Thursday, March 31, 2005

Just an observation

Right after the 9-11 attacks, prominent writers and bloggers spoke of the need to speak clearly about what had happened and to avoid gooey euphemisms. References to Orwell's "Politics and the English Language" were quite in vogue as i remember. Andrew Sullivan may have lost his taste for clear speaking but some have not. It seems appropriate to point to this Chicago Tribune column.
Don't sugarcoat what's happening to Terri Schiavo

I've been searching for the right word to describe what is happening to Terri Schiavo, a word that has some real blood to it.

It's important to find the right word now, because, by the time you read this, the severely brain-damaged woman might be dead.

Perhaps you've noticed other bloodless words being flipped at her, words like "viability" and phrases like "pull the plug."

These words were once the issue of bloodless people, of clerks and sophists who can prove almost anything with their fine arguments. The rest of us have fed on them until they shape how we think, shaping our options, shaping our future
Email moratorium

To my fellow bloggers. I think it is time to stop calling for readers to send emails to third parties. It is pretty clear that they are worse than ineffective: they are counter-productive. A non-trivial number of those emails will be hateful, irrational, and illiterate. They make it easy for the other side to construct strawman arguments. So let's just give it a rest.
Theresa Marie Schindler Schiavo - RIP

From the Boston Herald
Brother Paul O'Donnell, an adviser to Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, said the parents and their two other children ``were denied access at the moment of her death. They've been requesting, as you know, for the last hour to try to be in there and they were denied access by Michael Schiavo. They are in there now, praying at her bedside.''

From Dawn Eden
A Schindler spokesman, Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, said in a press conference that I just heard on WINS that Michael Schiavo was not in her room at the time.
Cracker Barrel Philosopher on Michael Schiavo

I tend to think of him as Joey Buttafucco with a marginally higher IQ

Personally, i think he's Scott Peterson with better PR people.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Question for the anti-Delay Republicans

Could you please outline what your new coalition looks like? I'm not talking about principles, i'm talking numbers.

Who is going to replace those social values voters? What evidence is there that there are 3 or 5 million libertarians who refused to vote for Bush Solely because of his religious supporters.?

I like Barry Goldwater as much as any conservative, but i don't think we want to repeat his performance in 1964.
WFB and Tom Delay

Thought and action.

WFB famously wrote that he would rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than by the faculties of Harvard and MIT.

Tom Delay thought Congress should have a voice in life/death issues, not just law school graduates.

Say what you want, but you can't call Tom Delay a bad conservative or anti-democratic.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Theocrat alert

For all the world to see, a 41-year-old woman, who has committed no crime, will die of dehydration and starvation in the longest public execution in American history.

No wait. That's Nat Hentoff. Here's more.
And keep in mind from the Ralph Nader-Wesley Smith report: "The courts . . . have [also] ordered that no attempts be made to provide her water or food by mouth. Terri swallows her own saliva. Spoon feeding is not medical treatment. This outrageous order proves that the courts are not merely permitting medical treatment to be withheld, they have ordered her to be made dead."

In this country, even condemned serial killers are not executed in this way
Any one want to compare Hentoff's lifetime of work on behalf of civil rights and civil liberties with that of the former television critic of the TV Guide?
MSM bias and Theresa Marie Schindler Schiavo

Usually they do not lie. The bias is in how they frame the story, what they include and what they omit.

They did just that in Florida. They focused on the religious supporters of the Schindlers while ignoring the views of the disabled activists.

Kesher Talk has a good roundup on the views of those who fear they will be next now that the legal line has been drawn.

She also shines a light on the really odd beliefs of Michael Schiavo's lawyer. The MSM was quick to find the Catholic in the woodpile when it came to the Schindler side. They felt no similar quest for truth when it came to the death cult.
Dangerously close to the edge

Patterico is acting almost like a reporter. We just may have to tear the blogger insignia off his pajamas.
Call me a cynic

But i really doubt that the doctors who speak so authoritatively on TV about what Terri Schindler Schiavo feels would do so in a case where they had malpractice liability. Nope, when their ass is on the line (or at the bar) medical science yields to the many unknowns a good doctor must confront.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Why has no one thought of this before?

Shouldn't smoking cigarettes be mandatory for everyone over 50 or 55? That is one fairly effective way to decrease the number of oldsters with strong hearts but withered minds.

Another thing. Shouldn't Pete Townsend be worried about going to a hospital? I mean we all know what his wishes are.

Last thing. Woody Hayes had a ready answer for teen-agers who demanded to know why they should listen to an old codger like him. Simple, he'd say. They had never been 60 years old, but he had been 17. Something to remember for the 'i wouldn't want to live like that crowd.' (And isn't she taking a long time to die for someone with no will to live?)
Dos Passos

all right we are two nations

I guess that makes him a "polarizing" writer. But the thirties were filled with polarizing, engaged writers. That was seen as a feature, not a bug.

I'd still take Dos Passos over the current crop of smirking self-absorbed hipsters.

That includes John Derbyshire. In his grouchy curmudgeon pose he is as shallow as Maureen Dowd. Just in a different way.
Odd thing about good writing

John Dos Passos thought Sacco and Venzetti innocent. When he wrote The Big Money he was in his far-left,near-commie phase. Still, his writing just burns the page. Even this wingnut who thinks they were guilty can see that.
they have clubbed us off the streets they are stronger they are rich they hire and fire the politicians the newspaper editors the old judges the small men with reputations the college presidents the wardheelers (Listen businessmen college presidents judges America will not forget her betrayers) they hire the men with guns the uniforms the policecars the patrolwagons

America our nation has been beaten by strangers who have turned our language inside out who have taken the clean words our fathers spoke and made them slimy and foul
More here.

Sunday, March 27, 2005


This week's roundup by Lane Core is filled with good posts on Terri Schiavo.

Saturday, March 26, 2005


Andrew Sullivan hated The Passion of the Christ. It was too bloody, too violent. Cruel. Sadistic. Demented. Soul-killing. Horrible.

It was just a movie and it only lasted two hours.

The real life events depicted in that film took place in the span of a single day. Less than 24 hours.

Terri Schiavo has been denied water for over eight days. Over two hundred hours.

UPDATE: Everyone who thinks it's a fine idea what they are doing in Florida should read this and follow the links.
Scene from a movie John Wayne never made

Setting: a blistering hot and dusty stagecoach station in the Arizona desert. The Ringo Kid is loading a very sick, unconscious woman onto the empty stagecoach. The stationmaster comes through the door and is startled to see him preparing to leave with the suffering woman.

Gabby: Ringo! What are you doing with that poor woman? She’s in no condition to travel.

Ringo Kid: She bought a ticket to Tucson, Gabby, and the Pinellas Express company pays me to deliver their passengers. That’s exactly what I intend to do.

Gabby: But Ringo. The trip will kill her.

Ringo Kid: Jeeze. If I leave her here I’ll have to fill out paperwork in Tucson trying to explain why. Besides, you know she’s gonna’ die from this fever either way.

Gabby: I know that. But we have shade here. And plenty of water. She’ll be more comfortable here. That hot dirty stage is no place to die.

Ringo Kid: Dead’s dead. I don’t want the hassle.

Gabby moves toward him as the Kid slams the stage door.

What are you planning to do? You aren’t fast enough to try me. Besides if you shoot me the sheriff will come looking for the stage and how will you explain it to him? And don’t forget this stage carries the mail. That means the U.S. marshal will come after you. And for what? The woman will be dead by then.

The Ringo Kid climbs up on the stagecoach as a furious but paralyzed Gabby glares at him.

This ain’t like you Gabby. But no hard feelings, OK? Tell you what--why don’t you ride into town later and I’ll buy you a drink. After that we can go to the sporting house. They have some new girls. I hear those Lebanese chicks are really hot.
The on-going discussion in flyover country

When i wrote this, this is exactly the thing i had in mind.
The few, the proud, the dismayed

She's making a little list. My own surfing has gone through the same whittling down. It is sad that that this is so. I never knew that the right to sell sex toys in Alabama was a bigger federal issue than court-ordered death by dehydration.

Another thing. Don't a bunch of libertarian warbloggers owe the Taliban an apology? It was such a big blogging deal that the Taliban stoned adulteresses to death and buried homosexuals under stone walls. But no one argued that those punished were innocent or that they had been deprived over their legal rights and due process under the prevailing laws of their state. If we are going to be so hands off in Florida, if we are going to hide behind legalisms, then should not the same be true in Afghanistan or Nigeria?
All worth reading

Ben Stein
This is a court system totally out of control, obviously committed to death, obviously bound by nothing beyond its morbid obsession with its own omnipotence and its fascination with the letting the innocent die. This is simply terrifying. The Falange followers of Francisco Franco had an evil cry: Long live death. Obviously, Justice Kennedy was listening.

The Impending Schiavo Truth Crunch
A simple comparison of the facts about Terri Schiavo being discussed on the internet with the story being told on the news reveals a truth crunch that will dwarf anything we’ve experienced to date. What’s a truth crunch you ask? It’s the point at which the actual facts of a story become so widely known that its impossible for the media to sustain its preconceived narrative.

Jerry Pournelle
If we decided to kill a dog by starving it to death and giving it no water, the police would come and rescue the dog and jail the perpetrators.

Don't sugarcoat what's happening to Terri Schiavo
And we've allowed this. We've embraced the values of the bureaucrat, of the manager, and replaced those older, iconic Western values of self-reliance, accepting responsibility and meeting things head on. One of these values--albeit ignored through countless wars and cruelties--is that human life is sacred. But now we are about process. Now we are about avoiding consequence. We're about keeping our hands clean, and we use words to scrub them.

Terry Schiavo is starving to death now because the machinery of the government, otherwise known as the state, has decreed that she will be starved to death

Friday, March 25, 2005

Could a dead Terri really be worth $8 million to Michael Schiavo?

Read this analysis. It is brutally cynical. But his economics ring true.

I am almost ashamed to point this out. OTOH, i've read nothing that makes me say "Michael Schiavo will never do that". Time will tell if we judge him too harshly. (My money is on the "no we haven't" square.)
Judge leaves his church

Here's how his local paper covered it.
Judge Greer parts ways with his church on pastor's advice

(HT: Galley Slaves)

OTB reacted to that and commented:
Quite bizarre.
I know little about Judge Greer and his fealty to Baptist principles. Presumably, one could be devoutly Baptist--and even believe fervently that Michael Schiavo's actions are sinful--and still conclude that the law required that he rule as he did. While it's often observed only in the breech, a judge's ruling on a case and his personal belief in what is "right" do not always coincide. Indeed, many on the Christian Right complain bitterly about secularist judges imposing their morality on the country
The story is a little more murky than you might think. For one thing, his minister did not turn him away at the door. Judge Greer had already had a hissy fit and stopped attending services.
It’s now a matter of public record – as reported by the St. Petersburg Times, New York Times and Miami Herald – that Judge Greer became estranged from his long-time church family at Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater in the fall of 2003 after the Witness editorialized in defense of Terri Schiavo and criticized his decisions. Greer was offended by my editorials and because Calvary sends the Witness to its membership via our Church Newsletter Service, in response the judge stopped attending church. (Interestingly, however, Judge Greer told us in the summer of 2004 when we interviewed him during his re-election campaign that he still considered himself an active member of Calvary, while admitting that he did not attend regularly.)

And he seems to have an odd view of membership
Greer, who said he had other unrelated problems with the church, said he explained to a deacon, "If I don't like what the St. Pete Times writes about me, my only recourse is to cancel my subscription." So he stopped his donations to the church, though he is still a member.
You can read more here and here.

Seems to me that the judge (who is, after all, also a politician) was trying to have it both ways. He was not willing to be an active member of the church. But he liked being able to wave his membership at reporters to deflect criticism about his handling of the Schiavo case. The minister called him on it (in other cases we might call this speaking truth to power) so the Judge quit.
Did the pro-life movement go to far?

I know many think that the ”Christian Right” has alienated many Americans on the Schiavo case. They point to their polls and opine that some sort of conservative crack-up is inevitable.

I’m not so sure.

Public opinion in here in flyover country hasn’t hardened. Right now it is reacting to what it hears from Matthews and Jennings and their ilk. But over time we will also listen to our friends and our families. Millions of us will hear our first sermon in months this Sunday. Millions more will hear from those who heard those sermons.

Don’t laugh. Even a lot of us unchurched types still respect our more devout kin and we do listen to them. It’s not like the blogosphere where the anti-Christers try to drown them out with their big noise and snarky-snark.

The diffusion of information will breakdown the neat categories that the pro-death side created. People will learn that not every one who opposed this court-ordered starvation looks like Jerry Falwell. This blogger doesn’t fit the stereotype of the eeevil Christian Right. Neither does this one. What is true of the blogosphere is even more true of the public at large. The neat categories breakdown and people will face the uncomfortable questions. Opinions will change. It has happened before.

For a quarter century we’ve heard that the pro-life plank hurt Republicans. Yet, in that time, they’ve won five of seven presidential elections.

Back in 1993 the NRA was criticized for its inflexibility. It opposed Clinton’s AWB and pushed for the right to carry concealed weapons. “Republican strategists” were horrified: the party was being held hostage by extremists. Democrats were excited: No way soccer moms would forgive conservatives who opposed poor Sarah Brady.

Then we held an election. And the pro-second amendment side swept the field. And held it for a decade. To the shock and dismay of the Matthews and the Jennings.

Another thing about that church stuff. This is a bad week to kill a defenseless woman through dehydration. Two words: “I thirst.” If you don’t get it, well then you are going to have a problem understanding how public opinion develops in this country. John Ashcroft would get it immediately. Which brings up my last point.

When you picture all those conversations and debates don’t make the mistake the press always does. Don’t view them as Denny Hastert listening to Nancy Pelosi while trying to ignore Tom Delay. Don’t picture them as a million little round-tables like Scarborough Country with Andrew Sullivan and Rich Lowry and Howard Fineman and Susan Estrich. That’s Washington’s view of mainstream. It’s more accurate to picture them as happening in Missouri. The mainstream runs from John Ashcroft to Dick Gephardt. A place where it is easier to be a pro-life Democrat than it is to be a pro-choice Republican. Further, a place where electoral success for Republicans seems to go to those who are strongly pro-life not just wishy-washy.

An important note. Even if i am wrong, i still think the fight is worth fighting. There are more important things than short-term political calculations.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Red Lake

This blogger used to teach at the school where the shooting happened. More insight than the usual talking heads and a boatload more humanity.

(HT: Julie Neidlinger)
I admire her spirit


I don’t give a fuck about your ill-informed opinion. If I did, I’d be at YOUR shitty blog.
So many soft little boys trying to play tough, hard men

Nonetheless, people such as Ayn Rand—and the nerds and geeks who cling to her in the naive belief that her rotten novels will turn them into supermen
swiped from here.

I was reminded of it by some of the comment threads i've been reading lately.

The Junk Yard Blog is one of my daily reads and has been since before i started blogging. This recent post is typical of the combination of moral passion and clear thinking found there.


What i especially like about JYB is that it is willing to revisit old issues to remind us what really happened, not what the MSM is trying to spin.

To wit:

If you think that a famous fundie preacher called a cartoon gay, make sure you read this:


Or, if you think that CBS really investigated the TANG documents story, don't miss this:


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Today's inconvenient reading

Judge Greer's Mistakes
follow the links, too.

Setting Precedent


Michael Schiavo: Loving Husband Or Monster?

The Rule of Terri's Case Strikes Again
Terri's parents are held to the letter of the law; the man who is trying to kill her is given heaping amounts of "judicial discretion."

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

“Wood and nails and colored eggs”

This passage from Martin Bell's remarkable little book The Way of the Wolf: The Gospel in New Images seems especially timely this Easter season.

God raised Jesus from the dead to the end that we should be clear-once and for allth-at there is nothing more important than being human. Our lives have eternal significance. And no one-absolutely no one-is expendable.

Colored Eggs

Some human beings are fortunate enough to be able to color eggs on Easter. If you have a pair of hands to hold the eggs, or if you are fortunate enough to be able to see the brilliant colors, then you are twice blessed.

This Easter some of us cannot hold the eggs, others of us cannot see the colors, many of us are unable to move at all-and so it will be necessary to color the eggs in our hearts.

This Easter there is a hydrocephalic child lying very still in a hospital bed nearby with a head the size of his pillow and vacant, unmoving eyes, and he will not be able to color Easter eggs, and he will not be able to color Easter eggs in his heart, and so God will have to color eggs for him.

And God will color eggs for him. You can bet your life and the life of the created universe on that.

At the cross of Calvary God reconsecrated and sanctified wood and nails and absurdity and helplessness to be continuing vehicles of his love. And then he simply raised Jesus from the dead. And they both went home and colored eggs

What they said

Eternity Road

Victory Soap

Sharp Knife

Scott Chaffin

Monday, March 21, 2005

Credit where due

Two very worthy blogs


The Anchoress

And this is why Lileks is, well, Lileks
Then there are those who brim with passion not just for the state-approved quietus, but with fury for those who oppose it. Fury and impatience. I’m not talking about the people who regard Schiavo as brain dead and believe her guardian should be allowed to carry out what he insists are her wishes, without the state’s intercession – I mean those who show up on message boards and comment forums sneering about vegetables-in-pampers, and have a good larf pointing at the christers with their imaginary friend in the sky who tells them that an angel will come down and give her a brain like the Wizard of Oz or somethin’. It’s this combination of nihilism, cynicism and a flat nasty refusal to even consider the possibility of transcendence, puffed up with that brackish snarkier-than-thou style that makes the Comic Book Guy the patron saint of the Usenet.

Two from XRLQ

On three strikes laws
Meanwhile, somewhere in California, a family you’ve never heard of is playing in a park with their photogenic 9-year-old daughter, who you’ve also never heard of and never will. Instead, she’ll grow up to lead an ordinary, boring life just like everyone else, blissfully ignorant of the sick monster who didn’t get to rape or murder her three weeks ago because he was and is rotting in Folsom over a string of “nonviolent” offenses.

On the right legal standard for right-to-die cases
Um, no. If the evidence is inconclusive, you don’t kill the patient. It’s really that simple.
That's one expensive breakfast

WSB-Radio reported this evening that the video camera feed into the control room at the FUCO Courthouse was not being monitored during the critical time that Nichols overpowered Deputy Hall; because, the officers in that room had been asked by their supervisor to GO GET HIM SOME BREAKFAST.

Read more at Loompaland.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Now this is a law i can support 100%

Celebrity murder trial jurors shall be held incommunicado for a period of no less than 180 days and no longer than 365 days. Any attempt to blatantly profit from the civic duty of passing a verdict shall result in triple-time being levied.

Scott Chaffin is on to something here.
A viewpoint you won't hear on the cable lovefests with Anne and Gloria

Writing the book on sibling rivalry

Now mothers have a little more to fear. After Scott Peterson was convicted of murdering his wife, Laci, and their unborn child, his sister Anne Bird decided to write “Blood Brother: 33 Reasons My Brother Scott Peterson Is Guilty.”

“Isn’t this a new low?” I said, picking up the copy from a stack at my local bookstore.

“Tacky,” pronounced the bookseller.

No kidding. Seems to me it would be just as easy to write a book called “33 Reasons Not to Write a Book About Your Brother No Matter How Guilty He Is.” We could start this particular list with the fact that just having a murderer in the family means that your mother has suffered enough.

Or we could dwell on how the betrayal of this book is so great that it actually manages to make Scott Peterson seem like a sympathetic character. Even the defense attorney couldn’t do that.

Or we could stick with just two little words: death penalty
Another thing bothers me about the Amber Frey and Anne Bird books. They want us to believe that they wrote them so that we would know the truth. Yet at every interview they have their attorney (Gloria Allred) sitting next to them to answer the hard questions. Why? Why lawyer up like a mobster? Is it really that hard to simply tell the truth?

Friday, March 18, 2005

George Kennan, RIP

OTB has a round-up. Daniel Drezner's post is very good and nuanced.

Contra-Instapundit, Wolfawitz is the Paul Nitze of the War on Terror. Kennan was a true maverick who spent most of his career outside of government. As a thinker/writer/diplomat only Kissinger is his peer in the post-WWII era. Nitize, on the other hand, was the more able policy-maker, was a more engaged thinker, but never produced a book as penetrating at the Memoirs, The White House Years, or A World Restored.

For more on Kennan and Nitze, see Strategies of Containment.

Hence the immense popularity of Tom Clancy's novels

What is known is that boys generally take longer to learn to read than girls; they read less and are less enthusiastic about it; and they have more trouble understanding narrative texts yet are better at absorbing informational texts

Rest is here.

A related note. A half century ago, the best seller lists were dominated by the quintessential manly male books-- Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer novels.
Statistically, Spillane was a phenomenon in a class of his own: his first seven novels still rank in the top fifteen sellers of the past fifty years. At one point, when they were all in the top ten, Spillane joked that it was a good thing he hadn't written three more.

Newsstands of the post-war era were stocked with an now-extinct species-- the male adventure titles. They were a far cry from Details.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Bankruptcy Reform

One of the reasons the "bankruptcy reform" effort was successful is that Americans have a deep uneasiness about the use of unsecured credit.

I've spent most of my career in banking and actually worked for two large credit card companies. The uneasiness showed up all the time in our consumer research. A large proportion of transactors (those people who did not pay finance charges) believed that people who did borrow on credit cards were lazy, feckless, and stupid. This attitude was widespread and persistent. Researchers dubbed it the "moralization of credit."

Revolvers (those who did pay finance charges) were a lot like cigarette smokers. They were aware of others's disapproval and would often lie about their behavior. No surprise that no one could organize them to oppose the bill.

This moralizing seems only to apply to individuals. Corporations do not face thee same obloquy. Donald Trump has used the threat of bankruptcy to restructure his corporate debt several times, but few think that this disqualifies him from playing the savvy business titan on TV.
Milking their fifteen minutes

The morning TV is all about the Peterson and Blake trials, of course. Watching the Peterson jurors take their victory lap is enough to make this wingnut question the death penalty. Just not sure about a system where voting for death is the ticket to a little more time in front of the cameras.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

A crime the press doesn't care about

If you watch cable news you know that there is another Scott Peterson book out. This one is written is written by CourTV anchor Catherine Crier. Greta, Dan, Larry, are focusing on the juicy bits-- more evidence that Peterson was a jerk with women and an unconcerned husband of a missing wife.

This story in the Modesto Bee gets at the really interesting question.
Author Catherine Crier, boasting "unparalleled access I have had to the inner workings of this investigation and trial," based much of the 480-page crime novel on dozens of police reports and wiretap transcripts.

But most of those documents remain sealed from public view, by court order. And that suggests someone broke the law by leaking them to Crier or her associates.

How did she get them

Crier, of course, is not saying. Her commitment to law and order is situational. She is happy to be an accessory after the fact if that will let her write a best-selling book. Moreover, CourtTV had these documents while they were covering the trial. It is hard to believe that this did not color their coverage. (I wonder if Crier would have been worried about violations of the gag order if the material appeared to come from the defense side?)

I've discussed the unholy alliance of press, prosecutors, and leakers before.

On leaks, bias and truth

Perp Walk
Atlanta Fallout

Stephanie Key is blogging the heck out of the story. It is the best first stop for anyone interested in what went wrong in Fulton county court last Friday.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


Police missed early chance

Two attendants at Five Points Garage said they heard a sport utility vehicle driven by Nichols smash through the gate and screech into the garage. Atlanta police units were just seconds behind.

The attendants said they twice tried to show officers how to block the only exits from the garage at Wall and Peachtree streets, three blocks from the Fulton County Courthouse. Instead, a motorcycle officer and two squad cars sped into the structure after Nichols, leaving no one to watch for him at street level.

IMHO Congress should hearings on our ability to protect soft targets like "movie theaters, restaurants and schools" instead of grandstanding with Canseco and steroids.
Giuliana Sgrena: She sounds like an objective journalist to me

"Be careful not to get kidnapped," Doornbos warned Sgrena.

"You don't understand the situation," she responded, according to Doornbos' account last week in Nederlands Dagblad. (Excerpts were translated into English and posted on a Dutch writer's Web blog.) "The Iraqis only kidnap American sympathizers. The enemies of the Americans have nothing to fear.

And this is just charming

She got nabbed on her way back to her hotel. Sgrena told her captors she was on their side, and suggested they kidnap an American soldier instead. But the U.S. government doesn't pay ransoms.

More here.

Monday, March 14, 2005

MSM: Might as well face it, they're addicted to glurge*

I understand that the story of Ashlee Smith is almost irresistible to the media. And there is no doubt that the woman displayed amazing presence of mind and grace under inconceivable pressure. But the wall-to-wall coverage of this feel good story is squeezing out the disturbing questions raised in Atlanta.

The response of the Atlanta PD deserves some serious attention. It's been three years and a half years since 9-11 and two and a half since the DC snipers. Yet, in one of our largest cities, a single man with a gun caught the police completely off-guard. Had Brian Nichols been a terrorist with friends, he would be planning his next attack right now.

If the problem is unique to Atlanta then it is a local matter. But I think national networks should find out why the APD dropped the ball and if other cities are better prepared.

UPDATE: OK, this is progress. Blogger Michael King is going to be on Fox tonight to talk about the problems in the Fulton County Sheriff's Department.

UPDATE 2: It sounds like La Shawn Barber will be talking about security issues on MSNBC at 5.00 EST.
If journalists do real, on-the-ground reporting

What do we call the people who do "news" on television?

See this review of Tom Fenton's new book:
"When I first went to work for CBS News," he recalls, "we had a Rome bureau staffed by three correspondents. Now we have only three foreign bureaus staffed by correspondents in the entire world." Four of those correspondents are based in London, not because much news happens there, but because that's where the product is "packaged." Footage shot elsewhere in the world by services available to paying news clients is fed to London where a generic story line is written and the package distributed. A CBS staffer might then edit the copy with a correspondent standing by to track the piece and sign off from London, having contributed zero to the reporting involved. The practice, Fenton correctly argues, "can also lead to omissions and errors."
I saw Fenton on BookTV yesterday being interviewed by Roger Mudd. He made the same point but with a twist. When he reported a Middle Eastern story, his crew shot it in front of a large mosque in London. A small deception, perhaps, but a telling one.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Gee, ya' think?

Mistakes may have delayed capture
Atlanta Fallout

Hobby horse alert. Now that Brian Nichols is back in custody, bloggers can move to the "bigger" issues at work in this fiasco.

A poster at Blogcritics falls into to the Jarvis camp-- blaming the escape on our concern for the rights of the accused.
I also wanted to note another instance where the system's bending over backwards to ensure a fair trial for the accused may have turned around and bitten the system hard, on it's collective ass. At the very least, they should have kept the orange-red jumpsuit and shackles. If it was good enough for Denny Rader, the accused BTK Strangler, serial murderer of at least 10 people, to appear in jailhouse coveralls and chains at his arraignment, a man who on the surface had always appeared to most to be an excessively law-abiding citizen, it was good enough for Brian Nichols.

Over at Michelle Malkin there are plenty of people ready to conclude that the whole thing happened because the deputy escorting Nichols was a woman. The discussion has gone to absurd lengths with some wondering why a female officer was allowed to walk beside him after he was arrested and manacled on Saturday.

Fortunately, there are cooler heads posting as well. Stop the Bleating gets at the critical issue-- Nichols was a tough customer who could have overpowered many male LEOs. The big mistake was letting a single guard try to handle him while wearing a gun.

It's pretty clear here that that failure belongs to the Sheriff's department in Fulton county. Stephanie Key has a series of posts on the many problems in that department. This is not a matter of PC sensibilities, but of a poorly run department and political in-fighting.

Given that, it seems a real stretch to blame this on "bending over backwards to ensure a fair trial for the accused." Security in the courthouse was not compromised by Supreme Court decisions. It was lax because the people in charge could not be bothered to treat it seriously.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

The answers are eagerly awaited

Confederate Yankee offers the The Jeff Gannon Challenge. It's not as snarky as the title suggests. Actually, they are pretty interesting questions.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Protecting judges

Jeff Jarvis gets hysterical and i am forced to out myself as a bleeding heart civil libertarian.

Over at Buzzmachine he posts about "The danger of insanity" but rambles into the Atlanta courthouse shooting and Michael Jackson.

I don't disagree with the idea that we have been too ready to let mentally ill people live on the street, harass passers-by, and sometime commit crimes. But i do think he over-reacted here.
Look at today's tragic shooting of a judge in Atlanta. I doubt that this is about insanity; it's about raw criminality: A man on trial and facing forever in jail with nothing to lose is able to grab a gun because he was dressed in civilian clothes without handcuffs or shackles, they're saying on TV now -- so he wouldn't look guilty to a jury. Two good people are dead and others are injured when their safety should have come first; they needed to be protected from a dangerous and desperate man. The priorities are wrong.
Jarvis thinks the presumption of innocence is a minor matter to be tossed aside to protect the people in the court room. (Make sure you read the comments.)

I think there are better ways to maintain security without increasing the risk of wrongful conviction. Better training and supervision of the deputies and revised procedures for escorting prisoners can help prevent most of these cases (which are already rare). I think our objective should be to make courtrooms safer without sending innocent men to jail. (I don't think there is any question that shackling a defendant and putting him in an orange jump suit does make him look more "guilty" and dangerous and, hence, increases the chances of conviction.)

The funny thing is, this kind of "knee jerk" thinking (see the comments) is not just a left-wing position. Conservative judge David Sentelle (Clinton bete noir during the scandal years) made a similar plea for the presumption of innocence which i discussed here.

OTB's James Joyner will be discussing the recent attacks on judges this afternoon on MSNBC.
More TR: The Dissenting View

Chris Caldwell of The Weekly Standard considers TR "an egomaniacal weirdo who was as close to being a psycopath as anyone who ever occupied the Oval Office" in this Atlantic piece.

By any scale of values that have prevailed since the Second World War, Teddy Roosevelt is a wretched example of an American President. As a person, he was a repellent figure. Squeaky-voiced and insecure about his masculinity, he devoted much of his young adulthood to tormenting his wayward but considerably more athletic brother Elliott (Eleanor Roosevelt's father) with every means at his disposal.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

"Alfred Kinsey: The American Lysenko"

Terrific article over at City Journal

A new PBS documentary on Kinsey also premiered this month. Both the film and the documentary present the standard liberal “dispassionate man of science versus the forces of prejudice” morality tale—or rather, fairy tale. True, they allow that Kinsey had his faults. But then, the “flawed giant” shtick has now become the customary method of damage control among liberal historians and filmmakers, desperate to restore luster to their tarnished idols. What’s obvious to anyone who examines Kinsey’s life and work dispassionately—indeed, obvious to anyone who watches the documentary itself and sifts the facts it reports from the breathless hagiography—isn’t conceded for a moment: that Kinsey was a fraud whose work did absolutely nothing to provide a genuinely scientific or rational justification for the revolution in morals he nevertheless helped foster.


In fact, Kinsey was nothing more than an American Lysenko, his work as ideologically driven and scientifically insignificant as that of the infamous Soviet hack, who scientifically “proved” that acquired characteristics could be inherited and thus that the commissars really could engineer a “New Man.” The only “beneficiaries” of Kinsey’s revolution, if that’s what they are, are people pretty much like him: oversexed men, now free to use other human beings as sexual playthings and then toss them aside like so much rubbish as they move on to the next conquest, unconstrained by any legal, financial, or moral obligations to the objects of their lust.

HT: PrestoPundit
The manliness of Theodore Roosevelt

Instapundit flags this essay in the New Criterion by Harvey Mansfield. He hits the one money quote (which is too good not to repeat.)
The theorists today who say masculinity is a social construction often give the impression that there’s nothing to it; society waves a wand and a nerd is made manly. No, it takes effort to become manly, as Teddy Roosevelt says. The more manliness is constructed, the more effort it takes. The more we admire effort like TR’s rather than the beautiful nature and noble ease of Homer’s Achilles, the more we admire will-power manliness and the more we depend on it.

But this is pretty good as well.
Even virtue might be too undemanding for him, for the virtuous person finds virtue to be pleasantly harmonious with his inclination, does not worry about his will-power, and does not struggle to be good. Roosevelt does speak of manly virtues, but these are habits of the zestful performance of duty. Duty gives shape to will-power, directing and checking it; and society—not the loner—defines duty.

This is not quoted in the article, but it is one of my favorite TR observations and it is sure to warm Kim du Toit's heart.

To my mind there is no comparison between sport with the rifle and sport with the shotgun. The rifle is the freeman's weapon.

Mansfield discusses TR and William James. Last year wrote about politics, TR, and the other James brother

Maybe the Frontier Did Matter

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Proving Sowell's point

Garance Franke-Ruta's odd attack on right-wing bloggers is interesting for a couple of reasons. For one thing, her line of reasoning comes right out of the John Bircher's playbook. Instead of rebutting the argument, she tries to discredit it by inferring nefarious motives based on "unsavory" or "suspect" associations.

What is even more interesting is that this seems to be a common practice for her and TAP. Last year she did the same thing to David Brooks and Steve Sailer.

In so doing she is a perfect example of the habits Thomas Sowell wrote about in this column.
When the propagandizing activities of educational institutions were recently criticized in this column, a defender of these institutions sent an e-mail, claiming that there was nothing wrong with pushing particular beliefs, if those beliefs were correct.

Violating my New Year's resolution to stop trying to reason with unreasonable people, I replied, asking if this man would feel all right, if he were a member of a jury, to vote after having heard only the prosecution's case or only the defendant's case.

His reply was that he would -- if the people presenting one side of the case were people he knew and trusted.

Bizarre as that might sound, it is by no means as unusual as it might seem, even though most people who act on that basis do not spell out such a reason to others -- nor probably even to themselves. They don't say that they believe people on a particular issue because those are people with whom they feel simpatico. But that is often how they act
Who spit in his cornflakes?

Another anti-blogger op-ed piece. I'd take these things more seriously if the journo profs who crank them out could be bothered to read the blogs they attack. Latest case in point, this piece from the Baltimore Sun:
There is no denying that the bloggers are a powerful force in the information world.

But at least for now, they are no substitute for mainstream journalism, despite its flaws. A great many bloggers are either too self-absorbed to focus on keeping the public informed or too skewed by ideology to put factual accuracy front and center
And how does he bolster this claim? With examples like this:
Case in point: "The Dawn Patrol," Manhattanite Dawn Eden's preening report on Dawn Eden, iconoclastic neoconservative "petite powerhouse," illustrated with Dawn Eden glamour photos.
If the good professor had bothered to scroll the whole way down the page, he would have seen that Dawn Eden writes about serious matters of life and death more often than she posts photos.

This kind of slip-shod "research" doesn't do much to help the professor's case that journalists have standards that bloggers don't live up to.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

I am not Montel Williams

Watching CNN twist and turn to make use of the slippery stories of Giuliana Sgrena, I can only quote Munch from Homicide.
Okay, I get it. You're saving your really good lies for some smarter cop, is that it? I'm just a donut in the on-deck circle. Wait until the real guy gets here... If you're going to lie to me, you lie to me with respect. What is it? Is it my shoes? Is it my haircut? Got a problem with my haircut? Don't you ever lie to me like I'm Montel Williams! I am not Montel Williams!
Remembering another Italian hostage

I think Fabrizio Quattrocchi deserves to be as famous as Giuliana Sgrena.
As the gunman's pistol was pointing at him the hostage "tried to take off his hood and shouted: 'now I'll show you how an Italian dies,'" he said.

More here.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Investigation Questions

An attorney is wondering if police investigating the shooting deaths of the husband and mother of U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow are paying enough attention to the possibility that the slayings are related to the husband's past.

See more here.
Giuliana Sgrena

Michelle Malkin has a round-up of articles and posts on the Italian journalist, her ransom and the shooting at the check-point.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

"Believing the true believers"

Thomas Sowell has a close encounter with a member of the "reality-based community":

When the propagandizing activities of educational institutions were recently criticized in this column, a defender of these institutions sent an e-mail, claiming that there was nothing wrong with pushing particular beliefs, if those beliefs were correct.

Violating my New Year's resolution to stop trying to reason with unreasonable people, I replied, asking if this man would feel all right, if he were a member of a jury, to vote after having heard only the prosecution's case or only the defendant's case.

His reply was that he would -- if the people presenting one side of the case were people he knew and trusted.

Bizarre as that might sound, it is by no means as unusual as it might seem, even though most people who act on that basis do not spell out such a reason to others -- nor probably even to themselves. They don't say that they believe people on a particular issue because those are people with whom they feel simpatico. But that is often how they act.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Why is she called a journalist?

If journalists have to be non-partisan by definition (according to the "bloggers can't be journalists" school of thought), then why does the press keep referring to Giuliana Sgrena as a journalist? She works for a nakedly partisan newspaper-- Il Manifesto -- the voice of the Italian communists. If she is a journalist, isn't Jeff Gannon?

See here for the best coverage and speculation.

See also this:

Just some things that bug me
About the way the MSM covers bloggers in the wake of Eason and Rather

UPDATE: OTB comments here.
Now this is good snark

Brent Bozell

It's a bit difficult to imagine where Olbermann gets the audacity to prance and fuss about "fake reporters," considering his credentials as an often-fired sportscaster who moonlighted as a pitchman for Boston Chicken.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Dan Rather’s non-Pyrrhic

Back when the story of the bogus documents broke, I suggested that we would not get a Perry Mason moment from Dan. And I worried that the MSM’s big megaphone would gradually distort the picture of CBS’s transgressions.

Agincourt and Bloggerdom

Denial can be a winning strategy

I fear this is exactly what has come to pass. Check out Captain’s Quarters for Rather’s victory lap on Letterman.

Michelle Malkin has a round up of MSM reaction to Dan’s ride into the sunset

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Jeff Jarvis on crime-solving on the net

Buzz Machine looks at one of the darker corners of the web-crime websites.

This reminds me of the crime magazines my grandmother used to read (in the days before supermarket tabloids). There's an obsession with crimes, a romance even.
He also makes a prediction:
Then again, I'll bet that sometime soon, these citizen sleuths will solve a crime because this new medium brings together the wisdom (and evidence) of the crowds.
I suppose it is possible. Blind pigs and acorns and all that. But I don't think web forums like catcbtk are the future of crime-solving. The central problem was identified by Dilbert years ago. (See here.)

Message boards do a lousy job of separating information from rumor and they reward speculation over sound fact-checking.

I know we are supposed to be enthralled with the wisdom of crowds but there is a reason why camels are described as horses designed by committees.

The limitations of citizen sleuthing are illustrated by television's experience. Shows like America's Most Wanted, Unsolved Mysteries, and Crimestoppers have a decent record at tracking down known suspects. They have a miserable record of solving real unsolved mysteries. Crowds, it seems, are good at finding needles in a haystack, but are pretty bad at finding the right haystack. They are even worse at discovering that they are looking for needles instead of acorns.
Good point

From Discriminations:
The APA, [American Psychological Association] in short, has argued in briefs to the Supreme Court that 1) teenagers under 18 are mature enough to decide on their own whether or not to kill a fetus, but 2) they are not mature enough to be held responsible for murder. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the APA has tailored its allegedly scholarly arguments to fit its preferred political results, a practice that is, unfortunately, common enough to give all scholarship a bad name.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Here is one of the choir boys the five Supremes saved

Anzel Jones

Facts of The Case

Anzel Jones, an African American male, was 17 years old when he was arrested in May 1995 for the murder of Sherry Jones. On May 2, 1995, Anzel Jones broke into the Texas home of Sherry Jones (no relationship) and her mother, Edith. While Edith Jones was locked in the bedroom, Anzel Jones apparently stabbed Sherry Jones in the chest, and cut her throat (Anzel Jones was possibly accompanied by another man). As Edith Jones came out of the bedroom, Anzel Jones sexually assaulted her and cut her throat. The house was then set on fire, but Edith Jones survived and testified against Anzel Jones. Edith’s daughter, Sherry Jones, died. Anzel Jones was charged with capital murder on June 27, 1995. He was convicted as charged and sentenced to death on June 3, 1996. An execution date has been set for April 29, 2004

Prestopundit has more.

Cella's Review said it best

Once again the United States Supreme Court has demonstrated that it is a lawless institution, willing to usurp the legislative authority of the nation and abuse power not given to it. Yesterday the Court legislated, in the manner of a national parliament or assembly, against the execution of minors convicted of capital offenses. The five justices of the majority again made themselves our final Lawgiver.
Anti-gun bias

Alphecca looks at how the media is covering Mark Wilson and the shooting down in Tyler, Texas.
"Not every coach gets the clemency Chaney wants"

Hayes lost his cool and fired a punch at a Clemson linebacker.

Chaney lost his cool and sent a hit man into a basketball game to knock bodies flying, later all but boasting of it.

Clemson's Charlie Bauman merely jogged back on the field.

A Saint Joseph's player named John Bryant had his arm broken. He will miss the rest of his senior season. He will miss Senior Day. He will miss the last rite of a graduating player, to go down shooting in a conference or NCAA or NIT tournament.
No one will ever be able to give that back to Bryant, if they apologize from now until Easter.

By the next morning, Woody Hayes was fired.

John Chaney was originally suspended for three games. Monday, after that decision was widely denounced as too weak, he announced he would not participate in the Atlantic 10 tournament.

Neither, of course, will John Bryant.

RTWT here.

It does seem that there is less media outrage about Chaney's behavior than there was at Bobby Knight or Woody Hayes.

UPDATE: The Portly Paleo makes the same point:
For too long Cheney has been excused by supporters because he has been such a good coach, and because he has has worked so hard with men from troubled backgrounds. And yet, if Bob Knight had ordered such tactics in a game, is there any doubt that he would have been immediately called on to resign?