Saturday, March 19, 2005

Youv'e got to be a reader . . .

To keep up with the ever-evolving truth-du-jour of the left. Jennifer Loven illustrates. The "WMD as the raison d'etre of the war" meme is now so fully embedded in the media that it needs no supporting evidence. Of course, as John Hinderaker demonstrates, that's fortunate for Ms. Loven, because there isn't much to be had.


That's all I can say to Tamara Baker's little fantasy, or should it be her paranoid vision, which ends:
In other words, Republicans for decades have wanted to control the press much as Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler did, by attacking and attempting to discredit independent journalism, and for them blogs are just the latest tool in their war. That's definitely newsworthy, but outside of the blogosphere, few publications will dare state this.
It's been a while since I got a check from the Republican Party. Mostly they send me requests for money. Maybe this would be a better appeal, "We need your help in our ongoing effort to discredit independent journalism."

I once had a client who had been treated for paranoia. She had believed there was a conspiracy centered in the USPS that controlled everybody who wears a uniform. She attacked a cop who came to her door. Fortunately, drugs helped her return to sanity. Would they help The Strib? It really sounds like a hive of shrieking lunatics.

Compare this piece with these remarks of Jay Rosen's, and you'll see what I mean.

Are the wheels falling of the EU bandwagon?

It certainly appears possible. Makes you appreciate our founding fathers.

Deer in the headlights

How else to explain the lack of popular support for Bush's proposals to reform Social Security. Of course, the MSM isn't trying to increase our understanding of the problem. The future value of money, actuarial projections and the sort of stuff that the issue entails make it a perfect tool for demagoguery and fear-mongery.

More good news from Iraq

The insurgents are fading fast according to General Sattler of the First Marine Expeditionary Force. Will Bush et al get the credit they deserve? Not likely.

More good news from Iraq

The insurgents are fading fast. Will Bush et al. get the credit they deserve? Not likely.

Why religion matters

Because we can't trust morality to scientists and doctors. Once we begin to see ourselves as mere organisms, our own convenience becomes the measure of all things.

The insistence on applying their own views of morality, while denying and belittling those of people of faith, is what is costing liberals their political support. Their arguments against defending ourselves from terrorism and freeing oppressed peoples like the Iraqis, have no basis other than their own authority. Once you decide that God doesn't exist or that he is more of a force, like nature, gravity or evolution, than a personal being who knows us, loves us and gives commandments to guide us--once you relegate him to mythical status or deny that he is a moral being, you have nothing on which to base your ideas of the meaning of truth or justice or right and wrong. What was once considered at best a psychological disorder, is now a Constitutional right. How can we be sure anymore that our sense of evil won't be seen as provincial silliness in another generation?

Homosexuality is not different in kind from pedophilia or the sexual desires of Ted Bundy. They are all "sexual preferences." Those who engage in them claim that they were "born that way" and that they cannot justly be expected to control those impulses (although Bundy attributed his degeneration to abuse he received as a child and to his use of ever more degrading pornography). Right now the distinction is made that whatever occurs between consenting adults should be tolerated, but even now, NAMBA is arguing that boys under the age of 18 can be consenting adults, and that Paul Shanley who abused boys as a Catholic Priest, was really saving them from far worse fates. The arguments are the same. There are all kinds of "love that dare not speak its name," behaviors that can be justified with the same sophistries. The rights of boys to be the objects of lust for men are said to be denied. The boys are the new victims of our Victorian prejudices. All it takes is time, spokesmen and compliant media.

It is true that much evil has been done in the name of religion, but that occurs when people have ceased to listen to prophets and inspired teachers and argued that God no longer speaks.

"An unforgivable breach of blogging ethics"

That's what Mark Kleiman calls Eugene Volokh's reversal of opinion on the issue of imposing painful punishments for heinous crimes.

There's such a thing as blogging ethics? I find that I agree with both sides of this debate. I think that the culture of a society should govern what it considers suitable punishments, because the law must be seen by the people as just. That's why I support capital punishment, albeit by as humane a means as we can manage. It's also why I support imposing limits on appeals. The fact that death sentences take such a long time to be carried out has hurt the respect of the public for our legal institutions.
It's also why I'd support a Constitutional Amendment to limit the power of the courts to "interpret" new rights into that document, to base opinions on "international consensus" and to take issues like sodomy, marriage and pornography away from legislatures without a finding of gross injustice. How can this country allow state and local governments to ban sales of liquor, for example, but not to prohibit homosexual behavior? The courts aren't equipped to inquire into public opinions in the way that legislatures can, and they have a conscious reluctance to consider it, if they could. That's why they must limit themselves to interpreting laws and the Constitution in light of what the people expect, not their own opinions as to what the ideal society would be like. At the time it was decided the Dred Scott decision, as obviously wrong as it seems today, reflected the consensus of Americans. The abolitionist position was considered radical and threatening to the Union. Abraham Lincoln knew that, and it was only after years of war that he changed his opinion. The Civil War put an end to the idea that we are a federation of independent states, and necessarily so, but we honored the original understanding in our tradition of leaving most issues to the states, until relatively recently.

Ultimately, courts, like all other parts of government, derive their power and existence to the consent of the governed. They are properly insulated from demagoguery and mob rule, but they must always be aware that their authority derives from reason and principle, not from their inherent power to enforce anything. By getting too far ahead of the people they rule, judges undermine their own authority, and threaten the unity and peace of the nation. You can see that proven in the Senate fights over judicial appointments. The Supreme Court allowed itself to be sucked into issues that are so divisive that it has become a political institution. The Justices should be worried about the impact of their imprudence on the country as a whole.


Oh, no! Those crazy Christians are at it again--trying to destroy our freedoms. This time the victim is IMAX, but the whole story strikes me as an attempt at marketing with controversy. This is is a manufactured issue, not a real threat. Some people are annoyed by the unquestioning allegiance to evolution. So what? Could it be that the small group of theaters not screening science films are motivated more by attracting audiences than by fear of fundamentalist retaliations.

Time for an intervention

The refusal of Democrats to acknowledge that they aren't in control of the government anymore has gotten pathological. What do elections mean if they can keep moving the goalposts?

You'll note from this useful table, that the percentages of judicial nominees confirmed began to drop after Robert Bork's confirmation hearings, about 15 years after Roe v. Wade, which triggered the present confrontations. I blame the Supreme Court for creating the problem in the first place. That's why this issue is so important now.

The remarkable thing is how the percentages have plummeted since G. W. Bush took over, and started standing up to the Democrats. If the Republicans choose the "nuclear" option, the Democrats will have only themselves to blame. Past Republican presidents have tried compromise and choosing nominees with no record, and they have been disasters. It's time to reinstate majority rule, before Barbara Boxer and Bobby Byrd have everybody convinced that filibusters and super-majorities for confirming judicial nominees are written into the Constitution. Hey, it worked for abortion and homosexual sodomy.

Don't they get it?

He's holding it in trust for the Cuban people! Yeah, that's the ticket.

Let the judges decide Schiavo's case

I've heard so much contradictory about this case that I don't know what to believe anymore. Such is the media these days. It has the appearance of denying the reasonable request of her parents. Why should her husband be so dead set on letting her die when her parents are willing to pay all the expenses of keeping her alive?

Nevertheless, if we really believe this stuff about being a system of laws and not of men (or women), why are legislators trying so hard to make a special rule in this case? I find it hard to believe that all the courts that have looked at this case are determined to go against the law. If it were up to me, I'd be inclined to remove her husband as her guardian on the grounds of potential conflict of interest, but it's not up to me. Nor is it up to Congress to intervene. I've heard that she's is a persistent vegetative state and also that no MRI or CAT scans have been done. I don't really know if those tests would resolve the issue or not. Nothing in any test, can establish what, if anything is going on in her brain. Is she imprisoned in a useless body or just running a test pattern? Who knows? I don't. Neither does Peggy Noonan, or Hugh Hewitt. That's why we created laws and judges and guardians. If they don't work the way we expect we should change them, but what business do Congressmen have trying to short circuit the process?

In the end, nobody without supernatural powers can say whether Terri Schiavo's spirit is supporting the court or her parents. She may be yearning to stay in that wrecked body or wanting to get mortality over with. She could be in horrible pain, or totally numb. Nobody really knows. There are plenty of cases the courts are deciding that they shouldn't be, but in this one, they have jurisdiction. We should leave it to them.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The news from Iraq

You won't read this in the New York Times, "Fallujah is now thought of as a 'safe zone' by the citizens."


Harry Reid, would recognize that reference, although I doubt that he'd see how it applies to himself. Zeezrom was a lawyer in the Book of Mormon who exemplified twisting the words and positions of the prophets in order to gain favor with the people and to lead them astray.

The rally yesterday by Senate Democrats accusing the Republicans of trying to shut down the Senate, pack the courts, yadda, yadda, yadda, has to be one of the most barefaced uses of sophistries I've heard since Bill Clinton said he did not have sex with "that woman." Democrats complaining about deficits strikes me as the greatest bit of hypocrisy in my lifetime. They controlled the House of Representatives for as long as I remember, until 1994, and they never balanced the budget. Now they're out of power and they're suddenly opposed to majority rule, claiming that eliminating the filibuster are trying to destroy the Constitution. Reid, Durban and Byrd demonstrated demagoguery in its most transparent form. Jesse Jackson must have been proud.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

I'm voting

No Confidence in the Harvard Faculty Instapundit, as usual, has the roundup. In fact, I concluded a long time ago that a college education was highly overrated. It's something you have to do to get a job, but more and more it just seems like an indoctrination in liberal elite thinking.

Meme of the Day

The Climate of Fear of the intolerant left.

Goose and Gander

Hugh Hewitt calls attention to the hypocrisy of the left's inquisition of Jeff Gannon/Guckert when he asked a loaded question at a White House press conference, when liberal reporters do the same think ad nauseum. This is why a lot of us don't trust the press.

Monday, March 14, 2005


I don't care for the new bankruptcy bill, either, but I don't condone people running up credit card bills and then declaring bankruptcy. The question is whether they planned on doing so, and why the credit card companies are so lax with their credit policies. Bankruptcy should be for people who need through no fault of their own, but it's hard to sympathize with companies who charge 20% and higher. If they want to cinch up the borrowers, they should submit to usury laws. The limits on interest seemed to disappear after the inflation during the Carter administration, and never came back. I think they should.

California Court rules in favor of Gay Marriage

Eugene Volokh: Phyllis Schlafly was right. The same people who promoted the ERA have found more support with the courts than they have with the population.

The dawning of ideas

Mickey Kaus argues that the democracy movement in Lebanon and Egypt are evidence of his Feiler Faster Thesis TM in action.

Unverified Drivel

Tom Rosenstiel (quoted here):
[Local news anchors] can no longer say 'As we told you yesterday,' because chances are people weren't watching yesterday. . . .

We as journalists need to communicate in an entirely different way if readers or viewers are only with us occasionally, . . . We can't assume that they are loyal or that they trust us because they use us on a regular basis. We have to forge an entirely new relationship with people who are really no longer friends but acquaintances.
Why only local news anchors? The ones in trouble are the national broadcasters.

And if they want to "communicate in an entirely different way," they ought to drop the "we as journalists" baloney, and try thinking like their viewers instead of their fellow journalists. It's this arrogance and pretension that does them the most damage, especially when they get caught doing things like presenting phoney documents as real evidence.

I've said it before, journalists should be required to take a course in evidence, as law students are. The rules are made to prevent this kind of shoddiness. Of course, in a newspaper or televised report, there's no one there to stand and object. Now that bloggers and talk radio are doing just that, the journalists want them to shut up. Journalists and their editors see themselves as both advocates and judges. We the jury aren't supposed to ask questions.

Further on, Rosenstiel is quoted as saying, "Blogs and 'so's your mother'-style talk shows are distorting news in America beyond what anyone could have imagined 10 years ago. . . . The public is finding it more difficult than ever to distinguish between legitimate news and unverified drivel." How does he define his terms? I doubt that the study asked people if they preferred "legitimate news" or "unverified drivel." Those are judgmental and tendentious terms, not factual ones.

Actually, the public seems to be a better judge of what is "legitimate news" than the press is. It is the interests and needs of the public that determine news, not the other way around. The news business wouldn't exist without an audience. but it seems to have become an end in itself for its practitioners. And the public is pretty good at recognizing "unverfied drivel." Just ask Dan Rather and Mary Mapes.

Blogs and talk radio are examples of markets being served. Rosenstiel's comments reek of arrogance and a sense of entitlement, and it's this "journalism" attitude, rather than the goal of delivering truth, that are hurting the MSM. "Journalism" and journalism schools are the symptoms of a business that has turned its back on its consumers.

(via Mickey Kaus)

Update: Thomas Lipscomb gets what's going on. So does Dick Rogers, although he repeats some of the journalistic condescension:
Asking whether bloggers are journalists is also the wrong question because it confuses the medium with the messengers.

To answer with an unqualified "yes" is like saying that a panhandler with a good pitch is an orator, all runners are sprinters, or anyone with a pencil and sketchpad is an artist.

To flatly say "no" leaves out a universe of those who find news, challenge our thinking and otherwise breathe oxygen into the democracy -- in itself a pretty good definition of journalism.

From the colonial pamphleteers to the penny press, newspaper barons to the age of radio and television, journalism has evolved and absorbed a wide range of styles and media. It's a big tent. Why shouldn't there be room for bloggers?. . .

Five minutes with an Internet directory such as will turn up blogs that don't even bother to guess at the truth. They traffic in falsehood, innuendo and purposeful distortion. Journalism? I sure hope not.
He doesn't say which blogs he means. The last line, though, sounds a lot like Mary Mapes and Dan Rather to me--oops! They aren't bloggers, but are they journalists?