I was browsing Ars Technica this morning when I came across this article about allergies. It’s an interesting read, but the thing that struck me this:

[Ruslan] Medzhitov is currently turning his attention to a question that could change immunology yet again: why do we get allergies? No one has a firm answer, but what is arguably the leading theory suggests that allergies are a misfiring of a defense against parasitic worms. In the industrialized world, where such infections are rare, this system reacts in an exaggerated fashion to harmless targets, making us miserable in the process.

What? The science isn’t settled? It’s interesting to contrast an article like this with just about any article that appears on Ars Technica about catastrophic anthropogenic global warming. Here’s there’s debate, uncertainty, respect that people of honesty and goodwill may have different opinions. There’s no “allergy-deniers” who are in the pocket of big-EpiPen.

This is what science looks like.

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The original “Obama’s Faith” post I wrote nearly 7 years ago. At the time I noted that I am always hesitant to opine on the state of another individual’s relationship with God, but a lot of time has passed, truths have been revealed and while I will not pronounce judgment on the status of Obama’s immortal soul, there exists plenty of reason to doubt that Obama is a faithful Christian.

I don’t think Obama is a “secret Muslim.” If I were to hazard a guess, I’d put money on atheist/agnostic.

Obama is, first and foremost, a political animal. I think Obama says whatever benefits him politically moment-to-moment. His only bedrock principle is winning his next election.

If you look back at the two quotes I focus on in the original Obama’s faith post, you’ll note that both his responses are a little odd from a theological standpoint. Jesus Christ isn’t his Lord and Savior, he’s a teacher, a “bridge” between Man and God that allows us to reach something higher. Sin isn’t a transgression against God, it’s being out of alignment with Obama’s own values. (If this is the definition, I’m in real trouble.)

I’ve never heard a Christian answer those questions that way. They’re very detached, analytical, not to mention wrong. I realize he attended Jeremiah Wright’s church, but surely, even there, you’d think he would’ve gleaned a better theological grounding.

The New York Times’ resident conservative Ross Douthat has an interesting post on the recent brouhaha on Obama’s faith, prompted by reporters asking irrelevant questions to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a prospective GOP presidential contender in 2016. Douthat goes into the politics of the question and the best way for Republicans to answer it, and I won’t really dispute much of it because he’s probably right—because it’s required of a left-wing, Democrat-protecting media.

I was my interest was more piqued by a comment on the Douthat post from a(n apparently) liberal Christian who is sure Obama is a Christian because of his “fruits.”  Liberal policy preferences are obviously the only fruits that matter to people like the commenter, but I though of other fruits.

I don’t know whether or not I’ll see Barack Obama in  heaven. But judging him by his fruits provides plenty of reason for one to be skeptical.

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I’ve said before that the longer I’ve been out of newspapers and the news business, the more disdain and outright hostility I feel for too many of those who remain in it. It’s not petty jealousy. It’s the fact that when all I see is the crap they produce and don’t deal with them as people on an almost daily basis, I’ve less sympathy and understanding of what they’re doing and what they’re going through.

Which brings us to a brouhaha that exploded on Twitter last night involving the hacks at Politifact.com, better known here as Politifraud.

In a “fact check” on a statement made by National Review’s Jonah Goldberg—who originally got it from Kevin Williamson—Politifraud’s Deputy Editor Lou Jacobson failed Journalism 101. It’s such a huge fail, that if Jacobson had been in my reporting class (not that a J-school would ever hire me), he would’ve gotten an immediate “F,” a stern talking to and he’d be a case study in things not to do for as long as I taught.

I don’t want to go into the substance of the Politifraud analysis, other to say that you’re generally safe to assume that if the rating is “Half-True” or better on a statement made by a conservative, then in reality it really is completely true. Call it “Adjusting for the Politifraud curve.”

What I want to focus on is this:

(Neither Williamson nor Goldberg returned inquiries for this fact-check.)

Let’s get Goldberg out of the way first.

Goldberg further notified his Twitter followers that he was never contacted by Jacobson. Not by Tweet, E-mail, Phone, carrier pigeon or shortwave radio.

When it comes to Williamson, Jacobson sent this explanation when Williamson asked about what attempt to contact him.

A Tweet? Seriously?

Here’s Journalism 101 for the 21st Century. It’s only OK to state that someone you wanted to talk to did not comment based upon a lone tweet if that is the only possible way of getting in contact with them. Williamson works for a magazine. With an office. With a secretary. With a phone number. He has an e-mail address. If you really want a comment from someone, you use all of that.

I once was doing a story as a reporter at the Lompoc Record on a government contractor at Vandenberg AFB whose payroll checks were bouncing back in the era before Twitter (or email). When trying to get a comment from the company on the situation, I called the company HQ every half-hour from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. to attempt to get a comment. (None was forthcoming, but I’m sure I annoyed the secretary.)

Jacobson didn’t make an honest, competent effort to get a comment from either Jacobson or Goldberg. (For Goldberg, I suspect he didn’t attempt to contact him at all.) I think Jacobson is a liar. I know he’s a hack. I look forward to an explanation from Politifraud on what happened here. Do they honestly believe a lone tweet is sufficient to make the claim that the sources refused or failed to respond to an inquiry? (It isn’t.)

Update: Jonah Goldberg has responded here. Kevin Williamson has delivered an impressive smackdown here.

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It was never really up for debate that President Obama’s immigration executive orders turning “prosecutorial discretion” into amnesty for 5 million illegal aliens was unconstitutional. After all, Obama himself said for several years that he couldn’t do what he just did because he lacked the power. He said it in public. More than 20 times.

His newly nominated lackey to replace Attorney General Eric Holder, Loretta Lynch, demonstrated that the law and the constitution should be no impediment preferred political outcomes at her Senate confirmation hearing when asked by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) whether using similar logic (i.e. I’ve been asking for this for years, and so I can do it alone because Congress hasn’t done what I’ve asked) a GOP president could refuse to enforce certain tax laws that he opposes.

We’ve got a constitution and a government designed to ensure a measure of transparency and for things to work a certain way so that citizens (not subjects) can vote for people who will pursue their desired policies in an effective manner.

Sen. Harry Reid’s four years of obstructionism in the Senate violated that precept. The Democrats’ passage of Obamacare using bald-faced lies (if you like your doctor, health plan, you can keep it) and their dishonest claim that the insurance tax was not a tax but a penalty (aided by a complicit media) violated that precept.

Obama’s immigration amnesty is having similar effects.

At a hearing this past week before Congress, IRS chief stonewaller (and the man solely responsible for this) revealed that as part of Obama’s plan to give social security numbers to illegal immigrants this would result in the IRS allowing those illegal immigrants to receive free taxpayer money in the form of the Earned Income Tax Credit.

He also clarified his testimony to the Senate last week, where he acknowledged illegal immigrants who had paid taxes using substitute Social Security numbers but who gain real Social Security numbers when they are approved for the amnesty can apply for back-refunds of the Earned Income Tax Credit.

On Wednesday, he said even illegal immigrants who didn’t pay taxes will be able to apply for back-credits once they get Social Security numbers.

The EITC is a refundable tax credit, which means those who don’t have any tax liability can still get money back from the government.

“Under the new program, if you get a Social Security number and you work, you’ll be eligible to apply for the Earned Income Tax Credit,” Mr. Koskinen said.

He said that would apply even “if you did not file” taxes, as long as the illegal immigrant could demonstrate having worked off-the-books during those years.

And here’s the kicker:

Rep. Mick Mulvaney, the South Carolina Republican who grilled Mr. Koskinen on the tax credits, said he was stunned the White House never checked with the IRS on the tax implications of its move.

“That’s just outrageous,” he said. “If Congress had passed a law doing exactly what the president did, we would have had not only an estimate of the costs, but we would have also been required to propose ways to pay for the programs. This is just another example of the administration operating outside the rule of law.”

Mr. Koskinen said he didn’t know how much money the tax refunds would cost, and said the White House never checked with him before announcing the amnesty. He said the maximum annual credit is between $500 and $600 for an individual.

A program designed to help low-income, working Americans will now—at best—be a massive wealth transfer to people who came to this country illegally. At worst, this is another situation ripe for fraud costing Americans billions.

But all of this is really a sideshow—albeit an expensive one.

The real goal is this one:

President Obama’s temporary deportation amnesty will make it easier for illegal immigrants to improperly register and vote in elections, state elections officials testified to Congress on Thursday, saying that the driver’s licenses and Social Security numbers they will be granted create a major voting loophole.

While stressing that it remains illegal for noncitizens to vote, secretaries of state from Ohio and Kansas said they won’t have the tools to sniff out illegal immigrants who register anyway, ignoring stiff penalties to fill out the registration forms that are easily available at shopping malls, motor vehicle bureaus and in curbside registration drives.

Anyone registering to vote attests that he or she is a citizen, but Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said mass registration drives often aren’t able to give due attention to that part, and so illegal immigrants will still get through.

It turns out the coming Democratic majority was built the way a lot of the old Democratic majorities were—through voter fraud.

Your tax dollars at work.

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I saw this last night on “Special Report” with Bret Baier on Fox News. It features ABC’s White House correspondent Jonathan Karl, but ABC didn’t find it newsworthy enough to broadcast.

The White House has taken the position that Jordan should not do a deal with ISIS where they trade a convicted bomber participated in a terror attack the resulted in the deaths of 60 people for one of their pilots who was downed over Syria.

Karl asked the White House to explain how what Jordan was planning on doing (the deal hasn’t gone through yet) was different from what the U.S. did with the Taliban to ensure the release of alleged deserter Bowe Bergdahl.

I took a certain delight in watching the White House flack squirm, but his assault on language and logic was infuriating.

Today, the White House’s senior flack tried to clean up the logical mess left by his underling—something that can’t really be explained because there’s no way to make the unlogical and hypocritical logical and consistent.

If you were wondering whether humans are heating the atmosphere, look no further than the hot air contained in that one answer and extrapolate it for every Obama administration flack, especially those at the White House and State Department, attempting to make the case that everything is awesome both at home and abroad.

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I realize that many will believe my casual dismissal of the big storm hitting the East Coast is a result of today’s the temperature here locally on the Central Coast of California where it reached a balmy 75 degrees today.

However, I want to assure our New England readers that I feel your pain. It’s supposed to rain a little tonight.

SLOStorm

But seriously folks, it isn’t like there’s never been a blizzard hit New York and Boston before, right?

For Bill Nye, the Science Doofus, the blizzard is a sign of “climate change.”

Twitchy helpfully collected some responses to this. But you climate alarmists have got to be kidding me. Aren’t you the ones always pointing out there’s a difference between weather and climate. Then you act like a blizzard in New England in January is somehow out of the ordinary.

A blizzard. New England. January. As Shakespeare once said: “Givest thou me a break!”

Look on the bright side:

  • It turns out that 2014 probably wasn’t the hottest year on record. It turns out that there’s things in science called “statistically significant” and “margin of error” that “scientists” asking for a sexy headline so they can get more funding mistakenly left out of their press releases.
  • The world didn’t end in 2000, despite the best predictions of PBS’s “NOVA” back in 1986.

The conclusion, conveyed with great authority by several big-league climatologists from government and private research organizations, is terrible: by the year 2000, the atmosphere and weather will grow warmer by several degrees and life – animal, plant, human – will be threatened. The experts say that melting ice caps, flooded cities, droughts in the corn belt and famine in the third world could result if the earth’s mean temperature rises by a mere two or three degrees.

However, the warming is so far manifesting itself more in winters which are less cold than in much hotter summers. According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia,within a few years winter snowfall will become “a very rare and exciting event”.

“Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” he said.

What a relief! New England area children will know what snow is. Hopefully they’ll also quickly learn what “overreaction” and “fear-mongering” are too.

 

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With the notable exception of the small class of American war correspondents, the vast majority of American journalists are, to use the Texas phrase: “All hat and no cattle.” The assassination this morning of ten satirists at the French magazine Charlie Hebdo along with two police officers by adherents of the “Religion of Pieces” has once again illustrated that the American media are very brave when it comes to standing up for freedom of speech when the tyrant is a lowly city councilman. But when the attacks on freedom of speech come not from blowhard politicians but from people who have an affinity for beheadings and bombings … well, talk is cheap.

The Weekly Standard’s Mark Hemingway has it largely right when he calls out the professional media.

But it also speaks volumes that so many of Charb’s fellow journalists have long been aware of these threats, and have said nothing. And of those who have spoken up about Muslim terror, far too many have said things that in light of today’s tragedy that are absolutely damning.

Here’s something you’re unlikely to see in any American newspaper tomorrow because those brave journalists really aren’t.

These are what got 10 journalists killed. And when it comes to American journalists, nothing has changed since the infamous Mohammed cartoons nearly 10 years ago. At the time, I criticized and highlighted the double-standard of the paper I worked for (which undoubtedly didn’t put me in good stead when layoffs loomed three years later). The paper wouldn’t publish even the tamest of the Mohammed cartoons, but had no problem posting a South Park screenshot of Jesus or a Rolling Stone cover depicting Kanye West as Christ.

At NBC, you won’t see any illustrative cartoons:


The Associated Press wouldn’t even let its member newspapers decide whether they wanted to publish uncensored Charlie Hebdo covers, sending out blurred versions over its wires claiming that they have a longstanding (since the 2006 Mohammed cartoons) policy of not transmitting “offensive” material. Quickly, the Washington Examiner’s Timothy P. Carney went into the AP database and discovered they’d happily sell you a print of Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ.” (They quickly removed the photo for sale when the exposure of their hypocrisy was imminent.)

Newspapers, news networks, news websites will decry this vicious terrorist attack, but their behavior from the time of the Danish cartoons controversy had the effect of putting the brave satirists of Charlie Hebdo out front in the defense of free speech. The terrorists, instead of having dozens or hundreds of targets, had just a handful. The rest could be cowed merely by the threat.

What you’re seeing now is mass journalistic self-censorship as they simultaneously pat themselves on the back for their false courage. Don’t fall for it.

 

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It’s always interesting to see lawyers, judges and gun control advocates lobby for restrictions on gun ownership—a fundamental constitutional right—that they wouldn’t tolerate for a moment were it applied to speech.

I was pointed (via Twitter) to this article in the Hartford Courant from last week on a hearing before the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals on the Connecticut ban on AR-15-style rifles and “large” (read: “standard”) size magazines. The judge hearing the case, Christopher Droney, seems to have little respect or command of the second amendment.

U.S. Circuit Judge Christopher Droney on Tuesday seemed to acknowledge a potential government interest in banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines when he cited statistics that show “over 50 percent of recent mass shootings used a combination of the two.”

For the state to ban the guns and magazines, “they have to have substantial evidence” that in doing so, they would prevent criminals from having access to them, Thompson argued. That’s not the case, he said, because millions are produced nationwide and such bans do not exist in other states.

“You’re saying don’t bother to outlaw them because there are so many around that the criminals will have access to them, so let law-abiding citizens have access to them, too?” Judge Droney asked in response. “Is that what you’re saying?”

Judges are, of course, used to deference and respect (deserved or not) from those appearing before him. However, if I’m a lawyer (and I’m not) and I’m presented with this question, my retort would be something along the lines of:

You’re saying that a minuscule percentage of these guns will be used by criminals, so millions of law-abiding citizens can’t have them either?

Cars are used every day to aid thieves and robbers in fleeing from the scenes of their crimes. So, every car should be equipped with a governor to prevent it from travelling faster than average jogging speed?

Unless the American people elect another liberal president in 2016, then there’s a high likelihood that the 2nd Amendment will be ruled by judges to actually mean what it says.

That day can’t come too soon.

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Many years ago when I was a copy editor/page designer at the North County Times we had a reporter that had gotten an interview that everyone on the San Diego area news media was angling for. A local man had gotten into a serious car accident across the border in Mexico and, because he didn’t have Mexican car insurance, the local authorities wouldn’t allow him to be transferred to a U.S. hospital for treatment. The man died.

Our reporter was the first one to get an interview with the man’s newly widowed wife and turned in 40-some column inches of copy on the interview. It got past the line editor, but when it got to me, I turned to the reporter and said “Wait a minute Tim, this reads like a court transcript. It’s dry. Did she pause and break down crying at any point? Did have a hitch in her voice? Did a tear roll down her cheek?”

It’s those little details that make really compelling journalism. It’s the little stuff that makes the reader feel like they’re in the room with the reporter. I can remember writing a long feature on a little old lady who’d been volunteering for decades as a librarian/helper at a local elementary school. She didn’t know it, but they were going to name the library after her in a couple weeks, so I was writing our Sunday “People” feature on her and her life. As I interviewed her in her living room, she sat in a chair with her legs over the arm of the chair like a teenager. I made that mention up high in the story and inside was a picture of her seated like that. That little detail really made the story pop.

Which brings us to the University of Virgina gang rape hoax which began to unravel on Friday. The original Rolling Stone story was a case study in bad journalism, whether the original rape claim was true or not—and it appears that if something did happen to “Jackie,” it certainly wasn’t what Rolling Stone reported.

As the new media began to do what Rolling Stone’s fact-checkers should’ve done before the article ever went to press, it was the little inconsistencies, the details that make a compelling narrative, that make you feel like you were there, that raised the first alarm bells.

The fraternity also said it has reviewed the roster of employees at the university’s Aquatic and Fitness Center for 2012 and found that it does not include a member of the fraternity — a detail Jackie provided in her account to Rolling Stone and in interviews with The Post — and that no member of the house matches the description detailed in the Rolling Stone account. The statement also said that the house does not have pledges during the fall semester.

It’s that last sentence that really jumped out at me. There’s no fraternity rush in the fall. There are no pledges in the fall. Yet that’s when “Jackie” claims she was gang raped as part of some fraternity ritual. It’s something that would quickly become apparent if you were a reporter on the U Va. campus and you talked to fraternity members—any fraternity members—during fall term.

It reminded me of the movie “Shattered Glass” about New Republic writer Stephen Glass, a confessed fabulist.

Despite frantic attempts at spin from (Stephen) Glass, (Charles) Lane discovers that the convention room at the hotel was not open the day the convention supposedly took place and that the restaurant where they supposedly ate dinner closed in the early afternoon.

It happens over and over again. The little details, whether it’s when fraternities rush or if a restaurant isn’t open for dinner, are what make or break stories like this. They can provide a compelling narrative, or they can reveal where a reporter’s taken shortcuts, relied on a dishonest source, or fabricated incidents from whole cloth.

As of today, the Rolling Stone story is in some odd limbo state. The editor’s apologized for the story, but hasn’t retracted it.

It’s possible “Jackie” was raped that night back in 2012. But it’s also pretty apparent that, if she was, it didn’t happen as she described it to Rolling Stone.

But the worst offender in this whole situation is the reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdley.

Magazine writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely knew she wanted to write about sexual assaults at an elite university. What she didn’t know was which university.

So, for six weeks starting in June, Erdely interviewed students from across the country. She talked to people at Harvard, Yale, Princeton and her alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania. None of those schools felt quite right. But one did: the University of Virginia, a public school, Southern and genteel, brimming with what Erdely calls “super-smart kids” and steeped in the legacy of its founder, Thomas Jefferson.

So, she had an idea: There’s a “rape culture” that permeates American Universities. And then she went from school to school to school until she found someone who’d tell her a truly shocking story that would get her piece on the cover of Rolling Stone. It couldn’t be just a “rape,” it had to be a “gang rape” as part of a fraternity initiation. Not something that happens to poor women in high crime areas on a daily basis, but something that could happen to someone like her. Someone like the readers of Rolling Stone.

I don’t know if Erdely consciously coached “Jackie,” or if her prodding and questions was akin to the child sex scandals so prevalent in the 1990s where poorly trained cops and psychologists encouraged children to spin wild tales of torture and sex abuse that to a sane observer obviously couldn’t be true. Whatever the case, Erdely obviously so wanted “Jackie’s” claims to be outrageous and true that any normal journalistic skepticism was quickly and effectively suppressed.

And like the child sex scandals of the ’90s, the media and ivory tower elites are telling us again that children and women don’t lie about these things—and if you question any specific rape claims, then you’re somehow questioning whether rape ever occurs.

Journalism. Wound. Self-inflicted.

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The Washington Post decided to triple-down on its war on women by naming former GOP staffer and nobody Elizabeth Lauten as having the “Worst Week in Washington.”

When I saw this on Twitter, I had a rather succinct response, that ended up leading the “Media” category on Twitchy for most of the afternoon.

Did she plead guilty to rape?

Did she plead guilty to rape?

I’ll tell you who really had the Worst Week in Washington: The Washington Post which has run 13 stories on Ms. Lauten in the past week. If Jeff Bezos is wondering whether there’s fat to be cut in the Post newsroom, he doesn’t need to look any further than the wall-to-wall coverage over an incredibly tame Facebook post compared to the non-coverage of Donny Ray Williams Jr., who is a serial rapist.

And a Democrat, which would explain why the Post wrote only two stories on his crimes, once in 2012 when he was charged, and another this week after the guilty plea.

If the news media wants to know why they’re held in such contempt. This is the answer. Chris Cillizza is a moral cripple. Someone whose values are so out of whack with the majority of Americans that he might as well be a space alien.

Their reputation is shot. For every Sharyl Atkisson or Bernard Goldberg, there’s 40, or 400, so-called journalists who will lie (either by omission or commission) to bolster their preferred political goals or party.

Cillizza’s a hack. When dealing with him, GOP operatives or politicians should go in clear-eyed. They’re not dealing with an honest journalist trying to fairly provide both sides of the story. They’re dealing with a Democratic operative. Think Bob Beckel, but less honest.

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