The Junior Varsity Team

A rehash, number 4

Recapitulating from before:

To be sure, the President caught much flak over that remark, and to additional surprise I defended the remark. I considered ISIS, also known as Daesh, to be a JV team. I since explained my logic:

If ISIS is not JV, then who is? Here are the facts about ISIS:

  • No firm control over defined geography
  • No significant industrial base
  • Dependent on external clients for financial support
  • Fluid or weak bureaucracy
  • Ill-defined legal structure
  • Weak technological and intellectual resources

That was President Obama catching flak for calling Daesh a JV team, and that was me explaining why they did not make the varsity. Also, that was years ago, back when Daesh was taking weapons and vehicles away from the Iraqi army and occupying territory like ants on a wedding cake. In the meantime the Iraqis have begun to take civil defense seriously, and American forces have agreed to move into Syria seriously. The civilized world has been running up the score against the JV team for months now, and it’s beginning to look like Europe in April 1945. That would include a flood of rats deserting a decaying corpse:

US citizen fighting for ISIS captured in Syria

(CNN) — The US military has detained a US citizen who had been fighting with ISIS in Syria, a Pentagon spokesman confirmed to CNN Thursday.

“Syrian Democratic Forces turned over to US forces an American citizen who surrendered to the SDF on or around September 12,” US Marine Corps Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway told CNN, referring to the US-backed Kurdish led group fighting ISIS in Syria.

The news item from CNN further relates there has been an increase in Daesh fighters giving up, essentially saying that joining a JV team to take on the civilized world turned out not to be such a good idea. Apparently one of those calling it quits was a local commander, who surrendered to SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) within the past week. Apparently losing is a real turn-off and does not come close to the adrenaline rush of cutting off people’s heads, selling young girls into slavery, and demolishing thousands of years of human history.

CNN further notes that Daesh has proven to be less a draw in the United States than in various Western European countries. Piling on, a relentless string of defeats has emphasized its JV status, making Daesh a less appealing outlet for people dissatisfied with modern civilization.

The Washington Post has reported on the conviction in an American court of a man who went to Syria to fight for the second stringers:

A Virginia man, Mohamad Khweis, was convicted in federal court in June of supporting terrorism after he surrendered in early 2016 to Kurdish forces in Iraq who turned him over to the American military there.

Khweis, due to be sentenced next month, said he had traveled undetected from Fairfax County to join the Islamic State in Syria but at the time of his capture had deserted the militants and was trying to make his way home.

Yes, realizing that you made a big mistake and then attempting to unwind past misdeeds does not bring you back into the good graces of society. Once you have shown your true colors and stepped across the line into barbarism, you have—or you should have—lost the confidence of the the mentally stable world.

This story is going to have life for years to come. The disintegration of Daesh as a force on the battlefield is not going to end religious numb-skullery as an appeal to our darker nature. People are going to continue to invoke illusionary thinking to justify obnoxious behavior. Daesh presents one such outlet, and the meme will continue to draw disaffected souls long after all Daesh territory has been expunged of their presence. We are about to see what outlets JV team aspirants turn to over the coming years. The view of a cop standing watch with an automatic weapon is going to be with us for a while.

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Chris Kyle Saga Continues

338MAG

In my review of American Sniper by Chris Kyle I mentioned his run-in with another former Navy SEAL, Jesse Ventura:

The death of Chris Kyle did not put to rest the litigation with former SEAL Jesse Ventura. In his book, without explicitly naming Ventura, Kyle recounts the former governor made disparaging remarks about current SEAL activities, and Kyle decked him in a barroom fight. Ventura denied the encounter ever took place and sued Kyle for defamation. One might think that Kyle’s untimely death would have put an end to the suit, but Ventura has continued the litigation, this time against the Kyle estate. The issue has not been resolved as of this date.

Here is what Kyle said in his book:

We went back over to our side of the bar and had a few more drinks. In the meantime, Scruff started running his mouth about the war and everything and anything he could connect to it. President Bush was an asshole. We were only over there because Bush wanted to show up his father. We were doing the wrong thing, killing men and women and children and murdering.

And on and on. Scruff said he hates America and that’s why he moved to Baja California. 9/11 was a conspiracy.

And on and on some more.

The guys were getting upset. Finally, I went over and tried to get him to cool it. “We’re all here in mourning,” I told him. “Can you just cool it? Keep it down.”

“You deserve to lose a few,” he told me.

Then he bowed up as if to belt me one.

I was uncharacteristically level-headed at that moment.

“Look,” I told him, “why don’t we just step away from each other and go on our way?”

Scruff bowed up again. This time he swung.

Being level -headed and calm can last only so long. I laid him out.

Tables flew. Stuff happened. Scruff Face ended up on the floor.

Kyle, Chris; McEwen, Scott; DeFelice, Jim (2013-10-15). American Sniper: Memorial Edition (p. 311). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

That was some bad stuff, and it goes  heavily against the former governor of Minnesota. Except for three things:

  • In the book Kyle never mentioned Ventura by name.
  • Ventura denied this stuff ever happened.
  • Subsequently in interviews Kyle stated the person in question was indeed the former SEAL.

Chris Kyle included a brief account in his book of a confrontation at a bar in Coronado, California, with a man he called “Scruff Face.” In promotional interviews, Kyle identified the man as Ventura, a former SEAL who became a pro wrestler and movie actor before being elected for one term as Minnesota governor in 1998. Ventura was in Coronado for a SEAL reunion and graduation ceremony.

Ventura may not be the most popular person in SEAL society. For one thing, he was never in combat:

Ventura has frequently referred to his military career in public statements and debates. He was criticized by hunters and conservationists for stating in an interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribunein April 2001, “Until you have hunted men, you haven’t hunted yet.”

In January 2002, Ventura – although he had never outright claimed combat service in Vietnam, but heavily suggested it – disclosed that he had not seen combat. He was stationed at Subic Bay in the Philippines, and for this he received the Vietnam Service Medal, given to all military personnel who supported the war effort even though stationed outside South Vietnam.

[Some links deleted]

Also, he does not fit the traditional mold of a John Wayne conservative. While conservatives like to picture our war fighters as deeply devout Christians, Ventura voiced the opinion that “Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers.”

Ventura sued Chris Kyle for defamation, and the suit went forward after Kyle was murdered last year. Now a jury in Minneapolis has ruled in favor of Ventura:

A jury in Minnesota awarded $1.845 million in damages Tuesday to former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, deciding that he was defamed by the late Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle who said he punched Ventura out in a bar in 2006 after the former governor said the SEALs “deserved to lose a few” in war.

That may not settle that. The Kyle estate may appeal the verdict. That might be difficult. Many present at the alleged bar fight have testified that the events in questioned never happened. If the story is not true, then why did Kyle put it in the book? And why did he not offer a retraction in the face of testimony to contrary. The problem is there was not all that much time. Kyle’s book came out in 2012, and he was killed a few weeks later. Not much time for lawyers to straighten things out.

A continuing problem is that other statements by Kyle have not checked out:

As described in D Magazine but not in his autobiography, Kyle was accosted by two robbers at a Dallas area gas station in 2010. According to Kyle, the two robbers were armed and asked for money as well as Kyle’s truck. Kyle was able to divert the robbers’ attention by claiming he had to find his keys, after which he shot and killed both robbers. According to this report, Kyle was released by police after they called the Department of Defense and were told that Kyle was one of the country’s most skilled fighters. Kyle also claimed to, with a friend, shoot and kill 30 looters from the roof of the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina. Reporters have unsuccessfully attempted to verify both stories.

[Some links deleted]

All that said, sentiment still runs against Ventura. Not known for being a right-wing conservative, CNN reporter Anderson Cooper has decried the continued suit against a dead man. Weighing in on the controversy, Kyle has a strong following among conservative groups. When he was killed last year one of my conservative Facebook friends lamented that President Obama ordered flags lowered over the death of singer Whitney Houston, but not for American hero Chris Kyle. In the true fashion of much conservative comment, this had a couple of things going against it. The President did not order the flag lowered for Whitney Houston, and if we lowered the flag for every war veteran killed at home in a gun fight we would have no use for the top half of the flag pole.

Call me a bleeding heart liberal if you want, but in spite of his short comings I am a fan of Kyle. I even bought his book.

I am also a fan of Jesse Ventura. I never was into the phony wrestling game, but I enjoyed his movies, especially when he teamed up with Schwarzenegger in Predator. I also enjoy that Ventura has a way of telling it like it is in the face of conservative opposition.

Ventura claimed in his suit that he lost revenue (he’s a public performer) due to Kyle’s defamation, and he wanted to get some if back. Kyle’s book has brought millions to his estate, and the movie, coming out next year, is likely to bring in more. Kyle left a widow and a young child, so Ventura’s gain is going to be their loss. I am guessing Kyle’s survivors will still be set for the future even after paying the award and the lawyers. From what I have heard about the case and the other background information, it might be best if his widow lets the matter drop.

Some have remarked that everybody loses this one. I agree.

Palin Palin

Photo by Daniel X. O'Neil from Wikipedia

Photo by Daniel X. O’Neil from Wikipedia

The low down is that I have been catching a lot of flak the past few months. There are complaints that I waste too much blog space on former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

Nah.

The fact is I waste just the right amount of blog space on Sarah Palin. And besides, I haven’t been catching all that much flak.

Here’s what I had to say a few months ago:

It was summer of 2008, and I swear I was minding my own business. The news item on my computer screen said that John McCain had just picked Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. That’s the instant I knew.

It was game over. The next president of the United States was going to be Barack Obama. Thank you, Sarah.

This country will never forget how much it owes the since resigned governor of Alaska. And I won’t, either. I can only hope that, unlike Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin remains active on the political scene for years to come. At least until the time comes when I am no longer able to crawl to my keyboard.

So, Ed, what gift does Sarah Palin have for today’s guests? I’m glad you asked, David. It’s a Facebook posting:

[27 July, 2:07 p.m.]

My Challenge to the Washington Post

To reclaim your credibility (and the mainstream media’s, at large), I challenge you to engage in the same aggressive investigative journalism you courageously employed 42 years ago covering President Nixon. The public knows of our current president’s incompetence, denials, and cover-ups, but would be well served if we could count on your resources to dig deep for truth in all matters pertaining to Team Obama.

One example: your reporters kept tracking an obscure break-in story and that led to revealing a grave problem in the White House. The Washington Post’s reputation soared as the model of good journalism. Today, you’ve fallen like a lead balloon. Whereas you once doggedly covered the 18.5 minute gap in Nixon’s White House communications, you’ve virtually ignored the Obama Administration’s 1.2 million minutes of deleted communications by just one of the agencies under Obama’s executive branch. I’m speaking of the Lois Lerner IRS harassment-of-conservatives scandal wherein Lerner “lost” pertinent email communications. You’ve allowed Obama to skate with his proclamation that absolutely no wrongdoing occurred at the IRS, “not even a smidgen.”

The list of Obama abuses and impeachable offenses is long. I challenge you to lift a finger and help protect democracy, allow justice for all, and ensure domestic tranquility by doing your job reporting current corrupt events fairly. If not, you prove yourselves incompetent and in bed with Obama, not caring one iota about media integrity.

Those running the Washington Post’s show now, compared to those during the Nixon era, are too afraid of being uninvited to the permanent political class’ cocktail parties and petty gossip fests, making you all a bunch of wusses. I challenge you to get to work.

– Sarah Palin

That’s what Sarah Palin is all about. She’s looking out for us and setting The Washington Post straight on some things. See, this is what happened: The Washington Post used to practice good investigative journalism. Forty years ago Robert Woodward and Carl Bernstein, working for The Washington Post, latched onto the story of a burglary at the Watergate headquarters of the Democratic National Party, and they kept digging and kept uncovering juicy details until they were finally able to lay bare the facts that brought down President Nixon and some criminal elements associated with him.

Those days are gone now, according to Palin. The Post has lost its vim. It’s a shadow of the public service it was 40 years ago. It’s a lead balloon.

And Palin illustrates with an example.

The list of Obama abuses and impeachable offenses is long. I challenge you to lift a finger and help protect democracy, allow justice for all, and ensure domestic tranquility by doing your job reporting current corrupt events fairly. If not, you prove yourselves incompetent and in bed with Obama, not caring one iota about media integrity.

See that? The Post is in bed with the current administration. They have lost their moral compass (my interpretation).

Sure, Obama and his cohorts are getting away with all sorts of nefarious stuff. and the Post is keeping quiet about it, because they are “too afraid of being uninvited to the permanent political class’ cocktail parties and petty gossip fests …” And how does Palin know all this Obama stuff is going on? She has her own sources, just as we have our own sources. One of the sources she cites it The Washington Post.

[20 July 2014]

Obama Knew of Border “Crisis” Prior to Reelection; Lied About That, Too!

The Washington Post has a bombshell article out about how “top officials at the White House and the State Department had repeatedly been warned of the potential for a further explosion in the number of migrant children since the crisis began escalating two years ago.”

The White House didn’t want to deal with the issue because they were focused on Obama’s 2012 reelection and the push for amnesty, and this burgeoning crisis didn’t look good for the President politically. So they willfully ignored it and in fact actively stoked it when Obama issued his own version of the DREAM Act by executive fiat, which led the illegal immigrants to believe they would be granted amnesty.

Here are the two questions Congress needs to demand answers to: What did the President know and when did he know it?

You may recall that those questions were asked of another President who was also the subject of a Washington Post expose.

– Sarah Palin

See, The Washington Post gave Sarah Palin the ammunition she needed to slam The Washington Post. If that’s not poetic justice, then I’m a Duck Dynasty dude.

What is good that has come out of this is we now know Sarah Palin is back to reading national news publications. Those bad old times of being waylaid by the likes of Katie Couric are hopefully in the past.

COURIC: And when it comes to establishing your world view, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this — to stay informed and to understand the world?

PALIN: I’ve read most of them again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media, coming f—

COURIC: But like which ones specifically? I’m curious that you—

PALIN: Um, all of ’em, any of ’em that, um, have, have been in front of me over all these years. Um, I have a va—

COURIC: Can you name a few?

PALIN: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news too. Alaska isn’t a foreign country, where, it’s kind of suggested and it seems like, ‘Wow, how could you keep in touch with what the rest of Washington, D.C. may be thinking and doing when you live up there in Alaska?’ Believe me, Alaska is like a microcosm of America.

Sarah, if The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News, The Los Angeles Times and those other rag sheets won’t give you the lowdown on the evils of government, you can always read my blog. Only, please promise not to be too harsh on me. I have a gentle nature and am easily offended.

And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

One More Time

SchoolShooter

Readers,

Welcome back to the Skeptical Analysis blog. I took the weekend off, but I’m back now, and I need something to comment on. I’m thinking I will start off with the School Shooting of the Week. Do we have a school shooting for the week?

Yes, I’m just getting word from the control booth that the first school shooting this week has already taken place, and we are ready to report on it. Let’s roll the tape:

(CNN) — The man accused of opening fire at a Seattle college had a fascination with school shootings, telling investigators he had once visited Columbine High School, a police source told CNN affiliate KIRO on Friday.

According to the unnamed police source, the suspect admitted to the attack and told police he “wanted to shoot up a school.”

Aaron Ybarra, 26, of Mountlake Terrace, was ordered held without bail in connection with the shooting at Seattle Pacific University that left one dead and two wounded, Leesa Manion, a spokeswoman for the King County prosecutor, said. Charges against Ybarra are pending, she said.

The shooting at the university on Thursday afternoon began when a man armed with a shotgun opened fire inside Otto Harris Hall, which houses the engineering, math and science departments.

Authorities say the gunman walked into the building’s foyer, confronted three students and then shot them.

The shooting rampage ended when a student security guard doused the shooter with pepper spray and tackled him as he tried to reload his shotgun, police said.

I apologize for that, dear readers. That was last week’s school shooting. The control room is working to get this enormous FUBAR straightened out, and we will bring you that story shortly.

OK. The control room says they have it now. They are sure (heh heh) they’ve got the right tape. Here it is, readers, this week’s first school shooting:

A shooting at a high school in northern Oregon near Portland on Tuesday left one student and the gunman dead, the local police chief said.

At a televised news conference, chief Scott Anderson told reporters the violent situation, which began at 8 a.m., was contained and over.

The chief said one student was fatally shot in the attack on Reynolds High School and the gunman was dead. No names were given.

CNN had earlier reported that some injuries had been sustained in the shooting, but neither of two local fire departments that responded to the scene, nor a private ambulance service, American Medical Response, have transported any patients from the school, officials from those agencies said.

The police official said that 30 to 40 Troutdale officers were on the scene. Multnomah County Sheriff’s deputies also responded, police said.

Television footage showed police officers in helmets and tactical gear, leaving armored vehicles and running near the school’s perimeter with long rifles. Students were seen streaming out of the school with their hands raised.

And that’s it for starters, folks. And what good news it is. Only one student killed, no others injured. And the shooter is dead! Yes dead. Obviously a victory for our efforts at responsible gun ownership. Let’s keep it up, my fellow Americans. We are making progress toward a safer and saner America.

And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

The Rest of the Story

Only kidding.

IMG_4084

The title is a line made famous by radio commentator Paul Harvey:

Paul Harvey Aurandt (September 4, 1918 – February 28, 2009), better known as Paul Harvey, was a conservative American radio broadcaster for the ABC Radio Networks. He broadcast News and Comment on weekday mornings and mid-days, and at noon on Saturdays, as well as his famous The Rest of the Story segments. From the 1950s through the 1990s, Harvey’s programs reached as many as 24 million people a week. Paul Harvey News was carried on 1,200 radio stations, 400 Armed Forces Network stations and 300 newspapers. His success with sponsors stemmed from the seamlessness with which he segued from his monologue into reading commercial messages. He explained his relationship with them, saying “I am fiercely loyal to those willing to put their money where my mouth is.”

Harvey’s monologues typically built up an innocuous tale as a teaser then took a break with the line, “Next, the rest of the story.” The rest of the story would be a twist, a surprise outcome, a point he wanted to make.

In that light there is the sad tale of Elliot Rodgers who killed six people and himself in a rampage in the small community of Isla Vista, California, last month. From all reports Elliot Rodgers was the son of a wealthy motion picture director (had is own BMW motorcar) and had severe mental problems. On the 23rd of May he knifed three people to death in his apartment and drove through the streets of Isla Vista, shooting to death three people and wounding eight more with gunfire and injuring another five with his car. He killed himself with his handgun.

That, my friends, is a truly horrific event. Now we have “the rest of the story.”

Well, someone was gonna do it, and it might as well be Family Research Council scholar Ken Blackwell.

Blackwell discussed the recent UCSB shootings during a radio interview with FRC president Tony Perkins (of course), and suggested that, of all things, marriage equality was responsible for Elliot Rodger’s rampage last week that left seven people dead. Blackwell, the former Republican mayor of Cincinnati, blamed the shootings on “the teaching of sexual roles and the development of human sexuality in our culture.

“When these fundamental institutions are attacked and destroyed and weakened and abandoned, you get what we are now seeing, and that is a flood of disturbed people in our society that are causing great pain,” he continued.

He also hinted that America didn’t want to have the conversation about how gay marriage is turning kids into psychopaths, and instead turn to “blaming the Second Amendment, or blaming knives, or blaming cars… This is a convenient way of avoiding what is the root cause.”

Now you know the rest of the story. The reason six people were murdered is because of marriage equality. Who would have expected? Too bad Paul Harvey is no longer around to intone the end notes for us. The suspense would have been breathtaking.

Before passing on to a deeper analysis, let me pause on Blackwell’s keen insight. We are “blaming the Second Amendment, or blaming knives, or blaming cars” instead of looking at the root cause. Obviously the root cause was not the Second Amendment. Neither was it knives or cars—or guns I might add. The root cause is people who have access to knives and cars and guns who should not. It became obvious May 23rd Elliott Rodgers was one of those people who should not have had access to any of these. Also it has become obvious that “gay marriage is turning kids into psychopaths,” and instead of addressing this problem we turn to “blaming the Second Amendment, or blaming knives, or blaming cars… This is a convenient way of avoiding what is the root cause.”

I am going to take a while to digest that.

I’m back. Here’s a link from Right Wing Watch to Ken Blackwell’s interview with Tony Perkins:

Just who is this Ken Blackwell, whose insight into the Isla Vista killings we find so helpful? He has many notable accomplishments to his name, besides some others. Here is a brief from the Family Research Council (FRC):

FRC STAFF

Ken Blackwell

Senior Fellow, Family Empowerment

Ken Blackwell is the Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment at the Family Research Council. He serves on the board of directors of the Club for Growth and the National Taxpayers Union. He is also a member of the public affairs committee of the NRA. Mr. Blackwell is a columnist for the New York Sun, a contributing editor for the conservative news and opinion site townhall.com, and a frequent public affairs commentator for the Salem Radio Network.

In 2004, the American Conservative Union honored Mr. Blackwell with the John M. Ashbrook Award for his steadfast conservative leadership. Past recipients of the award include president Ronald Reagan and Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick.

If you are not acquainted with the FRC, Wikipedia provides additional information:

The Family Research Council (FRC) is an American conservative Christian group and lobbying organization formed in the United States in 1981 by James Dobson. It was incorporated in 1983. In the late 1980s, the FRC officially became a division of Dobson’s main organization, Focus on the Family, but after an administrative separation, the FRC became an independent entity in 1992. Tony Perkins is the current president.

The FRC promotes what it considers to be traditional family values, by advocating and lobbying for socially conservative policies. It opposes and lobbies against LGBT rights (such as same-sex marriage and LGBT adoption), abortiondivorceembryonic stem-cell research and pornography. The FRC is affiliated with a 501(c)(4) lobbying PAC known as FRC Action. In 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) classified the FRC as an anti-gay hate group, a designation which generated controversy. In 2012, a security guard working at the FRC headquarters was shot by a man who saw the organization listed on the SPLC’s web site.

[Some links removed]

Blackwell’s insight does not stop at the “wacko kid with weapons and a car” boundary. As a loyal NRA advocate he takes left wing liberals to task for focusing too much on the guns. This is from Western Journalism:

Ken Blackwell of the Family Research Council appeared on MSNBC’s “The Brain Trust” to hammer liberals for focusing only on guns in the aftermath of the Santa Barbara shootings when other weapons were used as well.

Hey, fellow liberals, it appears Blackwell has a point here. You had better listen up.

Actually, I have a standard response to this kind of argument. It goes like this:

Hey, let’s you and I fight.

OK.

We’re going to use weapons.

All right!

Here’s a gun, and here’s a knife. You take your pick, and I’ll take what’s left.

In my imagination the first choice is always the gun. I would like to hear from anybody who thinks differently.

Elliott killed three people with a knife and mowed down five with his car. Take the gun out of the equation, and how many of those killed or injured that day would have preferred he only had a knife and a car? Take your time answering this.

Sloth, Inc.

Not too many posts recently. Blame it on laziness. Or something else:

GrassCoveredEast

In order to reduce my weekly mowing time I’ve decided to reduce the amount of grass to be mowed. Here’s for starters.

GrassGoneSouth

And I’m getting rid of the last bit of grass in that niche between the house and the fence on the north side.

PlantsPlanted

And I’m (Barbara Jean and I) are planting plants where grass existed this time last year.

Finally, this morning I took delivery on six cubic yards of grass-be-gone.

DumpingGravel

Then I stopped by Home Depot and got 20 more patio stones. So, if I’ve not been posting much recently, I have my excuses.