Friday, June 17, 2011

Making Wiener's Possible

“Women marry men hoping they will change: Men marry women hoping they will not. Each is inevitably disappointed.” - Einstein

The sorriest aspect of philandering politicians is often their wives, the spouses who stand by their man and play the victim in the service of political viability. The modern standard for political survival was set by former NY Senator, now Secretary of State Hillary Rodham, a player who may soon be in the on-deck circle for the Presidency. Still, Mrs. Clinton is just one of many. The modern indulgent political spouse has a long history going back to icons like Jackie Kennedy.

The list now includes Dina McGreevy, Silda Spitzer, Maria Shriver, and now Huma Abedin, Rep. Anthony Weiner’s (D-NY) bride of less than a year. Apparently, Mr. Wiener didn’t let an engagement, a honeymoon, his wife’s pregnancy, or congressional duties interfere with “sexting” photos of his giblets to adoring “friends” on Twitter over the last few years. Wiener, 47 years of age, was widely expected to be the next mayor of New York City.

Indeed, opinion surveys reveal that Big Apple voters believe that Weiner should have continued to represent Brooklyn and Queens in Congress. Such sentiments are not surprising in a city where Woody Allen is a celebrity and Kitty Genovese is a chalk outline on a city street. A Good Samaritan in Queens is often someone who minds his business. Weiner calls his behavior “a bump in the road.” He may be correct in a metropolis where the political class would build a mosque to memorialize the victims of Islamic fanaticism.

The Huma Abedin/Tony Weiner tale has a special irony. Huma is Mrs. Clinton’s deputy chief of staff. The famously priapic Bill Clinton officiated at the recent Weiner nuptials on Long Island. More recently, while Anthony was getting roasted by the media, Mrs. Abedin Weiner was conveniently off on a trip to the Arab Emirates with Mrs. Clinton.

This is not to blame victims. Political wives are frequently represented as smart and capable in their own right. How could they not know? New Jersey Governor McGreevy was cheating with men, a low blow even by Jersey Shore standards. President Clinton was frolicking with an intern a floor below his wife and daughter in the White house. Governor Schwarzenegger had his maid and wife pregnant at the same time! Not wanting to know the truth is not the same as not knowing. And isn’t feigned ignorance a not too subtle kind of enabling?

What used to be called a triangle is now more like a carousel. There are no victims in these liaisons, just enablers and manipulators. Escorts and hookers have more integrity than indulgent wives. Silda Spitzer, Harvard Law ‘84, gave an interview where she blamed herself for Eliot’s indiscretions. According to Mrs. Spitzer, “inadequate sex” on her part led her husband to sacrifice his career and her reputation.

The Press is often a co-conspirator when randy politicians feel the need to share their extra-marital seed. John Kennedy and his protégé, Bill Clinton were serial swingers who thrived with indulgent or partisan media. Ben Bradley of the Washington Post, with bimbo eruptions of his own, covered for Jack Kennedy; and Bill Clinton weathered impeachment with the help of a servile wife and newspapers like the Post. Hillary claimed that her husband was the victim of a “vast right-wing conspiracy” and that canard was spread far and wide by a sympathetic Press. In fact, Clinton never needed any real enemies. Like Tony Weiner, his real bete noire was always lurking in his skivvies.

It would be a mistake to conclude that political wives or matrons of convenience are facilitating narcissism. The hitch isn’t self-love so much as insecurity and self-loathing. Poltroons like Weiner, love their image and still hate themselves. Indeed, one of Weiner’s Twitter conversations contained a telling remark, an offensive stereotype about the sexual reticence of Jewish women. Weiner is married to a Muslim.

Back in the Bill Clinton era, White House advisor Betsey Wright coined the term “bimbo eruptions” to describe a long list of presidential gal pals. How feminism is advanced by defending a serial predator and his co-dependent wife is still a mystery. Ms. Wright’s notable contribution to the exploitive sex debate was to cast all “other” women as floozies. Wright got it wrong; the true bimbos are the female enablers – those wives, daughters, sisters, mothers, and female groupies who defend creepy behavior and thus make politicians like Clinton and Weiner likely.

If just one high profile political woman kicked someone like Weiner, Spitzer, or Clinton to the curb, a whole new standard of behavior might be set in Washington. Women are a voting majority, yet spineless girls often defend the indefensible and continue to make porcine politics possible.

Hillary Clinton is the pin-up for an American idiom that might charitably be described as bimbo feminism, a novel kind of electoral survival morality. The print media can hardly write a story about infidelity in any political marriage without mentioning Hillary’s trail by Bill.

Under the Rodham ethic; you stand by your man, play the victim, and maintain your political possibilities. Low self-esteem and poor taste in men might not be the most obvious political assets; but, they seem to work for the Press and enough voters. The victimized Mrs. Clinton clung famously to her husband’s coattails and now stands poised to become the Democratic Party standard bearer for the Oval Office. Who knows, her protégé, Mrs. Huma Abidin Weiner, another victim au gauche, may parlay her marital drama into a Cabinet post also - in a second Clinton administration.

While in denial, Congressman Weiner claimed that his actions on-line did not break the law, violate congressional rules, or hinder his ability to honor his oath to defend the Constitution. It’s hard to believe a man who doesn’t defend a pregnant bride worries much about defending the abstractions in the Constitution.

Anthony Weiner has not left the public square without performing a public service. He now becomes the poster boy for virtual onanism, a living model of the pitfalls of pornography, self promotion, and the infinite possibilities for exhibitionism and professional suicide in cyberspace. Weiner doesn’t just look at himself in the mirror; he is also a reflection of the pitfalls of democracy and the gullibility of voters. Like his Long Island constituents, apparently; Anthony was well below average and proud of it.

Marriage and democracy offer blessings and curses. Sometimes we get the champions we need, yet more often we choose or elect the mountebanks we deserve.


G. Murphy Donovan was born in the Bronx and schooled in greater New York. He writes also at Agnotology in Journalism. This essay appeared in the 17 June 11 edition of American Thinker.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Stick a Fork in it Newt!

The Best way to sound like you know what you’re talking about is to know what you’re talking about.” - anonymous

Newt Gingrich has done it again. He throws his hat into the ring, and before it hits the ground, he has his foot in his mouth - again. Hard to believe that a politician can have too much ego, but surely Gingrich is suffering from an embarrassment of glitches. What was he thinking over the weekend when he attacked Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), one of a few politicians, other than Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), who has the courage to argue for common sense and fiscal sanity? Indeed, Ryan and Coburn are two of the most sensible and civil politicians in America. Neither is running for President.

Between Newt and “The Donald,” the Republicans have the beginnings of a circular firing squad. Are there no Democrats to excoriate?

Gingrich announced his presidential bid and then in the same week squandered his Sunday morning pulpit launch by attacking potential friends and allies, using rhetoric more appropriate to the loopy left.

On Sunday, he called Ryan's economic proposals an example of "right-wing social engineering," and suggested they were an attempt to impose "radical change" on Americans.

Ryan is a radical, a social engineer? Hasn’t this been the rap against progressives? Now, if Gingrich is neither right nor left, neither “radical” nor “right-wing,” then he has positioned himself in the moderate middle, the median strip – like road kill. No surprise then that the first prominent Democrat to endorse Newt’s lunacy was Howard Dean, left-wing spokesman extraordinaire.

Rhetorical fusillade may be the only fair way to characterize reactions to the Gingrich remarks. One caller likened the former Speaker of the House to a kind of political Michael Jackson, best remembered for setting his hair on fire. Another wag pleaded for a “mulligan,” arguing that Gingrich hadn’t been on the stump for a while and should be allowed a stroke or two.

Mulligan? A mulligan is what you get when you hit the ball in the water or out of bounds. Gingrich wrapped his wedge around his partner’s neck. When you try to decapitate a member of your foursome; the penalty is game over, off the course, and out of the club. Put a fork in it Newt, you’re done.

There’s good news and bad news in the wake Newt’s gaffe on Meet the Press. For conservatives who may have been harboring any illusions, Gingrich has revealed himself to be a crass opportunist, one willing to throw colleagues under the bus. Yet the bad news is likely to be more pervasive. Liberals have been gifted a film clip that will make a devastating campaign ad. No amount of backtracking or insincere apologies will unring that bell. Barack Obama ought to send Gingrich a thank-you note and a box of golf balls.


A version of this entry appeared in the 18/19 May 11 edition of American Thinker’s blog. The author also writes at G. Murphy Donovan.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Scent of Revolution

“A lie will travel half way round the world before truth gets its pants on.” – Mark Twain

Revolutions and institutions begin with good intentions. Too often, the institution then becomes the enemy of the idea. The communications revolution is such an example. Early enthusiasts, like Marshall McLuhan, thought that improved connectivity would create a kind of “global village” where a better informed, or better educated, world would evolve. McLuhan’s optimism was an academic variant of Hegelian or Marxist determinism which often mistakes the passage of time with progress. Indeed, scientific expectation often confuses technical innovation with moral, cultural, or political advance.

The internet revolution of the past two decades is thought by many to be a validation of McLuhan’s optimism. Internet social sites (e.g. You Tube, Facebook, and Twitter) are feted as the enablers of social, political, and cultural change; unvarnished truth in 140 characters or less. The so-called “jasmine revolution” underway in the Arab world is celebrated, in a similar vein, to be a direct and salutary consequence of global social networks. Unfortunately, early reports and hasty judgments are seldom true.

The World Wide Web is a tool. Yet, akin to a pistol in the wrong hands, it can also be a dangerous weapon. A better metaphor would be to describe the Internet as Chekhov’s gun; if a rifle appears in the first act, someone will be shot before the curtain falls.

Banality might be the primary ethic of the virtual world. If we can believe the numbers, personal computers are used mainly for pornography, mindless socializing, shopping, and surfing – the latter a catch-all for many activities, such as games and videos. Personal videos posted on sites like You Tube provide a global forum for stunts, bad taste, voyeurs, and associated nitwits where the host primes the pump by keeping score. Site visits or “hits” and “followers” are the principal measures of merit, or achievement, on the Internet.

Social networks use a kind of ego arithmetic; recording and posting member’s site visits, friends, “followers,” “pokes,” and associated vanity statistics. Not all of the activity is frivolous, however. Bullying, personal attacks, privacy violations, and hacking have become more malicious over time. Informal or secretive players like Anonymous and Wikileaks feature deadly serious political agendas and few scruples about truth, the law, or civility. Personal malice and political mayhem are the predictable consequences when rhetorical assault mediums fall into the wrong hands.

The virtual world exhibits Orwellian pathologies beyond language; encouraged, if not sponsored, by Internet hosts. Anonymity is the most pernicious. Traditionally, authors in the print world used pseudonyms to mask race, sex, or class. However, what used to be a harmless literary convention has now become a malicious digital rule. All manner of mischief and agendas hide behind “screen” names. Privacy is the usual defense for the anonymous; but, nameless users exhibit precious little concern for the truth about, or the privacy of, their targets and victims.

With all, ignorance is the biggest fly in the Internet ointment. And the difficulty is not simply error in fact or analysis. The problem is the conscious propagation of falsehoods in the name of science or politics. Robert Proctor of Stanford University elevated this spread of ignorance to a scientific study, “Agnotology.” Proctor documented how faux science was used by the tobacco industry to defend cigarette smoking. Other investigations have exposed similar frauds associated with climate change (nee “global warming”).

The internet does not create information; it merely carries it. Sadly, the internet has few content standards and ignores most moral hazards. Indeed, ignorance may be more likely than truth in the virtual world. The growing dependence of state “news” outlets, such as al Jezeera and a host of Western cicadas, on unsourced social networks is not an advance for objectivity, enlightenment, or truth.

The ongoing “Arab Spring,” “awakening,” or “jasmine revolution” is a telling case study. The rolling mayhem in the Middle East has become viral, in part, because social and news networks have represented political mayhem as consequence-free. Upheaval in the Arab world is obviously not peaceful and outcomes are not likely to be democratic. Nonetheless, news readers and politicians underwrite illusions by insisting that riots and insurrection are “peaceful” protests or “pro-democracy” movements.

Social technology and social revolutions may be related, but they are not necessarily symbiotic. The Internet is an echo chamber where repetition is too often confused with truth. Euphemisms like “jasmine revolution” or “awakening” are a kind of rhetorical wishful thinking; serial insurrection or civil war in the Muslim world is not likely to be good news for oppressed apostates or naïve infidels.

Whilst Americans and Europeans bleed for fantasy democracy in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and now Libya; the bankers of ideological jihad in Riyadh and Doha are ruthlessly suppressing any threats to totalitarian rule at home. If regime change were helpful anywhere in the Arab League, Saudi Arabia or the Emirate regimes would be the first logical targets.

Surely, the relationship between Sunni theocrats and Arab royals is a marriage of convenience. Sectarian imperialists need funding and tribal tyrants need to purchase immunity from regime threatening fellaheen.

Nevertheless, the rolling revolt in the Arab world is not a struggle between democracy and tyranny. There are no democratic states in the Arab League or the Gulf Cooperation Council and few if any political movements which merit the adjective “moderate”. Yusef al Qaradawi, the Sunni voice of al Jezeera and al Ikwan al-Muslimeen ( the Muslim Brotherhood) says it best when he claims the “the train of revolution” has now reached Damascus. Qaradawi’s target is Sunni secularism - and his politics have little to do with democracy and everything to do with irredentist religious identity.

Middle East and North Africa civil wars are struggles between seculars and theocrats, not tyrants and democrats. Europe and America seem to have (as they did with Iran, Algeria, Turkey, Lebanon, and Gaza) cast their lot with the Islamists; again, allowing naive hope to mask the threat of religious reactionaries.

Several decades back, Tennessee Williams wrote of the “sickly sweet smell of mendacity.” Indeed, lies are the cheap spices we use to mask the stench of truth. The books are being cooked, without doubt, when fragrant adjectives like “jasmine” are used to sweeten the sour breath of revolutions.

Those who thrive on chaos seldom lend a hand to restore civility. The flaw in all radicalism - technical, political, or religious - is that zealots and activists obscure the end game and care little about unintended consequences.


G. Murphy Donovan, a former USAF intelligence officer, writes frequently about national security matters. This essay originally appeared in the 13 April 11 edition of Family Security matters.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Violence of Culture

“A perfect world doesn’t need guns. We don’t live in a perfect world.”
– Sheriff Ben Johnson

Firearms play a large role in American history. Guns of every sort are used to settle issues great and small. Literature and film does not exaggerate so much as reflect the role of guns in American history and culture – although Hollywood body counts are more than a little fantastic.

The value at work here, enshrined in the constitution, is that Americans did not give police, soldiers and criminals an exclusive franchise on deadly force. Call it defensive lethality. Gun ownership is closely related to a historical suspicion of intrusive or incompetent government. They also represent a kind of portable fair play. From the beginning, a gun was thought to be the great equalizer – the tool that levels the playing field. Indeed, that ubiquitous Colt six-shooter of the American West was called “the Peacemaker”.

When citizens speak of “Second Amendment remedies,” such warnings were common, although rare today, up to and after the Civil War. Thomas Jefferson famously wrote of the periodic need to “water the tree of liberty” with the blood of patriots. His philosophical heirs exercised that license with a suicidal Civil War. Guns in the hands of recidivist Democrat Party vigilantes played a large role in enforcing Jim Crow laws for a hundred years after emancipation. Yet, even in the wake of armed insurrection, the nascent Republican Party did not seek to disarm cranky American individualists.

The primary objection to guns is political. Gun owners and their opponents have radically different world views. Gun owners do not trust their personal security to the city or state for pragmatic and philosophical reasons.

At the curb level, no municipal or state agency can guarantee the security of individuals or specific property. Crime statistics, especially in urban areas, support this belief. Police provide general community security, but specific lapses are too many and too troubling. Book keeping, like Compstat, monitors the ebb and flow of municipal mayhem, but such statistics, like public school audits, are too sensitive to careerism and political winds. Indeed, judicial process is calibrated also to accommodate the wants of criminals and political interests, not needs of victims or taxpayers. In short, gun advocates do not trust the state with personal safety. Overwhelming statistical evidence supports citizen skepticism.

Gun opponents, on the other hand, have little evidence to underwrite their faith in the state’s ability to provide personal security. Indeed, the nation’s capital, with arguably the highest per capita number of law officers of every stripe, has one of the highest crime rates in the country. Clearly, rates of violent street crime against individuals and property, especially in urban areas, can be influenced, but not controlled by police.

The philosophical differences between gun owners and their opponents are self evident; the former believe that individual rights and responsibilities are paramount; the later believes that individual prerogatives are subordinate to the state. This political divide has a long history and the gun control debate is just another chapter in that argument.

The controversy following the recent Tucson shootings illustrates the chasm. Gun control advocates, like Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, quickly tried to assign guilt to Republican and conservative rhetoric. Second Amendment advocates like Governor Sarah Palin took to the airways to dispute charges of collective guilt, insisting instead on personal accountability .

Beliefs about guns are more myth than science. Gun control dogma has little to do with evidence or reason. There is no correlation between gun ownership and homicide rates. The United States, where 40% of citizens own firearms, had a homicide rate (year 2006) of 5.70 deaths per 100,000 of population, only 3.72 were gun related. If the worst kill rates for cities (such as Baltimore 42.0, St. Louis 38.0, and Washington, DC 35.4) were extracted, the US homicide rate, given the high rate of legal owners, is comparable to any country in the world with draconian control laws.

If any political party is guilty by association, the Democrat Party has much to answer for. Indeed, in February, Boston congressman Michael Capuano (D) urged union members to "get bloody when necessary." Capuano holds Jack Kennedy's old seat. Most violent crime in the US occurs in large cities, like Boston, where constituents and their political mentors are Democrats. Chicago, the president’s home town, is twice as deadly as New York and three times as violent as Los Angeles.

Mr. Capuano's gory admonition is fairly typical of left logic. When government at any level fails to deliver on promises it can not possible keep, progressives light torches and reach for the pitchfork.

Gun control advocates try to mask the statist argument with utopian terms like “common good.” Were this a sufficient argument, individual prerogatives such as automobiles, knives, axes, machetes, alcohol, matches, and mood altering drugs might be banned also.

There were 12,632 firearm homicides in 2007. In the same year, 37,435 auto related deaths were reported. Approximately 40% of auto fatalities are alcohol related. Every auto injury or death caused by a drunk is criminal violence by definition. Few states track, non-alcohol, drug related auto fatalities. Worldwide, nearly 40 million serious injuries and deaths are attributed to automobiles. This figure is projected to reach 50 million by 2020.

In the most recent genocide in Rwanda, nearly a million killed, the agent of death was an edged weapon or a club. Indeed, since WWII the deadliest weapon of choice worldwide is the machete. In medieval Europe, long before guns were common, the homicide rate in cities was thought to be 60.0. Then as now, no country seeks to decommission edged tools and weapons as a solution to violent crime.

Finland and Switzerland have some of the highest gun ownership rates in the world, yet their gun homicide rates are low (3.24 and 1.32 respectively). South Africa, in contrast, has had a homicide rate as high as 75.30 deaths per 100,000 - and few guns. There are no concrete figures available on gun ownership, but non-gun homicides in South Africa account for twice as many deaths.

The Swiss example merits consideration in any gun debate. All eligible Swiss males are required to serve in the military and undergo annual small arms qualification. After service, Swiss men are allowed to retain their semi-automatic side and long arms at home. The Swiss government encourages shooting competitions and subsidizes ammunition. Almost all Swiss households possess small arms of one sort or another. Shooting is a national sport.

Swiss homicide rates are lower than Great Britain where most guns are banned. The second largest city, Geneva, reported no armed robberies in 1993. The Swiss experience contradicts the conventional anti-gun wisdom so dramatically that the United Nations often omits Switzerland in “studies” of small arms. Clearly, culture not hardware, drives the Swiss experience.

Any honest assessment of American culture recognizes the role of guns in history and contemporary civility – or lack of it. Gun advocates, for the most part see guns as personal insurance. Gun opponents, are tainted with hypocrisy; opposing legal gun ownership for innocents on the one hand while ignoring illegal gun violence among their guilty constituents.

Modern gun rhetoric on the right is just that; actual revolutionary and criminal street violence has been the near exclusive franchise of big cities and the American left. The professional left is the last institution in America that should scold others for having “blood” on their hands.

A great civil war and all the rural violence of reconstruction was a Democrat Party legacy. Indeed, Jim Crow law and the associated 100 year reign of terror against black Americans was sponsored or ignored by Democrat politicians.

The failure of American “progressives” appears to be one of introspection; an unwillingness to look inward and accept adult responsibility. They also fail to acknowledge the legitimate fears and concerns of law abiding citizens who wish to take prudent precautions for the safety of their families. Liberals compound their error by insulting the intelligence of voters; attempting to blame violence on conservative rhetoric while ignoring the history and culture of criminal mayhem among their constituents.

H. Rap Brown (aka Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin), former Justice (sic) Minister for the Black Panthers, once said: “Violence is as American as cherry pie.” He was right. Unfortunately he failed to mention that he was speaking for himself, his politics, and his culture. In March 2000, Brown shot two police officers with an assault rifle. As one of the officers lay wounded, Brown executed him with three shots from a handgun. Both officers were Black. Mr. Brown is now serving a life sentence for murder.

Modern American and European political violence invariably emanates from the professional left. National Socialists and Communists were not conservatives. The 1968 political convention mayhem in Chicago was a liberal phenomenon on both sides of the barricades. Recent austerity riots in France and Greece follow 20th Century patterns. Organized street violence and arson is tactic peculiar to left-leaning activists and unions. Three low-level bank employees were incinerated at their workplace by radicals during the 2010 Athens entitlements riots.


Just as guns and violence are not synonymous; legality and morality are not equivalent either. From a moral perspective, 16,000 US homicides a year could be compared to over a million legal abortions per year on average. Indeed, since 1973, there have been over 52 million abortions (300 abortions for every 1,000 live births). In New York City today, 40% of pregnancies are aborted. Homicide and infanticide are morally equivalent to the extent that they are acts of free will – or choices. For too many, abortion is just a more callous variety of birth control.

The hypocrisy associated with rare shooting incidents and other forms of pervasive urban violence is best illustrated by two recent cases; Jared Loughner of Tuscon and Dr. Kermit Gosnell of Philadelphia. The Loughner tragedy was a “one of ” incident where nineteen people were shot, six fatally. Good Samaritans intervened immediately to halt the mayhem.

Gosnell is an abortionist who according to the Philadelphia Inquirer was “a butcher of women and babies” for 30 years in spite of numerous complaints to city and state authorities. According to the Inquirer, Gosnell “routinely killed viable infants (with a scissors)…hundreds of them.” After failing three annual health inspections: “The state Health Department decided after 1993 to stop inspecting abortion clinics for ‘political reasons’.” Gosnell continued to kill until January, 2011 when he was arrested. No good Samaritans intervened on behalf of women and children in the ‘city of brotherly love.”

Compared to abortion, gun homicide occupies the moral high ground; abortion is actually a false, if not arbitrary “choice.” Two of the three principals in abortion, the father and the child, have no say in the matter. On the question of guilt, homicide also has an advantage. In most shootings, the victims are other criminals, usually recidivists. All infanticide fatalities, like Gosnell’s victims, are innocents. Criminal violence often makes the present uncomfortable; abortion always makes the future impossible.

Urban apologists, like Paul Krugman in the New York Times and Larry McMurtry in the Washington Post, are whistling in the dark when they look to rhetoric in the wide open spaces of Arizona and Alaska for explanations. They need look no further than their urban back yards for the roots of violence. Epidemic rates of mayhem, legal or otherwise, are peculiar to large cities and liberal constituencies. Unfortunately, speculations about violence seldom confront these troubling sources. And if numbers matter, big city crime and abortion, not guns, are the principal symptoms of any climate of hate or any cultures of violence in America today.


The author is a veteran of three violent combat tours; 17 years in the Bronx and two years in Vietnam. He also writes at G. Murphy Donovan. This essay originally appeared in the March, 2011 edition the New English Review.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Odd Couple; Lara Logan and CBS

“He who allows oppression shares the crime.” - Erasmus

Lara Logan walked into a journalist’s worst nightmare. Instead of covering a story, she became the story. Such hazards are something of a tradition at CBS; Mike Wallace became the William Westmoreland story and Dan Rather became the George Bush story. Wallace had a nervous breakdown and Rather retired in disgrace. Unlike her predecessors, Ms. Logan’s problem wasn’t fabricated evidence; she was assigned to, or volunteered for, the wrong story in the wrong neighborhood. And as it turns out; she, 60 Minutes, and CBS were just as reckless as Wallace and Rather.

The stage was set by a spin cycle of politically correct talking points, in effect an Oval Office party line that a complicit media were quick to parrot. Demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt were represented as “peaceful and democratic,” never mind that neither country had any experience with democracy since the Roman republic. The peace rhetoric pretty much ignored the mayhem, killing, arson, and looting as long as it was done in the name of anti-regime sentiments.

Indeed, hypocrisy became comic opera when pyramid tour guides brought counter-revolutionary camels and horses to the fray in Tahrir Square. Tragically, some of the animals and their keepers were summarily executed on the spot, presumably in the name of democracy.

Nevertheless, in the space of a week, President Obama was pressing for “democratic” reform and Mrs. Clinton was holding the Cairo rioters up as a “model” for some undefined Arab utopia. Presumably, CBS executives, and possibly Ms. Logan herself, bought into this false narrative and wanted to be in Tahrir Square for the victory lap. Al Jazeera was the worst of the “revolutionary” shills, seldom broadcasting any footage that would challenge the anti-Mubarak narrative.

The drumbeat from most reporters, following al Jazeera’s lead, was to portray the demonstrators as peaceful, diverse, ecumenical, and enlightened. No anti-American or anti-Israeli sentiments were reported. The stage was set for tragedy when CBS allowed a slight blond American to mingle with a predominantly male, testosterone fueled, anti-Semitic and xenophobic mob in Tahrir Square. Indeed, Christiane Amanpour, Katie Couric, and Anderson Cooper had already experienced near misses. And if Christina Lamb’s research on the subject is to be believed, the photogenic Mr. Cooper was as likely to be buggered as any female reporter.

This is not to shoot the wounded or to suggest that the victim is to be blamed. Lara Logan, war correspondent, would be the last to think of herself as a victim; but, she was exploited nevertheless. She was undone by naiveté and high risk bravado - and these, CBS producers exploited in full measure.

Ms. Logan is as famous for her drop dead good looks and extramarital escapades as she was for her reporting. Indeed, there are numerous internet web sites dedicated to Lara’s secondary assets. Her journalistic colleagues broadcast “hotie” photos and Logan’s extra-marital exploits widely - and with relish. In short, you might say, as they did back in the day, she had a reputation.

Coverage of Lara Logan’s personal life, especially by Rolling Stone and Huffington Post reporters, was nothing short of salacious and predatory. Logan’s wedding was touted in one headline as a “shotgun” affair. An internet post by Matt Taibbis was entitled “Lara Logan, You Suck!” The girly men at Jann Wenner’s Chicago salon were incensed because Logan had dared to defend General Stanley McChrystal. Taibbis salted his attack on Lara with infantile bigotry; characterizing American soldiers in Afghanistan as “drunken assholes” and “insubordinate douche bags.”

CBS’s chief foreign affairs correspondent was savaged often and maliciously by colleagues, including Katie Couric, long before the Tahrir Square incident.

Surely, all of this is well enough for CBS ratings, but to send such a high profile, risky icon into a conservative, religiously intolerant, and misogynistic Arab hothouse approaches some unfathomed level of cultural ignorance and stupidity. Adultery can be a capital offense in dar al Islam.

Adulterers, especially females with celebrated indiscretions, are seen as prostitutes or worse in the world of Islam. No Arab male will be prosecuted for assaulting an American infidel, even one with press credentials. CBS executives had to know this; which probably explains network attempts to hide the Logan’s trauma from Egyptian authorities and the American public. A cowardly media mainstream is unlikely to seek justice for one of their own, especially a women. Treasured illusions about Muslim civility are too important to put at risk.

Lara Logan’s image was not the only risk factor. The near universal refusal of the professional left, the academy, and several American administrations to recognize or confront the golems of Islamic and Egyptian culture are part of the back story too. Many religious or cultural practices enable the abuse of women in Egypt and other Arab communities. These include, but are not limited to: vindictive fatwas, child marriage, honor killings, genital mutilation, amputations, stoning, purdah (burkas and hijabs), polygamy, consanguinity, slavery, and death penalties for adultery. Christina Lamb’s Afghan protégé characterized women under Islamic law as “insects in the dust.”

The silence of American feminists on institutionalized Arab misogyny is deafening. High profile American women like Madeline Albright (now at PEW Global Attitudes), Hilary Clinton, and now Michelle Obama, ladies who could make a difference, have yet to act against the systematic abuse of women among one fourth of the world’s population. Tongue tied feminists are co-conspirators with the “animals” of Tahrir Square.

World Health Organization (WHO) studies reveal that over 90% of Egyptian women have been abused by circumcision. Apologists regularly defend genital mutilations in Egypt as “cultural” practices, as if that matters to young girls, butchered to suppress their sexual pleasure. PEW and other polling agencies, that survey Egyptian and Arab attitudes, also document wide-spread support for terror, religious law, anti-Semitism, and political Islamism. How do these facts not influence the judgment of the Oval Office, the State Department, and the corporate offices of American news networks?

Sexually repressed cultures like those of the Arab League are unlikely to see a difference between liberated working girls and targets of opportunity. If just one of those 200 “peaceful,” democratized, internet savvy Arab males knew of Ms. Logan’s history; in their culture, she’s fair game. Islamic law does not distinguish between adulterers and whores. No Muslim male will ever be prosecuted for “raping” a woman who flaunts marital indiscretion. If Rachael Maddow (of Air America fame) ever covered a Muslim riot for MSNBC, her life might be forfeit under at least two Sharia statutes. The truth about the worst in Islam is ever a bitter pill.

And there’s a profound difference between courage and recklessness. CBS and 60 Minutes knew of Lara’s personal baggage and sent her into a howling mob of angry Arab males anyway. And Ms. Logan, having been warned at least once by the Egyptian officials, chose to put herself at risk again, among those she may have imprudently thought to be on “the right side of history.” She and CBS were tragically wrong about the risks of an irredentist Egyptian revolt and nearly fatally wrong about the personal perils of xenophobic, misogynist cultures.

CBS probably can’t be charged with sexual abuse, but someone should sue the suits for reckless endangerment. The American public should demand to know also how and why the men in the CBS support crew did not fight to protect Lara Logan from a gang assault. That story is one you may never see in Rolling Stone or on 60 Minutes.

Post-mortem commentary on the Logan affair is as shallow as earlier collegial attacks on her character. Most, like that in the Chicago Sun Times fall under the “s—t happens” school of journalism: “Women are victims because they are women.” Here Richard Roeper cites obscure and questionable (Egyptian) statistics about trivial harassment of women in buses and on Cairo streets:” Such analysis is pure bandwagon. CBS and NPR are worse still, still desperately trying to hang the Logan assault on Mubarak.

Lara Logan wasn’t assaulted because she was a vulnerable, attractive woman caught in a city of fanny pinchers. She was attacked for the same reasons that Daniel Pearl was beheaded. She was a journalist (aka spy), an American, and thought to be a Jew. For too many in the Islamist and Arab world, such credentials are presumptive evidence that merits vigilante justice.

The most distressing fallout of the Lara Logan saga lies ahead. The Obama/Clinton team is unlikely to change the party line about the Arab League; full speed ahead with revolution, consequences be damned. And American journalists, especially women, are unlikely to stop their suicidal rooting for Islamic monoculture. In all of this, politicians and pundits will fail to see the hazards of haste and cultural denial - where the enemy of our enemies will never be our friends.


The author also writes at G. Murphy Donovan. This essay appeared in the 22 February 11 addition od American Thinker.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Rumsfeld: Truth is the Best Revenge

“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” – Thomas Jefferson

Donald Rumsfeld has written a book. Four years out of office, such tomes ought to be called “shots from the grave,” a fusillade of explanations after the fact. Such literature has a long and honored tradition.

Dwight Eisenhower wrote and spoke of the dangers of the “military/industrial complex” as he lounged on the 19th hole; and Maxwell Taylor sounded The Uncertain Trumpet about nuclear weapons as he left the Pentagon. Their arguments were bestsellers in their day, but that industry complex and those megatons are still with us. General Taylor was right about several things however, especially the need for Special Forces designed to fight below the nuclear threshold.

Media critics are no happier with Rumsfeld’s memoir, Known and Unknown, than they were with his tenure as Secretary of Defense. Reviewer angst begins with the title which is both a poke at detractors and a paraphrase of Rummy’s most famous soliloquy:

“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.”

This infamous quote is a velvet stiletto; a masterful parry - and twist of the knife; a kind of humility and honesty you seldom see in journalists. The Defense Secretary was telling the Press that there were things that he did not know; and that there were things that he and they might never know. In short, nobody has good answers to stupid questions.

The Fourth Estate hates such candor. Press scribblers prefer the comfort of lies to the discomforts of truth. This, and low standards, probably explains why Bill Clinton and Julian Assange have become Media idols – especially in America.

A survey of the reviews of Known and Unknown, reveals a uniform list of complaints – or better still, talking points. Rumsfeld is characterized as arrogant, combative, and dishonest; he is also charged with sanctioning torture and refusing to send enough troops to Iraq, almost precipitating a catastrophe. These complaints, in part or collectively, could be dismissed charitably as “bravo sierra!”

Gwen Ifill (of NPR) writing for the Washington Post is typical of the “hot wash-ups” on Rumsfeld’s book . Her brief 8 February book review contained at least two factual errors. Any writer who doesn’t know the difference between a civilian Service Secretary and a military Chief of Staff shouldn’t be writing about defense issues.

Donald Rumsfeld was indeed pugnacious, not a handicap for a warrior. The two-time Secretary of Defense was a college wrestler, a fighter pilot, and a retired Navy captain. He did not suffer fools gladly; his candor was often mistaken for arrogance. Alpha males are seldom appreciated among the girly men and khaki sniffers that frequent Pentagon press conferences.

The charges of sanctioned torture and of strategic incompetence are more serious, yet even less credible.

On the torture charges, there are multiple layers of civilian and military bureaucracy between the remote Abu Ghraib prison and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The military police responsible for the prisoners were poorly trained reservists from rural Cumberland, Maryland. The idea that any cabinet-level appointee would direct or condone torture of prisoners is ludicrous. A more likely culprit would be the Army Chief of Staff, the Army theater commander, or the on-site commander in Iraq.

The commander of the prison guards at Abu Ghraib was Brigadier General Janis Karpinski another reservist, a lady who pleaded ignorance about the criminal behavior under her nose. Karpinski also tried to implicate the Israelis in the Abu Ghraib fiasco. If anyone in DOD was blame worthy, or got a pass on their culpability, it was Karpinski. Instead of trying to hang Rumsfeld for Abu Ghraib, you would think that critics might want to ask the Army how and why Janis Karpinski dodged a court martial.

Karpinski was first demoted to colonel in the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal and then promoted back again to general by the Army before she was allowed to retire gracefully with full benefits.

And the claim that the “surge,” 30,000 fresh troops, was the only tactic that saved the day in Iraq is nonsense too. More critical was the decision to buy off Sunni al Qaeda supporters with bribes. Only when that money dries up, will we know which way that insurgency blows. In any case, having reversed the sectarian poles in Iraq, the last chapter of the Iraq ‘victory’ is yet to written.

The most malicious and mendacious charge against Rumsfeld concerns the now mythical Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. “They (Bush and Rumsfeld) lied and people died” critics cried. Trying to lay blame for the flawed 2002 Iraq National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) at the feet of the Secretary of Defense misrepresents responsibilities and history.

The bogus Iraq estimate was prepared by the Intelligence Community with George Tenet’s CIA in the lead. One of two footnotes (dissents) in the document was taken by the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence Research (INR). State analysts didn’t think the nuclear weapons evidence was convincing.

The deceptive speech at the UN was delivered by then Secretary of State Colin Powell. Tenet and Powell secreted themselves in the woods of Langley a week before the fateful speech in New York. Somewhere between Foggy Bottom and New York, Colin Powell was rolled. He contradicted his own State Department intelligence analysts at the United Nations.

Rumsfeld’s rap against Powell was that he couldn’t be trusted. Indeed,
since his retirement, Powell postures like Arianna Huffington; a kind of political hermaphrodite – a chap who could play for either team.

Rumsfeld’s criticism of the former Secretary of State is generous because no interpretation of Powell’s behavior in 2003 can be rationalized. He was; either ill-informed, incompetent, gullible, or mendacious. None of the options are flattering. Rumsfeld lets Powell off the hook by simply writing that he was “wrong.” Yet the bottom line is clear, if anyone cooked the intelligence books on Iraq, it was Tenet and Powell, not Rumsfeld and Bush.

Pundits are fond of claiming that “journalism is the first draft of history.” Unfortunately, political myth and innuendo sell better than facts. The real truth about Rumsfeld and the Press is their mutual contempt. And coverage of Rumsfeld isn’t the first draft of history as much as it is an insult to truth.


G. Murphy Donovan was the Senior USAF Research Fellow at RAND Corporation when Donald Rumsfeld served on the RAND Board of Directors. The author also writes at G. Murphy Donovan. This essay appeared previously in th American Thinker.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Body Bags on the Left

Rham Emanuel, heir apparent to Democrat Party fortunes in Chicago, once said that “you never want a crisis to go to waste.” Emanuel’s cynicism was a paraphrase of a maxim coined by a Stanford University economist. Nonetheless, in light of recent events in Tucson, Emanuel’s axiom seems to have taken root on the west side of the political spectrum.

Indeed, the recent murders in Arizona seem to be a political shill’s wet dream. Without evidence or trail, a liberal cop has come forward to politicize what, in another time, might be just another random, murderous tragedy. Complicit Media and venal politicians are giving political mayhem a megaphone.

Before the shell casings hit the ground, PBS claimed Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-Arizona) had been killed when in fact she was gravely wounded. Press reports on Arizona were similar to those on Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina when casualties were reported to reach 10,000. The actual casualties were a fraction of that number.

With the Arizona shootings, a small town cop, like then Mayor Nagin of New Orleans, shamed his profession and rose to instant prominence by rushing to judgment. Before the smoke cleared in the Safeway parking lot, Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, a Tucson Democrat, told all comers that Republican rhetoric was to blame for the shootings. Without judging the actual shooter, Sheriff Clarence Dupnik indicted conservative politicians and talk show hosts by name. No liberals or Democrats appeared on Dupnik’s hit list. President Obama called Dupnik to thank him for his help.

Sheriff Dupnik denied political motivation; yet continued to blast those he had wounded. Bigots, racists, gun control opponents, conservative politicians, and talk radio hosts took direct hits as the sheriff fired from the lip. Yet, Dupnik failed to speculate on the motives of the real gunman, Jared Lee Loughner, a dropout living with his parents. The hirsute killer was known to be a fan of Karl Marx, National Socialism, and marijuana – a liberal triptych.

A close reading of Clarence Dupnik’s interviews suggest that he and Loughner may suffer from similar delusions. The sheriff has leveled charges of racism, bias, and conspiracy without evidence or argument. Indeed, the entire state of Arizona was indicted by the Tucson Sheriff as a “Mecca (sic) for prejudice and bigotry.”

Clearly, political operatives and a sympathetic media would like to stem the recent Democratic electoral hemorrhage by laying the criminal violence in Phoenix at the feet of conservatives and Republicans. By any historical or contemporary measure, any attempt to link Republican politics to violent crime is bound to blowback.

From the end of the Civil War (1865) to the end of the Johnson administration (1968), the Democratic Party was the institutional support system for Jim Crow law, state sponsored segregation, and much of the depredations, including lynching and violent property confiscation, that plagued rural America for a hundred years. The Republican Party, in contrast, was a distinct product of the abolitionist movement. When Jim Crow lost its chokehold on Dixie, the Democrat plantation migrated to big cities.

Today, urban constituencies are mostly registered Democrats. The vast majority of big city mayors and legislators are Democrats also. Violent crime rates, in many of these liberal sinecures, are multiples of the numbers in flyover country. Two of the “most dangerous cities in the world,” Detroit and New Orleans, have been run by Democrats for generations. Some cities such as Miami and El Paso have never had a Republican mayor. Understandably, Chicago, the “most corrupt city in America,” does not submit crime statistics for national comparison.

The poverty and bankruptcy rates of Democrat cities show similar numbers. And large urban public schools are violent prep schools for large violent rural prisons where might makes right. Even a Democrat President does not consign his daughters to the hazards of “public” schooling in the nation’s capital. Of 51 state schools systems rated countrywide, the District of Columbia ranks next to last. If there is a link between violence, social pathology and any political party, the overwhelming statistical evidence points left.

Contemporary anecdotal evidence is also overwhelming. The Puerto Rican nationalists who tried to assassinate President Truman, a Democrat, were leftists. They were pardoned by a Democrat president. The man who successfully assassinated President Kennedy was a communist. The city of Chicago was besieged by violent leftists during the Democratic National Convention in 1968. The violent police response was authorized by a Democrat mayor. Almost all of the arson, violence, and urban riots of the 1960’s and 1970’s, including the District of Columbia, were sponsored by the professional left. Indeed, recreational arson may still be a Halloween tradition in long suffering Democrat bastions like Detroit.

The vast majority of apologists for Islamic terror and violence also hail from the academic and political left. Indeed, President Obama and Army Chief of Staff, George Casey, took to the airways to caution against any rush to judgment when a Muslim officer, Nidal Malik Hassan, massacred fellow soldiers at Fort Hood in 2009. No similar cautions have been offered in the wake of the Arizona tragedy.

On a personal level, the evidence is even more disturbing. Take the Michael Vick case where the President publicly commended the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles for giving Vick a second chance. Recall that Vick, Virginia Tech dropout, when not chucking a football, used to amuse himself by raising fighting dogs. When the dogs wouldn’t kill, Vick would kill the dogs – often with his bare hands. Obama’s favorite quarterback was convicted of several felonies before migrating to the “city of brotherly love” for millions. Vick gets second chances, while Sarah Palin gets torched.

Indeed, Palin has become ground zero for the metaphorical war. Sandra Bernhard says that Govenor Palin should be “gang raped by my big black brothers” when she comes to Manhattan. It’s not difficult to understand Palin’s gun metaphors or “reload” rhetoric when confronted with such threats. Loose cannons like Rahm Emanuel, John Kerry, Democrat members of Congress, and the president himself are also guilty of violent hyperbole.

Emanuel recently referred to ObamaCare opponents as “f--king retards”. Only an expert in rhetorical excess could mix two metaphors in two words and offend three liberal constituencies. Assuming the first term applies to men and women; surely the second word captures a portion of both sexes.

Democrat John Kerry joked on television about shooting Republican George Bush. Hard to believe Boston Democrats think assassination jokes are funny. A Democrat Senate candidate from West Virginia recently ran a political ad where he literally used a rifle to shoot an odious bill. And the President, never one to miss a teaching moment, uses violent metaphors like “bringing knives to gunfights.”

So we are left with several questions for the head of the free world. If that psycho pathetic animal abuser were some cracker quarterback from Wisconsin, would he merit the President’s public concern? And if judgments should be reserved on serial killers like Nidal Malik Hassan, shouldn’t Mrs. Palin be given the benefit of a doubt? And if we are to be concerned with virtual rhetoric on the right, shouldn’t the president show similar concern about actual violence among his constituents?

Three of the ten most dangerous Democrat cities in America are clustered in the President’s back yard; Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC. In 2009, the District of Columbia alone had 150 rapes, 144 homicides, 8,071 violent crimes, and 28,456 crimes against property. 5, 623 citizens have been murdered in the District in the past two decades according to Metro Police statistics. For perspective, in DC alone, this number nearly exceeds the number of US casualties in two wars during the same period. Unlike Iraq and Afghanistan, none of the DC victims are volunteers – yet, many are children.

In the last election, 90% of DC votes were cast for Democrats. The District is yet another city that has never had a Republican mayor or legislature. While rhetoric on the right may be subject to interpretation, the body bags on the left speak for themselves

When local and national Democrats try to attribute criminal mayhem to their opposite numbers, they breathe life into yet another violent metaphor – the circular firing squad.


The author was born into the Democrat Party in the Bronx and retained that affiliation until he became an adult. He also writes at Agnotology in Journalism and G. Murphy Donovan. A version of this essay appeared in American Thinker


About Me

The author is a native of the Bronx, a transplant to DC. He is a Vietnam veteran and former USAF Intelligence officer with tours at all of the major 3 button Intelligence agencies. He is a graduate of the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. School and Cardinal Hayes HS in NYC. He also has several degrees from less illustrious institutions. Check Six writes primarily at G. Murphy Donovan and Agnotology in Journalism. His work has appeared in various political, national security, and Intelligence journals.