Friday, October 07, 2005

Curiouser and Curiouser

Power Line points out E. J. Dionne's hypocrisy in faulting supporters of Harriet Miers for bringing her religious faith into the issue when he had previously advocated making John Roberts' Catholicism an issue during his confirmation hearings.

I find it kind of odd to hear so many conservatives criticizing Miers for the same reasons the Dems attacked Roberts, an insufficient paper trail. If Chuck Schumer doesn't have the right to know Roberts' personal views, why should they claim the right to have Miers written assurance that she believes in strict construction? And it's OK for NRO cronies to be nominated, but not for Bush's? Crony doesn't apply to a well-qualified person just because the President knows him/her well.

The denunciations of Miers are no different from those from the left about Roberts' views. What they're arguing, as John Pohhoretz did explicitly on Hugh Hewitt's show today, is that if she had a truly first class intellect, she'd have been writing law review articles for the past forty years. I can't for the life of me see that logic. It's like saying that Einstein was an idiot, because he didn't speak until he was three years old. He also dropped out of high school and didn't study at Harvard.

Podhoretz also argued that it's not enough to vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, you have to know why it needs to be overturned. Gee, I didn't know that there was only one true path to Constitutional interpretation. What she knows is that Roe is not something the Court should be dealing with because it's a policy question, not one of the rights guaranteed in the Constitution.

The thickheadedness of these people astonishes me. I'm starting to wonder what other things I thought we had in common that we don't. I was a high school valedictorian, but I realized early on that good grades were a skill that didn't make me any better than someone with a gift for being a mechanic, or learning sports statistics. I've had difficulty being impressed by intellectuals ever since. To me it's another skill like pitching in the big leagues, or quarterbacking or generalship. Why should people endowed with an intellectual bent think that they're better than everybody else?
(Note: I do not concede for an instant that Harriet Miers is any less intelligent or able to analyze legal arguments than John Roberts. I just don't see that writing about this stuff is necessary to prove you get it.)

Boots on the Ground (Mud?)

From a Major in the Illinois National Guard about being called out to aid the Katrina relief effort:
[I]t was a huge amount of National Guard, from many places - alongside active component soldiers, the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard.

I see why the Navy was involved. The Coast Guard was a natural too. In fact, if anyone has been slighted in the whole Katrina relief effort, it has been the United States Coast Guard. The Coasties were saving people before anyone realized there was a major problem. They saved thousands and did not receive even a tiny fraction of the credit they were due. It was easier for the press to follow the 82nd Airborne around New Orleans.

I am still shuddering about the 82nd [Airborne] being brought into this effort. I happen to be a big fan of Posse Comitatus, and I am still waiting for someone to give me a good reason for heaving it aside - and not simply because one State of the Union wet its pants at crunch time. Why is Florida able to avoid folding like a broken cot everytime a hurricane slams ashore? Why should North Carolina have it's sovereignty flushed down the hopper whenever a tropical depression forms? You can get all the Federal help you can handle if you just ask for it. Also, I didn't hear of a single governor refusing Louisiana's call for help - EMACs (assistance compacts between states) were flying off the fax machines in every state capital. Wars aside, there are still a few hundred thousand Army and Air Guard available for such a call...
I fully agree. FEMA is not a First Responder, and the failure of local and state governors to know what to do in such emergencies is not grounds for ignoring the Constitution and sending in the 82nd Airborne. He's also correct that the Coast Guard deserves high marks for its efforts. It doesn't have to wait for the governor or mayor to ask it to respond. Rescuing people in such situations is part of its full-time mission.

What are they suppressing?

There's a report compiled by the office of Independent Counsel David Barrett following an investigation of tax-fraud case involving former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros which was expanded "to include alleged abuses by the Clinton Justice Department and IRS." The report is under seal at the D.C. Court of Appeals, but Democrats and the Clinton's lawyers are bottling it up.

It could be the story that derails a Hillary! presidency before it starts:
We're told the Barrett report will be an eye-opener, as it is the first time the IRS has ever been investigated using grand jury subpoena powers. If the Senators and Congressmen like Henry Waxman are as concerned about the use of taxpayer money as they've professed to be, they'd urge Williams & Connolly to resolve its outstanding issues with Mr. Barrett and allow his report to finally see the light of day.

There's another scandal preparing to come to a head, as well.

The Future is Out There

Via Political Diary comes this from New York Sun columnist John Avlon, a former speechwriter for Rudy Giuliani:
"'Crime -- I'm conservative. Prostitution -- I'm liberal,' says the reigning King of Comedy, Chris Rock. The libertarian-sounding riff hits on a deeper trend whose ripples could build up to rock underlying assumptions about American politics. African-Americans are de-aligning from the Democratic Party, but Republicans have so far failed to pick them up in significant numbers. The result is a shift that could increase the influence of, and competition for, African-American votes, while swelling the rising tide of independent voters across the nation"
As I keep saying, the liberal Democrats are sliding, the libertarians are ascendant, but they're not likely to support Republicans.

"Political Correctness Personified"

Thus, Stephen Schwartz describes the Organization for Security and Cooperation, aka the OSCE. It's only important because you need to know that when you see a spokesperson for it on the Newshour. This organization should be the second one we withdraw our money and support from, following the U.N.

What's wrong with Bill Buckley?

He was honored at the White House today and he didn't even take the opportunity to slap the president around for nominating Harriet Miers! Does he have Alzheimer's?

Tom Tancredo on Scarborough Country

Excitedly and quickly, "We expected someone who would be an intellectual power house to move the court, to influence the court.. . . We need it; we deserve it; and there are plenty of them out there."

This is the guy who thinks that if there's another terrorist attack on the U.S. we should obliterate the Muslim holy sites. Sorry, pal, you wouldn't know an intellectual powerhouse if it sat on your face and wiggled.

Why do we need this person? Will brilliant rhetoric convince Stevens and Kennedy that they should quit allowing their subjective sense of justice and trends in worldwide jurisprudence be overcome by brilliant writing? If so, why hasn't Scalia done any better than he has. We don't need "an intellectual powerhouse", although I'm not impressed that not having a string of law review articles makes you a dim bulb. We need someone with the experience and intelligence to cut through the arguments that have brought us to this pass, and the humility and common sense to just make the decisions to roll back the court's tendency to make policy and be guided by sympathy rather than the Constitution. I think that Ms. Miers can do that more reliably, and, I suspect, more trenchantly than anybody who's concerned with getting off the second string and write big time opinions. A little humility and modesty would be very very welcome. Justice O'Connor apparently came to believe that she and the other justices were endowed by the Constitution with the wisdom and authority to settle all divisions among the people. She doesn't seem to have the sense to recognize that such attempts are more likely to exacerbate those divisions than calm them. That's what politics is for.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Don't talk to me about qualifications.

Jonathan Turley on the subject of qualifications for the Supreme Court:
Like the president, most senators speak of "qualifications" as if the term is self-defining or obvious. Yet, after more than 200 years, neither the Senate nor law professors have agreed on what constitutes a "qualification" for the nation's highest court. Indeed, looking over the past 157 nominations (and 42 unsuccessful nominations since 1789), there is little consensus on what constitutes a truly qualified person to sit on the court.
Then he proceeds to tell us what he thinks the qualifications should be:
the question is whether a lawyer must have an outstanding background to justify one of nine seats on the highest court. Miers spent decades in the law without making a substantive contribution to the development of it.
I think that's an invitation to judicial activism. If you want to be a Supreme Court justice how you "contribut[e] to the development" of the law? Doesn't advising a president on the exercise of his powers, including when and when not to assert powers that others claim you don't have, count? Or does only writing and commenting extensively on trends in the law count? Apparently if you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail, and to a law professor, contributing to the development of the law is writing law review articles and giving representation to cases you want to advocate. So, must you be an advocate of certain legal theories to be a judge of them? I think not. I think a trial lawyer probably understands the impact of a Supreme Court decision on the process of the law better than those who only consider them in the rarified atmosphere of appellate arguments and law reviews. That perspective would be quite valuable on the Supreme Court, not to mention the effect of decisions on those responsible for applying them in the Executive Branch. My point is that there is no branch of the law or area of practice that doesn't expose a lawyer to issues of interpretation.

I also don't think that Harriet Miers' experience and intellect has been shown to be inferior to anybody. She's worked with lawyers at the highest levels there are and has earned their respect. She's certainly had a career, experience and achievements demonstrating high qualifications. But only one kind of achievement seems to matter to the punditocracy seems to be the kind that it specializes in: writing, forensics, endless wrangling, insulting, sneering and other rhetorical exercises.

Any decent lawyer can do this stuff, but it takes one with real character to ignore the squabbling, cut through the irrelevancies and address cases in the proper order. The court has created the atmosphere of division and bitterness we live in by rushing in where they should have feared to tread. Only someone who understands that it is restraint, rather than clever arguments and endless debates, that keeps justice on a straight course and an even keel.

Cass Sunstein points out that appointing more judges with the same ideology would not result in more consensus on the court. I suppose he's right, but if we had more judges who refused to think they are supposed to resolve every dispute whether it is justiciable or not, who didn't think it was for them to interpret the Constitution by inferring things that it doesn't say and who didn't feel a need to instruct the states, the Congress and the President, I think there would be fewer deep political divisions in the nation. The key to pluralism is free debate. Supreme Court decisions essentially say, "Stop arguing!" and if asked why, "Because we said so!" That kind of thing doesn't solve issues like abortion. It intensifies them.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The small headed conservatives strike back

Hugh Hewitt is really laying the wood to the Elite-cons who've been booing Harriet Miers. I think that the majority out here in the Red States are starting to talk back and this is going to blowback on Will, et al. like Hurricane Katrina. I hope they've checked on their levees lately.

Ken Starr on Hannity and Colmes tonight gave Miers a ringing endorsement. I wonder now if he is capable of such judgments.

Stick to baseball, George.

I think that George Will's opinion of the Miers nomination is arrogant pontification and shows an ugly contempt for democracy.
[It] is not important that she be confirmed because there is no evidence that she is among the leading lights of American jurisprudence, or that she possesses talents commensurate with the Supreme Court's tasks.

[George Bush] has neither the inclination nor the ability to make sophisticated judgments about competing approaches to construing the Constitution. Few presidents acquire such abilities in the course of their pre-presidential careers, and this president particularly is not disposed to such reflections. . . .

[T]here is no reason to believe that Miers's nomination resulted from the president's careful consultation with people capable of such judgments.
Those italics are mine and represent what I think is wrong with Supreme Court jurisprudence, that it assumes that applying the Constitution is too sophisticated for the common run of citizens and requires "leading lights" and some kind of special abilities and "inclination" to do properly.

This is a load of fish chum.

I do not want a bunch of elites who think they are more sophisticated and talented than the rest of us reviewing laws passed by democratic processes. It practical screams that they are entitled to impose their views on the rest of us when it comes to matters of policy, such as criminal behavior not related to guaranteed rights. When the Constitution says "certain rights . . . retained by the people," it doesn't mean as decided by the "leading lights of American jurisprudence." Some of those leading lights would defer to international jurisprudence or even the Washington, D.C. cocktail circuit in interpreting our Constitution! Remember that more justices have been appointed based on politics than were named after "the president's careful consultation with people capable of such judgments." I doubt that you could get a consensus on who should be on such an Olympian panel. Where does the Constitution mention " consultation with people capable of such judgments"? What kind of intellectual hubris is this?

Well, at last I know what to think of George Will's judgment in the future.

Important info about Harriet Miers' religion

She's a restorationist, which is focused on trying to return Christianity to its original primitive roots.

In a sense, I'm a restorationist too, except that I believe that Christ did this by restoring the same organization, authority and doctrines as were taught in the primitive church by calling a new prophet, Joseph Smith, whom he called, like Samuel, as a boy and trained him up, and giving additional and clarifying revelations, through which the Church was restored. New apostles were called, and the church is lead by Christ himself through prophecy and inspiration, just as the early church was lead by Peter, James and John. The apostles were not succeeded by bishops who did not have the kind of general jurisdiction over the whole church that they, the apostles, did. When they were taken away, the power of revelation was taken from the church because it was drifting into apostasy and not following their teachings. Without that, the true church was no longer there and it was taken over by scholastics and powermongers who rode it to the splits that we see in it today.

Going to the website of the Valley View Christian Church, and checking its articles of faith, I find them to be standard protestant doctrine descended from the Nicean Creed and the doctrines of salvation by grace alone. I don't believe in the three-in-one-person idea of God, because it doesn't make sense with the Bible and other revelation, and it smacks of Greek philosophy and mystic ideas about immaterial, omnipresent objects of worship. I find such things to be difficult to imagine, understand or pray to. If God exists at all, he is a person who created human beings in his own image, and Jesus, being resurrected, looks like him and is one with him in the sense that he prayed for his apostles to be one, even as he and the Father are one (John 17). All this proves, though, is that you can't restore something which has been lost without going to back to the original source. It seems clear from the multiplicity of Christian sects that the Bible is not sufficient to explain itself to us. Surely a God who was willing to speak to mankind in the past would not leave us without better guidance today if we ask him to give it.

The perfect as enemy to the good

Ann Coulter has turned on Bush. Her latest column is all criticism of Bush and Rove based on his failure to endorse right-wingers over more moderate Republicans. She writes: " If Ronald Reagan were running today, Rove would have Bush endorse Reagan's opponent." Sure, Ann. And Reagan's appointments to SCOTUS were?

If Rove had picked Miers, I might give some credence to her theory, but if anything, it proves that Bush is his own man, that he knows what he wants and isn't interested in currying favor with conservatives who want to dictate his every move. Coulter is a right wing version of James Carville. She's never run for anything and never will, because she is totally unelectable. She's so confrontive and antagonistic that she keeps alienating people whom she would need to succeed.

I don't agree with everything Bush does, but he's done a much better job than conservatives seem willing to give him credit for. They don't seem to understand why he doesn't replace Karl Rove with a committee of right-wing pundits. If this is how they treat candidates who bring them power, don't blame him from keeping some distance from them.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Words to live by

Mark Steyn: "[F]irst they came for Piglet and I did not speak out because I was not a Disney character."

He's talking about the Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council in Britain announcing that, following a complaint by a Muslim employee, all work pictures and knick-knacks of novelty pigs and "pig-related items" will be banned.

Stupidity of this type takes such a hold on the mind it becomes almost impossible to restart the brain.
When every act that a culture makes communicates weakness and loss of self-belief, eventually you'll be taken at your word. In the long term, these trivial concessions are more significant victories than blowing up infidels on the Tube or in Bali beach restaurants. An act of murder demands at least the pretence of moral seriousness, even from the dopiest appeasers. But small acts of cultural vandalism corrode the fabric of freedom all but unseen.

Is it really a victory for "tolerance" to say that a council worker cannot have a Piglet coffee mug on her desk? And isn't an ability to turn a blind eye to animated piglets the very least the West is entitled to expect from its Muslim citizens? If Islam cannot "co-exist" even with Pooh or the abstract swirl on a Burger King ice-cream, how likely is it that it can co-exist with the more basic principles of a pluralist society?
Precisely. You get religious freedom in Western societies, because Christianity went through a long period of various sects killing each other until everybody accepted that religious leaders should not be corrupted by allowing religion to dictate to governments.

See allso this piece by Steyn in The Australian.

Presumably God is able to impose his will on all of us if he wishes. If he exercises restraint and tolerance, what business does any human being doing otherwise? I think that God's laws are more strict that most of us like to believe, but they are his laws, not those of some judgmental hypocritical cleric. He tells us to be peacemakers, to avoid condemning others, to repent. The thought that keeps coming back to me as I contemplate these Islamist "warriors" is that if God wants to destroy non-Muslims, he has more power to do it than Al Qaeda or anybody else. If people think that God doesn't speak through prophets anymore and that he said all he had to say to Mohammed, what gives them to exclusive authority to interpret those words for all other believers?

The dubious value of "brilliant"

Thomas Lifson notes:
There is also a palpable hunger for a struggle to the death with hated and verbally facile liberals like Senator Chuck Schumer. Having seen that a brilliant conservative legal thinker with impeccable elite credentials can humble the most officious voices of the Judiciary Committee, they demand a replay. Thus we hear conservatives sniffing that a Southern Methodist University legal education is just too non-Ivy League, adopting a characteristic trope of blue state elitists. We hear conservatives bemoaning a lack of judicial experience, and not a single law review article in the last decade as evidence of a second rate mind.
Well said!

I hate elitism and this jihad against Harriet Miers from the right just screams elitism.

Speaking that, I just listened to Prof. Bainbridge on the Hugh Hewitt Show define his desire for a "brilliant conservative movement lawyer who can handle the Supreme Court." He's says the Supreme Court is the Big Leagues, as if to say that if you'd only played in Dallas, you can't play. He's bothered that she's not a Federalist Society member. He seems to be taking the word of David Frum and James Pinkerton over that of George Bush. This whole discussion just confirms my feelings that the criticisms are based on elitism more than anything else. The continued assertion that she doesn't have a "brilliant legal mind," just baffles me. Where do they get that? Does O'Connor have a brilliant legal mind? Does Thomas? I'd say no in both cases. There are not that many principles underlying the Constitution. I think it's the "briiliant legal minds" who chafe at just applying those principles and want to show off their brilliance who end up screwing up the law. It takes a good mind to drill through the phony arguments like those used to justify Roe v. Wade and to cut through the sophistry, the "penumbrae" and analyses of foreign jurisprudence and point out the correct constitutional principles. The brilliance of John Roberts was that he could say simply, "This is a policy issue and it is not our role to set policy or overrule the the legislative branch, so long as it does not clearly violate the Constitution."

It's a fine point but an important one whether you start with the Constitution and apply it or you start with a desired result and then justify it with "brilliant" legal reasoning. Frankly, I don't trust the "brilliant legal minds" on everything, because they're often wrong, but they dress it up and mislead a lot of people. "Brilliant" minds find it easy to decide that the people don't know what they're doing and need to be overruled. A "brilliant" mind too often lacks humility.

More Conservative Reaction

As I survey the attacks on Harriet Miers, they seem to fall into a number of categories:

1. Chauvinism. She's not sufficiently intellectual if this from Ramesh Ponnuru is indicative:
which Supreme Court opinions Miers finds especially compelling in their reasoning. Perhaps she can be asked to go into that in the hearings. I'd be especially interested to know which opinions she has read and admired in the last three decades, although she may plead that the ones she likes involve live issues and that she therefore cannot discuss them.
Maybe he's just asking to know more about her judicial philosophy, but does he really think that a justice has to think like that? That's how people who write think, but it doesn't tell you much about a lawyer who doesn't read opinions for pleasure. (I don't know if she does or not. I just think it's a little like asking her, "If you could be a Supreme Court decision, which one would you be?")

I think that when you see "unqualified" they're not really talking about ability, experience or achievement. They mean she didn't go to a big name school, or practice in a big Washington or New York law firm, or go to cocktail parties that they go to and make small talk with them. She stayed in Texas, and doesn't mind going to Crawford, where everybody else, especialy the media, look like cats being held in the bath. This is the old "If you were any good, you'd be in New York," kind of bigotry.

Professor Bainbridge demands "Harriet Who?" and then gets insulted when Hugh Hewitt criticizes his arguments. If you want to throw mud, don't be surprised if it comes flying back.

2. Sour grapes. She wasn't their pick. This has been such a hot topic that everybody seems to have divided into camps and some seem furious that Bush didn't consult them or take a poll of the right wing before choising her. The "cronyism" argument seems based on the fact that she's not one of their own cronies.

3. Ideology. I just assumed that conservatives would want someone who wouldn't take political preferences into account in reaching decisions. But I'm beginning to think that a lot of Conservatives see themselves as smarter or more sophisticated than their Red State brethren, and that they are more interested in a battle with the Dems than in getting a judge who will do the job right. Maybe they see her as one of those distasteful Blblical literalists, who doesn't take her religion with a big dose of Neo-platonism. Or that she's not enough of a libertarian.

I've seen all of these indicated by the snooty reactions to her nomination, but considering how well selecting appeals court and state court justices has worked, I'm ready to try a new approach. I think that practicing lawyers who deal with actual people daily, rather than just theoretical legal questions, have a better sense of the importance of democracy than any other legal group.

Why do conservatives look a gift horse in the mouth?

Douglas Kmiec pretty well knocks down the arguments coming from the right about Mier.

Louisianans demonstrate common sense

They're leaving the state

Another question for Randy Barnett

Wasn't Alexander Hamilton one of George Washington's cronies?

Update: Ken Masugi says that by Barnett's standards, he was, yet he was appointed Secretary of the Treasury by The Father of his Country.

Pride and Prejudice

Normally I tend to agree with Randy Barnett's commentary, but this attack on Harriet Miers strikes me as arrogant, supercilious and unfair.

Monday, October 03, 2005

OK, I'm getting upset.

The conservative reaction to the Miers nomination is really frightening me. We've got to stop this right now, and join this confrontation with a solid front. Let them try to filibuster her, but DO NOT screw it up by undercutting her!

Power Line is suggesting that she's been pre-approved by the Dems. If so, I think they've fooled themselves. She's an evangelical Christian, for crying out loud.

But remember, Searchlight's dimmest bulb (Reid), is an active Mormon and opposed to abortion (as am I), and I don't think he'd go for torpedoing someone based only on her religion. Mormons are the only religious group I know of in American history to have been subjected to pogroms. Not even Jews have been as persecuted in this country. So while I wouldn't be surprised if Harry Reid went with his party, it's perfectly plausible that he has called in some chips to prevent her from being Borked.

Now John Hinderaker is changing his tune a little as he learns more about her. I just pray that conservatives do for her opponents what the Dems couldn't. It would be an interesting move if they dropped all opposition to her just to make conservatives suspicious and she failed to get enough support from the right. It would be tragic, and it would make conservatives look like morons.

Hugh Hewitt has been playing sound clips from everybody. It sounds as if Harry Reid has called in some chits to support Miers. It surprises me, but why look a gift horse in the mouth? I still trust Bush, and the fact that Miers is one of the ones who selected John Roberts.

The folks at the Corner seem to be divided on Maybe She's Not That Bad to "The horror. The horror." (Podhoretz) I think they're too intellectual for their own good.

A war on two fronts

As David Ignatius demonstrates, the war in Iraq is waged on two fronts, the one in Iraq and the one with American media and the anti-war Democrats, who are trying to persuade us that we're failing there, like they did in Vietnam. That's a lie, and a decisive defeat of the left here more critical than winning in Iraq. We'll pull out eventually, and then it will be up to the Iraqis to prove they care enough about democracy to defend it. But if the liberal media can overrule the government on things like this with lies, how can democracy survive here?

Go look at this link!

You've got to see this to appreciate it. If you ever needed more truth about media bias, here it is.

Who cares what I think about Harriet Miers?

But I'll tell you anyway.

I think this is telling the Democrats, "Go ahead. Make my day." It's an invitation to use the filibuster, and see whether the nuclear option will work. If it works, Miers will be a perfectly good justice, who I suspect is a big fan of John Roberts. If not, she knows what's coming, and presumably is willing to take that chance.

I don't know whether she's the best judicial choice in the country, but I'm not convinced that only people who write a lot of law review articles or judicial opinions can qualify. I have no doubt that she is qualified for the job, and that she knows what's wrong with the court's trajectory in the past 50 years. As Glenn Reynolds points out, you don't have to be world famous to become a great justice. He doesn't like here because she's not a libertarian, but I do. Principles are more important than brilliance, and I tend to agree with hers if he support of John Roberts is any indication. Anti-democratic arrogance and political activism, like William O. Douglas', should be avoided like the plague.

I can't imagine Justice Miers, for example, voting to overrule the Padilla decision. There are times when the threat to civil liberties must be compared to the threat to national security. Courts can make that distinction. That's what they are for, not to decide whether the states can outlaw sodomy.

The Digital challenge

Google is being sued for copyright violation for its "plan to scan and digitize the libraries of Harvard, Oxford, the University of Michigan and Stanford, as well as of the New York Public Library," and offer access to the results to researchers, ala Lexis-Nexis.

It's long been evident that there's a difference between a public library and the internet, but it isn't one of kind, but reach. Are libraries going to have to start paying the authors of books for allowing those who haven't bought them to read them? Unlikely. The library system is too old and well-established and credited with promoting reading. But something is going to have to be worked out to assuage the fears of authors and publishers that the internet will gut their ability to make money from intellectual works. I certainly think that Google shouldn't make money at the expense of authors and publishers, but I live in an area without a Borders or Barnes & Noble within 100 miles, so I'm conflicted.

Juan Williams is a second-rate thinker

Most of the time he manages to be objective, but his performance on Fox News Sunday (transcript on Best of the Web. Scroll down to head, Hypocritical Hypotheticals) He repeats 6 times Bill Bennett's great sin of using an outrageous hypothetical to illustrate a point. His point that such hypotheticals are offensive regardless of the underlying point is pretty much discredited by his example, because nobody really thought that he was actually proposing any of the outrageous examples he lists.

Don't j-schools require any training in critical thinking? I guess not.

MSM in turmoil

Howard Kurtz provides an interesting, amusing window into the confusion, fear and incomprehension in the MSM as it tries to figure out what's happening to the news business.
Arguments about what readers want have become almost an obsession after an 18-year slide in national newspaper circulation and an economic squeeze that is prompting such giants as the New York Times, Boston Globe and Philadelphia Inquirer to cut newsroom jobs.
Almost any blogger could have predicted what he describes, except maybe this:
But political reporter Dana Milbank is unimpressed, writing that with few exceptions, "this has been an elaborate exercise in navel gazing."

Who needs bloggers when your own employees are taking such shots?
The overall picture shows a lot of self-doubt, isolation from general society, and a reflexive reliance on analysis, much of which is irrelevant. It's obvious that fewer people read newspapers these days because they have other ways of getting information. And a lot of us these days just don't care about anything more than sports. Newpapers take a long time to get through. How hard is all this to understand?

Maybe the biggest point is that we now have much more 'interactive' media in the form of the Internet. Newspapers will never be able to match that. I think that a blog model is the future, Yahoo with a comments section.

What seems so typical is this:
The rhetoric heated up when Pearlstein wrote that Post staffers should "admit that a lot of what we do, and how we do it, is driven by a notion of good journalism that has more to do with 'dominating' a story and keeping up with the competition or, on occasion, winning prizes, than it does with what our readers need and want. . . . Too many of our stories . . . [have] 'obligation' written all over them."

Pearlstein called for a smaller, edgier paper and complained that the opinion pages have become "too tame, too predictable, too R-E-S-P-O-N-S-I-B-L-E and, at times, downright boring."
Instead of R-E-S-P-O-N-S-I-B-L-E, I would say L-I-B-E-R-A-L or O-R-T-H-O-D-O-X, but maybe that's what he means. Whatever it is, I think MSM's problem is that it is aimed more at itself than at what the rest of the people are interested in reading.

It's only rock and roll

It always bemuses me when people apply literary and art critical techniques to rock and roll. I like the music, but it just doesn't seem serious enough to devote that kind of thought and energy to it. Of course, there really aren't any really meaningful critical methods anymore, since studying people's biographies and the opinions of others and even the political and social impact (search for "Zimmerman") of someone's work doesn't really tell you much about its quality.

I've grown up with rock music, and I enjoy it, but I've never been under the illusion that it means much more than being a teenager.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

I'm not impressed

by the continuing attempts by the MSM to convict Libby and Rove. Why can't they just let the Special Counsel do his job and tell us what he found. These are the people who called bloggers a pack of baying hounds. So what does that make them? It wouldn't hurt my feelings if both of them got booted. If I were Bush, I'd ask them both what they were doing talking to these jackals in the first place.

This whole "leak and report" system between government employees and reporters is getting out of hand. They should tell the reporters to go get news instead of collecting gossip.

Please come back, Monkeys and Pigs!

At least one Palestinian has it figured out. As I've said before, the Palestinians should have thronged to seek Israeli citizenship. been thrilled to have the Jews take over their country. When the best paying job in town is "suicde bomber," you need somebody who knows how to run an economy. (Via LGFs)

MSM just keeps up the screwups

Mark Coffey documents the absurd corrections practices at the NYTimes. They still don't want to admit that George W. Bush is the president, and they can't seem to bring themselves to just tell their columnists to drop the cheap shots, even when they're proven to be false.

The answer is in between

One of the reasons I like Instapundit is that he is willing to be careful about what he believes:
The problem, alas, is that there are lots of anti-science types on both ends of the political spectrum.
I don't agree with him about sodomy or gay marriage, but I think that a discussion of it with him would make my own thinking more clear and cogent.