Journalism, The Shamed Occupation

They aren’t all naughty. Still…if they were all tossed out and replaced by randomly-chosen, literate, sane individuals, the result would probably be salutary. Consider, for example, the case of The Washington Post’s attempts to settle the hash of the political right.

The WaPo considers Tea Partiers, conservatives, libertarians, individualists and their variegated ilk incomprehensible. After all, Sarah Palin! Who can fathom the madness? So the paper hired one Dave Weigel to do his best for the greater good.

Dave started cranking out the prose, and in a trice it was obvious that the WaPo was using him to attempt yet another character assassination of the voters who believe in financial probity, the US federal constitution, and free markets. The culture war is still being waged, and the “progressive” strategy is unaltered.

What began with censorship, deceit and secrets continued for a while, as the WaPo proceeded according to “progressive” rules of engagement. Weigel was just another “reporter” pretending to be objective while trashing the Tea Partiers. Well, somebody decided to blow the whistle on him. (It appears likely the rat was a comrade of his who was settling a score.)

Exposed, Weigel quit. Note, please, that he did that not because he had faked a quote or committed plagiarism (Maureen Dowd did both, and is still employed by the NY Times, so maybe those offenses are no longer offensive). Nor had he turned out to be a felon. He quit because his mission, smearing the political right from a faux centrist and objective perspective, was no longer executable.

Note also that his exposure as a leftist operative surprised no one. Weigel’s critics had read his very recent work and complained to the WaPo that he was biased. Of course that was just as obvious to the WaPo editors as it was to anyone, but the charges were brushed off as typical wingnut mud-slinging and attempts to intimidate the honest media.

There is nothing unusual about Weigel’s posing as a principled reporter. This is standard operating procedure for the mainstream media because it’s such an effective way of running a propaganda outlet in the USA.

It works for all ideologies, as long as the charlatans have the nerve to face down critics and stick to the standard line. Imagine you are an editor or publisher with a political axe to grind. You hire a guy, a True Believer, who crafts his “objective reporting” to advance the politically correct ideology. When your opponents start crying “Foul,” he denies that he is flying a false flag, and you insist glibly that your paper is just passing along information and analysis.

Weigel was tripped up by e-mail messages in which he spoke his mind. When they were made public, he could no longer pass as a genuine reporter.

Think that through. Journalism may be the only occupation that does not consider itself subject to charges of ethics violations that are based solely on its product.

This quick summary of events only hints at the filth below the surface of the WaPo-Weigel story. If you want more links so you can go snorkeling in the septic tank, send TLB an e-mail and request the “Toxic Special.” It’s free, and, if you believe the press is your friend and not your would-be master, it could be liberating.

Holder’s Department Of Justice Is Corrupt

The article is a personal account:

The New Black Panther case was the simplest and most obvious violation of federal law I saw in my Justice Department career. Because of the corrupt nature of the dismissal, statements falsely characterizing the case and, most of all, indefensible orders for the career attorneys not to comply with lawful subpoenas investigating the dismissal, this month I resigned my position as a Department of Justice (DOJ) attorney.

The author makes charges that should provoke a thorough investigation of the Department of Justice, and initiate a reappraisal of what justice should mean and what it currently does mean.

Most disturbing, the dismissal is part of a creeping lawlessness infusing our government institutions.

In all probability, the best course of action would be to fire Holder and then ask all the employees of the DOJ whether they feel that action was warranted. That might produce some interesting responses.

Incredibly, after the case was dismissed, instructions were given that no more cases against racial minorities like the Black Panther case would be brought by the Voting Section.

As always, TLB reminds its readers that the paper in which this article appeared is an organ of a religious organization headed by a charlatan and felon. Whether those facts reflect on the author and veracity of the piece is for you to decide.

Kelo Is Old News That, Like Castro In Cuba, Remains Very Important

Few topics have so engaged this newsletter as has the Kelo decision. When the federal supreme court decided that municipalities could seize private residences, raze them, turn the property over to developers and thereby enhance the tax base, The Terrapin Gazette (as this newsletter was called then) exploded in fury. An avalanche of words thundered down on both of the newsletter’s readers. Three issues in 2005 denounced Kelo, one in 2006 carried on the attack, and when The Penguin Post appeared, it carried comments on Kelo in twelve numbers.

To this day, TLB refers to the PowerLine weblog only after careful consideration of the merit of the link, for a defense of the high court’s lunatic decision was written by one John Hinderaker, a lawyer who was a founder of that weblog and still contributes to it.

Kelo, like Plessy vs. Ferguson, Dred Scott, and the now-discredited Slaughterhouse cases, is proof that five of nine legal scholars can make terrible mistakes. It is a constant reminder that any agency with overwhelming power — which is exactly what the court has — is just as potentially dangerous as it is potentially beneficial.

There is no doubt that if Kelo were submitted to a plebiscite, it would be overturned. It is an idiotic and egregious violation of the principles that underlie both the federal constitution and the nation’s founding ethos. The average person understands the issues better than did the court.

In response to Kelo and to the absurdities propounded by Hinderaker, a Bulletin issued by The Terrapin Gazette vivisected both. The TG’s refutation concluded with, “The federal supreme court has given us law without justice, policy without wisdom, and government without let or hindrance.”

That long July 11, 2005 Bulletin of The Terrapin Gazette remains, in TLB’s view, devastating. It is included with this issue of TLB. You have the option of reading it all if you are interested — and perhaps you should, because many states such as California have implemented imperfect prohibitions of Kelo-style piracy. New York state offers homeowners no protection at all.

Why bother about this old court case?

Because it has been one of the most controversial and hated decisions in the last half century. And because of what it provoked and demonstrates.

Kelo was de-fanged by the states, at least partially, and the piratical land-grab proved to be a failure as an improvement to the community and as an investment. What became known as simply “Kelo” was a flop on all levels, in other words, because it was rank abuse of governmental authority, misbegotten, despised, feared and then largely prevented from cloning itself. That’s how representative democracies are supposed to react when their imperfect leaders labor mightily and deliver abominations!

There are times when it’s well to remember that. This is one of those times. Kelo means more, in other words, than it appeared to at first. It reminds us that there are remedies, that we can and should retain our common sense rather than bow to the ruling elite, and that the eternal verities must be given a chance to prevail.

Recent posts on the internet provide a reappraisal of Kelo on its fifth anniversary, and they are worth reading. Here are some links:

This is a rather over-optimistic but still interesting video. It shows you what the condemned property looks like today, and offers proof that Kelo inspired effective grass roots opposition (yes! You don’t have to accept everything government does to you, even when it’s done by The Supremes). There is more information here from the outfit that made the video.

This is a fine discussion of Kelo that includes some additional comments on the problems with the decision. The piece was written by a legal scholar who is writing a book on Kelo.

Needless footnote: how to pronounce “Kelo”? Is the first vowel as in “kilo” and “peek,” or as in “help,” “self” and “hello”? TLB cannot agree to saying it as “Key-Low,” and feels something closer to “Kay-Low” is better.

It’s Inexplicable. Begin By Admitting That It Exists

In the West, there are legions of people who blame their governments and/or culture for the outrages committed by murderous religious fanatics who hate all that Western Civilization stands for. According to the perverse mythology of these Quisling legionnaires, neither the Taliban nor Al Qaeda is a threat to the USA. Sam Harris describes the mindset of the deluded:

Paul Berman has written a beautiful primer on totalitarianism — of the left and the right, East and West — and observed that it invariably contains a genocidal, and even suicidal, dimension. He notes that the twentieth century was a great incubator of “pathological mass movements” — political movements that “get drunk on the idea of slaughter.” He also points out that liberal thinkers are often unable to recognize these terrors for what they are.

There is indeed a great tradition, in Berman’s phrase, of “liberalism as denial.” The French Socialists in the 1930s seem to have had a peculiar genius for this style of self-deception, for despite the billowing clouds of unreason wafting over from the East, they could not bring themselves to believe that the Nazis posed a problem worth taking seriously. In the face of the German menace, they simply blamed their own government and defense industry for warmongering.

As Berman suggests, the same forces of wishful thinking and self-doubt have been gathering strength in the West in the aftermath of September 11 (2001). Because they assume that people everywhere are animated by the same desires and fears, many Western liberals now blame their own governments for the excesses of Muslim terrorists. Many suspect that we have somehow heaped this evil upon our own heads.

Berman observes, for instance, that much of the world now blames Israel for the suicidal derangement of the Palestinians. Rather than being an expression of mere anti-Semitism (though it is surely this as well), this view is the product of a quaint moral logic: people are just people, so the thinking goes, and they do not behave that badly unless they have some very good reasons. The excesses of Palestinian suicide bombers, therefore, must attest to the excesses of the Israeli occupation. Berman points out that this sort of thinking has led the Israelis to be frequently likened to the Nazis in the European press. Needless to say, the comparison is grotesque.

The above quote is from Harris’s The End of Faith, ISBN 0-7432-6809-1, pp. 134-5.

Before the West can respond to Islamic imperialism, it must recognize the existence of its own self-hatred, and deal with it. The trendy whining of malcontents and cultural flagellants cannot be ignored or dismissed as meaningless; it must be recognized as an admission of inadequacy. That means that those in and of the West who hate their culture’s heritage and accomplishments are proclaiming themselves failures. They are incapable of comprehending and rising to the level of the cultural sophistication of the West.

That last statement invariably provokes a blizzard of mockery and refutations. The assault overlooks some simple facts. First, no civilization, nation or regime can ever be a Utopia; all fail, each in its way, to attain perfection. That fact alone provokes impractical dreamers to become ideological lunatics. It is the reason there are collectivists, religious fanatics and fascists.

Second, the West, and the USA in particular, has a strong tradition of self-criticism and reform. Life in the West has improved in many ways, and because the body politic willed the changes. That evolution continues. To savage the USA or the West for their many flaws is to ignore the values that mandate continual betterment.

It is always difficult to dispel delusion and denial, and it is doubly difficult to exorcize other people who suffer from those demons. Still the effort must be made. The West has more to offer than mind-rotting mass entertainment and hoaxes. Social critics who focus on the consumerism (odd word, that) and pretensions of the US bourgeoisie need to be recognized as spitefully selective and pathologically hypersensitive.

The fashionable aspects of self-hatred are obvious. To be anti is to be pro; to be an outsider is to be “in.” As the recent economic meetings in Canada continued, and the accompanying rioting, looting, arson, assaults and battery committed by the trendy critics of Western culture proceeded, there was a cheering section of (what used to be called) Bohemians — folk who adopted an absurdist, quasi-artistic attitude toward the grim realities of law enforcement and human rights. Some behaved and posed bizarrely against a backdrop of flames and destruction; others dressed as clowns and mocked the hated establishment, daring it to brutalize them for their moronic behavior.

The anti-middle class attitudes of the “counterculture” are still very much in evidence, and that should surprise no one, for they were born in the early nineteenth century (some would say long before that) and have remarkable durability. The “brownshoe” segment of the economy has long been and remains an object of ridicule. Mix in healthy doses of collectivist mythology, insane conspiracism and Utopian fantasies, and you have a heady brew that celebrates the lunatic extremes of individualism. In a sense, it’s healthy and bracing. It’s a reminder that sanity is not guaranteed and is devoutly to be pursued.

As valid and necessary as cultural and political criticism are, and as useful as excursions into madness can be (they generate maps clearly marked “Road closed” and “Quicksand”), at some point reason must intervene. There are conclusions to be drawn, and blinkered clowns are not qualified to do that.

An honest critique of the West reveals that it and it alone has celebrated and defended the individual. All other cultural responses to the madcap whims of Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi have degraded, debased and despoiled mankind. For example, Islam, than which there is no more toxic ideology, must be set aside, and only the West can do that.

For more on the origins of the West’s pernicious tradition of self-hatred, see Parkinson’s East and West; there’s a poor review of this seminal book here.

Links

Beyond the obvious, there’s no commenting on the mess that’s called “Dodd-Frank” because it is far too complex and addresses a phenomenon that is in turn infinitely complex. That said, note that this compromise attempt to do the impossible was cobbled together by the least competent and most unprincipled figures in what is arguably the worst Congress the USA has ever had, and that it was done at the urging of a manifestly unqualified gaggle of ideologues in the executive branch of government. May Providence extend her tender mercies to a suffering nation.

Related: when the discussion turns to this narrower issue, however, specific criticism is possible. The anti-business attitude of the “progressive” crowd is often expressed as a pro-labor union stance. That’s fundamentally illogical, as it assumes that business and labor are somehow distinct entities, when they are not. A divisive and adversarial approach to the means of production and distribution cannot produce optimal results, but those who are by nature partisan — or who came by that affliction after being exposed to Marxism and its derivatives — are spoiling for a slogan-laden fight. They believe the world can be perfected by authoritarians and tyrants. Pity.

What a good idea this is! Pass it on. A tip of the hat to GB for the link.

Topic: Arizona, the new law, the border, and the nauseating reactions to common sense. She “mis-spoke,” or is she stupid? Saying “pacific” when you meant to say “specific” is mis-speaking, but crafting an argument around a fact that you know to be wrong is stupid. Meanwhile, some plain talk that will be mocked and/or ignored.

Dennis Prager explains the implications of the forthcoming election in terms of the exceptionalism and founding values of the USA. His critics will say he has not distinguished between the ethos of “progressives” and that of their opponents in sufficient detail, but the quote from Obama virtually dismisses the need to spell it all out.

This interesting article describes recent advances in genetics. This newsletter wonders whether these discoveries might lead to the addition of a new food to the diet of billions of people — people who can’t digest it at present.

According to this report, Kagan says the court must ensure that “our government never oversteps its proper bounds or violates the rights of individuals. … But….” Cripes! There’s always a but with you Obama appointees, isn’t there? And somehow, that but always works out to our disadvantage. For instance, Kagan says the law is bad but that does not matter (!), because the government won’t enforce it. Oh, marvelous — bad laws, one less thing to worry about! As if this were not enough, the nominee said this with a straight face: “My politics would be, must be, have to be completely separate from my judging.” Yes, she did say that. Really. And she expects us mere plebs to believe she’s not lying.

Fearless prediction, provided without the help of Madame Zelda: states, counties and municipalities will be adding layer after layer of burdensome requirements to the process of registering firearms. As a result, the courts will be flooded with lawsuits that should not ever have to be filed. All because the federal supreme court has finally decided that all of the first ten amendments to the nation’s constitution are supposed to be taken seriously.

“It’s unusual to see an incumbent politician openly express his desire to use campaign finance regulation to stifle advocacy for his political opponents.” Maybe, but this is, as TLB has pointed out tirelessly, the worst Congress in US history, so when this Congressman said that, nobody in this newsletter’s office batted an eye. Note, please, that the observation that “At least he’s honest” has TLB staff snarling. Bin Laden is honest, as well, yet that does not make him a good guy. There is no reason to give any member of Congress a pass on anything; the lot of them just don’t deserve it.

It will be interesting to see how many delays this ship will be put through by the federal government. It has been predicted that three days of inspections and paperwork ought to do it. Time will tell….

Reading the tea leaves in the Muddle East leads one to ask, “Would Obama go through with it?” This newsletter has always suspected he’s a Jew-hater who has yet to let his bigotry show in an angry, impulsive outburst. That suspicion could be wrong. So he might just go through with what he appears to be planning. Or it could all be a feint meant to keep Iran off balance.

Obamaniacs, note well these facts: Michael Yon has been consistently recommended to readers of this newsletter as a source of excellent news and commentary on Iraq and Afghanistan. Gen. McChrystal is one of you, meaning he is an Obama supporter — he even banned Foxfrom TVs in his HQ (scroll down to “Even more….”). Yon despised McChrystal’s tactical and strategic approach to the struggle, and said, “This war is above his head.” Yon was kicked out of the US Army’s “embed” program. Obama fired McChrystal’s predecessor and put Mac in charge. McChrystal is an idiot. By putting Petraeus in charge of the US effort in Afghanistan, Obama has prevented the four-star general from running for president in 2012. Yon has been invited to embed with the US or UK forces. There has to be a lesson or three in there somewhere…even for Obamaniacs.

When you buy products from mainland China, you cause all sorts of problems for yourself and your nation. Your mistake is often hard on Chinese workers, as well. Don’t feed the dragon!

There is no room for “moderates” in the (settled) debate over anthropogenic global warming. Either carbon dioxide has the physical properties to cause AGW, or it does not; either the hockeystick graph is accurate, or it is not; either increases in the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide precede increases in temperature or they lag them; either the Maldives are drowning or they are not, and so on. “Moderate” views no more exist on these and related issues than do “moderate” views on whether two plus two equals five. But if you insist on trying to find a happy medium, and you are tired of the hiss-and-spit of AGW arguments, have a look at this web page. You may like the weblog of which it is part, as well. Just be careful, Pilgrims — “moderation” can be extremely dangerous! Oh, and if you want the best of climate science, turn to past issues of this newsletter for hyperlinks to the work of Richard Lindzen. You will also find other solid sources there. Guaranteed: not a locomotive engineer in the bunch….

Sorry, but…this is just too good to skip. “A California doctor examining a young woman with abdominal pains asked her if she was sexually active. She said that she wasn’t. A later examination showed that she was pregnant. Asked why she said that she was not sexually active, the woman replied ‘I’m not, I just lie there.’ When asked if she knew who the father was, with a puzzled look she replied, ‘No. Who?'” From here, but don’t click on the hyperlink!

How bad will the Gulf spill be? Newsweek thinks it knows, and the magazine could be right. Read without investing faith.