Friday, January 14, 2005

Not that hard

Today's flap is the deferral by American courts to those of other countries, which was the subject of a debate between Justices Breyer and Scalia. I'd be happy if they'd just give more deference to the will of the people as expressed in laws passed by legislatures. Citing foreign judicial decisions as authorities for judicial opinions here strikes me as a lot like the teenager whining about her mother's refusal to allow her to get her navel pierced, "But all the other kids' mothers let them do it." We all know the answer to that.

It sounds like a foolhardy practice. Even if a decision doesn't actually follow foreign jurisprudence, merely mentioning it would bring down fire and brimstone. This whole subject brings up the issue of whether the Iraq War is illegal. Before you follow someone else, make sure he knows where he's going and is wise.

So THAT'S why I don't have readers!

IMAO states, "The average diet of a blogger is bourbon and Pop-Tarts."

I don't drink alcohol, so I'm not really a part of that great brother/sisterhood. I understand there are claims that alcohol gives one a perspective that is unique to being intoxicated.

Please, no hearings

Hugh Hewitt is beating the drum for a Congressional investigation into the case of the anachronistic memos. Why?

His answer is that CBS was tampering with our elections, but the founders understood that and passed the First Amendment anyway. What could be accomplished by such hearings, beyond embarrassing CBS further? No new regulations could be enacted. It would amount to a political show, but nothing more, and it would waste millions of dollars, without telling us anything we don't already know or suspect. I know that hearings give politicians an opportunity to bloviate, but they get enough of those already. I prefer the debate on the blogosphere.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Just heard Mark Steyn on Hugh Hewitt

He describes the efforts to prop up CBS as trying to be a gatekeeper when the whole wall has collapsed.

I think that there will always be TV news, but the broadcasters won't return to their unquestioned dominance again. People have cable. They can turn on four or five all news channels any time they want. They don't need to wait until 5:30 or 6:00 p.m. for Dan Rather.

More on Fineman's piece

Howard Fineman's otherwise honorable admission that the AMMP (American Mainstream Media Party) is toast is marred by its subtext. He can't resist a bunch of digs at George W. Bush, and he seems to be nostalgic when the presidents felt that they had no choice but to endure press conferences that were nothing but sniping. Note little dig:
Now the AMMP is reeling, and not just from the humiliation of CBS News. We have a president who feels it's almost a point of honor not to hold more press conferences � he's held far fewer than any modern predecessor � and doesn't seem to agree that the media has any "right" to know what's really going in inside his administration.
I'd like Fineman to show me where in the Constitution it gives the press a "right" to have the president come out and play the duck in the shooting gallery. People watching these things have to be impressed with the overt hostility toward George Bush from the White House Press Corps. When he gives them a press conference, they waste the whole thing demanding that he apologize for the fact that no stockpiles of WMD were found in Iraq. That isn't what serious Americans want to know. If they had shown a scintilla of respect and real interest in serious questions, he probably wouldn't be so reluctant to give them time, but why should he waste his time letting them practice Gotcha on him. He's got more important things to do with his time than play games with a bunch of spoiled hecklers. Fineman seems to have realized how obnoxious these reporters sound to fair-minded people, and he even seems to realize that the media are themselves responsible for it. But he still doesn't get the fact that George Bush has an integrity that shines through to ordinary Americans despite the best efforts of the AMMP to torpedo him. They really should get out more and get in touch with real people instead of cocooning themselves inside the Beltway and listening to CNN and NPR all day.

He starts out his piece by invoking the "us vs. them" attitude that put them on the wrong side of the last elections, talking about George Bush's Republican Party which he writes, is, with its "opposition, (or worse, [its] casual disdain)" is destroying the "mainstream media." That is just hogwash. The mainstream media is imploding. It's own arrogance and elitism brought it to this pass, not Bush or Karl Rove or Roger Ailes. The market for liberal spin and snarky attacks on the president is shrinking. The market for conservative alternatives has been discovered and it is being served, but the people themselves now have the means to talk back to the media, and that's what has really changed things.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

No censorship here, either.

A product to block your cable box from letting Fox news channel get to your TV set is on sale. No censorship. Just pretty silly. If you don't let them see it at home, they'll just learn about it from the gutter.

Good idea; bad idea

Rumsfeld may authorize special services hit-squads to fight the terrorists in Iraq. Good idea.

A purported CIA man says Bin Laden should remain at large. First, how good a spook can he be if he identifies himself to the press? Second, it's not as if we had him in our sights. Third, it's a stupid idea.

Correcting Ron Brownteins headline writer

Actually, I'd say Bush's Budget Moves Have Made Future Generations of Workers Less Likely to Be Voiceless Victims of Baby-boom Retirees. (Thank goodness, Memeorandum doesn't require registration.)

It's not censorship!

"Library officials in two southern Mississippi counties have banned Jon Stewart's best-selling "America (The Book)" over the satirical textbook's nude depictions of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices."

These people didn't "ban" anything. They just refused to purchase the book for their libraries, which is their right and responsibility. They can't buy every new book that hits the market, nor should they. They're expected to use judgment about the needs of their communities and what will serve them best. If they don't want to serve as a vehicle for Comedy Channel humor, I see no reason why they should. I'm sure there are lots of other books they didn't purchase. Why aren't they being "banned" as well? Well, nobody pointed out fake nude photos in them. Since when is a sense of decorum and respect for national institutions a crime?

Where did we get the idea that freedom requires that everybody rush to the lowest level of discourse or provide public platforms for stuff like this? Where is it decreed that tax monies are required to be spent to enrich tacky comedians?

Monday, January 10, 2005

Tom Daschle Lives!

Democrats' strategy: Obstruct Bush's Initiatives. A party this stupid deserves to become extinct.

Who does this sound like?

From this excerpt from an interview with Dan Rather: "let me make it exquisitely clear . . ." Doesn't that remind you of "let me be perfectly clear", and wasn't that phrase a staple of Dan's old bete noir Richard Nixon? Or Bill Clinton's famous finger-wagging statement about "that woman--Miss Lewinsky"? Could it be that pressure after getting caught in a great misdeed brings out the worst in all of us?

I've always thought that Nixon's downfall was the result of his correct decision not to contest the 1960 election after it was stolen from him, followed by the disparity he saw between the way the press toadied to Kennedy, and practically canonized him after he was killed, and their hostility and goading of himself. Nixon was a shrewd politician and has been conceded to have been a master of foreign policy, but he couldn't catch a break from the press corps, who seemed to hate him. I remember a famous press conference when Nixon got tired of Dan Rather's badgering and asked him if he was running for something, to which Rather replied dramatically, "No, Mr. President. Are you?"

Nixon, and everybody else associated with the Watergate burglary and coverup, got hammered. After you've been forced to resign in the face of certain impeachment and conviction, I don't think that prison offers much to fear. Still, people were incensed when Ford pardoned him, a decision that probably lost the 1976 election for him. (That was the good old days of bipartisanship, which means that Republicans join Democrats on a normally partisan issue. It hardly ever goes the other way.)

I wonder if Dan has had the thought yet, "What goes around, comes around."

Hubris, toujours hubris.

Corrective Lenses

I just thought of a great metaphor for function of bloggers as I was posting a comment on Roger L. Simon's blog. Our news media have become distorting lenses on the world, as predictably as if they were made of glass. Bloggers came from the people who weren't content with that distortion and created their own corrective lenses. Factchecking the self-appointed purveyors of truth.

If Old Media want to be trusted again, they need to welcome, not resent and dismiss, the factchecking and corrective action of bloggers.

Update: Howard Kurtz notes that "blog" is becoming radioactive, at least among MSM editors. (Via Jeff Jarvis)

Reminds me of people who can't see, but are too vain to wear glasses.

Jonathan Last proves my point, although not via his blog. The existing order deals with scandals by appointing blue-ribbon commissions to "investigate" and protect the powerful. CBS thought it would work here, but all that shows is that CBS, and maybe whoever insisted that the report deny the political agenda, still doesn't get it. The MSM are like the pigs in Orwell's Animal Farm; they started out championing the rights of animals against the farmers, but the rest of us are now noticing that they have taken on the characteristics of the powerful they used to complain about, e.g. Richard Nixon.

Howard Fineman's grudging acknowledgment that the party is over falls short of admitting that the liberal bias was never a good thing. Richard Nixon was not Sauron. He was a politician who had too thin a skin, and the ragging from the media made him paranoid to the point of breaking the law. Nixon was trying to imitate JFK by playing hardball, but he never quite understood how it worked. If he had been having the affairs and receiving the drugs that Kennedy was, would it have been ignored by the media?

I never saw Watergate as the huge constitutional crisis that the media like to talk about. It was proof that no one is above the law and that you can't keep a conspiracy secret in a free country. The Clinton Impeachment showed what Democrats hadn't learned that lesson. Neither has CBS.

No Imminent Crisis

That equates to "no crisis" according to Charlie Rangel. Social Security is the kind of problem that gets worse the longer you procrastinate dealing with it.

The Democrats have served notice that they intend to demagogue it. I would prefer it if we all admitted it is a welfare program plain and simple and means-test it. Also take off the income limits on the payroll tax, and encourage more saving by eliminating taxes on dividends and capital gains. Of course, since nobody really understands what it is and how it works, none of those things will ever happen. Retirees will continue to think that their SS checks come from heaven like manna, and get nasty when those who are being taxed to pay those checks complain.

The Republicans need to respond with truth, the social security system is borrowing from one generation to support an older one. It is not a savings plan like a pension program. It never was. It was packaged and sold as something other than what it is, and everybody should admit it. It's a big Ponzi Scheme, and the sooner we make that clear and do something about it, the better off we'll be. President Bush is trying to get us to recognize that the only sound way to provide for ourselves in old age is to save, not to expect others to support us.

Irwin Stelzer's take on all this makes me feel better about being such a curmudgeon.

What does CBS stand for?

Some would say that the C stands for Complete and we all know what BS stands for. There's nothing I can add to the Instapundit roundup. The Kerry Spot, now dubbed "TKS" has more as does Hugh Hewitt.

I'm not all that interested in this, since I didn't expect this investigation to really address what's wrong with MSM in general, of which the "Fake, but Accurate" episode is just another symptom. Maybe CBS should change its name to FBA.

Update: Hindrocket at Power Line Blog has an excellent analysis of details in the report which show plainly that the story on Bush's national guard service was politically driven to answer the Swift Boat Vets' book and ads. They show a clear urgency to put the report out in time to influence the election. Power Line also points out the questionable absence of emails that, one must suspect, prove the point more conclusively.

Charles Johnson temporarily posting at another blogsite also notes the short schrift the report gives to bloggers who are dismissed as having "a conservative agenda." Funny, there's a finding that the "liberal political agenda" of CBS and the individuals involved was unproven. EVERYBODY has some agenda, so they don't need to point it out as if it were something dirty. Bloggers don't go around trumpeting their objectivity and purity in delivering the whole truth. That is supposed to be the agenda of all news media, but clearly it wasn't at CBS.

Hugh Hewitt is pounding away at the report making the point that it is a whitewash of CBS and Rather. Well, duh! Did anybody really expect anything different? Hugh is irate that many bloggers have responded with pleasant surprise that the report is more hardhitting than they expected. Les Moonves, president of CBS, has proclaimed:
We are also gratified that the Panel, after extensive analysis and consideration, has found that, while CBS News made numerous errors of judgment and execution in this story, these mistakes were not motivated by any political agenda. As the Report states, 'The Panel does not find a basis to accuse those who investigated, produced, vetted or aired the Segment of having a political bias.'
This is an astonishing conclusion given the specific evidence included in the report, but bloggers are not letting them get away with this. The political agenda is clear from the emails cited and the failure of the panel to inquire into the fact that the memos were falsified.

In short, if you want news, the media can only be trusted in conjunction with factchecking by bloggers whose agenda is doing just that, documenting the bias and misleading reporting of the MSM. To me that's old news, but this is just another instance of the phenomenon we've witnessed so many times in the past. It's as predictable as Michael Moore's distortions.

More: I loved this comment on Jay Rosen's blog:
Well, at least we now know that Mr. Moonves doesn't believe that Mr. Rather is responsible for what he reads on the air, or says in interviews
Also this comment from Patterico.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Totally unexpected!

Exit polling show a landslide for Mahmoud Abbas in the Palestinian "election." At least it wasn't as obvious as the 100% claimed by Saddam.

Is it just me?

Or is Mark Steyn only appreciated in the blogosphere?

The sense of smugness and knowing it all is so thick in the MSM, that conservatives almost have to be iconoclastic to get people to listen and think. But the original liberal/conservative nomenclature doesn't really apply anymore, at least in the media, where the established wisdom is that socialism is the way to prosperity, despite the evidence of history, and true believers are having trouble coping with reality. The media elite are about as isolated and narcissistic in their celebrity as you can get, yet they think they are still on the frontlines of culture. I just watched 5 minutes of somebody named David Mindlich on C-Span2 speaking about his book, Tuned Out: Why Americans Under 40 Don't Follow the News. When it became clear that the NYTimes was considered the paragon of news media, I pretty much had my answer. Part of it is that the MSM see their role as "holding the government accountable," while denying their own accountability and the existence of alternate interpretations of events. People under 40 seem to have figured out that the "news" is peddling propaganda. Inevitably, the conundrum of Bush supporters came up. How astonishing that the voters won't do as they're told?

It's assumed, naturally, that Rush Limbaugh misleads his listeners and has drawn away many voters from the truth, when all he has really done is demonstrate the existence of a huge conservative market that has been ignored by the cocooning of the MSM.

Jon Stewart's name came up. I didn't hear his statement on Cross-fire mentioned. He, of course, is fascinating to old media savants who lust after his audience demographic, because he is reliably liberally slanted and has a stand-up comic sarcastic edge, which skewers Democrats more than the dinosaurs on the evening news. He is seen as hip and edgy, which mostly comes from his use of irony, cynicicism and profanity and sex jokes. The blogosphere has emerged this year as an extension of the talk radio phenomenon, people bypassing the commentariat of the MSM to conduct interesting unfiltered discussions of the news.