Saturday, March 12, 2005

More Voting Errors in King County Documented (courtesy of Sound Politics)

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Friday, March 11, 2005

"JunkYard BLOG" Dept.
(A Rerum Novarum Ten Part Thread)

As is common with this feature, the JYB material will be in purple font and sources italicized. The words of this writer will be in regular font.


Shockingly enough, the Sun:

A dramatic thinning of Earth's protective ozone layer above the Arctic last year was the result of intense upper-level winds and an extra dose of space weather, scientists said Tuesday.

Ozone, which screens out some of the Sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation, declined by up to 60 percent in the stratosphere over high northern latitudes in the spring of 2004. Officials issued a health warning earlier this year for residents of the far North.

In a new study, scientists conclude that an intense round of solar storms around Halloween in 2003 was at the root of the problem. Charged particles from the storms triggered chemical reactions that increased the formation of extra nitrogen in the upper stratosphere, some 20 miles up. Nitrogen levels climbed to their highest in at least two decades.

Imagine that. The Sun effects weather here on earth. Amazing...continued...

In other words, these sorts of shifts are cyclical in nature. This is something that the present writer has said repeatedly over the years -albeit not in this particular forum. Nonetheless, it is always nice to see Our intuitions confirmed by scientific findings years later. Moving from science to politics...


are pinning their hope for survival on the antics of North Korea and Iran--and the failure of the nascent move toward democracy through the Middle East--they have ceased to be a relevant and patriotic political force. They just don't care how the war turns out if it means they lose some street cred. Check out this exchange on the Jon Stewart Show between Stewart and former Clintonista Nancy Soderberg:

Stewart: This could be unbelievable!

Soderberg:---series of Nobel Peace Prizes here, which--it may well work. I think that, um, it's--

Stewart: [buries head in hands] Oh my God! [audience laughter] He's got, you know, here's--

Soderberg: It's scary for Democrats, I have to say.

Stewart: He's gonna be a great--pretty soon, Republicans are gonna be like, "Reagan was nothing compared to this guy." Like, my kid's gonna go to a high school named after him, I just know it.

Soderberg: Well, there's still Iran and North Korea, don't forget. There's hope for the rest of us.

Stewart: [crossing fingers] Iran and North Korea, that's true, that is true [audience laughter]. No, it's--it is--I absolutely agree with you, this is--this is the most difficult thing for me to--because, I think, I don't care for the tactics, I don't care for this, the weird arrogance, the setting up. But I gotta say, I haven't seen results like this ever in that region.

Soderberg: Well wait. It hasn't actually gotten very far. I mean, we've had--

Stewart: Oh, I'm shallow! I'm very shallow!

Soderberg: There's always hope that this might not work. No, but I think, um, it's--you know, you have changes going on in Egypt; Saudi Arabia finally had a few votes, although women couldn't participate. What's going on here in--you know, Syria's been living in the 1960s since the 1960s--it's, part of this is--

In other words, she holds out hope that things go badly with Iran and North Korea for political reasons. For those who are stunned by what was just said, here it is again: she blatantly admits to John Stewart that she hopes that things go bad for political reasons -noting that in North Korea and Iran this is still possible. Anyone who would wish ill on this country to gain political points for their particular weltanschauung is not only not worth taking seriously but they are also a poor excuse for a human being (to put it mildly).

Soderberg goes on to give a little lip service to "hoping it all works out" and so forth, but unless she was joking around she really doesn't hope it all works out.

That's just sad, really. Harry Truman must be spinning in his grave. [LINK]

It would be nice if "give 'em hell Harry" was here to give this deluded Democrat hell. But then again, Truman would probably be in the same boat as Zell Miller viz. how comfortable he would not feel in the Democratic Party of today.


Among the more notable speeches at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington last month, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) described a United Nations treaty that the Senate is attempting to ratify without a floor vote and with the blessing of the Bush administration. The UN Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) (Treaty Doc. 103-39) cedes absolute control of 70% of the earth's surface, extending from the seabed to the airspace above, to a new UN regulatory agency called the International Seabed Authority. Through the treaty, that body could potentially derive powers to interfere with aspects of U.S. sovereignty from our corporations to the operations of our blue water Navy. The treaty would also create an international court with jurisdiction over nearly everything having to do with international waters.

LOST is not a new idea. Negotiated during the Carter years, it was still an open item when Ronald Reagan became president. President Reagan listened to his advisors debate the pros and cons of the treaty before he interrupted the debate and rejected it completely in 1982 and fired the negotiators who negotiated it. Reagan understood its impact to national sovereignty and refused to have any part of it. President Bill Clinton gave it new life when he signed it in 1994. Fortunately, Senator Jesse Helms saw to it that it never came before the Senate, so it never became US law.

But now, Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) is determined to get LOST past the Senate. On February 25, 2005 Lugar sent it from the Foreign Relations Committee with unanimous support; however, he never allowed opponents to testify during the hearings. He has been trying to avoid a floor debate and vote, preferring to engineer its ratification using a Senate procedure known as "unanimous consent". This process would allow ratification without the troublesome complication of having a public record of who opposed or supported the treaty and how each Senator voted...continued...

Surely readers would not presume that those of Us who have written a proposal for reforming the unaccountable rider system would support another form of unaccountable voting as the Senate is attempting to do here with the support of the Bush Administration. And it bears noting that those who wonder why there is support on Our part at Rerum Novarum for the idea of striving to constitute a viable third party option in reality and not merely in theory need look no further than with issues such as this one. (Among others that could be noted if not for present time and space constraints.)


Between the insane anti-Christian assaults of the ACLU--one going on in Texas right now, others popping up like daisies just about everywhere else--and the reverberating effects of Campaign Finance Reform, the end of the First Amendment is nigh:

Bradley Smith says that the freewheeling days of political blogging and online punditry are over.

In just a few months, he warns, bloggers and news organizations could risk the wrath of the federal government if they improperly link to a campaign's Web site. Even forwarding a political candidate's press release to a mailing list, depending on the details, could be punished by fines.

Smith should know. He's one of the six commissioners at the Federal Election Commission, which is beginning the perilous process of extending a controversial 2002 campaign finance law to the Internet.

How in the world do they plan to enforce this nonsense? What if, say, one of the Iraq the Model guys declares support for an American presidential candidate in '08? What if Merde in France or The Shadow of the Olive Tree decide to write a post endorsing a candidate every single day during the '06 congressionals? None of these blogs are run by Americans, yet they're all readable here and they have all spoken about US politics at one point or another. How is the FEC gonna deal with that?

What scares me is that they just might find a way...continued...

Indeed this is a problematical issue -that somehow, the FEC will find a way to infringe upon the freedom of speech that is a defining feature of the blogosphere. The latter subject was dealt with at this weblog a few days ago in a multilink thread{1} and readers can go there to read the comments of your weblog host on some other threads dealing with this subject.


Long-time readers of this blog know that I no fan of the ACLU. Whatever they claim the C and L stand for, that organization has nothing but contempt for true American civil liberties. Perhaps Anti-American Communist Litigation Union would be a more accurate rendering of their initials? It would fit their history.

Anyway, Clinton Taylor has caught an ACLU lawyer in a huge case of conflict of interest. Here's an exerpt; you should really read the whole thing:

According to the ethics complaint, at the same time [ACLU attorney Kathy] Hall defended the Arkansas Child Welfare Agency Review Board (CWARB) against an ACLU lawsuit in the case of Howard v. CWARB, she also served as co-counsel for the ACLU in a case against an Arkansas school board -- McLaughlin v. Pulaski School District.

The two cases were not unrelated. In McLaughlin, Hall worked on behalf of the ACLU to sue a school district for restricting a gay teenager's freedom to speak about his homosexuality. In Howard, Hall opposed the ACLU, defending the CWARB's policy of not allowing gay couples to serve as foster parents.

Whether Ms. Hall liked CWARB's policy or not, her duty was to defend her client and to disclose any conflicts of interest. (James Balcom, chairman of CWARB, confirmed that he didn't learn of Hall's representation of the ACLU until the trial was nearly over, and only then from a witness rather than from Ms. Hall.)


Why didn't the ACLU speak up about Ms. Hall's likely conflict of interest, as it ought to have done? It's not like its top brass didn't know who she was. Two of the ACLU's lawyers opposing Ms. Hall and the CWARB were James Esseks, the litigation director of the ACLU's national Lesbian and Gay Rights Project, and Leslie Cooper, a staff attorney for the ACLU's Lesbian and Gay Rights Project.

Their silence is especially curious, since Ms. Hall's ACLU co-counsel on the McLaughlin case were...Leslie Cooper and James Esseks, of the ACLU's Lesbian and Gay Rights Project.

NOW IMAGINE THE KERFUFFLE had a conservative lawyer, say a member of the Federalist Society, not only kept quiet about a conflict of interest, but then refused to ask her sole expert witness a few important questions that could have affected the trial's outcome -- and then lost the trial. The MSM would be all over her like pink on a pig.

I prefer to describe it as "stink on a monkey," but the point stands as rendered. What follows the above is how Hall misrepresented her anti-ACLU client. She filed a motion to keep the relevant testimony of a star witness for her client from entering the trial. She and the case judge ended up smearing that witness for the crime of being a Christian.

Like I said, the ACLU harbors nothing but contempt for true American civil liberties...[LINK]

Bryan is on target in noting the double standard that would be in place if the shoe was on the other foot here and if it was a conservative lawyer representing a conservative organization who tried to pull this kind of crap. The MSM only proves that they are biased when they make these kinds of omissions. In so doing, they vindicate further the value of the very blogosphere they so despise. (To ensure that the MSM does not get away with this kind of negligence as they did so often before the rise of modern alternative media outlets.)

Moving from the latest evidence of the biased nature of the MSM to the "sun shines on every dog's ass on occasion" department, we have the following...


I tend to think of Imperial Hubris author and former CIA terrorist specialist Michael Scheuer as a bit of a flake. On TV he comes across as slightly bizarre, and in his writing he comes across as a bit anti-Semitic and Osama-worshipping at the same time. And if his writing is any guide, he's a fairly mediocre left-of-center thinker when it comes to strategy, which means he isn't overly impressive.

Having thrown so many insults at Scheuer, let us now condemn him with faint praise: He may be right this one time. The old saying about broken clocks being right twice a day may apply to Scheuer's latest analysis (no link; I received it in email today from a listserv), which he draws from bin Laden's pre-election tape as it relates to the last couple of years of al Qaeda's public statements. Scheuer believes al Qaeda is set to strike the US, and soon.

After 9/11, bin Laden received sharp criticisms from Islamist scholars that dealt with the al-Qaeda chief's failure to satisfy several religious requirements pertinent to waging war. The critique focused on three items: (1) insufficient warning; (2) failure to offer Americans a chance to convert to Islam; and (3) inadequate religious authorization to kill so many people. Bin Laden accepted these criticisms and in mid-2002 began a series of speeches and actions to remedy the shortcomings and satisfy his Islamist critics before again attacking in the United States.

Scheuer believes the October 2004 tape, the one that showed up just prior to the election, completed the last step bin Laden believed he needed before being able to strike at the US in a mass casualty attack with a clear caliphascist conscience...continued...

Of course the above will not sway those deluded souls who cannot see the forest for the trees on the subject of the war on terror. However, for those who can it is not a comforting theory to ponder.

Moving from the deeply disturbing to the downright disgusting, we have another example of why the MSM cannot be trusted and why the long-standing McElhinney Media Dictum principle of the present writer may have to be elevated from dictum to proverb status at some point in the future:


Over the weekend, I caught CNN removing a damning quote from a story about Italian Communist journalist Guiliana Sgrena, recently released from some form of captivity in Iraq for a reported $6 million ransom, about why she was in Iraq in the first place. She was there, in her own words, to agitate against America and the war--

Sgrena said she "risked everything" to challenge "the Italian government, who didn't want journalists to reach Iraq, and the Americans," who she said don't want the public to see "what really became of that country with the war, and notwithstanding that which they call elections."

I ran that quote in my post Sunday. It turns out CNN had also chopped out the next section. Fortunately I still have it. It indicates Sgrena was getting along amicably with her captors:

She said she told her captors they could not ask the Italian government to withdraw troops from Iraq -- "their political go-between could not be the government but the Italian people, who were and are against the war."

What--she was planning strategy with these goons? Then why was she on video tape begging for her release as though her life was in jeopardy? Perhaps because it gave her the chance to appear before the world and denounce the Americans, an activity that had taken up most of her time even when she was not held "captive" by anyone.

In the interests of truth, here is the original version of CNN's story as I received in email over the weekend. Ordinarily, I wouldn't reprint an entire article, but since CNN has removed the most relevant parts of it--the ones that actually speak to Sgrena's motives--I think it's a fair use...continued...

The article in its original form is posted in full after that point with the parts later excised put into bold font. Bryan notes that he was hardly the only one who caught CNN making edits without explanation{2} with this subject. But then again, CNN's bias against the war and the Bush Administration has hardly been a secret to those who have been paying attention lo this many years. And they are hardly the only network of the MSM to manifest this bias -even if they are the biggest of the networks not called FoxNews.


The Bush administration has cut aid to the Philippines from $124 million to about $87 million--about 30 percent. The reason for the cut is straightforward: Philippine President Gloria Arroyo is a turncoat who, having used the US to secure her re-election, has turned her back on the old US-RP alliance. She has even recently accepted $1.2 million in military aid from China, though China seems to be doing everything it can these days to crank up tensions throughout the Asian-Pacific region and is obviously not going out of its way to stay on Washington's good side. Perhaps "big brother" China is ready to make up for the shortfall from the loss of US funds? That doesn't seem likely, so Manila is trying to get the administration to reconsider the cut. That's even less likely. Given how old our alliance with the RP is, it's sad that it has come to this, but Arroyo needs to internalize a simple message--if you sidle up to our strategic adversaries, your loyalties will be questioned and your aid funds will take a corresponding hit...continued...

We can summarize Our view of this in five words: cut all foreign aid period.

Conservatives love to make the world a better place. They just prefer to use daisycutters.

And Democrats say that like it's a bad thing.

Seriously, in the past few years how many oppressed people have been freed by the work of Amnesty International or the Human Rights Campaign? A few dozen, at the most, and I'm being generous. And just since 9-11, how many oppressed people have been freed by US military might? Roughly 50 million or so, and counting?

Liberals believe in the value of talk for its own sake. Conservatives believe in results. Liberals talk, while conservatives get things done. [LINK]

The problem here is that Bryan is trying to outline this logically with those to whom logic is a foreign concept. He fails to recall Michael Savage's dictum that "extreme liberalism is not a political philosophy, it is a mental disorder." And one characteristic common to mental disorders is the inability to utilize reason and logic effectively in argumentation. This is a subject that We have touched on before at sundry times and in divers manners and it bears reiterating anew.

Essentially, there is an emotional component to liberalism that cannot be overlooked or underestimated: for it is the means whereby its purveyors have a kind of "superiority complex." They like to focus on minor subject matter or surface issues and make token gestures or statements about them to thereby feel as if they actually accomplished something meaningful. This is done while ignoring or playing down the more complex issues or substantive subjects involved. And one of the larger subjects involved that so-called "progressivists" do not want to face up to generally speaking is the reality of evil -a subject that we will deal with next in this sequence.


US troops in Iraq have discovered two caches of corpses this week. The dead were victims of the insurgents--terrorists--that Italian Communist journalist Guilana Sgrena can't seem to find the time to say a negative word about.

The victims...well, read for yourself.

Authorities found 26 of the corpses late Tuesday in a field near Rumana, a village about 12 miles east of the western city of Qaim, near the Syrian border, police Capt. Muzahim al-Karbouli and other officials said.

Each of the bodies had been riddled with bullets apparently several days earlier. They were found wearing civilian clothes and one of the dead was a woman, al-Karbouli said.

South of Baghdad in Latifiya, Iraqi troops on Tuesday made another gruesome discovery, finding 15 headless bodies in a building inside an abandoned former army base, Defense Ministry Capt. Sabah Yassin said.

The bodies included 10 men, three women and two children.

Children. Those animals beheaded children.

Yet if we capture those responsible, if we have the gall to send them to Gitmo, there to await military tribunals or some other justice, we can be sure the ACLU will rise to defend them. The anti-war left, as exemplified by Guilana Sgrena, will embrace them.

Even though they beheaded children. [LINK]

This writer can think of at least one so-called "progressivist" who would find it more newsworthy that the US military may have detained children in Abu Ghirab rather than focusing on truly horrific news such as the Islamofascists beheading children!!!{3} We discussed the pseudo-"progressivist" illogic behind Abu Ghirab last year{4} and see no reason to presume anything different on this issue as of this writing.

And finally, lest We be accused of not having been critical enough on the Bush Administration in this thread (in reference to their monumentally stupid support for LOST), let this final subject suffice to balance the scales a bit more.


The above thread from Bryan Preston simply highlights yet more reasons why the borders of this nation need to be secured. The Bush Administration is doing a horrendous job here and they need to be held accountable for it. The question of how many "Bush's policies are all grand" Republicans will actually do this remains to be answered of course. For the record, registered Independents such as those of Us at Rerum Novarum are anything but optimistic about this matter but that is a subject for another time perhaps.


{1} Though in truth, We were still working on the present thread at intermittently intervals at the time that this thread was posted. (Only to complete it today.)

{2} Michelle Malkin noticed this too.

{3} And yes, such a "concern" on this very subject was emailed to the present writer earlier today by someone they know who would readily identify themselves with the "anyone but Bush" crowd. To understand this writer's view of the overarching subject matter of Abu Ghirab, see the link in footnote four.

{4} Briefly on the Iraqi Prison Scandal (circa May 15, 2004)

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Thursday, March 10, 2005

Points to Ponder:

"Ideologues embrace a worldview that cannot be changed because they admit no evidence to the contrary." [Bill Moyers]


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Conscience of a Conservative:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

[Note: Though I may make some edits to this text, the following is what is currently slated to appear as a book review at in a few days. - ISM]


A Primer for Sound Reasoning and Historical Perspective...

...can be found in this short volume by the late Arizona Senator and former Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. Though the present writer has read numerous works since coming across the volume by the late Senator currently being reviewed, this is the one that first begin impressing upon his (at the time quite youthful) mind the logic behind the authentically conservative view of the world, of mankind, and of the core differences between liberal socialism and authentic conservatism. In shorthand, the differences between those views can be well distinguished by noting what the Constitution actually allows for the federal government to do and and what it is not allowed to do.

The authentic conservative recognizes the restrictions (and if change is desired moves to do this through proper channels such as amending the Constitution) while the liberal socialist merely seeks to impose their views on others without respect for the rule of law in society. Whatever pretentions exist among those who think they are genuinely conservative in their outlooks but in varying ways are not (such as President Bush or Patrick Buchanan to name two examples), this is the book that for all intensive purposes ignited the modern conservative movement.

For it is The Conscience of a Conservative probably deserves a good share of the credit for Ronald Reagan (i) abandoning the Democratic Party in 1962 (ii) giving the defining speech "a time for choosing" in October of 1964 in support of Goldwater's candidacy for president and (iii) provided a solid foundation for Reagan to cultivate his own conservative outlook in his tenure as governor of California and in two major campaigns for president. (In 1976 and again in 1980 when he won the first of his two terms as president.)

It bears noting that while there is more to conservative philosophy than what is noted in this book, what is noted here is a good overview -showing the applicability of conservative principles to a host of issues outlined in chapters with titles such as States' Rights, Civil Rights, Freedom for the Farmer, Freedom for Labor, Taxes and Spending, The Welfare State, and Education. A previous reviewer quoted a part of the book which this writer wants to reproduce here with some brief comments as they pertain to events subsequent to this book's initial publication runs:

"While there is something to be said for the proposition that spending will never be reduced so long as there is money in the federal treasury, I believe that as a practical matter spending cuts must come before tax cuts. If we reduce taxes before firm, principled decisions are made about expenditures, we will court deficit spending and the inflationary effects that invariably follow." (p. 65)

This observation proved to be prophetic in what happened in the 1980's with the budget deficits. (Though not with inflation which came down dramatically in that decade.) Those who know their history are aware that President Reagan proposed a combination of across the board tax cuts. However, that was intended merely to spur on the economy in the short term and not as a long-term proposition in and of itself. The long term proposition for handling the deficit was raising taxes and cutting spending simultaneously -indeed President Reagan got Congress to agree to $3 in spending cuts for every $1 in taxes raised in 1982. Of course the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives never followed through with the promised spending cuts. This caused no shortage of problems because when taxes are cut and spending is not reduced at the same time. For even when the dynamic (as opposed to static) effects that tax cuts have on an economy are considered, with evils such as "base line budgeting" in place long-term deficits are an inevitability.)

Senator Goldwater recognized the problems of not equating tax cuts with spending cuts decades ago -only one of the many areas where this book proves itself to be somewhat prophetic. And it is nearly impossible to see the late Senator Goldwater being at all be happy with how a Republican controlled Congress and Republican president are handling these matters in 2005. Indeed, Senator Goldwater would not recognize himself in the Republican Party of today anymore than his friend the late Senator Hubert Humphrey would recognize himself in the Democratic Party of today. And this book contains ample instruction on how far these parties have strayed from their original principles. (As Goldwater notes towards the beginning of the book) the discomforting tendency of the Republican Party to mimic the Democratic Party preceding the publication of this book by a few decades.)

It was said that President Reagan in his last years did not remember much but he *did* remember not receiving those $3 in spending cuts from Congress for every $1 in tax raises he agreed to in the early 1980's. In light of how the Democrats pulled the same screwjob on President Bush Sr., one would think at some point the Republicans would wise up. They were on the receiving end of tax cuts without spending cuts accompanying them on two different occasions. We have seen them in the past four years do precisely what the Democrats did in the 1980's and 1990's. And since they have complete control of the purse strings, there is no excuse for what they are doing.

Unfortunately, the Republicans only seem to fight for core conservative principles when they are in a congressional minority. This is a trackrecord that had better change soon if they want to avoid losing control of Congress -particularly since attempts to get power back with running on conservative principles will backfire when their opponents point out just how unconservative the Republican congresses of the past four years (with a Republican president) have really been. (Though in truth they accomplished next to nothing of an authentically conservative agenda since taking control in 1994 -their rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding.) However, as this is detracting from the purpose of this review and this writer is looking like the Libertarian he is not, a short summation is in order for the benefit of those who read this review and are considering acquiring this book.

In summary, this book is a good starting reference for the authentic conservative position on many subjects. And authentic conservatism is something that seems to escape most people today who refer to themselves as "conservatives." With the exception of the final chapter of the book (titled "The Soviet Menace": a good read for historical perspective in the post-USSR world if nothing else these days), the rest of the book with only the most minor of editing could be reissued and be as serviceable a work in 2005 as it was in 1960. The only question remaining is if those with pretentions towards being "conservative" are really ready to listen to these things in 2005 that they were (to a significant extent) unwilling to listen to in 1960, 1970, 1980, or 1990.

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Sunday, March 06, 2005

Miscellaneous Threads of Interest:
(With musings from your host at Rerum Novarum)

The links in this post will be posted in roughly their chronological order with comments interspersed at my discretion. Any sources quoted will be in darkblue coloured font.

Our Worst Enemy (Rabbi Daniel Lapin of Toward Tradition)

Rabbi Lapin explains what he views as the worst enemy of Jews and it is not what you might suspect a rabbi to say if you are at all influenced by the impression that Hollyweird tries to portray Jews in general as.

Sadness of “Deep Throat” Revisited (Debbie Schlussel)

Debbie Schlussel points out the after-effects of the movie "Deep Throat" that are conspicuously absent from those who want to celebrate it as one of the most important events in US history. It is difficult to say more about it without letting the cat out of the bag so read the link and you will see where she is coming from on this one.

Air America's Lousy Ratings (Michelle Malkin)

Michelle Malkin discusses the paltry ratings of Air America in the largest radio markets of the country and how they have fallen in the past year. Now granted, there are some markets where they are not as pathetic as they are generally speaking (such as up here in Seattle where they are doing a bit better than insignificant); however that is the exception rather than the rule.

The primary reason could not be more apparent and it is this: so-called "liberals" (who self-style themselves as "progressives") do not understand that talk radio to be successful requires substance and that is precisely what other mediums (such as television where pseudo-"progressivist" ideas do better) do not require. But to succeed where you do not have pictures to manipulate with soundbytes and canned commentary requires something different.

To succeed in talk radio, you must actually analyze and discuss subjects and also interact with the criticisms of others. Furthermore, these areas need to be handled in a reasonably intelligent manner if one is to be successful in this environment. And in the radio medium, the common irrational and illogical "talking points" kind of polemics common to the approach of so-called "progressivists" does not succeed for very long.

It is profoundly difficult for so-called "progressivists" to sustain their positions by sound rigorous logical thought and focused reasoning.{1} And for that reason, Air America would fail in the long term -after an initial period where the odd curiosity of a liberal talk radio network would wear off and attention to the substance of what was aired would take place by talk radio listeners. And it was therefore inevitable at that point that Air America would start losing the bulk of those who tuned in initially out of curiosity -which would be most of those listening.{2} But enough on that subject for now. Blowing the Winds of Freedom (Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs)

Charles Johnson explains how movements such as actually give the enemies of America reasons for optimism rather than for pessimism. For those whom the obvious can be difficult to comprehend, the following warning is issued:


How Big is the FEC Threat to Blogs? (Michelle Malkin)

Blogging and Bloggers (Brian Micklethwait of Samizdata)

The above links have some different takes on the idea of attempts to regulate media such as the blogosphere. Michelle Malkin links to a few different takes. Brian Micklethwait discusses instead the problem with governments which seek instead of enforcing existing laws the invention of new ones to the point where virtually anything someone does can be construed as a "crime" if you find a Johnny Cocherine-like attorney to play a game of parsing from various sources.

Now We at Rerum Novarum have gone over the problems that crop up when the law is perverted on countless occasions.{3} And rather than repeating Ourselves yet again, it seems appropriate to focus at this time on some of Mr. Micklethwait's comments on the rapid escalation of laws and how innocent persons are dealt with by attempts to use the law for more than its intended purpose.{4} (In this case, the person is a certain Brian McNab.{5}) With that in mind, Mr. Micklethwait's observations are worth considering:

What I would like would be a world in which a legislative entrepreneur who is thinking of thrashing out yet another of these stupid laws, just so he can get his name in legal lights, would pause, and, you know, consider, for fear of a shitstorm from the blogosphere, and thus eventually, after a month or two, from the regular old media that he has actually heard of. I want a world where other potential legislative entrepreneurs, instead read the blogs to see more McCain/Feingold horrors coming down the legislative tube, and try to get their brownie points by being praised by bloggers not for making one of these laws, but for unmaking a few.

I would like a world in which the [Brian] McNabs have a voice, before they are hit by these idiot laws and idiot regulators, and while, and for ever afterwards.

Well, I think and hope that we might be moving towards just such a world. The distributed stupidity of government is now, I would like to think, being challenged by the distributed intelligence of the rest of us. Previously, we masses did not have the means to distribute our intelligence, so to speak. Now, we do.

This McCain/Feingold thing looks like it could be the next Trent Lott/Dan Rather/Eason Jordan blogswarm furore-story. Like many bloggers, I am uneasy about living in a world where the blogosphere measures its success by how many high profile careers it wrecks. But how many potentially bad (McNab-nabbing) laws it stomps on? That I could live with far more happily.

I hereby propose the verb "McNab", to describe the process of innocent people being seriously screwed by crazy laws. As in: I've been McNabbed. Or maybe: I'm a McNab. By the sound of it, the original McNab deserves some good fame to set besides his horrendously bad treatment at the hands of the American criminal justice system.

As for another term being added to the blogging glossary, it is Our opinion at Rerum Novarum that this is an idea certainly worth considering -particularly in light of how common situations such as Brian McNab's have become in recent decades. Moving slighly from the subject of the FEC and blogging regulations to another subject which to some extent parallels it, we have the following thread from The Volokh Conspiracy:

Be Careful What You Wish For (Eugene Volokh of The Volokh Conspiracy)

Libertarian legal professor Eugene Volokh explains (using law precedents from the past) why those who look for restrictions on so-called "hate speech" are setting themselves up to be snagged by what could be called the "law of unintended consequences" as a result. The very wisdom in recognizing a limit to what law can legitimately be used for{6} is well illustrated by considering the evils that result when laws and regulations are abused. This is precisely the reason why the Framers sought to limit government to begin with.{7} Unfortunately, Santayana's dictum again is vindicated since most people are unwilling to learn from history what happens when a society gets too concerned with creating laws rather than keeping law as a force within its proper boundaries.


{1} I will not say that it is impossible for them to do this mind you. However, the so-called "progressivist" weltanschauung is (as a rule) built on emotionalism and subjectivist "feelings." For this reason, to attempt to defend it in a completely different context from which it is generally conceived will inexorably involve a lot of half-baked (at best) attempts by apologists for that particular outlook.

{2} It is one thing to attract an audience to begin with and another altogether to hold said audience after they have been attracted to a talk radio show.

{3} One example of which can be read HERE.

{4} To remind the readers what the purpose of law is for, I reiterate the following classical formulation of Claude Frederic Bastiat -one of history's greatest proponents of authentic (as opposed to sham) liberty:

What, then, is law? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense.

Each of us has a natural right--from God--to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties?

If every person has the right to defend -- even by force -- his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right -- its reason for existing, its lawfulness -- is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute. Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force -- for the same reason -- cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups.

Such a perversion of force would be, in both cases, contrary to our premise. Force has been given to us to defend our own individual rights. Who will dare to say that force has been given to us to destroy the equal rights of our brothers? Since no individual acting separately can lawfully use force to destroy the rights of others, does it not logically follow that the same principle also applies to the common force that is nothing more than the organized combination of the individual forces?

If this is true, then nothing can be more evident than this: The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense. It is the substitution of a common force for individual forces. And this common force is to do only what the individual forces have a natural and lawful right to do: to protect persons, liberties, and properties; to maintain the right of each, and to cause justice to reign over us all. [Claude Frederic Bastiat: Excerpt from The Law (circa 1850)]

{5} For those unfamiliar with Brian McNab, here is a bit of history on him and his unfortunate circumstances:

McNab was a seafood importer who shipped undersized lobsters and lobster tails in opaque plastic bags instead of paper bags. These were trivial violations of a Honduran regulation - equivalent to a civil infraction, or at most, a misdemeanor. However, using creative lawyering, a government prosecutor used this misdemeanor offense as the basis for the violation of the Lacey Act, which is a felony. The prosecutor then used the Lacey Act charge as a basis to stack on smuggling and money laundering counts. You got that?

McNab was guilty of smuggling since he shipped lobster tails in bags that you can see through, instead of shipping them through bags that would frustrate visual inspection. He was guilty of money laundering since he paid a crew on his ship to "smuggle the tails." Although it turned out that the Honduran regulation was improperly enacted and thus unenforceable, the government did not relent. A honest businessman lost his property and his freedom: McNab is serving 8-years in prison. [Excerpt from a book review for Go Directly to Jail: The Criminalization of Almost Everything]

Is there a better example of the warning given by Professor Volokh than that of Brian McNab???

{6} See footnote four.

{7} You see my friends, all the prevarications about the "general welfare" clause of Article I Section VIII of the Constitution -used to justify the mountains of unconstitutional drivel that is in the federal budget- can be confuted by one reference to it by the Father of the Constitution himself -the man who was the primary drafter of the document- James Madison:

With respect to the two words 'general welfare,' I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators." [James Madison: On the "General Welfare" clause in the U.S. Constitution]

And so that my statement may be affirmed "on the word of two or three witnesses" (Deut. xix,15; Matt. xviii,16; 2 Cor. xiii,1; Heb. x,28; cf. John viii,17), I offer the testimony of Thomas Jefferson, another of the Founding Fathers who was not unfamiliar with the Constitution and its intentions:

"Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated."

The ignorance politicians have of the Constitution -while problematical of course- is nonetheless not as bad as the people who will vote for whomever enriches their interests irrespective of what the Constitution actually says. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa October 31, 2003)]

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