Voters are left helpless and bereft when the political experts form a circular firing squad

I’m planning a trip this summer to Japan, a country about which I know nothing.  Actually that’s an overstatement.  I know some things:  it’s beautiful, historic, and clean (I love that part), and comes complete with great food and well-mannered people.  But that’s all I know.

Toji Pagoda

I don’t have this tabula rasa problem when I go to Europe.  Whether England, Germany, France, Belgium, or Italy, I have in my head enough information about the country to  be a little picky. It helps, too, that Rick Steves has published a series of European travel guides.  He’s not shy about being opinionated.  Indeed, that’s why people turn to him.  They have faith that they can trust his judgment so that, if he says a city is good and requires at least three days time, they can immediately book a hotel (one he recommends, of course) for two nights.  Likewise, if he says “don’t bother with such and such,” his readers know that Rick saved them time and money on a short, expensive trip.

Schloss Neuschwanstein

So far, I haven’t found a Rick Steves for Japan.  All the travel books make everything sound wonderful, without any rankings or priorities.  And I’m sure that, if I had unlimited time and money, I would enjoy traveling to every town, shrine and museum Japan offers.  But that’s not the reality of vacation travel, and I’m currently overwhelmed by the choices. Yikes!

My Japan conundrum isn’t unique.  In a world awash in information, there is no way one person can master all the data necessary to make important life decisions.  Inevitably, in various areas such as education, travel, politics, finances, etc., we select experts whom we trust and assume that, when they state an ultimate conclusion about their subject, we can rely on that conclusion.  This works both ways, of course.  Since I’ve long thought AlBore to be a rather foolish man with enough feral instincts to be a successful snake oil salesman, I have never believed in global warming.  Likewise, a friend of mine refuses to accept the rising tide of evidence against global warming, because it’s been published in “Republican” and “conservative” outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and the Daily Mail.  The fact that AlBore’s theories are based on computer models while the evidence against global warming is based upon actual data disturbs him not a whit.  He’s found his reliable sources, and he’s sticking with them.

Right now, my reliance upon political experts is creating a dilemma for me, because my “experts” are turning on each other.  Before the primaries, they were all united in their profound dislike for Barack Obama.  Now, though, the circular firing squad isn’t limited just to the Republican candidates themselves.  The shoot-outs are taking place at every major conservative website, not to mention many of my favorite blogs.  Just check out PJ Media’s front page at any given minute to see astute political commentators, all of whom I respect, battering away at each other and the candidates.

To some commentators, Mitt is a RINO’s RINO, who flops, then flips, while Newt is the fiery voice of conservative truth who can reclaim America.  To others, Newt is an unprincipled loose cannon, while Mitt is a steady, conservative politician whose problem-solving skills make him the only one who can defeat Obama.  Still others see both Mitt and Newt as RINOs (one of whom has a backbone of noodle, while the other has the ethics of an alley cat), while Rick Santorum is the only true conservative in the house — never mind the fact, say entirely different pundits, that Rick’s conservative stances on social issues assure that he’ll lose to Obama.

I find all of the above viewpoints both interesting and credible.  Newt is an exciting speaker who articulates core truths about America, the economy, and national security that too many Americans, intimated by the PC police, have been stifling for years.  His fund of knowledge is impressive and enjoyable.  And of course, he’s the man whose insider skills in the 1990s forced the entire political system slightly to the right.  On the other side of the scale, he’s a man who has cheated on at least two wives (and I really don’t want to find out if he’s been cheating on a third), he’s known to be a terrible manager, his relationship to truth can be distant at best, he’s erratic, he too often sees Big Government as the vehicle for his own eclectic brilliance, and so on and so forth.

(Image by Gage Skidmore)

Then there’s Mitt.  We all know and appreciate the Good Mitt.  This is the Mitt who understands the market; the Mitt who has impressive organizational abilities; the Mitt who has proven to be an adept, albeit unexciting candidate; the Mitt who makes the Republican establishment feel loved; and the Mitt who, we are told, can entice the independents whom Newt frightens.  But all is not wonderful in Mitt land.  There’s also the Less Good Mitt, the unrepentant architect of RomneyCare; the man who, when he isn’t flipping, is flopping; the man whose Mormonism worries those who believe he is committing a profound doctrinal error that reflects on his judgment and intelligence; and, which might be the worst thing of all in a hyper-media age, the man who has the charm and warmth of a first generation android.

(Image by Gage Skidmore)

And what about Rick?  My God, the man is a Boy Scout, and I mean that in a good way.  He’s honest, loyal, decent, moral, and truly conservative.  He’s definitely what we conservatives want.  Except for that little problem he has of fading into the woodwork, not to mention the fact that, with the nation trending further and further left on social issues, there’s the strong likelihood, say many, that he’ll be the poison pill candidate for independent voters.

(Image by Gage Skidmore)

Darn those independent voters!  They’re the real problem, because all three conservative candidate (and, yes, I am ignoring Ron Paul entirely) could easily win against Obama if we could automatically co-opt independents into conservativism.  We can’t, though, which paralyzes the Republican primary.  While the independents seem to dislike Obama with ever greater intensity, the mainstream media has trained them, like tens of thousands of Pavlovian dogs, to be very hostile to certain stand-out traits in the last three Republicans standing:  Newt is the evil architect of the Contract with America; Mitt is the evil Mormon; and Rick is the evil Christian who will imprison all your gay friends and relatives.  Evil!  Evil!  Evil!

The worst thing of all, though, considering all the alleged evil the MSM keeps highlighting, is the fact that America’s premier conservative commentators aren’t doing anything to help.  Rather than building up their candidate of choice, they too are just as busy as the MSM, and the candidates themselves, in the savagery of their attacks against the candidates they don’t like.

It’s worth remembering that Newt rose to prominence during the debates because, in the beginning, he kept a laser-like focus on Obama.  He pointed out Obama’s myriad, manifest flaws and failings, and articulated ideas that promised to help America recover from her experiment with a true Leftist in the White House.  His numbers rose.  When Romney went negative, though, so did Newt — and so did everyone else.  In the last couple of months, the flesh-ripping on the debate stage is sickening, and the political commentators, rather than stepping in to help focus the voters on their chosen candidate’s attributes, are standing at the base of the stage drinking up the flowing blood.

THIS IS NOT HELPFUL.  If you’re going to have an opinion, advance useful information that helps affirmative decision-making and that helps staunch the sanguinary stream we’re currently giving as a gift to the MSM.  Yes, it’s good for the candidates to get groomed to fight the dirty fight, because it’s going to be very dirty indeed when they stand on a stage opposite Barack Obama.  I think, though, that we can comfortably conclude that the current batch has the grit to take the hits.  It’s time now to give the voters the help they need to choose the best candidate, rather than just to avoid the worst.

Breaking the Obama party hold on America’s political system

I’ve been corresponding with a group of conservatives who are very strongly divided between Romney and Gingrich.  I’m pleased to say that, while the debate is substantively heated, it also never veers away from common decency and civility.  My latest contribution to the email string, right after mention of a brokered convention, was as follows:

“Allen West!  Allen West!  Allen West!  A proven leader.”

(I can dream, can’t I?)

For all the doom and gloom predictions right now, with various factions in the conservative movement unable to envision themselves voting for the other guy come next November, I continue to believe that, as is usually the case once the fecal matter stops spraying off the fan, that conservatives will coalesce around the Republican candidate.  I’ve said from the beginning, sitting here in California where primaries are really over by the time they get to my state, that my candidate is the guy named ABO (Anybody But Obama).  It’ll be a tough call if the ABO candidate is Ron Paul, who is as awful in foreign policy as Obama, but I still think it’s important to break the Obama political infrastructure before it becomes an inextricable part of the American body politic.

The death of oratory

Oratory died with Leftism, which hides, rather than reveals, truth; and with MTV, which brought America’s attention span down to 15 seconds.  This is the sad result.  No wonder Newt is popular right now.  Whether he’s a snake oil salesman or the real deal, and regardless of staggering baggage, he might just go down as the last real public speaker, someone who can hit core truths and do so extemporaneously.

Newt: There’s no zealot like a convert

One of the things my parents always told me was that there is no one more fired with zealotry than a convert.  Paul of Tarsus is, of course, the perfect example of the truth behind that statement.

One doesn’t have to look so far field, though, in time at space.  Just consider the fact that so many of the most prominent conservative bloggers today are former liberals.  Thomas Lifson, of American Thinker; the whole Power Line crew; David Horowitz; Roger L. Simon; Andrew Breitbart; and so many more, once having seen the light, fell compelled to share it with others.  To them, conservativism isn’t a background noise, it’s an epiphany.  In addition to their zealotry, these neocons have another significant advantage:  having once been liberals themselves, they understand the liberal mindset and they can challenge it more effectively than someone who has never seen Leftism from the inside.

Newt Gingrich is currently under attack for being the ultimate government insider.  He was an elected representative and then, no matter how he dances around it, he was a lobbyist.  Talk about being in the belly of the beast.

In this election cycle, though, Newt speaks with the zealotry of the convert.  Unlike Romney, who has the rich, earthy charm of a poorly designed android, and Santorum, who is the really nice guy no one notices, Gingrich is the one on the street corner hollering to the crowds about being saved.  Either it’s a fantastic performance, or he has genuinely bought into core conservative notions about the economy, about race in America, about welfare dependency, etc.  He is articulating core conservative principles with verve and wit. The added fillip, of course, is that, although Newt has arguably turned his back on the political establishment, he knows better than anyone how it operates and, therefore, is better situated than anyone to bring it under control.

Newt’s joie de vivre makes his presentation so natural that I am currently inclined to see him as a newly converted true believer, rather than a snake oil salesman.  Of course, the problem with converts is that, sometimes, they backslide.  If Newt has indeed seen the light, it remains to be seen whether this is a permanent change to his core principles or a merely superficial fad.

Apropos Newt’s wit, stick with this short speech excerpt to the end:

 

Obama is such an easy target that it’s a shame the Republicans are determined to kill only each other

We can expect tomorrow night’s State of the Union address to be an action-packed hour (or so) of vitriol and self-pity.  Obama will cherry-pick a few numbers about the 1% and then whine about how he’s been trying really hard to destroy that same 1%, but that a vast array of insurmountable obstacles — Congress, Republicans, the media, the American people, the Jews — have prevented him from doing so.  In a most-read piece, Joseph Curl explains what Obama will be hiding:

The unemployment rate when Mr. Obama was elected was 6.8 percent; today it is 8.5 percent — at least that’s the official number. In reality, the Financial Times writes, “if the same number of people were seeking work today as in 2007, the jobless rate would be 11 percent.”

In addition, there are now fewer payroll jobs in America than there were in 2000 — 12 years ago — and now, 40 percent of those jobs are considered “low paying,” up 10 percent from when President Reagan took office. The number of self-employed has dropped 2 million to 14.5 million in just six years.

Regular gasoline per gallon cost $1.68 in January 2009. Today, it’s $3.39 — that’s a 102 percent increase in just three years. (By the way, if you’re keeping score at home, gas was $1.40 a gallon when George W. Bush took office in 2001, $1.68 when he left office — a 20 percent increase.)

Electricity bills have also skyrocketed, with households now paying a record $1,420 annually on average, up some $300.

Some 48 percent of all Americans — 146.4 million — are considered by the Census Bureau either as “low-income” or living in poverty, up 4 million from when Mr. Obama took office; 57 percent of all children in America now live in such homes.

And that’s not even the half of it.  You can read the rest here.

In this target-rich environment, the tone-deaf Mitt Romney is attacking . . . Newt.  This is why Newt is surging.  While Mitt attacks him, Newt, although he too has taken too many time-outs for vicious internecine warfare, hasn’t forgotten that the American people care about the economy and national security.  Even Newt, though, could step up the attacks on Obama.  It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

And here’s a judo-style suggestion for dealing with all of Obama’s victim talk:

President Obama claims that the media misrepresents him, Republicans are evil, Congress is obstructionist, and the American people are lazy.  These are the reasons, he says, that he has been unable to implement his agenda.  It’s not his fault; it’s everyone else’s fault. 

Well, let’s assume, solely for the sake of argument, that everything the President says about the obstacles facing him is true.  That assumed truth leads to one, and only one possible question:  What the heck type of a leader is President Obama?  By his own admission, he is unable to handle anyone or anything that stands in his way.  This isn’t just an inability to handle the 3 am phone call.  Instead, this is the inability even to pick up the phone. 

The man who occupies the highest leadership position in the land — indeed, in the world — has repeatedly conceded that he isn’t up to the job.  Since he’s not going to quit, it’s up to you, the American people, to fire him.  And when you replace him, I’m the man for the job because….

If the press ignores an event, does it exist?

We all know the philosophical question that asks, “If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

The media is trying a variation on this question by asking, “If we completely ignore a fact, so that no one hears about it, does the fact exist?”  The media’s latest experiment with this grand philosophical question is to pretend that the audience in South Carolina wasn’t completely thrilled by Newt’s response to opening questions regarding his ex-wife’s accusations about his behavior during their marriage.

I honestly don’t know whether Newt’s direct challenges to the media mean that he has the “right stuff” to be president.  I just know that his willingness to stand up and fight the Pravda that the American media has become is a very important and necessary step in the new media age.  More Republicans should stop pandering and start speaking truth to media power. It’s time to break this monopoly by showing it the disrespect it deserves.

One big post, filled with all sorts of fascinating stuff

I’m very suspicious of “studies.”  As a liberal, I was ready to trust anything that came out of academia.  As a conservative, I’m suspicious of academia, because I know it’s more interested in specific outcomes than in the scientific method.  A good example of this is a survey that was sent around to Marin County women about a decade ago, based upon the statistical fact that Marin County women have a higher than average incidence of breast cancer.  Putting aside the fact that we have a substantial population of very elderly ladies (who are prone to breast cancer) and a lot wealth (meaning the cancer can be caught), one would think the survey would have looked into types of birth control, age of first pregnancy, number (if any) of abortions, breast-feeding history, etc.  It didn’t.  It asked about bacon and power lines.  I threw it away.  My daughter is in a study about how young girls grow.  They want to know about the number of chairs with cushions in our home.  I can think of more useful questions to ask.

There are definitely experts out there, but they’re really not in the colleges.  They’re working in the real world, amassing real information.  Which is all the more reason for us to be very worried about the way the Obama White House is morphing into Thomas Friedman’s wet dream:  an all-powerful entity that uses a small number of academic experts to control America.  His is the anti-democratic presidency.

Changing topics entirely, I’d never heard of Gregg Popovich before today, but I know about him now because he’s just joined the ranks of famous Americans who feel that it is incumbent upon them to insult the Americans who write their paychecks. I might not have noticed this bit of foolishness if it hadn’t fault on the heels of a virtually identical insult from Glenn Close.  My first thought was, “Glenn, why are you offending ticket buyers?”  My second thought was, “Oh, never mind.  You don’t have a career.”  (Of course, when she said we average Americans have the IQs of newts, maybe she was comparing all of us to the brilliant Newt Gingrich, in which case she’s forgiven.)

Speaking of Newt, this is why we like him:

Erick Erickson, of Red State, says Santorum is a big government social conservative, which jives with everything else I’ve read about him.  That’s the reverse of what I think is necessary in the White House and electable in the polling places.  Except for the fact that Quinn Hillyer at National Review says Santorum is also a true conservative who isn’t a big government guy, but respects individual freedom.  Two smart writers, two completely opposing views — what’s a voter to do?

I just want to say that I really, really like Tim Tebow.  I can’t help myself.  I just do.

We knew this, but now it’s in writing from a sycophant:  Obama is subordinate to his wife and doesn’t like the job he fights for so viciously.  Oh, goody.  Just what we need in the White House.

 

Even legal ethics opinion writers cannot resist the urge to be anti-Republican pundits

As a dues paying California lawyer, I periodically receive an email from the California State Bar offering random tidbits and squiblets of news some assumes California lawyers might find interesting.  The January edition intrigued me because of drive-by punditry that appeared in an ethics analysis of Judge Richard Posner’s latest decision.  I wasn’t paying attention, but Posner’s decision apparently has lawyers talking because as it takes very direct aim at a specific lawyer, and does so using rather broad humor.

There’s nothing new about a judge taking potshots at a lawyer.  One of the funniest (and meanest) opinions ever written comes out of a federal court in Texas and includes the foll0wing gems:

Before proceeding further, the Court notes that this case involves two extremely likable lawyers, who have together delivered some of the most amateurish pleadings ever to cross the hallowed causeway into Galveston, an effort which leads the Court to surmise but one plausible explanation. Both attorneys have obviously entered into a secret pact — complete with hats, handshakes and cryptic words — to draft their pleadings entirely in crayon on the back sides of gravy-stained paper place mats, in the hope that the Court would be so charmed by their child-like efforts that their utter dearth of legal authorities in their briefing would go unnoticed. Whatever actually occurred, the Court is now faced with the daunting task of deciphering their submissions.

With Big Chief tablet readied, thick black pencil in hand, and a devil-may-care laugh in the face of death, life on the razor’s edge sense of exhilaration, the Court begins.

[snip]

Plaintiff seems to rely on the fact that he has pled Rule 9(h) and stated an admiralty claim versus the vessel and his employer to demonstrate that maritime law applies to Phillips. This bootstrapping argument does not work; Plaintiff must properly invoke admiralty law versus each Defendant discretely. Despite the continued shortcomings of Plaintiff’s supplemental submission, the Court commends Plaintiff for his vastly improved choice of crayon — Brick Red is much easier on the eyes than Goldenrod, and stands out much better amidst the mustard splotched about Plaintiff’s briefing. But at the end of the day, even if you put a calico dress on it and call it Florence, a pig is still a pig.

Now, alas, the Court must return to grownup land.

[snip]

The Fifth Circuit has held that “absent a maritime status between the parties, a dock owner’s duty to crew members of a vessel using the dock is defined by the application of state law, not maritime law. Specifically, maritime law does not impose a duty on the dock owner to provide a means of safe ingress or egress. Therefore, because maritime law does not create a duty on the part of Defendant Phillips vis-a-vis Plaintiff, any claim Plaintiff does have versus Phillips must necessarily arise under state law. Take heed and be suitably awed, oh boys and girls — the Court was able to state the issue and its resolution in one paragraph … despite dozens of pages of gibberish from the parties to the contrary!

[snip]

After this remarkably long walk on a short legal pier, having received no useful guidance whatever from either party, the Court has endeavored, primarily based upon its affection for both counsel, but also out of its own sense of morbid curiosity, to resolve what it perceived to be the legal issue presented. Despite the waste of perfectly good crayon seen in both parties’ briefing (and the inexplicable odor of wet dog emanating from such) the Court believes it has satisfactorily resolved this matter. Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

[snip]

In either case, the Court cautions Plaintiff’s counsel not to run with a sharpened writing utensil in hand — he could put his eye out.

Bradshaw v. Unity Marine Corp., Inc. (S.D. Tex. 2001) 147 F.Supp. 2d 668.

Bradshaw is a remarkably savage opinion, and one that will follow plaintiff’s attorney to the end of his career.  It is also, quite possibly, deserved.  After all, there are myriad decisions in which courts have chastised, sanctioned and even disbarred attorneys for poor or despicable behavior.  Bradshaw stands out only because it adds the humiliation of being laughed at to what is probably a deserved reprimand.  (Lord knows, I’ve appeared opposite attorneys who operate on the “bury someone under paper” principle, an approach that invariably generates, not just dozens, but thousands of pages of gibberish.)

Judge Richard Posner therefore did nothing out-of-the-ordinary when he delivered a strong rebuke to an attorney in front of him.  Even the fact that he used humor was not sufficient to make it stand out.  Posner, though, added something a little different:  pictures.  To make known his disdain for counsel’s decision to file what he considered a completely unwarranted appeal, Posner had this to say — and show:

The ostrich is a noble animal, but not a proper model for an appellate advocate. (Not that ostriches really bury their heads in the sand when threatened; don’t be fooled by the picture below.) The “ostrich-like tactic of pretending that potentially dispositive authority against a litigant’s contention does not exist is as unprofessional as it is pointless.” Mannheim Video, Inc. v. County of Cook, 884 F.2d 1043, 1047 (7th Cir. 1989), quoting Hill v. Norfolk & Western Ry., 814 F.2d 1192, 1198 (7th Cir. 1987).


I don’t particularly take umbrage at what Posner did.  Using rather amusing pictures strikes me as better than being sanctioned heavily or referred to a State Bar for disbarment proceedings.  And if indeed the lawyer ignored controlling law, that’s a big no-no, and deserves some judicial umbrage.

Although it’s not entirely clear, though, Diane Karpman, who wrote the ethics post from the California State Bar, seems to believe that it was a bad thing for Posner to use illustrations to take aim at a lawyer who violated appellate rules.  Thus, after carefully explaining the decision, Diane Karpman poses a series of questions indicating, without actually saying, that she thinks that maybe Posner crossed a line:

Is it acceptable conduct or unacceptable conduct to make a public spectacle of the lawyer? McKeand is now (and forever will be) known as the “Ostrich Lawyer.” As lawyers, we all make silent promises to members of the bench to protect them from ridicule and scorn, because they cannot protect themselves. Isn’t there a reciprocal promise made that everyone will behave in a civil, respectful and professional manner?

Those are fair questions.  Where Karpman goes of the rails as far as I’m concerned is in the paragraph immediately following, when she suddenly becomes political pundit, turning on Newt Gingrich:

Now we have Newt Gingrich, who in the final Iowa debate described the courts as “grotesquely dictatorial,” and who wants to subpoena justices before Congress to explain decisions he rejects.

Did you see that coming?  I didn’t.  As far as I can tell, it’s a complete non sequitur.  I can certainly conceive of an argument that might lead into this bit of punditry.  For example:

Although judges have the power to sanction the attorneys who appear before them, that should not give them the right publicly to ridicule those same attorneys by likening then to animals or to otherwise demean them.  Engaging in this type of judicial conduct lowers the judges’ own standing, leaving themselves open to challenges to their authority.  In such an environment, it is not surprising the Newt Gingrich has proposed making judges more accountable.  While Newt’s proposal is fatally flawed insofar as it attacks the separation of powers, there is no doubt that judges who behave vindictively, rather than showing a true judicial temperament, leave the door open to these kinds of political challenges.

By the way, I’m not saying that I agree with what I just wrote.  In fact, I happen to feel that way too many judges erroneously liken themselves to priests, whose ordination makes them conduits to a higher moral authority.  I’ve seen too many judges who believe that, merely by donning that iconic black robe, they’ve suddenly hooked into a hotline to some higher truth, one that usually has little to do with statutory and case law, and a great deal to do with Progressive ideas about social justice.  (Can you tell that I’ve spent my legal career in the San Francisco Bay Area, heartland of activist judges?)

What Karpman seems not to understand is that, if you’re desperate for some punditry, there’s a way to do it gracefully.  She made no such graceful transition.  In the middle of a mild challenge to what she apparently perceives as Judge Posner’s discourtesy, she suddenly, and irrelevantly, launched random criticism against Newt Gingrich.  This is liberal drive-by wannabe punditry at its worst.

Lynn Woolsey, unconstrained by reelection, lets loose, and it’s not pretty

There’s nothing like a Progressive who’s not worrying about reelection.  If you thought Barney Frank’s moobs were repellent, wait until you get a look inside Lynn Woolsey’s brain.  The 10-term House Democrat from Marin County is retiring this year, so she finally feels that she can speak freely.  It’s not pretty.

For example, we learn why Woolsey doesn’t like Michelle Bachmann, who holds, not just a JD, but an LL.M. from the prestigious William & Mary School of Law:

“[S]he’s an idiot,” Woolsey said. “It’s not very politic to say that of another member of Congress, but she is.”

As it happens, I’m not overly impressed with academic credentials, since I think they often train people away from decency, logic and common sense, but I feel obligated to point out here that Woolsey’s education consists of . . . well, it’s unclear.  According to Wikipedia, she attended a lot of schools, but doesn’t seem to have emerged with any discernible degrees.  That’s okay.  She clearly had enough education to lose her decency, logic and common sense anyway.

Woolsey doesn’t like Newt Gingrich either:

“He would be the worst president on earth.”

She does concede, though, that he’s got a brain, which would make him more dangerous than the “idiot” Michelle Bachmann.

The Tea Party crowd don’t fare well in Woolsey world, since she sees them as an impediment to saving the world from climate change (never mind that the climate change narrative is unraveling before Woolsey’s eyes):

“Half of them have never held an elected office in their lives; they don’t know nothing,” Woolsey said. “They don’t know why they’re against what they’re against. They don’t know what is happening to our environment. All they know is it’s not something they’re supposed to support.”

Poor Lynn.  She apparently missed the poll showing a wide-spread belief that Tea Party members are better informed than your average 10-term member of the House of Representatives.  I guess it’s axiomatic that the ill-informed are always the last to know to that particular truth about themselves.

Lynn may not like Tea Partiers, but she does love the Occupy crowd:

“I love the Occupiers,” Woolsey said. “They’re such a breath of fresh air for me. I’ve been waiting for them for a long time.”

There’s nothing like a gang of Apple computer toting, drug-taking, dirty, vomiting, defecating, raping, murderous thugs to excite an aging Progressive politician.

Interestingly, Woolsey is not a Barack Obama fan.  Not only is he too conservative for her (“He’s a moderate president. He’s not a progressive.”), she thinks he’s not a very nice person:

“He is kind of a cold, aloof guy.”

Back in 2008, she was rooting for Hillary, both because she thinks Hillary is a more principled Progressive than Obama (there’s a scary thought), but also because she thinks Hillary has the cajones Obama lacks.

Woosley, apparently, isn’t the only one who isn’t thrilled about Barry.  Although Woolsey was speaking to an “overwhelmingly liberal” crowd, I think she sensed a certain chill in the air when it came to Obama.  How else to explain the fact that she felt compelled to tell those in attendance that they must vote for him in 2012:

“Do not stay home,” she said. “Any one of those other people — we thought George Bush was a problem, huh.”

I wish I’d been at Woolsey’s talk.  Seeing the Progressive mind unfettered is kind of like wading in an old swamp.  It looks ugly and smells bad, but there are still interesting things swimming in the depths.

There’s some interesting stuff out there today

I am buried under laundry, house cleaning, caring for parent and children, organizing photos to be digitized (half price, thanks to a Groupon), getting out Christmas cards created and sent, and paying bills.  Coherent thought eludes me.  Cogent essays are an impossibility.

But, all is not lost!  Even as I moulder intellectually, others are writing smart things, which I hereby share with you:

More and more people are catching on to the fact that Obama is a problem, not a solution.

One of the things that slowed this realization was the mythology the media so relentlessly advanced regarding Obama.

There’s only so long, though, that you can hide $4,000,000 vacations from sight.

Given all the lying and hiding, it’s no wonder that people have been enjoying Newt’s penchant for stating out loud the things that others have been thinking.

Still, there are some qualified people I still wouldn’t want in the job.  Smart and decent, yes, but I just don’t like her.

Of course, some people are stating things that only paranoid crazies are thinking.

There are always those out there who are immune to reality, though, and view themselves as pathetic, but self-righteous, victims no matter their actual circumstances.

Fortunately, there are still good guys, and we’d do well to remember them.

Thankfully, we’re still clinging by our fingernails to a culture that gives everyone a chance.

And finally, an amusing article about a silly pastime.  (P.S.  I still like Facebook.)

 

 

Facts are stubborn things . . . but Leftist ideologues are even more stubborn

“Facts are stubborn things.”  — John Adams.

“Ideologues are even more stubborn than facts.”  — Bookworm

A few nights ago, Mr. Bookworm watched the movie Shattered Glass with the children.  It’s a fairly good retelling of the way in which Stephen Glass, a young feature writer at The New Republic, wrote a series of fraudulent articles.  I was a TNR subscriber at the time, and I vividly remember what might have been his most famous article, the one describing orgies of sex, drink and drugs at a young conservative convention.  The article was a perfect fraud because it so deftly fed into liberal prejudice about conservatives:  there was no way, we liberals thought, that conservatives could actually live up to the standards they sought to impose upon ordinary Americans.  Because we didn’t believe in those lifestyle values, we assumed that young conservatives were hypocrites — and Thank God for true journalists like Stephen Glass who were out there exposing this hypocrisy to the world.  Except, of course, for the fact that every word Glass wrote was a lie.

At the end of Shattered Glass, the movie informs the viewer that Glass went to law school and is working as a paralegal.  (I won’t even try to figure out why a highly respectable law school such as Georgetown would allot one of the valuable spaces in its freshman class to a conscienceless con man.)

My children were perplexed.  “A lawyer?  Why a lawyer?”  Mr. Bookworm knew the answer:  “Because lawyers lie.  That’s their job.  The better the liar, the more money they make.”

As a lawyer whose lies have never gone beyond social white lies (“That dress is lovely!” “I’m so sorry, but I’m already booked that night.”), I took umbrage at that statement.  “Good lawyers never lie!  They simply advocate.  I take the facts and put them together in a coherent, honest narrative that ties in with applicable law.  If my client has no case, I say so.  My integrity, and the integrity of my friends and colleagues, demands no less.  I’ve known lying lawyers, but they’re bottom feeders and viewed with disdain by decent practitioners.”

The fine line between advocacy and lying was a struggle for the children.  Imagine a car accident, I said.  A car traveling in excess of the speed limit passed through an intersection, and shortly thereafter struck a pedestrian.  If there was a subsequent lawsuit, there would be two ways to describe that car’s journey through the intersection.  If I represented the car’s driver at trial, I would never say anything other than that he “drove” through the intersection.  This would be a completely correct statement.  I would be implying, of course, that the defendant’s speed wasn’t so excessive that it could lead to an accident.  In the same trial, the attorney for the pedestrian would invariably say that the defendant “sped” or “raced” through the intersection, implying that he was out of control by the time he hit the pedestrian.  Again, since I’ve posited a speed above the speed limit (although I haven’t said by how much, whether two miles above or twenty miles above), that too is a truthful statement.  Both lawyers are being completely truthful, but both approaches are spin aimed at persuading an audience (the jury) to reach one of two antithetical conclusions.

I think the kids understand me.  Mr. Bookworm — well, I’m not so sure.  He is, after all, a man of the Left, and if there’s one thing a lifetime on the Left has taught me, it that my blog’s motto is accurate:  “Conservatives deal with facts and reach conclusions; liberals have conclusions and sell them as facts.”  To the Left, fact and spin are indistinguishable.  Truth isn’t a construct based upon irrefutable and stubborn facts.  Instead, truth is an ideological conclusion, sustained by whatever means necessary.

Interestingly, the day after I had this instructive conversation with the kids, the blogosphere was suddenly saturated with stories of stubborn ideologues, relentlessly intertwining conclusions and facts.  Unfortunately for public discourse, these ideologues are journalists.

The most well-known post is Mark Hemingway’s Lies, Damned Lies, and “Fact Checking.  In it, Hemingway takes aim at the proliferation of “fact checking” articles from major media outlets.

Fact checking can be useful, of course.  Going back to my car example above, the speed at which the driver traveled is a fact.  If he was going twenty miles above the limit, but his advocate claims he was only going two miles above the limit, that claim is a lie and a fact checker should call him on it.  In the world of liberal fact checking, however, the fact checkers confuse their spin (i.e., the advocacy of their ideology) for objective facts.  They would be challenging the lawyer they’re hostile to over his honest, albeit emotionally loaded, word choice (e.g., “drove” versus “sped”).

Here’s Hemingway’s conclusion, one he reaches after offering several egregious examples of the way Leftists confuse ideological “truth” with facts:

While it was always difficult in practice, once upon a time journalists at least paid obeisance to the idea of reporting the facts, as opposed to commenting on “narratives”​—​let alone being responsible for creating and debunking them.

But today’s fact checkers are largely uninterested in emphasizing the primacy of information. Accordingly, this is what happens when the media talk about fact checking: The Washington Post pats the AP on the back for questioning the veracity of a media-created narrative ex post facto, then cites a brazenly partisan blogger as proof that the effort to smack it down was successful.

What’s going on here should be obvious enough. With the rise of cable news and the Internet, traditional media institutions are increasingly unable to control what political rhetoric and which narratives catch fire with the public. Media fact-checking operations aren’t about checking facts so much as they are about a rearguard action to keep inconvenient truths out of the conversation.

Hemingway deservedly got attention for this brilliant deconstruction of ideological advancement dressed up as fact-checking, but he wasn’t the only one.  At the same time,  James Taranto caught the AP “fact checking” Newt’s debate promise that he will move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  The AP says that this “fact” — one that most of us would see as a promise of future action — is “false” because other presidential candidates have made the same promise to no effect.  Taranto understands what’s going on, and it’s not that Newt was lying:

To be sure, some things about the future are known with sufficient certainty that they are indistinguishable from facts. If Gingrich claimed to be immortal, the AP would be justified in running a “fact check” refutation even if it was not also an obituary. Likewise if he said tomorrow’s sunrise would occur at 3 p.m. on the East Coast, we could be sure he was wrong.

But the idea that Gingrich’s pledge is contrary to fact because other politicians have failed to keep the same promise is beyond ludicrous. Did the AP in 2008 run a “fact check” rebutting Barack Obama’s promise to enact “heath-care reform” because so many previous presidents have futilely attempted to do so?

[snip]

It would not have been hard to recast this story to make it journalistically sound, though it would have entailed a bit more work. Gearan could have begun by reporting the Gingrich promise, then put it in historical context by noting the record of other presidents. The arguments for why such a move is a bad idea could have been aired, too–not in Gearan’s own voice, but by interviewing diplomats or scholars who think it’s a bad idea. It might also have been worthwhile to seek a follow-up interview with Gingrich or a spokesman to ask why voters should expect him to keep this promise when past presidents haven’t.

Instead, the AP published what is essentially an opinion piece, and a rather lazy one at that. If we may borrow Gingrich’s favorite word, to label that a “fact check”–as if it had some greater authority than actual reporting–is fundamentally dishonest.

Taranto is correct that, if one actually cares about objective, verifiable facts, AP’s conduct was “fundamentally dishonest.”  I wonder, though, if he makes the mistakes of thinking that liberals actually care.  (I suspect that Taranto is to savvy to make this thinking error.)  To liberals, the only truth is ideology, and if one cares about ideological truth, “facts” are merely tools to be manipulated.

I am not about to call the AP or American journalists Nazis, because they’re not, but I can’t help but be struck by the way the parallelism between their belief that ultimate, ideological truth trumps verifiable fact, on the one hand, and Goebbels’ understanding of the propaganda necessary to bring German citizens to Naziism, on the other hand:

That propaganda is good which leads to success, and that is bad which fails to achieve the desired result.  It is not propaganda’s task to be intelligent, its task is to lead to success.

Or, as he more famously said:

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.

Given that too many American journalists (both as individuals and as institutions) seem comfortably wedded to a Goebbel-esque view of truth, is it any surprise that they rate so low in the public’s estimation when it comes to assessing their ethics and honesty?  While poll results show that they still rank above lawyers, lobbyists, politicians and used car salesmen, the margin is awfully small.

(As an aside, looking at that “ethics by profession” chart to which I just linked, is it any surprise that the military ranks so high?  It isn’t to me.  For years, we’ve watched our military put itself on the front line to defend America, both her people and her ethos.  We know that when our troops take that oath — a serious oath that America’s First Sergeant analyzes beautifully here — they mean it.  They say it, they mean it, they do it.)

As I mentioned above, journalists do manage to cling to an honesty position slightly above that held by politicians.  That’s not a surprise either.  After all, Eric Holder, who is both a lawyer and a politician, managed to state perfectly the Leftist (and, incidentally, the narcissist) approach to truth and lying:

Still unsatisfied, Sensenbrenner followed up again. “Tell me what the difference is between lying and misleading Congress in this context?,” he asked Holder.

Holder responded that whether a statement is a lie or misleading comment depends on what the person making it is thinking at the time.

“If you want to have this legal conversation, it all has to do with your state of mind, and whether or not you had the requisite intent to come up with something that can be considered perjury or a lie,” Holder said.

I know that what Holder meant to say is that ones ability to tell the truth is necessarily going to be limited by the universe of factual information available. If my boss has kept me sequestered from his side job as a drug dealer, I am telling the truth when I testify that he doesn’t deal drugs. However, Holder’s phrasing, which focuses on the speaker’s intent, rather than his fund of knowledge, manages to be the perfect Leftist/narcissist paradigm: truth is what you need to say at the moment.

Holder’s not the only lying politician.  I’ve repeatedly document at this blog Obama’s Leftist/narcissist approach to the truth.  (See here, here, here, here and here, for example.)  Three years into Obama’s presidency, more and more people are catching on to Obama’s distant relationship to stubborn facts.  Indeed, an audience member at a well-attended military briefing (upwards of 200 people), told me that a civilian who attended the briefing interrupted the speaker to say, “C’mon, don’t give me the Barack Obama answer, give me the real answer.”  The room’s response was telling:  silence, followed by titters.  No anger, no hissing, no booing.  Admittedly, given Obama’s approach to the military, it’s not surprising that a military venue wouldn’t take umbrage at this statement, but it is nevertheless impressive that Obama’s very name is becoming synonymous with lies.

Obama, of course, didn’t help his case with his recent Osawatomie speech, which was a truly magnificent example of ignorance, ideological spin, and blatant factual dishonesty.  Needless to say, the media didn’t fact-check the speech, since it advanced their ideology.  The fact that it was ideologically true satisfied the media, despite the egregiously wrong objective facts.

I’ll wrap this post up with two more points, one about a really big lie and one about a surprising truth.

The big lie:  climate change.  I’m not sure I need to say more.  We now know from a huge onrush of facts — actual, objective facts, such as the Climategate emails — that those advancing AGW have been systematically fudging data, omitting data, asserting falsehoods, substituting beliefs for facts, and stifling dissenting voices.  (Only today, Charlie Martin notes that our own DOJ is doing things that might be construed as stifling dissent, but he hastens to add — with a rigid adherence to truth — that the facts are currently too unclear to make that conclusion.)  Indeed, the whole environmental movement, not just the AGW side of it, has abandoned itself to an orgy of ideology, one that sees scientists, who should have a rigid adherence to scientific truth based upon verifiable data, happily abandoning data in favor of ideology.  (This post offers a two-fer, with both a corrupt scientist and a corrupt attorney.)

And here’s the surprising truth:  Newt’s courageous willingness to state that the Palestinians are an “invented” people.

Discussing the origin of the state of Israel in the 1940s, Mr. Gingrich said: “Remember, there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire. And I think that we’ve had an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs and were historically part of the Arab community. And they had a chance to go many places.”

On objective facts, Newt is completely, absolutely right.  That the Palestinians have since coalesced into a coherent group identity separate from other Arabs is true too, but it doesn’t erase the truth of Newt’s statement.  Newt’s statement matters because understanding the truth behind Palestinian identity makes it clear that it is Goebbel-esque propaganda about the Palestinian’s imaginary past that places the Israelis in an unflattering, and dishonest, light, as apartheid colonialist land-grabbers:

One might ask why this should matter: Regardless of when either Jews or Palestinians arrived, millions of both live east of the Jordan River​ today, and that’s the reality policymakers must deal with. But in truth, it matters greatly – because Western support for Palestinian negotiating positions stems largely from the widespread view that Palestinians are an indigenous people whose land was stolen by Western (Jewish) interlopers.

Current demographic realities would probably suffice to convince most Westerners that a Palestinian state should exist. But the same can’t be said of Western insistence that its border must be the 1967 lines, with adjustments possible only via one-to-one territorial swaps and only if the Palestinians consent. Indeed, just 44 years ago, UN Resolution 242 was carefully crafted to reflect a Western consensus that the 1967 lines shouldn’t be the permanent border. So what changed?

The answer lies in the phrase routinely used to describe the West Bank and Gaza today, but which almost nobody used back in 1967, when Israel captured these areas from Jordan and Egypt, respectively: “occupied Palestinian territory.” This phrase implies that the land belongs to the Palestinians and always has. And if so, why shouldn’t Israel be required to give back every last inch?

But if the land hasn’t belonged to the Palestinians “from time immemorial” – if instead, both Palestinians and Jews comprise small indigenous populations augmented by massive immigration in the 19th and 20th centuries, with the West Bank and Gaza becoming fully Judenrein only after Jordan and Egypt occupied them in 1948 – then there’s no inherent reason why the border must necessarily be in one place rather than another. To create two states, a border must be drawn somewhere, but that “somewhere” should depend only on the parties’ current needs – just as the drafters of Resolution 242 envisioned.

Newt’s willingness to state truths is one of the more attractive things about his candidacy.  He can be unfiltered, which is worrisome, but that unfiltered quality is what allows him to trample over established Leftist political orthodoxies, and make statements that cut through the cognitive dissonance that affects anybody who lives in a world dominated by a statist media.  I hope that, whether Newt makes it to the White House or not, he sticks with this honesty.

Right now, Newt’s refreshing factual honesty makes me think of the first half of the I Love Lucy episode in which Lucy, in inveterate liar, makes a bet that she can tell the truth for 24 hours.  One of the funniest scenes in TV history has Lucy sitting down for a bridge game with three of her friends and abandoning all her social lies in favor of the truth, as she sees it, about their clothes, their children, their decor, and their personalities.  (Sadly, I can’t find a clip of that on the internet.)  In a lesson Newt would do well to heed, when Lucy gets the chance to achieve her heart’s desire — a show business gig — truth goes out the window, landing her in a hair-raising, but naturally quite funny, situation.

There’s nothing new about lying.  It comes with our lizard brains and can serve a very useful purpose, whether one is a spy, a prisoner of war, or a husband whose wife asks “Does this dress make me look fat?”  However, in the world of politics and journalism, lies have vast and significant consequences for nations.  When those who need to tell the truth routinely lie, not just to save face, but to advance underlying, and often disguised, ideological goals, we as a nation are in great danger.  Thankfully, we have an alternative media now that helps suss out the truth, but it only benefits those who willingly pay attention.