Reza Aslan’s Deflection

Posted in War on Terror,World by Ryan on the October 3rd, 2014

I’ve seen a few people on Facebook post Media Matter’s edited clip from CNN where Reza Aslan berates the anchors for conducting a “stupid” conversation that could be defined as “bigotry.” Simply because they use the same term Mahrer uses (we don’t know, Media Matters doesn’t show Mahrer’s comments), or introduced it themselves, to identify issues prevalent in many or all Muslim countries as issues prevalent in many or all Muslim countries.

My initial comment was as follows:

Accusing people of bigotry is pretty serious. Aslan drops it without caution, apparently because of a difference in semantics in how to identify numerous Muslim nations through which several common issues are prevalent, but not exclusive across all Muslim nations.

He brings up the point about Somalia. Aslan’s rebuttal is that outside of this no Muslim majority countries have female genital mutilation issues, yet simply googling shows the practice is heavily prevalent in Mali and other Muslim majority countries. In Mahrer’s comments themselves he says that 91% of Egyptian women have been subjected to genital mutilation. All over into Asian Muslim countries it is still practiced. Imams on the Maldives have even recently called for it to continue. The nation he first references as a “Christian nation” that has a FGM problem in Africa is Eritrea. 50% Christian. 48% Muslim.

Religion doesn’t promote violence or peace? It’s what people bring to it? Well, in the last few years, an awful lot of horribly violent people have been bringing violence to Islam.

1 year ago, I wrote a blog post about some of the awful things going on around the globe just that week. Just that single week. Mass murder in a mall in Kenya. Hostages in gun battles in the Phillipines. Villagers massacred in Nigeria. Scores killed in a church bombing in Pakistan. A common thread connected all these events.

I don’t paint with a broad brush, but the brush I paint with thinks critically, is logical, is educated and realistic.

I grew up here in the DC area. I went to school with Muslims. I cut the grass for the Iraqi family in my neighborhood as a teenager, an Iranian family lives down the street. My last job had a recent grad that started working there who was Muslim. We had some fun chats about Islam and Mormons and Ramadan and so forth over the summer. I took the “Islam and the Gospel” class at BYU. Served a mission where the Ottoman Empire had been and a residual minority of Muslims remain. I have clear eyes on weeding out bad apples from good apples and assessing the big picture. I think everyone is best served by truth and honesty in observing facts as they stand with regard to the profound issues at play in so many Muslim countries, and what the common variable is again, and again, and again, and again.

Rather than address the elephant in the room and agree that people should embrace liberal values that ensure freedom for people to act and think as they will, [Aslan] hammers the semantics of using the term, “Muslim countries.” This does little to persuade me that he actually cares about these issues and really cares about seeing them solved in the countries they plague. He reluctantly admits to them, but seems more keen to emphasize that the hosts are skirting bigotry and conducting a “stupid” conversation because they identify huge swaths of Muslim countries as “Muslim countries.”

What exactly does Aslan thinks connects the countries with these issues? Race? Language? Economics? Or religion?

Bergdahl Prisoner Swap

Posted in President Obama,War on Terror by Ryan on the June 2nd, 2014

As details unfold about Bowe Bergdahl’s return from Taliban custody, I’m struck at how this is similar to Benghazi. In the sense that it isn’t just a singularly bad event, but a multi-faceted debacle of several interconnected parts, none of which are positive.



Before: Multiple official requests for more security and precautions following security incidents went unheeded to the point of dereliction of duty on the part of those responsible within the State Department.

During: Limited or no substantive action was taken to respond in real time to requests for assistance during the hours long attack. Both this and the previous point resulted in the deaths of four Americans, most notably, an active United States Ambassador.

After: The Obama administration took the politically convenient route of affirmatively asserting that an internet video was to blame.



Before: Personal email and new statements from soldiers within his unit strongly suggest Bergdahl went AWOL from his base.

During: Several soldiers were killed during search and recovery operations and asset reassignment related to his disappearance.

After: The furthest reaching ramification I can think of from this entire event is the terrible precedent of exchanging several captives for a US service member. From now into the future, there can be a plausible expectation that the United States government will negotiate on these types of terms.




Controlling the Image

Posted in Government,President Obama,U.S. by Ryan on the May 13th, 2014

Interesting video about how the White House has denied access at times to control the image of the President.

This video references some of the images I include on my satirical Tumblr site,  It is exclusively dedicated to photos from the official @WhiteHouse and @BarackObama Twitter feeds intended to highlight other things, but just end up as hero shots of Obama.

Chasing the Cause Célèbre

Posted in Media Bias,War on Terror,World by Ryan on the May 7th, 2014
#488448737 /

Some stories get a lot of coverage, others don’t. The reasons why should give us all pause to consider how we understand the world and how we react to things in it.

There have been stories about Boko Haram killing hundreds in Nigeria for months now. However, I don’t recall them being front page news like the current stories about the abduction of large numbers of girls. The gender specific nature of the victims seems to have elevated the evil of Boko Haram to new levels, even attracting the attention of US Senators and prompting a letter signed by all 20 female United States Senators.

Senator Susan Collins of Maine is even calling for US Special Forces to be used to help recover the girls.

The debate of using US troops aside, it is striking how hundreds of people being massacred, and students being mercilessly killed doesn’t elicit a great deal of attention until something more emotionally tangible happens that aligns well with more contemporary themes.

I’m wondering why these 20 senators did not sign a letter when 29 students were killed by the same group as mentioned in one of the articles linked above.

Suspected Islamic militants killed 29 students in a pre-dawn attack Tuesday on a northeast Nigerian school, survivors said, setting ablaze a locked dormitory and shooting and slitting the throats of those who escaped through windows. Some were burned alive.

Boko Haram is bad, and we should react uniformly to its actions, just as we should react uniformly to any perpetration of evil, bigotry or violence. Leaders, journalists and concerned citizens need to stop chasing the day’s cause célèbre and actually be informed to react in a principled manner to events in our world.

The Lying Left

Posted in Media Bias,U.S. by Ryan on the May 6th, 2014

The last couple of months, I’ve given this some thought as I’ve distilled some recent observations into a straightforward conclusion. I suppose I’ve always known this, but it is worth stating succinctly.

The left lies.

They lie about many things to achieve various policy objectives and to sway public opinion. The right however is much less inclined to fabricate, deceive and lie. This puts the right in the difficult position of having to laboriously explain and clarify to mitigate untruths.

Exhibit A: Women make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes
This is a great emotional rallying cry for many to latch onto as proof of gender inequality and create a partisan wedge. To engage on the point, the right has to expend a mountain of words to explain that the methodology and logic to arrive at this figure is flawed.

Exhibit B: 8 million people signed up for Obamacare
President Obama recently declared victory with with the Affordable Care Act and declared it a success with no need for further debate. To dispute this simple claim takes a paragraph to explain all the missing data and demographic information that would actually validate or invalidate this claim as successful.

Disputing these assertions of 77 cents or 8 million don’t just take more time to explain, but the energy required to combat and overcome an “original” premise that is so widely asserted takes much more effort than simply making the original assertion. In fact, without the media’s help, I’m not sure how it can be done. Were the right to lie as regularly, the media would dissemble the lies quickly and question those disseminating them. When the left does it, they rarely question them but instead often just parrot the lies without any investigative inquiry or curiosity about their origins in fact.

I’ve been musing about the inherent disadvantage the right is under because of how it has more loyalty to truth than the left does. The left misrepresents facts to achieve political goodwill for their policies, and because there is often some grain of truth inside of the larger mistruth, they take advantage of human emotion and they’re able to maintain their original assertion for much longer than they should. Sometimes indefinitely.

The right needs to find ways to counter this tactic of the left with honest but effective slogans, statements or assertions that are just as potent and emotionally attractive. Truth will always, eventually, overcome fiction.

Sebelius Surprised to See Something Missing

Posted in Government Incompetence & Waste by Ryan on the April 11th, 2014

No doubt her staff assured her everything was in order.

Strike That, Reverse It

Posted in Election 2016,Media Bias by Ryan on the April 11th, 2014

A woman hurled a shoe at Hillary Clinton on Thursday during a speech in Las Vegas, according to the Secret Service.

She ducked and it missed her, joking afterward about the incident that occurred during an appearance before a recycling trade group.

The CNN article is here.

The shoe missed her, and then she ducked. After the fact. Too late to matter.

George W. Bush had a shoe thrown at him. He actually ducked, and it missed him.

Not sure if it is one of those little mix ups where CNN’s Political Unit is simply lazy and doesn’t care to be exact, or if they’re trying to massage something out of nothing. That Hillary is somehow agile and deft when she is not.

Zakaria and the Bliss of Ignorance?

Posted in Government,Media Bias,President Obama,U.S. by Ryan on the October 5th, 2013

Zakaria’s thought lapses strike again.

That is what is at stake in Washington this week. The debate going on there is not trivial, not transitory – and not about Obamacare. Whatever you think about the Affordable Care Act, it is a law that was passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate, then signed by the president, and then validated by the Supreme Court as constitutional. This does not mean it cannot be repealed. Of course it can be repealed, as can most laws. But to do so, it would need another piece of legislation – one that says quite simply “The Affordable Care Act is hereby repealed in its entirely” – that passes the House and Senate and is then signed into law by the president.

He either dishonestly or ignorantly fails to acknowledge the alterations President Obama undertook to delay various portions of the law, circumventing the legislative process. No mention. And yet, when a legislative action is used to somewhat more constitutionally adjust the law, it is extortion and democracy itself weeps.


Islamic Terror

Posted in Media Bias,War on Terror,World by Ryan on the September 23rd, 2013

I’ve been struck the past couple of days just how many large scale events have recently taken place around the world involving Muslim extremists. Particularly noteworthy has been the underwhelming reporting. Were these Christian extremists or some other “unsavory variety” of terror to a progressive mindset, I think the media would be fixated on the wave of violence sweeping the world. I suppose this is the new normal, to either shrug off murder from extreme Islamic adherents as a regularity to be tolerated, or to treat it as non-representative of the whole of Islam and bury the headlines down the page. I wonder if the mall in Kenya got a lot of attention because it most closely resembles a western venue?

Mass murder in a mall in Kenya.

Hostages in gun battles in the Phillipines.

Villagers massacred in Nigeria.

Scores killed in a church bombing in Pakistan.

It is sad these things are happening and I hope apologists for Islam more conspicuously recognize the cancer of extremism from within.

Tra La La La La

Posted in President Obama by Ryan on the August 17th, 2013

Obama Vacations On Martha's Vineyard

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