For someone with strong political opinions, I have been amazingly resistant to becoming embroiled in party-based squabbles. Being a Constitutional Libertarian usually results in siding with the GOP on several issues—but not always. Without that strong loyalty, I am content to sit on the sidelines while the two parties bicker about those issues that are NOT of concern to anyone outside of the party.
I had a Virginia State Senator tell me years ago that the most partisan process in Richmond was redistricting. He says the two sides usually got along well enough on other issues…but redistricting was the Rubicon. It was a no-holds-barred bloodsport where the victors (the majority party) got ALL of the spoils. There is no runner-up trophy when it comes to drawing political boundaries…and the advantages it offers are obvious.
I would imagine the Congressional equivalent of this bloodsport has become Supreme Court nominations. And we are about to see the latest evidence following this weekend’s death of long-time Associate Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsberg. (pictured)
Under the original design of our government, the Supreme Court is the most powerful component of the Judicial Branch. But over the past few generations it has become MUCH more. As Congress has abdicated more and more of their authority, SCOTUS (and the Executive Branch) has gained power. Those who want to make significant changes have learned it is very hard to get that accomplished in something as big and unwieldy as Congress. It is MUCH easier to get five out of nine justices to agree with you.
That growing SCOTUS power has been the backdrop of efforts the past few decades to make sure agreeable justices were occupying those nine seats. And those efforts have becoming increasingly more bitter and partisan.
For most of the history of this nation, Supreme Court confirmation hearings and votes were largely perfunctory, uneventful affairs. There were noticeable exceptions; but for the most part nominees were approved unless there were obvious red flags.
That began changing during the age of Reagan. Robert Bork was nominated to the court in 1987. But Democrats were afraid that he would be hostile to some of the landmark court decisions. He was defeated. The reprehensible Sen. Ted Kennedy delivered one of the most uncalled-for summations in the history of the Senate:
“Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is—and is often the only—protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy”
In the process, the verb “to Bork” was born. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it:
“To defame or vilify (a person) systematically, esp. in the mass media, usually with the aim of preventing his or her appointment to public office; to obstruct or thwart (a person) in this way.”
Bork’s treatment ushered in a new era of scrutiny for Supreme Court nominees. Four years later, Democrats upped the ante in the nomination of Clarence Thomas. A shocked nation listened as august Senators began asking questions about pubic hairs and the like. In short, the SCOTUS nomination process had become a slightly more dignified episode of Jerry Springer.
But curiously this seemed only to apply to Republican Presidential nominees. Those made by Democrats (Kagan, Sotonayor, Ginsberg) were largely uneventful.
Below is a list of SCOTUS nominees, following by the hours used during their confirmation hearings, and the number of questions asked.
1981 Sandra Day O’Connor 12 8
1987 Robert Bork(NC) 30 15
1987 Anthony Kennedy 11 47
1990 David Souter 20 4
1991 Clarence Thomas 25 18
1993 Ruth Bader Ginsburg 20 20
1994 Stephen Breyer 20 5
2005 John Roberts(CJ) 20 231
2017 Neil Gorsuch 20 324
2018 Brett Kavanaugh 48 1,278
You don’t need to have a good memory to harken back a couple of years ago to the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. At the risk of utilizing hyperbole, I will say that it was a low point in the history of US politics. Senate Democrats tried to ruin the life and reputation of a man without a SHRED of contemporary corroborating evidence. Their stenographers in the media dutifully amplified every allegation, each more outlandish than the previous one. Even as the claims stretched the limits of incredulity the attempts to smear continued unabated. I will never forget it.
With that in mind, I ask myself today that if the party roles were reversed, would Democrats listen to the better angels of their nature and forego an attempt to nominate a justice while they had the White House and a Senate majority. And then I begin laughing heartily. We know the answer. This party was willing to metaphorically murder a nominee in 2018 whose only provable sin was disagreeing with them. Democrats have abundantly demonstrated there is NOTHING they won’t do in order to maintain control of the Supreme Court.
Democrats…it was YOU that turned SCOTUS nominations into a winner-takes-all bloodsport. YOU are the ones who ended all expectations of comity & compromise. You went scorched Earth on Kavanaugh. And NOW you’re asking for restraint?
Quite often I am an interested but uninvolved observer of partisan bickering on Capitol Hill. Without a party I don’t have a dog in the hunt. But I will say this for Republicans. Their track record on approving judges with originalist views on the Constitution is FAR superior to Democrats. And as someone who views the Constitution like a Christian views the Bible, that is important to me.
Piss off, Democrats. Enjoy Associate Justice Barrett.
I am the furthest thing from a prude you will find. I have become legendary for telling off-color jokes, getting away with casual profanity and saying controversial things because I am addicted to freedom. Freedom for everyone. I think anything goes—so long as there is consent. 11-year old girls are not able to give consent. Period. End of story.
Netflix this week debuted the film “Cuties.” It depicts the lives of 11-year old French girls living in what appears to be a hellish underground for little girls that are targeted for sexual displays. But it is not the cinematography or writing that is the subject of concern. It is the fact that the film utilizes ACTUAL 11-year old girls to convey the story. That’s right. They hope to shine a light on child sexual exploitation—by sexually exploiting children.
This is a bit like torturing an animal in front of people, filming it, and calling it social commentary on animal abuse. We would NOT accept this as a society. So why are we willing to turn a blind eye here?
“Schindler’s List” was able to accurately portray the horrible treatment of Jews during WWII without actually harming Jews. Several movies have graphically displayed the horrors of drug abuse without forcing the actors to actually shoot up heroin. Really—it’s not that difficult.
I cheerfully stipulate that porn is often in the eye of the beholder. What one sees as porn the other may view as passionate or creative coitus. But I will accept NO nuance when we are talking about little girls being involved. I am NOT going to share the infamous clip that is making the rounds. You’ll have to find it for yourselves.
The most alarming part of all this is the number of people defending this. I can handle dissenting opinions. But I must say I had hoped that something this egregious would be one of those rare instances where political and social differences would not matter. That we could look at something so clearly wrong and say “that’s wrong.”
Wrong again, Chuck.
I cannot believe we have gotten to the point where I would have to defend a position that states 11-year old girls should NOT be baring their breasts in a sexually provocative manner while performing the equivalent of a pole dance in front of hundreds of adults. Never did I think I would have to explain why it is wrong for little girls to stroke their private parts and simulate BDSM during the course of a dance. But here we are.
As a reporter, I can remember covering several trials where the accused had images of children on their computer. We were not shown the images (nor was I interested in seeing them) but the courtroom was told the children were partially or fully naked, and pictured in sexual poses. The defendants were found guilty. Who knew that they could have packaged it as a movie and claimed he was “fighting” child sexual exploitation. They would have gotten a 90% review on Rotten Tomatoes, just like “Cuties” did. (fact)
2020 has impacted me as much as anyone else in terms of sapping joy out of my soul. But the sheer number of people who are trying to tell me the sexualization of 11-year old girls is “Ackshually OK” is driving me mad. I am going to say or do something very soon that might get me in trouble. I am a consistent and jealous defender of Free Speech. But that only pertains to adults offering consent. I am honestly distressed that I would have to include such an obvious caveat.
If you are struggling to come up with ways to explain or defend this movie, do us both a favor and block or unfollow me right now. Seriously—I have no desire to interact with someone who seeks to defend child pornography. Add *that* to the growing list of things I never thought I would have to say.
Earlier this week, President Trump and others pointed out the latest 180-degree pivot from Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Kamala Harris. After polling data showed that the riots were not “playing well” with middle America, Democrats pulled muscles to find the nearest microphone to “condemn the violence.”
Trump and the others pointed out that this was at odds with Harris’ efforts just a few weeks ago to promote and contribute to a fund that bailed out protestors arrested during the original round of riots in Minneapolis.
Seems straight-forward enough, right? Not so fast! FACT-CHECKERS TO THE RESCUE. The reliably-mediocre Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post broke away briefly from his DNC video conference to publish this dreck. In it, he defends Harris by pointing out that while Harris DID tweet support for a bail fund, the money didn’t just assist protesters.
Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen to another round of Fact Check Follies…the show where we demonstrate that the beknighted Fact Checking community is just bias by another name.
That’s it. That’s the defense. That, according to the ever-so-neutral Kessler is enough to rate this claim “unrated.” What courage. Kessler couldn’t toss away his last remaining microsliver of credibility by giving this even a single “Pinocchio.” He should have just gone ahead and rated it, “true, but not really because a Republican said it.”
Kessler admits Harris supported a bail fund for people arrested during declared riots—but he throws in a meaningless extra detail that is supposed to somewhat mitigate the claim. Wow. “Journalism Dies In Darkness,” indeed.
I point all this out for one main reason. There are an alarming number of people who treat “fact-checkers” as the last word in any debate. They are seen as a mic drop/slam dunk/irrefutable resolution to any and all disputes. There is a reason that the vast majority of those who feel this way are left-of-center. That’s because the mainstream media outlets who routinely deploy their “fact checking brigade” are simply utilizing an extension of the outlet’s own bias—often precipitously to the left.
And for the umpteenth time—they have every right to do that. But I also have the right—I would say an *obligation* to remind people that the saintly fact-checkers are often shrouded activists going by another name.
Yes…we live in the Golden Age of “Fact-Checking.” Except when the subject is someone the mainstream media is fond of. Then they instantly become collectively incurious—offering nothing but grace, equivocation and endless benefit of the doubt. The ‘fact-checking’ genre is little more than opinion writing and activism masquerading as impartial reporting.
Think about this when you slap down a Snopes link in the middle of a date and act like you just hit a walk-off homer.
“We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.”
As horrible as the riots and looting has been over the past few weeks they have served a purpose—and more than just the obvious.
For one it has likely ended the gun control debate for the short term. It is exceedingly difficult to fault someone for thinking they need a little firepower after witnessing the way police disappeared when confronted with a REAL threat.
But more importantly, it has exposed some uncomfortable truths about those who have been the most vocal about taking strict social control measures to thwart the spread of COVID-19. Their relative silence this past week shows that most of their concern had little to do with health. It had more to do with controlling the behavior of others.
From the get-go I have said that the numbers on this did NOT suggest a draconian solution. No I am not a doctor or an epidemiologist…but I CAN think, reason and judge. It appeared that this was going to have a mortality rate in the 1-2% range…at worst. But fear is a powerful emotion. And people had a generous amount of fear drilled into them for several weeks—enough to where they were willing to do just about ANYTHING to slay this dragon that had been created.
Now, the very same people who called lockdown protestors “granny killers” (or worse) have been bending over backwards this week to support the protests. Supporting the protests is not the issue. The issue is supporting them so soon after you excoriated people for doing the EXACT same thing in terms of social distancing.
If your argument is that the protestors have weighed the risks and decided that it is worth it in order to protest, that’s fine…but you are missing the point. Many of us thought it was worth the risk to attend a loved one’s funeral, or to go to work, attend a church service, get our hair cut, or to do a thousand other innocuous things. But we weren’t allowed to — because of the same people who are now ignoring whatever health risks the protests have created. They are letting protesters do what they denied to us for three months—the ability to do or NOT do something, based on the risks as you weigh them.
There are a lot of risks people would have been willing to take over the past three months to do certain things, but we were told we could not because it would have put others at risk. Are those protestors not putting others at risk? No they’re not. But then again, our going to the hair salon or to church would not have put anyone at risk three weeks ago. You were lying about the problem—you needlessly exaggerated it in order to make yourself feel essential and important. You overplayed the risks so you could look like a great savior.
And what about those of you who have been good little soldiers? Who have done exactly what government asked of you for the past three months—no matter how much it hurt. No matter how much it impacted your bank account? Don’t you feel even a LITTLE pissed now that Government leaders are suddenly saying that standing shoulder-to-shoulder, sweating and breathing on each other is no big deal? Do you feel as though you’ve been played for a fool?
People made major sacrifices to fight the spread of Coronavirus. Now, the same people who demanded those sacrifices tell us they are suddenly NOT a priority. If this sounds like a sickening double-standard, that’s because it is. The ONLY thing that has changed in the past few weeks is that THIS round of protests you agree with…the other you did not. Really…that’s all there is to it.
In short, we’ve been deceived. We destroyed the economy and millions of peoples’ lives and livelihoods for nothing. People who get a REAL charge out of being able to dictate the behaviors of others have used this as a pretense to feel relevant and powerful. These are bad people. Unfortunately, I fear too many people will bend over and meekly accept whatever these people say the next time they use fear to fill in the blanks of the unknown.
A piece published Friday in Harvard Magazine is the latest salvo fired in the left’s never-ending battle against homeschooling. This battle has picked up steam in the past few weeks with millions of Americans becoming involuntary homeschoolers. However this new article in the august journal makes no mention at all of COVID-19 when it talks about the risk of homeschooling. In short, Professor Elizabeth Bartholet argues for a “presumptive ban” on homeschooling.
I’ll take on her points one-by-one.
“Homeschooling not only violates children’s right to a “meaningful education” and their right to be protected from potential child abuse, but may keep them from contributing positively to a democratic society.
Two things. Number one, there is no “right” to a meaningful education. Nor to ANY education. Just because something is a good idea does not make it a “right.” Educations have to be provided. If it is a “right,” then you are also assuming the right to conscript teachers to perform this service for whatever you decide to pay them—if you decide to pay them at all. A lot of government mischief has come about because of the misattribution of “right” status to things that are simply “desirable.”
Secondly, her assertion that putting kids in schools protects them from child abuse is silly beyond belief. If a child has abusive parents their chances of being abused does NOT increase if they are being homeschooled. This is a college professor, folks.
“We have an essentially unregulated regime in the area of homeschooling, if you look at the legal regime governing homeschooling, there are very few requirements that parents do anything.”
Well, Brainiac I can tell you that in Virginia we are required to have our children periodically be tested to make sure they have mastered basic skills. Ours have passed these ridiculously easy tests with flying colors. My 13-year old autistic son recently observed, “Why I am taking a test for little children?” They both scored in the upper-90 percentiles. (Dad Brag).
Apart from that, why should you be concerned about the *manner* in which my kids are educated? If they have the basic skills, what else do you need to know? Our journeys may take different routes, but if we arrive at the same destination, what’s the problem?
“Surveys of homeschoolers show that a majority of such families (by some estimates, up to 90 percent) are driven by conservative Christian beliefs, and seek to remove their children from mainstream culture. Some of these parents are extreme religious ideologues who question science and promote female subservience and white supremacy.”
And there we have it. It is DANGEROUS for Christians to be able to educate their children in a non-secular environment! Why they might miss out on Drag Queen Story Reading Time for pre-schoolers; or Middle School Teachers passing along vital information like demonstrating how to put a condom on a banana! Homeschooling also means there’s also virtually no chance kids can be suspended for eating a Pop Tart into the shape of a gun.
It is also instructive that a word search on her other published material produced no similar concerns from the good professor on Muslim parents homeschooling their children. Weird.
Hey, professor! Surveys ALSO show homeschooled children routinely have higher test scores, lower rates of teenage pregnancy and drug use, along with better performance at college and universities. We wouldn’t want any of THAT would we?
In public schools, Karens like Bartholet can better ensure that “children grow up exposed to community values, social values, democratic values, ideas about nondiscrimination and tolerance of other people’s viewpoints.”
Ah yes…tolerance of other people’s viewpoints. Unless they’re Christian homeschoolers. Spare me.
“Many of these parents have authoritarian control over their children. It’s always dangerous to put powerful people in charge of the powerless, and to give the powerful ones total authority.
Oh the irony. So what the ever-so-smart professor is saying is that the burden of proof should be on parents to get permission to homeschool from the government. Well she is only 100% wrong. Our children don’t belong to the government. The only way you think this way is if you believe that children actually belong to the State.
The bottom-line issue is the same as it ever was. Control. Those of the liberal persuasion (and those who already are in positions of authority) require a populace that is JUST smart enough to contribute, but without possessing any pesky intellectual curiosity. Their ideas work best when people think feelings are a substitute for thought…when people react rather than respond…and when people don’t ask “Why” too much.
I think this decades-old quote from one of my favorite pundits still applies today.
“I Would Rather Be Governed By the First 2,000 People in the Telephone Directory than by the Harvard University Faculty.” – William F. Buckley Jr.
I haven’t written much long-form stuff since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Yes, I was pretty skeptical of the claims at first. That’s what happens when you’ve survived about two-dozen previous claims of WORST VIRUS EVAH! It’s looking like this will be worse than the others, but well short of the Black Death.
Most of my concern has been over our response. That includes the near-shutdown of the greatest economic engine ever seen in human history, AND the unmitigated glee some have shown as they report their fellow citizens to thefor jogging by themselves on a beach—or participating in a drive-in Easter Service—or playing catch with their little girl in the park. It takes a concerted effort to undo several years of economic progress in a couple of weeks while cultivating a climate of snitching. Fear is still an unchallenged #1 as the greatest human motivator.
I have unpopularly said several times that I do not think the reaction is commensurate with the threat. Those living in hyperbolic chambers until this blows over have been indignant. “How DARE you! PROVE IT!”
It is impossible to prove or disprove. Despite any model you may have seen there is no way we will ever know for sure if this global social distancing has made a great difference. Oh I’m sure it has made SOME difference. But has it been enough to justify the trillions of dollars in additional spending our children will have to pay for? Is it worth the new powers that government has exercised?
My favorite counter-arguments have revolved around the canard that “If it saves just ONE life, it’s worth it!” Well, not really. That is a callous thing for me to say, of course. But we make value judgements like that every day. It’s true.
Despite the high regard we all have for human life (especially our own) we consistently do things that could shorten or end them. For some it’s eating way too much of the wrong things. For others it’s tempting the ghost of Wile E. Coyote by crossing train tracks. We do it by it hurtling through the air at several thousand miles per hours in a pressurized tube…or by zooming at 75 mph down an Interstate in a two-ton machine.
Why do we do such things? Simple. We value their benefits more than we fear the potential risks. There would NEVER be another fatal plane crash if we outlawed aviation. But our economy and our very way of life would suffer. So we have made the decision that flying is worth the risk.
How would you respond to someone who claims that because you believe in flying you WANT people to die fiery deaths. You would ignore them, laugh at them or give them a fat lip for such nonsense. Why, then, do we let people get away with arguing in favor of ANY government restriction in a pandemic with the defense that “it might save someone’s life!”?
Safety is an important thing, but it is not the ONLY thing. If our standard is “no reasonable risk of harm,” then there is very little human activity you cannot disqualify. And let’s face it—all of the really FUN things contain an element of risk. Drinking, smoking, eating red eat, driving fast, having a second dessert, sneaking into the drive-in, splitting Kings at the blackjack table.
In a perfect world governments wuld enact only policies that are driven by science and common sense, that are proportionate to the risks, and that do not last any longer than is absolutely necessary.
In my lifetime, we have averaged about one pandemic scare every three-to-four years. I am worried that our (mostly) passive acceptance of restrictions in this instance will make Government more willing to institute similar policies during the next one—even if the threat is markedly smaller. After all…”If it saves just one life!”
We MUST make sure that we don’t allow this unique period in our history to make us receptive to the idea that Government can take drastic measures under most any pretense.
The New York Times offered coverage of a conference call President Trump had this morning with various state and local officials about the coronavirus pandemic. Intrepid reporter Julie Bosman had the byline, and tweeted out what she felt was the lede element of the story.
Wow, indeed! Sounds like Trump is being an asshole…again. Bosman’s fellow reporters followed up her tweet.
But a funny thing happened on the way to grab the tar, feathers and pitchforks. It turns out there was a bit more that Trump had to say. Quite a bit more. The FULL quote includes these comments.
“Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves. We will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves. Point of sales, much better, much more direct if you can get it yourself.”
Hmmm…that puts the quote in an entirely different context, doesn’t it? It correctly frames the comment as part of a suggestion that local/regional procurement is much more cost-effective and less time-consuming than federal action. Omitting this part of the quote makes it sound like Trump is telling the localities “you’re on your own.” Even one of the “reporters” used that interpretation to punctuate their tweet with “WOW!”
Of course, that is *exactly* what they were hoping for. All three of these reporters intentionally left out the second part of the quote because it would have nullified their goal of casting Trump in a negative light.
This is journalistic malpractice. And it is also par for the course. Truly objective journalism is now about as rare as four-leaf clovers and quarterbacks who remain in the pocket. It is frustrating that even in a time of national crisis, we can’t depend on reporters to give us basic information without blatantly and willfully misleading us. We cannot rely on the mainstream media to simply tell us what was said and what happened without them seeing it as an opportunity to score those oh-so-precious “political points” against someone they don’t like.
Even MORE frustrating are the people who insist that papers like the Washington Post and New York Times are straight arrows who are doing nothing more than calling balls and strikes. If the mountain of evidence that I and many others have cited over the years is not enough to change your minds, your minds can NOT be changed.
But the MOST frustrating thing is that nothing will change. These three reporters will never have to answer for this. They will continue on as de facto DNC stenographers and no one will bat an eye. They will die and go to hell insisting that they are morally-upright paragons of truth, justice and the American Way.
“Is it a pandemic yet?” “Is it a pandemic yet?” “Is it a pandemic yet?” “Is it a pandemic yet?”
I imagine scientists with the World Health Organization are positively tingling these days. They have their “black plague.” Or at least they hope they do. And THIS TIME they mean it!
Please forgive me if I’m not ready to stock up on antibiotics, hand sanitizer, Kleenex, chicken soup, ginger ale and Vitamin C. I don’t feel particularly compelled to buy in to Corona Virus panic just yet.
I course, if I die from this, you can file this blog post under “tragic irony.” Oh well. A chance I’m willing to take. You see once you have lived through more than a half-century you have been exposed to thousands of things that most assuredly will spell Doomsday for you. After the 100th false alarm you begin tuning them out.
Scientists who portended the end of the world with the Avian Flu 15 years ago, the Swine Flu 10 years ago, and (etc etc etc) are crossing their collective fingers, hoping they can say, “I told you so!” this time around. Never mind that Corona Virus has claimed fewer lives worldwide in the past week than have accidents involving livestock. (True statistic!) The Powers That Be won’t let a chance for a good crisis to go unexploited.
Corona Virus may be a legitimate concern, but it’s more likely that it’s the 2020 version of the “Shark Attack” scare—a scare that was wiped off of the headlines following 9-11-01.
Folks, I was in the news business for nearly thirty years. I know that nothing draws listeners (or viewers or readers) more than a good headline story. You can’t get much deeper in terms of public interest than “National Health Scare!” But let’s face facts. How many times have the scientific community cried “wolf?”
Doomsday scientists are swarming around the Corona Virus scare for the same reason that the Weather Channel executives root for maximum damage from tornadoes and hurricanes. It makes them relevant. No one gives a damn about Jim Cantore when it’s sunny and 72 degrees. No one calls the Centers for Disease Control when they’re feeling fine.
Of course more than just the usual suspects are touting the Bubonic Potential of Corona Virus. Those who support any and every expansion of government power are also champing at the bit to use this scare as an excuse to erode civil liberties—even if just for a little while. Remember the two rules of Statists:
During an emergency, anti-democratic measures are needed to ensure public safety, national security, and the nation itself.
There is always an emergency.
And there is the additional layer of intrigue with Corona Virus, coming as it does during a Donald Trump Presidency. The same people who just KNEW the Mueller Report was going to bring him down, that Ukraine Gate was going to send him packing are now flush with the possibility that a bungled response could boost the chances of whatever empty suit they nominate of becoming the 46th President of the United States. Of course these are the same people who will bray with righteous indignation at any attempt by Trump or his supporters to “politicize the crisis!”
We know what will happen. There will be a handful of American deaths from this before it runs it’s course. Trump’s opponents will put the faces of the victims on metaphorical (or maybe even literal) billboards, suggesting that Trump did everything but personally inject them with the virus.
GOD I hate some people.
So join me, won’t you, in rejecting the hype. That is, of course, until you die in a livestock-related accident!
“The frequency with which representations made by FBI personnel turned out to be unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession, and with which they withheld information detrimental to their case, calls into question whether information contained in other FBI applications is reliable.”