land where Palestine once was. In the Middle East, Israel truly is an island unto itself against a sea of oppressors.

- Hamas started the aggression again. No, this isn't some childish finger-pointing to try to absolve Israel of blame. As soon as the last cease fire expired, Hamas went right back to the attack as though they had only stopped to reload. Israel retaliated in self-defense. Yet, we're only being allowed to see the second half of that equation in any detail. And what we're seeing, as I pointed out in my previous blog entry, is heavily slanted to make the Palestinians look like the victims. Pretty slick trick if you ask me.

- The notion of equivalent force is not reasonable. There's an idea that has taken root in the Left regarding Israel's attacks on its enemies that it's not fair Israel can strike back with more destructive weapons than Hamas can. Their solution: require Israel to retaliate with equivalent force as with they were attacked. Some solution! It would neuter Israel's ability to counterattack while giving Hamas the ability to keep attacking the way it has without ever having to upgrade. And when you're successful with car bombs and bomb belts in killing civillians, it really doesn't matter that you lack the kind of tech Israel has.

- Hamas has no respect for human life. A brash statement to be certain, but one that has been played out time and time again. Hamas has put civillians in danger by putting their terrorist outposts in the middle of populated areas. They strap bombs to people and let them walk into populated areas of Israel before detonating the bombs. Compare this to Israel, who has consistently been apologetic about civillians being killed and has tried to make the world understand what Hamas is doing, often to no avail. When you look at the facts objectively, there's only one side of this conflict that has any regard for human life, and it's not the side being portrayed as a victim.

Now that you are armed with the facts, you can counteract the bullcrap being spewed forth by the Left and their allies in the media. With enough people, a nation can be educated about the Hamas/Israel situation. Now, I can't force you to do it, but I can ask on behalf of Israel and those who still think the truth matters.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

More Proof of Media Bias

Conservatives, including yours truly, have complained about how the American media slant their news to favor the Left. After studying them in depth for over 10 years, I can say that the media are biased, but it's not just against Republicans or conservatives. That bias knows no boundaries.

I watched a CNN report of the Israeli rocket attacks against Hamas, and had there not been signs that it was from CNN, you could have sworn the report was written by al Jazeera. The reporter's tone of voice talking about how Israel's attacks were striking civilian areas, combined with little turns of a phrase that would be imperceptable to someone not prepared for it, set a stage where Israel was made to be the aggressor, one that had no regard for civillian casualties.

However, there are elements that were not even mentioned that would have put Israel's actions into a new, and much more honest, perspective. The report mentioned that there had been a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, which there was. However, it was Hamas who had been firing rockets into Israel prior to Israel's retaliation. And CNN? They mentioned it late in the report and only in passing. To me, the way CNN handled it was not accidental.

Then, there were the visuals. Pictures of people digging out of the rubble. People bleeding from the attacks. Mass destruction. Combine that with the aforementioned semantic elements, and you're given a certain package of information that, surprise surprise, is out of phase with reality. When they referenced Hamas's rocket attacks, they showed a single Israeli building with a hole in the side of it. Yet, what the report failed to mention is that the Hamas attacks were intentionally fired into residential areas. Furthermore, the counterattacks against Hamas had been fired into residential areas, but only because Hamas intentionally puts their outposts in residential areas so that the possibility of civilian casualties would be increased.

Granted, I am a supporter of Israel, so naturally a slanted report like that CNN produced would upset me. Having said that, you don't need to be a supporter of Israel to sense the reporting wasn't exactly balanced. Expecting the media to be balanced is a pipe dream these days, but that doesn't mean we should accept it as a fait accompli. Instead, we should educate as many people about the Israel/Hamas situation, making sure we do so in an honest, balanced manner. If we don't, we're no better than CNN.

Also, we should let any media outlet who shows a slanted report on this and any other news story know that we won't stand for it. We need to demand honest and fair reporting, and if they won't comply, then we will take our business elsewhere. Just like millions of others who have stopped watching TV and reading print media, oddly enough in part for the same reason, we have choices that will impact the media outlets' bottom lines. When you impact their source of income, you will get their attention, and changes will have to be made. It won't guarantee the media will get the hint (the New York Times readership issues and increased Leftist slant proves that), but if they do, journalism will be better for it.

This is one situation where we can't sit on the sidelines and expect change to happen. At the risk of sounding like Barack Obama, we need to be the agents of change. Then, we can get to a point where a report like the one CNN did about the Israel/Hamas conflict would not even be produced.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A New Look at an Old Story

Yeah, I know I've talked about faith already this week, but it's my blog, so here we go.

As the saying goes, Jesus is the reason for the season, and I wholeheartedly agree. But there's more to the story than just the birth of the Savior. It is also a story of faith rewarded.

Before Jesus was born, there were any number of people who claimed to know who the Messiah was or claimed to be the Messiah. These claims were obviously false, but over time, it would be easy to get skeptical. It would have to take one heck of a leap of faith to believe in a living Messiah at that time.

Then, God set things in motion, first with Mary. Her exact age isn't known, but most likely she was around 13 or 14 years old, not too much older than your typical mallrat today. She was already set to be married to Joseph, and she understood her duties as a wife. Then, on top of that, she was tapped by God to carry the Messiah. That duty would have floored most people, let alone a girl just entering womanhood. Mary had to be strong in faith to shoulder that responsibility.

Joseph was in a similar boat. He was a carpenter with a pregnant wife, a wife that was carrying the Messiah prophesied by his predecessors. And he would have either known of or heard about the false prophets and false Messiahs, so he needed something else to truly understand the gravity of the situation. He needed faith.

What about the three wise men? They were certainly men of great knowledge, so the bar would be set very high for them to believe that the Messiah had come. When they were told of the star in the East, it may have been curiosity that set them on their path, but it was faith that kept their feet on it.

The shepherds who were told by the angels of Jesus's coming were scared, which is understandable. Usually, God doesn't send His people to talk to you about the weather. When He sends angels, it's pretty important. Once the fear had passed, they had to have faith to follow the angels' directions to find their Messiah.

All of these people from the Christmas story, all tied together by an incredible level of faith necessary to play their roles in the birth of man's Savior. Even as a believer, I'm amazed at the amount of faith displayed and wonder if anyone today could duplciate the feat. Whether we can is not important. The Savior being born is what matters. Yet, without strong faith assisting each person involved in that birth, the story would not be the same.

May God fill your hearts with an unwavering faith this Christmas and for years to come. Merry Christmas everybody!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Global Warming? Not So Much...

Remember the 1990s? Grunge, Crystal Pepsi, the height of global warming hysteria thanks to Al Gore. As I sit here typing listening to a weather report telling of subzero temperatures and wind chills, I'm thinking all three of the things I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post have thankfully gone out of fashion.

It's become fashionable to crack jokes about global warming in cold weather (especially considering I do it). It's hard not to make fun of it when it seems every current malady with the world is due to global warming. Rising temperatures. Global warming is to blame. Cooler temperatures? Global warming is to blame. Another Wayans brothers movie? Global warming is to blame. (Okay, maybe that last one isn't linked to global warming so much as it is linked to a studio executive, but you get the idea.)

And for those of us who have a healthy skepticism about global warming, we can expect to hear all sorts of nasty things said about us from people who believe global warming is real and caused by man. We're called "global warming deniers" by Al Gore at best, compared to Nazis at worst, all because we don't agree with them. This is because believing in manmade global warming has become a cult, and not a friendly one that gives you a flower and literature. If you spurn them, they will turn on you, even if you were one of them before your "sin." Coming from an ideological side who says Christians are dumb for believing in God, this is irony writ large.

At the core of this debate, science should rule. And what does the science say about man's impact on global warming? That depends on who you ask. Al Gore has a list of scientists who say he's right on the money (even though when confronted with the errors and half-truths in "An Inconvenient Truth" say that Gore is pretty much right in spite of the errors). There is also a growing body of scientists who are trying to put the brakes on the global warming train, and they're being met with open hostility and threats from the scientific community backing Gore's hypothesis. Now, why would a side that says it's right about global warming be so reluctant to have someone challenge them?

Because an honest debate is the last thing they want.

When the facts are laid out on the table, it's clear we don't know how much of an impact we have on global warming, nor are we sure that what we're seeing weather-wise has any correlation with us. With that much uncertainty, caution is necessary. However, the global warming proponents are so convinced of their scientific and intellectual superiority that they throw caution to the wind and expect us to follow their guidance to all sorts of "solutions" that they say will work, but may not. Also, some of the solutions they've devised so far haven't worked at all. You know those new mini fluorescent bulbs that global warming proponents have said would save us so much energy? They don't, and it's actually been proven that the early models can be dangerous to humans.

I think you see why I'm skeptical as to whether the Al Gore side of the global warming debate has their facts in order.

And it seems more and more people are standing up to those who would call them uneducated or worse for not agreeing with Al Gore. Against those odds, the Gore side doesn't stand a chance.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to warm up my car before I leave for church. Global warming, you know.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

In Defense of Faith

A few days ago, I was involved in a discussion when I mentioned my faith in God. Immediately, three of the people in the discussion thought of me less as a semi-rational human being capable of stringing together at least two thoughts and more like a snake-handling, science-hating, semi-troglodytic cretin (which I am, but only on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month.) One even said, and I quote, “You’re not scientifically minded.” If he knew how little I dated in high school, he might not have made that statement.

As it often does, this conversation made me think about why I believe. The best place to start on that subject is to see where I've been. There was a time in my life when I very easily could have been the person mocking the Christian, and I'm not proud of that because my lack of faith at the time was borne out of raw negative emotions. As a teenager, I saw people who I felt had strayed from God's Word getting more than they deserved, while I languished in a state of emotional abuse from my peers at school. To my teenaged mind, that wasn't the sign of a loving God, so I left the church. I figured (incorrectly) that God would make things easier on me because I believed, but when that didn't happen, I saw it as a betrayal. For the next 15 years, I was in a state of disbelief over something I didn't understand.

As I got older, my resolve weakened a bit and I was willing to accept God in pieces. Instead of being the hardcore agnostic/athiest I was, I reasoned (again incorrectly) that God and I had an understanding. I would believe in Him on a limited basis and He wouldn't throw too much crap in my direction. But it was like trying to reason with cancer. I didn't know it at the time, but God was setting me up to believe again with a faith stronger than I could have ever imagined.

It was the day after Thanksgiving in 2005. I had taken a break from work and pulled up the Drudge Report on my computer. The top story at the time was about two people who got injured at a WalMart due to people rushing through the entrance to get extra special deals. I felt my heart sink as I read about a woman who had fallen and a young woman who had tried to help her and got stepped on in the process. How could a cheap DVD player be worth more than human decency?

Needless to say, that news story stuck with me throughout the day, leaving me feeling depressed and searching for answers. After discussing it with friends bore no fruit, I ventured into a chatroom that dealt with Christian faith. Someone in the room suggested prayer, and for the first time in a long time, I opened up my heart to God and asked for His help. After the "Amen," I was filled with a great warmth, happiness, and calm. I had come home.

Since then, my faith has been strong and has seen me through some rough times. But perhaps the greatest gift I've received is one of perspective. Insignificant things I used to rant and fret over, like elections and political parties, have become comically trivial because I understand now that God's will is always being done. It may not seem like it to us, but it is. That knowledge gives me an incredible amount of joy and the resolve to face the slings and arrows of those who have an active disdain for my faith for whatever reason. I have some thoughts on this that I may share at a later time, but really it's not that important. What matters ultimately is that I believe and that I glorify God with my life.

After walking in darkness for 20 years, my faith now is strong, and no amount of taunting from those who mock my faith will shake me. Not anymore.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's Nothing Personal, Just Business

Judging from the media coverage of the Rod Blagojevich and how reporters are hounding Barack Obama for comment, it may appear that the media have turned the corner and are finally starting to hold Obama's feet to the fire. However, this may not be the case at all. The media still lean left, but there are other factors in play.

There is a central concept in all media outlets: get The Story. Whenever an event happens, reporters rush out to try to cover it and any other potential angles to it that may attract readers/viewers. Normally, this is chalked up to the media becoming a business instead of an information outlet, which is a valid concern. When you put market concerns above a duty to inform, you will compromise the integrity of the profession.

Having said that, there's another side to it that has been known, but never addressed. People today don't rely on traditional media for their news anymore. Readership and viewership have suffered in recent years for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being the very thing I just mentioned about the integrity of journalism being compromised. It's not just market concerns that drive people away. It's also the real and perceived bias of the media. And nothing showed this better than the media's fawning coverage of Barack Obama's ascension.

For months, Barack Obama was The Story. In order to cover The Story, reporters and editors seem to have made a Faustian deal in that they would become PR agents for Obama while deflecting any negative information about the guy until it was much later in the election process. It was a win-win for both sides. Obama was able to avoid having to address some serious questions about his associations and his qualifications while the media received continued access to cover The Story.

But the thing about covering The Story is that eventually something else will become The Story. Right now, Blagojevich is The Story, and the fact that he has a connection to someone who used to be (and in many aspects still is) The Story gives the media a reason to cover both. The media are still Leftists at their core, but their need to cover The Story can at times supercede their ideology, and with the environment being such that the media are struggling to stay relevant to potential consumers, they're covering the Blagojevich story as much as possible looking for new angles to The Story.

The other factor to consider involves objectivity. Yeah, expecting objectivity out of today's media is a pipe dream, but they still rely on the appearance of objectivity as a shield against charges of bias. After the fawning coverage of Obama, in order to maintain the appearance of objectivty, the media will have to start looking for reasons to put Obama in a negative light. The shadowy connections, no matter how tenuous, to Blagojevich gives the media their opportunity to appear objective. Of course, it's an illusion, but it's what the media cling to in order to appear fair-minded.

So, I wouldn't be so sure the media are finally starting to hold Barack Obama accountable after months of being his biggest cheerleaders. In the world of the media, The Story and the illusion of objectivity trump political alliances.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Is the Honeymoon Over for the Left?

After Election Day, Democrats were flying high. They made gains in the House and Senate, and Barack Obama had won the popular vote by a significant margin. Even with a couple of elections still being resolved, it looked clear that Democrats would have no trouble picking up the remaining seats.

Oh, what a difference a month makes. They managed to pick up Ted Stevens' Senate seat, but have since lost to Saxby Chamblis, lost William Jefferson's House seat, and are on the verge of losing Norm Coleman's Senate seat. Ouch.

It goes further than politics, though. This week saw the gay community participating in something similar to the "Day Without A Mexican" protest done in 2007. The idea was that gays would take a day off work and take that time to do community service as a means to try to bring the impact of gays in society into focus. One tiny problem, though. Only a relative handful of gays participated.

These two situations are different, but they're united by the same problem. It's easy to get the Left in a froth for a short time, but when once they've accomplished what they set out to do, participation declines greatly. This is because Leftists are notoriously short-sighted. They pick out a point on the horizon and consider that to be the end all and be all of their journey, even if there's a further point that would be more impressive. That's like climbing most of the way up Mount Everest, planting a flag 10 feet from the summit, and calling it good.

With the recounts in Alaska, Louisiana, and Minnesota and the run-off election in Georgia, Leftists didn't seem to put much energy towards trying to lock down those seats. As a result, Democrats in the Senate fell short of the 60 seat majority they needed to shut down the possibility of a fillibuster, and will now have to rely on moderate to liberal Senate Republicans to do that. And as we've seen out of the Democrat leadership in Congress the past 2 years, compromise isn't something they're good at. That will become a huge stumbling block for Obama in the next 2 years.

There is another impact to the Left not putting forth an effort to lock down their positions as the power players in Washington. The month between Election Day and the recounts/revotes gave people time to cool down from Obama Mania. Other commentators have noted that Obama didn't have much in the line of "coattails" when it came to helping Democrats who were still having to battle for their seats, which doesn't bode well for his ability to help Democrats down the road.

The solution to this would be for the Left to start thinking long-term. Yeah, that'll happen.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Question No One's Asking...

Right now, there are a number of questions surrounding Barack Obama and Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, not the least of which being "How in the heck do you pronounce 'Blagojevich'?" One of the central ones, though, is whether Obama is caught up in the Blagojevich scandal in any significant way. I can understand why. There are some out there who would love to see Obama get sucked up in the political whirlwinds and never be heard from again. (Now, if there was only some way to get Joe Biden involved somehow...)

At this point, I'm withholding judgment on Obama for two reasons. First, we don't know enough of the facts to make an informed judgment. Just because I don't like the guy doesn't give me licence to throw out an accusation that may or may not pan out. And having been at the receiving end of a few
of such accusations in my life, it's the least I, and we, can do until the facts do come out.

Second, there's a bigger question to be asked. Granted, "Is Obama involved" is a pretty big question, but it pales in comparison to the next logical question. If Obama is involved in some way, can it be proven? Chicago politics is notorious for being dirtier than a drunk Courtney Love mud wrestling Jenna Jameson at Larry Flynt's house. (I was going to say " a pig" in Jenna's place, but if you've seen her lately...). A part of that political environment is what Ronald Reagan called "plausible deniability." With something like this, I guarantee someone is going to take a fall so that others can remain standing. In order to protect one of their own,
Blagojevich may take the hit. That's the Chicago way.

As this story unfolds, we will see how many layers there are to it. As much fun as it is to say "Impeach Obama," let's hold off on the calls and emails to the House Judiciary Committee until the facts are known. Even if he appears to be guilty as sin, Obama may be able to skate away if the connections aren't strong enough to support the accusations.

Monday, December 1, 2008

When the NFL Meets the NRA

I'm going to delve into the sports pages for this entry because there's a bigger political point that can be made. New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress turned himself in to the New York Police Department after he accidentally shot himself in the leg with a handgun he owned and was carrying with him to a nightclub on Friday. In New York City, it is illegal to carry and discharge a gun, and on the surface it's a great idea. Having been to the Big Apple a couple of times, I can tell you it's mile-a-minute action. Throw in a few angry and armed people and you have yourself the possibility of a gun fight in the streets on an hourly basis like at a tourist trap version of the OK Corral.

But that's the thing about gun laws: they only work when people follow them. The fact that New York City has restrictive gun laws didn't stop Burress from having one on his person in New York City. Nor does it stop criminals, who tend to have a healthy disdain for laws in the first place. Funny how that works out, huh? With Burress's actions, we have yet another example of how gun control laws, no matter how strict, cannot overcome human nature. If someone wants to do something and believes he or she can get away with it, he or she will do it.

And that's been one argument the National Rifle Association and its supporters have been saying for a long time. Contrary to popular myth, the NRA doesn't want there to be gunfights on every street like in the myth of the Old West. Instead, they want gun owners to be allowed to carry a gun if they so choose, but do so responsibly. Although Burress's actions could be used to make the argument that gun ownership by irresponsible people is dangerous (which it is), the stronger message is that restrictive gun laws don't work all that well.

Regardless of how you feel about guns personally, it's time we be honest about the effectiveness of gun laws. Banning assault rifles or requiring 7 day waiting periods may make people feel better, but they don't work on anyone who isn't law-abiding in the first place. All they do is make it more likely that the law-abiding will become victims of the lawless. Maybe it's me, but that seems backwards. With yet another failure of gun laws on the books, in newspapers and magazines, and on TV, radio, and the Internet, it's getting harder for the pro-gun control side to make the point that more gun laws will equal less gun-related crimes.

In fact, one could say it's become a task of Giant proportions.